Recommendations by Karen B

You had me at hello—books that grab you with the best covers and titles!

Library staff are hearing how pleased people are to be able to enter the building and browse the shelves once again. We agree--exploring books online isn’t the same as admiring the covers and craning our necks sideways to read titles. Even better, we love the serendipity of discovering an intriguing title because it happens to sit beside our favourite author on the shelf. Book covers grab our attention and invite us to explore jacket descriptions, first paragraphs, and sometimes more. If we’re lucky, time will slip away as we dive into a fresh new narrative.

If you haven’t been into the library yet to browse (or want to save yourself a neckache) here are a few titles that drew me in either with their intriguing cover art or their unusual titles.

 

Cover of Night. Sleep. Death. The Stars.Night. Sleep. Death. The Stars. by Joyce Carol Oates

Night. Sleep. Death. The Stars. drew me in with its unusual title—a collection of words that can be seen as a progression. The cover art is equally intriguing--a lone calla lily set against the night sky. The story features a family’s response to a personal tragedy amidst the turmoil of contemporary American struggles.

“Stark and penetrating, Joyce Carol Oates's latest novel is a vivid exploration of race, psychological trauma, class warfare, grief, and eventual healing, as well as an intimate family novel in the tradition of the author's bestselling We Were the Mulvaneys.” --Publisher.

 

Cover of The Particular Sadness of Lemon CakeThe Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake is a great teaser of a title—what makes lemon cake so sad? In this case, it’s 9-year-old Rose Edelstein who begins to taste the emotions of those who prepare the food. This book reminded me of the magic realism in Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel, in which the cook imbues her passions into her food, resulting in some pleasant, and not so pleasant results for the partakers. Aimee Bender writes in a more popular style for a lovely exploration of heartbreak, sadness and laughter. Oh, and the cake on the cover will make you crave a snack while you read!

 

Cover of Girl Waits with GunGirl Waits with Gun by Amy Stewart

I love the headline-style titles---Girl Waits with Gun and Lady Cop Makes Trouble-in this amateur detective series by Amy Stewart. These Kopp sisters’ mysteries, based on the real life of early deputy sheriff, Constance Kopp, are a wonderful glimpse into the life of a trailblazing woman in law enforcement. The cover art by Jim Tierney has the feel of WWI posters or early graphic novels. You can even download a colouring book version of the covers and some paper dolls.

 

Non-fiction

Cover of The Seven Necessary Sins for Women and GirlsThe Seven Necessary Sins for Women and Girls by Mona Eltahawy 

With its provocative “flipping the bird” cover and list-heading title, The Seven Necessary Sins for Women and Girls invites women to transform their emotions and desires into powerful tools for change. It’s awfully hard to ignore this call to action!

“Seizing upon the energy of the #MeToo movement, feminist activist Mona Eltahawy advocates a muscular, out-loud approach to teaching women and girls to harness their power through what she calls the "seven necessary sins" that women and girls are not supposed to commit: to be angry, ambitious, profane, violent, attention-seeking, lustful, and powerful. All the necessary "sins" that women and girls require to erupt… Rather than teaching women and girls to survive the poisonous system they have found themselves in, Eltahawy arms them to dismantle it.”—Publisher.

 

Cover of A History of My Brief BodyA History of My Brief Body by Billy-Ray Belcourt

This title invites us to question—why a history? Why Brief? Why a body?  The cover seems to be a collection of random pieces from a life, reflecting the deliberately fragmented stories within. You’ll want to read, reread and reflect on sections of this poetic memoir.

“Opening with a tender letter to his kokum and memories of his early life on the Driftpile First Nation, Billy-Ray Belcourt delivers a searing account of Indigenous life that's part love letter, part rallying cry.

With the lyricism and emotional power of his award-winning poetry, Belcourt cracks apart his history and shares it with us one fragment at a time. He shines a light on Canada's legacy of colonial violence and the joy that flourishes in spite of it. He revisits sexual encounters, ruminates on first loves and first loves lost, and navigates the racial politics of gay hookup apps. Among the hard truths he distills, the outline of a brighter future takes shape.” --Publisher

 

You might also explore these earlier titles:

The Master Butcher’s Singing Club by Louise Erdrich
Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
The Grass is Always Greener Over the Septic Tank by Erma Bombeck