Illustration: Emilie Simpson (Background)
Book lovers, it's our season! As the weather gets cooler and the days get shorter, we start nesting indoors under a blanket with a cup of tea and a great read. It's that sweet slow life best savoured page by page, and we've rounded up prime picks sure to satisfy.
When our former governor general David Johnston talks, I tend to listen. This erudite, eloquent man has wisdom to impart that, in fact, we should all take note of. In this new book, he reflects on how citizens worldwide have lost faith in the institutions that guide us and how that erosion leads to political and social chaos. How is trust restored? Johnston details several ways that work not only from a national perspective but also from community and personal ones: being consistent, sharing knowledge across boundaries and borders, showing up (every time!) and listening—they're simple reminders for everyone, and can't we all use more of that? —Suzanne Moutis
Trust (Signal) by David Johnston, $30.
Based in Singapore and spanning multiple generations and perspectives, Sharlene Teo's debut novel is a master class in restrained emotion. The story focuses on three women: Amisa, once a great beauty whose claim to fame is a B-list horror-film franchise from her youth; Szu, her daughter, who, without a father, lives in the shadow of her mother; and Circe, Szu's only friend. This is a tale of friendship, betrayal and fraught family relations but also a quiet study on how our youthful decisions and childhood temperaments follow us our entire lives. —Alexandra Donaldson
Ponti (Simon & Schuster) by Sharlene Teo, $35.
NO GOOD ASKING (Fiction)
What happens when a flailing family takes in an abused young girl? Fran Kimmel tells this moving story in her second novel, No Good Asking. Through alternating points of view, Kimmel describes 11-year-old Hannah's impact on the Nyland family, who've recently relocated to dad Eric's childhood home to care for his aging father. The seemingly mundane scenes—a family dinner, for example—are the most powerful in the story and demonstrate our capacity to heal one another through compassion and kindness. —Amanda Etty
No Good Asking (ECW Press) by Fran Kimmel, $19.
BITTER ORANGE (Fiction)
Against the moody backdrop of a dilapidated English estate in the summer of 1969, Frances Jellico meets Cara and Peter, the couple living in the space below hers. After discovering a peephole that looks into their bathroom, Frances starts watching their lives play out from above. As the season progresses, the trio become more entangled, eating decadent meals and drinking in abundance, exploring the grounds of the estate and sharing secrets and lies. The story builds to a shocking finale, resulting in a thoroughly enjoyable book with a well-paced plot and plenty of twists and turns. —AE
Bitter Orange (House of Anansi Press) by Claire Fuller, $23.
THE SEVEN DEATHS OF EVELYN HARDCASTLE (Fiction)
"I forget everything between footsteps," starts the narrator, who has lost sight of his identity and purpose all in an instant. He ambles through the forest to the antiquated manor nearby, where, much to his relief, he's recognized by other guests there for a masquerade. Tonight, someone will die, and it's up to this storyteller to solve the murder. If he doesn't? He'll awaken again to start the same day anew—but as a different houseguest. The odds are stacked against him; he has eight tries, few reliable allies and many obstacles. My favourite mystery so far this year, it's Agatha Christie, Groundhog Day and Black Mirror mashed up into the kind of tale you just can't put down. —Sara Cation
The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle (HarperCollins) by Stuart turton, $25.
FEAR FACTOR: THRILLER NIGHTS
While we're all for classic ghost stories at this time of year, the truth is that this recent crop of literary thrillers has the same effect as the fearful campfire-worthy tales of our youth. We stay up late to devour just one more chapter (then another and another) and jump at suspicious sounds, turning on lights to make us feel more safe. We're gripped. Here are enough new thrillers to keep you in suspense well into next season.
- Vox (Berkley) by Christina Dalcher, $24.
- Paris Echo (Bond Street Books) by Sebastian Faulks, $34.
- Don't You Cry (HarperCollins) by Cass Green, $23.
- Elevation (Scribner) by Stephen King, $25.
- I Know You Know (William Morrow) by Gilly Macmillan, $25.
- Find Me Gone (Harper) by Sarah Meuleman, $20.
- Cross Her Heart (William Morrow) by Sarah Pinborough, $24.
- The Stranger Upstairs (House of Anansi Press) by Melanie Raabe, $20.
- The Lies We Told (Berkley) by Camilla Way, $22.
OUR STAFF REVIEWERS
Sara Cation has wept her way through a litany of literary heartbreaks, from The Little Prince to A Little Life, but she's buoyed by the likes of Shteyngart and Safran Foer. She reads anything set in North Korea or India but never touches self-help or romances.
Alexandra Donaldson loves reading literary fiction, essay collections, dark humour, Canadian authors and magical realism. This, and the fact that she's one of our resident fashion editors, makes her the closest thing we have to Belle from Beauty and the Beast.
Amanda Etty has an affinity for nail-biting thrillers and smart, funny books written by smart, funny women. She's always on the hunt for her next favourite novel, although she's currently working her way through a stack of parenting books (toddlers, right?).
Suzanne Moutis almost always has her nose in a book, be it Golden Age mystery, Second World War history or Hollywood tell-all. She unapologetically loves Regency romances and young adult fiction but flatly refuses to read anything that will make her cry.