Read This details book selections by local authorities, luminaries, institutions, and locals that share deep affections for the written word. This week, we asked Hal Wake, Arielle Spence, Ann McDonell, and Clea Young of the Vancouver Writers Fest to give us four titles that would sweeten our winter break…
1. The Crossing by Michael Connelly, Grand Central Publishing | Recommended by Hal Wake
When a writer has sold in the neighbourhood of 58 million books in almost 40 languages, it’s safe to say he has widespread appeal. Michael Connelly’s latest crime procedural, The Crossing, will only add to his reputation. The hook in his latest book is that his protagonist, former cop turned investigator Harry Bosch, crosses the floor to work for a defense attorney—something he vowed he would never do. But pursuing the truth is something he can’t turn away from, even though it puts his life in peril. This is the 20th book in the series, enough to occupy you for the entire holidays.
2. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, Simon & Shuster | Recommended by Ann McDonell
I can’t remember the last time I recommended a book as often as I have All the Light We Cannot See, pushing it on anyone who will listen. Set in France and Germany during WWII, Anthony Doerr’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel is at once a harrowing portrait of war-torn Europe and a testament to the power of love in the face of evil. The parallel stories of a blind French girl and an orphaned German boy that collide in the aftermath of the war is both devastating and deeply moving, full of gorgeously rendered descriptions of the European rural and urban environs that run as counterpoint to the beautifully realized inner lives of the child protagonists.
3. Nimona by Noelle Stevenson, HarperTeen | Recommended by Arielle Spence
Noelle Stevenson’s webcomic turned National Book Award-nominated graphic novel may take place in a world with knights, dragons and magic, but her protagonist is like no hero you’ve seen before. In the first pages, Nimona, a capricious shape-shifter with a murky past, convinces Ballister Blackheart, the most loathed villain of a kingdom that’s half-medieval England/half-technotopia, to hire her as his sidekick. What follows is a witty and poignant tale about friendship and the very malleable division between good and evil. Throughout the book, Stevenson’s cheeky dialogue and nuanced characters are complimented by her vibrant, expressive artwork. Compulsively readable, Nimona would make a great gift for young readers and aspiring graphic novelists alike.
4. The Visiting Privilege: New and Collected Stories by Joy Williams, Knopf | Recommended by Clea Young
The publication of The Visiting Privilege: New and Collected Stories, Joy Williams’ first collection in 10 years, is cause for celebration. It’s an odd thing to say you’ll want to savour these stories by an author with a reputation as “one of the greatest chroniclers of humanity’s insignificance,” but trust me, you will. Think of this book as your extended advent calendar for the New Year, 46 sparkling, strange, tragicomic short stories to take you very nearly to Spring.
The Vancouver Writers Fest is a celebration of story, told by authors, poets, spoken word performers, and graphic novelists. Each October we present 6 days of events on Granville Island for readers of all interests – readings, interviews, discussions and performances –with 100+ acclaimed and emerging writers from around the world.