The Librarian's Nightstand - Spring 2023
Have you set your summer reading list yet? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered!
These picks are more than just librarian-approved. They come straight from the librarian’s nightstand! We asked our six branch librarians to share a great book they recently finished. Here are their picks.
Aldershot Branch Librarian Andrea
My Mother’s Daughter by Perdita Felicien was recommended by a friend who devours sports biographies. At first, I rolled my eyes at the suggestion—nothing new from this friend! I was instantly corrected. It is a memoir from a world-class athlete, and so much more.
Most people know Perdita Felicien as Canada's gold medal hopeful in hurdles at the 2004 Summer Olympics. Or, perhaps more recently as one of CBC's Olympic broadcasters. But, before, after, and during her success, Perdita was and is her mother's daughter. To understand Perdita's journey of literal and figurative hurdles, you must learn her mother, Catherine's, story. Perdita details her struggle immigrating to Canada, and enduring racism, poverty, domestic abuse, and homelessness. This memoir is a love letter from a daughter to her mother.
If you love biographies, memoirs, sports, or stories about family relationships, Perdita's first book is a heart-warming and captivating read.
Andrea is a recovering English Literature major who now loves non-fiction, particularly true crime, philosophy, psychology... and now memoirs! She is also known to read stories about the immigrant experience, Indigenous fiction, and is especially excited when the Canada Reads and Scotiabank Giller Prize long-lists are announced.
Alton Branch Librarian Emma
You don’t want to miss this novel that won the 2022 Governor General’s Award and was nominated for a 2023 White Pine Award.
The Summer of Bitter and Sweet by Jen Ferguson centres on Lou, who will be working in her family's ice-cream shack for the summer with her former best friend, King. King has been M.I.A. for three years but is back in their small prairie town looking to pick up where they left off. Lou’s biological dad is also looking to get back into her life. And when the family business comes under threat, she realizes that she may need to turn to both of them for support.
This powerfully resonant Young Adult novel will stay with me for a long time. Author Jen Ferguson tackles some heavy and complex, emotional topics including sexuality, mental health, sexual assault, and race, making this book an important and relevant read. She flawlessly blends these topics with the nostalgic, fun, and carefree vibes of a teenage summer. If you’re looking for more Indigenous and 2SLGBTQIA+ reads, I highly recommend this deeply felt story of self-discovery.
Emma likes to tuck into contemporary and historical fiction, young adult novels, and memoirs, and lists Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, Lovely War by Julie Berry, The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd, and The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh as her favourite novels.
Brant Hills Branch Librarian Heather
I highly recommend Sparks Like Stars by Nadia Hashimi for lovers of emigration stories, found family, and surviving against the odds.
It’s about Sitara, a young girl who loses her entire family in Afghanistan’s 1978 Saur Revolution. In the aftermath of their killings, she is picked up by an American diplomat and unceremoniously ferried to a new life in the United States. She spends her youth and much of her adulthood processing the heartbreak and emotional turmoil of her personal and cultural losses, and eventually becomes a doctor. Her trauma bubbles back up to the surface when she discovers one of her patients at the hospital may have been involved in her family’s murder.
This book helped me understand Afghanistan and its people from a non-western point of view, and it really opened my eyes to the complexity of the country’s political history. Pick up this title if you like to tackle tough subjects in your reading, and appreciate a strong, thoughtful female lead.
Heather dives into dramatic family sagas and historical fiction as her go-to audiobook picks, and reaches for romantic beach novels and light mysteries for her leisure reading. Her favourite authors include John Green, Liane Moriarty, and Edward Rutherfurd.
Central Branch Librarian Mehr
Buckle up for Pirates of the Caribbean-style adventure!
The Adventures of Amina al-Sirafi is about a notorious female pirate who risked her life for wealth and adventure with her crew. After becoming a mother, she tries to enjoy a quiet retirement, until a wealthy woman offers her a job she cannot resist. She gathers her crew for one last journey, venturing across the Indian Ocean to solve the disappearance of a young girl.
I loved the dynamic world-building in this novel. It is threaded with historical elements from the 12th century and features a diverse cast of characters from different nationalities and religious backgrounds. The banter between the characters was hilarious!
Mehr loves young adult fantasy and science fiction-dystopian novels. Occasionally, she'll dive into contemporary fiction, but only when she needs to ground herself back to Earth after visiting epic fantasy worlds. Some of her favourite authors are Marissa Meyer, S.A. Chakraborty, and S.K. Ali.
New Appleby Branch Librarian Kumkum
I kept thinking about Racheal Aviv’s compelling read Strangers to Ourselves: Unsettled Minds and the Stories That Make Us long after I put the book down.
Aviv shares six character-driven stories about people from different cultures and backgrounds who struggle with mental disorders. They include Bapu, an Indian mother and wife who is intensely devoted to the god, Krishna, and keeps leaving home on mystical quests, Naomi, an African American woman who has experienced poverty, oppression, and racism and jumps into the Mississippi river with her 14-month twins during a psychotic episode, and Ray, a renowned, and somewhat arrogant physician who sues the hospital that treated him for depression.
Aviv raises many though-provoking questions about the complexity of mental illness, its varied nature and its treatment. Her compassion and empathy shine through her much-applauded writing.
Kumkum often reads two to three books at a time, selecting from various genres including mysteries and thrillers, relationship fiction, contemporary and historical fiction, memoirs and non-fiction.
Tansley Woods Branch Librarian Deepti
This is a story full of suspense.
In Reckless Girls by Rachel Hawkins, you’ll meet Lux and her boyfriend Nico, who dream of sailing their boat around the world. They think they’ve found the perfect opportunity to live their fantasy when two wealthy young women hire them to sail them to a deserted island. But you know what they say about things that sound too good to be true. When they near the island, Lux and Nico discover that there is another ship anchored there already. Then things really start to unravel.
This twisty thriller is full of surprises. It is a perfect page turner to read on vacation! If you’ve enjoyed other Rachel Hawkins books, you’ll definitely want to read Reckless Girls.
Teacher-turned-librarian, Deepti, loves a good suspense mystery—especially books by master storyteller, Jeffry Archer—or young adult fiction adventures.
Find Your Next Great Read
Library staff are a great resource for reading recommendations. Of course, they have their personal favourite genres and authors, but they also keep a close eye on top picks from all corners of our collection.
When you visit the library, don’t be shy about asking for your “next great read.” Staff will ask you a few simple questions about your past favourites to help you find a perfect pick. You can also browse our curated Staff Picks lists online for thoughtful booklists on a wide variety of topics.