Summer 2020 will definitely be a summer to remember.
With a deadly disease threatening the entire world our society has been; isolated, quarantined, stranded in foreign countries, locked down on cruise ships, separated from loved ones, not to mention that schools shut down and businesses were closed around the world. At the cusp of all this madness there was North American toilet paper shortage!
Wait a second! This sounds like the plot of a really good book.
Speaking of good books here’s your COVID Summer Reading List, picked by the staff at University of Alberta Library. Enjoy these ebooks, hardcopies (available through our Curbside pickup), or add them to your Refworks account for later.
Coleman Silk has a secret. One that has been kept for fifty years from his wife, his four children, his colleagues, and his friends, including the writer Nathan Zuckerman. It is Zuckerman who stumbles upon Silk’s secret. He sets out to reconstruct the unknown biography of this eminent, upright man, esteemed as an educator for nearly all his life, and to understand how this ingeniously contrived life came unraveled. In the words of the Wall Street Journal the book is, “magnificently” interwoven with “the larger public history of modern America.”
When A Single Man was originally published it shocked many by its frank, sympathetic, and moving portrayal of a gay man in midlife. George, the protagonist, is adjusting to life on his own after the sudden death of his partnerl; determined to persist in the routines of his daily life. An Englishman and a professor living in suburban Southern California, he is an outsider in every way, and his internal reflections and interactions with others reveal a man who loves being alive despite everyday injustices and loneliness. Wry, suddenly manic, constantly funny, surprisingly sad, this novel catches the true textures of life itself.
In this memoir, singer-songwriter Patti Smith shares tales of New York City: the denizens of Max’s Kansas City, the Hotel Chelsea, Scribner’s, Brentano’s and Strand bookstores and her new life in Brooklyn with a young man named Robert Mapplethorpe–the man who changed her life with his love, friendship and genius.
Fink provides a landmark investigation of patient deaths at a New Orleans hospital ravaged by Hurricane Katrina — and a suspenseful portrayal of the quest for truth and justice. After Katrina struck and the floodwaters rose, the power failed, the heat climbed and exhausted caregivers chose to designate certain patients last for rescue. Months later, several health professionals faced criminal allegations that they deliberately injected numerous patients with drugs to hasten their deaths. Fink unspools the mystery of what happened in those days, bringing the reader into a hospital fighting for its life and into a conversation about the most terrifying form of health care rationing.
There’s Something in the Water : Environmental Racism in Indigenous and Black Communities by
Ingrid R.G. Waldron – Curbside pickup
Ingrid R.G. Waldron unpacks the effects of environmental racism on Indigenous and Black communities in Canada and the grassroots efforts being spurred on to combat these inequities.
Hilda is hardly at home anymore, seeking days filled with excitement and her mother can’t help but worry. In a moment of tension, the pair find themselves flung far away into a mysterious, dark forest — the land of the trolls! Can they work together to escape the clutches of these sinister stone creatures?
Monkey Beach is a spellbinding voyage – one that gives full scope to Robinson’s renowned ability to make bedfellows of comedy and the dark underside of life. Informed as much by its lush, living wilderness as by its colourful characters, Monkey Beach is a startling coming-of-age story, and a multilayered tale of family grief and redemption.
Tara Westover was seventeen the first time she set foot in a classroom. Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, she prepared for the end of the world by stockpiling home-canned peaches and sleeping with her “head-for-the-hills bag.” In the summer she stewed herbs for her mother, a midwife and healer, and in the winter she salvaged in her father’s junkyard. Her father distrusted the medical establishment, so Tara never saw a doctor or nurse. Gashes and concussions, even burns from explosions, were all treated at home with herbalism. The family was so isolated from mainstream society that there was no one to ensure the children received an education, and no one to intervene when an older brother became violent. When another brother got himself into college and came back with news of the world beyond the mountain, Tara decided to try a new kind of life. She taught herself enough mathematics, grammar, and science to take the ACT and was admitted to Brigham Young University. There, she studied psychology, politics, philosophy and history, learning for the first time about pivotal world events like the Holocaust and the Civil Rights Movement.
In 1982, Harvard-trained ethnobotanist Wade Davis traveled into the Haitian countryside to research reports of zombies–the infamous living dead of Haitian folklore. A report by a team of physicians of a verifiable case of zombification led him to try to obtain the poison associated with the process and examine it for potential medical use.
Everyone knows a guy like Jared: the burnout kid in high school who sells weed cookies and has a scary mom who’s often wasted and wielding some kind of weapon. Jared does smoke and drink too much, and he does make the best cookies in town, and his mom is a mess; but he’s also a kid who has an immense capacity for compassion and an impulse to watch over people more than twice his age. He can’t rely on anyone for consistent love and support, except for his flatulent pit bull, Baby Killer (he calls her Baby) –and now she’s dead. Jared can’t count on his mom to stay sober and stick around to take care of him, or rely on his dad to pay the bills and support his new wife and step-daughter. Jared is only sixteen but feels like he is the one who must stabilize his family’s life, even look out for his elderly neighbours. But he struggles to keep everything afloat… and sometimes he blacks out. And he puzzles over why his maternal grandmother has never liked him, why she says he’s the son of a trickster… that he isn’t human. Mind you, ravens speak to him–even when he’s not stoned. You think you know Jared, but you don’t.
Finding : Essays on the Natural and Unnatural World by Kathleen Jamie – eBook through HathiTrust
During her husband’s hospital stay for a life-threatening illness, Kathleen Jamie didn’t pray, but she did find herself paying very close attention to the world around her. In Findings, she shares her direct, uncluttered observations of the natural and unnatural world: seen from her kitchen window, on the streets of Edinburgh, in hospital corridors and in the Outer Hebrides
In 1914, as the shadow of war falls across Europe, a party led by veteran explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton sets out to become the first to traverse the Antarctic continent. Their initial optimism is short-lived, however, as the ice field slowly thickens, encasing the ship Endurance in a death-grip, crushing their craft, and marooning 28 men on a polar ice floe.
From award-winning poet and essayist Kathleen Jamie, fourteen essays on nature that recalibrate how we relate to the natural world. When asked at a conference about the urgency to reconnect with nature, she wondered, what exactly, did that really mean? In Sightlines, Jamie reports back from the field, offering a landmark work about the natural world and our relationship to it. In extraordinarily precise language, Jamie both explores her native Scottish surroundings, interweaving personal history with the physical landscape, before sailing north to encounter whalebones and icebergs. She dissects whatever her gaze falls upon, micro or macro; from vistas of cells beneath a hospital microscope, to orcas rounding a headland, to the aurora borealis lighting up the frozen sea.
Touching the Void is the heart-stopping account of Joe Simpson’s terrifying adventure in the Peruvian Andes. He and his climbing partner, Simon, reached the the summit of the remote Siula Grande in June 1995. A few days later, Simon staggered into Base Camp, exhausted and frost-bitten, with news that that Joe was dead.
Macfarlane embarks on a series of journeys in search of the wildness that remains in the British Isles. At once a wonder voyage, an adventure story and a work of natural history, this text also tells a story of friendship and loss, mixing history, memory and landscape in a strange evocation of wildness and its importance.
University of Alberta copy signed by author — University of Alberta copy in the Schloss Collection of Modern Literature.
Katherine highly recommends this book and says it’s “a wonderful read!”
Teeming with life and crackling with energy, this is a love song to modern Britain and to black womanhood that follows the lives and struggles of twelve very different characters. Mostly women, black and British, they tell the stories of their families, friends and lovers, across the country and through the years. Joyfully polyphonic and vibrantly contemporary, this is a gloriously new kind of history, a novel of our times: celebratory, ever-dynamic and utterly irresistible.
Mostly from 2019’s Don’t Judge a Book by It’s Cover event.
Not only is high schooler Tasuku Kaname the new kid in town, he is also terrified that he had been outed as gay. Just as he’s contemplating doing the unthinkable, Tasuku meets a mysterious woman who leads him to a group of people dealing with problems not so different from his own. In this realistic, heartfelt tale LGBT+ characters from different backgrounds find their place in the world, as a search for inner peace proves to be the most universal experience of all.
This volume includes nine of Junji Ito’s best short stories, as selected by the author himself and presented with accompanying notes and commentary. An arm peppered with tiny holes dangles from a sick girl’s window… After an idol hangs herself, balloons bearing faces appear in the sky, some even featuring your own face… An amateur film crew hires an extremely individualistic fashion model and faces a real bloody ending… An offering of nine fresh nightmares for the delectation of horror fans.
Candace Chen, a millennial drone self-sequestered in a Manhattan office tower, is devoted to routine. With the recent passing of her Chinese immigrant parents, she’s had her fill of uncertainty. She’s content just to carry on: she goes to work, troubleshoots the teen-targeted Gemstone Bible, watches movies in a Greenpoint basement with her boyfriend. So Candace barely notices when a plague of biblical proportions sweeps New York. Shen Fever spreads. Families flee. Companies cease operations. The subways screech to a halt. Her bosses enlist her as part of a dwindling skeleton crew with a big end-date payoff. Soon entirely alone, apparently immune, she photographs the eerie, abandoned city as the anonymous blogger NY Ghost. Candace won’t be able to make it on her own forever, though. Enter a group of survivors, led by the power-hungry IT tech Bob. They’re traveling to a place called the Facility, where, Bob promises, they will have everything they need to start society anew. But Candace is carrying a secret she knows Bob will exploit. Should she escape from her rescuers?
Hikaru always thought his classmate Rihito was kind of a snob, until he stumbles across Rihito secretly practicing a song in an empty classroom. Hikaru agrees to become Rihito’s music tutor, and with each lesson the two boys grow closer. But when Hikaru realizes that he’s fallen for Rihito, will they stay classmates, or become something more?
In case the headline didn’t give it away, this is part one of two. We had so many fantastic staff recommendations that we were forced to split our list in two. Stay tuned for the stunning conclusion…
If you need any help accessing the ebook, placing a hold for curbside pickup or adding these titles to your Refworks list please chat with me or my Information Services Specialist Colleagues on the Library Chat service.