|Summer reading lists often compile bestselling paperbacks and genre thrillers, and while I wouldnt begrudge someone reading, say, John le Carré, I doubt many are planning to make this the summer that they sit down and read all 12 volumes of Anthony Powells Dance to the Music of Time (highly recommended, if you havent).
That said, theres already been some great new spring releases, including Jose Saramagos Seeing, a sequel-of-sorts to Blindness; the newest translation of Ismail Kadares work, the genre-bending thriller The Successor; Mark Haddons (of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time fame) debut collection of poetry, The Talking Horse and the Sad Girl and the Village Under the Sea; and Michelle Wans followup to Deadly Slipper, the creepy mystery The Orchid Shroud.
For those in a non-fiction mood, theres Barry Rubin and Judith Colp Rubins Hating America; David Crystals ode to language, Words, Words Words; and the recent Canadian publication of Adam Hochschilds bloody history of the Congo, King Leopolds Ghost (highly recommended).
Other great titles recently released and up for publication until the end of August:
·The Futurist, by James P. Othmer (Doubleday Canada) Yates spins lies for a living, flying around the world making up "wisdom." A simple premise (Othmer drew the novel out of an early short story), but one that promises a dark, biting look at corporate doublespeak.
·Theft by Peter Carey (Random House Canada) This one by the two-time Booker Prize-winning author is already generating buzz, with Careys ex-wife condemning the novel as a thinly veiled portrait of her. Either way, this satirical take on the art world should please fans of Careys uniquely crafted prose.
·Writing Life: Celebrated Canadian and International Authors on Writing and Life, edited by Constance Rooke (McClelland & Stewart) Writers are generally unreliable when it comes to judging their own work critically, but their conversations and writings on the craft are often illuminating. This collection, put out in support of PEN Canada, features essays by Rohinton Mistry, Shelia Heti, Lisa Moore, Jane Urquhart and Michael Ondaatje.
·Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen (HarperCollins Canada) Life and love among carnies during the Great Depression. Could be on the heartwarming side, although, like her previous novel Riding Lessons, the writing should elevate it above the mundane.
·The New Oxford Book of Literary Anecdotes, edited by John Gross (Oxford University Press) This is the kind of title that makes any bibliophile grin. A collection of tales ranging from the hilarious to the horrific, on everyone from Margaret Atwood to Chinua Achebe, George Eliot and Agatha Christie.
·Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel (Thomas Allen & Son) Lambda Award-winning author and artist Bechdel turns to autobiography in this graphic novel about growing up gay in a funeral home.
·Friendship: An Exposé by Joseph Epstein (Thomas Allen & Son) Ever wonder if your friends are talking behind your back? They probably are, as Epstein deconstructs the goings-on behind our day-to-day relationships.
·Safety of War, by Rob Benvie (Coach House Books) David, a bored copywriter, finds himself at a nature retreat, where the inhabitants are into New Age and death. Murder and devil worship ensue.
·Beyond Black, by Hilary Mantel (HarperCollins) Recently nominated for the Booker Prize, this is the dark and unruly life of a psychic, who may or may not be what she seems.
·Gilead, by Marilynne Robinson (Harper Collins) Recent winner of the Pulitzer Prize, a generational story of a preacher and his sons.
·The Parliament of Man: The Past, Present and Future of the United Nations, by Paul Kennedy (Harper Collins) a look at the history of the UN, questioning its relevancy in todays world.
·A Woman in Jerusalem, by A. B. Yehoshua (Harcourt) one of Israels best-known authors returns with the tale of a human resources officer reconstructing the life of a woman killed in a suicide bombing.
·The Superman Handbook: The Ultimate Guide to Saving the Day, by Scott Beatty (Quirk Books) just in time for the release of Superman Returns, learn how to be your own neighbourhood Superman, from catching people to breaking down doors and treating wounds.
Other notable titles: The Whistling Season, by Ivan Doig (Harcourt); Manbug by George K. Ilsley (Arsenal Pulp Press); Empathy by Sarah Schulman (Arsenal Pulp Press); Canvey Island by James Runcie (Bloomsbury U.K.); To Feel Stuff, by Andrea Seigel (Harcourt); Sex Advice From the Editors of Nerve.com (Chronicle Books); Iran Awakening: A Memoir of Revolution and Hope, by Shirin Ebadi (Knopf Canada); Enter the Babylon System: The Life Story of the Gun, by Rodrigo Bascunan and Christian Pearce (Random House); A Disorder Peculiar to the Country, by Ken Kalfus (Ecco Press); and The Traveling Death and Resurrection Show, by Ariel Gore (Harper San Francisco).