1. As I Walked About by Phil Jenkins
2. Hamnet and Judith by Maggie O’Farrell
3. The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner
4. A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
5. The Pull of the Stars by Emma Donoghue
6. Rabbit Foot Bill by Helen Humphreys
7. Indians on Vacation by Thomas King
8. Dark August by Katie Tallo
9. Too Much and Never Enough by Mary L. Trump
10. Circe by Madeline Miller
Greetings Book Lovers!
Welcome to September! Mother Nature has flipped a switch out there, and we seem to be firmly heading away from heat and humidity, straight into the waiting arms of autumn. Even though we know all about the cold, white, fluffy stuff that awaits us when the golden glow of fall has faded, there’s still lots to look forward to between now and then – woolly sweaters, soft scarves, cozy socks, hot chocolate, comfort baking, and more new books than you can shake a stick at! Whenever we need reminding of the joys to come, all we have to do is look at the giant piles of boxes we receive here at the store every day; boxes full of brand new releases that are just waiting to settle into their new home on your nightstand! From sweeping family sagas to beautiful picture books, political biographies to cookbooks all about soup – there’s no doubt that we’ve now entered the most eclectic of the book-selling seasons!
Although we’re not quite two weeks into the month yet, we’ve already had some real superstar book releases – Thomas King‘s Indians on Vacation, Helen Humphreys‘ Rabbit Foot Bill, All the Devils Are Here by Louise Penny, The Lying Life of Adults by Elena Ferrante, Tim Cook‘s The Fight for History, and The Darkest Evening by Ann Cleeves, just to name a few. With many more still to come, it looks like this year is going to be an extra special one! There’s been little to recommend 2020 so far, so we’re pretty excited about the way our fall and winter bookselling seasons are shaping up.
Before we get into the main portion of our newsletter, we just wanted to take this opportunity to make a quick announcement. While some of you have already heard this news through our book club, we wanted to properly announce that our colleague Jill Moll retired from her job here at the store at the end of August. Having worked here for fifteen years – probably the longest-serving staff member among those who remain – it’s hard to imagine the fabric of the store without Jill’s thread running through it. Always quick with a great book recommendation, more than happy to help customers find that perfect gift for someone special, and as the genius behind (and the head of) our long-running Books on Beechwood Book Club, we’ll really miss Jill’s quick wit, great taste in books, and penchant for staying up to date on the very latest book reviews. Under normal circumstances, we would have had a bit of a do in the store so we could all say goodbye properly, but unfortunately that wasn’t possible in the current climate. We’re holding out hope though, that maybe sometime in 2021 we’ll all be able to get together to celebrate this wonderful member of our bookstore family who has played such a big part in our lives. With her love of reading and travel, we know that our Jill won’t be taking things too easy now that she’s retired, and once the world reopens, it better watch out! Even though we won’t see her quite as often from now on, we still expect her to visit every now and then, whether she’s in need of a new book or just wants to tell us about her latest adventure. We will miss you, Jill, but the world awaits and we can’t wait to see you put your stamp on it!
Following the newly placed arrows on our floor, our first stop on this months’s newsletter tour is our fiction section. It’s always so hard to decide which books we’re going to highlight in these few brief lines, but this month we’re finding it especially hard. Not only because we haven’t really given you a traditional newsletter since the spring, but also because there are just too many wonderful new books that we want to talk to you about. Alas, tough decisions must be made, so here we go. With a Scotiabank Giller Prize to his name for 419, Will Ferguson has just released his brand new novel which beckons us to enter the enticing world of lost objects. While we can all relate to harrowing tales of that one elusive sock that we’re still convinced our dryer gobbled up, or the set of keys that we know we just had in our hand but somehow now can’t locate, The Finder has far more precious quarry in mind. Over the decades (and centuries), countless highly-coveted objects such as the Romanov’s gilded Faberge eggs and Muhammad Ali’s Olympic Gold Medal have gone missing from places all around the world – seemingly disappearing from the face of the Earth. In this novel full of intrigue and adventure, Ferguson takes us on a journey across continents and oceans, following Interpol Agent Gaddy Rhodes as she attempts to track down The Finder, a shadowy figure who flits in and out of society’s dark underbelly, and whom Gaddy believes is tracking down the world’s greatest lost treasures. Will she succeed in tracking down a shady criminal and perhaps restore some precious ornaments to their rightful place in society and history? You’ll have to delve between the covers to find out! Deftly conjured and truly unique, you’ll be completely drawn into this book before you can say Interpol!
Sometimes it’s the most ordinary situations or tasks that can make for the most thrilling backdrops in great novels. Tasks such as viewing an apartment – a fairly ordinary prospect for people of all ages looking to lay down roots somewhere new – can take on a truly Agatha Christie-esque aura when molded by the hands of a master storyteller. This is exactly what happens in Fredrik Backman‘s new novel, Anxious People. When an open house is shockingly interrupted by an armed assailant who takes the eight apartment-browsers hostage, not only has something that we take for granted as a safe and mundane task been defiled, but eight people who were previously strangers have now been indelibly linked. As the hours tick by and the stand off between the hostage taker and police drags on, tensions rise inside the apartment as secrets are revealed, relationships tested, and liars unveiled. While most of the hostages came to the apartment with honourable intentions, not all are as they seem. Among them sits Eileen, an eighty-year-old woman who has seen enough of the world that she’s not put off by a gun being waved in her face, but it also seems that she hasn’t been quite as open and truthful as some of her fellow house-hunters. Infused with Backman‘s undeniable understanding of human nature and his incredible imagination, this novel would make a great companion on a cozy weekend afternoon. If you’d rather have two books handy for your weekend reading session, why not pair Anxious People with One by One by Ruth Ware? Although it does feature a goodly amount of that fluffy, wintry, white stuff that you may not be ready to think about quite yet, the story is compelling enough for you to forget all about the weather. Calling to mind some of the classic country house mysteries we all know and love, this new novel throws together a group of tech start-up colleagues as they attend a corporate retreat in the French Alps. While it doesn’t seem like much of a hardship to spend a week in a ski chalet surrounded by amazing views, cozy fires, and staff to fulfill your every whim, when the retreat turns into a Mother Nature-enforced imprisonment courtesy of an avalanche, the atmosphere inside the chalet begins to crackle. Especially when it seems that one of your colleagues has been missing in action since the avalanche hit. Told with her trademark style and full of twists, turns, and intriguing characters, you won’t be sorry to have picked up this chilling novel…even if it does make you think of winter!
Although this year hasn’t been quite the same as any other, one thing that hasn’t changed is the fact that the arrival of September made us think of Terry Fox. This year marks the 40th anniversary of Terry’s iconic Marathon of Hope, so it’s fitting that a new book has been released to recognize the impact Terry had (and continues to have) on our country and individual Canadians. Made up of letters from fellow Canadian icons such as Jann Arden, Perdita Filicien, and Wayne Gretzky as well as those who actually accompanied Terry on his run, Forever Terry: A Legacy in Letters should hold pride of place on every Canadian’s bookshelf. Edited by Terry’s younger brother Darrell on behalf of the Fox family, this book contains not only letters about how Terry changed lives and inspired a nation, but also a series of never-before-seen photographs. Even if you’re already familiar with Terry’s story, this book still makes for a powerful, touching read. Proceeds from the book will go to the Terry Fox Foundation, which has raised over $800 million for cancer research – an absolutely incredible achievement. Visit terryfox.org to learn more about this year’s virtual run and how you can celebrate the memory and legacy of this truly great man. For any teachers or parents out there who want to introduce their children or students to Terry’s story, be sure to check out two new kids books, Terry Fox and Me by Mary Beth Leatherdale and Meet Terry Fox by Elizabeth MacLeod and Mike Deas.
Amidst everything that’s been going on in the world this year, one thing that hasn’t changed is the fact that there are still too many books that we want to tell you about, and not nearly enough time or space in this medium for us to do so. Here are some of the other recent and forthcoming releases that we think you should watch out for: Fifty Words for Rain by Asha Lemmie, Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi, Loonshots by Safi Bahcall, Dog is Love by Clive D.L. Wynne, Dear Emmie Blue by Lia Louis, Creativity by John Cleese, The Secret Life of Books by Tom Mole, King and Outlaw: The Real Robert the Bruce by Chris Brown, The Story of Silence by Alex Myers, Bonnie by Christine Schwarz, Saltwater Gifts by Shirley Scott and Christine Legrow, Agent Sonya by Ben MacIntyre (September 15), Piranesi by Susanna Clarke (September 15), To Sleep in a Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini (September 15), Rage by Bob Woodward (September 15), The Evening and the Morning by Ken Follett (September 15), Troubled Blood by Robert Galbraith (September 15), The Left-Handed Booksellers of London by Garth Nix (September 22), The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi (September 22), Consent by Annabel Lyon (September 29), The Midnight Library by Matt Haig (September 29), This Golden Fleece by Esther Rutter (September 1), War: How Conflict Shaped Us by Margaret MacMillan (October 6), Magic Lessons by Alice Hoffman (October 6).
Even though the transition from summer to fall happens every year, the abrupt change in the pace of the book industry still manages to surprise us. With so many great new books coming out every day, it’s hard to know where to start! At no other time of year is the saying “so many books, so little time” more appropriate. It’s a bit like what we imagine having a full dance card is like – there are so many things we want to read, that we have to make a bit of plan, so we can pass seamlessly from one to the next. We just did the salsa with The Switch (Beth O’Leary), foxtrotted with The Forgotten Kingdom (Signe Pike), tangoed with The Deadly Hours (Susanna Kearsley), and still have a cha-cha with The Canyon’s Edge (Dusti Bowling), and the merengue with Magic Lessons (Alice Hoffman) to go! So, fasten on your dancing shoes and join us out here on the floor – there are more than enough books to go around and they really know their stuff!
All the best from our book family to yours!
— The Staff at Books on Beechwood
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What I’m Reading: Homeland Elegies by Ayad Akhtar
“Recommended to me by a friend, this book completely drew me in as soon as I picked it up! Featuring themes of immigration, dispossession, and the ways in which society has changed since 9/11, the story is told through the lens of a young Pakistani man’s coming-of-age in America. Full of colourful, charming characters, this world-straddling novel is at once tender, eye-opening, and heartfelt. It would make a great book club read!”