summer reading list

So, last summer I had the pleasure of working for LitFest: Edmonton’s Nonfiction Festival and it was actually the best job ever. Not only did I get to work with an amazing woman (the executive director has next-level organizational skills, is one of the smartest women I’ve had the pleasure of breathing the same air as, and is just so cool) but I read so many books. So many. And it was awesome.

This summer I’m not working for LitFest (such a bummer), but I decided that it was no reason to let my summer reading slip. So, I decided to make my own list.

Here’s my list of hot summer reads or mostly just books I bought and I hope I can finally read this summer. Wait, before I begin, I thought that it would be fun to tell you why I wanted to read these particular books instead of just making a boring list.

But then I thought, maybe nobody cares?

But then I decided to do it anyway. So, enjoy!

Angela’s Ashes – Frank McCourt

Apparently this memoir is essential reading for, well, everybody.

Pathologies – Susan Olding

My supervisor recommended this book because it might help me form my thesis project.

The Year of Magical Thinking Joan Didion

Because Joan Didion wrote it.

Us Conductors – Sean Michaels

I bought this because it won the Giller Prize a couple years ago and now maybe I’ll actually make the time to read it. (I didn’t read it initially because I met Sean Michaels once last year and embarrassed myself horribly by making a joke that wasn’t funny and this book has sat in my room as a reminder of that. But now I’m finally ready to face that embarrassment once and for all).

Into Thin AirJon Krakauer

I’m obsessed with disasters.

Girl, Interrupted – Susanna Kaysen

I watched the movie and I just want to see how much of it was actually true.

even this page is white – Vivek Shraya

Vivek Shraya is a hometown hero, and I’ve never really read much poetry, so I figured I could kill two birds with one book: read some poetry and read some local talent.

I am Malala – Christina Lamb and Malala Yousafzai & Secret Sister – Helen Edwards & Jenny Lee Smith

I grouped these books together because the reason I’m reading them is essentially the same: they were both very thoughtful Christmas gifts from my family that I haven’t had the opportunity to read–yet.

Not That Kind of Girl – Lena Dunham

I kind of just want to see what all the fuss is about.

40 Below (1 and 2) – Edited by Jason Lee Norman

Edited by another hometown hero and including works from many more hometown heroes, I figured it was about time I support local writers and read these two anthologies.

The DilettantesMichael Hingston

During a talk in my last semester of university this local writer successfully piqued my interest about his novel.

The Horrors – Charles Demers

This book is a hangover from last year’s LitFest reading.

Blackout: The Things I Drank to ForgetSarah Hepola

I have heard great things and I can’t resist reading another Sarah’s work.

There you have it folks—an unabridged version of my summer reading hopefuls.

It might be a little ambitious considering I’m addicted to Netflix (and I’m lazy), but I’m feelin’ enthusiastic. If y’all want to read along with me, that’d be cool! Keep me posted on what you read, what you like, what you hate, et cetera. I’d love to hear it!

get lost

When I was a kid, all I ever did was read.

And I mean, it was all I did. I didn’t have many friends and I didn’t have any extracurricular activities and I didn’t have anything better to do… so I just read, read, read, read, read.

My favourite author then–actually, my favourite author of all time–was/is Stephen King. I devoured his books and the monsters inside them with an unbridled enthusiasm. If my mum ever lost me in the library, she knew exactly where to find me–nestled in Fiction, under the letter K (or B, depending on whether I was working my way through the works penned under Richard Bachman).

Mr. King provided a much-needed escape from my sometimes-shitty life. Like I said, I didn’t have many friends (or any friends) and the lack of social stimulation could be kind of lonely, so it was nice to lose myself in a world that sucked even more than mine did.

Books were my best friend. And I ain’t even ashamed to admit it.

Even now that I actually have a social life (-ish) and adult responsibilities and just things to do in general, I find myself escaping into a good story every once in a while. Lately, my life has gotten a little out of control–nothing I can’t manage, but something I definitely like to forget about sometimes. So, I started reading Angela’s Ashes, because I figured what could be worse than growing up in poverty in Ireland in the ’20s?

Literally, nothing. Nothing is worse.

It is the most heart-wrenching thing I’ve ever read.


I have to read it in spurts because I get overwhelmed. There is something about having these truly terrible things narrated by a child that makes the memoir chilling (in the best way, obviously) and it gets me emotional. I don’t want to spoil anything (although, the book and the movie have been out long enough that y’all should know what happens by now) but a lot of children die and it’s really, really, really sad. And Frankie’s dad, well, he will piss me off in one minute and then have me laughing in the next and then have me crying and then before you know it I’m pissed off at him again. It’s a roller coaster of emotions, but I appreciate it so much because when I’m reading about kids starving to death and an alcoholic father and a seriously depressed mother… I forget about my own life.

I’m about halfway done Frankie’s memoir and despite experiencing the full spectrum of emotions over and over and over again, it’s done wonders for my mental state, to be honest. When I return back to my own life, the problems I have feel much more manageable now. I’ve given my brain a break from stressing over my life to lose myself in somebody else’s.

The way I figure it,  if Frankie McCourt can make it through his life, then I’ll be just fine.