Tom's Favourite Reads

Tom read nearly 80 books this year too (including the Bible and the Koran) and when he saw that I tallied up my favourites, he went back and choose his ten best reads. The first pick, he claims, is unbiased but if you live with an author you are contractual obligated to say nice things about their work so add salt as needed. Here is Dr. Math’s top 10 in no particular order:

The Boat People - Sharon Bala
White Teeth - Zadie Smith
The God of Small Things - Arundhati Roy
Wolf Hall - Hillary Mantel
On Beauty - Zadie Smith
Runaway - Alice Munro
Do Not Say We Have Nothing - Madeleine Thien
The Waste Land - T.S. Eliot
The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
Birds of America - Lorrie Moore

Reading list

I read 77 books this year. Here are my favourites:

January
Exit West by Mohsin Hamid. Most surprising read of the year.

February
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath.
Book I should have read years ago and will definitely read again.
Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie. One of my favourite books of all time. Full stop.
The Power by Naomi Alderman. Most empowering read of the year.

March
Next year for sure by Zoey Leigh Peterson. Lovely mediation on friendship.
Journey Prize 30. March was also the month I read and re-read all the Journey Prize stories (all 100 of them!) and the anthology contains the absolute very best of the pile. Shashi Bhat who won this year is a dream of a writer and she’s got a book in the works so BE EXCITED!

May
Gender Failure by Rae Spoon and Ivan Coyote. One of the two most delightful reads of the year.

June
Trust No Aunty by Maria Qamar. Speaking of delightful, this coffee table book/ memoir/ survival guide fits the bill. HARD RECOMMEND.
Moon Tiger by Penelope Lively. I got this book by accident! I went to the library meaning to get a Penelope Fitzgerald and somehow ended up with one of my favourite books of the year.

August
Something for Everyone by Lisa Moore. Funniest read of the year.

October
Small Change by Elizabeth Hay. Chilling and insightful book about friendship.
Wolf Hall by Hillary Mantell. Quite possibly the most skillfully written book of all time. As a reader, it is a feast. As a writer, it is a masterclass.
An Ocean of Minutes by Thea Lim. The Time Traveller’s Wife BUT BETTER.

December (REVISED)
I’m Afraid of Men by Vivek Sharya. ME TOO, VIVEK. ME TOO.
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng. The platonic ideal of a beach read.
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. Dropping back into this post to add this book, my last read of the year, and one of the very, very best.

New York Times!

Y’all, The Boat People was in THE NEW YORK TIMES!

“Just send me a couple of copies,” I said to my publicist. She sent 20.

“Just send me a couple of copies,” I said to my publicist. She sent 20.

THE NEW YORK TIMES! The Boat People was featured in the December 9th issue’s “new in paperback” section alongside Emily Wilson’s translation of Homer’s Odyssey and a non-fiction about the roots of the American asylum system. Appropriate, n’est-ce pas?

The American paperback hit shelves this month and along with it came a small resurgence in publicity stateside, including the NYT mention, a lovely review in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and some blog love too.

And late last month, LitHub asked me to curate a list of “lesser known Canadian books.” So I wrote a short essay and threw together a book list, all the while cringing at the thought of the title LESSER KNOWN CANADIAN BOOKS AS CHOSEN BY TOTALLY UNKNOWN CANADIAN. But when the piece came out I laughed out loud (and totally approved) of the title they chose. The Great White North Isn’t So White.

And speaking of lists, it is end-of-the-year round up season and The Boat People was one of several books on the CBC’s Best Canadian Fiction of 2018 list, 49th Shelf’s best fiction of the year, and the best books of the year list on Pickle Me This.

Lists

The Globe & Mail loves these books!

The Globe & Mail loves these books!

There is nothing I love more than a good list. To do lists. Grocery lists. List stories. The other day while putting books on hold at the library, the librarian asked where I got my reading list. "Is this from Goodreads or a prize longlist?" she asked. I explained that it was DIY, a curated set of titles that are coming soon or very recently out.

But at the moment my favourite kind of lists are the ones that mention The Boat People. My book is first on the Globe & Mail's list of most anticipated reads. (The list is probably ordered by publication date) Travelling Book Junkie included my novel in their round up of January reads. I'm in excellent company on Signature's Best Books of January list. And Amazon.com named The Boat People one of their Best Books of the month.