1984
by George Orwell
Sarah's Pick

Although it was written nearly 70 years ago this book remains timeless as ever, and is perhaps even more relevant now than it has been in the past few years. It paints an entirely believable picture of a dystopian world with a tyrannical government. It may seem like just another book you read in high school English class, but it is far more than that and it is a truly gripping read.

 

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
by Sherman Alexie
Tania's Pick

I read this book last year because it was listed on a Freedom to Read banned books list. Sometimes sad but always funny, this charming graphic novel of growing up on a reservation in Eastern Washington is a great antidote to the stress of assignment season.

 

All Quiet on the Western Front
by Erich Maria Remarque
Michael's Pick

One of those books everyone should read (and one that's actually good!), this novel is about World War I from the perspective of a German soldier in the trenches. An anti-war book through-and-through, the book was banned (and burned) by the Nazis, and the author had to flee Germany when they came to power.

 

Animal Farm
by George Orwell
Michael's Pick

I love Animal Farm. Endlessly quotable ("All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others." "Four legs good, two legs better!"), it works on so many levels: as a satire, as a comedy, as a drama. While you'll appreciate it more if you know about the Russian Revolution, even if you don't, it's quite entertaining. Unlike Orwell's better-known 1984, which is just plain depressing, Animal Farm is a lot of fun to read.

 

Any Human Heart
by William Boyd
Jocelyn's Pick

Constructed entirely of diary entries that span from the 1900s to the 1990s, this novel chronicles the fictional life of Logan Mountstuart. It includes his school days, his loves, his experiences living through multiple wars, his experience as a father, and his pursuit of the literary arts, until his death as an old man. It sounds kind of boring, but it's actually amazing. I couldn't put it down and was profoundly moved by its insights into life and the twentieth century!

 

Baptism of Fire
by Andrzej Sapkowski
Michael's Pick

"What a company I ended up with," Geralt continued, shaking his head. "Brothers in arms! A team of heroes! What have I done to deserve it? A poetaster with a lute. A wild and lippy half-dryad-half-woman. A vampire who's about to notch up his fifth century. And a bloody Nilfgaardian who insists he isn't a Nilfgaardian."
"And leading the party is the Witcher, who suffers from pangs of conscience, impotence, and the inability to make decisions," Regis finished calmly.


The saga continues, picking up in the aftermath of the battle at the isle of Thanedd. Still recovering from his injuries, Geralt learns that quite literally everyone is after Ciri, and sets off with Dandelion to rescue her, acquiring a colorful group of allies along the way. What none of them know is that she's suffering from a serious case of Stockholm Syndrome, and has fallen in with some very bad people...

Reading order: 1) The Last Wish 2) Sword of Destiny 3) Blood of Elves 4) Time of Contempt 5) Baptism of Fire 6) The Swallow's Tower 7) Lady of the Lake (There is also a fan translation for a prequel that's hasn't been published in English yet, Season of Storms, available for free online at the CD Projekt Red forums.

 

Blood of Elves
by Andrzej Sapkowski
Michael's Pick

"People," Geralt said, "like to invent monsters and monstrosities. Then they seem less monstrous themselves. When they get blind-drunk, cheat, steal, beat their wives, starve an old woman, when they kill a trapped fox with an axe or riddle the last existing unicorn with arrows, they like to think that the Bane entering cottages at daybreak is more monstrous than they are. They feel better then. They find it easier to live."

Like many great titles, Blood of Elves has a double meaning. The first is the obvious one, referring to violence, while the second refers to the heritage of a certain character who quickly becomes the driving force of the series. Blood of Elves marks the start of the Witcher saga "proper," after the groundwork that was laid in the first two books in the series.

Reading order: 1) The Last Wish 2) Sword of Destiny 3) Blood of Elves 4) Time of Contempt 5) Baptism of Fire 6) The Swallow's Tower 7) Lady of the Lake (There is also a fan translation for a prequel that's hasn't been published in English yet, Season of Storms, available for free online at the CD Projekt Red forums.

 

Breakfast at Tiffany's
by Truman Capote
Dalene's Pick

Truman Capote hated everything about the movie. Read the book and then watch the film and see for yourself.

 

Can You Keep a Secret?
by Sophie Kinsella
Jessica's Pick

Can You Keep a Secret? is the hilariously self-deprecating and charmingly optimistic story of a young London woman, who in the pandemonium a near death plane experience, divulges every secret she has ever had to the passenger sitting next to her. This passenger, while at the time a stranger, just happens to be the elusive, super handsome, (American) head CEO of her corporation who will be visiting her company's branch Monday morning. The ensuing events are tragically laughable, wittily charming, and sweetly romantic, and I promise you'll never want this story to end.

 

Charlotte's Web
by E.B. White
Michael's Pick

Some pig.

 

The Childhood of Jesus
by JM Coetzee
Michel's Pick

Is it the title? The lack of hubbub around this novel (and its recent sequel, The Schooldays of Jesus) suggests it might have an unfair destiny as a "late novel" footnote in Coetzee's large bibliography. Eerie, awkward, and recalcitrant to interpretation, this coming-of-age story of post-apocalyptic refugees in a Kafkaesque land can have a way of sneaking up and working its way into your imagination.

 

Chill of Fear
by Kay Hooper
Chelsea's Pick

A murder mystery with a paranormal twist! A great book if you want something easy to read, but completely entrancing. Kay Hooper has a way of completely enveloping a reader in her world, and you can't help but be intrigued about what will happen next.

 

China Rich Girlfriend
by Kevin Kwan
Michelle's Pick

China Rich Girlfriend is a hilarious and enjoyable book. If you are interested in multicultural exchanges between Asia and North America, you will love this story. The author, Kevin Kwan, is also the writer of the international best-selling book Crazy Rich Asians.

 

The Chronicles of Narnia
by C.S. Lewis
Michael's Pick

Narnia is one of my favorite fantasy worlds. This volume collects all seven novels in the series (all of which Lewis wrote in a combined 3 ½ years… compare that to Tolkien's 12 years for LotR and 50+ for The Silmarillion…) If you like fantasy, this series is a must-read.

 

Cloud Atlas
by David Mitchell
Jocelyn's Pick

This is a multi-layered novel in which six stories are thematically interwoven. The stories span genres, including travelogue, epistolary, mystery, post-apocalyptic, and science fiction. By turns lyrical, thrilling, and terrifying, this is a novel like no other.

 

Crazy Man
by Pamela Porter
Dalene's Pick

Try to pick this book up and not read the whole thing at once. I dare you.

 

Crazy Rich Asians
by Kevin Kwan
Michelle's Pick

From the publisher: "Crazy Rich Asians is the outrageously funny debut novel about three super-rich, pedigreed Chinese families. It is a perfect depiction of the clash between old money and new money; between Overseas Chinese and Mainland Chinese; and a fabulous novel about what it means to be young, in love, and gloriously, crazily rich."

 

The Cuckoo's Calling
by Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling)
Tania's Pick

A page-turning mystery by Harry Potter author JK Rowling, writing under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith. Cormoran Strike is a vet from the war in Afghanistan, missing part of a leg but none of his wits or bad temper.

 

Dark Force Rising
(Part 2 of the Thrawn Trilogy)
by Timothy Zahn
Michael's Pick

The middle part of Timothy Zahn's brilliant Thrawn trilogy, aka the true sequels to Return of the Jedi.

Fun fact: Zahn's original idea was for the insane Dark Jedi clone Joruus C'baoth to be an insane clone of Obi-Wan, but the idea was nixed by George Lucas. As good as C'baoth is on his own … that would have been something.

 

Don Quixote
by Miguel de Cervantes
Michael's Pick

In this book, considered to be the first novel ever written, an old country gentleman is literally driven mad by reading too many stories of chivalry and knighthood. He decides to become a knight himself - hundreds of years after they had been long gone – styling himself Don Quixote de la Mancha. Along with his neighbor/squire Sancho, he has one ludicrous misadventure after another, my favorite of which is when the deluded Don attacks a bunch of windmills thinking they're giants. There was a great (and incredibly hard-to-find) movie done in 2000 with John Lithgow as Don Quixote and Bob Hoskins as Sancho, which I highly recommend as well.

 

The Drawing of the Three
by Stephen King
Michael's Pick

"Well," Eddie said, "what was behind Door Number One wasn't so hot, and what was behind Door Number Two was even worse, so now, instead of quitting like sane people, we're going to go right on ahead and check out Door Number Three. The way things have been going, I think it's likely to be something like Godzilla or Ghidra the Three-Headed Monster, but I'm an optimist. I'm still hoping for the stainless steel cookware."

Books two to three, and the first half of book four, are the best parts of Stephen King's Dark Tower series. The Drawing of the Three is one of the greatest novels of all time, detailing how Roland Deschain gets some companions to join his quest for the Tower, among them a druggie from the ‘80s named Eddie Dean, and a schizophrenic civil rights activist from the ‘60s named Odetta Holmes (who, for good measure, is also missing her legs below her knees) … did I mention the series involves time travel and parallel universes? I'm a sucker for both when it's well-done.

 

Eligible
by Curtis Sittenfeld
Sabrina's Pick

A fun and fluffy read for lovers of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice! In this modern retelling, Liz Bennet is a magazine writer living in NYC with her sister Jane, a yoga instructor. When their father has a heart attack, the two elder Bennet sisters return home to Cincinnati to help and become embroiled in Bennet family chaos. Mr. Bingley is now Chip Bingley, the star of Eligible, a reality dating show, and Mr. Darcy, still standoffish, is a neurosurgeon. Eligible is a quick read – perfect for the beach or the bus!

 

The Emperor's Blades
by Brian Staveley
Sarah's Pick

The emperor of Annur has been assassinated and his daughter and two sons are determined to find who did it. Join Kaden the monk, Valyn the Kettral soldier, and Adare the Minister, as they attempt to uncover the truth about their father's death.

 

The Englishman's Boy
by Guy Vanderhaeghe
Tania's Pick

Jumping between 1920's Hollywood and the old Canadian West, this Governor-General Award-winning novel is a compelling read that doesn't skimp on story or sparkling prose. The excesses of old glamour Tinseltown are juxtaposed with the beauty and brutality of early Canada in a tale of greed, power and the stuff that dreams are made of.

 

The Eye of the World
by Robert Jordan
Sarah's Pick

The first book in Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series is a great example of a stereotypical, cheesy fantasy novel – and I mean that in the best way possible. It takes you on an epic journey with all of the magic, swords, and mythological creatures you could ask for. If you are a fan of fantasy – especially Tolkien – I'd highly recommend this book.

 

Eyeless in Gaza
by Aldous Huxley
Tania's Pick

A time-shifting novel that explores the age-old question: Is youth the father of man? How do our experiences mold us into the people we eventually become, and does the process ever stop?

 

Fight Club
by Chuck Palahniuk
Sarah's Pick

If you're looking at this book you have most likely watched the 1999 cult classic, directed by David Fincher. As is often the case, the book is far better than the movie – and it is also much, much darker. Regardless of whether or not you have watched the movie, I would highly recommend this book to anyone.

 

A Gate at the Stairs
by Lorrie Moore
Karin's Pick

Tassie's first year at College is complicated by romance, an adoption gone awry, and her brother's choice to join the military. This sad, funny, and powerful book shows how 9/11 can deeply affect ordinary lives.

 

The Girls
by Lori Lansens
Karin's Pick

Can conjoined twins lead separate lives? Read this warm, sad, funny book about two very different personalities facing life and death together.

 

The Giver
by Lois Lowry
Michael's Pick

A dystopian novel written long before they were all the rage, The Giver is about a twelve-year-old boy named Jonas. In this future, everyone is monitored in the vein of 1984, and people have been genetically engineered to be unable to experience pain and suffering – but they also cannot experience or even understand things like love and empathy. Without giving anything away, things change for Jonas in a fairly dramatic fashion, and his struggle to deal with his newfound knowledge forms the central conflict of the book.

 

Great Expectations
by Charles Dickens
Michael's Pick

I've read probably a little over half of Dickens's books, and this is far and away my favourite (as well as the one Dickens himself considered his best work). Chronicling the life of one Philip Pirrip("Pip") from childhood to adulthood as he pursues his ladylove in Victorian London, it's full of everything one would expect from Dickens: colourful characters, plot twists, and great humor.

 

The Gunslinger
by Stephen King
Michael's Pick

Forget The Stand – Stephen King's The Dark Tower is his masterpiece. While the series really gets going in the second volume (The Drawing of the Three), The Gunslinger introduces the reader to a unique fantasy world, one inspired as much by Clint Eastwood westerns of old as it is by J.R.R. Tolkien. In it we are introduced to Roland, the world's last gunslinger, as he pursues a dark figure he knows only as the Man in Black. This is just a part of Roland's quest for the eponymous Dark Tower, though just what the Tower is and why Roland is seeking it are up to the reader to find out…

 

Half-Blood Blues
by Esi Edugyan
Tania's Pick

Paris of the early 20th century became a haven for black musicians looking to escape the crushing culture of segregation and American race relations. Finding a knowledgeable and appreciative audience as well as some breathing room to be human, these scions of jazz made great strides in the development of their art thousands of miles away from the USA. Paris Blues explores the historical scene while Half-Blood Blues takes a fictional stroll down similar streets.

 

Hard Times
by Charles Dickens
Michael's Pick

One of my favourite Dickens novels, Hard Times is probably the best example of Dickens's ability to pick brilliant names for his characters. Among them are Thomas Gradgrind, who is uninterested in anything involving the imagination and only wants "facts," Sissy Jupe, a young girl who comes under his care and (of course) is completely unable to comprehend any of the "facts" Gradgrind prizes; and of course, there's my personal favourite, the character who wins the prize for BEST. NAME. EVER. Mr. McChoakumchild (and he's a teacher, natch). If all that isn't enough to strike your whimsy, I don't know what will.

 

Heir to the Empire
(Part 1 of the Thrawn Trilogy)
by Timothy Zahn
Michael's Pick

Although Disney's release of the mediocre The Force Awakens may have relegated the Star Wars books to alternate-universe status, de-canonizing Timothy Zahn's works is a case of throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Indeed, Zahn's Thrawn novels are so good, I consider them to be the true sequels to Return of the Jedi (and I am hardly alone in this opinion). Not only are they on par with the original films, they in many ways surpass them.

Set five years after Jedi, the Thrawn trilogy finds the Empire reduced to a quarter of the territory they controlled at the height of their power. The Rebel Alliance-turned New Republic has essentially won. Luke Skywalker is planning the future of the Jedi, and Princess Leia and Han Solo are married and expecting twins (Jedi twins, of course). It is under these circumstances that the Empire comes under the rule of the greatest military genius the galaxy has ever known: Grand Admiral Thrawn.

Thrawn is a villain who is not only one of the greatest Star Wars villains of all time, but one of the greatest villains in anything. A non-Force user (for once), Thrawn's brilliance lies in his charisma and tactical genius, his ability to analyze his opponents in seconds and figure out what they're going to do before they do it. If you like Star Wars even remotely, I highly highly recommend this series.

Fun fact: Zahn's original plan was for Joruus C'baoth to actually be an insane clone of Obi-Wan Kenobi, but that idea was nixed by George Lucas. As great as C'baoth is on his own … that would have been something.

 

High Fidelity
by Nick Hornby
Tania's Pick

Nick Hornby's eminently readable novel about life in a record store. With vinyl earning more than free streaming services in 2015, this tale seems more relevant than ever.

 

His Majesty's Dragon
by Naomi Novik
Jessica's Pick

There are so many layers of cool to this book, it's hard to know where to begin! But we can start by adding an Air Corps as key military players in the Napoleonic Wars, with the exception that airplanes are replaced by something so much more awesome: Dragons!!! And not the stereotypical fire-breathing dragons with anger management issues, but ones that are just like you and me. They talk, like to read, LOVE concerts and fireworks, and are loyal to fault to their "captains" (aka handlers and partners for life). And they think the idea of "property" is pretty ridiculous if it involves them not being able to eat a farmer's cow.

But besides the unique and twisty storyline, what makes this book truly exceptional is the enchanting kinship cultivated between the newly hatched dragon Temeraire and his handler, Will Lawrence, a former Navy officer made Aerial Captain. Their partnership will be as life-altering as this book is fascinating.

 

Husk
by Corey Redekop
Corey's Pick

This "gay zombie" story is utterly shocking and uniquely disgusting - and impossible to put down. Not for the faint of heart!

 

Joyland
by Stephen King
Tania's Pick

Perfect summer reading! A creepy carnie setting, enough of a mystery to satisfy, and that page-turning Stephen King style – all in a compact 282 pages.

 

To Kill a Mockingbird
by Harper Lee
Michael's Pick

One of the greatest novels of all time, this is a book everyone should read.

 

The Lady of the Lake
by Andrzej Sapkowski
Michael's Pick

The final part of the Witcher saga (well, as far as the books go, anyway). Geralt vs. Vilgefortz. Ciri vs. Bonhart. A twist worthy of The Empire Strikes Back with regards to a certain character. The series goes out with a bang.

 

The Last Command
(Part 3 of the Thrawn Trilogy)
by Timothy Zahn
Michael's Pick

The final part of Timothy Zahn's brilliant Thrawn trilogy. Along with The Lord of the Rings and Calvin and Hobbes, I try to re-read through the trilogy once a year. They're that good.

Fun fact: The name "Mara" means "bitter" - thus, Mara Jade's name means "bitter jewel." Who says there's no literary quality to Star Wars?

 

The Last Unicorn
by Peter S. Beagle
Jessica's Pick

The Last Unicorn may be one the most magical and elegantly told stories of modern times. It begins with the lands apparent last unicorn venturing from the safety of her enchanted forest to find others of her kind. Through her adventures she falls in love, learns regret, and ultimately challenges the monster that would push her family, and herself, to extinction. This is an immensely powerful book that will stay with you for years.

 

The Last Wish
by Andrzej Sapkowski
Michael's Pick

The Witcher saga, comprised of 8 books and 3 games, is my second-favorite fantasy series of all time, after only The Lord of the Rings. The series is centered around a genetically-mutated professional monster hunter (the titular Witcher) named Geralt of Rivia, and takes place over 20-plus years (though the saga "proper," books 3-7, take place over two). It is set in a cruel, dark world where non-Humans are oppressed, where the strong brutally rule over the weak, and where petty, immoral kings wage wars of conquest with one another for dubious reasons. While set against this broad backdrop, the core conflict of the series is one that is personal in nature, and can be summed up as a father trying to protect his daughter.

Reading order: 1) The Last Wish 2) Sword of Destiny 3) Blood of Elves 4) Time of Contempt 5) Baptism of Fire 6) The Swallow's Tower 7) Lady of the Lake (There is also a fan translation for a prequel that's hasn't been published in English yet, Season of Storms, available for free online at the CD Projekt Red forums.

 

Left Neglected
by Lisa Genova
Chelsea's Pick

Imagine living your life with no awareness of your left side… you look in a mirror and you only see half of your face. This is the life that Sarah Nickerson is now facing, as she learns to cope with Hemispatial Neglect. Left Neglected is a great book about conquering difficulties and never taking things for granted.

 

The Lesser Blessed
by Richard Van Camp
Dalene's Pick

Time stops when Richard Van Camp tells a story, he is that captivating. His first novel, The Lesser Blessed is set in Fort Simmer, N.W.T. which is a fictionalized town based on Van Camp's home town of Fort Smith. The book was adapted to a film in 2012 and had its premiere at the TIFF.

 

The Lies of Locke Lamora
by Scott Lynch
Michael's Pick

The first book in the Gentlemen Bastards series, this is an excellent fantasy novel centering on a con artist who, in the midst of his biggest score, finds himself embroiled in a web of lies, intrigue, magic, and murder.

 

The Lord of the Rings
by J.R.R. Tolkien
Michael's Pick

The single greatest creative work of all time. There's a famous quote from the book's initial review in the Sunday Times: "The English-speaking world is divided into those who have read The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit and those who are going to read them."

‘Nuff said.

 

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
by J.R.R. Tolkien
Michael's Pick

The first part of the single greatest creative work of all time. ‘Nuff said.

 

The Mayor of Casterbridge
by Thomas Hardy
Michael’s Pick

Possibly the best Victorian-era novel not written by someone named Dickens or Doyle. An old-school tragedy with parallels to the Biblical story of David and Saul, the story centers on a man who, in a drunken rage, sells his wife and daughter to another man (a rare, but not-unheard of occurrence in the countryside at the time). Years later, having sworn off the bottle and become the titular Mayor of Casterbridge, this shameful secret comes back to haunt him, even as he jealously comes into conflict with a popular newcomer to town named Donald Farfrae.

 

Middlesex
by Jeffrey Eugenides
Sabrina’s Pick

In Middlesex, we follow the journey of three generations of the Stephanides family as they emigrate from a Greek village to settle in Detroit and its suburbs. Jeffrey Eugenides' writing brings life to the conflicted experiences of Calliope Stephanides, the main character. Middlesex is not a book that is devoured in one sitting, but best enjoyed a bit at a time, preferably wrapped up in a warm blanket on a rainy day.

 

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
by Ransom Riggs
Michael's Pick

I was suspicious of this book for a long time. The cover was weird, I thought how they billed it as a book that tells a story around weird photographs was weird, and the author’s name was weird (and definitely made up). I eventually gave the book a shot, and was very glad I did.

While the author’s initial idea may have been to write a novel that incorporates all those weird photographs into it, what he ended up with is so much more than that. Without giving too much away, it’s the story of a teenage boy named Jacob who is is haunted not only by his grandfather’s death, but also because he either saw or hallucinated some sort of monster near the body when he found it (troubling, either way). The book is probably the best blend of fantasy and reality that I’ve read since the Harry Potter series.

 

Missing Person
by Patrick Modiano
Michel's Pick

Dark horse Nobel-winner Patrick Modiano's best-known work, Rue des boutiques obscures (published as Missing Person in English) is the perfect introduction to his plain, but enigmatic style. High-brow, breezy and uneasy detective fiction for fans of W.G. Sebald and unreliable narrators.

 

Mistborn
by Brandon Sanderson
Sarah's Pick

This book has some of the most brilliantly written fight scenes I have ever read, along with some of the best characters and a unique magic system. Join a band of thieves as they set out to overthrow the Lord Ruler in a mysterious world full of mist and allomancy.

 

A Monster Calls
by Patrick Ness
Michael's Pick

There are actually two monsters in this dark fairy tale: one real, the other not (or is it? … dun dun dun!) The book is sad, as one would expect considering the subject matter, so I wouldn’t recommend it if you’ve been feeling depressed (particularly if you’ve lost someone recently). That said, it’s very moving, and I would highly recommend it to anyone.

 

Naked
by David Sedaris
Tania's Pick

Bite-sized reading for the beach or pool. Lounge, laugh, and feel like a smarty-pants reading Sedaris’s hilarious anecdotes.

 

Name of the Wind

The Name of the Wind
by Patrick Rothfuss
Michael's Pick

Normally, anything recommended by George R. R. Martin would be of zero interest to me, but in this case he’s right: The Name of the Wind is indeed “bloody good.” While this fantasy novel starts a little slow, it gets going soon enough, and quite rapidly becomes a page-turner. It follows the story of a young magician/wizard-in-training as he tries to track down his parents’ murderers and uncover the reason they were killed.

 

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
by Ken Kesey
Michael & CJ's Pick

From Michael: This classic story tells of how a small-time con-man arrives at a mental hospital by way of faking insanity (since he figures a hospital is preferable to jail) and turns the place upside down, coming into conflict with the ruthless and overbearing nurse who runs the place. At turns funny, moving, and upsetting, this is a book everyone should read.

From CJ: Kesey's ability to create vivid characters, dialogue, and action makes for a truly memorable book.

 

The Outsider
by Albert Camus
Sarah's Pick

This novel serves as an introduction to Albert Camus’s philosophy of absurdism – which is often considered to be a subsect of existentialism (although Camus dictates that his philosophy is separate). In The Outsider you will explore the mind of a man who is accused of murder, and you will learn about his thoughts on life and death. Although it explores some complex philosophy this novel is still quite funny – albeit in a dark way.

 

Prep
by Curtis Sittenfeld
Karin's Pick

An engrossing look at what it’s like to be a teenager and an outsider in a privileged prep school. Painful, funny, and addictive.

 

The Reader
by Bernhard Schlink
Viera's Pick

Excellent, interesting story. One of the required for ENGL 104.

 

The Road
by Cormac McCarthy
Jessica's Pick

The Road, a dystopian story of a man and his son travelling across a desolate United States in search of the coast, is a portrait of humanity at its best and worst. While a work of fiction, it explains in graphic detail a very possible world of post-apocalyptic savagery and immorality where nothing is taken for granted. In stark contrast to the story’s bleak setting, McCarthy’s prose permeates grace and fluency on par with Ondaatje’s The English Patient, and at the most unexpected and heartbreaking moments radiates hope and kindness in a barren land.

 

Romeo and/or Juliet
by Ryan North
Tania's Pick

Want a fresh take on an old classic? This retelling of Shakespeare's doomed lovers allows you to change the plot to fit your mood. Modelled on the Choose Your Own Adventure series of yesteryear, this is the best use of public domain I've seen in forever. Fun and cultural at the same time!

 

Seiobo There Below
by Laslzo Krasznahorkai
Michel's Pick

A novel comoposed of 17 thematically interconnected stories about art, creation, beauty, tradition and transcendence by the so-called "Hungarian master of apocalypse." Krasznahorkai manages to avoid the saccharine clichés that readily come with these lofty topics as he weaves in and out of richly detailed vignettes from various points in history through Persia, Japan, Greece, Italy and other locales.

 

Sick Puppy
by Carl Hiassen
Jessica’s Pick

This is the perfect book to read after exams. It’s delightfully funny enough to make it a quick and easy read, yet culturally relevant enough to negate any feelings of guilt for reading it. The story begins with Twilly Spree, an independently wealthy eco-terrorist, who attempts to teach a Florida lobbyist a lesson on littering. But one event tumbles after another and when Twilly discovers that the future of an unspoiled island is in jeopardy, he’s resolved not to be defeated. The tailspin of events and sidesplitting characters are what makes this book shine.

 

The Silmarillion
by JRR Tolkien
Michael's Pick

If you approach this expecting something similar to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, you’re going to be disappointed. Make no mistake: The Silmarillion is a masterpiece, but it’s a masterpiece of a different sort. It’s not a novel so much as it is a history book: a compendium of the events that occurred during the first and second Ages of Middle Earth. It tells of the struggle against the first Dark Lord, Morgoth (to whom Sauron was but a servant), and of the rise and fall of Númenor, from whose line of kings Aragorn is descended from. It’s well worth the read, but isn’t easy beach reading by any stretch of the imagination: you have to intellectually grapple with it. As I said, it’s a history book, not a novel.

 

Simple Recipes
by Madeleine Thein
Sabrina's Pick

I first read Simple Recipes over a decade ago and just loved it! This book is made up of seven short stories that feature Canadians of Asian descent. This is not the type of book where the Asian characters have any kind of Oriental(ist) kung-fu skills or mystical beauty – Madeleine Thien represents normal, daily life in Canada with a quiet and graceful realism. Her title story opens with a description of her father washing rice, a simple act that is described in simple but powerful prose. Thien won the 2016 Scotiabank Giller Prize and Governor General’s Literary Award for her newest novel Do Not Say We Have Nothing, but her debut work Simple Recipes shows that she is also a masterful short story writer.

 

The Sisters Brothers
by Patrick DeWitt
Dalene's Pick

Cowboys, killers for hire, romance, comedy … The Sisters Brothers had me from page one!

 

Star Wars: Specter of the Past
by Timothy Zahn
Michael’s Pick

When Disney bought Lucasfilm, one of the many unfortunate side-effects of it was that they threw out the “Expanded Universe” that had been around for 20 years, basically relegating it to alternate-universe status. While much of it deserved to be thrown out, that cannot be said for anything written by Timothy Zahn, whose brilliant Thrawn trilogy is on par with the original movies (and is light years better than Episode 7, if you’ll pardon the pun).

4 years after the Thrawn trilogy, was published, Zahn returned to the Star Wars universe with a two-parter called the “Hand of Thrawn” duology (If you’ve read the Thrawn trilogy, knowing what you now know about the Emperor’s Hand, that title should have you geeking out). As brilliant as the Thrawn trilogy is, I think this two-parter is even better, mostly because of all the Machiavellian politics and schemes going on.

 

Star Wars: Vision of the Future
by Timothy Zahn
Michael’s Pick

Part two of Zahn’s brilliant Hand of Thrawn two-parter. If you’ve read the other books we have by Zahn, you know what to expect: someone who really truly gets Star Wars. The characters, both new and old, leap off the page in a way that rivals, and sometimes surpasses, even the original films.

 

Station Eleven
by Emily St. John Mandel
Karin’s Pick

Yes- this is a dystopian novel about a flu pandemic which destroys most of the world’s population. But it is also about art, (comic books, symphonies, and Shakespeare), friendship in a time of danger, memory, celebrity, paparazzi, and survival. Communities are formed on the road, in abandoned airports or malls; some for good, others not. A beautifully written and expertly plotted book.

Survival is insufficient!

 

The Storyteller
by Jodi Picoult
Chelsea's Pick

Jodi Picoult always delivers a compelling story while challenging readers' morals and forcing them to ask "What would I do in that situation?"

 

A Superior Man
by Paul Yee
Michelle’s Pick

This is one of my favorite authors, who is award-winning for his Chinese-Canadian heritage books. He takes us on a milestone journey of Chinese laborers building the Canadian Pacific Railway in BC.

 

Sword of Destiny
by Andrzej Sapkowski
Michael’s Pick

Book 2 of the Witcher saga, Sword of Destiny is the last short story collection in the series, and finishes laying the groundwork for the saga “proper” to begin with Blood of Elves. This book furthers the on-again/off-again relationship between Geralt and Yennifer, and introduces the “child surprise” hinted at in the The Last Wish, Princess Cirilla of Cintra (Ciri), who becomes the driving force of the saga. The stories range from the comedic (The Eternal Fire is particularly funny) to deathly serious (particularly with The Sword of Destiny and Something More). As usual, Sapkowski delivers excellent work.

Reading order: 1) The Last Wish 2) Sword of Destiny 3) Blood of Elves 4) Time of Contempt 5) Baptism of Fire 6) The Swallow’s Tower 7) Lady of the Lake (There is also a fan translation for a prequel that's hasn't been published in English yet, Season of Storms, available for free online at the CD Projekt Red forums.

 

The Three Musketeers
by Alexandre Dumas
Michael's Pick

I love The Three Musketeers. It has all the swashbuckling, romance, betrayal, and adventure you could desire. Set in France during the reign of Louis XIII, it follows the adventures of a young man named d’Artagnan, who seeks to join the musketeers (the king’s elite guard). During his adventures he meets and befriends the most famous musketeers of all, Athos, Porthos, and Aramis, and seeks to thwart the schemes of the dastardly Cardinal Richelieu.

Little-known fact: there are actually not one, but *four* sequels to it (well, actually anywhere from two to six, depending how publishers treat the final lengthy volume, The Man in the Iron Mask… it’s usually split into three, but has been printed as one, four, or even five).

 

Time of Contempt
by Andrzej Sapkowski
Michael's Pick

“Those evil men are dead… It may turn out that their comrades or cronies ask what befell them. Tell them the Wolf bit them. The White Wolf.”

Picking up where Blood of Elves left off, Time of Contempt finds Ciri being trained in magic by Yennefer, as the dastardly Emperor Emhyr var Emreis of Nilfgaard (“the White Flame Dancing on the Graves of his Foes” – I love that title!) plots the downfall of the north, and other nefarious forces look to use Ciri for their own ends.

Reading order: 1) The Last Wish 2) Sword of Destiny 3) Blood of Elves 4) Time of Contempt 5) Baptism of Fire 6) The Swallow’s Tower 7) Lady of the Lake (There is also a fan translation for a prequel that's hasn't been published in English yet, Season of Storms, available for free online at the CD Projekt Red forums.

 

The Tower of the Swallow
by Andrzej Sapkowski
Michael's Pick

The penultimate chapter to the Witcher saga (at least, as far as the books go). The title on the cover is a mistranslation; it should be swallow, singular (which refers to Ciri’s avian nickname). A large chunk of the book focuses on her, as she tells her story to an old man who finds her severely injured after the Rats get what’s coming to them, though in the process Ciri falls into the hands of someone even worse... Geralt, meanwhile, continues to gather colorful allies as he progresses with his rescue mission, and the stage is set for the climax...

Reading order: 1) The Last Wish 2) Sword of Destiny 3) Blood of Elves 4) Time of Contempt 5) Baptism of Fire 6) The Swallow’s Tower 7) Lady of the Lake (There is also a fan translation for a prequel that's hasn't been published in English yet, Season of Storms, available for free online at the CD Projekt Red forums.

 

The Waste Lands
by Stephen King
Michael’s Pick

“I do not aim with my hand; he who aims with his hand has forgotten the face of his father. I aim with my eye. I do not shoot with my hand; he who shoots with his hand has forgotten the face of his father. I shoot with my mind. I do not kill with my gun; he who kills with his gun has forgotten the face of his father. I kill with my heart.”

Equally good to The Drawing of the Three is The Waste Lands, which finds Roland slowly going insane due to a certain paradox he caused in The Drawing of the Three. The book ends on the best cliffhanger since “Frodo was alive but taken by the enemy.” These two books are King’s best works.

 

The Well of Ascension
by Brandon Sanderson
Sarah's Pick

If you've read Mistborn you probably don't need a bookmark to tell you to take this book out. If you haven't read Mistborn - you should.

 

The Wind Through the Keyhole
by Stephen King
Michael's Pick

The Dark Tower 4.5. This can either be read after Wizard & Glass or after The Dark Tower itself; though set between Wizard and Wolves of the Calla, King wrote this years after finishing the final volume of the series. There is a very cleverly done story-in-a-story-in-a-story, making me wonder if King was at all inspired by Inception and that film’s use of a dream-within-a-dream.

 

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
by Haruki Murakami
Sabrina’s Pick

The Wind-up Bird Chronicle was the first Haruki Murakami book I ever read and it remains one of my favourite books to this day. From the normal everyday life of Toru Okada, readers are launched into a crazy, dream-like world populated by talking cats, psychic sisters, and haunted war veterans. Murakami uses deceptively simple prose to build a twisty, sometimes deranged, and always enjoyable tale of a man trying to rescue his wife from an unknown menace. If you’re going to read one Haruki Murakami book, this is it. You won’t be able to put it down.

 

Winter Garden
by Kristin Hannah
Chelsea's Pick

Set in World War II Russia, this is an amazing story about the power of the human’s will to survive. This story is both heartwarming and heartbreaking, and is definitely a must-read!

 

The Wise Man’s Fear
by Patrick Rothfuss
Michael’s Pick

The Wise Man’s Fear is part two of Patrick Rothfuss’s Kingkiller Chronicle, aka my favorite fantasy series written in the last ten years. Book two basically picks up where book one left off, with Kvothe on day two of telling his story, having left off when he was a teenager still at wizard school (excuse me, “The University”). However, he leaves the University early on in an attempt to win a patron, going into the service of a nobleman.

Despite the change in setting, book two is just as good as the first one, as we see Kvothe grow as a person, and start his journey to greatness, though we still don’t find out what exactly happened that changed him into the beaten and broken person he is in the present day. That’ll have to wait for the final book, Doors of Stone, which has yet to be released.

 

Wizard and Glass
by Stephen King
Michael’s Pick

“Blaine is a pain and that is the truth.”

Continuing Stephen King’s Dark Tower saga, Wizard & Glass is two stories in one; the first half deals with the cliffhanger at the end of The Waste Lands, and has the best riddle-match in literature since Bilbo and Gollum’s; the second half consists of Roland telling his ka-tet of his first, tragic adventure, and how it greatly shaped him.

 

Wonder
by R. J. Palacio
Michael's Pick

Wonder tells the story of a young boy born with a deformed face. Because of this, he has been homeschooled his entire life and not had much social interaction with other kids. The writing is excellent, and the book is split into several different parts, with each section being narrated by a different character.

While I admittedly found it a little difficult to get through at the beginning (mainly because I found it depressing), it’s well worth the read, as it gets more uplifting as it goes on.

 

World War Z
by Max Brooks
Jessica’s Pick

Have you ever contemplated about what would happen during a zombie apocalypse? World War Z will describe to you every possible scenario. It takes The Walking Dead to a completely new level, as the author uses interviews with survivors of the war to paint a global image of how the ten-year zombie apocalypse started, how it progressed, and finally how it was overcome. This book is a must read for any dystopia enthusiast. A note for the reader: the only similarity World War Z has with its movie counterpart is the title.