Almost all the educators and librarians we encounter or converse with are avid readers. As former teacher librarians ourselves we know exactly how much reading is a requirement of the job. We understand that among all the books educators and librarians need to read for one reason or another, there is precious little time to read books simply for the sheer pleasure of reading. But with SO MANY books to choose from, and so little time to read them, where do you start?
We love when people recommend books to us, so we thought we would return the favour and recommend just a few of our top reads to date for 2015. It was s tough call, but here they are. And if you have a recommendation to share, please feel free to leave us a comment.
For Today I Am A Boy by Kim Fu
Finding one’s place in the world can be hard, but sometimes even more elusive, is finding where you fit in your family.
Peter Huang and his sisters—elegant Adele, shrewd Helen, and Bonnie the bon vivant—grow up in a house of many secrets, then escape the confines of small-town Ontario and spread from Montreal to California to Berlin. Peter’s own journey is obstructed by playground bullies, masochistic lovers, Christian ex-gays, and the ever-present shadow of his Chinese father.
At birth, Peter had been given the Chinese name juan chaun, powerful king. The exalted only son in the middle of three daughters, Peter was the one who would finally embody his immigrant father’s ideal of power and masculinity. But Peter has different dreams: he is certain he is a girl.
Drawing comparisons from Jeffrey Eugenides’ Middlesex to the work of Amy Tan. Sensitive, witty, and stunningly assured, Kim Fu’s debut novel lays bare the costs of forsaking one’s own path in deference to one laid out by others.
Winner, Edmund White Prize for Debut Fiction. PEN/Hemingway Finalist, shortlisted in the Lambda Literary Awards. Longlisted for the 2014 Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize. The novel’s long list of accolades include being chosen for the Barnes & Noble ‘Discover Great New Writers’ program, being shortlisted for the Canadian Authors Association Emerging Writer Award, longlisted for the Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize and for Canada Reads 2015, and being named a New York Times Editor’s Choice.
Relativity by ANTONIA HAYES
Ethan is a bright young boy obsessed with physics and astronomy who lives with his mother, Claire. Claire has been a wonderful parent to Ethan, but he’s becoming increasingly curious about his father’s absence in his life, wanting to fill in the gaps.
Claire’s life is centred on Ethan; she is fiercely protective of her talented, vulnerable son, and of her own feelings. When Ethan falls ill, tied to a tragic event from when he was a baby, Claire’s tightly held world is split open.
On the other side of the country, Mark is trying to forget about the events that tore his family apart. Then a sudden and unexpected call home forces him to confront his past, and the hole in his life that was once filled with his wife Claire and his son Ethan.
When Ethan secretly intercepts a letter from Mark to Claire, he unleashes long-suppressed forces that – like gravity – pull the three together again, testing the limits of love and forgiveness.
Heart-wrenching, absorbing and magical, Relativity is an irresistible novel about science, love, unbreakable bonds and irreversible acts.
‘Relativity is wonderful, a beautifully written, heartbreaking novel.’ SJ Watson, author of Before I Go to Sleep and Second Life
‘A transcendental book that mangers to stay grounded and true in its warmth and pathos.’ Alice Pung, author of Unpolished Gem and Laurinda
Guilt by MATT NABLE
He was glad he existed, ecstatic; he was so close to the edge of a new life, they all were, he and his friends. Without their parents to tell them yes or no. It was freedom.
Tommy is in love with Lani. Lani is going out with Paul. Paul is having an affair with Julia, and Julia has a crush on Chris. Life is intoxicating when you’re about to turn eighteen and finish school.
But something goes terribly wrong for this group of friends. One day they have the world at their feet. The next, they are all divided, destined to carry their own versions of guilt into adulthood.
What unfolds is an agonising, incisive novel about loyalty and jealousy, about the possibilities of youth and the weariness of middle age. Guilt is a heartbreaking examination of friendship, luck and the elusive nature of redemption.
‘One that you can’t put down . . . Nable’s characters are shrewdly and finely nuanced.’ Canberra Times
‘An intense, rewarding read about the futility of escaping the past.’ Australian Bookseller & Publisher
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
Rachel catches the same commuter train every morning. She knows it will wait at the same signal each time, overlooking a row of back gardens. She’s even started to feel like she knows the people who live in one of the houses. ‘Jess and Jason’, she calls them. Their life – as she sees it – is perfect. If only Rachel could be that happy.
And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough.
Now everything’s changed. Now Rachel has a chance to become a part of the lives she’s only watched from afar.
Now they’ll see; she’s much more than just the girl on the train…
Gripping, enthralling – a top-notch thriller and a compulsive read’ S J WATSON, bestselling author of Before I Go To Sleep
Reading Lolita in Tehran by AZAR NAFISI
‘That room, for all of us, became a place of transgression. What a wonderland it was!’
Every Thursday morning in a living room in Iran, over tea and pastries, eight women meet in secret to discuss forbidden works of Western literature. As they lose themselves in the worlds of Lolita, The Great Gatsby andPride and Prejudice, gradually they come to share their own stories, dreams and hopes with each other, and, for a few hours, taste freedom. Azar Nafisi’s bestselling memoir is a moving, passionate testament to the transforming power of books, the magic of words and the search for beauty in life’s darkest moments.
‘I was enthralled and moved.’ Susan Sontag