The Griff

the griff’s summer reading list

Lifestyle

the griff’s summer reading list

A few books to add to your shelf when textbooks aren’t on the brain
  1. The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo

This fictional novel takes a young woman on an adventure through the afterlife to free herself from her fate of being a ghost bride. In her case, she is a living woman who is married to (and, in turn, widowed by) an unmarried man after his death in order to placate his spirit. This book is filled with amazing imagery and a fantastic plot, and teaches the reader about some of the customs and beliefs of 19th century colonial Malaya. — Lydia Fleming

  1. A House in the Sky by Amanda Lindhout and Sara Corbett

Amanda Lindhout’s memoir tells her experiences of being held hostage in Somalia for almost a year and a half. A daring traveller, Lindhout believed herself invincible and went to places she knew she wouldn’t be safe. Her tale shows her strength and growth and establishes that, while no one is indestructible, the human spirit can overcome just about anything. Well written and genuine, the story sticks in your mind and allows you to learn from Lindhout’s mistakes and triumphs alike. — Lydia Fleming

  1. Cleopatra’s Daughter by Michelle Moran

Moran’s genre is historical fiction, which she uses to paint amazing pictures of ancient history. Cleopatra’s Daughter tells the story of Cleopatra Selene, a young girl taken to Rome as a war prize after her parents’ (Cleopatra and Marc Antony) suicides. She uses her intellect, wit, and beauty to manipulate her way to power and ensure her survival. Moran adds some fantastic drama and beautiful images to the history of Selene. The book is quick, fun, and a great way to spend a summer afternoon. — Lydia Fleming

  1. The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World by 14th Dalai Lama And Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Nobel Peace Prize Laureates His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu have survived more than 50 years of oppression and exile. Despite their conflicts, they are regarded as two of the happiest people on Earth. This book follows a week long meeting between the two where they shared personal stories, experiences, and spiritual practices in an attempt to answer the question, “How do we find joy in the face of life’s inevitable suffering?” The book offers us a chance to reflect on our own lives and how we can discover peace, courage, and joy through our personal hardships. — Matt Jacula

  1. The Ballad of Danny Wolfe: Life of a Modern Outlaw by Joe Friesen

This book follows the life of Danny Wolfe, the cofounder of one of Canada’s largest gangs and the subject of one of the country’s most sophisticated jailbreaks and subsequent manhunts. Expert journalist Joe Friesen weaves together the life story of Wolfe and his two brothers; he shows their journey from being young, neglected boys dealing with the intergenerational trauma of residential schools, to becoming savvy criminals and, eventually, murderers. Friesen’s ability to capture Wolfe as a troubled man, a repentant and reformed crime boss, and an enigmatic leader is incredible. He gives credence to the story as it comes from Wolfe himself, while also using investigative journalism to cut through any embellishments or falsehoods. I hardly ever read biographies, but this was one that I couldn’t put down. — Marina Shenfield

  1. The Power by Naomi Alderman

This novel tackles the fascinating paradigm of what the world would be like if women were automatically considered the stronger sex. After mysterious circumstances give all women the power to bring pain through mere touch, society is turned upside down. Alderman covers several topics important to women, including sexual assault, violence, and gender bias. In the wake of the #MeToo movement, this is a great addition to the narrative. — Courtney Bettin

  1. The Principles of Uncertainty by Maria Kalman

This picture book for grownups is the perfect beach read when you don’t want to focus too hard. Using a combination of photographs, paintings, and collage over the course of a year, Kalman searches for the meaning of life. Though the slivers of writing seem random at first, by the end they weave together to create an evocative perspective on the way we move through the world. Unlike anything else you will flip through this summer. — Courtney Bettin

  1. Leonardo and the Last Supper by Ross King

This piece of literary non-fiction explores the life of Leonardo Da Vinci. Ross King uses extensive research to tell Da Vinci’s life story in a colourful way — fitting for the famous artist and inventor. The book covers all the political and capitalistic climates that worked together to move Da Vinci across Italy and across occupations, eventually leading him to his masterpiece. King’s literary style reads like a narrator telling a story, but is backed up with resources and references to prove the truth behind his words. An incredible story about a masterful piece of artwork, written by an amazing Canadian author. — Lydia Fleming

  1. I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara

This true-crime story details the actions of the Golden State Killer, who is believed to have committed fifty sexual assaults and ten murders in California in the ‘70s and ‘80s. McNamara, who made her name with her website TrueCrimeDiary.com, dedicated years of her life to trying to solve the case. Her extensive research creates a chilling picture of the killer’s atrocious actions, as well as insight into what kind of person may have been responsible. Rather uniquely, McNamara also describes her own life, and how it was affected by her obsession with the case. Though she passed away suddenly before completing the book, her lead researcher, Paul Haynes, and crime journalist Billy Jensen were able to pen a closing section using her plans and notes, in the hopes that the book will help to finally bring some answers and closure. — Megan Lockhart

  1. A Mother’s Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy by Sue Klebold

Sue Klebold’s memoir is a striking apology to those affected by her son, Dylan, and his role in the Columbine massacre. She discusses learning about the shooting, her son’s involvement, and her disbelief and the grief that followed. The book does not offer excuses for Dylan’s actions, but rather focuses on the child his family knew, the warning signs they’d missed, and their struggle to come to terms with what he had done. Klebold not only uses her harrowing experience to raise awareness about mental health, but she also donates all proceeds from book sales to mental health initiatives. — Megan Lockhart

  1. The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler

This novel was one of Buzzfeed’s top 24 fiction books of 2015, and it completely deserves the recognition and hype. Weaving together stories from across time periods, the narrative follows a librarian, Simon, as he finds an old book that may hold the clue to many family secrets, including the reason that all of the women in his family tree meet untimely deaths. This book captivates from the first page and doesn’t slow down. It mixes the supernatural, the superstitious, and the circus with an incredibly down-to-earth tone and real life problems and family dysfunction. Swyler is an incredible storyteller, and if you are looking for an interesting and whimsical read, this is the book for you. — Marina Shenfield

  1. The Birth House by Ami McKay

This book is an incredible story about a young midwife living in an isolated, rural area of Nova Scotia during the early 1900s. Apprenticing under the town’s aging healer and midwife, Dora Rare tends to the women of her village throughout their pregnancies, births, and sex lives. When her mentor passes away, Rare is left to provide healthcare to the townspeople on her own. However, as WWI arrives, so does a male doctor, a hospital, and modern medicine. Many of the town’s men begin to force their wives into giving birth at the hospital rather than on their own terms with the help of a midwife. This book explores the lives of women during the early 20th century, women’s choice in pregnancy and birth, and the role of modern medicine in shaping the clinical view of birth that lingers in today’s society. Rather than providing answers, this novel simply provokes thought about a topic that is still contentious for many today. — Marina Shenfield

  1. Fifteen Dogs by Andre Alexis

This work of fiction starts off like a bad joke — Hermes and Apollo walk into a bar. One of the gods speculates that if any other species on earth were granted human intelligence, they would be just as miserable as human beings. The other disagrees and a wager is set. They grant this intelligence to 15 dogs from a local veterinary clinic, and from there they wait and watch as their experiment unfolds. The story is told from the perspectives of multiple dogs and examines the role of language, culture, friendship, love, and death in one’s happiness. A beautiful, allegorical tale, this novel is sure to entertain, make you think, and hit you right in the feels. — Marina Shenfield

  1. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, Hollow City, and Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs

This trilogy tells the tale of a fantastic group of children with supernatural abilities as they face many great dangers and unplanned adventures. The movie Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, directed by Tim Burton, did not follow the plot of the original novel, changed some of the best characters, and could be described as a steaming pile of garbage compared to the book. It was actually the worst. If you are in the mood for a set of stories about adventure, courage, friendship, and love, these books are all of that and more. They are an easy read and offer the opportunity to get lost in the world of the peculiar. I cannot stress this enough: Read the books. The movie ruined everything. — Marina Shenfield

  1. The Circle by Dave Eggers

Do you worry that if you don’t spend enough time on social media, you’ll be left out in real life? Do you find yourself feeling awestruck by the types of problems technology can solve? In this novel, Dave Eggers explores the possibilities and perils of unlimited developments in social technology. The story follows Mae Holland as she navigates a new job at the Circle, and profiles the impacts it has on her family, her relationships, and, ultimately, her identity. Last year’s movie didn’t do the book justice; the ending differed drastically and the dynamics of some key relationships were left out entirely. The allegory that forms the book’s backbone is painfully obvious, but the plot development keeps you on the edge of your seat wondering what will happen next. This book grapples with the moral issues we all face in an increasingly digital world. — Virginia Dowdell