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Books

9 New Books To Read This Winter

The festive season is over and the spring thaw is months away. Don’t let that depress you, though—there’s no shortage of diverting new books to carry you through the doldrums of winter.
A grid of new book covers on a light blue background

Really Good, Actually by Monica Heisey When Maggie and her husband, Jon, agree to part ways, she is determined to have a Good Divorce. But what does that look like, especially when you’re 28 and the warranty on the crummy sofa you shared as a couple lasted longer than your marriage? This hilarious debut novel from Heisey, a Canadian comedian and TV writer whose credits include Schitt’s Creek and Baroness von Sketch Show, follows Maggie as she navigates heartbreak and her newly single status in the age of Tinder and TikTok. Maggie’s behaviour is sometimes cringeworthy—she cyberstalks Jon through the joint Instagram account they’d created for their cat—and often relatable as she frets over money and her career and reorients herself to a life she hadn’t expected.

Told variously through Maggie’s first-person account of life post-separation and transcripts of her Google searches, unanswered texts and dating-app correspondence, this is a book you devour in one sitting. (Jan. 17) the cover of the book Really Good, Actually by Monica Heisey Tell Me Pleasant Things About Immortality by Lindsay WongIn Vancouver, a recently deceased grandma returns to her family as a zombie and insists on a visit to the mall food court. In Hong Kong, a murderous man’s body is possessed by the ghost of one of his victims at his 65th birthday party. In Seattle, an exhausted father transforms into a couch, silent but ever present. This is just a taste of what’s in store for readers in this collection billed by the publisher as “immigrant horror stories.” Wong, whose memoir The Woo-Woo was a finalist for Canada Reads in 2019, delivers a haunting and darkly comic collection peopled by unforgettable characters. (Feb. 21) the cover of the book Tell Me Pleasant Things About Immortality by Lindsay Wong

Birnam Wood opens with the details of a landslide—an event that represents possibility to the novel's eponymous activist collective. After years of gardening on public and private land, with and without permission, Mira Bunting sees potential in a farm cut off by the landslide. But she isn’t the only one, and its new occupant makes an offer that could reshape her group's ambitions entirely.

Eleanor Catton's first novel since winning the 2013 Booker Prize for The Luminaries, Birnam Wood is captivating both as a character study—of the guerrilla gardeners, and of the billionaire with an agenda all his own—and as a climate thriller, its deep interest in the environment never slowing its blistering pace. (March 7)

The cover of the book Birnam Wood by Eleanor Catton
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Shelby is in mourning after the sudden death of her wife when she makes a new friend in Cammie, who charms her at a grief support meeting. Meanwhile, Gibson, newly divorced, meets Cammie at a bar and can’t believe his luck when she goes home with him. Cammie is spirited and alluring; she’s also a con artist and a compulsive liar. As Shelby and Gibson come to see Cammie for who she is, how will they confront her?

Whittall, author of four previous novels including The Spectacular and The Best Kind of People, which was shortlisted for the Giller Prize, understands Cammie’s appeal: she’s an expert at receiving other people’s devotion and yet she’s a a maddening, unknowable mystery, and the after-effects of her behaviour will linger long after she’s moved on to a new con. (March 21)

The cover of the book The Fake by Zoe Whittall

Mackenzie, grieving the death of her sister Sabrina, has been plagued by strange dreams. One morning, the young Cree woman wakes up in her Vancouver apartment holding the severed head of a crow. A moment later, the crow’s head vanishes. It’s the third time in three weeks that she’s woken up clutching an item from a dream, and she soon learns that what happens while she is sleeping is affecting her waking life.

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As her dreams become more sinister, Mackenzie travels to Treaty 8 territory in northern Alberta, where her mother, remaining sister, cousin and aunties all play a role in helping to unravel the mystery of her dreams—and of what happened to Sabrina.

Based on a short story of the same name which won the Writers’ Trust Journey Prize in 2020, this horror-infused debut explores grief and trauma and the possibility of healing. (Jan. 10)

The cover of the book Bad Cree

In one of the most buzzed-about debuts of 2023, three women from a prominent New York family grapple with wealth, love and the complicated nature of family itself. Darley, the eldest, was born rich and gave up her career for motherhood; Sasha married into the old-money Stockton family but finds herself feeling like an outsider; and Georgiana, the youngest, works at a non-profit and bristles at the idea of her inherited wealth.

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Jackson, an executive editor at Alfred A. Knopf whose authors include Emily St. John Mandel and Kevin Kwan, sold Pineapple Street in a rumoured seven-figure deal, and the book—an entertaining sojourn into the lives of the one percent—is being adapted into a TV series. (March 7)

The cover of the book Pineapple Street by Jenny Jackson

Mary Grace Conception has left everything behind in her native Philippines. She travels to Hong Kong to work as a nanny for the Tsang family, until the boy she looks after is old enough not to need her anymore and she is cast aside. “M.G.,” as she’s known, then lands in Canada, finding a job as a personal support worker in Toronto. There, she forms an unexpected bond with Liz, an elderly woman who lives in a dilapidated bungalow and suffers from Alzheimer’s disease.

Hernandez, whose previous novel, Scarborough, was made into a film in 2021 and championed on Canada Reads in 2022, provides an unexpected setup: the novel is narrated by Mary Grace’s infant daughter. In the wrong hands, this kind of narrative premise would be a distraction, but here it turns out to be an inspired choice, and Hernandez succeeds in drawing us in as she unravels the story of a caregiver who has sacrificed so much in pursuit of a better life for herself and for others. (Feb. 28)

The cover of the book the Story of us
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Liz Harmer's gripping new novel makes the most of its slim page count as it toggles between the perspectives of twins Francine and Philip. Spanning nearly two decades, Strange Loops explores the unravelling of a once-close bond between siblings and the desires that lead Francine to incur her brother's judgment a second time, many years after their relationship first became strained.

Dense with twists, Harmer builds to a stunning conclusion that somehow feels both inevitable and unexpected. (Jan. 31)

Strange Loops by Liz Harmer

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When Lucky St. James discovers a magical spoon etched with the word “Salem,” she’s an underemployed millennial who just found out that she and her grandmother, Stella, are facing eviction from their Toronto apartment. Soon after, Lucky is approached by an agent of VenCo, a mysterious boutique hiring firm, and finds herself agreeing to travel to Salem, Mass.

In Salem, accompanied by Stella, Lucky joins a coven. As it turns out, there are seven special spoons—and along with them, seven witches (just go with it!). Lucky is the sixth witch, and she’s tasked with finding the seventh, so she and Stella embark on a road trip through the United States in search of the last magical spoon—to complete their coven and enact their mission before a group of misogynist witch-hunters can stop them.

Dimaline, the bestselling author of Empire of Wild, offers up a feminist fantasy: What if these witches were destined to empower women—to change the very structure of the world as we know it? (Feb. 14)

the cover of the book VenCo by Cherie Dimaline

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