Categories
Arts and Culture

Trick or treat yourself to spooky fall reads

Whether you’re in the mood for a comfort read or an unsettling one, we have the book recommendation for you.

Not ready to let go of the spooky season yet? After spending two months reading strictly witchy books, thrillers, historical fiction and dark academia-type stories, I’ve compiled a few recommendations for my fellow fall-loving bookworms.

I’ll admit, I’m a sucker for comfort reads, so let’s start with those. When I picked up The Dead Romantics by Ashley Poston, I already knew it would be fun, but I did not expect this tear-jerking, pun-ny, cozy book. When ghostwriter Florence Day returns to her hometown for her father’s funeral, she encounters a ghost, who happens to be her very confused and very dead editor. This is a story of grief and loss coloured with humour and wholesome romance.

If you’re into the soft-hearted villain, grumpy x sunshine, (soft) enemies to lovers, and doomed romance tropes, pick up A Witch’s Guide to Fake Dating a Demon by Sarah Hawley. Mariel is a clumsy green witch who messes up a spell and accidentally summons Ozroth the Ruthless, a demon whose mission is to collect witch souls. This spicy rom-com had a cute environmental activism side-quest and fun world-building. A story of self-confidence, this is a feel-good read—but beware of emotional somersaults.

Because I am nothing if not diverse, here are eerie and (I cannot emphasize this enough) unsettling thrillers. Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia is artfully done. Noemí’s cousin mysteriously asks to be rescued from the house she just moved into with her new husband. When Noemí arrives, she realises every character is creepy, but the house itself is worse—it’s a living nightmare. This isn’t for the faint of heart and addresses disturbing themes (heavy trigger warnings). It’s an uncomfortable read, but a unique experience thanks to the author’s cinematic writing style.

Sharing that energy, my experience reading K. L. Cerra’s Such Pretty Flowers was tainted with utter disbelief and shock. If you’re looking for something macabre and twisted (again, heavy trigger warnings), this one was very weird and addictive. Holly, who has little to no survival instinct, is investigating her brother’s apparent suicide. The book features sapphic romance, gore and a creepy botanic cult. I literally had to put the book down and just stare into the ether at times before diving back in.

“Gourd” book picks to stretch out the fall season // Photo by Xavier Bastien-Ducharme

Moving into historical fiction, yours truly was enchanted to find Anna Maxymiw’s book, Minique. The story follows Minique through her life in New France as she grows up an odd child, suffers numerous tragedies and becomes an isolated witch. Minique is a man-scaring feminist, bold and authentic. As a witchcraft-loving Quebecer, I loved the references to local mythology, and Maxymiw’s lyrical writing felt like a legend in itself. If you loved The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue and Circe, you’d probably enjoy this one too.

Because it’s midterm season and I needed something uplifting, I am currently reading and loving The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches by Sangu Mandanna, featuring a diverse cast and the heartwarming found-family trope. Secret witch Mika Moon receives an odd request: a family needs her help training three little witches with their magic. Charming in its colour and personality, this book is a wholesome escape with adorable characters and a side of romance.

Categories
Opinions

Rise and fall of the corporate bookstore

As bookstore chains go under, let’s dust indie alternatives off the shelves.

Bookstores have always been my favourite places on earth. Every shop has something different to offer, whether that be ancient annotated paperbacks, rows of pristine colour-coordinated hardcovers, stray cats in the window, or a piano in the back. Where small businesses may lack stock or organization, they make up for it with charm and personality. But when local bookshops and big chains are forced to battle it out, who will ultimately win?  

The answer may surprise you. Since the early 2000s, it has seemed like independent bookstores are racing toward extinction with the rising popularity of online shopping and the prevalence of chains such as Indigo. In recent years, however, there is a growth trend in favour of independent bookstores. Interestingly, it’s the big names that are struggling: Indigo lost $50 million last year following cyber-attack issues, and the company appears to be falling apart as their management struggles to regain control. 

In comparison, independent booksellers across Canada have reported booming sales as readers flock to their doors in search of something more. These bookstores give readers that extra something: a sense of community. Walking into a small shop is more personal and deliberate, as it forces you to confront the humanness of everyone sharing the space, and you feel obliged to take real care when handling the books. Supporting these businesses is essential to ensure they stay with us for many years.

The Word, located within walking distance of McGill, is one example of a local bookstore to enjoy. The space is vividly personal with its pleasantly cramped interior and impressive turnover of over a hundred new titles each day. “I think what’s good about these kinds of stores, but even more with bookstores is that when you walk in, there’s a sense of passion,” said Scott Moodie, who has been working at The Word for the past 32 years.

Luckily, you can find this passion everywhere in Montréal bookstores. Here are a few of my favourites, and what makes them so special: 

Drawn & Quarterly: A familiar favourite, this bookshop specializes in graphic novels and hosts frequent readings. I love it for its bright decor and open feel. 

Encore Books & Records: My go-to! It’s a bit out of the way, but so worth it. The bright blue exterior will immediately pull you in, and you won’t escape–it’s hard to pull away from the rooms of books and fun record collection. 

Phoenix Books: If you’re at Encore, might as well check out Phoenix just down the road! The space is small but uncluttered, and they often host performances. The owner is super kind and always willing to help you find a book. 

Librairie Henri Julien: A funky little gem, this one satisfies your need for organized chaos with teetering stacks of books and colourful murals. 

Though chain bookstores have their advantages, in my mind the small dusty bookstores will always win. All Indigos are the same, but each small bookstore is different—you never know what treasures you’ll find.

Categories
Community Student Life

Book Club at Concordia

Hit your reading goals for 2023 with the Concordia Book Club

Are you a bookworm and don’t know what book on your TBR list to attack first? I have a perfect solution for you: Concordia’s very own book club. 

Journalism student Alexandra Blackie started the Concordia Book Club this winter semester and is looking forward to welcoming many new students to the club. 

Blackie wanted to join a book club when she started university in September, but the only book-related club was Concordia’s comic book club. “No hate to the comic book club but that’s not really my niche,” she said jokingly.

The lack of an actual book club was Blackie’s motivation to kickstart the initiative and form Concordia’s official book club. 

“It did take a little bit of a long time for it to get started. There were a lot of back and forth emails with the CSU,” Blackie explained.

Blackie wanted to create a social space that did not feel like school. She wanted a space where book-lovers could come together to read novels that are either popular right now or ones that not a lot of people know about.

In this club, Blackie doesn’t dictate the books that the club members have to read. 

“I don’t actually choose the books, I gave them a stack for the first meeting that they chose from. We just go through a TBR jar. Everyone sent me titles that they want to read and we go from there,” Blackie said.

In terms of how the club functions, Blackie came to a mutual agreement with the other club members that they would read one book for the entire month. At the end of the month, the club regroups in a meeting.

“We picked our first book at our first meeting over Zoom out of a pile that they chose from. For the next book that we read, we are going to pick from a TBR jar,” Blackie explained. 

This month’s read is The Guest List by Lucy Foley. 

The club currently has 22 members.  As the weather warms up, Blackie hopes to host in-person events like picnics where the club can discuss their current reads.

For interested participants, you can go through the CSU active club portal and email a_blackie@icloud.com.

Categories
Opinions

Battle of the books

Answering the question, if books are better than ebooks

Let me start off by stating this: I love books.

With eReaders like Kindles and Kobos, and subscriptions like Kindle Unlimited, there seems to be a reason for people to choose ebooks over physical books. Over the last few years, I have been told by many people that digital is the way to go now that reading print books is a thing of the past.

But for me, the physical book will always be better than the ebook. Here are my top three reasons why. 

(I’ve excluded audiobooks from this conversation because that is an entirely different experience.) 

1. When I hold a book in my hand, it is an entire experience. I can run my hands across the cover and feel the texture. I get to feel the pages against my skin and I feel like I am fully part of the experience of the book. Sometimes the covers have different textures and that makes the reading more of a sensory experience. I get to turn each page and get the genuine excitement of seeing the words on the next page. 

2. The smell of the book. Books have their own smells, and that makes the reading even better. An ebook doesn’t have that. It’s just a piece of plastic with words on it. It feels like I am just scrolling on my phone. Why would I want reading a book to feel like reading a text message? I want to hold the book close to my face and experience the different scents and moments. 

3. The impracticality of the sizes of books is such a part of the journey for me as a reader. It makes choosing what books I am reading more of a challenge. Can I carry it with me? Does it fit in my bag? It makes me think through what book I can make my main book. And the challenge of making the books fit into my purse makes reading even more exciting. I am someone who reads three books at a time, so getting the physical change that accompanies each book helps distinguish the stories. For me, it’s part of the process. 

Even when it comes to textbooks for class, I will always opt for a physical copy of the book. Again, I just need that experience of having the physical book in front of me to really get immersed.

I can only hope that people are wrong about physical books being a thing of the past. I will say, there is a trend of a lot of indie/self-published books that are only available in digital formats, and that truly is a bummer. Maybe someday they will decide to publish physical copies of their books so I can read them too.

Categories
Arts

The Salon du Livre de Montréal: a wonderful abode for book lovers

From Nov. 23 to Nov. 27 Montrealers had the privilege to enjoy books from the francophone world

As one entered the Salon du Livre, they were immediately greeted by the Agora, which served to host author interviews and book readings. People were given maps that displayed the names of the publishing houses around the immense space that is the Palais des Congrès.

Despite the venue’s cold appearance, the salon was able to add life to its walls, with colourful posters and shelves of publishers that extended across the broad space. 

The salon occupied the space with colourful tables, couches and plants to give it life, encouraging people to sit and read their new purchases.  

The morning of Sunday, Nov. 27 was buzzing with people, making it hard to move without being pushed, as patrons were wandering aimlessly into the vast world of literature. 

The salon had accessible prices and was free for visitors under 12, it also included spaces reserved for kids. It was clear they wanted to promote reading to a young audience.

On Saturday night, people were exhausted from Black Friday shopping, evident from visitors walking slowly, tired looking writers, and the staff seemed ready for their workday to end.

Authors were seated on odd pedestals in front of their respective publishing houses. When no one came to sign their work, their only distraction was a mere cup of water and their own books. 

The pedestals seemed in no way effective as very few people were having their books signed, unless the writer was someone already well-known. 

The Salon had organized a series of talks with authors.

Expert of Quebecois horror literature Patrick Sénécal gave a hilarious talk presenting his new book Résonances. On that Saturday night, he seemed exhausted, as he answered in a more relaxed cadence than his usual character. 

He discussed how most people think he must be mentally insane to write such disturbing novels, to which he responded “I’m just like everyone else.” 

These series of talks served to humanize authors as people, not idols. Novelist Anaïs Barbeau-Lavalette echoed Sénécal’s words, talking about finishing a book: “Once it’s out it belongs to you [the readers].”

She discussed her two recent books, Femme forêt and Femmes fleuve, which distinguish themselves greatly from her previous autobiographical work. Both harbour metaphorical verses, and propose to the reader a storyline following nature’s cycle. 

She noted that these books were the first time her writing did not depict her life specifically: “It’s the first time that this is not about me.”

She discussed her recent film Chien Blanc, noting that film was an interesting avenue in itself, but her preferred medium was writing, and at least in the near future she would stick to that.

She confessed, among other things, the difficulties in finding Romain Gary’s hermit son in the Spanish countryside to obtain the rights to make the novel into a film. 

“Writing is a solitary voyage,” she noted, whereas film involves teamwork and the considerations of different people. 

Wendat journalist Geneviève Pettersen namely spoke about her new book La reine de rien, a sequel from her first novel La Déesse des mouches à feu as an adult. 

She said she wrote a sequel because everyone kept on asking her what had happened to Catherine, the main character, and in her mind, it was obvious that she simply continued living. 

This coming-of-age story, which takes place in Chicoutimi, explored the ease of falling into bad habits and wanting to revolt. It received immense acclaim upon its release in 2021. It was even made into a film directed by the aforementioned Anaïs Barbeau-Lavalette. 

Beyond the bookworm aspect of book fairs, the salon had a noticeable commercial aspect to it. The books were not affordable, averaging in the mid-$30 price range. The clear intent was consumerism. Though the principal theme was books, the available seating was not comfortable enough for visitors to be entirely absorbed by a book. Talks that revolved around authors were centered around buying the copy to then get it signed. Not a single person was seen leaving the Salon without a book in hand. 

Salons du Livres happen around the world, on a yearly basis.

Categories
Arts

Encore Books & Records: A gem that you’ll never find elsewhere

The mom-and-pop second hand books and records shop finds a way to stay alive despite various adversity

In the early 90’s, Sean Madden, a young Concordia graduate, began buying books and records from local yard sales and auctions, eventually sparking his interest in selling them. As his hobbies pursued, his father — playwright Peter Madden — joined him, setting his literary passion ablaze.

“We often buy things from the community, and then it’s a nice process because it returns to the community. I always feel like I work really hard to keep Encore open because what we do here isn’t as much about selling as being a space for works of art to find other lives,” said Madden, the dedicated owner of Encore Books & Records.

Shawn Madden, owner of Encore book store Kaitlynn Rodney/The Concordian

The two would trade from all sorts of stores across town, namely S.W. Welch, The Word, and Odyssey. “Eventually we had so much stuff piled up, we were getting too good at it,” said Sean Madden.

“We stopped supplying other stores and looked for our own. It took us a year and a half to find this location. We lived in NDG, and we wanted something from NDG.” Thus, Encore Books & Records was opened in 1999 on Sherbrooke West and Harvard. 

Madden was keen on finding unusual records from niche genres. “People were throwing out all kinds of things, and it’s always so fun to find somebody’s collection and learn about who they are, what they enjoy.” 

Encore Books & Records has well over 100 genres of books, and over 40 genres of music on vinyl. However, running a second-hand bookstore on a busy street is no simple task.

“Our profit margins are fine, but it’s a lot of work and I think it’s difficult, because our customers are also our suppliers, and people aren’t used to selling things to us,” said Madden. However, the team is always looking for great finds, and people can make their own contributions in their own way and pick something up for themselves.

Caitlin, waiting at the cash for her next customer. Kaitlynn Rodney/ The Concordian

The owner disclosed that he was not planning on expanding the franchise, especially after how COVID-19 affected small retail businesses over the past couple of years. 

“I hope Encore is here forever.”, said Caitlin Van Fossen, an Encore Books employee and a student at Concordia. “I think folks do love supporting local, and Sean likes to emphasise that we want to support the local community, unusual gems that you’ll never find elsewhere.”

Kaitlynn Rodney/ The Concordian
Encore bookstore, is a used and new book store they carry all kinds of genres, as well as records , cds and cassesttes. Kaitlynn Rodney/ The Concordian
Categories
Arts

Art event roundup: spring edition

By Ashley Fish-Robertson & Véronique Morin 

Here are nine noteworthy events that are worth keeping on your radar!

With the end of another school year approaching and the onset of warmer weather, more people will be flocking to the city’s cultural venues. As The Concordian wraps up their last print issue of the school year, our arts editor and assistant arts editor share nine events to kick off springtime.   

Photo by Catherine Reynolds

Infographic by Simon Pouliot

To All The Books I’ve Never Read Before

How Bookstagram made me feel ashamed of my reading habits

Did you get into a new hobby during quarantine? Maybe you started something you’ve always wanted to try but never found the time to? Or maybe you dedicated more time to an already existing passion?

Whether you got into a new hobby or not, you’ve definitely seen your friends flock to social media to boast about their new hobbies. And let’s be real, it probably made you feel like shit if you were just trying to survive.

Now I won’t lie, I got really into reading during the first quarantine. With all my newfound time, it was just so easy to pick up a book and finish it in just a couple of days, something I was never able to do before. My new passion also made me discover the reading community community, Bookstagram, BookTube and BookTok. These are all places where people like me could share their love of reading, get recommendations and share our thoughts on our latest read.

I fell for the cute montages and pictures of perfectly-scattered books on beds made up with white sheets, thinking how books were not just about reading, but also about the aesthetics. Don’t get me wrong, I admire the dedication these accounts have for keeping up with their aesthetic because I know my cheap and unstable IKEA bookcase in the corner of my room will never be that pretty.

After following a few accounts on different platforms, I also loved getting recommendations and seeing my TBR (term used in the community to refer to someone’s “To Be Read”) list growing. However, when normal life started again, going back to work and school meant I did not have the same amount of time to dedicate to reading.,Determined to hold onto this new personality trait, as a reader, I made it my mission to not lose the hobby completely.

This is when my love for Bookstagram, BookTube and BookTok accounts turned on its heels. The algorithm started showing me more and more book content that made me feel ashamed that I couldn’t keep up with the creators I was seeing. Posts like, “All the books I read this month” or, “How I managed to read over 100 books last year” made me feel major imposter syndrome. Was I not reading enough to be a part of this community?

Reading for me can be a daunting task. I have trouble focusing, and sometimes need to read one sentence, paragraph or even page, over and over again in order to make sure I understood what I just read.

Being proud of myself for reading a book in one week became an underachievement when I’d open social media and see someone I admire had read three in the same amount of time. I realized the community puts a bigger emphasis on quantity than I originally thought, which made me feel like it didn’t matter what I read, just how much I read. The amount of time I would spend curating my library and TBR to fit my interests and topics I wanted to educate myself on felt like a waste. My 20 books in a year record now looked substandard and like it definitely didn’t necessitate a celebratory Instagram post.

Although I know that this is not the message these Bookstagrammers and BookTubers are pushing, comparison is inevitable. Not meeting the same book count as your favorite content creator makes you feel like you’re not doing it right.

Instead, I’m going to try focusing on what I get out of reading, instead of how many books I read — that is still a challenge. After all, I read a lot of non-fiction books about social issues with challenging and hard to digest content. Why read a lot of books if I cannot take the time to appreciate my growth and learning?

I might not read over 100 books a year, and my bookcase might not be filled with aesthetically pleasing covers, but I would never trade that for what I currently get out of reading.

 

Graphic by Lily Cowper

Categories
Arts

Things dipped in gold never grow

How the depictions of women in classic literature perpetuate harmful stereotypes that persist today

John Steinbeck, J.D. Salinger, F. Scott Fitzgerald. You don’t have to be an English buff to recognize these prominent names in classic literature. These authors have written some of the most highly acclaimed novels, contributing tales heralded as timeless that still permeate the fabric of academia today. Their work has been coated in gold on account of their many accolades, rendering their words in certain circles as immortal, unchanging — which can be dangerous. This is especially true concerning outdated stereotypes of women in these books, which were written by men roughly eighty years ago. These stereotypes uphold archaic ideas of women like a massive golden statue that towers over modern women. These female figures stay the same while the world changes around them. Singer-songwriter, Jhené Aiko, said it best: “if everything is dipped in gold, then baby it will never grow.”

The inaccurate depictions of women in classic literature might not be so alarming if it wasn’t for the surviving stereotypes that actively challenge women to this day. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck is a world-famous novella taught in nearly every high school English class. The themes of racism and misogyny are not the main focal points of the tale but may very well rest in the subliminal consciousness of its readers. The way Steinbeck writes Curley’s wife is comparable to how individuals on social media, news platforms and podcasts have spoken about countless sexual assault victims. The wife is described as being dolled up to provoke male attention, and she is all-too inclined to give men “the eye.” The story ends with one of the male characters murdering her by snapping her neck, with the witnessing men instinctively attaching blame to the wife, the victim, despite her repeated protest. Looking over her frail, helpless body they shoot her a final sneer: “You God damn tramp […] you done it.” Of course, the circumstances are not a direct reflection of how we respond to sexual assault victims today, however it does feel eerily familiar to the accursed response of “Well, what was she wearing?” that is heard far too often in the media.

The Catcher in the Rye, the cult classic written by J.D. Salinger, is another example of how beautifully written classics can perpetuate misogynistic undertones on account of their notoriety. The main character, Holden Caulfield, has a view of women so sexist it rivals that of American Psycho’s Patrick Bateman — satire excluded. Every woman he encounters is subjected to his sexuality, and he quickly analyzes all the ways in which women are ridiculous, attractive (or not), and thus he concludes how much value she has. Even his ideal love interest Jane Gallagher is not exempt from his stringent criticism, despite Holden’s alleged respect for her. He overtly affirms his belief that “most girls are so dumb and all,” but it seems intelligence is not much of a substantial factor in his pursuit of women. His ultimate concern with women is as deep as a teaspoon; he is a self-proclaimed “sex maniac” who does not even need to like the women he “courts,” to put it politely.

Not all representations of women are as vulgar, name-calling or carnal in nature as Salinger and Steinbeck illustrate. F. Scott Fitzgerald’s opulent classic The Great Gatsby characterizes a more subtle but equally offensive stereotype. Tom Buchanan, the burly and violent elitist, has two love interests. His wife, the soft-spoken and romantic Daisy, and his mistress, the seductive and provocative Myrtle. These two women are emblematic of what we know today as the “madonna-whore complex.” Daisy and Myrtle serve as foil characters, complete opposites that promote a binary archetype that women fall into. While one represents the “ideal” female form to be virginal, innocent and docile, the other represents the fallen woman. She embodies loose morality, temptation and impurity. The greater implications of these stereotypes is that it revokes women’s personhood, confining them to negative or weak impressions.

I am in no way condemning classic literature for not passing the Bechdel Test. This feminist criteria for proper representation of women in fiction is about 10 social eons ahead of these early 20th century texts. It would be irrational to judge historical authors based on standards developed nearly a century after their making. I do, however, believe it is imperative to critique the ideas perpetuated in the literature that we read, especially when they are being assigned to impressionable minds in high school and college. With the right analysis of these outdated themes, we can remove the harm of these representations and turn them into a useful learning tool.

 

Visuals courtesy Madeline Schmidt 

Categories
Arts

Art events roundup: fifth wave edition

By Véronique Morin & Ashley Fish-Robertson

This month’s roundup offers options for both virtual and in-person events

With Quebec’s everchanging COVID-19 restrictions due to the current surge in Omicron cases, many of the city’s art events have either been postponed or have transitioned to a virtual format. Here are several events taking place this month, both in-person and online.

Virtual events

Theatre:

  •  Manuel de la vie sauvage: Theatre piece inspired by the reality of young entrepreneurs. The work is based on the novel of the same name by Jean-Philippe Baril Guérard. Available through Duceppe Theatre’s website until March 30.
  • L’amour est un dumpling: Theatre creation by Mathieu Quesnel and Nathalie Doummar that features reflections on life goals and ambitions. Available through Duceppe Theatre’s website until March 30.

Film:

  • Festival Plein(s) Écran(s): Online film festival presenting four or more different short films every day on their website until Jan. 22.
  • C.R.A.Z.Y. (new restored edition): The cult film by Jean-Marc Vallée is available to rent on Cinéma Public’s website. While the theatre is closed, their website features a small selection of films available to watch from home for a small fee.
  • The Lonely Battle of Thomas Reid: Cinema Politica also has a selection of films to watch from home, like this film from filmmaker Feargal Ward.

Other:

  • Saturday Salon: The Centaur Theatre Company will host an online conversation with the artists behind Talking Treaties: Tiohtià:ke as part of their Artistic Diversity Discussion. The event is accessible through their Facebook or YouTube page on Jan. 22 at 2 p.m.
  • Writers Read – Joy Priest: A reading, conversation and audience Q&A with the author of Horsepower. On Jan. 19 at 10:30 a.m.

In-person exhibitions:

    • Terror Contagion: The MAC’s current exhibition based on the research of the Forensic Architecture group. Located at 1 Place Ville Marie until April 18.
    • Situated Gazes: Conceptual art group exhibition at Centre des arts actuels Skol. Located at 372 Sainte-Catherine St. W until Feb. 19.
    • soothsay: Exhibition featuring sculptures by artist Gabi Dao and paintings by geetha thurairajah at Centre Clark. Located at 5455 de Gaspé Ave. until  Feb. 12.
    • We move, just shifting: Concordia graduate Brandon Brookbank presents this photo exhibition at Centre Clark. Presented until Feb. 12.
    • Alambics: Art Mȗr will be presenting the work of Ginette Legaré. This exhibition will explore the past lives of everyday objects and consider their potential when repurposed as art materials. Located at 5826 St-Hubert St. from Jan. 15 to Feb. 26.

 

Graphic by James Fay

 

Categories
Arts

2022: A promising year for CanLit

2022 may look bleak for most of us, but there’s one upside to the new year: new books! Here are six releases that you won’t want to miss out on

Considering the current state of the world, there’s perhaps no better way to ring in a new year than by getting lost in some fictional worlds. The good news is that 2022 appears to be an exciting year for CanLit. Short story enthusiasts will be particularly satisfied with this year’s upcoming releases. Below is a non-exhaustive list of some books to look forward to. Happy reading!

The School for Good Mothers by Jessamine Chan

Chan’s highly anticipated debut novel is nothing short of harrowing. Perhaps that’s what makes it so worthy of binge-reading. The novel’s main character, Frida, must prove her ability to be the perfect mother following a brief error in judgement. Sent to a reeducation centre for unfit mothers, she must do everything she can to demonstrate that she is a good caregiver or risk losing her child forever. The School for Good Mothers functions as both a commentary on surveillance in modern society, while also providing readers with a riveting tale about the lengths a mother will go to protect their child.

Release date: Jan. 4

People Change by Vivek Shraya

Shraya once again delivers a profoundly moving work that dares to explore collective fears and ideas surrounding change. Shraya delves into the universality of change and hopefully, by the end of this (extremely) digestible book, readers might harbour a new perspective when considering how change shapes each of our lives.

Release date: Jan. 4

A Hero of Our Time by Naben Ruthnum

Ruthnum’s latest novel is a breath of fresh air for the CanLit sphere, one that is simultaneously comedic and very much relevant for the current state of race politics in Canada. A Hero of Our Time does an impressive job exposing the arteries of Canada’s not-so-covert racism in the form of seemingly well-intentioned executives and their workplace diversity policies. Not only does the novel take a hard look at the role race plays in relation to one’s career, but it also explores the repercussions that follow when an attempt from a minority employee is made to dismantle and expose the superficiality of these policies.

Release date: Jan. 11

Lesser Known Monsters of the 21st Century by Kim Fu

Fans of Japanese author Haruki Murakami’s eccentric style will appreciate Fu’s ability to craft fictional worlds where bizarre characters and occurrences are plausible and simply a part of everyday life. Fu’s collection is an ideal choice for those who are new to surreal or speculative fiction and who aren’t necessarily ready to commit themselves to a full-length abstract narrative. This collection of twelve stories is guaranteed to transport readers to peculiar places who may be in desperate need of an escape. This is one book that promises to linger in your mind long after you’ve finished it.

Release date: Feb. 1

Why I’m Here by Jill Frayne

Frayne’s upcoming release is expected to deliver an emotionally heavy narrative that follows teenager Gale and her counsellor, Helen, as they both struggle with their own family issues. As with her 2003 novel, Starting Out in the Afternoon, readers can once again expect vivid descriptions of the Yukon’s pristine and untamed beauty. The only downside of this book is having to wait until summer for its release. Sigh.

Release date: May 1

No Stars in the Sky by Martha Bátiz

Another short story collection that you won’t want to miss out on is Bátiz’s latest book. All stories feature resilient women protagonists who are, in some way or another, undergoing a crisis. Bátiz’s work often explores current social issues, especially those concerning immigrant women. Readers who enjoyed the author’s 2017 collection titled Plaza Requiem: Stories at the Edge of Ordinary Lives can expect to thoroughly enjoy this upcoming collection just as much.

Release date: May 3

 

Graphic by James Fay

Categories
Arts

The Concordian staff’s favourite Halloween books

Why not opt for a chilling read in lieu of a horror movie this Halloween? We’ve got some creepy suggestions for you!

Instead of engaging in the typical Netflix horror movie binge each October, why not spice things up this year and opt for a chilling book instead? Here are some spooky reading material recommendations from our staff members that are sure to give you goosebumps!

Ashley Fish-Robertson, Arts Editor

If you’re like me and you find yourself falling prey to every jumpscare in a horror movie, a spooky book can be a better alternative. For those seeking a short read that packs a punch, In the Miso Soup by Ryu Murakami won’t disappoint. This gruesome, fast-paced story takes place in Tokyo and follows Kenji, a young Japanese tourist guide, who suspects that one of his customers may be behind a string of violent murders. Cue the eerie music.

If you’re not looking to commit to a novel because the midterm season has deprived you of the joy that comes from reading, I’d recommend turning to Junji Ito’s manga, specifically Gyo. Between Ito’s masterful albeit nightmarish illustrations and the book’s palpable suspense, you may find yourself devouring Gyo within a day or two.

Mélina Lévesque, Features Editor 

Full. Body. Chills. That is exactly what I felt when diving into Alex Michaelides’ The Silent Patient. This psychological thriller will keep you up all night, enticing you to endlessly rip through each and every page to find out what happens next. After shooting her husband five times, Alicia Berenson is placed in a secure psychiatric unit, and never speaks another word. Freaky, right? We follow criminal psychotherapist, Theo Faber, on his mission to unpack Alicia Berenson’s story.

Michaelides’ storytelling will seriously make you feel like you’re silently tiptoeing behind each character, desperately trying to stay hidden and out of danger as you watch disturbing events unfold. He really takes you right to the scene. Don’t even get me started on the ending. *SPOILER ALERT* You won’t see it coming. Trust me.

Lucy Farcnik, Copy Editor

For those not super into gore, Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia provides a suitably unsettling combination of psychological horror and historical fiction. It follows socialite Noemí Taboada, who goes to visit her cousin Catalina and her new English husband after receiving a disturbing letter from her. She finds a burnt-out mining town, a new love, a terrifying family, and a house that is more than what it seems. It’s a bit of a slow burn, but this just adds to the creep factor. The author also curated a playlist to go along with the book, which really sets the tone!

Victor Vigas, Music Editor 

This isn’t a Halloween book, but it certainly spooked me. Misery by Stephen King is the only book to really creep up my spine and freak me out. The story follows novelist Paul Sheldon after being kidnapped by a superfan, Annie Wilkes. The novel’s textured prose invites readers to get lost into what quickly becomes a haunting and gruesome tale. When the prose meanders into tangents of introspection, it gives readers space to digest every horror that’s been laid out prior. If it is any indication of how crazy this book can get, King said in an interview that out of any character he’s written, the character of Annie would be the worst lockdown partner during COVID-19. That’s big talk coming from the same guy who wrote a book about a clown that feasts on children. In any case, Stephen King threads the needle masterfully in this book, and will easily spook readers at any time of the year.

James Fay, Graphics Editor

For something as playful as it is dark, I would recommend Edward Gorey’s Amphigorey,  a collection of  comics that includes The Gashlycrumb Tinies and The Doubtful Guest. The stories appear as though they are meant to be read to children, but the content and art style brings you to a much darker place. The Gashlycrumb Tinies list children alphabetically, as if to teach readers the alphabet, but each child is meeting their untimely demise in one way or another. For example: “J is for James who took Lye by Mistake.” The art is a particular selling point for me, giving off a sketchy gothic look for all of the Victorian characters and settings.

Hadassah Alencar, Editor-in-Chief

Remember the joy of reading a scary novel as a child? It’s that feeling of losing yourself in a book until late, but knowing deep down the suspense will make you keep your light on for the night. Even now that we’re older, there’s a special nostalgia in reading your favourite classics and re-discovering the story. For me, it’s been The Witches by Roald Dahl; a fantasy story featuring a boy and his grandmother in a world where a community of secretive, child-hating witches exist around the world. While I have not forgotten the main story plot, I find there’s so much I haven’t held on to all these years. The experience feels like I’m riding a roller coaster: I can foretell when the suspense will build and climax, but even so I love the ride.

 

Visuals courtesy of James Fay

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