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Conveniently timed to air on the longest day of the year (thank you, June 21, for falling on a Saturday), I’m pleased to present my annual summer reading list for Day 6 on CBC Radio One.

Here I am (up there, look!) balancing in my skinny arms my complete set of books to suit all summer reading tastes.

Moments after this photograph was taken I overheard a man sitting at the other end of the table (yes, I am on a patio drinking early summer beer) telling his friends that he likes reading crime fiction by British writers. I gave him my copy of The Farm, thus lighting my load by one book for the journey home.

>> Listen to my summer reads conversation with Day 6 host Brent Bambury here.

>> Read my suggestions for EVEN MORE reading at CBC.ca, here.

image: shovel ready

 

A writer publishes his debut novel. The writer has a toe hold in the literary establishment on both sides of the Canada/US border. The novel has a toe hold on both sides of the noir/sci-fi genre border. The setting of the novel is almost borderless; near-future New York functioning as everyplace and no place, a Gotham or Metropolis, a metaphor for where society has gone wrong. The protagonist is an assassin with a code: one foot on either side of the moral fence.

The review is not like the novel. The review has to pick a single side.

Shovel Ready by Adam Sternbergh. Should you read it?

Listen to the segment on CBC Day 6.

 

image: Holiday Reads 2013

 

For your last-minute gift-giving needs, my 2013 gift guide on CBC Day 6 includes:

For the fiction lover:
The Orenda by Joseph Boyden
Longbourn by Jo Baker
Stoner by John Williams

For the tech-savvy reader, nonfiction fan or parent to teenage smartphone addicts:
Smarter Than You Think by Clive Thompson

For the graphic novel reader or whimsical adventurer  of any age (10 and up):
The Encyclopedia of Early Earth by Isabel Greenberg

For the cook:
The Old World Kitchen by Elisabeth Luard

Listen to the audio.

image: The Luminaries

 

On Tuesday night, Canadian-born Kiwi Eleanor Catton became the youngest author ever to win the Man Booker Prize. She won for The Luminaries, which, at 830-odd pages, is also the longest book ever to have won, and will forever be the last book to have won before the prize changed its entry rules to include writers beyond the Commonwealth and Ireland.

But should you read it?

I did – more quickly than I’d suggest you do. Here’s my conversation with Brent Bambury on CBC Day 6.

 

 

Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) talked to the Book and Periodical Council, Toronto Public Library,  and me, about Freedom to Read Week 2013, and a Type Books window display that has been generating a lot of chatter.

VIDEO: Freedom to Read Week 2013

 

The NYT Magazine said it’s the best book you’ll read in 2013. High praise for a book that was published on January 10, a pub. date that I’m guessing will have amused the author considering the book’s title.

I discussed George Sunders’ heatbreaking and hilarious new story collection on Day 6 with Brent Bambury

Should you read it? Here’s the audio.

 

My 2012 Holiday Reads for Day 6 (also Far from the Tree, which I seem to have forgotten about when taking the picture...)

 

Three more shopping days till Christmas!

Here are my tips for the buzziest books underneath the tree this year, as shared with Brent Bambury on this morning’s CBC Day 6.

Shoppers in Toronto: you can get all of these and more at the fabulous Type Books, where I’m often to be found selling books of a weekend. All except Building Stories, that is, which is sold out everywhere in the city (gasp!) except for The Beguiling, which was clever enough to get a Santa’s warehouse full! Go indies!

Happy holiday reading folks.

Becky Toyne, Roddy Doyle, Two Pints (untouched)

 

Roddy: “About a year and a half ago I opened a Facebook account.”

Audience: *laughs*

And so begins my congenial and chortle-filled interview with Roddy Doyle, the Booker Prize-winning author of books for readers of all ages (my 9-year-old niece is a fan), and (let’s not forget) 2012 Scotiabank Giller Prize judge.

On the pub as the perfect setting for two blokes talking about the tabloids: “The realm of conversation is what makes the pub unique. The alcohol, it helps, but it’s more the conversation.”

This conversation was filmed at the Kobo offices in Toronto as part of the Kobo in Conversation series.

Check out the video on Kobo’s YouTube page, here.

Fall = big book season.

Erin Balser and I sat down with Mary Ito on CBC Radio One’s Fresh Air to talk about what we’re looking forward to this season.

We talked about:
The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling
The Underwater Welder by Jeff Lemire
Sleeping Funny by Miranda Hill
NW by Zadie Smith
Y by Marjorie Celona
The Blondes by Emily Schultz
This Is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen

And mentioned:
1982 by Jian Ghomeshi
Waging Heavy Peace by Neil Young
This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz
Dear Life by Alice Munro

Listen to the audio.

 

It’s been 12 years since Zadie Smith published her break-out debut, White Teeth, and 7 years since her most recent novel, the brilliant On Beauty.

So … was NW worth the wait?
On Day 6 with Brent Bambury I say … YES. With a word of caution that the novel is “crazy good” in parts, but “chaotic and cluttered” in others.

Here’s the audio.