Atwater Library Recommendations

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

— John Aylen, Atwater Library member and Board President

“If you have not yet read this book (or listened to it recorded—the Library has both), consider yourself lucky because you are in for a rare literary treat of the most marvellous kind. The story of two children—one German, one French—converge and climax in the Second World War in St. Malo in Brittany. The locale is especially interesting for Canadians because that was the port Jacques Cartier sailed out of and the home city of many French Canadians who emigrated from that part of France. Tragedy, intrigue, suspense, love–it all comes together in this book that I qualify as a real page turner that works on so many levels. It’s at once literary and highly accessible, a true tour-de-force novel by an American writer whose voice in this work seems genuinely European and of the time. If you read only one book this summer, make it All the Light We Cannot See.”

The Outside Circle: A Graphic Novel
Text by Patti Laboucane-Benson, illustrations by Kelly Mellings

Tracy Daley, circulation desk volunteer

“Did you know that the Atwater Library now has graphic novels? These are excellent for when you are looking for something quick to read, and as an added bonus, they often have impressive artwork. I wanted to take a moment to highlight one that I enjoyed. The Outside Circle features Pete, a young Aboriginal man living in Edmonton. In a moment of rage, Pete commits a crime that results in him being sent to jail. The story follows his journey through the events that follow while also presenting some of the history of Aboriginal peoples. For example, it describes the impact on individuals and families of the removal of children from their families and of experiences in residential schools. The graphic novel also presents an example of how community-based programs can help individuals find peace in their lives and work toward building a brighter future. The author, Patti Laboucane-Benson, is a Métis woman who has experience working with Aboriginal people through such support programs. I also very much enjoyed the full colour artwork by Kelly Mellings.”

The Troubles Trilogy by Adrian McKinty

— Geoffrey Dowd, Atwater Library Board member

“I am a huge fan of good crime fiction, especially of the ‘noir’ variety. I recently read and recommend Adrian McKinty’s ‘Troubles trilogy,’ introducing Sean Duffy, a Catholic DI in Belfast serving with the mostly Protestant RUC. While set in the late 1970’s and 1980’s, they were written in the 2000’s, giving the author some interesting opportunities to involve historical events and perspectives in cases set within this era of wasteful, internecine conflict. The writing itself is wryly brilliant, the dark mood authentic, and the Duffy character smart and complex. Think of Ian Rankin’s Rebus, but in Belfast…and different.

The first in the series is The Cold Cold Ground (2012), available as an e-book from the Atwater collection. My guess is you’ll want to follow up with the second I Hear Sirens in the Street (2013), also available in e-book. Read them in order, and if you’re hooked, follow up with In the Morning I’ll Be Gone (2014) to complete this early phase of Duffy’s career.

There are a few later Sean Duffy novels (also good), but like the Rebus novels, better to start at the start. Great reading for any time, but summer by the lake will provide a happy contrast to the Belfast of the 1980’s.”

The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic and the Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson

— Kathleen James, Atwater Library summer intern

Despite not being an avid reader of non-fiction, Erik Larson managed to draw me into his book by presenting the man who built the 1893 World’s Fair and the serial killer who took advantage of it with his novel-like writing style. In The Devil in the White City, the reader learns about that vast impact the fair had on both Chicago and the world, as well as the extensive planning that went into it. Even more interesting was the fact that at the same time the reader is presented with the story of H.H. Holmes, a serial killer who used the fair as a way to lure his victims into his ‘murder castle.’ This is a great book that kept me hooked until the end!
Pssst! Martin Scorsese is apparently working on a big screen adaptation with frequent collaborator Leonardo DiCaprio.”

Astray by Emma Donoghue

— Kelley Rojas, Coordinator of Computer Courses and Room Rentals

“Emma Donoghue’s collection of short stories, Astray, takes readers into 14 tales of North American life in the 1800s. Donoghue takes inspiration from historical records and newspapers to give life and whimsy to stories lived long ago. There is something for everyone in this collection of gems; gender identity, emigration, love, and yes–even elephants are featured into Donoghue’s stories. ‘Man and Boy’ tops the list as my favourite of the bunch, but go ahead and see for yourself!”

Agatha: The Real Life of Agatha Christie by Anne Martinetti, Guillaume Lebeau and Alexandre Franc (Published by SelfMadeHero)

— Kimberley Ryan, Head Librarian

“I, for one, am really excited Hollywood has decided to make a big screen, big budget adaptation of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express. Having read almost all of the Queen of Crime’s illustrious Belgian detective’s adventures in my teens, I was drawn to Agatha: The Real Life of Agatha Christie by Anne Martinetti et al. I wonder how much fiction is contained in this short graphic novel, but I was truly entertained and gripped by this story of a woman who was adored by millions, but cheated by men she loved. A woman who sourced her inspiration for characters and settings from her many travels and experiences, but was haunted by personalities that went beyond the page.

American Crime Story, Season 1: The People v. O.J. Simpson 
FX TV Series, produced by Scott and Larry Productions

— Kimberley Ryan, Head Librarian

“I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the first season of FX’s American Crime Story, which recounts the story of the hugely publicized trial of former football superstar O.J. Simpson. Starring Cuba Gooding Jr. as Simpson, Sarah Paulson as Marcia Clark and Courtney B. Vance as Johnnie Cochran, the season is chock-full of impressive performances and thrilling TV moments. Look out for Sarah Paulson as lead prosecutor Marcia Clark, whose storyline I found the most compelling. I suggest you grab American Crime Story, Season 1: The People v. O.J. Simpson for your next rainy weekend in. FX truly has a knack for anthology series and I personally cannot wait for season 2, The Assassination of Gianni Versace.”

the princess saves herself in this one by Amanda Lovelace

— Kimberley Ryan, Head Librarian

“This is a great introduction to poetry for people who don’t read much poetry. Written in contemporary prose, it tackles death, and love, and life in a way that connects to my generation — those who grew up with the angst of Myspace and Tumblr. It might not be for everyone, but I recommend checking it out if you are curious about what kids are reading these days. It’s a pretty popular title on Goodreads.”

Skyfall [DVD] (2013). Directed by Sam Mendes;
Interstellar [DVD] (2014). Directed by Christopher Nolan;
Invictus [DVD] (2009). Directed by Clint Eastwood.

— Daisy Winling, circulation desk volunteer

SkyfallInterstellarInvictus… what do all of these movies have in common? Yes, they all are at your favorite library, but they also feature poetry. I could have recommended Tennyson, Dylan Thomas, Keats, but let’s be real: very few people would read poetry on the fly. (I know from experience that being passionate and vocal about poetry won’t turn your friends into poetry reading goers, alas). We need to be lured intro poetry, and who does it better than cinema? So my hope is that you start with the movie, move on to the books, and end up in the fantastic poetry workshop Atwater Library offers. Just saying.”