13 World Book Day Recommendations

Share some of your favourites!

April 23rd is World Book Day.

Some of my earliest memories involve the little blue library in town: storytime while taking in the very distinct smell of thousands of books in that small, old building. As an older child of 9 or 10, I would bike to the little blue library and take out 4 or 5 books like The Babysitters Club, The Bobsey Twins or Nancy Drew mysteries; I’d stop by the corner store for some long Nibs and then spend hours reading my newly borrowed books.

I don’t read as leisurely as I used to; no afternoons with Nibs in hand and nothing but a book to read. But I do still love to read. And I love books that capture my imagination and bid me to stay up far too late in order to finish.

On World Book Day, I thought I’d share some of my favourites. You can follow the links to read the ‘proper’ summaries and other people’s reviews as well.

 

1) The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

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This is a book I would have never read if it weren’t for my library book club. I’m glad it was on our reading list because I LOVED it! It’s the story of a biographer who is contacted by an elusive writer who wants her to document her life story. It’s a modern-gothic tale full of mystery. I stayed up way too late one night finishing it because I couldn’t put it down.

 

2) Wild by Cheryl Strayed

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Another Book Club read that I loved. If you’ve seen the movie starring Reese Witherspoon but haven’t read the book, you’ve missed out. To be blunt, had I not read the book, I would have turned off the movie about 20 minutes in. The book, by contrast, is beautifully written and captivating. It’s Cheryl’s memoir of finding herself as she hikes the Pacific Crest Trail (which she began with no training and no idea what she was getting into.)

 

3) Barney’s Version by Mordecai Richler 

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Around the time the movie version was being made, I heard an interview with a real book expert who said this was Richler’s best novel as well as his last. I immediately went online to Abebooks and bought a first edition hard-cover for my collection. I read the book, too of course, and LOVED it! The ending had me in tears it was so fantastic.

As for the movie, starring Paul Giamatti, it was great too but they had to change the end a bit so it wasn’t as powerful.

Barney’s Version is the memoir of fictional character, Barney Panofsky, who wants to set the record straight when he hears one of his enemies is planning on writing a tell-all. The thing is, Barney is also in the early stages of  dementia.  The book is wonderful!

 

4) The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

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My husband had this book in his collection (a ‘required reading’ for one of his university classes, I think) and, when I heard a movie was coming out, I decided to read it.  As the title suggests, it’s about a woman married to a time traveler. The story tells us about Clare and Henry, who have known each other since Clare was 6 because Henry can travel in time (though he can’t control where and when he goes.)
It’s a beautiful tale. If you think the time-traveling will make things too complicated, it doesn’t.

I will never forget reading the end of this book. I had taken the large tome with me to Ireland and I was in a hostel in Dublin, reading late into the night. I was in tears as the story ended.  (Once again, the book ending is far more poignant than the movie!)

 

5) A Scientific Romance by Ronald Wright

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This is one of the few books I have read more than once. It was “required reading” for one of my English courses and, for about a year after reading it, I thought of it almost every day.  It’s about a man who travels 500 years into the future. You learn about his past, how he managed to find this time machine; what the world is like 500 years from now and who he meets there. The description of London, England is haunting.  The vision of the future in this book really stuck with me and it continues to be timely.

This book was my pick for one of our monthly reads at my Library Book Club. I was apprehensive to hear the other members’ reviews and was relieved when one of the best-read members, who does not like science fiction, declared it one of the best books she’d ever read.

 

6) The Falls by Ian Rankin

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I really like police procedurals and Ian Rankin’s Rebus novels are great. My favourite one is probably The Falls.

 

7) The Butterfly Plague by Timothy Findley

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I recommend Timothy Findley with caution because the first book I read from him was The Wars and I hated it.  Then, I had to read The Butterfly Plague. Because I was sure I would hate it as well, I bought a super ratty copy from the second hand story. Well, I loved it! I felt bad that I had such an ugly copy so I bought a signed first edition. (It’s the most expensive book I own.) Note: The book was revised after the first edition and I read the revised version.

 

8) Pilgrim by Timothy Findley

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Pilgrim is also a fantastic tale in which Findley masterfully weaves history with fiction, as he does in most of his books. You may need to read a few of his books to get used to his style, which jumps around in time a lot.

 

9) The Telling of Lies by Timothy Findley

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The Telling of Lies is a mystery.

 

10) How the Barbarian Invasion Shaped the Modern World by Thomas J. Craughwell
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One day, I felt like learning something, so I picked up this text book at Chapters and ended up reading it from cover to cover. It was fascinating. If only all text books were like this! This is a great book if you like history and non-fiction.

 

Finally,

11, 12 and 13) The Maddaddam Trilogy by Margaret Atwood

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It’s dystopian and speculative fiction and a great story. The first two books tell two sides of one story and the last book brings them together. It’s the story of the world in the near future and the “Waterless Flood” that wipes out most of humanity. The ending had me wondering if Adam One knew all along. Knew what? You’ll have to read the books!

What books would you recommend for World Book Day?