Arts & Culture

Poolside Reads

From blockbusters to romance, the local literati select their top picks for summer.

Poolside-Reads-Illustration-Suharu-Ogawa
Illustration: Suharu Ogawa

For a great summer read, it’s hard to beat Sleeping Giants by Montreal’s Sylvain Neuvel. Similar in style to The Martian, it’s X-Files meets Top Gun by way of Transformers. With giant alien battle tech, government conspiracies, and a kick-ass science heroine in protagonist Rose Franklin, it’s the literary equivalent to a summer blockbuster, with more than enough twists and turns to keep the pages turning. — Sean Wilson, artistic director, Ottawa International Writers Festival

Every summer, especially when the days get oppressively hot and humid, I dive into Heart of Darkness. I find Joseph Conrad’s short novel hypnotic. His descriptions of the colossal jungle, the unrelenting heat, come alive for me during our dog days. — Rick Mofina, whose most recent thriller is Every Second

On the romance side, I’d recommend The Steady Running of the Hour by Justin Go. Also the trilogy by Adrian McKinty that has become a quintet: it begins with The Cold, Cold Ground, about an Irish Catholic cop serving in Protestant Belfast during the early 1980s. It crackles! — Jim Sherman, owner of Perfect Books, 258A Elgin St.

Each summer I take a pile of books to the cottage. The usual ones are already installed there — all the books I’ll read one day: Marcel Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past, Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations. Somehow, Marcel and Charles never join me on the dock: my lakeside friends are rarely bearded or writing paragraphs that sprawl over three pages. This summer I’ll be reading Joan Crate’s Black Apple. I’ve always enjoyed Crate’s poetry, and I’m looking forward to her first novel, which takes us deep into the residential school experience. I know I said I don’t usually mingle with bearded heavyweights on the dock, but Andrea Wulf’s The Invention of Nature, a biography of  Alexander von Humboldt — the great Prussian naturalist, philosopher, geographer, and explorer — is so compelling. It will keep me out of the water. — Charlotte Gray, whose most recent book is The Massey Murder

For a sizzling read, any of Elmore Leonard’s books will do. — Elizabeth Hay, whose most recent book is His Whole Life