There is something for everyone in the Martlet’s guide to the Canada Reads 2023 longlist
Attention New Year’s resolutioners! If 2024 is the year you aim to read more, look no further than the Martlet’s January book guide. In this guide you’ll find a few picks from CBC’s Canada Reads longlist, which was announced in December. The shortlist is soon to be announced. Whether you prefer novels, short fiction, memoir, graphic novels, or young adult, there’s something in this guide for everyone.
Junie by Chelene Knight
An offering for novel-lovers, and those in search of a literary love letter to Vancouver.
This novel is a period piece, set in 1930s Hogan’s Alley, where Junie, the novel’s protagonist, moves with her mother as a child. Knight, the author, says it was important to her to decentralize narratives of crime, pain, and trauma when writing about Hogan’s Alley, and revisit the history of this Black immigrant community in a testament to the joy that also exists there. Junie follows its protagonist into adulthood as she explores her different facets and grapples with the fates that befall both her mother and her neighbourhood.
Happy Hour by Marlowe Granados
Another novel worth a read if you enjoy a meandering plot and all the glittering literary mise-en-scène in the world.
This novel follows best friends and New York City party girls Isa and Gala through one summer in the early 2010s. The pair bounces from job to job, barely making ends meet, with the singular goal of finding the next fabulous party or occasion for an aperitif. The author, Granados, calls the pair adventurers, and says the novel seeks to explore the journey of female friendship.
Denison Avenue by Daniel Innes and Christina Wong
This is one for the comic fans.
Denison Avenue, co-written by Daniel Innes and Christina Wong, is a two-part graphic novel-novella hybrid that follows Wong Cho Sum, a recent widow, through her long walks through Toronto’s Chinatown and beyond. The novel deals with grief, aging, and gentrification.
Mamaskatch by Darrel J. McLeod
For any nonfiction lovers, and for those interested in reading the lived experience of an Indigenous author.
Mamaskatch pieces together stories of McLeod learning to take pride in his Cree heritage, and his mother’s tales of her experiences in residential schools. McLeod says that he collaborated with his family to recollect the writing in this book, and that these research and writing processes gave him moments of great healing. Sharing and owning this story is according to McLeod, in some ways his confession in the form of a memoir.
Shut Up You’re Pretty by Téa Mutonji
If you read on your commute to work or school, or prefer not to read for lengthy periods of time, this collection of short fiction might be for you.
Set in Scarborough, Ontario, this collection follows a single protagonist through various coming-of-age tales as she navigates life as a young Black woman in the 21st century. Shut Up You’re Pretty is Téa Mutonji’s fiction debut.
Woke Up Like This by Amy Lea
For those who enjoy a light-hearted, easy read, consider this YA rom-com to kick off 2024.
Woke Up Like This follows Charlotte Wu and T.J. Renner, high school archnemeses, as they try to turn back time after a freak accident ages them both 13 years overnight. Think 13 Going on 30, but in fabulous novel form.
If nothing in this list appeals to you, visit the CBC’s website to find the full longlist. And for the rest of this year, we at the Martlet encourage you to honour Canadian literature in your reading by both working through CBC’s list, and checking out the Canadian section of your local bookstore on your next visit!