A staycation reading list

The best of Canadian literature for the break

Suitcase book.
Books to pack for your reading week.

For some people, reading week truly lives up to its name.

Whether you plan on grabbing a book from the airport gift shop on your way to a sunny vacation, or you’re heading home and want something to curl up with for the break, here’s the best Canadian literature has to offer for reading week.

I’m Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid

With an upcoming Netflix adaptation from Charlie Kaufman, now’s the perfect time to grab Queen’s alum Ian Reid’s I’m Thinking of Ending Things.

Reid takes the reader on an ominous, cerebral journey of a woman and her boyfriend who visit his parents. The woman soon reveals to the reader she’s been receiving anonymous phone calls from a man with an unsettlingly intimate knowledge of her life.

As the couple reaches the parent’s secluded farm property, secrecy soon challenges their sanity, adding to the ramping suspense of the novel. As a whole, it’s a bleak and heady exploration of the human psyche.

 The Moons of Jupiter by Alice Monro

For more casual readers, a collection of short stories by Alice Monro titled The Moons of Jupiter is a reflective and meditative read.  

Composed of 12 short stories that focus on the later lives of everyday women, Monro explores what it means to be a mother, a sister, a daughter and a woman.

The title story in the collection centres around a woman struggling to accept her daughter’s wishes to sever contact with one another as well as her father’s decision to undergo a life-threatening surgery.

Throughout this short story, the reader witnesses the protagonist re-examine her life and past mistakes, creating a touching story of personal growth.

All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews

If you’re looking for a novel to tug on the heartstrings, Miriam Toews’ semi-autobiographical novel All My Puny Sorrows should be your first choice this reading week.

The novel explores the uneasy relationship between two sisters, Yolandi, a single mother with a struggling writing career and Elfrieda, a successful yet depressed concert pianist.

The duality of personalities and desires of the characters creates a tense relationship that leaves readers uneasy with both sisters. Toews’ complex and dynamic female characters are so well-realized they inevitably speak to her readers’ own experiences.

The Edible Woman or The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale is perfect if you’re looking for a classic read — and a new show to binge-watch.

Unlike many movie and television adaptations of literature, this version remains true to Atwood’s vision. The dystopic, futuristic, political and satirical cautionary tale depicts a world similar to our own in which fertile women are stripped of their rights and forced to bear the children of allegedly important men.

It’s a crash course for anyone who finds themselves thinking things like, “What’s the women’s movement and why the hell is it necessary?”[ It’s necessary, as is reading this book.

Equally as relevant and important is Atwood’s The Edible Woman. Atwood challenges our consumerist society through her protagonist, Marian, who finds it increasingly difficult to eat as she explores the compulsive consumption in the world around her.

If you’re looking to ditch your course readings for something more enjoyable, then choose one or all of these books whether you’re on a vacation or a staycation.

Each book is sure to challenge your preconceptions about the world around us and make your reading week Canadian lit. 

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