NL Reads is back for its fifth year, kicking off November 1 and wrapping up in late February 2022, when one book will be crowned the ‘must-read’ book by Newfoundland and Labrador Public Libraries.
Over the course of four months, four books by local authors will be in focus. People are encouraged to read along and ultimately vote for their favourite book.
“It’s kind of a thrilling idea that people you don’t even know, you’re reading the same book at the same time,” said Newfoundland and Labrador Collections Librarian Emily Gushue, who also heads the NL Reads committee.
“That simultaneous reading is a lot of fun for me. It’s showcasing local talent. It’s supporting local talent. The competition element is a bit fun.”
Here are this year’s contenders.
Some People’s Children by Bridget Canning (Breakwater Books)
Bridget Canning’s second novel, Some People’s Children, follows Imogene Tubbs. She is raised by her grandmother, only sees her mother occasionally, and hasn’t met her father — though the town suspects he’s the local drug dealer. According to the publisher, “Some People’s Children is a revealing and liberating novel about the way others look at us and the power of self-discovery.”
All I Ask by Eva Crocker (House of Anansi Press)
Eva Crocker’s debut novel was inspired by several police officers bursting into her home in a case unrelated to her in 2017. Her novel’s protagonist, Stacey, has her computer and phone seized by the police in a search for “illegal digital material.” What follows are the ramifications of that loss of privacy.
We, Jane by Aimee Wall (Book*hug Press)
Another author making her debut! We, Jane by Aimee Wall is the story of intergenerational female relationships and how essential access to abortion is — particularly in rural areas. After meeting a fellow Newfoundlander in Montreal, Marthe heads to a small N.L. community and becomes involves with a group called Jane, which carries on the work of the same-named 1960s underground organization that helped people get abortions when it was illegal.
The Stolen Ones by Ida Linehan Young (Flanker Press)
In her fifth book, Ida Linehan Young tells the story of Darlene Carter, a woman who has just lost her mother during a pandemic and must find a way to carry on while raising her teenage daughter. She picks up her late mother’s interest in family history, and visits Newfoundland to follow this quest — unearthing a family mystery.
Gushue said these books were chosen through a committee process and that all members really enjoyed these particular four.
“These are the kinds of books that you really want to talk about with your friends. And that’s what we’re really hoping to encourage. As well as the reading of the books is the discussion of the book. We kind of like to pretend the whole province is one big book club for a little while,” she said.
“We like to give each book a whole month so everyone has time to read it, time to think about it. Sometimes you need to sit with a book for a little while in your heart.”
Throughout the event, Gushue said the libraries will have unlimited copies of these novels as ebooks so that as many people as possible can read along. Each book is also backed by an advocate who will explain why that book in particular is special to them. In February, votes will decide which book was NL Reads’ must-read book.
People don’t need a library card to vote. They can head to the library website or visit their local branch and cast their vote in person, she said. She also encouraged people to only vote once.