by Piotr Golinski
This is your sign to pick up that book that you were so excited to read when you first bought it from the cute second hand bookshop on Roncesvalles (She Said Boom, in case you’re curious). Or maybe you realized that you’ve been living in Toronto for 6 months and no one told you that you have access to one of the most diverse collections of books available to you through the library system for FREE! It could be that you always come across one of those Little Free Libraries while walking your dog and think, “that looks cool, I should take a look!” Whatever way you come across books, now is the perfect time to sink into one (or six) because in my unofficial opinion it’s officially too cold to be outside for more than 30 minutes. I’m a mammal just like a bear so to me, winter time means hibernation aka eat hot soup, re-watch Modern Family, stare longingly into the sky while grasping a steaming mug with both hands, and most importantly, abstaining completely from overhead lighting, cozying up under my fifteen pound weighted blanket with a cup of wine/tea/whiskey/fizzy water (insert beverage of choice here) and escape for a little while.
Before I continue I will say that if you’re new to reading, your experience will be vastly different in the beginning because reading requires a certain amount of focus and discipline. It is an exercise and therefore takes strength and practise from a (possibly) underused muscle (your brain!). Just like working out your arms, back, or legs after not having done so in a while (or ever), it will be difficult at first and you be a little shaky afterwards. Just remember to be easy on yourself and let yourself take breaks. Start with reading only 10-15 minutes at a time and take a break or end it there for the night. If you’ve chosen a story or topic that you’re interested in, the desire to know more, what happens next, or just the description of a hunky beefcake will keep you coming back to “exercise” again. Eventually reading will be more exciting/relaxing than tiring for your eyes & head and you’ll be able to read more, read faster and with less exhaustion; THEN it’s next level, I promise it’s like unlocking a secret world that was right beside your own this whole time.
Maybe I’m romanticizing it a little too much, but in all honesty, I think everyone needs to be reading and it doesn’t necessarily matter what (except for anti Semitic/racist/homophobic etc. content). There’s a topic and genre for every person and you learn more about yourself and your own interests as well. If you’re still stuck on what to pick up first, lucky you because I have five varied recommendations that I enjoyed immensely and I think you will too!
For my fiction lovers / anyone on booktok (book related content on Tiktok) I recommend Verity by Colleen Hoover. I know she and her son have come under some fire recently and in my opinion is a little overrated, however if you can separate art from artist, this book was really interesting with a great story and a good pace to keep you interested.
Continuing with fiction I have for you, Tin Man by Sarah Winman, which is a heartbreaking queer romance set in the near past. The first half of the story is in the perspective of a man named Ellis and the second half is in the perspective of Ellis’ love interest, Michael. There’s a lot to relate to if you identity with the LGBTQ+ community but it isn’t strictly just a queer book as I think everyone will find something meaningful in the story
Final fiction recc (can you tell I like fiction?) is a novel called Life Before Man by Margaret Atwood. There’s a reason she’s a popular writer; it’s because she knows how to write! Jumping between multiple characters this is an earlier novel and one of my favourite aspects is that it’s set in our own city of Toronto. I love geography and when authors give specific street names and locations like Atwood does here such as Bloor St, College, and even the ROM (where one of the characters work in the dinosaur fossil department) it makes the mental picture so much more vivid and realistic. Don’t sleep on this one if you enjoy complex characters with (possibly) no conflict resolution. I’ll leave you hanging with that one there.
The next book took me approximately one night (and breakfast the next morning) to read on Christmas Eve this past month because it was just so easy and interesting. It’s a non fiction collection of ghost accounts, stories, and personal anecdotes called Ghosts Among Us: True Stories of Spirit Encounters by Leslie Rule. Because this book is a collection of stories, it’s especially easy to read and if you are interested in the paranormal and are a new reader, pick up a book like this because you can break up your reading times easily with these short two to three page stories. It’s like watching a show where every episode is different so you’re not really committing to a long story.
Finally, for people who prefer to read with pictures and dialogue, I would highly recommend graphic novels and manga. This last one is a two for one deal because it’s secretly two recommendations in one, but I just wanted to keep my suggestions to five because it feels like better number to say. So for anime or manga enthusiasts and/or lovers of the horror genre, do yourself a mighty favour and pick up “Venus in the Blind Spot” by Junji Ito. The art and stories are truly haunting and just like the book mentioned previously, each chapter is different, so the commitment level only extends to the chapter itself, but I promise you, it will be easy to finish the whole book in one sitting.
The second sneaky recommendation is The Sandman graphic novel series by Neil Gaiman of which there are about ten novels. It’s been a while since I last read them, but they are (similarly to the books mentioned before) broken up with different stories in each chapter with the Sandman character being the commonality between them all. There’s a few different artists and art styles to appreciate as the story evolves too so plenty of eye candy to keep you enthralled. If you like the Netflix series, I promise the graphic novels have the same energy but are so much richer in story and art.
So here we are at the end of five incredible recommendations and a fire under your tush to go to (Indigo/library/your friend’s house/your own bookshelf) and just start a book! If you are into fitness or yoga you know that getting to the mat is the hardest part but once you’re there you (usually) always have a good workout and never regret it afterwards. Reading is the exact same! Give it a go even if it’s just so that you have something new to talk about during brunch or with that awkward family friend during the next function. Who knows maybe they’ll have the perfect recommendation for your next fave read?
Want more reccs? There’s a part one to this here! 🙂