Stella Leventoyannis Harvey

“Fill your house with stacks of books, in all the crannies and all the nooks. Dr. Seuss

Reading, or rather concentrating while reading, for me, was difficult this year. I wondered more than once if I was losing my mind. Or perhaps my lack of engagement meant it was time to pursue a different pastime. My inability to focus was definitely worse earlier in the year just as the pandemic was declared: headlines and numbers and stories of disaster took up my every waking moment.

I’m better now (well, as far as I can tell) despite the fact that the headlines, numbers and disasters are worse than they were in the spring. Still, when I hit a roadblock in any other situation, including with my own writing, I keep at it. Show up, I tell myself, and something good will happen. Usually that blank page turns into a few words, then sentences, then whole paragraphs. 

I applied the same logic to reading and found some breakthroughs mostly because of the incredible story-telling talent of some of the authors I was so fortunate to read this year. Here are some of my recommendations. Enjoy!

Oh, and books make great Christmas presents so please, wherever you live, visit your independent bookstore (in Whistler, that store is: Armchair Books) and buy a book. Everyone (author, book seller and most importantly you, the reader) wins! 


The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Warlight by Michael Ondaatje

The Testaments by Margaret Atwood

The Overstory by Richard Power

Station Eleven by Emilie St. John Mandel

Amnesty by Aravind Adiga 

The Silence by Karen Lee White

The Swan Suit by Katherine Fawcett 

People Like Frank by Jenn Ashton 

The Company We Keep by Francis Itani 

Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo 

The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead  

The Russian Sister by Caroline Adderson

The Certainties by Aislinn Hunter 

The Dutch House by Ann Patchett 

The Crooked Thing by Mary MacDonald 

Greenwood by Michael Christie

On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong


From the Ashes by Jessie Thistle

Giving Up the Ghost by Hillary Mantel 

Reaching Mithymna by Steven Heighton

The Art of Losing It - A Memoir of Grief and Addiction by Rosemary Keevil


St. Boniface Elegies by Catherine Hunter

Children’s/Young Readers:  

The Stray and the Strangers by Steven Heighton

And I am so looking forward to reading: Kings, Queens and In-Betweens by Tanya Boteju and Duck Days by Sara Leach

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