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  • Sophia Sirmis

Winter Reads

Whether you love to read, want to read more or are looking for something new, this list will definitely have a book you’ll want to check out! I’ve grouped the recommendations into 4 categories; Indigenous Novels, Black Voices, Feminism and Mythology, though most recommendations can fit into more than one category. These novels are all available in Durham Libraries and I’ve noted if a library does not carry that novel, as borrowing books instead of buying them can make reading so much easier and cost effective! Each of these novels also addresses important themes and topics that are relevant in society today. Books are a very fun and effective way to become better educated on different topics that you’re curious about. Enjoy!

Indigenous Novels:

Son of a Trickster by: Eden Robinson

'Son of a Trickster,' by Eden Robinson

This book follows Jared, a high school burnout navigating through poverty, societal pressures and a broken family. The effects of his damaging lifestyle and lack of connection to his indigenous culture become apparent as the novel progresses. We also discover that Jared talks to ravens and can see things everyone else cannot. This book is written in such a sharp witted and pointed way, it’s super easy to read and enjoy. The dialogue perfectly encapsulates how teenagers talk and the whole book feels realistic yet magical. The novel also addresses cultural immersion and the reality for most Indigenous people residing in Canada. This book is so entertaining and offers a new perspective that many will find eye opening and fascinating.

(Mature Themes)

Libraries Available: All Durham Libraries

The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf by: Ambelin Kwaymullina

'The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf,' by Ambelin Kwaymullina

Ashala is captured and betrayed by her best friend, she has to protect her memories because the Government will use them to capture and exploit her tribe. The Government abducts tribes because each tribe member has a different supernatural ability, and are considered to be a threat. This book is an amazing dystopian novel that has such a riveting plot, you won’t want to put it down. With a strong female lead, an important underlying message and science fiction elements, “The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf '' is an incredible read that I strongly recommend.

Libraries Available: Pickering PL

Black Voices:

Pride by: Ibi Zoboi

'Pride,' by Ibi Zoboi

“Pride” is a timely update of “Pride and Prejudice” that follows Zuri Benitez, a girl living in Brooklyn, who's trying to save her rapidly changing neighborhood. Then, a wealthy family moves next door and much to her dismay, the two families become intertwined and she is forced to spend more and more time with one of their sons, Darius. This book is written beautifully, the dialogue is effortless and the story is powerful and engrossing. “Pride” shows the impact of one determined girl, and the effects of gentrification on impoverished neighborhoods.

Libraries Available: All Durham libraries, WPL - only E-reader

Washington Black by: Esi Edugyan

'Washington Black,' by Esi Edugyan

Washington Black is an 11 year old slave on a sugar plantation. At the start of the novel, the slave master's eccentric brother who is a scientist visits the plantation and recruits Washington as his apprentice. The story follows Washington and his companions through South America, the Arctic, Nova Scotia, London, Amsterdam and Morocco. “Washington Black” paints the picture of an independent, talented, young boy amidst many injustices and setbacks. Full of raw emotions and historical elements, Washington Black is a compelling read.

(Mature Themes)

Libraries Available: All Durham libraries


The Penelopiad by: Margaret Atwood

'The Penelopiad,' by Margaret Atwood

A contemporary twist on “The Odyssey” told from the perspective of Penelope, Odysseus’s wife. This feminist rewrite documents the adventures Penelope experienced during Odysseus’s 20 year absence. Margaret Atwood hauntingly tells the tale of Penelope and the 12 hanging maids with a well written, powerful female narrative that’s refreshing to read if you like Greek mythology, mysteries or feminist themes.

(Mature Themes)

Libraries Available: All Durham Libraries

American Gods by: Neil Gaiman

'American Gods,' by Neil Gaiman

Days before Shadow is to be let out from prison his wife dies suddenly in a car accident. Shadow’s let out with nowhere to go and no destination in mind, when he coincidently meets an eccentric man named Mr. Wednesday on his flight home. “American Gods” follows Shadow as he travels the worlds as a bodyguard for a man he barely knows, and finds himself caught between a battle of the Old Gods and the New. This novel is written as an epic fantasy novel with elements of mythology, there are many interesting and unique concepts in this novel and it’s a great introduction to Norse Mythology.

Libraries Available: All Durham Libraries


Girl, Woman, Other by: Bernardine Evaristo

'Girl, Woman, Other,' by Bernadine Evaristo

Following the lives and struggles of 12 very different characters, “Girl, Woman, Other” takes place in the past and present, while focusing on each woman's lives, families, friends, and connections to each other. This novel is so engaging, each character is of a different age, culture, class, and sexuality, so you can never predict what will happen next. This book focuses on race, surviving in a white dominant culture as well as its implications and repercussions. I strongly recommend this book to everyone, as each character and story has a profound yet beautiful meaning that holds history, culture and female empowerment.

(Mature Themes)

Libraries Available: All Durham Libraries

We Should All Be Feminists by: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

'We Should All Be Feminists,' by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

“We Should All Be Feminists” addresses how feminism has changed during the twenty first century, as well as the discrimination and common behaviours that marginalize women all around the world. Drawing from her personal experiences in Nigeria and America, Chimamanda discusses why gender division harms both men and women among many other important topics. This essay is written like a novel, it’s short, poignant and effectively answers many misconceptions about feminism and gender. This is the most convincing piece I have ever read on feminism, it’s narration appeals to all views and discusses many questions and themes that are skipped in most other feminist pieces.

Libraries Available: All Durham Libraries

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