Summer Reads 2016


My friend John recommends this summer reading list from The Economist curated by Boyd Tonkin, chair of of the Man Booker International Prize 2016. Are you up for works by: Hilary Mantel, Vikram Seth, Louis de Bernières, David Mitchell, Donna Tartt and Orhan Pamuk? Bonus car ride game – guess which book titles match the authors!


CBC Books offers up a mixed bag of books for the beach. Authors include: Cordelia Strube, Teva Harrison, Siddhartha Mukherjee, Ann Y.K. Choi, Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney, Yasuko Thanh, Louise Erdrich, Alissa York, Diane Schoemperlen and more!

If you you aren’t pleased then try 100 True Stories That Make You Proud To Be Canadian as Canada Day was just celebrated on July 1.


And to mark U.S. Independence Day on July 4 NPR Books offers this list, which you can enjoy as a podcast. Authors recommended by editor Petra Mayer (who has speed-reading skills) include:

  • Emma Cline
  • Lavie Tidhar
  • Lyndsey Faye
  • Yaa Gyasi
  • Emma Straub
  • Ken Liu
  • Lyndsey Faye
  • Jennifer Haigh
  • Lisa Hanawalt
  • Richard Kadrey

This list seems most intriguing. Again, try to guess the matching book titles on your way to the cottage.

For some political reading recommendations. Check out Financial Times list selected by Gideon Rachman. Covers China, Syria, Britain, U.S. and Europe.

Would love to hear what you’re reading this summer!




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Spring 2016 Reading and Writing

CBC Books Spring Reading List

CBC Short Story Prize competition runs September to October each year. Sharpen your pencils. CAD$25 per entry.

In the meanwhile, have a few poems on your sleeve? Check out the CBC Poetry Prize submit by May 31!

And if you just want to read what’s on CBC Books 2016 Spring Reading List

More Canadian contests and calls for submission at Canadian Authors website.

Commonwealth Writers green logo

The 2016 Commonwealth Short Story Prize shortlist was announced in March. Also some interesting new authors and writings to discover.

Alice Munro festival dates

Are you a reader who enjoys Alice Munro’s writings or find her stories a sleeping remedy? Did you know about the Alice Munro Festival of the Short Story in June? Takes place in Wingham, Ontario. Margaret Atwood will kickoff the festival reading from Stone Mattress: Nine Wicked Tales (at the Blyth Festival). The 2016 festival short story competition is already closed. Read 2015 winner Leanne Dunic’s story “Without Her”; the competition finalists are listed as well. About Alice Munro – in case you are wondering who I’m going on about. 2013 Nobel Prize Winner for Literature – born in Wingham, Ontario in 1931 to fox and poultry farmers.

Plenty of reading until next time!

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MRU Gift Guide 2015

This might become an annual list of holiday gift ideas inspired by books and reading. With a profusion of seasonal craft markets in Vancouver (syrups, jellies, cookies, accessories), we saw one Make It Vancouver vendor selling charming magnetic bookmarks. Let’s start here. Happy reading into 2016!

Crafted Van set of 5 mini bookmarks CAD$15


Get literal with your favourite book nerd CAD$6 or spread the cuteness as you please with the other choices.

book nerd

The Wild in You published by Greystone Books CAD$24.95 Some books to go with the new bookmarks. Vancouver Sun highlights top 10 sellers in the province, including this 80-page hardcover of poems by Lorna Crozier and photographs by Ian McAllister.


Regional Assembly of Text set of mini cards CAD$12 for 6 cards and envelopes (2 1/4″ x 4″ or 5.6cm x 10cm). We have adored this Main Street shop from near and far and hopefully will joi

mini book cards

Mini cards for mini friends

n one of the Thursday letter writing nights. The lowercase reading room in Vancouver showcases handmade books and zines. Cute Instagram too.







Offer yourself and a friend a gift subscription to Paris Review USD$40 plus USD$25 for the gift subscription starting with Winter 2015 issue.


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One-minute update before the end of 2015

It has been a while since the MRU last post and promise to be more diligent in our literary blogging from now on – in advance of 2016 new year resolutions!

We thought it worthwhile to share a minute update of recent news (before the end of 2015) with our dear readers:


Instead of a time machine, how about a short story vending machine? Produced by French startup Short Édition to provide new reading material (1, 3, and 5-minute content) at the touch of a button. At the moment available only in Grenoble, France – brush up on your French!



The Association of Book Publishers of British Columbia (ABPC) launched BC Books  Online to make it easier for readers to search over 8,500 titles by category, publisher or reading list.  BC publishers produce about 1,000 new books each year and sold in over 90 countries around the world.




Finally, does this illustration by Anthony Russo of a Paris Review office “chock-full of literary heavyweights” seem to reflect another current theme in publishing?


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Balancing out the Best Of lists with more women writers

Best of lists are aimed to amuse, inspire and outrage readers. Definitions of a classic seem to vary so much that it is simply reduced the individual point of view (let’s agree to disagree).

What do you think of these English language classics that made The Guardian 100 Greatest Novels compiled by Robert McCrum? As the privileged list-maker for the past two years, McCrum reflects on his selection process and including regrets/omissions: “So: a few howlers, several regrets, and many sleepless nights. How on earth did I overlook…”

RK Narayan Swami and Friends

Flannery O’Connor Wise Blood

Rose Macaulay The Towers of Trebizond

Nancy Mitford The Pursuit of Love

Shirley Hazzard The Transit of Venus

On the list, only 21 works by women made McCrum’s list, so this commentary by Rachel Cooke is a good counterpoint. She provides several novels for readers to consider given the overall lack of balanced representation on such lists. Just to name a few mentioned…

Mollie Panter-Downes’s One Fine Day

Patricia Highsmith’s The Talented Mr Ripley

Nancy Mitford’s The Pursuit of Love 

EM Delafield’s The Diary of a Provincial Lady

“Of Robert McCrum’s 100 Greatest Novels, just 21 are by women. Even allowing for the fact that his list takes in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, when women writers were relatively rare, this seems extraordinary to me. Sixty-seven of his titles belong to the 20th century – his final book is Peter Carey’s True History of the Kelly Gang, which was published in 2000 – and yet, only 15 of these are by women. How can this be? The last century offers up an embarrassment of riches when it comes to the female imagination.”

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President Obama’s Summer Reading List

Elena FerranteWhat have you been reading this summer? I have enjoyed immensely Elena Ferrante’s The Story of a New Name and Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay, and eager to read the first book of the series My Brilliant Friend (reading in reverse order adds another layer to the story).

We have been following summer lists for reading suggestions. Just posted on Electric Literature, President Obama’s summer reading list:

Anthony Doerr’s  All the Light We Cannot See13330444

James Salter’s All That Is

Elizabeth Kolpert’s The Sixth Extinction 

Ron Chernow’s Washington: A Life

Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Between the World and Me

Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Lowland

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Summer 2015 catching up with hot shorts

Vancouver Public Library display of short story collections

Vancouver Public Library display of short story collections

We could not help but be charmed and inspired by the Vancouver Public Library’s display of “Hot Shorts” to feature short story collections. It seems ever so long ago that a group of international readers (France, Germany, UK, Indonesia, China, Canada, US…) met in Shanghai on a weeknight to drink wine and discuss a themed selection of short stories.

We just finished reading short story collections by Alice Munro’s  Dear Life (2012) and Lorie Moore’s Bark (2014) and are eager to announce that MRU has moved to Vancouver, Canada! We hope you will join us in discussing short stories here and our next adventures in reading around the world…would it be possible to read a short story from each country in the world as inspired by the achievement of this special reader?

This is a season of exciting reading! Some news and highlights we have been following so far…

Best short sci-fi and speculative fiction so far

10 Fantastic Comic Books that Tell Women’s Stories

15 Best Nonfiction Books  So Far

2015 Man Book longlist diversity

Reading more works by women – an ongoing discussion #readwomen2014

Figures last year from Vida, the American organisation for women in the literary arts, show the huge imbalance in how male and female writers – and reviewers – are treated: at the New York Review of Books, for example, in 2012 16% of reviewers were women, with 22% of the books reviewed written by women. A similar investigation in the Guardian found that the UK is no better: in March 2013, 8.7% of books reviewed in the London Review of Books were by women, rising to 26.1% in the New Statesmen, and 34.1% in the Guardian.

Sexism in publishing debate

We welcome your comments and short story suggestions!

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