Non-Prose Books: Staff Picks for the 2019 Reading Challenge

March 20, 2019 | Book Buzz

Comments (3)

Library Reading Challenge-Blog banner

Are you taking our 2019 Reading Challenge? So are library staff all across the city. In honour of World Poetry Day on March 21, we decided to ask them about their favourite books for the category, "A non-prose book". Plus April is National Poetry Month!

On the Reading Challenge webpage, we're describing a non-prose book as "any book that doesn’t have typical sentence and paragraph structure." The suggestions we received have been organized by general category and include books for children, teens and adults.

If you have already read a non-prose book, any of these titles can be used for the Reading Challenge category "A book recommended to you by library staff". We've also included other categories these books could be used for.

Poetry and Novels in Verse:

Macy McMillan and the Rainbow Goddess

Kara's Recommendation: Macy McMillan and the Rainbow Goddess by Shari Green. For ages 8 and up.

Why did Kara pick it?

"I read it in 2017 because it was Canadian. Macy McMillan is one of the more memorable characters I have encountered recently. The author uses the non-prose format, along with different fonts, to illustrate how Macy communicates (her internal monologue, when she signs to people, and when she uses her voice). Macy's relationship with her older neighbour, Iris (she of the rainbow goddess fame) is charming yet bittersweet, as Iris is starting to forget things. Macy also has to deal with her mother's impending wedding. While she likes her mom's boyfriend, she wonders how she will like changing from a two person family to a three person. After the wedding they will also be moving to a different house. Macy isn't sure she is ready for all the changes coming in her life. I love books with well written, realistic portrayals of family, and this book just hit all the right spots for me!"

What other categories could you use it for?

  • A book by a Canadian award-winning author


The Lost Words

Sheilah's Recommendation: The Lost Words by Robert MacFarlane, illustrated by Jackie Morris. Suitable for all ages.

Why did Sheilah pick it?

"We have it in our collection as an adult book but it is up for both a Kate Greenaway award (illlustration) and Carnegie (writing). It was written because Oxford announced it was removing some words from their Children's Dictionary to make room for New words. Being removed were a lot of words related to nature - dandelion, bluebell, otter, fern, etc.
It is full of astonishingly beautiful paintings and poetry (called spells in the book) about the "lost" words."


The sun and her flowers

Reagan's Recommendation: The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur.

Why did Reagan pick it?

"After seeing the hype about this collection, I happily devoured this book of poetry. So much so that I bought her first collection as well, Milk and Honey, and proceeded to lend it to everyone and anyone who wanted to read it. It really sparked a renewed appreciation for non-prose style writing. It's concise, easily digestible (even for non-poetry lovers) and really gives you an opportunity to do some big picture thinking about relationships, family, immigration, and self-love."

What other categories could you use it for?

  • A book by an author in a visible minority.


The Witch Doesn't Burn in This One

Amy's Recommendation: The Witch Doesn't Burn In This One by Amanda Lovelace.

Why did Amy pick it?

"It's about feminism, resilience and standing your ground. It also discusses issues of misogyny and rape culture. I picked it up because I enjoyed The Princess Saves Herself In This One. This one's a bit heavier. Both are poetry and have fairy tale elements woven in, but not quite as many as you may initially think. I'd recommend this book to older teens (16+) and adults."


Motherland fatherland homelandsexuals

Myrna's Recommendation: Motherland, Fatherland, Homelandsexuals by Patricia Lockwood.

Why did Myrna pick it?

"Her poems are weird, hilarious, surreal and sad."


Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam

Diana's Recommendation: Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám by Edward FitzGerald and Omar Khayyám.

Why did Diana pick it?

"I remember liking it because of the rhyming scheme. It wasn't until I was older, that I came to appreciate the imagery of the quatrains and double meanings of the individual words. Now, considering the many meanings of words and how they've changed, the Rubáiyát can be read and discovered anew."

What other categories could you use it for?

  • A book in translation.


To Say the Least

Maggie's Recommendation: To Say the Least: Canadian Poets from A to Z, edited by P.K. Page.

Why did Maggie pick it?

"It's a great collection of tiny poems by Canadians. It's a poetry book for people who don't read poetry."


The Sparrow

Wendy's Recommendation: The Sparrow by A. F. Moritz.

Why did Wendy pick it?

"A. F. (Al) Moritz has just been appointed Poet Laureate of Toronto, so I'm going to be checking out his latest book - a volume of his selected poems called The Sparrow. He also has a new chapbook coming out next month called Art of Surgery."

What other categories could you use it for?

  • A book from a Canadian award-winning author.


Other Non-Prose Books:

Yolo Juliet

Alice's recommendation: YOLO Juliet by Brett Wright.

Why did Alice pick it?

"A fun, silly take on Shakespeare told entirely in texts and emoji. Quite light and irreverant."


Farm to Chef

Reagan's Recommendation: Farm to Chef: Cooking Through the Seasons by Lynn Crawford.

Why did Reagan pick it?

"I have read and made recipes out of this beautiful and rustic cook book (the food just screams to be served in a red Le Cruset dish!). Being a proud, local Leslievillian, we decided to host our wedding reception at Ruby Watch Co, Lynn Crawford's restaurant right here in the city. It was a special evening with Lynn cooking for us and taking pictures and signing this cookbook for my husband and I. The recipes are simple and delicious and the pictures are fantastic!"

Important artifacts and personal property from the collection of Lenore Doolan and Harold Morris  including books  street fashion  and jewelry

Isabel's Recommendation: Important Artifacts and Personal Property from the Collection of Lenore Doolan and Harold Morris, Including Books, Street Fashion, and Jewelry by Leanne Shapton.

Why did Isabel pick it?

"It's "The story of a romantic relationship... told in the form of a catalog from the auction of objects previously owned by the fictional couple". I haven't heard much about it but I find the concept very intriguing!"

Other Recommendations:

Both staff and members of the Reading Challenge Facebook group have given additional recommendations of non-prose books. :

We have received – and continue to receive – so many amazing suggestions. We encourage you to read the full suggestion thread and contribute your own favourite titles. You don't need a Facebook account to view the thread, although you do need one to add your own suggestions.


Other Non-Prose Reading Lists: