A Book Told From Multiple Points of View: Staff Picks for the TPL Reading Challenge 2020

July 6, 2020 | Wendy B.

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They say that reading is one of the best ways to build empathy and become a better person. When we have an insider's view of the narrator's thoughts, we get used to understanding the feelings of other people.

So it stands to reason that stories with multiple narrators must build extra empathy, right? It's like two or three or ten points of view for the price of one!

Evelyn Hardcastle

The first of our Advanced Reading Challenge categories this year is "a book told from multiple points of view". I've read and loved a number of books that would fit this category, but there's one in particular that stands out to me: The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton. This book wasalso published as The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, to avoid confusion with The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo! It is sort of a murder mystery, and sort of a horror story, and sort of something else entirely. And it's almost impossible to tell you why I chose it for this category without spoiling it for you. So please read it for yourself, and then let me know in the comments whether or not I cheated by including it in this list. (Note that you can get it immediately, with no waiting, as an Always Available Audiobook, and the reader is excellent.)

We're hosting our next Reading Challenge Online Book Discussion on Tuesday, July 7 at 5 pm. Librarians Christie and Jen will be talking about their progress in the Challenge, sharing favourite books they've read this year in different categories, answering questions and offering recommendations. Everyone is very welcome to join! We'll be holding more Reading Challenge events later this year.

And if you miss the live online events, you'll still be able to watch the replay on Crowdcast or the TPL Reading Challenge Facebook group.

Here are some more staff picks for the 2020 Reading Challenge category, "a book told from multiple points of view". We have recommendations from the very good and empathetic people in the TPL Reading Challenge Facebook group, too!


Staff Recommendations

The Break

The Break by Katherena Vermette

On a cold winter's night, Emily, a young Indigenous girl, is attacked on the Break, a barren strip of land that cuts through a Winnipeg North End neighbourhood. As Emily recovers in hospital, we hear the personal stories of those who visit her. This includes relatives from four generations of her family, her friends, and a Métis police officer investigating the crime. It’s a tough read, but also an educational and eye-opening one.

– Kathryn, Senior Collections Specialist


Six of Crows

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

I absolutely love fantasy novels that involve gangs of cunning thieves. Especially ones who are betrayed by all the "good guys" and band together against all odds. Inej is one of my favourite characters ever, and The Dregs keep me so very entertained. The sequel, Crooked Kingdom, is just as good. These books are part of The Grishnaverse, which is supposedly getting a screen adaptation! Age 12+.

– Amy, Communications Officer


There There

There, There by Tommy Orange

A story of 12 characters from Native communities who converge at an Oakland powwow. This is a multi-generational story which touches on colonization history, racism, spirituality, addiction, abuse and suicide. The characters soar through their symphony of voices as connections are made, stories are told and gaps are filled. Powerful, at its best.

– Eunice, Librarian
The Fifth Season

The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin

It's the first of three Hugo-award winning novels in an absolutely excellent series.

– Michael, Librarian


The Binding

The Binding by Bridget Collins

In 19th-century England, books have become dangerous artifacts. Binders are still the craftspeople who create these works of art. They are also sought out for their ability to capture and remove memories from the people who seek out their services, binding the memories within the pages of books. What happens to these stories and the people who have had their memories wiped clean is told from different perspectives.

I could not put this book down once I started it! The story had a very unexpected and surprising trajectory. For anyone who reads a lot, one tends to see the ending a mile away – but I think this one will truly surprise people.

– Sephora, Senior Department Head


Good Kings, Bad Kings by Susan Nussbaum 

A look inside a fictional privately run care facility for teenagers with disabilities. Each chapter is told in the voice of one of seven characters who lives or works there. Some of their voices are funny, or heartbreaking, or both. As Yessenia, one of the central characters, says, "If this is what it means to be award of the state, you can have your award. I don't want it."

As the story unfolds, shocking hidden truths come to light. I was reading this book at the same time that horrifying conditions in seniors' long-term care facilities were making the news. I found those issues were echoed for me in this book. Like, what is the "care" we are talking about when we talk about "long-term care"? Who gets to talk about "care"? Whose voices are heard, and why? What happens when "care" is for-profit? And what happens when a caregiver, even one with the best intentions, makes a mistake?

Debut novel by playwright and disability rights activist Susan Nussbuam. Won the 2012 PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction.

– Winona, Senior Services Specialist

Tell Me Your Dreams by Sidney Sheldon

This is totally fluff, but I grew up loving Sidney Sheldon's works. Just loved them and devoured every single one.

One of his works, Tell Me Your Dreams, (SPOILER ALERT! Stop reading now if you don't want to know what happens!) is a murder mystery told by three narrators, who alternate every chapter.

Then about 1/2 into the book it is revealed that (SPOILER ALERT! LAST CHANCE!) all three of them are the exact same person and that we're dealing with a character with multiple personality disorder. Like all of his works, there's always a clever twist and I thought this was so cleverly and shockingly so well done.

– Ab., Manager
Game of Thrones
A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin

If fluff is OK with you, consider A Game of Thrones. The first three books are really quite well done and each chapter is from one character's point of view (POV). There are like a hundred POV characters throughout the series.

– Jonathon, Senior Services Specialist