A Book By Two Or More People: Picks for the TPL Reading Challenge 2021

April 7, 2021 | Jennifer B

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This is such a terrific, open category full of reading possibilities. Collaboration is key in a variety of books from anthologies and collections to translations. Books that are co-authored or contain contributions by both an author and illustrator also work. Graphic novels and comics are often created by a team and are an excellent choice. 


Nubia: Real One written by L.L. McKinney and illustrated by Robyn Smith

Speaking of an excellent choice, I recently read and loved this original graphic novel collaboration for DC Comics by writer L.L McKinney, illustrator Robyn Smith and colourist Brie Henderson. Nubia is 17, has great moms, pals, a crush... and some superhero abilities that's she promised to hide. But when her loved ones and her community need her, will Nubia have the courage to step fully into her power? Even when she knows, as a Black girl, she'll be seen as a threat? This is an origin story that doesn't shy away from issues, yet also leaves a lot of room for joy. Representation matters. Read this! 


Staff Recommendations

Here are some more suggestions on this category from library staff.

Roadside picnic

Roadside Picnic by Arkady Strugatsky and Boris Strugatsky, translated by Olena Bormashenko 

Our Book Buzz librarian, M. Elwood, recently introduced me to the Strugatsky brothers, Arkady and Boris. They were popular Russian science fiction authors who collaborated on several influential books. And it's April, and April in Toronto always makes me feel like I'm in one of Andrei Tarkovsky's films. (Go for a bike ride down to the Leslie Spit to see what I mean.) So I'm going to recommend the Strugatskys' 1977 novel, Roadside Picnic. It was the basis for Tarkovsky's unsettling SF classic, Stalker, and it's a whole mood right now.

It could also work for:

  • A book set in the future
  • A book about someone who is living your dream (if your dreams tend to be kind of eerie and uncanny)

– Wendy, Digital Content Lead


The deep

The Deep by Rivers Solomon with Daveed Diggs, William Hutson and Jonathan Snipes

This book vividly describes a beautiful culture while also revealing the horrifying practice of killing enslaved people at sea. It connects and explores several myths with historical facts. This novella was inspired by a song produced by the rap group Clipping for a 2017 This American Life episode “We Are In The Future.”

It could also work for:

  • a book of speculative fiction by a BIPOC author
  • a book about your heritage or culture
  • a book in a genre you've never read before

– Aaron, Librarian


More than a body

More Than a Body by Lexie Kite and Lindsay Kite

A really amazing book for those of us who struggle with body image, know someone who does, and/or is a parent. The authors are twin sisters who have done a ton of research on body image and state that our bodies are "instruments, not ornaments." This book was a total eye-opener for me. Reading it made me aware of how I view myself and other women and made me more media-literate as well. I really recommend picking it up.

It could also work for:

  • a book by or about someone you'd like to meet
  • a book that made you feel comforted or hopeful

– Lisa, Library Assistant


Convenience store woman2

Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata, translated by Ginny Tapley Takemori

I love this quirky book. It's the story of a 30-something Tokyo resident who finds purpose and meaning in life while working in a convenience store. This book was originally written in Japanese, and was later translated into English. I feel like so much responsibility lies on the translation of a story, which can make it or break it, so I'm counting the translator of this story as the second contributor.

It could also work for:

  • a book about growing older
  • a book about your heritage or culture
  • a book about someone unlike yourself

– Nalini, Senior Branch Head


Conversations with rbg

Conversations with RBG: Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Life, Love, Liberty, and Law by Jeffrey Rosen

I'm including it as most of the book is a compilation of interviews and conversations with Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Most of the conversations are about Supreme Court cases relating to gender equality and discrimination. Really interesting!

It could also work for:

  • a book about someone unlike yourself
  • a book by or about someone you'd like to meet
  • a book that made you feel comforted or hopeful

– Jamie, Public Service Assistant


Dear data

Dear Data by Giorgia Lupi and Stefanie Posavec

The book documents two friends and data designers who send postcards back and forth overseas (between Italy and the US). They tell stories about their daily lives using imaginative hand made data drawing techniques.

It could also work for:

  • a book in a genre you've never read before
  • a book about STEM
  • a book about someone unlike yourself

– Margaux, Librarian


Good omens

Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

The apocalypse is set in motion when the Antichrist, a.k.a. son of Satan, is born in modern-day England. Slight complication: he ends up in a regular, non-satanic family, due to a baby switch at the hospital where he was born and has quite a lovely childhood rambling around the countryside with his own little gang of besties. (And his beastie – an adorable hellhound). Pretty normal on the surface, but as Adam (Satan’s son) grows he begins to flex his incredible powers in some very interesting ways. Meanwhile, Aziraphale (an angel) and Crowley (a demon) rebel against orders from their superiors and attempt to abort the imminent apocalypse because the world, with all its enticements, has grown on them. I loved the audiobook version of this end of times comedy. A fun and funny read.

– Maureen, Librarian


She said

She Said: Breaking The Sexual Harassment Story That Helped Ignite A Movement by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey

Both the authors are Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times reporters. The book chronicles the publication of their investigation into Harvey Weinstein's sexual harassment and abuse and how it affected the #MeToo movement. It describes not just the strength of the reporters in convincing some sources to go on record, but also the women who spoke up, not just for themselves, but for others who might (have) endure(d) similar traumatic experiences. This is an excellent work of investigative journalism that shines a light on the sexual abuse and harassment women face in the workplace when power abuses and corrupts.

– Eunice, Librarian



Jonesy, Vol. 1 by Sam Humphries and Caitlin Rose Boyle

Jonesy is a prickly teen with a secret superpower. She can make anyone (or anything) fall in love, the only catch is her superpower doesn't work on Jonesy herself. I loved Caitlin Rose Boyle's art and the vibrant colours done by Mickey Quinn.

– Myrna, Librarian


The ward

The Ward: The Life and Loss of Toronto's First Immigrant Neighbourhood edited by John Lorinc, Michael McClelland and Ellen Scheinberg

I was able to see several of the authors present their contribution to the book when I worked at City Hall Branch. This incredible read looks at the newcomers to Toronto from just after the 1840s to just around WW II ended. The Ward is the area where Nathan Phillips Square is located and the surrounding streets. Here the authors have used their families' diaries and first-person accounts to tell the stories of how it was for those first immigrants. Newspapers and publications from the day are also sourced and this non-fiction read is almost like ready a fiction book set back in time. Because the stories come from a variety of authors who all have different backgrounds we get a wide look at who used to make up the Ward and how it all came tumbling down. Highly recommend this book!

It could also work for:

  • a book about your heritage or culture
  • a book that is narrative non-fiction
  • a book that is someone else's favourite

– Katherine, Library Assistant


This is how you lose the time war

This Is How You Lose the Time War by Max Gladstone and Amal El-Mohtar

Red and Blue are rival agents on opposing sides of a multidimensional time-travel conflict between two factions, Agency and Garden. Hellbent on securing the best possible future for their faction, each agent is sent to key points in history across various strands of time. Then, among the ashes of a dying world, Red finds a letter that reads "Burn before reading" and challenges her to respond. Thus begins an unlikely correspondence that blossoms from battlefield boasts into something more as the two women fall in love with each other via love letters. According to an interview, Red’s letters were written entirely by Gladstone and Blue’s by El-Mohtar and although they wrote a general outline together, the reactions of each character were developed with a genuine element of surprise on receiving each letter, and the scenes accompanying them were written using that emotional response. This is such a lyrical, gorgeously written novella and I loved the connection between Red and Blue and both the banter and the achingly romantic sentiments in their letters.

It could also work for:

  • a book set in the future
  • a book about love (not just the romantic kind)
  • a book about someone unlike yourself

– Chelsea, Librarian


Nick and norah

Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

This classic of my adolescence first came to mind when I thought of this category. The book is written by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan with Cohn writing Norah's alternating chapters and Levithan writing Nick's. The story takes place all in one night where the two protagonists meet and get to know it each other better while searching for a secret show featuring their favourite band (Where's Fluffy). A quickly consumable love letter to music and the weirdos you meet along the way.

It could also work for:

  • a book about love (not just the romantic kind)
  • a book about music

– Tessie, Librarian


You are not alone

You Are Not Alone by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

A suspenseful thriller about a young woman who is at a low point in her life. No job, no friends and no romance. One day she witnesses a tragedy and it makes her want to turn things around. Coincidentally she meets the Moore sisters that same day and a whole new world opens up to her: new friends! Job connections! Romance! But as with this style of book, all is not what it seems and soon she starts to tug at the loose threads and everything unspools. My new favourite word to describe this type of book: unputdownable!

– Pauline, Librarian



Fenyman written by Jim Ottaviani and illustrated by Leland Myrick

This comic-strip portrayal of physicist Richard Feynman covers his private and professional life. He (controversially) helped build an atomic bomb for the US military, and tried to make quantum electrodynamics understandable to the masses in a post-Einstein society. One of his odd hobbies was cracking safes! The compelling narrative and beautiful pictures make this a good introduction to the man.

It could also work for:

  • a book about someone unlike yourself
  • a book about STEM
  • a book about fame

– Cameron, Digital Design Technician


Recommendations from Facebook

These are just a few of the books that the members of our Reading Challenge Facebook discussion group are reading and recommending! You can read the entire thread, even without a Facebook account.



What are you reading or recommending for "a book by two or more people"? Share in the comments below! Or join in at an upcoming Reading Challenge Online Book Discussion.