A Book You Read Just Because: Picks for the TPL Reading Challenge 2022
One of my pet peeves is when I can't categorize something easily. It's the reason I love, love, LOVE this category. No need to hem and haw, trying to determine which category the book you just read fits into. It is the core of my love of reading: a book that I read just because. No rhyme or reason, I felt like it so I read it. It wasn't assigned to me, I didn't feel like I "had to" read it. The problem came to narrowing it down. Even if I chose one fiction and one non-fiction, that is still only two books out of so many!
When I saw the title My Sister the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite I couldn't resist! I immediately pushed aside all the books in my to-be-read pile and settled down with a cup of tea. It's a small short book and I finished in no time. You wouldn't expect a book about a serial killer to be so funny. But Braithwaite accomplishes it without it feeling odd. The story centres around Korede. Her stable, predictable life periodically gets thrown into chaos by her younger sister, Ayoola. The book begins with the third time Ayoola has killed a boyfriend. Her saying it was in self-defence seems kind of weak, given it is the third time. But Korede, ever the loving and loyal older sister, steps in to help. She "borrows" cleaning supplies from the hospital where she works and they clean up the crime scene. The comedy comes from the family dynamic between Korede and Ayoola and their mother. They all live together, but the mother has no idea the true reason why her daughters fight. It is a very satisfying book and unique in the murder-mystery genre. It is nail-bitingly tense, but there is enough humour to offset it.
For my non-fiction pick, I read Patient Zero by Lydia Kang and Nate Pedersen. I kind of leaned into the pandemic with this one. It is a wonderfully illustrated history of diseases from human history. Again, not a book you would expect to be funny but at times it was! It contains a lot of interesting information without being boring or too technical.
Here are some recommendations from TPL staff for this category.
Jameela Green Ruins Everything by Zarqa Nawaz
I picked up this book completely at random; I was just looking to get back into reading novels. It seemed like a great book to start with since it’s a dark comedy and I felt like I could use a good laugh at the time. It’s a fantastically funny read that really pulls on your heartstrings.
– Des'Ree , Public Service Assistant
Vinyl Cafe by Stuart McLean
Vinyl Cafe includes stories that can be read individually or to fill a sunny or rainy day. The stories I think can be related to a part of most people’s lives across different generations and the awkward accidents should come with a guarantee of a smile. Available in print, audio and e-formats anything by the late Stuart McLean is a forever just because.
- A book by an author from Toronto
- A book about family
– Lisa, Director
Please Don't Sit on My Bed in Your Outside Clothes by Phoebe Robinson
I picked this up simply because of the title - it is a social more that was always instilled in me, growing up in a West-Indian household. I think many POC will find they can relate to Robinson's experiences. Her style is so direct and honest, and it is laugh-out-loud funny. The book is a series of essays, and they don't necessarily need to be read in sequence, although I recommend them all.
– Sephora, Senior Branch Head
North of Normal by Cea Sunrise Person
This book showed up on my recommended reading list for some reason, I had never heard of it or searched for it. I decided to read a few pages, then ended up reading the whole thing; I loved it! It is a non-fiction memoir that reads like a story, about the author's experiences growing up in a counter-cultural, commune environment in the late 1960s in Alberta. At times living in a teepee with a mother that walked around naked while smoking pot, is quite an eye-opening, sometimes shocking, and enjoyable read.
– Catherine, Librarian
Earthlings by Sayaka Murata
I picked this book up for no other reason than the cover. I found it cute, intriguing and mysterious all at once. I had no expectations, but the title made me think there might be aliens involved, and if the cover were any indication, they would look like adorable plushy hedgehogs. I think it's best to approach this short, strange book with as little foreknowledge as possible. The story is set in Japan and follows the main character, Natsuki, who doesn't feel at home in this world, not even within her own family. Natsuki has a very unique way of looking at a society that I found both dark and funny. Should you choose to read this book, warning: contents may disturb or offend. Fasten your seatbelt.
If you like to read in French, check out the list of recommended books for "un livre choisi sans raison particulière" - there's a mix of books, ebooks and digital audiobooks to try!
Recommendations from the Facebook Group
These are just some of the suggested titles from our Facebook TPL Reading Challenge 2022 discussion group:
- The Arc by Tory Henwood Hoen
- The Kaiju Preservation Society by John Scalzi
- Still Life by Sarah Winman
- The Guncle by Steven Rowley
- When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
- Firekeeper's Daughter by Angeline Boulley
- The Book of Joy by Bstan-ʼdzin-rgya-mtsho: Dalai Lama XIV, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Douglas Abrams
- Anxious People by Fredrik Backman
- It's a Numberful World by Eddie Woo
- Drive Your Plow Over The Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarczuk
- Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz
- Dagmar's Daughter by Kim Echlin
- Chouette by Claire Oshetsky
- Dirty Birds by Morgan Murray
You can read all of the responses in the original post. You do not need a Facebook account to read the suggestions. What would you recommend for "a book you read just because”? Add your suggestions in the comments section below.
Edited June 13: added French Recommendations