Let’s get down to brass tacks: while The Varsity reports on a lot of topics, contemporary lit isn’t one of them. There are a large number of factors involved, i.e. the books that we receive from publishers tend to be on the historical biography side, and you wanna know the trendy titles gracing the shelves at your local bookstore. For you, we went on a stealth mission, sneaking around a handful of bookstores just off-campus, targeting the covers that looked interesting, wretched, or just happened to be within reach. Tired of in-depth analysis, this is more of a laid-back browse, based on careful contemplation of factors like the “Advance Praise For,” inside flap, several random pages within, and basic all-round vibe. You don’t want a read with a

Indigo Books – Manulife Centre

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

This book immediately looked like crack for the Under the Tuscan Sun set. It’s a lovely book, and probably inspirational if you don’t view it from a cynical perspective. A memoir of a year spent traveling through Italy, India, and Indonesia is pure “introspective” escapism. Seems like the perfect read when you’re stressed and want something satisfying but light.

The Almost Moon by Alice Sebold

Like debut The Lovely Bones, Sebold’s latest is about murder and deception through the eyes of a complicated protagonist. Intriguing, sure, but also a little predictable. Now I’m confl icted. This seems like a book that should actually be read before the judgment call. But who are we kidding—that’s never gonna happen!

The Gum Thief by Douglas Coupland

There are fans who will probably be into the The Gum Thief just for the Coupland cachet. Roger, an older gent who works at Staples, keeps a diary about his young co-worker Bethany— get this—pretending to be her. My guess is that they strike up an odd relationship that leads into classic Coupland territory of isolation and bitter irony with a sprinkle of optimism.

Nice Big American Baby by Judy Budnitz

A-plus for the title alone! This collection of short stories has recently been released as a trade paperback, and that’s new enough for me. For fans of Miranda July or Sheila Heti, these stories are quirkily self-conscious without the alienation. At a glance, Budnitz takes on some heady topics, such as sexual deviance, with a charming panache!

Shopaholic and Baby by Sophie Kinsella

Oh Shopaholic, aren’t you dead yet? People apparently love this series, but I can’t help but feel immensely frustrated by “protagonist” Becky’s constant forays into extreme debt and general stupidity / acts of psychosis. What could this one possibly be about? Maybe Becky has a baby and then sells it to human traffi ckers so she can buy some hot stilettos. Cripes! How’s she going to work her way out of this conundrum? I should say, that’s not probably what the book’s gonna be about, but I’ll be damned if I can fi gure it out.

TheatreBooks – 11 St. Thomas St. — one block west of Bay and south of Bloor

The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the

Twentieth Century by Alex Ross According to Björk, “Alex Ross’s incredibly nourishing book will rekindle anyone’s fire for music.” Alex Ross is the erudite music editor for the New Yorker, and in this, he takes a historical and cultural (but not elitist) approach to music from the last century. It’s a little saucy and very informative— something that you and your cool uncle can lend each other. Just make sure he doesn’t put his Venti Bold down on the pristine white cover.

The Second Circle by Patsy Rodenburg

Renowned UK voice and acting coach Rodenburg turns her deft educational touch to what appears to be esoteric self-help. I usually can’t stand this kind of crap, but after reading the first chapter, I realized that Rodenburg’s actually coming from a pretty interesting place, she just uses trademarked slogans like Stepping Into the Circle of Energy™ as a way of selling it.

A Style and its Origins by Howard Barker/Eduardo Houth

British theatre master Barker created altar-ego photographer Eduardo Houth to document his work from a different creative platform. His innovation as an artist is on full display in this elegant little book—part history, part narrative, and part practical joke. Style makes for a great introduction to one of the most intriguing theatre artists working today.

Book City in the Annex – 501 Bloor St. W.

MisShapes Book by MisShapes

Reading through the new MisShapes “coffee table book” (as if any attendees have coffee tables) is like clicking guiltily through MySpace photos of Manhattan scenesters: lots of good-looking people apparently having fun. And yet, the whole idea of curling up in your Poang* and paging through this vaguely self-important book diminishes its hipness. The nice thing about it is that there are hardly any words!

My Mistress’s Sparrow is Dead – edited by Jeffrey Eugenides

This hefty hardcover edited by American novelist (and Princeton prof) Eugenides brings together 26 short stories from Babel, Nabokov, Alice Munro, and Richard Ford—a veritable who’s who of past and present authorial excellence. Did I mention that they’re all on the theme of love? Something else to feel all warm and fuzzy about: all proceeds go to fund free writing programs for youth offered by 826 Chicago schools. *Exceptionally popular Ikea chair. Pronunciation unknown.