Look out for The Reading List by Leslie Shimotakahara releasing this coming February 2012.
As captivating as The Jane Austen Book Club, and as inspiring as The Film
Club, The Reading List is a poignant, humorous memoir about never giving up
on your dreams and finding the ultimate happiness through reading.
Leslie Shimotakahara is a young, disenchanted English professor on the verge
of a nervous breakdown. Her father Jack urges her to come home to Toronto
for the summer to recuperate and search for a new career—but he also has
a hidden agenda. Recently retired, Jack finally has time to take up the hobby
that has long fascinated him: reading. Leslie puts together a list of important,
twentieth-century novels for them to read together, setting the stage for some
hilarious discussions about Edith Wharton’s dismal love life and James Joyce’s
But their conversations about literature begin to unearth some dark, deeply
buried secrets about Jack’s own past—growing up Japanese-Canadian amidst
the shame of World War II. For the first time, Leslie truly gets to know her dad,
her ancestral history, and all the intriguing layers of the past that make her who
she is. In the biggest epiphany of her life, Leslie’s strangely inspiring detour
through the world of letters just might lead her to finally being happy in her love
life, family, and career.
About the author: Leslie Shimotakahara is a writer and “recovering academic,” who holds a B.A. from
McGill and a M.A. and Ph.D. from Brown. After graduation, she taught English Literature at St.
Francis Xavier University, before waking up one morning and realizing she’d had enough of the ivory
tower. Leslie returned home to Toronto to pursue her childhood dream of becoming a writer. In 2009,
she was selected as one of Diaspora Dialogues’ Emerging Writers, and her fiction has been published
in TOK: Writing the New Toronto and Maple Tree Literary Supplement.
The Reading List is her first book. She blogs at www.the-reading-list.com
Toronto-based Variety Crossing Press has published books that explore and/
or reflect Canada’s multicultural landscape over the last 13 years. A new era
in multicultural writing goes beyond the immigrant experience to address
the times and personalities of the generations that follow. Recently, Variety
Crossing Press launched two new imprints: Variety Crossing, for single poetry
books and anthologies, and Stories That Bind, for non-fiction and fiction titles.
The Reading List is the first literary non-fiction title under the Stories That Bind
Advance praise for The Reading List:
“An engrossing and charming memoir about
getting back to basics: home truths, family,
and the life-altering, life-saving power of books.”
—Emma Donoghue, author of Room
“The Reading List brims with frankness, provocative wit and acute insights into
our hearts and psyches. A journey into the dark night of the soul and into the
light of love and reconciliation, it proclaims its relevance in myriad ways. It is
the story of a young woman finding her footing in the present by exploring a
painful past, accompanied by her father and guided by the literature she loves.
It celebrates the power of that literature to illuminate our inner lives and
crystallize our desires.”
-Kerri Sakamoto, author of The Electrical Field
“I’ve read a lot of good memoirs, but it’s a rare talent that can weave together
so many threads – family, love, literature, career angst – so effortlessly as Leslie
does in The Reading List. She guided me through her life via the mirror of her
favourite books and as I came to the end of The Reading List, I found that her
own book had become just such a mirror for this reader.”
-Micah Toub, author of Growing Up Jung