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Summer reads: Thought-provoking, inspiring or just plain fun

Summer is the perfect time to catch up on some reading. Grab a cozy seat in a sunny spot and consider these options.
Meal Revolution BookCoverFront
Turn the old Canada Food Guide upside down! This cookbook joins other recommended summer reads. Photo submitted.
Here are a few books that have recently crossed my path and may be just the ticket for you this summer.

Say Please and Thank You & Stand in Line

Born and raised in Edmonton, Toronto lawyer and descendant of proud Muslims Dany Assaf started promoting his new book, Say Please and Thank You & Stand in Line just before the hit and run murder of a Muslim family in London, Ontario in early June. The book is tragically timely; an act of hate Assaf said is inexplicable.

"This was an attack on all Canadians--despicable and incomprehensible," said Assaf. "Especially in a country that welcomed my great grandfather in the 1920s; a man who helped build Canada's first Mosque in Edmonton in 1938. I had a typical Canadian boyhood of NHL dreams, until the 9/11 attacks."

Assaf writes how after the attacks, a sign went up in his neighbourhood with the inscription "Osama bin Laden lives closer than you think." That marked a dangerous shift in anti-Muslim rhetoric: despite generations of family history in Alberta, he and his family were now branded as Muslim terrorists. And the move toward being seen as the 'other' has grown even greater over the last 20 years, he said.

"Social media intensifies and accelerates trends," he said, noting that hatred grows unchecked until something like the recent tragedy occurs. "A family is wiped off the face of the earth, and this man has destroyed his own life too."

"History is calling us to either harness the power of our multicultural tapestry, or be torn apart by our differences. We have to stand shoulder to shoulder with all Canadians, not allowing any space for divisive words and behaviours."

111 Places in Calgary That You Must Not Miss

This fun guide is evidence that Calgary is much more than beef, oil and gas and the Stampede. Taking readers on a breezy adventure across the city, this colourful exploration by Jennifer Bain (photos by Christina Ryan) is sure to surprise even the most knowledgeable Calgarian. Do you know about the prairie oyster or Caesar cocktail? About a historic mansion said be haunted by a ghostly lady? Through the book, readers can pay homage to the region's first Black cowboy, John Ware, and meet the chef at the helm of the city's only full-service restaurant serving Indigenous cuisine.

Love is Blind: A Memoir

Author Ruth E. Vallis shares her story of trail blazing for the disabled in this debut memoir. Blind before age 3, Vallis writes in an honest, humbling and generous voice, showing how obstacles in her life became stepping stones. It's an inspiring story of overcoming (low) expectations and enormous challenges. 

Rose Reisman's Meal Revolution: Recipes Inspired by Canada's New Food Guide

Reisman offers a timely cookbook featuring healthier meal ideas after the pandemic has left many feeling blah about the same meal rotation and greasy takeout. Inspired by Canada's New Food Guide, the book features 165 recipes with a plant-based focus; things like Crispy Fried Tofu with Maple Glaze over Edamame, Peanut Butter Coconut Chocolate Chip Energy Balls and Avocado, Tomato and Cucumber Salad.

Readers will find recipes for sheet pan and Instant Pot meals, a large section on vegetarian and vegan recipes, and desserts emphasizing gluten- and dairy-free choices.

"My children and three grandchildren are learning to enjoy a plant and whole grain-based diet with animal protein taking the back seat. Meat and dairy are still enjoyed but less frequently and in smaller amounts. I hope my new cookbook will help Canadians find new passion for cooking and eating at home," Reisman said.

The Big Ordeal: Understanding and Managing the Psychological Turmoil of Cancer

Written by cancer survivor Cynthia Hayes, this book provides real patient stories and medical expertise to help anyone on a cancer journey. Learn about everything from diagnosis through treatment and gather advice from those who've been there: an important read for anyone touched by cancer.