ARMCHAIR BOOK CLUB: Trio of books perfect for light reading

Many parents agree that with school starting late this year, the transition to weightier fall reading just hasn’t happened.

Many parents agree that with school starting late this year, the transition to weightier fall reading just hasn’t happened.

With the kids back in class, I’m sure we’ll soon feel ready for a new season, but until then, here are three less demanding books to peruse: No Relation by Terry Fallis, The Little Old Lady who Broke All the Rules by Catharina Ingelman Sundberg, and The Storied Life of AJ Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin.

Canadian author Terry Fallis won CBC’s Canada Reads contest in 2011 with his debut novel, The Best Laid Plans. This light political romp introduced Fallis to a nation of readers, and was soon followed by a sequel, The High Road.

Fallis’ latest book, No Relation, is a departure from politics. But as with his first two books, No Relation is written in a breezy, humorous style, featuring silly plot twists and quirky characters.

As we start the story, Earnest Hemmingway’s life is falling apart, and he’s pretty sure the cause of this ruin is that he shares a name with a famous person.

Earnest is ridiculed at hotel check-in counters, and traffic stops are never routine. Fed up, he decides to start a name fame club for those similarly afflicted. At the first meeting he is joined by, among others, Mahatma Gandhi, Jacqueline Kennedy and Clark Kent. The group instantly bonds, forms a YMCA softball team, and a quick-paced — bordering on ridiculous — story ensues. Typical of Fallis, even the most far-fetched twists seem to work out neatly in the end.

If you loved the strangely named book The 100-Year-Old Man who Climbed out the Window and Disappeared, you’re in luck. I don’t know if it’s Swedish tradition or a marketing ploy, but another Swedish author, Catharina Ingelman Sundberg, has penned an equally lengthy titled book about retirees called The Little Old Lady who Broke All the Rules.

This time, a group of octogenarians have had it with retirement home living. With budget cuts to their facility, they decide they’d probably be treated better in prison. So to bring some adventure into their lives, and presumably some prison time, they form an unlikely criminal gang. The story isn’t as absurd or as intrinsically funny as the 100-Year-Old Man, but still worth a few laughs.

The Storied Life of AJ Fikry features a cranky small-island bookstore owner, who has recently been widowed and started drinking too much. He is an unlikely romantic hero, having retreated into a world of books, and away from real life. That is, until a baby is abandoned in his shop.

Author Gabrielle Zevin is an accomplished writer, and in a delightfully accessible way, delves into what the books we love say about us, about why some people become reluctant readers while others live through fictional characters, and ultimately how the act of reading itself can shape and change us.

Thoughtful yet still a light read, The Storied Life of AJ Fikry is a perfect transition to fall reading.

Heather Allen is a books columnist living in Penticton.