Kitchissippi Reads: A tall list of books on the nightstand

By Andrea Prazmowski – 

On the basketball court, Heather Lindsay is the player her Carleton Ravens teammates watch for and rely upon to rack up the points. Off the court, they rely on her for book recommendations.

Heather Lindsay is a star forward with the Carleton Ravens and led them to the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) championship this past season. She also has a lot of books on her list. Photo by Andrea Prazmowski

Heather, 22, is a star forward with the Ravens and led them to the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) championship this past season. She’s tough as nails in the game, but back on the team bus it’s another story.

“My teammates always make fun of me,” she laughs. “Because on the bus I’ll start crying when I’m reading a book. When it’s emotional I just get swept up into it.”

And then? “I’ll finish a book and stand up in the bus and say: ‘Really good book, who wants to read it?’”

Heather keeps a detailed list of each book she’s read, and gives it a rating. If a friend wants a recommendation she has her list at hand.

“In the summer, reading is my favourite thing to do,” she says. Right now she’s enjoying Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda, about two mothers – one in Mumbai and the other in San Francisco – and the daughter they share. As a teenager the girl, Asha, adopted by the American family, yearns to know about her Indian origins. She travels to India and that decision changes the lives of both families.

“I didn’t have any idea about Indian culture, so the book really opens that up for me,” says Heather. For learning about different cultures, she also recommends The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Philip Sendker, in which a New York lawyer travels to a Burmese village searching for her missing father.

Books that put her in the place of historical events are also a top choice. On her summer list is The Villa Triste by Lucretia Grindle, about two sisters in Florence, Italy in 1943, under Nazi occupation. Sixty years later a police inspector discovers the diary of one of the sisters while investigating a murder of an old man. Through the diary he learns of the lives of the Partisans in the Resistance.

“I really like history but I find it so much easier to learn when it’s a really good story,” says Heather. Another memorable book was Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford, about Japanese internment camps in the US during WWII.

Heather’s “favourite book of all time” involves a different kind of internment and another diary. What She Left Behind, by Ellen Marie Wiseman, is about a modern-day teenager, Izzy, who reads the diary of Clara, a woman committed to a state asylum in New York in 1929, placed there because her father disapproved of her marriage choice. It’s a disturbing account of mental health treatments at that time and also tells Izzy’s personal story of having a mother diagnosed as criminally insane. Heather learned that the novel depicts an actual place, the Willard Asylum, which closed in the 1970s.

Heather’s also looking forward to reading a book of short stories by Ernest Hemingway that belonged to her great-grandfather, which her father, John, gave her. It seems reading is a family affair for the Lindsays: her grandmother, Mary, gives her a big box of books for each birthday and Christmas, and she regularly swaps books with mom, Margo.

This post is part of our annual summer reads issue. Read all of our 2017 profiles right here.

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