Each year, in the month of May library staff mine online reading lists, archives of recent purchases, and our own catalogue to assemble many a genre list for the much-loved Adult Summer Reading game. This rite of late spring is a favorite past time for myself and if I may speak on behalf of my colleagues, likely just as dear to their own workflow as well. From very bookish staples like “romance” and “classics” – something I like to gamble with by adding books written in my lifetime… they could potentially become classics one day, right? – to the more out of the ordinary lists such as “Sunny Reads” or whatever surface to fit our annual theme, there is but one list both myself and some other guilty librarians cower from in the face of responsibility: “Sense of Place”.
I’ve never touched the thing. I’ve considered it, for sure, but it’s just not in my genre wheelhouse to be firing off multiple recommends, even with the aid of the internet, that are so in-depth and immersive in their world-building that they succeed in the creation of a life that you are not living.
After reading Monkey Beach, however, I sadly can no longer manufacture any more excuses as I now have a deeper understanding of this genre. With this understanding, there’s a new voice added to my inner book and that is the calming, yet haunting tone Ms. Robinson uses to reveal an impactful sense of place and a compelling sense of character rarely achieved. For me, this novel is a literary real one and I’ll forever be in search for others that resonate in the same way. If I’m lucky, I’ll find enough to one day make a list.