One e-Read Canada: Tatouine

The Cover of Tatouine by Jean-Christophe Réhel

Do you enjoy reading e-books? Yes? That’s the only response I’ll accept 😛 A no just means you haven’t tried it yet or did in the days of the abysmally difficult-to-use Adobe Digital Editions. These days e-books are amazingly easy to use on just about any device, and if you’ve got a Kobo, they can be downloaded directly to your reader without going through extra software. You owe it to yourself/your gas budget/your eyes/your reading addiction1 to try out an e-book. And with One eRead Canada happening, you have no excuse not to try one! Throughout the month of April, Tatouine by Jean-Christophe Réhel is available through Overdrive to everyone who wants to download and read it without waiting. Additionally, the campaign has two national events around the book. An English discussion with the translators on the 19th and a French interview with the author on the 25th.

Tatouine is a poignant and often humorous novel about an unnamed protagonist in his thirties navigating life with cystic fibrosis. Despite the challenges that come with his illness, including bouncing between dead-end jobs and losing his apartment, he remains upbeat and uses humour and daydreams to cope with his day-to-day struggles. These dreams often revolve around escaping to the fictional planet “Tatouine,” similar to but distinct from Tatooine, due to his love of the Star Wars Franchise. On this planet, he’ll make sand angles and play Mario games all day. This is a novel that is not shy to reference real-world media. The protagonist even names his new basement apartment in Repentigny “Dagoba.” And despite its dinginess, the move has an upside – a friendship with the new landlord.

These ups and downs are all over Tatouine. Living with a chronic illness is never easy, and readers see firsthand how it affects the protagonist’s life. Knowing that Réhel is writing from personal experience makes the book all the more effective. Tatoiune never becomes a sob story, though, as every dark cloud the protagonist faces seems to come with a silver lining, such as the landlord mentioned earlier. And these never feel contrived, as the protagonist, while not always perfect, is generally likeable and forms connections with the people around him, which help in a big way as the novel progresses.

Réhel, a poet, writes with a lyrical and introspective style, translated well by Katherine Hastings & Peter McCambridge. The protagonist also happens to be a poet, making this even more of a fictional autobiography. Though where Réhel has finished his novel, the protagonist can’t seem to get past the first sentence2

Through the protagonist’s struggles and aspirations, Tatouine explores themes of resilience, escapism, and the power of humour and human connection in navigating life’s challenges.

Once you’ve devoured Tatouine3, here are some more books you can try in physical or digital format that share similarities.

The cover of The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George

The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George: This novel, translated from French, also delves into the themes of escapism and self-discovery as the protagonist sets sail on a bookshop barge in search of healing and redemption. Monsieur Perdu is a literary apothecary running a floating bookshop aboard a barge on the Seine River in Paris. He prescribes books to help heal the emotional wounds of his customers. However, while he can heal others, he cannot heal himself. Opening a long-held letter from his lost lover sets him on a journey across the south of France, where he meets an eccentric cast of characters.

The cover of The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion: This humorous novel follows an eccentric protagonist as he navigates love and relationships in his own unique way. Where Tatouine’s protagonist deals with a physical condition that affects his life, Don Tillman of The Rosie Project lives with Aspergers, though he doesn’t know it. The story follows genetics professor Don as he embarks on The Wife Project, an orderly search for his perfect partner, who doesn’t smoke or drink, is always punctual and meets a host of other criteria. Enter Rosie, a smoking, drinking, late-arriving student who captures Don’s attention with wit and intelligence. Of course, she’s not a candidate for The Wife Project, but he’ll help her find her biological father and thus begins The Rosie Project.

The cover of The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery

The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery: This novel, translated from French, follows the lives of two unlikely friends, a precocious 12-year-old girl named Paloma and an eccentric concierge named Renée, who works in a prestigious Parisian apartment building. Like “Tatouine,” it explores the hidden depths and complexities of ordinary lives, delving into themes of art, philosophy, and the human condition. With its poetic prose and wry humour, “The Elegance of the Hedgehog” is a thought-provoking and beautifully written novel that will captivate readers who enjoy introspective and philosophical fiction.

Any of these books make for a great option if you’re looking for a dose of humour suffused with insights into the human condition. And I’ll repeat myself at the end: if you last tried an eBook a while ago and swore off of them, you’re doing yourself a disservice. So load up Overdrive, pick a title, and get reading without delay.

Speaking of without delay, Overdrive has launched the Great Reads Without The Wait collection. This list of over 200 titles are available to borrow without any kind of waitlist. Everyone in Vaughan could read the same book, and nobody would have to wait for a copy to be returned. This collection is available until January 2025. How many titles can you get through?

1 If you don’t have one before reading eBooks, you will have one after.

2 How many people reading this can relate? It can’t just be me right? I can crank out short fiction, but thinking of writing a novel is an immediate invitation for writer’s block.

3 And cleaned your mouth of all the sand4. The coarse, and rough, and irritating sand.

4 I make no apologies for the pun. Or the footnote in footnote.

About Adam

Adam is a Digital Creation Specialist - Children who never has enough shelf space for his board game collection, wall space for his photographs, or stomach space for his baking. Once he’s got a book in his clutches (preferably a fantasy, or humorous non-fiction one) absolutely nothing else is getting done that day. Working in a library is a blessing and a curse to his free time.  |  Meet the team