Special Event


Knowing it may be some time before we can all gather in intimate spaces to experience live music again, we will have to reconsider the ways we discover vital music & art and learn about the city we live in. Luckily for us, our good friends at one of the best book stores in the country has agreed to share Sled Island-appropriate reading lists, featuring books by or about the artists, scenes and communities the festival has represented. In addition, Sled Island and Shelf Life have partnered with Sue's Stokvel to provide a recommended reading list of highly recommended black authors.



  • Zeppelin Over Dayton: Guided By Voices Album By Album | Paperback | Jeff Gomez: Drawing on new interviews and extensive research, Zeppelin Over Dayton offers an honest and thorough assessment of GBV’s amazingly sprawling discography, providing ardent admirers with tons of fresh anecdotes and insight, and new fans a way to successfully navigate the group’s dozens of LPs.
  • Cult Musicians: 50 Progressive Performers You Need to Know | Hardcover | Robert Dimery | Kristelle Rodeia: Cult Musicians introduces 50 musicians deserving of a cult status. The book charts a plethora of genres and boundary-breakers – from afrobeat and art pop to glam rock and proto punk; Bjork and PJ Harvey to Aphex Twin and Wiley. Discover little knowns with small, devout followings and superstars gracing the covers of magazines – each musician is special in their individuality and their ability to inspire, antagonise and delight. 
  • Punderdome: A Card Game for Pun Lovers | Game | Jo Firestone | Fred Firestone: One part game, one part conversation starter, you don't need to be a pun master to master Punderdome: the goal is to make bad jokes and have fun along the way. Created by Sled 2020 comedian Jo Firestone and her father!
  • Revenge of the She-Punks: A Feminist Music History from Poly Styrene to Pussy Riot | Paperback | Vivien Goldman: With her visceral style, Goldman blends interviews, history, and her personal experience as one of Britain’s first female music writers in a book that reads like a vivid documentary of a genre defined by dismantling boundaries.
  • Sonic Flux: Sound, Art, and Metaphysics | Paperback | Christoph Cox: Through the philosophical analysis of works by John Cage, Maryanne Amacher, Max Neuhaus, Christian Marclay, and many others, Sonic Flux contributes to the development of a materialist metaphysics and poses a challenge to the prevailing positions in cultural theory, proposing a realist and materialist aesthetics able to account not only for sonic art but for artistic production in general.
  • Five Years Ahead of My Time: Garage Rock from the 1950s to the Present | Paperback | Seth Bovey:
    Be it the White Stripes or the Black Keys, bands have consistently found inspiration in the simplicity and energy of garage rock. It is a revitalizing force, looking back to the past to forge the future of rock ’n’ roll. And this, for the first time, is its story.
  • Foreground Music: A Life in Fifteen Gigs | Paperback |Graham Duff | Mark Gatiss: Foreground Music captures the energy and power of life-changing gigs, while tracing the evolution of forty years of musical movements and subcultures. But more than that, it's an honest, touching, and very funny story of friendship, love, creativity, and mortality, and a testimony to music's ability to inspire and heal. Illustrated with photographs and ephemera from the author's private collection.
  • So Real It Hurts | Paperback | Lydia Lunch: Through personal essays and interviews, punk musician and cultural icon Lydia Lunch claws and rakes at the reader's conscience in this powerful, uninhibited feminist collection.
  • Words Will Break Cement: The Passion of Pussy Riot | Paperback | Masha Gessen: From National Book Award winner Masha Gessen, the heroic story of Pussy Riot, who resurrected the power of truth in a society built on lies
  • What About Tomorrow?: An Oral History of Russian Punk from the Soviet Era to Pussy Riot | Paperback |Alexander Herbert: Most Westerners had never even heard of Russia's punk movement until Pussy Riot burst onto the international stage. This oral history takes you through four decades of the scene's evolution, from its origins in St Petersburg and Moscow to uniquely thriving punk scenes in the provincial capitals. Includes never-before-published photographs of many of the bands.
  • Ripped: T-Shirts from the Underground | Paperback | Cesar Padilla | Lydia Lunch | Betsey Johnson: A visual history of counterculture music T-shirts, spanning the defining era of indie music.
  • Space Is the Place: The Lives and Times of Sun Ra | Paperback | John Szwed: This definitive biography reveals the life, philosophy, and musical growth of one of the twentieth century's greatest avant-garde musicians.
  • I Was A Teenage Banshee | Paperback | Sue Webster: A Künstlerroman by British contemporary artist Sue Webster, which combines personal memoir with an exploration of the ongoing influence of youth, music, and Siouxsie and the Banshees on her life and work.
  • Paradoxia: A Predator's Diary | Paperback | Lydia Lunch: Lydia Lunch relays in graphic detail the true psychic repercussions of sexual misadventure. From New York to London to New Orleans,Paradoxia is an uncensored, novelized account of one woman’s assault on men.
  • The Cosmobiography of Sun Ra: The Sound of Joy Is Enlightening | Hardcover | Chris Raschka: Caldecott Medalist Chris Raschka shares his love of jazz great Sun Ra, just in time to mark the centennial of the musician’s birth.
  • Ten Cities: Clubbing in Nairobi, Cairo, Kyiv, Johannesburg, Berlin, Naples, Luanda, Lagos, Bristol, Lisbon, 1960-Present | Paperback | Johannes Hossfeld | Joyce Nyairo | Florian Sievers: A nocturnal journey through local histories of clubbing in Africa and Europe
  • Shut Up You Animals!!! the Pope Is Dead. a Remembrance of Dirk Dirksen: A History of the Mabuhay Gardens | Paperback | Dirk Dirksen | James Stark | Ronald Turner: A autobiography of Dirk Dirksen and his rise as the promoter of the Mabuhay Gardens as told by Dirk Dirksen. Dirk Dirksen almost single-handedly made the early beginnings of Punk Rock possible in San Francisco, by providing an all-ages, low-admission-charge venue where anybody could play and almost nobody was rejected.
  • Lydia Lunch: The War Is Never Over: A Companion To The Film By Beth B | Paperback | Nick Soulsby: Before #MeToo, before Riot Grrl, there was Lydia Lunch. A central figure in the No Wave scene of the seventies—as founder of the seminal Teenage Jesus & The Jerks—Lunch has pursued a four-decade-long career turning the substance of her life into unapologetic, stark, and beautiful art.
  • Bass, Mids, Tops: An Oral History of Sound System Culture | Paperback | Joe Muggs | Brian David Stevens: An oral history of the UK's soundsystem culture, featuring interviews with Dubmaster Dennis Bovell, Skream, Youth, Norman Jay MBE, Adrian Sherwood, Mala, and others.
  • A Pure Solar World: Sun Ra and the Birth of Afrofuturism | Hardcover | Paul Youngquist: A Pure Solar World: Sun Ra and the Birth of Afrofuturism offers a spirited introduction to the life and work of this legendary but underappreciated musician, composer, and poet.
  • Gun Is Loaded, The | Paperback | Lydia Lunch | Jack Sargeant: Lydia Lunch delivers a brutally frank manifesto in a journey through the heart of contemporary American darkness.
  • Read & Riot: A Pussy Riot Guide to Activism | Hardcover | Nadya Tolokonnikova: Stylish, striking, and elegantly packaged...as indispensible to confronting, say, your domineering mother-in-law or your local city council as it is to helping foment an ongoing and ever-escalating insurrection against, say, a sexist, racist, nepotistic power-mad oligarchy threatening to destory democracy as we know it...My advice: Buy one.
  • Will Work for Drugs | Paperback | Lydia Lunch: No Wave founder Lydia Lunch’s first book,Paradoxia (Akashic Books, 2007), proved that her talent is as strong on the page as it is on the stage. Her literary talents are even more impressive and varied in this iconoclastic and uncompromising collection.


  • July - Here Comes the Sun by Nicole Dennis Benn: Capturing the distinct rhythms of Jamaican life and dialect, Nicole Dennis- Benn pens a tender hymn to a world hidden among pristine beaches and the wide expanse of turquoise seas.
  • August - Brother, I’m Dying by Edwidge Danticat
  • September - On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong: a letter from a son to a mother who cannot read. Written when the speaker, Little Dog, is in his late twenties, the letter unearths a family’s history that began before he was born — a history whose epicenter is rooted in Vietnam — and serves as a doorway into parts of his life his mother has never known, all of it leading to an unforgettable revelation.
  • October – Blood Drenched Beard by Daniel Alegra: From Brazil's most acclaimed young novelist, the mesmerizing story of how a troubled young man's restorative journey to the seaside becomes a violent struggle with his family's dark past.
  • November – Bitter Fruit by Achmat Dandgor
  • December – In the time of Butterflies by Julia Alvarez: It is November 25, 1960, and three beautiful sisters have been found near their wrecked Jeep at the bottom of a 150-foot cliff on the north coast of the Dominican Republic. The official state newspaper reports their deaths as accidental. It does not mention that a fourth sister lives. Nor does it explain that the sisters were among the leading opponents of Gen. Rafael Leónidas Trujillo’s dictatorship. It doesn’t have to. Everybody knows of Las Mariposas--the Butterflies.

Shelf Life's inventory can be browsed at store.shelflifebooks.ca and orders include CONTACTLESS CURBSIDE PICK-UP or FREE LOCAL HOME DELIVERY (some restrictions may apply).

Shelf Life is open for BROWSING BY APPOINTMENT from Monday to Sunday from 11am-5pm. Please call 403-265-1033 or email contact@shelflifebooks.ca to book your browsing now! CONTACTLESS CURBSIDE PICK-UP and FREE LOCAL DELIVERY remain ongoing.

(Illustration by Jane Mount)
Come and browse in our lovely bookstore in Calgary’s revitalized Beltline District. You just might find the book you’re looking for, but you’ll also find books that you haven’t seen anywhere else.

We’re devoted to good writing and literature of all kinds: fiction, genre fiction, history, science, biography, philosophy, psychology and more. We also carry art, photography, children's books and graphic literature. Our poetry section is the largest in Western Canada. There's a reading or event happening in the store almost any week of the year. - Shelf Life Books

I've always loved reading. My Grandmother used to give me books to read when she was tasked with looking after me over the holidays. A babysitting strategy has become a passion of mine and I wanted to share it with others, so I created a physical book club based in Calgary, Alberta. Since then, I've expanded the bookclub to include online members from all over the world through an instagram created shortly after. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's famous TED Talk "The Danger of a Single Story" best captures my experience with literature as an African woman. I recognize the collective and the very personal danger of these single stories. Sue's Stokvel, not only aims to uplift the voices of POC Authors, but to uplift the community of people who will read these books. - Sue-Shane