53 books like They Called Me Number One

By Bev Sellars,

Here are 53 books that They Called Me Number One fans have personally recommended if you like They Called Me Number One. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of North of Normal: A Memoir of My Wilderness Childhood, My Unusual Family, and How I Survived Both

Danielle R. Graham Author Of All We Left Behind

From my list on hidden gems by Canadian writers.

Who am I?

I’m a Canadian psychotherapist who worked as a social worker for nearly a decade before going into private practice for the next two decades. I dabble in history and literature and when I find a Canadian book that combines elements of social justice, historical wrongs, heart-wrenching human experience, feminism, and Canadian wilderness I want to share it with everyone. As a bonus, if one of the characters happens to be a young person who is coming of age, the book will earn a very top position on my bookshelf. I hope you enjoy this small list of what I consider hidden gems by Canadian authors.

Danielle's book list on hidden gems by Canadian writers

Danielle R. Graham Why did Danielle love this book?

The full title of this memoir by Cea Sunrise Person is North of Normal: A Memoir of My Wilderness Childhood, My Counter Culture Family, and How I Survived Both, which basically sums up this fascinating and wild ride through Cea’s unconventional upbringing in a pot-smoking, free-loving, clothing-optional, canvas tipi-sleeping, non-conforming family in the Canadian wilderness. Gaining this unique view into the psychology and emotional fallout of the eccentric family lifestyle was shocking, heart-breaking, and inspirational all at once. You will never read another book quite like it.

By Cea Sunrise Person,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked North of Normal as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Sex, drugs, and . . . bug stew? In the vein of The Glass Castle and Wild, Cea Sunrise Person’s compelling memoir of a childhood spent with her dysfunctional counter-culture family in the Canadian wilderness—a searing story of physical, emotional, and psychological survival.

In the late 1960s, riding the crest of the counterculture movement, Cea’s family left a comfortable existence in California to live off the land in the Canadian wilderness. But unlike most commune dwellers of the time, the Persons weren’t trying to build a new society—they wanted to escape civilization altogether. Led by Cea’s grandfather Dick, they lived…


Book cover of The Golden Spruce: A True Story of Myth, Madness, and Greed

Danielle R. Graham Author Of All We Left Behind

From my list on hidden gems by Canadian writers.

Who am I?

I’m a Canadian psychotherapist who worked as a social worker for nearly a decade before going into private practice for the next two decades. I dabble in history and literature and when I find a Canadian book that combines elements of social justice, historical wrongs, heart-wrenching human experience, feminism, and Canadian wilderness I want to share it with everyone. As a bonus, if one of the characters happens to be a young person who is coming of age, the book will earn a very top position on my bookshelf. I hope you enjoy this small list of what I consider hidden gems by Canadian authors.

Danielle's book list on hidden gems by Canadian writers

Danielle R. Graham Why did Danielle love this book?

A true story of myth, madness, and greed, The Golden Spruce is one of those books that has hauntingly stuck with me since I read it. It’s the story of a forestry worker named Grant Hadwin who committed a bizarre act of environmental violence in Haida Gwaii and then mysteriously disappeared under suspicious circumstances. The book traces the life and career of Hadwin in an attempt to explain what possessed him to cut down a 300-year-old mystic golden Sitka Spruce known as Kiid K’iiyas, which has been a sacred part of the Haida People’s oral history for generations. John Vaillant’s description of the psychology of the man and the beauty of the wilderness in which Hadwin spent his life left such an impact on me that when I visited Haida Gwaii I hiked the trail to the now fallen sacred tree.

By John Vaillant,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Golden Spruce as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When a shattered kayak and camping gear are found on an uninhabited island in the Pacific Northwest, they reignite a mystery surrounding a shocking act of protest. Five months earlier, logger-turned-activist Grant Hadwin had plunged naked into a river in British Columbia's Queen Charlotte Islands, towing a chainsaw. When his night's work was done, a unique Sitka spruce, 165 feet tall and covered with luminous golden needles, teetered on its stump. Two days later it fell.

As vividly as John Krakauer puts readers on Everest, John Vaillant takes us into the heart of North America's last great forest.


Book cover of Medicine Walk

Danielle R. Graham Author Of All We Left Behind

From my list on hidden gems by Canadian writers.

Who am I?

I’m a Canadian psychotherapist who worked as a social worker for nearly a decade before going into private practice for the next two decades. I dabble in history and literature and when I find a Canadian book that combines elements of social justice, historical wrongs, heart-wrenching human experience, feminism, and Canadian wilderness I want to share it with everyone. As a bonus, if one of the characters happens to be a young person who is coming of age, the book will earn a very top position on my bookshelf. I hope you enjoy this small list of what I consider hidden gems by Canadian authors.

Danielle's book list on hidden gems by Canadian writers

Danielle R. Graham Why did Danielle love this book?

The gentle pacing of this story is so powerful. As his dying wish, Eldon Starlight, a war vet who has a fractured relationship with his soft-spoken 16-year-old son, Franklin, sends for his boy to take him to the mountains so he can be buried sitting up and facing east, in the Ojibway warrior way. I felt as if I too was moving step by step through the complex emotions as the estranged father and son navigated their way through the Canadian wilderness on the journey to heal past traumas and their relationship. The fact that such subtle writing can be so profound is something I think all readers will appreciate in this Canadian gem.

By Richard Wagamese,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Medicine Walk as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“A novel about the role of stories in our lives, those we tell ourselves about ourselves and those we agree to live by.” —Globe and Mail

When Franklin Starlight is called to visit his father, he has mixed emotions. Raised by the old man he was entrusted to soon after his birth, Frank is haunted by the brief and troubling moments he has shared with his father, Eldon. When he finally travels by horseback to town, he finds Eldon on the edge of death, decimated from years of drinking.

The two undertake a difficult journey into the mountainous backcountry, in…


Book cover of The Break

Cayla Bellanger DeGroat Author Of The Real History of Thanksgiving: Left Out of History

From my list on the power of Indigenous stories, identity, and histories.

Who am I?

I'm an avid reader, lover of history, and newly-published author of The Real History of Thanksgiving (with more projects in the works!). I'm a mother of two and come from a large family at Gaa-waabigaanikaag, White Earth Reservation. I'm enrolled citizen of the White Earth Band of Ojibwe. I'm also an Oneida descendent with Irish, French, and Black ancestry. Much of my journey as a writer has been exploring the threads of our humanity and histories. It's powerful to think that we are still here, through time, distance, love, pain, and survival. There is immense beauty in being human and being Indigenous, and these books have been a source of connection and learning in my journey.

Cayla's book list on the power of Indigenous stories, identity, and histories

Cayla Bellanger DeGroat Why did Cayla love this book?

I randomly found The Break in a bookstore and was drawn in by the cover, which features a light-skinned Indigenous woman wearing a black dress covered in florals. It immediately reminded me of a ceremonial dress that was taken from White Earth long ago and now sits in a museum in Washington DC.

There is grief in the many removals and losses Indigenous people have endured through the years, and real human consequences that echo down the generations. But I feel fuller and wiser when I get to explore this through other’s perspectives.

There are many characters to keep track of in this book, but it is gratifying to get lost in their journeys, gleaning insights and teachings from their stories.

By Katherena Vermette,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Break as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A GOVERNOR GENERAL'S LITERARY AWARD FINALIST

Longlisted for the Dublin Literary Award 2018
Crime Book of the Month, Sunday Times, February 2018

'I loved this... very tough and very real.' - Margaret Atwood

When Stella, a young mother in an Indigenous community, looks out her window one wintry evening and spots someone being attacked on the Break - a barren field on an isolated strip of land outside her house - she calls the police. By the time help arrives, all that is left of the struggle is blood on the snow. As the search for the victim intensifies, people…


Book cover of Never Coming Home

Katie Tallo Author Of Dark August

From my list on Canadian thrillers about haunted messy characters.

Who am I?

Ten-year-old me once looked in the bathroom mirror wondering who I would become. I tried to memorize the patterns in the tiles to hold on to that moment and carry it with me. My fascination with memory and the past permeates my novels. I love a good cold case—and my August Monet thriller trilogy is all about how the past weaves through the present—informing it, haunting it, transporting secrets. Maybe it’s our long, dark winters, but I see this same fascination in the novels of my fellow Canadian thriller writers. Many have created messy characters haunted by their messy pasts. Here’s a list of my favourites.

Katie's book list on Canadian thrillers about haunted messy characters

Katie Tallo Why did Katie love this book?

What I loved about McKinnon’s thriller was the darkly twisted and funny ride she takes you on from the get-go.

In the opening pages, Lucas admits he had his wife murdered, so this is not so much a “whodunnit” as a “will-he-get-away-with-it” story.

McKinnon gives the reader a peek inside the mind of her very messy, down-right vile protagonist. Lucas shares all the details of his devious plan—how his heart-breaking past justifies what he did, how he charmed his way into his wealthy wife’s life, married her, then carefully executed her demise.

The most compelling thing about the novel is that Lucas is kind of hard not to love, despite being utterly despicable. That’s not easy to pull off and McKinnon does it delightfully.

Book cover of Still Mine

Katie Tallo Author Of Dark August

From my list on Canadian thrillers about haunted messy characters.

Who am I?

Ten-year-old me once looked in the bathroom mirror wondering who I would become. I tried to memorize the patterns in the tiles to hold on to that moment and carry it with me. My fascination with memory and the past permeates my novels. I love a good cold case—and my August Monet thriller trilogy is all about how the past weaves through the present—informing it, haunting it, transporting secrets. Maybe it’s our long, dark winters, but I see this same fascination in the novels of my fellow Canadian thriller writers. Many have created messy characters haunted by their messy pasts. Here’s a list of my favourites.

Katie's book list on Canadian thrillers about haunted messy characters

Katie Tallo Why did Katie love this book?

Clare is on the run and on the hunt for a missing girl.

What kept me reading was the tumult of questions that kept bubbling to the surface as Clare reluctantly and relentlessly searches—so many questions followed her on her solo journey. Who is she really running from and who is she working for? What is her end game? Where is the missing girl, Shayna and who doesn’t want her to discover the truth?

Clare is a woman with a very messy past—which is why she’s perfect for the job. She’s got nothing to lose. But she’s also got the past hot on her heels. There’s nothing like a strong, female character haunted by her past to get me turning the pages.

By Amy Stuart,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Still Mine as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A taut psychological thriller in the vein of The Good Girl by Mary Kubica.

Clare is on the run.

From her past, from her husband, and from her own secrets. When she turns up alone in the remote mining town of Blackmore asking about Shayna Fowles, the local girl who disappeared, everyone wants to know who Clare really is and what she’s hiding. As it turns out, she’s hiding a lot, including what ties her to Shayna in the first place. But everyone in this place is hiding something—from Jared, Shayna’s secretive ex-husband, to Charlie, the charming small-town drug pusher,…


Book cover of Murders and Mysteries: A Canadian Series

Dean Jobb Author Of The Case of the Murderous Dr. Cream: The Hunt for a Victorian Era Serial Killer

From my list on Canadian historical true crime.

Who am I?

True crime stories offer a window into the past, transporting readers to another time and place. They reveal human behaviour at its worst and people striving to do the right thing. And the narrative is always dramatic and compelling, with mysteries to be solved, suspects to be captured, justice to be done. My books profile a Jazz Age con artist, a Victorian Era serial killer, and a gentleman jewel thief of the 1920s. I write a column of true crime stories and book reviews for Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine and I teach in the MFA in Creative Nonfiction program at the University of King’s College in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Dean's book list on Canadian historical true crime

Dean Jobb Why did Dean love this book?

Wallace—a history professor, librarian, and bookseller—was one of Canada’s first true crime writers. This collection of sixteen stories of murder and mayhem, first published in 1931, is a trove of long-forgotten tales. Some of the crimes he chronicles made international headlines. Harry and Dallas Hyams, identical twin brothers from New Orleans, were accused of killing an employee in Toronto in 1893 to collect on insurance policies. Adelard Delorme, a Catholic priest in Montreal, stood trial four times for the 1922 murder of his brother and was ultimately set free. Wallace apologized for straying from mainstream history into the realm of the gruesome and sensational to record, as he put it, “what God in His wisdom saw fit to permit to happen.”

Book cover of Karma

Shauna Singh Baldwin Author Of The Tiger Claw

From my list on writers breaking cross cross-cultural boundaries.

Who am I?

I am a Canadian-American writer of Indian heritage, an award-winning novelist and short fiction writer, playwright, and poet. I grew up in Delhi, hearing stories from my maternal grandparents who were refugees during the 1947 Partition of India. So, as my work reflects, I’m drawn to stories of resilience in the face of cultural conflict, religious upheaval, migration, immigration, and displacement. My MBA is from Marquette University, and my MFA from the University of British Columbia. I am working on another novel.

Shauna's book list on writers breaking cross cross-cultural boundaries

Shauna Singh Baldwin Why did Shauna love this book?

In 1984, a 15-year old Indo-Canadian Maya travels with her father to India to consign her mother's ashes to the Ganges. Prime Minister Indira Gandhi is assassinated the very day they arrive and Delhi descends into state-sponsored carnage as Sikh men and women are held collectively responsible. Separated from her father, Maya has to find her way home. This novel in verse is by Canadian writing across ethnic and religious lines. As a Sikh, I am familiar with details of the pogrom. Instead of applying the usual Western label of “senseless violence” Ostlere sensitively explores the impact on two ordinary young people.

By Cathy Ostlere,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Karma as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

It is 1984, and fifteen-year-old Maya is on her way to India with her father. She carries with her the ashes of her mother, who recently committed suicide, and arrives in Delhi on the eve of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi's assassination.

Maya is separated from her father and must rely upon the mysterious, kindhearted Sandeep to safely reunite them. As her love for Sandeep begins to blossom, Maya must face the truth about her painful adolescence...if she's ever to imagine her future.


Book cover of Omar Khadr, Oh Canada

Valentina Capurri Author Of Not Good Enough for Canada: Canadian Public Discourse Around Issues of Inadmissibility for Potential Immigrants with Diseases And/Or Disabilities

From my list on belonging and exclusion in Canada.

Who am I?

I am a historian and a social geographer whose main interest is in examining why some of us are embraced (legally, politically, economically, culturally) by the society we live in while some others are excluded. Probably due to my status as someone who is an immigrant to Canada and also a person with a disability, the topic of belonging and exclusion fascinates me. 

Valentina's book list on belonging and exclusion in Canada

Valentina Capurri Why did Valentina love this book?

Omar Khadr is a personal friend of mine, the gentlest soul I have met since setting foot on Canadian soil. This collection has been essential to my understanding of Canada’s unwillingness to stand up for one of its own citizens. It highlights how belonging in the nation is not necessarily a right all citizens enjoy, and invites a serious reflection on what citizenship means in this country.  

By Janice Williamson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Omar Khadr, Oh Canada as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 2002 a fifteen-year-old Canadian citizen was captured in Afghanistan for allegedly killing an American soldier. A badly wounded Omar Khadr was transferred to the US Bagram Air Force base and then Guantanamo Bay detention camp. He would remain there without trial until October 2010, when a military commission admitted evidence considered tainted by Canadian courts. A plea bargain and guilty plea initiated his promised return to Canada a year later. Some Canadians see Khadr as a symbol of terrorism in action. For others he is the victim of a jihadist father and Canadian complicity in the unjust excesses, including…


Book cover of Hotel de Dream: A New York Novel

Finola Austin Author Of Bronte's Mistress

From my list on inspired by the lives of famous writers.

Who am I?

I grew up exploring the worlds of the Brontës, Dickens, Braddon, Hardy, and more. So, for my Master’s in literature from the University of Oxford, it was the 1800-1914 period I focused on. When I started writing fiction, I chose the nineteenth century as my setting and a scandal that rocked the lives of the Bronte siblings as my topic. I hold myself to a high standard of historical accuracy when writing about real people (e.g. I cut moonlight from a scene in Brontë’s Mistress when I realized it would have been a new moon that night!). And I love discovering and sharing other novelists who take the same approach. 

Finola's book list on inspired by the lives of famous writers

Finola Austin Why did Finola love this book?

Stephen Crane is most famous for his 1893 novel, Maggie: A Girl of the Streets, but it is his lost companion novel, about a male sex worker in late nineteenth-century New York, which is the focus of Edmund White’s Hotel de Dream. White moves between a frame story about Crane’s last days with his “wife” Cora and the story of Elliott, the supposed inspiration for the manuscript. I’m a New Yorker by choice so love reading books set in the city and I very much enjoyed this gritty portrayal of love and sex between men in the past. Crane isn’t the only writer who makes an appearance here—there’s a cameo from Henry James too!

By Edmund White,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Hotel de Dream as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Stephen Crane is writing a new story, and it may be his last. The year is 1900. The famous author of The Red Badge of Courage is travelling to a Black Forest clinic in search of a cure for the tuberculosis that threatens his life. He dictates to his wife, Cora, the story of 'The Painted Boy', inspired by a real-life encounter with a fifteen-year-old newsboy, Elliott, one wintry day in the Bowery. In the story Elliott is both impressionable and elusive. He finds himself the object of the hopeless affections of Theodore, the staid middle-aged banker who sets him…


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