114 books directly related to Canada 📚

All 114 Canada books as recommended by authors and experts. Updated weekly.

Book cover of Roughing It in the Bush Or, Life in Canada

Roughing It in the Bush Or, Life in Canada

By Susanna Moodie

Why this book?

The gold standard source for what life was like for the hardy souls arriving in Upper Canada in the early 19th century. Although writing from a position of relative privilege, Moodie writes of hardships and deprivations that make the modern reader blanch. We wonder whether we could have survived what she and her family endure.  She writes with richness and great humanity so that we can vividly imagine what it must have been like for her to be taken from the relatively comfortable life she’d known and to make a life in the bush.  Despite her trials and tribulations,…

From the list:

The best books about frontier life in early 19th century Canada

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Book cover of Kingston: The King's Town

Kingston: The King's Town

By James A. Roy

Why this book?

Roy’s history of Kingston is a fiction writer’s dream.  It is crammed with colourful anecdotes and amazing descriptions of life two hundred years ago, each one a possible starting point for a novel.  This is not your dry, elementary school history; Roy’s account sweats and stinks, crackles and clangs, chews and spits. He writes of revolting spectacles such as “disfigured or putrified or naked human bodies lying exposed on the shores of the town, or kept afloat and fastened by a rope while the preparations for interment were being made.” Life in a frontier town was not for the faint…

From the list:

The best books about frontier life in early 19th century Canada

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Book cover of The Gentleman's Bottle Companion: A Collection of Eighteenth Century Bawdy Ballads

The Gentleman's Bottle Companion: A Collection of Eighteenth Century Bawdy Ballads

By P. Harris Publishing

Why this book?

Bottle and Glass is set in actual, historical Kingston taverns from the early 1800’s. It is said that there was then a drinking shop in town for every seventh male adult and one visitor claimed that two thirds of the people he passed on the road were drunk. In 1812, when Kingston had a population of less than four thousand, it had about eighty taverns.  So, the Bottle Companion, published in 1768, is a perfect pairing. It is filled with all manner of ribald drinking songs and saucy lyrics, paeans to drink and revelry; it helps set the tone…

From the list:

The best books about frontier life in early 19th century Canada

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Book cover of 2021 Night Sky Almanac: A Month-By-Month Guide to North America's Skies from the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada

2021 Night Sky Almanac: A Month-By-Month Guide to North America's Skies from the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada

By Nicole Mortillaro

Why this book?

One of the challenges with stargazing books is that the sky is always changing. The planets are in a different place every night, new comets are discovered, and the timing of eclipses varies from year to year. This is why the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (RASC) produces an annual night sky Almanac. This simple guide details exactly which astronomical events will occur during each month of the current year! Also, the author, Nicole Mortillaro, is just a super cool person. Be sure to follow her on social media for the latest news about everything space!

From the list:

The best books on stargazing

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Book cover of Black Water: Family, Legacy, and Blood Memory

Black Water: Family, Legacy, and Blood Memory

By David A. Robertson

Why this book?

David Robertson is well known as an author for young readers, with two stunning picture books, a pile of graphic novels, and several amazing middle-grade novels to his name. All of those are also amazing! Yep, all of them. This book is the memoir of his experiences growing up in Canada, all explored through the lens of visiting his father’s trapline. Although a Swampy Cree man, he was initially taught to hide his identity, and what I most love about this work and all of Robertson’s work, is how his sense of identity now roots all of his writing. His…

From the list:

The best books to explore brilliant writing from Canada

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Book cover of Gutter Child

Gutter Child

By Jael Richardson

Why this book?

This book pick is a dystopic novel about a young woman in a world that separates between those who are from the Gutter and those who are not. I love the intensity of this coming-of-age story, and the compelling writing and voice, for sure. But most of all I love the main character Elimina. She is smart and passionate, fierce and loving, and I defy any reader not to fall a bit in love with her. The world she’s born into pushes her down, and yet she rises above stigma and subverts society to become a beacon for those around…

From the list:

The best books to explore brilliant writing from Canada

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Book cover of The Centaur's Wife

The Centaur's Wife

By Amanda Leduc

Why this book?

Not-so-secretly I wish I lived in a fairy story (maybe other writers feel like this too?) This novel is a fairy story for adults in the bravest and most beautiful way. The book begins with a meteor shower and features a real centaur and a love story at its heart that spirals out and impacts the survivors of the end of the world. At least, it’s the end of one world. The characters in The Centaur’s Wife are vivid and true, and the gorgeous, strange story lingers with me all the time, reminding me to be braver on the page…

From the list:

The best books to explore brilliant writing from Canada

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Book cover of Westward Vikings: The Saga of L'Anse Aux Meadows

Westward Vikings: The Saga of L'Anse Aux Meadows

By Birgitta Linderoth Wallace

Why this book?

Birgitta Wallace spent decades at L’Anse aux Meadows, which she excavated and expertly interpreted. The happy coincidence of a supremely important site being placed in the hands of a supremely gifted archaeologist has been a boon for both public and scholarly understanding of the site. This lavishly illustrated book is at once a guidebook for the site and an account of its historical significance. 

From the list:

The best books about the Norse in Canada

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Book cover of The New Land with the Green Meadows

The New Land with the Green Meadows

By Anne Stine Ingstad

Why this book?

The Norse site at L’Anse aux Meadows was discovered by the Norwegian explorer Helge Ingstad in 1960. The following year he returned to the site with his wife Anne Stina, a trained archaeologist who led the annual summer excavations until 1968. This book is her memoir of the digs, which was published in Norwegian in 1975 and translated for the predecessor to this edition in 2006. The book ranges beyond the archaeology to encompass an evocative and sometimes lyrical account of the Ingstads’ spartan life on the site, its moments of great excitement when Norse artefacts were found, and their…

From the list:

The best books about the Norse in Canada

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Book cover of Aqueduct: Colonialism, Resources, and the Histories We Remember

Aqueduct: Colonialism, Resources, and the Histories We Remember

By Adele Perry

Why this book?

I really love this study because it provides a crystal-clear example of how colonialism and dispossession have worked in Canada from the legal, cultural, political, and social angles. It also delves into the topic of the histories we, as a country, choose to remember and those we choose to forget, as well as the issue of who is forgotten in the process. 

From the list:

The best books on belonging and exclusion in Canada

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Book cover of Broken Ground

Broken Ground

By Jack Hodgins

Why this book?

Jack Hodgins, Western Canada’s literary wunderkind, put Vancouver Island on the literary map with his short stories and novels which demonstrate the truth in the adage “write about what you know”. As a writer I learned this from Jack and I also learned that if I find a subject fascinating my readers will too. In Broken Ground, his seventh novel, Jack writes about World War One veterans, still haunted by the horror of the trenches, as they struggle to farm amid the massive stumps of a former old growth forest.

From the list:

The best books that reveal the hidden history of Western Canada

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Book cover of Canada and immigration: Public policy and public concern

Canada and immigration: Public policy and public concern

By Freda Hawkins

Why this book?

This book, which was written when serious questions were being asked about Canadian immigration, is a gold mine of information on this delicate and emotional subject. The research is both extensive and meticulous. Moreover, the author does not just cite and explain facts about events and circumstances, she also provides clues as to what she feels constitutes an immigration policy.

From the list:

The best books to capture Canada’s colourful immigration history

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Book cover of The Little Immigrants: The Orphans Who Came to Canada

The Little Immigrants: The Orphans Who Came to Canada

By Kenneth Bagnell

Why this book?

Journalist, author, and retired United Church minister, Kenneth Bagnell has written a vivid account of the thousands of slum children (not all of them were orphans) who were dispatched to Canada from 1869 to the late 1930s by well-meaning philanthropists, philanthropic rescue homes, and parish workhouse schools. At the time, this seemed to be the ideal solution to a two-pronged problem: what to do with the tens of thousands of children from the slums of Britain who faced a bleak future there and how to meet the soaring demand for cheap labour on Canadian farms.

From the list:

The best books to capture Canada’s colourful immigration history

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Book cover of Invisible Immigrants: The English in Canada since 1945

Invisible Immigrants: The English in Canada since 1945

By Marilyn Barber, Murray Watson

Why this book?

Although the English are among the largest immigrant groups contributing to the development of modern Canada, their story remained, for the most part, untold until the publication of this book in 2015. In this carefully researched work of popular history, Marilyn Barber and Murray Watson recount the personal experiences of English immigrants who elected to come to Canada between the 1940s and 1970s, England’s last major wave of emigration. Most of these postwar English immigrants thought they were going to a country whose language and culture would be familiar. Instead, like other immigrants, they contended with separation from loved ones…

From the list:

The best books to capture Canada’s colourful immigration history

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Book cover of Farmer Joe's Hot Day: A Scholastic Canada Reader

Farmer Joe's Hot Day: A Scholastic Canada Reader

By Nancy Wilcox Richards, Werner Zimmerman

Why this book?

As a kids’ storyteller, I’ve often used this book, and it bears telling even without its gently comic pictures. When Farmer Joe complains of his daily toil, his clever wife tricks him into becoming so uncomfortable that, once returned to normal conditions, he will never complain again! The story carries a message about positive attitude, without being didactic. Best of all, kids can chuckle along with Farmer Joe’s wife, understanding her trick while hapless Joe does not. Kids, in my experience, love to be smarter than at least one grownup in a story, and this book delivers that in spades! 

From the list:

The best kids' stories for bedtime, travel-time, and fireside (even without the book)

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Book cover of A Troublesome Berth: The Journal of First Lieutenant Charles Allan Parker, Royal Marines: The Canada Years, 1838-1840

A Troublesome Berth: The Journal of First Lieutenant Charles Allan Parker, Royal Marines: The Canada Years, 1838-1840

By Rosalyn Parker, R. Andrews

Why this book?

I used Parker’s journal extensively in my research for Bottle and Glass.  It is the account of a British officer arriving in the Canadian wilderness for the first time. Parker’s style is very much modern and journalistic, giving an immediacy to the wonder and apprehension he has for his new surroundings.  The reader is right there with him marveling over the rudeness of frontier life.  A representative quote: “Kingston is one of the dirtiest, or rather muddiest places I have ever been in, even in my extensive peregrinations; it is the worst lighted, and most miserably paved place I…

From the list:

The best books about frontier life in early 19th century Canada

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Book cover of Bookweird

Bookweird

By Paul Glennon

Why this book?

A gentler, kinder version of Inkheart and The Untold Tale, this novel is still thrilling. I love the idea of consuming a book as literally as we do figuratively. In this one, our protagonist absentmindedly eats a page out of his favourite bedtime story and wakes up inside it. He has to hop from story to story to get home, crossing through his sister’s horse books and many an adventure before making it safe to his own bed. I think it’s totally charming.

From the list:

The best meta-fiction books about books

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Book cover of Three Centuries and the Island: A Historical Geography of Settlement and Agriculture in Prince Edward Island, Canada

Three Centuries and the Island: A Historical Geography of Settlement and Agriculture in Prince Edward Island, Canada

By Andrew Hill Clark

Why this book?

Though published more than 60 years ago—and therefore a little dated—this study remains highly useful. Clark opens with the Island’s natural geography and then looks at how its resources were used by the Mi’kmaq and subsequent settlers of Acadian, Scottish, Irish, Loyalist, and English backgrounds. The book’s 155 maps and 16 tables illustrate the distribution of the population by area and origin over time and the evolution in crops and livestock from the early 18th to the mid-20th centuries. Readers wanting more recent historical and geographical essays should check out Time and a Place, An Environmental History of…

From the list:

The best books on the history of Prince Edward Island

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Book cover of Home Home

Home Home

By Lisa Allen-Agostini

Why this book?

The interiority of a depressed, perpetually anxious, and possibly suicidal teen girl recently relocated from Trinidad to Canada is captured with detail and sensitivity. Her trusted circle consists of a single friend from home, her aunt and aunt’s partner with whom she lives in Edmonton, and a new boy, who stirs other complicated feelings in her. The fractures in her relationship with her mother, back home, remain unhealed. It is a deeply melancholic book but it can also potentially make any young person struggling with the same issues feel a little less alone. All of Burt's books are published by…

From the list:

The best teen/YA Caribbean novels for readers everywhere

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Book cover of The Ocean at the End of the Lane

The Ocean at the End of the Lane

By Neil Gaiman, Elise Hurst

Why this book?

The main character is an introverted young boy whose family struggles in his impoverished neighborhood, and he meets an older girl who shares the existence of a local “hellmouth” that she tames using intuitive magic. This book echoes why I’m a diehard Buffy the Vampire Slayer (television show) fan—it takes reality and adds a vortex of supernatural to the already difficult experience of growing up. Gaiman masterfully tells an emotional story, amplifying the feelings of safety and anxiety young people experience as they navigate their need to belong, decipher life, and deal with the family they’re born into. Only 171…

From the list:

The best realistic fiction with a dollop of magic

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Book cover of Good to a Fault

Good to a Fault

By Marina Endicott

Why this book?

This book by Canadian writer Marina Endicott is quirky in all the best ways—smart, tender, heart-wrenching, and quietly hopeful. It is about a lonely, divorced accountant who takes in a homeless family after crashing into their car. The book is gorgeous on the sentence level and the way Endicott writes about the connections and lack of connections between the characters in the book is full of wisdom and pathos. Though the premise is quite simple, the book is full of surprises. 

From the list:

The best books about looking for and finding refuge

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Book cover of Until the Night

Until the Night

By Giles Blunt

Why this book?

Giles Blunt's books show that Scandinavia does not have a monopoly on Nordic Noir. In 2017 we were on vacation in Canada and quite by chance I saw an episode of Cardinal on TV. Only one episode from the first season, but enough to keep me captivated by the story set in the snowy landscapes of Algonquin Bay in Canada. I knew it was based on a book series. When I got home, I immediately found the author and started reading. I chose this book because of some amazing passages that capture the essence of Nordic Noir, among others a…

From the list:

The best Nordic Noir books to get you hooked on this genre

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Book cover of The River

The River

By Peter Heller

Why this book?

This novel is both frightening and gorgeous in its depiction of a wilderness canoe trip gone wrong. The story opens with two young men, with very different personalities but long-time friends, setting out for what they intend to be a relaxing break canoeing whitewater in northern Canada. But the friends get caught up in a terrifying wildfire. The flames’ ferocity and threat are brilliantly evoked, as is the human danger posed by a couple encountered along the river. This is a tale of survival in the wilderness, mystery, and violence. It is all beautifully and movingly captured – witness the…

From the list:

The best books that reveal the beauty, threat, and fascination of the natural world

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Book cover of Beardmore, 246: The Viking Hoax That Rewrote History

Beardmore, 246: The Viking Hoax That Rewrote History

By Douglas Hunter

Why this book?

The discovery of artefacts from a Viking grave in northern Ontario in 1936 was a sensation, and their subsequent display in the Royal Ontario Museum added a new dimension to the colonial history of Canada. The exposure of the discovery as a hoax in 1956 damaged the reputation of the Museum and its director. Hunter’s account, which is securely anchored in archival evidence, is skillfully assembled as an unfolding drama. In this book, the Beardmore hoax has received its definitive treatment by a scholar who writes brilliantly for a general audience.

From the list:

The best books about the Norse in Canada

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Book cover of In the Province of History: The Making of the Public Past in Twentieth-Century Nova Scotia

In the Province of History: The Making of the Public Past in Twentieth-Century Nova Scotia

By Ian McKay, Robin Bates

Why this book?

This book is an eye-opening account of how the history of Nova Scotia became distorted in the interest of attracting tourists. This manufactured history exalts whiteness and masculinity, and quietly excludes ethnic minorities and women. The Yarmouth runestone, which is adduced as evidence that the Norse landed in Yarmouth, is an important artefact in this ideological history, and the authors give an excellent account of its history and its place in tourist history. 

From the list:

The best books about the Norse in Canada

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Book cover of Exalted Subjects: Studies in the Making of Race and Nation in Canada

Exalted Subjects: Studies in the Making of Race and Nation in Canada

By Sunera Thobani

Why this book?

This is an exceptionally well-written and meaningful study that has greatly helped me understand how the national subject is conceptualized in Canada. As an immigrant to this country who became a citizen through a challenging and demoralizing process, this book has enabled me to see how some of us are framed as belonging while others are excluded from the Canadian nation. I have also learned how (above and beyond the national mythology surrounding it) multiculturalism has been deployed to boost Canada’s profile as a liberalizing nation while, at the same time, operating as a tool to control ethnic and religious…

From the list:

The best books on belonging and exclusion in Canada

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Book cover of Rethinking Normalcy: A Disability Studies Reader

Rethinking Normalcy: A Disability Studies Reader

By Tanya Titchkosky, Rod Michalko

Why this book?

As a person with a disability, this collection spoke to my direct experience of exclusion in Canadian society. Because every chapter is written by a different scholar in the field of disability studies, this edited collection is able to present a diverse range of perspectives that really resonate with the reader, and provocatively question the concept of ‘normalcy’ that is at the root of the discrimination against those of us who do not fit in.

From the list:

The best books on belonging and exclusion in Canada

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Book cover of Dying from Improvement: Inquests and Inquiries Into Indigenous Deaths in Custody

Dying from Improvement: Inquests and Inquiries Into Indigenous Deaths in Custody

By Sherene Razack

Why this book?

I was not born in Canada and I only arrived here in my early twenties without being aware of the colonial past or present of my new home. This study has helped me understand that portion of Canadian history and its present repercussions. Equally important, it has highlighted how Indigenous persons have and continue to be dehumanized, excluded and ‘othered’ across the country. 

From the list:

The best books on belonging and exclusion in Canada

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Book cover of The Dunsmuir Saga

The Dunsmuir Saga

By Terry Reksten

Why this book?

The late Terry Reksten, a researcher par excellence, spent much of her career writing about Robert Dunsmuir, a former indentured coal miner who became the richest man in British Columbia, and his descendants. Terry devoted most of this book to the building of Craigdarroch Castle and to the way Dunsmuir’s children and grandchildren spent his fortune, but it complements the coal mining books I have written that tell the stories of the men who dug the coal that built that fortune.

From the list:

The best books that reveal the hidden history of Western Canada

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Book cover of The Church in the Canadian Era

The Church in the Canadian Era

By John Webster Grant

Why this book?

In the sixteen years between this book’s two editions, religion in Canada underwent a revolution. John Webster Grant’s history of developments in Canada’s first century after Confederation (1867-1967) sparkled with wit, limpid prose, and telling incidents succinctly portrayed. His deep research in French sources, as well as English, made for an exceptionally well-balanced account of both Protestants and Catholics, both Quebec and the rest of Canada. The new chapter he added in 1988 was just as informative, perceptive, and wise about the difficult days for the churches that began so suddenly in the 1960s.

From the list:

The best books on the history of Christianity in Canada

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Book cover of A Church with the Soul of a Nation: Making and Remaking the United Church of Canada

A Church with the Soul of a Nation: Making and Remaking the United Church of Canada

By Phyllis D Airhart

Why this book?

The United Church of Canada began in 1925 with the merger of the nation’s Methodists, Congregationalists, union churches in the West, and two-thirds of its Presbyterians. The church’s early leaders aspired to guide all of Protestant Canada, indeed the whole nation, in realizing the best of activistic Methodism, theologically consequential Presbyterianism, and the social potential of ecumenical cooperation. Airhart’s empathetic study shows how powerfully the United Church contributed to moving Canada in the direction of humane social development, but then how internal divisions and the growing secularism of Canadian society frustrated the grand nationalistic and spiritual visions with which the…

From the list:

The best books on the history of Christianity in Canada

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Book cover of Older Sister. Not Necessarily Related: A Memoir

Older Sister. Not Necessarily Related: A Memoir

By Jenny Heijun Wills

Why this book?

Jenny Heijun Wills was born in South Korea and adopted by a white Canadian family. She not only had to navigate being Asian in a white world, but she also struggled to find her place within a family that sought to give her a safe home. In her twenties, she returned to Korea to meet her birth family. Told in diary form, Wills navigates her journey to find home while fighting language and cultural barriers. It is a raw and emotional story. It makes me think of my own struggles growing up in Detroit. The faces I saw at home…

From the list:

The best memoirs from tickling your funny bone to breaking your heart

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Book cover of Facing Eugenics: Reproduction, Sterilization, and the Politics of Choice

Facing Eugenics: Reproduction, Sterilization, and the Politics of Choice

By Erika Dyck

Why this book?

This is the most important book to read if you want to understand (a) eugenics generally and (b) how it played out in Alberta, the part of Canada where these ideas got the most traction. Dyck is a great historian, but even better, she does not forget that history is about real people. Her history is detailed and thorough, but it is not dry. She uses all kinds of interesting sources including courtroom evidence and personal records to bring the issues to life. She also moves the story forward by writing about abortion in the 1970s and 1980s and shows…

From the list:

The best books on how eugenics came to Canada

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Book cover of Growing a Race: Nellie L. McClung and the Fiction of Eugenic Feminism

Growing a Race: Nellie L. McClung and the Fiction of Eugenic Feminism

By Cecily Devereux

Why this book?

Nellie McClung, one of the “famous five,” is a well-known name in Canadian history for her role in fighting for the vote for women. But it turns out she was also a eugenicist. This book does a great job of knitting those two elements together and explaining not just why so many early feminists also believed in eugenic principles but how those principles were part of the same thinking. One of the challenges in understanding eugenics is answering the question of how it was that ideas, which we find repugnant today, had such power a hundred years ago. Devereux’s Introduction…

From the list:

The best books on how eugenics came to Canada

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Book cover of 10,000 Nos: How to Overcome Rejection on the Way to Your Yes

10,000 Nos: How to Overcome Rejection on the Way to Your Yes

By Matthew Del Negro

Why this book?

Matt is an actor, which means he is constantly jockeying for jobs in what might be the most competitive industry on the planet. He explains that dealing with rejection and coming back after failure is part of the process of getting to the “YES” that you want in life. He shares advice from his interviews with bestselling authors, world-class athletes, successful entrepreneurs, and other actors—all of whom share their stories of rejection and defeat and make us realize that hearing “NO” does not mean you will not achieve your dreams – it just means that you need to try again,…

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The best books on how to tackle life’s mountains

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Book cover of Louisbourg : The Phoenix Fortress

Louisbourg : The Phoenix Fortress

By A.J.B. Johnston

Why this book?

This book is a true marriage of images and words. The photographer and the writer worked closely together to establish the central storylines they wanted to communicate — under the themes of seaport, fortress, and community. They then chose the best photos to illustrate and enliven the evocative text. Reardon’s photos are outstanding. They highlight the many moods, colors, and characteristics of the renowned Canadian national historic site. First published in 1990, the book remains a wonderful photographic portrayal of the Fortress of Louisbourg and its costumed animators.

From the list:

The best books on the history of Canada’s fortress of Louisbourg

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Book cover of Winterhouse

Winterhouse

By Ben Guterson, Chloe Bristol

Why this book?

It’s fun to travel and stay at hotels, so I couldn’t resist this mystery set in a very mysterious and magical hotel. When orphaned Elizabeth is sent away to Winterhouse Hotel, she finds a puzzle book and solves cryptic clues that lead to secret passages and magic. Readers will enjoy trying to decipher the secret codes and clever puzzles. Enjoy!!
From the list:

The best books to hook young readers on puzzling and magical mysteries

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Book cover of Exposure: An Epiphany Novel

Exposure: An Epiphany Novel

By Ember Dante

Why this book?

The characters in Exposure are well developed and likable, and the story was captivating from beginning to end. It had the right mix of tension and humor. Readers who enjoy spicy romances with some family drama thrown in will love this book. Loyalty is a double-edged sword, especially when dealing with family.

From the list:

The best books to heat up your nights

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Book cover of Old Indian Trails of the Canadian Rockies

Old Indian Trails of the Canadian Rockies

By Mary T.S. Schaffer

Why this book?

The best travel writing allows us to explore a place vicariously and this book certainly does that. But it also gives a sense of what it is like to explore as a woman and on horseback, two things I cannot claim to have ever done. It is rich with insights into the nature of the land and people. And it is sensitive without being sentimental. Schaffer was a true pioneer and the book gives a sense she would have been good company too. 

From the list:

The best books for the intelligent traveller

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Book cover of How to Pronounce Knife: Stories

How to Pronounce Knife: Stories

By Souvankham Thammavongsa

Why this book?

In these stripped-down stories, the minute observations are just as significant as the broader strokes the writer uses to depict the lives of refugees, people at the margins. Told mostly from the perspective of a Laotian adolescent, the characters are each trying to understand the steps they must take to fit into their new barricaded lives. In spite of the claustrophobia that encloses the characters, the stories are funny and tender. 

From the list:

The best books for believing you've found a home

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Book cover of The Gospel Truth

The Gospel Truth

By Caroline Pignat

Why this book?

This verse novel primarily sets the stage for a crucial journey Phoebe, a sixteen-year-old slave, living on a Virginia tobacco plantation in 1858, decides to make that will take her north to freedom. I like to write poetry myself and have favourites among verse novels that have proliferated in recent years. This is one of them. The poetry here is beautifully-crafted and underlines the power of language Phoebe has discovered, having taught herself to read. Pignat alternates viewpoints as she presents a cast of characters that includes a Canadian doctor posing as a birdwatcher who helps slaves escape. Bird imagery…

From the list:

The best historical fiction for young readers featuring journeys

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Book cover of The Stone Angel

The Stone Angel

By Margaret Laurence

Why this book?

Who would have thought that a novel about a ninety-year-old woman determined to avoid being put into a nursing home would become required reading for high school and university students? And yet this novel has been listed by several sources as one of the greatest Canadian novels ever written. Laurence’s writing style inspired me and gave me the assurance to write about Western Canadian history. It demonstrates one of the reasons why Laurence was named posthumously as “A Person of National Historic Significance” by the Canadian government in 2018.

From the list:

The best books that reveal the hidden history of Western Canada

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Book cover of Carry On: Poetry by Young Immigrants

Carry On: Poetry by Young Immigrants

By Various Contributors, Rogé Girard

Why this book?

I love the genesis of this book — a high school writing workshop for newcomers to Quebec, Canada. And I love that within its pages, students from around the world — the Philippines, Uruguay, Pakistan, China, Moldova Iran, South Korea, United Arab Emirates, Israel, and Venezuela — come together to share their personal experiences of seeking peace and security in a new country. Students share the pain and loss of being forced to leave their homes, families, friends, and way of life behind and reflect on their changing identities with strength and vulnerability. Illustrated with expressive portraits by Rogè, the…

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The best middle grade books for understanding what it’s like to be a refugee

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Book cover of Fallen Angel

Fallen Angel

By Jerry Langton

Why this book?

When I’m reading about the biker scene what I’m looking for is the reality that underlies the public image and stereotypes. Jerry Langton doesn’t come across as a big fan of bikers but he’s well connected enough to speak to senior players and he’s a professional writer, so what he has to say is very readable, and to me, informative.

Through telling the extraordinary story of five foot four Walter "Nurget" Stadnick’s rise to criminally visionary national president of the Hell's Angels this book provides one of the best overviews of the development of the outlaw biker world in Canada,…

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The best outlaw biker books

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Book cover of Almighty Voice and His Wife

Almighty Voice and His Wife

By Daniel David Moses

Why this book?

A historical play that tells the story of a single Cree warrior doing battle with the Canadian military. Each of the two acts approaches the story differently. The first is more linear and poetic, the second more lyrical and surreal. Many have said they loved the first act and hated the second. And vice versa. Whatever you may feel, an excellent exploration of colonization as seen through the eyes of a poet.

From the list:

The best Indigenous plays that give the audience a window into the people and community

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Book cover of The Edge

The Edge

By Dick Francis

Why this book?

I tend to distrust frenetic hype around authors, only to be proven wrong again and again. The Edge was the first Dick Francis thriller I was given, and it won me over completely. Part of its charm is the setting – I’d love to take a train journey across Canada! But adding Shakespeare, theater, and horses to the mystery about a blackmailer on board a luxury train won me over completely. Like all the great books of the crime genre, The Edge can be just read for the sheer excitement, but it can also be enjoyed for the underlying themes…

From the list:

The best mysteries set on ships and trains

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Book cover of Ravished by the Spirit: Religious Revivals, Baptists, and Henry Alline

Ravished by the Spirit: Religious Revivals, Baptists, and Henry Alline

By George A. Rawlyk

Why this book?

In his years as a historian at Queen’s University (Kingston, Ontario) Rawlyk inspired a wealth of solid writing on Canada’s religious history, while also inaugurating an ambitious series in religious history for the McGill-Queen’s University press that continues to this day. Rawlyk’s own research detailed the religious history of the Maritime Provinces, especially the dramatic, long-term impact of radical Christian revivals in the period of the American Revolution that were spearheaded by Henry Alline. A special feature of this book is the shrewd assessment of how Canada’s early religious history differed from parallel developments in the United States.

From the list:

The best books on the history of Christianity in Canada

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Book cover of Religion and Public Life in Canada: Historical and Comparative Perspectives

Religion and Public Life in Canada: Historical and Comparative Perspectives

By Marguerite Van Die

Why this book?

This wide-ranging collection of authoritative chapters provides an outstanding general account of Canadian religion at the start of the twenty-first century. Coverage extends across the nation (New Brunswick, Quebec, Toronto, Alberta); the book includes perceptive articles on Catholics, mainline Protestants, and newer evangelical Protestant movements; there is revealing treatment of Jews and Sikhs, residential schools for Natives, and church-guided social reform, efforts of missionary outreach and more. The diverse ways that Canada’s religious organizations have engaged with national public life provide a strongly unifying theme.

From the list:

The best books on the history of Christianity in Canada

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Book cover of A Boy of Good Breeding

A Boy of Good Breeding

By Miriam Toews

Why this book?

Toews is a Canadian writer, not Midwestern, but I’m from Michigan and we tend to lump Canada in with us whenever possible. My list, my rules. The book takes place in the adorable town of Algren with heroine Knute and her daughter Summer Feelin’ as well as a cast of other quirky lovable small-town characters. Toews has the ability to write sweet and funny small-town stories without pandering to stereotypical character tropes. Whenever I think of this book, I think of the peaceful feeling it gave me one summer, reading on my porch steps or leaned over my grocery cart…

From the list:

The best novels with beautifully rendered Midwestern people and places

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Book cover of The Dynamic Laws of Prosperity

The Dynamic Laws of Prosperity

By Catherine Ponder

Why this book?

I read this book when I first moved out to California from Canada. I was living on the beach and having a great time. Catherine Ponder has this energy that is like Tim Robbins and her message is that you can have anything you want if you put your mind to it. It helped me chart my way forward in the entertainment industry and helped me find my path.

From the list:

The best books for seekers, poets, and philosophers on this journey we call life

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Book cover of Where Right and Glory Lead!: The Battle of Lundy's Lane, 1814

Where Right and Glory Lead!: The Battle of Lundy's Lane, 1814

By Donald E. Graves

Why this book?

Canadian Don Graves is the preeminent military historian of the war. No one is better at examining the documentary record and the geographical setting of a battle and reconstructing what happened and presenting it in a coherent and compelling narrative. Graves has written first-class accounts of many of the major battles, but his treatment of the bloody Battle of Lundy’s Lane is perhaps his best work.

From the list:

The best history books on the War of 1812 (along with some primary sources)

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Book cover of How the West Grew Rich: The Economic Transformation of the Industrial World

How the West Grew Rich: The Economic Transformation of the Industrial World

By Nathan Rosenberg, L.E. Birdzell, Jr.

Why this book?

In the late eighteenth century, Adam Smith famously asked: Why are some nations rich and others poor? You probably aren’t going to read Smith’s Wealth of Nations to find out the answer. And thanks to Rosenberg and Birdzell’s readable book, you don’t have to. While more recent books offer complementary accounts of wealth and poverty, How the West Grew Rich remains the best.

From the list:

The best books on economics and political economy

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Book cover of Memoirs and Misinformation

Memoirs and Misinformation

By Jim Carrey, Dana Vachon

Why this book?

For a list of post-apocalyptic books this may seem like an odd choice. Actor, now author, Jim Carrey’s fictionalized autobiography does conclude with the end of the world. I liked seeing his famous friends fighting the alien forces meant to clean up the planet of those who did not choose to surrender. Gweneth Paltrow becoming a gung-ho warrior. Sean Penn plucking a cigarette from his own severed hand. This weird book captivated me.
From the list:

The best books about the end of the world and being the last person on earth

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Book cover of Animal Metropolis: Histories of Human-Animal Relations in Canada

Animal Metropolis: Histories of Human-Animal Relations in Canada

By Joanna Dean, Darcy Ingram, Christabelle Sethna

Why this book?

This book is full of engaging and thoughtful essays focusing on the ways that human-animal histories have shaped so many aspects of life in Canada. From the horses on the streets of Montreal in the 19th century to more recent exploration of captive animals in Vancouver, this book presents an important range of topics that ask the reader to think differently about the histories, spaces, and species they may think they know. I also really appreciate that the University of Calgary Press has published an open access version of this book.

From the list:

The best books about animal history

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Book cover of Alfabet/Alphabet

Alfabet/Alphabet

By Sadiqa de Meijer

Why this book?

Lovers of language will be entranced by this slim volume. The book contains 26 short pieces, each centered around a Dutch word beginning with a different letter of the alphabet and its English translation. Each segment is a poetic meditation on some aspect of the author’s transition from her first home in the Netherlands to her second home in Canada, and with it, her transition from the Dutch language to English. 

The author explores themes such as how English speakers perceive her mother tongue as alien, the profound emotional connection she feels for Dutch, which she describes as “my pulse…

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The best books on immigration and identity

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Book cover of How to Make Love to a Negro Without Getting Tired

How to Make Love to a Negro Without Getting Tired

By Dany Laferrière, David Homel

Why this book?

Of course this title will catch anyone’s attention, but I’m including it here because of how mundane the plot is. It’s just people people’ing and therefore experiencing and learning. They just happen to be all the things they are. It’s a fun and funny ride living in a small Parisian apartment with these characters, eating their food, and laying with their friends. 

From the list:

The best books to read when you need a lil bit of everything to finish one thing

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Book cover of Weird Things Customers Say in Bookstores

Weird Things Customers Say in Bookstores

By Jen Campbell

Why this book?

For any friend of yours that loves laughing or is a bookseller or wonders about the strangeness of human mankind often or has ever been in a bookstore, or all of that together, this is a perfect present. Jen Campbell is a bookseller herself and has a fine and hilarious sense of humour that is very contagious and perfectly capable to turn a rainy Saturday afternoon into some well-lived hours.

From the list:

The best books to give a book lover

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Book cover of The Once and Future World: Nature As It Was, As It Is, As It Could Be

The Once and Future World: Nature As It Was, As It Is, As It Could Be

By J.B. MacKinnon

Why this book?

This book is a joy to read. It tells the story of nature as it once was to help us understand what it will be. And in both cases, humans have been a central element. It changed my views about how we have been tampering with nature for a long time and how the challenges we face today have been centuries in the making. But MacKinnon left me with a message of hope, provoking me to better see our place in nature, how to work with it rather than against it, and in the process become better human beings on…
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The best books on understanding the future in a climate changed world

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Book cover of Probably Ruby: A Novel

Probably Ruby: A Novel

By Lisa Bird-Wilson

Why this book?

I’d be remiss if I shared books from Canada with you and didn’t point you towards some of the amazing writing coming out of Saskatoon, Treaty 6 Territory, and the Homeland of the Métis. Lisa-Bird Wilson's newest book is a beautiful novel about an Indigenous woman’s search for identity after her adoption. Living in Saskatchewan as Canada wrestles with truth and reconciliation, books like Probably Ruby give me a path to understanding and learning. The voice of this novel is searing and gorgeous, filled with heart and light, and I believe anyone who reads it will feel changed by the…

From the list:

The best books to explore brilliant writing from Canada

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Book cover of Many Landfalls of John Cabot

Many Landfalls of John Cabot

By Peter E. Pope

Why this book?

On 24 June 1497, John Cabot landed somewhere on the eastern coast of what is now Canada, yet even today, 500 years later, nobody knows quite where. Once this was an issue that lay behind diplomatic negotiations over who controlled the continent – more recently, they have played a role in different stages of Canadian nationalism. This book is a fascinating description of the various theories and their implications – right up to today.

From the list:

The best books on the European re-discovery of America

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Book cover of Wayne Gretzky's Ghost: And Other Tales from a Lifetime in Hockey

Wayne Gretzky's Ghost: And Other Tales from a Lifetime in Hockey

By Roy MacGregor

Why this book?

As a teenager, I read Roy MacGregor’s profiles of players such as Bryan Trottier, Borje Salming, and Bobby Clarke in The Canadian magazine and it made me want to become a writer. Since then, he’s written many great hockey books, including The Home Team, A Loonie for Luck and the Screech Owl series for young readers. Wayne Gretzky’s Ghost—the title refers to when MacGregor ghostwrote Gretzky’s newspaper column—is a collection of some of his best pieces from 1976 to 2011. Read them and I’m sure you’ll agree MacGregor is the game’s best writer.

From the list:

The best books about the game of hockey

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Book cover of Grounded Authority: The Algonquins of Barriere Lake Against the State

Grounded Authority: The Algonquins of Barriere Lake Against the State

By Shiri Pasternak

Why this book?

Maybe, this book seems tangential to put on the list. It’s about the struggle to maintain legal authority over ancestral land in a part of what is today called eastern “Canada”. The scare quotes are there because older nations still live on this land and have not ceded their authority. The book shows how the very same problems Gardiner detailed are actually the result of the colonial order that has shaped our international politics and its capitalist system. The book also suggests a way out through an “ontology of care” for the land.

From the list:

The best books on how we got here with climate change and mass extinction – and where to go

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Book cover of Canadian Whisky: The New Portable Expert

Canadian Whisky: The New Portable Expert

By Davin de Kergommeaux

Why this book?

Canadians have been making whisky for a few centuries, but drinks experts long have given the nation’s hooch scant attention. This is understandable, as Canadian distillers spent much of the 20th century churning out an ocean of low-priced and bland-tasting blends like Seagrams 7 and Canadian Club. Times have changed, though, and Canada is producing single malts and various high-end, sophisticated whiskies that have garnered international acclaim. David de Kergommeaux is the preeminent expert on whisky in the Great North, and his book is an indispensable guide to anyone who wants to learn the what-and-how of Canadian whisky-making and…

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The best books on whiskey and whisky

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Book cover of Brian’s Winter

Brian’s Winter

By Gary Paulsen

Why this book?

Sometimes a book ends too soon for a reader, or in a way that doesn’t sit right. When that happened to author, Gary Paulsen, he did something about it. He extended the original Hatchet tale in a new book, Brian’s Winter, as if Brian didn’t make it out in autumn and had to winter over. 

If you haven’t read Hatchet, you’re missing a wilderness treat. A real adventure, making you feel like Brian, crash-landed in northern Canada, utterly on your own with one tool. Reading the book, I admit shivering, holding my breath, feeling my hopes rise and…

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The best books for making me feel like I’m someone else, somewhere else

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Book cover of Self

Self

By Yann Martel

Why this book?

This story begins in the first person in the company of a young boy. I lived with him through his early teens and schooling, a huge tragedy, and his fate as the isolated offspring of high-flying achievers, his early experiences, and the casual physical and mental cruelty associated with boarding schools.

Abruptly, I was plunged into the life of a young woman in her late teens, still in the first person. Surprisingly, this overnight transition, both physical and mental, caused me only a short pause to reflect on the nature of gender. I travelled with this developing young woman as…

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The best novels that are character-driven

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Book cover of Cabal

Cabal

By Clive Barker

Why this book?

This is one from my teenage years, and one of the first examples I read of 'monsters' having more humanity than a lot of humans.

On the surface, it's a good, pacey horror story about an institutionalised man who has been convinced that he's a murderer. But the themes of exclusion and belonging really speak to me, especially as a queer man who lives with anxiety and depression. The authority figures aren't to be trusted. The 'monstrous' is welcoming. The 'unnatural' is natural. Barker’s prose is flat-out gorgeous in places: "They were what the species he'd once belonged to could…

From the list:

The best books to warm your heart and freeze your soul

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Book cover of With No Remorse

With No Remorse

By Cindy Gerard

Why this book?

This book jumps off the page from moment one and doesn't let up. But along the way, I got to know and love the two leads, completely different people thrown together, overcoming their baggage to stay alive, and find love. Valentina is a supermodel and he’s a Back Ops Inc bad dude who had a teenage crush on Val and now gets to save her from bad guys who are trying to abduct her. Luke, however bad and yet cavalier he may come off, his hiding some serious baggage that he gets to unpack in this high-rolling story. 

From the list:

The best action/suspense romance books with hot heroes and heart

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Book cover of Megiddo's Shadow

Megiddo's Shadow

By Arthur Slade

Why this book?

Several things drew me to Megiddo's Shadow: 1.) It is based on author Arthur Slade’s research of his grandfather’s experience as a teenager—age 16—in the Canadian-British calvary. 2.) It takes place in 1917 during World War I. 3.) Much of the action takes place in the Middle East. Even though this story does take place on the battlefield at times, the primary story is not about military campaigns. Rather, it’s about a young man who begins his journey as a patriot with visions of grandeur, yet has his ideals of heroism and courage turned upside after his experiences in…
From the list:

The best war books that go beyond bombs: how war affects families

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Book cover of The Last Imaginary Place: A Human History of the Arctic World

The Last Imaginary Place: A Human History of the Arctic World

By Robert McGhee

Why this book?

This book by a distinguished Canadian archaeologist is the finest overview of the human history of the circumpolar region. Its twin concerns are the indigenous peoples of the Arctic and the impact of intruders from the south. It is unusual in its coverage of the Russian and Scandinavian Arctic. The excellent account of the Norse colonies in Greenland feeds into a compelling analysis (through the prism of trade goods) of Norse penetration into the territories of the Dorset and Thule peoples. 

From the list:

The best books about the Norse in Canada

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Book cover of Outlaws: Inside the Violent World of Biker Gangs

Outlaws: Inside the Violent World of Biker Gangs

By Tony Thompson

Why this book?

One of my reasons for starting to write about the UK outlaw biker scene in particular was that no one else seemed to be treating it seriously. That all changed when Tony Thompson, a highly respected journalist with a track record of highly readable and successful books on the UK gangland and crime scene produced this.

This book is the biography of ex-Outlaws MC member Daniel "Snake Dog" Boone, but through it, Thompson tells the wider story of the development of the UK outlaw biker scene since the eighties and how it has been affected by international biker politics, up…

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The best outlaw biker books

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Book cover of The Canadian Connection

The Canadian Connection

By Jean-Pierre Charbonneau

Why this book?

The Canadian Connection is an expose of the mafia in Canada and its implications for international crime operations. It was first published in French in the mid-1970s and immediately went on to become a national bestseller. There was a time in Quebec when you couldn’t turn the page of a newspaper without seeing an ad with an order form urging you to buy this “Shocking! Chilling!” book that revealed “Names! Dates! Locations!” Jean-Pierre Charbonneau is today considered one of the godfathers of Quebec writings on organized crime. The Canadian Connection is largely forgotten in English-speaking Canada and widely unknown to…

From the list:

The best books to fall down a rabbit hole

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Book cover of The Speed of Trust: The One Thing That Changes Everything

The Speed of Trust: The One Thing That Changes Everything

By Stephen M. R. Covey, Rebecca R. Merrill

Why this book?

I love this book because I am sucker for structure. When I hear that some critical skill is a “function of judgment, timing, and experience,” or that you have “put in the 10,000 hours” to master it, I rebel. Maybe I’m too impatient, but I immediately want to figure out what good looks like, so I can at least start heading in the right direction. So when Covey brought that kind of thinking to the topic of trust, I was intrigued; and he did not disappoint. Speed of Trust not only makes the case for building trust (which we all…

From the list:

The best books for negotiations that really matter

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Book cover of Wolf of Wessex

Wolf of Wessex

By Matthew Harffy

Why this book?

Mathew Harffy has a lot going for him in the historical fiction world. His fight scenes are not overly technical and are easy to follow. They have just the right amount of blood and gore to make you believe the characters are really in danger but are not simply gratuitous violence. What I really love about this book is his voice when he writes descriptions of the forest and the people who live in it. I grew up in the woods of a small town in Canada, and I know how the forest can be a peaceful, tranquil setting one…

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The best books with realistic fight scenes

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Book cover of The Palliser Novels

The Palliser Novels

By Anthony Trollope

Why this book?

While walking through a Barnes and Noble some thirty years ago, I stumbled upon Anthony Trollope—probably because he took up about three whole shelves. Curious, I chose one of his fifty novels and then another and another until I concluded that he is undoubtedly one of the most underrated authors in the English language. Both of his series—The Chronicles of Barsetshire and The Pallisers—make Downton Abbey look like upstairs/downstairs-lite. Highly recommended! 

From the list:

The best books if you love upstairs/downstairs historical sagas with a mystery twist

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Book cover of The Days of Abandonment

The Days of Abandonment

By Elena Ferrante, Ann Goldstein

Why this book?

I read this novel feverishly, over a decade ago. Ferrante’s calm, snaking sentences yanked me into this book with a compulsive gravity. After her husband leaves her, the narrator, Olga, struggles to care for her two children. She forgets herself in her daily rounds — driving absently, denting fenders, braking at the last minute — “angrily, as if reality were inappropriate.”

Throughout this novel, Ferrante presents a devastating (yet somehow gratifying) portrait of feminine rage. When I first read this novel, still in my twenties, still generally polite and obliging, I recognized something frightening: the scorn of a woman who’s…

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The best books featuring transgressive mothers

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Book cover of The West Beyond the West: A History of British Columbia

The West Beyond the West: A History of British Columbia

By Jean Barman

Why this book?

A mule-drawn wagon train moves precariously along a narrow road carved out of a steep rock wall—this book lives up to the promise of its cover. The book jacket blurb entices lovers of history like me: “British Columbia is regularly described in superlatives both positive and negative—the most spectacular scenery, the strangest political campaigns, the mildest winters, the most rain, the most aggressive resource developers, the biggest peace and environmental movements, the closest Canadian ties to Japan and China, and the richest native culture.” The author, Jean Barman, is one of my mentors and an inspiration to everyone who is…

From the list:

The best books that reveal the hidden history of Western Canada

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Book cover of The Englishman's Boy: A Novel

The Englishman's Boy: A Novel

By Guy Vanderhaeghe

Why this book?

I love a book that weaves fiction into historical events. The Cypress Hills are on the Canadian side of the international border where it cuts through the North American central plain. This was a gathering place for First Nations and Metis people, but the area also attracted American whisky traders and wolf hunters. The reasons for the massacre that occurred in 1873 are disputed, but fifty years later, the last living survivor, by then a grizzled bit player in Hollywood, tells his story to a young screenwriter.

From the list:

The best books that reveal the hidden history of Western Canada

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Book cover of Still Falling

Still Falling

By Martin Wilsey

Why this book?

Good sweet lawd of mercy, if you want ass-kicking, read Marty Wilsey. Ass-kicking with guns? Yes. Ass-kicking with fists? Yes. Ass-kicking with blades? Yes. Ass-kicking with good writing? You better believe it. This is Wilsey’s debut book, and it opens up his breakneck-paced sci-fi repertoire. High recommended. 

From the list:

The best books with some serious ass-kicking

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Book cover of The Eden Express

The Eden Express

By Mark Vonnegut

Why this book?

The memoirist, son of Kurt Vonnegut, sets out with his girlfriend and his dog in a VW Beetle to establish a commune in Canada in the early 70s. Two things go wrong: First, society proves to be mostly supportive; and second, Mark begins having schizophrenic episodes. Aside from being a groovy hippie yarn and a guide on how to set up a commune, this book shows that sometimes, in the struggle against the crazy world, the craziness turns out to be inside us.   

From the list:

The best books about the struggle of the individual in the crazy world

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Book cover of Landslide

Landslide

By Susan Conley

Why this book?

Oh, this book is perfect from the first page. It captures motherhood wonderfully and specifically—in this case, mothering two teenage boys—and it just as successfully captures the Maine coast and the complicated, sometimes fragile ecosystem of a marriage.

Jill is a documentary filmmaker who’s temporarily a single parent to her boys while her husband, a fisherman, recovers in a hospital from a boating accident. There’s nothing flashy about the story—it’s a smart, lovely, often funny look at one woman’s life. It’s a deeply contented life, by the way, which means the stakes are very high when the foundation of it…

From the list:

The best novels about women who love their job and do not feel guilty about it

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Book cover of A Thousand Shall Fall

A Thousand Shall Fall

By Murray Peden

Why this book?

As a pilot with Bomber Command, Murray Peden flew thirty combat missions and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. While many bomber veterans have written solid memoirs to their experiences, this book is also a fine examination of the Bomber Command Campaign. To my knowledge, no other memoir of Bomber Command garnered the praise of its British Commander, Royal Air Force Marshal, Sir Arthur (Bomber) Harris. “I consider it not only the best and most true to life ‘war’ book I’ve ever read about this war, but the best about all the wars of my lifetime,” Harris wrote. Not only…

From the list:

The best books by Canadians on their World War 2 service

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Book cover of The Book of Secrets: 112 Meditations to Discover the Mystery Within

The Book of Secrets: 112 Meditations to Discover the Mystery Within

By Osho

Why this book?

The next one on my list of the top 5 spiritual books is The Book of Secrets by Osho. He is my favorite spiritual teacher, and although he never wrote any books, the texts from his speeches were published in several compilations. Everything you read from him can be useful, but this book stands above the rest in its length, depth and practicality.

This book is based on a 5000 year old tantric scripture consisting of 112 meditations to achieve liberation. What Osho basically does is that he adds commentaries and his own experiences to each of the techniques, thereby…

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The best spiritual books only a few people read

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Book cover of First Thousand Words in Portuguese

First Thousand Words in Portuguese

By Heather Amery

Why this book?

This is a great book to help you learn some basic Portuguese words quickly. It is also in European Portuguese, unlike many other books that cover the Brazilian language (always something to watch out for when you are looking to learn Portuguese). This is a nicely illustrated book with labelled pictures and scenes that help you start to construct basic sentences – and you have the fun of trying to spot the hidden duck on every page too! I have struggled with learning and recalling Portuguese words, but the basics in this book are easy to remember and cover most…

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The best books on moving to Portugal

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Book cover of Practical Portuguese: Language for Living in Portugal

Practical Portuguese: Language for Living in Portugal

By Sheila Watts

Why this book?

This is a hard book to get hold of, but worth hunting down if you want to begin to speak the Portuguese language with some fluency. Sheila moved to live in Portugal in 1987 and found most of the language guidebooks were of little use to her as she tried to navigate her way around the day-to-day reality of living in the Algarve. This is a book for people who live and work here, rather than a phrasebook that would help you book a taxi or order food at a restaurant while you are on holiday. I have found Portuguese…

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The best books on moving to Portugal

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Book cover of Unikkaaqtuat: An Introduction to Inuit Myths and Legends

Unikkaaqtuat: An Introduction to Inuit Myths and Legends

By Neil Christopher

Why this book?

Living high in the world’s Arctic regions, Inuit civilization remained largely free of European influences until the twentieth century, allowing its traditions to remain relatively intact into the modern era. Like the Norse, Inuit are a people of wolves and sea monsters and giants. But while the Norse focus mainly on male gods and supernatural warriors, Inuit legends are full of female deities and resourceful humans, making for an arguably more relatable and compelling mythology. Neil Christopher’s immensely readable compendium of Inuit myths is a great introduction to this vibrant tradition.

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The best mythology books beyond the Greeks

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Book cover of The Wild North Land: Being the Story of a Winter Journey, with Dogs, Across Northern North America

The Wild North Land: Being the Story of a Winter Journey, with Dogs, Across Northern North America

By William Francis Butler

Why this book?

A book that falls between Lummis and Steinbeck chronologically is William Francis Butler’s The Wild North Land: Being the Story of a Winter Journey, with Dogs, Across Northern North America, an account of his retracing of the route of the 18th-century Scottish explorer Alexander McKenzie who traversed much of Canada from Lake Chipewyan in Alberta to the Pacific Ocean. Butler had a dog team whose leader was Cerf-Vola, who distinguished himself for his sagacity and strength. Ultimately, Butler retired him from sled duty to dog companion. That relationship did not prevent Butler from giving the dog to an acquaintance…
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The best American books on travels with dogs

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Book cover of Taiwanese Feet: My walk around Taiwan

Taiwanese Feet: My walk around Taiwan

By John Groot

Why this book?

A down-to-earth account of Canadian ex-pat John Groot’s circumnavigation, on foot and in stages, around the island’s entire 1,200 kilometers of coastline. Looking for a big adventure and also hoping to connect more deeply to the land and its people, he set off from his home in Danshui in late 2006. He walked on weekends and other days off, a total of 83 walking days spread out over eight years.

Groot’s epic trek is related with good humor, whether highlights like exploring the majestic East Coast, with its sea cliffs and soaring backdrop of mountains, or low points such as…

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The best travel books about Taiwan and why you should visit

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Book cover of Two Trees Make a Forest: In Search of My Family's Past Among Taiwan's Mountains and Coasts

Two Trees Make a Forest: In Search of My Family's Past Among Taiwan's Mountains and Coasts

By Jessica J. Lee

Why this book?

Canadian Jessica Lee comes to Taiwan to unravel some family history (her grandfather, a pilot with the Flying Tigers, was part of the exodus to the island following the Nationalists’ defeat in China). A nature writer, Lee also investigates Taiwan’s beautiful mountain areas. The result is a well-written but sometimes odd mix of a family story and Taiwan’s plants. The country’s remarkable flora has too long been ignored in English-language works so it’s good to have it showcased, and by a capable writer. Two Trees Make a Forest is one of the most highly praised Taiwan titles of recent years.

From the list:

The best travel books about Taiwan and why you should visit

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Book cover of Louisbourg Portraits

Louisbourg Portraits

By Christopher Moore

Why this book?

Using a wide range of original sources — diaries, letters, official correspondence, criminal cases, and maps and plans — Christopher Moore does a terrific job in this book of presenting the world of 18th-century Louisbourg. He restores to vivid life five people who actually walked the streets of the colony over two and a half centuries ago. Through the dramatically different stories of those five individuals, Moore offers innumerable insights into what society and culture was like in the French colonial town. First published in 1982, the book won Canada’s Governor General’s prize for best non-fiction book of…

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The best books on the history of Canada’s fortress of Louisbourg

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Book cover of Giving Thanks: A Native American Good Morning Message

Giving Thanks: A Native American Good Morning Message

By Chief Jake Swamp, Erwin Printup, Jr.

Why this book?

I love the simple elegance of the Haudenosaunee (Six Nations) Thanksgiving address because it considers nature a gift. The address, on which this book is based, is spoken before every ceremonial or governmental gathering of the Six Nations (Mohawk, Oneida, Cayuga, Onondaga, Seneca, and Tuscarora). Children greet the world with the address each morning. They thank the people, the waters, the grasses, the plants, the animals, the winds, the rain, the Sun, the Moon, and the stars of the night sky. What a perfect way to stay connected to Nature!

Perfect for kids ages 5-11.

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The best nature books to WOW! kids and teens

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Book cover of Winged Wonders: Solving the Monarch Migration Mystery

Winged Wonders: Solving the Monarch Migration Mystery

By Meeg Pincus, Yas Imamura

Why this book?

Monarch butterflies make a migration of thousands of miles every year, visiting milkweed plants throughout the USA and Canada before migrating south to overwinter in Central Mexico. This lyrical and narrative nonfiction science mystery tells the story of how scientists and ordinary people – citizen scientists – discovered the paths monarchs take in their annual journey. Use this to begin an exploration of how regular folks can help preserve nature by participating in citizen science projects, and to emphasize that there is often more to nature’s mysteries than meets the eye.

From the list:

The best books to get kids outside and exploring nature

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Book cover of Museum of the Missing

Museum of the Missing

By Simon Houpt

Why this book?

This book looks at thieves, liars, manipulators and of course the art itself. There’s a section on damaged goods, which taps into one of my obsessions about the difference in time and effort creation versus destruction takes. 

It’s full of pictures, ironic given that most of the pieces depicted are lost, never to be found. The Gallery of Missing Art is beautifully reproduced, and includes such masterpieces as Strindberg’s “Night of Jealousy”, so we can look at the works and marvel. But knowing that these pieces are…somewhere? Hidden away for a small audience, or perhaps destroyed? That’s heart-breaking.  

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The best books about stolen art

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Book cover of Girl Who Loved Giraffes: And Became the World's First Giraffologist

Girl Who Loved Giraffes: And Became the World's First Giraffologist

By Kathy Stinson, Francois Thisdale

Why this book?

When Anne Innis Dagg was a little girl, she longed to study giraffes in Africa. Many obstacles including gender discrimination stood in her way, so she hide her female identity to get a job and then traveled to Africa on her own. Anne fulfilled her dream and became the world's leading scientific expert on giraffes, inspiring the next generation of women scientists to pursue their dreams.

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The best books for young explorers

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Book cover of European Approaches to North America, 1450-1640

European Approaches to North America, 1450-1640

By David B. Quinn

Why this book?

Professor Quinn wrote this book about 25 years ago, yet I learned a vast amount from it. It is certainly dryer than some accounts, but he could see beyond the immediate stories. In fact, it was this book that first suggested that the so-called ‘Enterprise of the Indies’ began as a joint venture between Cabot and the Columbus brothers that went wrong. I certainly subscribe to that view myself.

From the list:

The best books on the European re-discovery of America

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Book cover of Don't Give Up the Ship! Myths of the War of 1812

Don't Give Up the Ship! Myths of the War of 1812

By Donald R. Hickey

Why this book?

Don Hickey’s book separates fact from fiction – surely a laudable goal for any historian. But all too often, folklore and fairytale become established as truth and there can be no shaking it. Hickey has written five books and more than 50 articles on the War of 1812 and there are few more authoritative writers than him. I chose this one because it looks at so many aspects of the war: military and naval history, politics, diplomacy, economics, and trade. He includes the British, the Americans, the Canadians, the native and black people: men and women, soldiers and sailors, civilians,…

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The best books on the War of 1812: Canadian sacrifice in the cause of freedom

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Book cover of Anne of Green Gables: A Graphic Novel

Anne of Green Gables: A Graphic Novel

By Mariah Marsden, Brenna Thummler

Why this book?

I’m always a fan of graphic novels that capture the mood of the book, rather than trying to make everything perfectly accurate to the original. Mariah Marsden’s adaptation of Anne of Green Gables perfectly captures the magic and beauty of one of my favorite childhood books.

I mentioned how much I enjoyed this adaptation to a friend who’s also a fan of L.M. Montgomery. However, my friend hated this adaptation (especially how Anne’s nose is drawn!) which I actually found very liberating as I considered adapting The Great Gatsby. I’d been concerned about how people who loved Gatsby would…

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The best graphic novel adaptations

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Book cover of Those Splendid Girls: The Heroic Service of Prince Edward Island Nurses in the Great War

Those Splendid Girls: The Heroic Service of Prince Edward Island Nurses in the Great War

By Kathleen Dewar

Why this book?

More than 115 PEI women served as nurses in the First World War, and this book provides rich details about their individual and collective experiences. The author carried out meticulous research to gather the nurses’ stories from a wide range of sources and she writes about that service with admiration. Helping to convey the nurses’ varied experiences are a large number of photos and several maps which locate the overseas hospitals and other facilities where they served. Despite all they accomplished, the PEI nurses—like nurses from other parts of North America—were largely greeted by a “great silence” when they returned…

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The best books on the history of Prince Edward Island

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Book cover of Riding on the Roar of the Crowd: A Hockey Anthology

Riding on the Roar of the Crowd: A Hockey Anthology

By David Gowdey

Why this book?

I love this collection of writing about hockey. It includes memoirs, essays, magazine articles, book excerpts, fiction, poetry, and even a one-act play about the game. Some of my favourites are an elegantly written 1954 magazine article by Hugh MacLennan called "Fury on Ice"; Morley Callaghan’s “The Game that Makes a Nation,” an essay on Canada’s “national drama”; Hugh Hood's riveting close-up look at Jean Beliveau's artistry; and Mordecai Richler’s sad look at a retiring Gordie Howe, who sidelines as an Amway salesman. This book is so full of great reads.

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The best books about the game of hockey

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Book cover of Annabel

Annabel

By Kathleen Winter

Why this book?

This haunting novel has stuck with me so vividly and in so many ways. Set in 1968, in a tiny village on the Labrador coast, it is the story of a baby born with both male and female genitalia to a hardscrabble couple barely eking out a living. They decide to raise the child as a boy, whom they name Wayne. Wayne’s parents keep the secret, even from him, and as he struggles to adopt the manly attributes expected of him, he can’t suppress his other self, a girl he calls Annabel, who insistently speaks from his innermost self. His…

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The best books on the power of family secrets

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Book cover of Days of Terror

Days of Terror

By Barbara Claassen Smucker

Why this book?

I’ve read this book several times and I don’t believe I ever manage to get through it without shedding a few tears. Have tissues handy. A Mennonite family living in Ukraine in the 1920s has their village destroyed by Russian soldiers. The central character, ten-year-old Peter Neufeld, makes a decision to help his older brother Otto escape after he’s participated in counter-attacks, going against the family’s adherence to passive resistance. The Neufelds decide to leave a land of oppression and move to Canada where they will make an effort to assimilate rather than live apart as they have in Ukraine.…

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Book cover of Last Airlift: A Vietnamese Orphanas Rescue from Waraa

Last Airlift: A Vietnamese Orphanas Rescue from Waraa

By Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch

Why this book?

Many authors like to use the drama of battle to engage readers in history but instead in Last Airlift Marsha Skrypuch uses the emotional aftermath and upheaval. This is the real-life story of Son Thi Anh Tuyet at eight years old when she is rescued from a Saigon orphanage and airlifted to Toronto in April of 1975. Tuyet has survived polio and feels her limp will prevent her from being adopted so she makes herself useful and looks after the orphan babies. When she arrives in Canada, she expects to continue her role as a caregiver for children but instead…

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Book cover of Mr. McGill Goes to Town

Mr. McGill Goes to Town

By Jim Aylesworth

Why this book?

Recently my son asked if I still had this book because he wanted to read it to his children. Why do some childhood books stick in our memory? Mr. McGill was a fun book with characters like Mr. McGill repairing his mill, Mr. McRae cutting his hay, Mr. McCall building his wall. They all have tasks that are too big to do alone and they all want to get to town before the sun goes down. It is a wonderful story of working together; showing how helping someone else can help you. And why do they want to get to…

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The best picture books about finding and helping friends

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Book cover of Stand on the Sky

Stand on the Sky

By Erin Bow

Why this book?

This story of a young girl, Aisulu, who bucks tradition to become an eagle hunter is simply heart-wrenching and a fabulous read. The research is thorough, and I was steeped in the Kazakh (a nomadic tribe in the mountains of Mongolia), even as the plot advanced with emotional twists and turns for the main characters. The voice of Aisulu is spot on. All the supporting characters but especially her brother Serik, and her aunt and uncle are richly drawn. 

Erin spent a summer with the Kazakh eagle hunters and had sensitivity readers review her work for authenticity. This book won…

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Book cover of Chasing Freedom

Chasing Freedom

By Gloria Ann Wesley

Why this book?

After the American Civil War, the British promised freedom and land to the slaves in the British Colonies in exchange for their loyalty. Sadly, their new home turned out to be anything but a place of refuge when they found just as much hate and cruelty on this side of the border. Can Sarah and her family persevere and truly find freedom against the odds? The book is an easy read and an interesting lesson on this part of Canadian history.
From the list:

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Book cover of Princess Puffybottom...and Darryl

Princess Puffybottom...and Darryl

By Susin Nielsen, Olivia Chin Mueller

Why this book?

Another cat with attitude(wait, don’t all cats have attitude?)—but I especially love this book for the sweet friendship between these two unlikely pals, because my little dog adores my cat in the same way. As well, the illustrations are as pretty, soft, and fuzzy as Princess Puffy Bottom’s...well, bottom.

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The best funny picture books about cats

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Book cover of The Palm at the End of the Mind: Selected Poems and a Play

The Palm at the End of the Mind: Selected Poems and a Play

By Wallace Stevens

Why this book?

Steven’s poems have the cadence of philosophical argument. Entering into this cadence can raise one’s own writing, and thoughts, to a higher plane, without its becoming flowery or affective. For years I kept this collection open to the poem “The Poems of Our Climate,” with its consolation:  “...the imperfect is so hot in us / Lies in flawed words and stubborn sounds."
From the list:

The best books against writers’ block

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Book cover of Sophie's Squash

Sophie's Squash

By Pat Zietlow Miller, Anne Wilsdorf

Why this book?

Sophie befriends a squash meant for dinner, and her parents respect this relationship, her emotions, and her decision-making. Even after the squash begins to rot. There’s gentle humor here, but it’s not a laugh-out-loud book, or an overtly interactive book. So why list it here? Because it’s just fantastic storytelling that never fails to completely capture the online attention of classrooms of kids I’ve read it to (and a niece more times than I can count). A perfect story can do that. And it has a scientific solution to the dilemma! I adore and recommend it for that reason as…

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The best picture books for engaging kids on Zoom and FaceTime (and in person, too)

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Book cover of Murders and Mysteries: A Canadian Series

Murders and Mysteries: A Canadian Series

By William Stewart Wallace

Why 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…

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The best books of Canadian historical true crime

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Book cover of Defender of Canada, Volume 40: Sir George Prevost and the War of 1812

Defender of Canada, Volume 40: Sir George Prevost and the War of 1812

By John R. Grodzinski

Why this book?

John Grodzinski was a career army officer in the Canadian military and a professor of history at the RMC. He is also a personal friend of many years. His subject, Sir George Prevost, is one of the neglected heroes of the War of 1812. He was neglected at the time, as the attention of the Government in London was far more engaged by Napoleon than President Madison; neglected thereafter in favour of more glamorous subjects. But it was Prevost’s defensive plans and actions that preserved Canada from the American invasions of 181. Much went wrong as well as right thereafter,…

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The best books on the War of 1812: Canadian sacrifice in the cause of freedom

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Book cover of The Women of Janowka: A Volhynian Family History

The Women of Janowka: A Volhynian Family History

By Helmut Exner, Sascha Exner, Gabriele Goldstone, Ken Steinke

Why this book?

This book of non-fiction. explores the multi-generational journey of three women caught in the web of Stalin and Hitler’s madness. It begins in 1904, in my mom’s rural Ukrainian neighbourhood of Volhynia, about two hours east of Kyiv, and ends here in my rural Manitoba, Canada near Beausejour in 2008. Canada is a country filled with immigrants and I was struck by how little we know of the journeys of the people around us. It motivated me to write and to continue to write my family stories.

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The best Stalin & Hitler-era books for young people and adults

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Book cover of The Rez Sisters

The Rez Sisters

By Tomson Highway

Why this book?

Perhaps one of the most seminal plays to come out of the First Nations community, if not the Canadian theatre community in general. It starts off with the simplest of plots, seven Indigenous women plan to leave their community on Manitoulin Island to participate in the world's largest bingo game in Toronto. It’s funny, tragic, and a wonderful introduction to the colourful world which we come from. 

From the list:

The best Indigenous plays that give the audience a window into the people and community

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Book cover of A Hug for the Apostle : On Foot from Chartres to Santiago de Compostela

A Hug for the Apostle : On Foot from Chartres to Santiago de Compostela

By Laurie Dennett

Why this book?

A Hug for the Apostle: On Foot from Chartres to Santiago de Compostela documents in engaging detail and voice a very long walk, from Chartres to Santiago de Compostela in the mid-1980s, before the Camino was well known and had dedicated infrastructural support. Dennett’s intrepid account is not only about this journey but also about the historical and cultural roots of the Camino, with a strong respect for, and colorful detail of, locals and their cultures, pilgrims, and the places through which she walked.

From the list:

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Book cover of The Persons Case: The Origins and Legacy of the Fight for Legal Personhood

The Persons Case: The Origins and Legacy of the Fight for Legal Personhood

By Robert J. Sharpe, Patricia I. McMahon

Why this book?

This book should be made into a movie! Yes, it is written by two legal historians and yes, it is about a court case, but it reads like a thriller. Great characters, twists and turns in the plot, prime ministers, feisty ladies, the whole nine yards. It is the story of how a British court decided that women were “persons” and thus could be appointed to the Canadian Senate. At the time, only certain “persons” were eligible and only men were considered “persons.” It is not about eugenics, but the events take place around 1929 and the authors do a…

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The best books on how eugenics came to Canada

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Book cover of Afraid to Ride

Afraid to Ride

By C.W. Anderson

Why this book?

I first discovered this wonderful story decades ago in my youth, when I read everything I could find with a horse in it. Many years later, following a catastrophic riding accident, I found this book tucked away on a backroom shelf. I immediately recalled that Judy’s struggle was precisely the one I was then facing, and I spent the afternoon re-reading her story. There may be something enduringly healing about the stories we love in childhood, because the power of Anderson’s story helped me recover my confidence with my horses. An added bonus of Anderson’s books are his masterful sketches…

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