The most recommended books about Nova Scotia

Who picked these books? Meet our 18 experts.

18 authors created a book list connected to Nova Scotia, and here are their favorite Nova Scotia books.
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Book cover of Chasing Freedom

E.M. Spencer Author Of Freedom Reins

From my list on Canadian historical fiction with strong females.

Who am I?

I am a Canadian who enjoys travelling and reading historical fiction from around the world. Having had the privilege of living in a variety of areas in Canada from coast to coast since childhood, I can recall listening to the stories of past generations and exploring the locations where some of these events took place. With a passion for Canada’s beauty and the history of its people, I like to research, explore, and incorporate these passions into my own stories.

E.M.'s book list on Canadian historical fiction with strong females

E.M. Spencer Why did E.M. love 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.

By Gloria Ann Wesley,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Young Adult Historical Fiction

A story of the struggle of Black Loyalists and their arrival in Nova Scotia.

NEW: Teaching Guide Available Here

Shortlisted for The Ann Connor Brimer Award for Children’s Literature.

The American Revolutionary War is being waged, and the fate of slaves in the colonies is on the line. Sarah Redmond, a slave on a South Carolina plantation, watches with a heavy heart as her father steals away in the dead of the night to join the British army, enticed by promises of freedom, land and provisions for his whole family. But before her father can return,…


Book cover of From Migrant to Acadian: A North American Border People, 1604-1755

A.J.B. Johnston Author Of Into the Wind: A Novel of Acadian Resilience

From my list on Acadian Deportation.

Who am I?

I have no French or Acadian ancestors—as far as I know—yet the majority of my 21 books (history and fiction) explore different aspects of French colonial or Acadian history. Childhood visits to historic sites like the Port-Royal Habitation, Grand-Pré, Louisbourg and Fort Anne must have planted the seeds for the historian and writer I would become. Then again, working for years as an historian at the Fortress of Louisbourg definitely helped. France made me a chevalier of its Ordre des Palmes académiques for my body of work.

A.J.B.'s book list on Acadian Deportation

A.J.B. Johnston Why did A.J.B. love this book?

This book by Naomi Griffiths is excellent for anyone who wants to understand who the Acadians were (and still are)—and how they came to be considered a people distinct from French. The book is indispensable to grasp the basic characteristics of Acadians in the 17th and 18th centuries and the many challenges they faced. As Griffiths shows, the deportation did not destroy the Acadian community. In spite of a horrific death toll, nine years of proscription, and the forfeiture of property and political rights, the Acadians continued to be a cohesive community in Nova Scotia and other areas where they settled. Instead of destroying the Acadian community, the deportation proved to be a source of inspiration in the formation of a strong Acadian identity in the 19th century and beyond.

By N.E.S. Griffiths,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked From Migrant to Acadian as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A history of the emergence of the Acadian community.


Book cover of Burden of Desire

Bruce Bishop Author Of Unconventional Daughters: An Engrossing Family Saga on Two Continents

From my list on Nova Scotia, Canada.

Who am I?

I developed a love for James A. Michener’s sweeping novels as a young man, which coincided with an early stage of my career as a travel journalist. I was fortunate to find myself in places all over the globe that he had written about, and these countries were somehow made more vivid to me because of his words. It wasn’t until the onset of Covid-19 in 2020 that I switched from writing non-fiction to fiction. In doing so, I realized that the small part of the world in which I had been born and raised – Nova Scotia, Canadawas as fascinating and interesting as any place I had visited. 

Bruce's book list on Nova Scotia, Canada

Bruce Bishop Why did Bruce love this book?

When Robert MacNeil’s debut novel Burden of Desire was published in 1992, it stood out to me because it offered a fresh take on the Halifax (Nova Scotia) Explosion of 1917 as a backdrop to his compelling love-triangle storyline.

The Explosion was the largest man-made disaster in the world prior to World War II, and every school child in Nova Scotia, including myself, traditionally learns of the Explosion by reading Barometer Rising, Hugh MacLennan’s iconic novel that was published in 1941.

But MacNeil’s novel proves that historical fiction can be spicy and entertaining as well as truthful to its time period and setting. He is well-remembered as a television journalist for his long-running PBS show, the MacNeil Lehrer Report. Mr. MacNeil is now 92 years young.

By Robert MacNeil,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Set against a vived backdrop of a world at war, Burden of Desire opens with a cataclysmic explosions that provides the novel's extraordinary central metaphor. The blast and its aftermath, which devastates Halifax, Nova Scotia, in 1917, rocks the lives of the three major characters, and ensures that the world as they know it will never be the same again.

Brilliantly blending suspense and eroticism with rich historical detail, Robert MacNeil sets the stage for one of the most provocative tales of desire and obsession to be found in recent fiction. Magnificent in scope, Burden of Desire is work of…


Book cover of Fall on Your Knees

Bruce Bishop Author Of Unconventional Daughters: An Engrossing Family Saga on Two Continents

From my list on Nova Scotia, Canada.

Who am I?

I developed a love for James A. Michener’s sweeping novels as a young man, which coincided with an early stage of my career as a travel journalist. I was fortunate to find myself in places all over the globe that he had written about, and these countries were somehow made more vivid to me because of his words. It wasn’t until the onset of Covid-19 in 2020 that I switched from writing non-fiction to fiction. In doing so, I realized that the small part of the world in which I had been born and raised – Nova Scotia, Canadawas as fascinating and interesting as any place I had visited. 

Bruce's book list on Nova Scotia, Canada

Bruce Bishop Why did Bruce love this book?

This compelling family saga set on Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia was published in 1996 and explores the lives of the complicated Piper family in the early 20th century.

My late mother was from Glace Bay, a mining town on Cape Breton, and I remember she was quite excited when she heard about Ms. MacDonald’s drama, and promptly bought a copy. She told me she couldn’t get beyond the first few chapters because it was far too filthy for her taste. Naturally, I then had to read the whole novel to find out just how controversial the book was!

By Ann-Marie MacDonald,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Fall on Your Knees as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Following the curves of the twentieth century, FALL ON YOUR KNEES takes us from haunted Cape Breton island in Nova Scotia through the battlefields of World War I into the emerging jazz scene in New York City, and immerses us in the lives of four unforgettable sisters. The children of a driven and ambitious father, the sisters -Kathleen, the oldest, a beautiful talent intent on a career as an opera diva; Frances, the drunken rogue and child prostitute; Lily, the pseudo-saint cripple; and Mercedes, the fervent Catholic and protector of the flock - are swept along by the tumult of…


Book cover of A Thistle in the Mist

Lynelle Clark Author Of Love at War: A Love Story

From my list on provoking plotlines.

Who am I?

I am a very realistic person, curious by nature, who loves a good thrill. A good twist—no matter the genre—that has all the above recommendations captures my attention. A feel-good chick flick or book does nothing for my curious side but adds a twist or two and you have me hooked. Love at war is that kind of book. It has a few twists that touch on important topics and leave you with a few thoughts to think about afterward. Life is not only marshmallows and sprinklers. Life is real and I like my books like that, too. Therefore, I call myself a multi-genre author. I don’t want to be bound by one genre.

Lynelle's book list on provoking plotlines

Lynelle Clark Why did Lynelle love this book?

I absolutely loved this book based on true events. Don’t be fooled by the name either. This is intense as it gets. A historical thriller slash romance that made you wonder how much the heroin can endure. Believe me, you are in for a ride. 

So much heartache poured from the pages, and you keep on reading in the hopes that love will conquer, and the evil will be stopped. Every character's persona was well developed and got under your skin as you became part of their lives and struggles. One of my favorites and a book I would read again.

By Megan Denby,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Thistle in the Mist as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Meara isn’t thinking about Death when she kisses her mother good-bye, but hours later she is as her fingers slide into the back of Mother’s shattered skull. Meara thinks her world has ended. She has no idea… Ebullient and feisty, Meara MacDonald lives an idyllic life on the mist-enfolded Isle of Skye, dreaming of the day she will wed her heart, the gallant Duncan MacLeod. Fate, however, has other plans and when Aunt Deirdre and Uncle Sloan arrive, Meara’s family is taken, one-by-one, for reasons she discovers are both personal and nefarious. Unable to rein in her spirit or her…


Book cover of Acadian Driftwood: One Family and the Great Expulsion

A.J.B. Johnston Author Of Into the Wind: A Novel of Acadian Resilience

From my list on Acadian Deportation.

Who am I?

I have no French or Acadian ancestors—as far as I know—yet the majority of my 21 books (history and fiction) explore different aspects of French colonial or Acadian history. Childhood visits to historic sites like the Port-Royal Habitation, Grand-Pré, Louisbourg and Fort Anne must have planted the seeds for the historian and writer I would become. Then again, working for years as an historian at the Fortress of Louisbourg definitely helped. France made me a chevalier of its Ordre des Palmes académiques for my body of work.

A.J.B.'s book list on Acadian Deportation

A.J.B. Johnston Why did A.J.B. love this book?

This book offers a personalized, non-academic look at what it means for one Acadian to be part of the collective Acadian community. The author traces his family history all the way back to the time of the Acadian Expulsion and beyond. That ancestor was Joseph LeBlanc (Tyler's great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather). With descendants scattered across modern-day Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, the LeBlancs provide a window into the diverse fates that awaited the Acadians when they were expelled from their Acadian homeland. Some escaped the deportation; others were deported and later returned to the region, but not to same areas as those had been taken over by new settlers. In sum, the book is biographical approach to the history of the Expulsion.

By Tyler LeBlanc,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Winner, 2021 Evelyn Richardson Award for Non-Fiction, 2021 Democracy 250 Atlantic Book Award for Historical WritingShortlisted, 2021 Dartmouth Book Award for Non-Fiction, and the 2021 Margaret and John Savage Award for Best First Book (Non-fiction)A Hill Times' 100 Best Books in 2020 SelectionOn Canada's History Bestseller ListGrowing up on the south shore of Nova Scotia, Tyler LeBlanc wasn't fully aware of his family's Acadian roots -- until a chance encounter with an Acadian historian prompted him to delve into his family history. LeBlanc's discovery that he could trace his family all the way to the time of the Acadian Expulsion…


Book cover of Someone Knows My Name

Leslie Larson Author Of Breaking Out of Bedlam

From Leslie's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Novelist Reader Walker Vegetable gardener Dog lover

Leslie's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Leslie Larson Why did Leslie love this book?

This is an adventure story with the highest possible stakes. It portrays the most brutal and debased human urges and doesn’t shy away from graphically depicting horrifying scenes of disease, starvation, torture, filth, and death.

At the center is Aminata Diallo, who was kidnapped from Africa as a child and sent into slavery in North America. In her, Hill has created one of the most luminous characters in contemporary literature. Her voice speaks directly to our hearts with breathtaking authenticity and intelligence.

The beauty of her spirit and the strength of her hope, not to mention the power of her narration, triumph over the suffering and injustice, making this a heart-expanding read.

By Lawrence Hill,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Someone Knows My Name as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Kidnapped from Africa as a child, Aminata Diallo is enslaved in South Carolina but escapes during the chaos of the Revolutionary War. In Manhattan she becomes a scribe for the British, recording the names of blacks who have served the King and earned their freedom in Nova Scotia. But the hardship and prejudice of the new colony prompt her to follow her heart back to Africa, then on to London, where she bears witness to the injustices of slavery and its toll on her life and a whole people. It is a story that no listener, and no reader, will…


Book cover of The Sea Was in Their Blood: The Disappearance of the Miss Ally's Five-Man Crew

Carol Moreira Author Of Riptides

From my list on the beauty and threat of the natural world.

Who am I?

I’m fascinated by the relationship of humanity to nature. When I was young, we moved all the time – my dad was in the military and we moved to a new base every 18 months. All those military bases were located in the British countryside and, in the absence of other forms of continuity, nature became like a best friend. I still walk every day. Reconnecting with trees, grass, the sounds of birds, centres and energizes me. I get my best ideas when walking. But, of course, nature is also threatening – Covid and cancer are natural. I’m fascinated by that juxtaposition and always trying to reflect it in my work.  

Carol's book list on the beauty and threat of the natural world

Carol Moreira Why did Carol love this book?

This book is based on a real-life tragedy – the deaths of five young Nova Scotia fishermen aboard the Miss Ally, a fishing vessel that was lost with all hands during a storm in 2013. Casey, a journalist and writer, has produced a moving synthesis in this work. He explores the lives, families, and characters of the young men who were lost, and recreates the community they lived in, effectively evoking the fishing culture, the profession’s unique dangers, and the economic imperatives and opportunities. Some may feel he judges the official emergency responders harshly but he is writing from the position of the community, which is always apparent to the reader. He explores the youthful over-confidence and bravado that likely played a role in the tragedy without pointing the cold finger of judgment. 

By Quentin Casey,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Sea Was in Their Blood as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

It was a frigid night in February 2013 when the five young fishermen vanished. The crew of the Miss Ally―a 12-metre Cape Islander from Woods Harbour, Nova Scotia―was fishing for halibut far off the Nova Scotia coast when their boat's spotlight malfunctioned. A vicious winter storm was approaching from her south, and all other boats at the fishing grounds were steaming for shore. Unable to locate his longlining gear, the Miss Ally's young captain decided to stay an extra day to retrieve the gear and, hopefully, a big catch.

Their retreat delayed, the Miss Ally crew ended up pounded by…


Book cover of Town Is by the Sea

Wendy Orr Author Of Cuckoo's Flight

From my list on to bring history to life.

Who am I?

I’ve always been fascinated by history, and when I dreamed of being an author, imagined I’d write historical fiction. However, it took many writing detours to arrive there. (Nim’s Island, by the way, has no basis in historical fact!). When I first imagined the story that led to the Minoan Wings trilogy, I fell in love with researching this era, which is particularly intriguing because there are virtually no written records. Visiting the ruins of a four-thousand-year-old town on Crete under the guidance of an archaeologist who had not only excavated there but had become passionately involved with my imaginary characters, was an absolute highlight of my life. 

Wendy's book list on to bring history to life

Wendy Orr Why did Wendy love this book?

This is a picture book, but not for very young children. The quiet, almost understated text and art add to the power of the story: a small boy’s experience of coal mining in Nova Scotia in the 1950s. (Though it wasn’t written till 2017). Reading it as an adult, and despite having lived in Nova Scotia as a teenager, I was completely rocked and almost disorientated as I began to grasp the reality of it. I’m not sure which aspect I found more disturbing – imagining the men in the long dark tunnels under the sea, or the boy’s complete acceptance that he would follow this way of life in his turn.  

By Joanne Schwartz, Sydney Smith (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Town Is by the Sea as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 5, 6, 7, and 8.

What is this book about?

While a young boy enjoys a summer's day, his thoughts constantly return to his father, who is digging for coal deep under the sea.

"An atmospheric, haunting story" - The Bookseller

Stunning illustrations by Sydney Smith, the award-winning illustrator of Footpath Flowers, show the striking contrast between a sparkling seaside day and the darkness underground where the miners dig. This beautifully understated and haunting story brings a piece of mining history to life. The ever-present ocean and inevitable pattern of life in a mining town will enthral children and move adult readers, as a young boy wakes up to the…


Book cover of A Great and Noble Scheme: The Tragic Story of the Expulsion of the French Acadians from Their American Homeland

A.J.B. Johnston Author Of Into the Wind: A Novel of Acadian Resilience

From my list on Acadian Deportation.

Who am I?

I have no French or Acadian ancestors—as far as I know—yet the majority of my 21 books (history and fiction) explore different aspects of French colonial or Acadian history. Childhood visits to historic sites like the Port-Royal Habitation, Grand-Pré, Louisbourg and Fort Anne must have planted the seeds for the historian and writer I would become. Then again, working for years as an historian at the Fortress of Louisbourg definitely helped. France made me a chevalier of its Ordre des Palmes académiques for my body of work.

A.J.B.'s book list on Acadian Deportation

A.J.B. Johnston Why did A.J.B. love this book?

Faragher’s book created quite a stir when it came out in 2005, especially among Acadians. For here was an author who had no Acadian roots who saw the tragedy of the Acadian Deportation from the perspective of their ancestors. The history recounted in the book provides rich details on how and why in 1755 troops from New England sought to carry out their "great and noble scheme" of expelling 18,000 French-speaking Acadians ("the neutral French") from Nova Scotia. The removals would last eight years with thousands of Acadians forcibly relocated, a large number died, families often separated, and others going into hiding in forests. Faragher tells the story with a strong, highly readable narrative.

By John Mack Faragher,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Great and Noble Scheme as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 1755, New England troops embarked on a "great and noble scheme" to expel 18,000 French-speaking Acadians ("the neutral French") from Nova Scotia, killing thousands, separating innumerable families, and driving many into forests where they waged a desperate guerrilla resistance. The right of neutrality; to live in peace from the imperial wars waged between France and England; had been one of the founding values of Acadia; its settlers traded and intermarried freely with native Mikmaq Indians and English Protestants alike. But the Acadians' refusal to swear unconditional allegiance to the British Crown in the mid-eighteenth century gave New Englanders, who…