The best books about Nova Scotia

Who picked these books? Meet our 16 experts.

16 authors created a book list connected to Nova Scotia, and here are their favorite Nova Scotia books.

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Acadian Driftwood

By Tyler LeBlanc,

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 the 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

Discover why each book is one of A.J.B.'s favorite books on Acadian Deportation .

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.

Acadian Driftwood

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…


The Home Stretch

By George K. Ilsley,

Book cover of The Home Stretch: A Father, a Son, and All the Things They Never Talk about

Jo Owens Author Of A Funny Kind of Paradise

From the list on for commiserating over the "aging parents" challenge.

Who am I?

I am a care aide (aka personal support worker) who has happily worked at an extended care facility for more than twenty years, and as such, I have been a compassionate listener to many a family member suffering from the tsunami of feelings involved when coping with aging parents or spouses, so I thought I would be well-positioned and emotionally prepared to cope when it was my turn to face my own mother's deterioration. How wrong I was! Thank goodness for the generous souls who write memoirs. Each of the books that I have chosen was an education and an affirmation to me as I tried to maintain my equilibrium while supporting my mother and my mother-in-law through their final years.

Jo's book list on for commiserating over the "aging parents" challenge

Discover why each book is one of Jo's favorite books on for commiserating over the "aging parents" challenge .

Why did Jo love this book?

When I read memoirs about aging parents, loss is usually an important theme; Ilsley's memoir stands out because his regret is for a closeness that never was. "Only now, as my father enters his nineties . . . and my aspirations of eldercare become more interventionist, has our relationship had a chance to deepen.

"And by deepen, I mean really begin to annoy each other."

Ilsley's relationship with his father is challenging. There are good reasons why Ilsley chooses to live in Vancouver rather than "home" in Nova Scotia. But his father is still is his father, and Ilsley commits. His writing is clear, candid, thoughtful, and so warm and funny. I loved this book.

The Home Stretch

By George K. Ilsley,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

George K. Ilsley explores his complex relationship with his aging father in this candid memoir full of sharp emotion and disarming humor. George’s father is ninety-one years old, a widower, and fiercely independent; an avid gardener, he’s sweet and more than a little eccentric. But he’s also a hoarder who makes embarrassing comments and invitations to women, and he has made no plans whatsoever for what is inevitably coming over the horizon.

Decades after George has moved four time zones away, he begins to make regular trips home to help care for his cranky and uncooperative father, and to sift…


In the Province of History

By Ian McKay, Robin Bates,

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

Gordon Campbell Author Of Norse America: The Story of a Founding Myth

From the list on the Norse in Canada.

Who am I?

I live in England but grew up in Canada, where my Grade 5 Social Studies teacher filled my head with stories of people and places, including the Vikings. In the early 1960s, I learned about the excavations at L’Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland featured in Canadian newspapers. My first job was in Denmark, and I subsequently travelled in the Nordic homelands and settlement areas, including the Faeroes, Iceland, and Greenland, visiting museums and archaeological sites at every opportunity. Norse America is my 26th book, but it is both the one with the deepest roots in my own past and the one most engaged with contemporary concerns about race.

Gordon's book list on the Norse in Canada

Discover why each book is one of Gordon's favorite books on the Norse in Canada .

Why did Gordon love 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. 

In the Province of History

By Ian McKay, Robin Bates,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked In the Province of History as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Using archival sources, novels, government reports, and works on tourism and heritage, Ian McKay and Robin Bates look at how state planners, key politicians, and cultural figures such as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, long-time premier Angus L. Macdonald, and novelist Thomas Raddall were all instrumental in forming "tourism/history." The authors argue that Longfellow's 1847 poem Evangeline - on the brutal British expulsion of Acadians from Nova Scotia - became a template a new kind of profit-making history that exalted whiteness and excluded ethnic minorities, women, and working class movements. A remarkable look at the intersection of politics, leisure, and the presentation…


Fall on Your Knees

By Ann-Marie MacDonald,

Book cover of Fall on Your Knees

Annie Daylon Author Of Of Sea and Seed: The Kerrigan Chronicles, Book I

From the list on timeless stories whose settings shape the plot.

Who am I?

I was born and raised on the rugged island of Newfoundland and am enthralled by the ocean, its rhythm, its power. The setting of The Kerrigan Chronicles is the setting for my early life: same area, different era. As a child, I was unaware of the sacrifices and struggles of my ancestors. During cross-country telephone conversations with my aging father, I heard stories of poverty, illness, and war. When Dad described the earthquake and tsunami of 1929, I was hooked. I have written other novels, modern-day suspense that could quite frankly have been written by other people but The Kerrigan Chronicles are mine and mine alone.

Annie's book list on timeless stories whose settings shape the plot

Discover why each book is one of Annie's favorite books on timeless stories whose settings shape the plot .

Why did Annie love this book?

This book had me at the first line… “They’re all dead now.” Fall on Your Knees is haunted with ghosts and music and religion and set in a dark, lonely coal mining community of Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia Canada. From there it meanders to New York and through the no man’s land of WWI, all the while spewing secrets and lies of five generations of the Piper family. The mysterious atmosphere of this book and the compelling characters kept me reading constantly. I couldn’t put the book down until I had consumed all five hundred sixty-six pages.  

Fall on Your Knees

By Ann-Marie MacDonald,

Why should I read it?

1 author 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…


Chasing Freedom

By Gloria Ann Wesley,

Book cover of Chasing Freedom

E.M. Spencer Author Of Freedom Reins

From the 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

Discover why each book is one of E.M.'s favorite books on Canadian historical fiction with strong females .

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.

Chasing Freedom

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 Flying With a Broken Wing

Darlene Foster Author Of Amanda in France: Fire in the Cathedral

From the list on children’s adventures on strong female protagonist.

Who am I?

I grew up on a farm on the Canadian prairies where my only entertainment was books. This was before TV and the internet. Reading about girls who overcame obstacles such as being orphaned, dealing with homelessness or a disability, helped me realize that girls can overcome anything with the right attitude and by being brave. These attitudes of fearlessness, positive thinking, and resourcefulness shaped my life and helped me realize many of my dreams, including being a published author. Books with strong female characters help girls realize their own dreams.

Darlene's book list on children’s adventures on strong female protagonist

Discover why each book is one of Darlene's favorite books on children’s adventures on strong female protagonist .

Why did Darlene love this book?

This story evokes many emotions. The world of Cammie Deveau, a young girl with more than her fair share of disadvantages, is described well. The story is set in rural Nova Scotia just after World War II. The author has created a memorable, spunky ten-year-old with limited vision who dreams of a better life against all odds. Other quirky characters are sprinkled throughout the story, some hilarious, others sad and pathetic. The descriptions of the time and place are so well done the reader is easily transported there. With the clever use of dialogue that is both timely and local, this is a most enjoyable read that will keep you turning the pages as you root for Cammie. 

Flying With a Broken Wing

By Laura Best,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Flying With a Broken Wing as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Cammie Deveau began life with a few strikes against her. She’s visually impaired, abandoned by her mother at birth, her father was a casualty of the Second World War—and if all that isn’t enough, she’s being raised by her bootlegging aunt. No wonder she dreams of starting a brand new life.

When Cammie learns about a school for blind and visually impaired children she becomes convinced a new life is waiting for her in Halifax, but how will she ever convince her aunt to let her go? With the help of her best friend, they devise a plan to blow…


From Migrant to Acadian

By N.E.S. Griffiths,

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 the 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

Discover why each book is one of A.J.B.'s favorite books on Acadian Deportation .

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.

From Migrant to Acadian

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.


The Truth about the Titanic

By Colonel Archibald Gracie,

Book cover of The Truth about the Titanic

Christopher Ward Author Of And the Band Played On...: The Enthralling Account of What Happened After the Titanic Sank

From the list on the Titanic from a variety of angles.

Who am I?

I’m a former national newspaper editor and magazine publisher – and the grandson of Jock Hume, a violinist in the Titanic’s band. Jock, who was just 21 years old, had been playing on passenger ships since he was sixteen. His body was recovered ten days after the sinking, 40 miles from the scene the wreck. His family couldn’t afford to bring him home to Dumfries in Scotland, so he was buried alongside 121 other unclaimed Titanic bodies at Fairview Lawn Cemetery, in Halifax, Nova Scotia. My book is the story of Jock’s life, his death…and the previously untold scandal of the aftermath of the sinking.

Christopher's book list on the Titanic from a variety of angles

Discover why each book is one of Christopher's favorite books on the Titanic from a variety of angles .

Why did Christopher love this book?

Of all the eyewitness survivor accounts of the sinking of the Titanic, this is the most compelling and descriptive, as well as one of the first to be published. As the Titanic foundered, Gracie was swept into the sea by a giant wave, the undertow of the sinking liner sucking him deeper and deeper below the surface. So long was he underwater that by the time he surfaced, “I could see no Titanic in sight”.  He clung on to a wooden crate which kept him afloat long enough to find an overturned collapsible lifeboat.

Gracie never recovered from his ordeal. He died eight months later, most likely from organ failure caused by hypothermia. But, as a writer and historian, he put every day to good use, writing this gripping eye-witness account – not just of Titanic’s death throes but every moment from the collision with the iceberg to the loading…

The Truth about the Titanic

By Colonel Archibald Gracie,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Truth about the Titanic as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This Is A New Release Of The Original 1913 Edition.


Come from Away

By Genevieve Graham,

Book cover of Come from Away

Terrie Todd Author Of Rose Among Thornes

From the list on relationships between characters on opposing sides of WWII.

Who am I?

I’m a Canadian author and I set my novels here. When I first attempted to write a book, I chose historical fiction because I thought it would be easier to get my characters into trouble—without cell phones and other modern conveniences to bail them out. I wasn’t wrong. However, the research involved with writing good historical fiction soon gave me a whole new appreciation for the genre and I was hooked. I find the WWII era far enough in the past to provide historical insight into humanity’s many weaknesses and strengths, yet near enough to make it relatable. I’ve been thrilled with the feedback on my faith-based stories.

Terrie's book list on relationships between characters on opposing sides of WWII

Discover why each book is one of Terrie's favorite books on relationships between characters on opposing sides of WWII .

Why did Terrie love this book?

Obviously, I love that this book is set in Canada, like all my own novels. A little-known story coming out of Nova Scotia involves Nazi sailors leaving their U-Boat one evening, on a bet, to attend a small-town dance without their identity being discovered. Graham has artfully taken this possibility on its ultimate “what-if?” journey. What if one of those sailors didn’t make it back to his submarine before it blew up, killing everyone aboard? What if he found a deserted trapper’s cabin to hole up in? What if he met a young Canadian woman whose three brothers were serving overseas? Isn’t it a tantalizing setup? Graham totally delivers in this page-turner.

Come from Away

By Genevieve Graham,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Come from Away as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the bestselling author of Tides of Honour and Promises to Keep comes a poignant novel about a young couple caught on opposite sides of the Second World War.

In the fall of 1939, Grace Baker’s three brothers, sharp and proud in their uniforms, board Canadian ships headed for a faraway war. Grace stays behind, tending to the homefront and the general store that helps keep her small Nova Scotian community running. The war, everyone says, will be over before it starts. But three years later, the fighting rages on and rumours swirl about “wolf packs” of German U-Boats lurking…


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 the 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

Discover why each book is one of Carol's favorite books on the beauty and threat of the natural world .

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. 

The Sea Was in Their Blood

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…


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