A Titanic reading list

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April 12, 2012 marks the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. The tragedy has continued to resonate throughout the decades, inspiring novels, memoirs, films, a couple of Broadway musicals and the first episode of the wildly popular TV series Downton Abbey. Even now, the ship's fatal voyage continues to fascinate readers, and many publishers have been taking advantage of the centennial this year to release new (and sometimes old) books about the "ship of dreams."

To mark the anniversary of the Titanic's fatal voyage, we've put together a reading list of recent (and not-so-recent) Titanic books featuring something for everyone from the history buff to the die-hard romantic.

For the foodie:


RMS Titanic "Dinner Is Served" by Yvonne Hume

Author Hume has a strong family connection to the Titanic -- her great uncle was John "Jock" Hume, the violinist who continued playing as the water rose (more about him later). While researching her uncle, Hume became fascinated with the details of the meals, and this book offers menus and recipes for meals served on board, from the sumptuous first-class meals to the more modest ones served in third class. 

Published by Stenlake, April 2010.

For the fiction lover:

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Every Man for Himself by Beryl Bainbridge

Europa Editions has acquired the North American rights to beloved British novelist Bainbridge's 1996 novel about that fateful voyage, in which the characters are fictional, but Bainbridge's meticulous historical research is at the core. Every Man for Himself is considered one of Bainbridge's best: it was shortlisted for the Booker Prize, and won the Whitbread Best Novel Award. 

Available this month from Europa Editions.

For the music lover:

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And the Band Played On by Christopher Ward

Cousin of the aforementioned Yvonne Hume, Ward has done some incredible historical detective work in digging up the life of his grandfather Jock Hume, who died at age 21 on the Titanic, leaving a pregnant fiancĂ©e. Ward shares his grandfather's tragically shortened life story, and writes about the personal implications the sinking of the Titanic had for his family, as it did for thousands of others. Along the way, he includes historical tidbits that illustrate the Edwardian age, including this fact that points to the shockingly cold corporate attitude of the White Star Line: Hume's pay was stopped the moment the ship went down, and two weeks after the tragedy Hume's father received a bill for the White Star brass buttons and epaulets that were on Hume's uniform. 

Available from Hodder & Stoughton, distributed in Canada by Hachette.

For the Canadiana lover:


Halifax and Titanic by John Boileau

Former army colonel Boileau explores Halifax's significant role in the aftermath of the Titanic's wreckage, and the city's relationship with the disaster. Halifax was the base for Titanic recovery operations, and 150 bodies that were recovered from the wreckage are buried in three of the city's cemeteries. A unique view of the tragedy through a distinctly Canadian lens, Halifax and Titanic is full of historic photos and fascinating, and very sad, facts. 

Available from Nimbus Publishing.

For the Edwardian gossip:

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RMS Titanic: Gilded Lives on a Fatal Voyage by Hugh Brewster

Brewster is the former editorial director of Madison Press Books, the publishing house responsible for oceanographer Robert Ballard's definitive bestseller about the wreck of the Titanic, The Discovery of the Titanic, so he knows a few things about the luxury liner (he's also written three books for young people about the Titanic). In his latest, which is garnering considerable buzz, he explores the lives of the first-class passengers on the ship, including Guelph-raised fashion designer Lady Duff Gordon, and "unsinkable" suffragette Molly Brown, both leading up to the maiden voyage and in the aftermath of the tragedy. 

Available now from Harper Collins Canada.

And now that you've read up on the ship of dreams, don't miss the Doc Zone special Titanic: The Canadian Story, airing Thursday, April 5, at 8 p.m. on CBC Television.

Image courtesy Harper Collins Canada