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Terry Fallis's gift guide

We asked our Canada Reads authors to share what they'll be giving their friends and family this holiday season. Here's hoping it will inspire a few last-minute buys — or Boxing Week splurges — for you and your loved ones!

Our final gift guide is from Terry Fallis, author of The Best Laid Plans.

Terry Fallis gift guide

The fiction book I'm giving is... Motorcycles and Sweetgrass by Drew Hayden Taylor. I read Drew's novel when it was in manuscript form and thought it was just wonderful. There's humour, romance, excitement and mystery. I loved it and was not surprised in the least that it was a Governor General's Award finalist this year. Drew and I and have done readings together (Caledon, Orillia, and Vancouver), and I've always enjoyed his connection with the audience, although I've learned that reading before Drew is much better than having to read right after him.

The non-fiction book I'm giving is... Cigar Box Banjo by Paul Quarrington. Paul Quarrington is one of my literary heroes. I'd collected first editions of his novels long before I ever decided to try my own hand at writing. A lasting memory for me is doing a reading with Paul at the Grimsby Author Series in 2009, just a few weeks before he learned he had cancer. I'll never forget him inscribing all of my Quarrington first editions by the glow of the dome light as we drove home that night together from Grimsby. This memoir is about Paul's love of, and relationship with, music. As a longtime but strictly amateur guitar player myself, this book spoke (sang?) to me in a very special way. I did not want it to end.

...and Defiant Spirits by Ross King. What an interesting guy this Ross King is. I loved his novels, particularly Ex Libris. But he is also a noted historian with a love of art. In Defiant Spirits, which is one of the most physically beautiful books I've seen in a long time, he writes the definitive biography of Tom Thomson and our own Group of Seven. These groundbreaking artists really defined Canadian art at a time when all we really had was derivative European-style painting. It's a fascinating read that makes you feel proud to be Canadian. It also makes you want to head directly to the McMichael Gallery to see the largest collection of paintings anywhere from these gifted artists.

The music I'm giving away is... The Light that Guides You Home by Jim Cuddy. I ask you, is there a better singer/singer out there? Not to my mind. (And this was my view long before I ever met him.) While this album is a few years old now, it's still fresh and powerful. My favourite songs on it are the title track, The Light that Guides You Home, Maybe Sometime and the classic Pull Me Through. What makes it all the more meaningful for me is that Jim is just such a good guy. He's thoughtful, an avid reader and loves to play hockey. A man after my own heart.

The DVD I'm giving away is... various seasons of House. I'm a little addicted to House. It's such an oddly compelling show that blends humour and drama so seamlessly. As well, I've been a Hugh Laurie fan for many years, including his early sketch comedy classics on BBC with his old friend and collaborator, Stephen Fry (A Bit of Fry & Laurie). Finally, Hugh Laurie's first novel, The Gun Seller (1996), is a great read. I hope he writes another. Put it all together and it just makes sense that I'm a big House fan.

My favourite part of the holidays is... For me, the real holiday starts on December 26 when the mayhem is over and the hardcore relaxing, and a bit of overdue writing, begins. I love the family traditions we have around this time of year, but the quiet aftermath between Christmas and New Year's is my favourite part.

Over the holidays, I'll be reading... Mordecai: The Life and Times by Charles Foran. I have first editions of most of Richler's classic novels. They taught me a lot about funny but not light writing. He writes with such power, yet has you laughing along the way. Not many can do that for me (e.g., Paul Quarrington, Robertson Davies and John Irving to name a few.). I met Charles Foran in October at the Vancouver Writers Festival and I'm now about to start his definitive biography on a great Canadian writer. Barney's Version is a classic.

...and The Sherlockian by Graham Moore. Every once in a while someone writes a novel set in the world of Sherlock Holmes. As a longtime Sherlock buff, I read some of them just to take a break from the Holmes canon of four novels and 56 short stories. This one looks interesting as two stories unfold in parallel, one set in Victorian England and the other in the current day U.S. I've got it loaded up on my iPad ready to go.

Happy holidays from the Canada Reads team!

Terry's picks are available at independent bookstores across the country. To find one near you, visit the Canadian Booksellers Association's website.

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