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Reader Recommendation round-up: September 28

Recommendations are rolling in for Canada Reads: True Stories from coast to coast to coast. Check out these highlights from day one of the public campaign:

Susan from Brandon, Manitoba, recommends: Who Killed Mom? by Steve Burgess


Who Killed Mom? is actually a tribute to Steve's Mom, and to a good life well lived. This book is funny, heartbreaking, honest and insightful. Also it's about the town I live in and the college I work at, which also grabs me! The book chronicles his Mom's final illness but also talks about her life, overcoming a miserable childhood to be a great mom, and his life along with the rest of the family. A great read.

Hildi from Toronto recommends: Most of Me by Robyn Levy


It is a story of survival. It brings humour into a difficult and painful situation. Not many people can do this effectively...but Robyn can...

Mark from Aurora, Ontario, recommends: Phoenix: The Life of Norman Bethune by Roderick Stewart and Sharon Stewart


A very important, definitive biography of one of Canada's heroes.

James from Markham, Ontario, recommends: Off the Highway: Growing Up in North Delta by Mette Bach


Off the Highway: Growing Up in North Delta by Mette Bach captures the unusual aspects of life in a rural Canadian suburbs.

Nola from Glencoe, Ontario, recommends: Spellbound: Inside West Africa's Witch Camps by Karen Palmer


The author probes questions of faith, of the inequality of women, and of traditions that are carried on today even though the people carrying on those traditions claim not to believe in witchcraft. She went in expecting to debunk 'witchcraft' and came out not so sure that there is nothing to it but pure superstition. Excellent read.

Claire from Toronto recommends: Raisin Wine: A Boyhood in a Different Muskoka by James Bartelman


Great memoir about growing up and succeeding, despite, or perhaps because of, your background.

Charlene from Beaverton, Ontario, recommends: I Shall Not Hate by Izzeldin Abuelaish


I found this book to be a very inspiring read! The Palestinian doctor who wrote this book meets against incredible odds crossing through the Gaza strip to get to Israel each day. He works in the hospital in Israel. He does this even though his family has been killed by Israel forces. He is regarded with high respect by the Israel doctors. This book gives hope to the fact that even within groups of people filled with hate for each other, forgiveness and love can abide.

Marilyn from Brampton, Ontario, recommends: A Life in the Bush by Roy MacGregor


This book is wonderful chronicle of Roy MacGregor's father's life as a bushman in Algonquin Park. Not only do we learn of the life of a logger and bushman, but of the family that grew up around the area. It is vivid in its depiction of the area and the commerce that made towns like Whitney and Huntsville survive in the early part of the century. There is also emotion and we learn of the sacrifices that one makes when choosing one's lifestyle.

Cheryl from Ottawa recommends: One Bird's Choice by Iain Reid


Combining infectious wit with straightforward modesty, Iain Reid's book, One Bird's Choice takes readers into the trials and tribulations, and familial nuances, of daily life from the perspective of Reid himself, who, at the time, was an under-educated and over-employed 20-something year old. Moving back into his parents' farmhouse in rural Ontario, Reid's readers follow him through his year-long sojourn at home. One Bird's Choice struck a chord with me and, likely, many young adults who've found finding a dream job - or any job, for that matter - harder than expected and, therefore, found themselves back at home on the verge of turning 30. Introspective and packed full of detail, Reid's book is a surefire treat for those like me and parents, like Iain's (who virtually come alive in this book), who happily welcome their children back home.

Terri from Pointe Clare, Quebec, recommends: Honeymoon in Purdah by Alison Wearing


Wearing's story of her travels around Iran couldn't be more timely, could it? She meets Iranians of all walks of life and political viewpoints, but doesn't fall into the trap of pretending to present her views as objective. She's self-aware and self-critical, so she doesn't describe experiences like trying the hijab from a knee-jerk western perspective.

But what I really took away from this book is how warm Iranian society is--Wearing can't even debate a cab driver's fare without passer-byes stopping to weigh in and offer her a lift! It made me wonder about the immigrant experience for people coming to Canada--what it's like to move from a country where community is still really central, to a country that's more individualistic and private. It taught me about another country, but in a way that made me reflect upon my own. That's why I think it would be a great Canada Reads.

Kris from Castlegar, British Columbia, recommends: The Golden Spruce by John Vaillant


Wonderfully written, this story explores the intricacies and issues of one of Western Canada's oldest and most dominant industries. It's a lesson in Canadian History-- touching on Native lore, going back to the first west coast explorers and settlers, and the effect they had on the geography, resources and first peoples of the area. Exhaustively researched, this story focuses on the beliefs and fate of a misunderstood man who disappears mysteriously after an act of protest disrupts the sacred existence of a legendary tree, and a people's way of life.

Sarah from Vancouver recommends: Down to This by Shaughnessy Bishop-Stall

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It's a fascinating and moving personal story about the author's year spent living in Toronto's tent city. Really interesting!

Steve from Castlegar, British Columbia, recommends: The Serpent and the Rainbow by Wade Davis


The tag line is "A Harvard Scientist's Astonishing Journey into the Secret Societies of Haitian Voodoo, Zombis, and Magic and its by a world renowned Canadian Ethnobotonists". And it's all true. A real Zombie book! Do I need to say anything more?

Carly from Victoria recommends: Cockeyed by Ryan Knighton


It is a beautifully told, bravely honest and very funny memoir. Great writing and a great story.

Honor from Saskatoon recommends: A Hunter's Confession by David Carpenter


It's hard to find a book about hunting that is as humane as this one. The stories are compelling and lively and speak to something beyond the mere act of hunting. They remind us that we are not separate from the natural world, but are a part of it. Carpenter tells us why he used to love to hunt, and why he gave it up several years ago.

Louise from Vancouver recommends: Something Fierce: Memoirs of a Revolutionary Daughter by Carmen Aguirre


I found this book gripping--exciting and inspiring at the same time. As the story of one family's lives after the violent 1973 coup in Chile, it evokes a depth of political passion that is rare in recent years. Carmen Aguirre arrived in Vancouver with her parents at the age of six as a political refugee. Five years later, she returned to Latin America with her mother, sister and stepfather. While their parents set up a series of safe houses for resistance members, the girls' dangerous double lives began. Award-winning playwright Aguirre has crafted her amazing story with drama, humour and a skill for fast-faced narrative. Hers is also a uniquely Canadian story--many Chileans fled to Canada after the coup, and Aguirre explores with insight and affection the difficulties of life in exile. On the back cover of the book, novelist Camilla Gibb calls this a moving, heart-racing journey, It is that and much more. I think it would be a perfect book for Canada Reads.

Garry from Ottawa recommends: The Library at Night by Alberto Manguel


It is a fantastic read. Manguel is an excellent writer who puts into words the love of books we all feel. This travelogue of sorts - he is in the process of moving his library to a castle in France - breathes life into the history of the library.

Theresa from Toronto recommends: The Tiger by John Vailiant


This story fascinated me ever since I first heard it. Dramatic, scary, true - and a wonderful challenge to those who think animals are not capable of deep passion or complicated thinking. I want to hear about how this tiger makes us all squirm, and teaches humans not to think we can kill with impunity and get away with it.

Ann from Ajax, Ontario, recommends: The Madman and the Butcher by Tim Cook

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A well written, easily readable account of the clash between General Sir Arthur Currie, arguably Canada's finest general, and Sir Sam Hughes, during and after WW1. A fascinating chapter in our history, although I don't know if it is a very well known chapter.

Leslie from Orillia, Ontario, recommends: Six String Nation by Jowi Taylor


This book moved me like nothing else I have read about our country. It brought our history to life and made me want to travel to each corner of our country to learn more about who we are and how we all connect. I love the emotion that it stirs, with personal stories and beautiful moments in time. It is about a Guitar, but more so, about us as a nation. Music, culture and history woven together in the most heart rendering way! After reading this book, I was never so proud and humbled to be Canadian.

Kelvin from Toronto recommends: The Film Club by David Gilmour


The Film Club poignant example of a father's love for his son. David Gilmour takes a risky gamble with his son Jesse, whom he allows to drop out of high school if they watch three films together each week. What was supposed to be a temporary plan turns into an odyssey spanning three years. Through the movies and their time together, David observes (and frequently becomes a participant) in Jesse's journey into adulthood. Parenthood, growing up, movies, life -- these are all themes that most of us will relate to, and David captures them perfectly in this book.

Barbara from Sutton, Ontario, recommends: As You Were by Gerry Fostaty


An excellent non fiction account of a shameful moment in Canadian military history. Six young cadets were blown to bits in a grenade safety demonstration at Val Cartier and the rest of the company were treated with callous disdain, subjected to a kangaroo court interrogations and shunted home as the professionals refused, and still refuse, to take responsibility for the post traumatic stress still suffered by many of these boys, now men in their middle years. The author is one of those men who are now finally confronting the implications for themselves and their families of that summer in the '70's. Recommended by my book club.

Dee from Stouffville, Ontario, recommends: Paddle to the Amazon: The Ultimate 12,000-mile Canoe Adventure by Don Starkell


Paddle to the Amazon is a book that captures the adventurous spirit of an everyday Canadian family. It is the thrilling true-life adventure of a Dad and his son who paddle their canoe over 12,000-miles (+-19,312 kilometers) from Winnepeg to the mouth of the Amazon. It is the story of courage, bravery, guts and nerve. This book will inspire you to plan your own adventure of a lifetime for your own family.

Nick from Scarborough, Ontario, recommends: Sailing Alone Around the World by Joshua Slocum


This journal of the first solo circumnavigation by sail, (without sponsorship, motor or gps) in 1898 is a story of great understated courage and strength. Retiring after a life spent at sea, Joshua Slocum, a Nova Scotian-born Yankee trader, rebuilt a 24-foot hulk that he found in a meadow, eventually replacing every piece of wood, called her the Spray, and went on a 4-year sail around the world becoming the first man to ever complete the hazardous circumnavigation alone, before there were the Suez and Panama canals to avoid the horrendous Cape passages.

Without enough money to fund his supplies, he salvaged goods from the many wrecks that he found, to trade for food and repairs. He faced down pirates, and savages, prayed to his God when caught in 50 foot seas, (with icebergs), and brought the mail from Australia to Africa. He also met many of the great explorers, and resisted the temptations of topless wahines in the south seas. After coming safe to harbour he went back to sea many times, 'til he was finally lost in 1909.

Carmen from Cartier, Manitoba, recommends: Sea Sick by Alanna Mitchell


Alanna Mitchell is a journalist, so her writing gets to the point. In Sea Sick, Alanna travels with scientists to different oceans. She sees and experiences what the scientists do in their research. Her book brings home how humans and the earth are so closely tied to the oceans. She makes the point that if the oceans are sick the earth, the land is sick. What I came away with after reading her book is that we must care about what happens to our oceans.

Have a great true story you can to recommend for Canada Reads? You have until midnight ET on October 14 to get your submission in. Head over to the Submit Your Recommendation page now!

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