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Reader Recommendation round-up: September 29

Recommendations are rolling in for Canada Reads: True Stories from coast to coast to coast. 

Check out these highlights:

Leanne from Victoria recommended: The Golden Spruce by John Vaillant


This book has everything I could ask for in a non-fiction story including mystery, history, and intriguing characters like Grant Hadwin and the unique and almost miraculous Golden Spruce that the story centers around. It's setting is in what is described as the beautiful and remote Queen Charlotte Islands; a place that sounds like no other and one in which I would like to now visit. I enjoyed reading about the history of the First Nations people along the coast of B.C., the early European contact with our shores, and logging in B.C. as well as in North America. The book has helped me to imagine the way the land was before large scale logging began, and to remind me of what an amazing environment we live in and sometimes take for granted. We get to hear the thoughts and opinions of all people involved in the mystery and who the tragic loss of the spruce tree has affected. I like how John Vaillant remains objective and doesn't place any of his own judgements in the story. We are just listening to a story which is both fascinating and often sad at times,and learning much in the process.

Lisa from Toronto recommended: Most of Me by Robyn Levy


Robyn's story is both heartbreaking and heartwarming! I am inspired by Robyn's willingness to share her challenges and triumphs in such a beautiful way. This story helps me remember that no matter how difficult a situation may appear, I can handle whatever comes my way.

Carolyn from Innisfil, Ontario, recommended: Ghost Rider by Neil Peart


I read this incredible book a few years ago and was so touched by Neil's amazing journey. This is definitely a book that you can't put down. Not only is Neil one the world's best drummers, he is a fantastic writer.

Sarah from Kamloops, British Columbia, recommended: The Golden Spruce by John Vaillant


I recommend this book as it is not only a brilliantly crafted story by John Vaillant but also a very Canadian story, that speaks to the core of our identity. It is engrossing, spiritual, and mythical. It teaches the reader that we (Canadians) live either in or on the fringes of wilderness and we are always at odds with either seeking to protect the natural beauty around us or exploit it for our own gain. This book haunts and teaches at the same time.

Beth from Ninette, Manitoba recommended: Who Killed Mom? by Steve Burgess


Steve has asked a question that probably most children have asked themselves and explored the answer in a humourous and empathic way. As many of us got past our rebellious stage we wondered how our Mums had survived us (and maybe how we survive our children). Steve`s book was a real page turner and a wonderful tribute to a great woman who faced challenges throughout her life.

Dylan from Toronto recommended: One Bird's Choice by Iain Reid


One Bird's Choice is a humble and quirky Canadian story, set in the present when being humble, quirky and Canadian is just becoming cool for the first time. Iain's lovable parents come to life, and remind us of our own. Lucius, the guinea fowl, may be the most famous of his species in the world. This book was fun to read aloud to one another, it makes you feel immersed in these amazing moments, that you may have not noticed had the author not shared his story. I'm glad he did.

Randi from Ottawa recommended: An Imperfect Offering by James Orbinski


Written by James Orbinski, MD past president of Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) - a series of compelling personal stories from his experiences with MSF - the book is an absolute raw, inside view of life as a medical volunteer in some of the most severe conditions in the world. An amazing Canadian. An amazing story.

Catherine from Toronto recommended: Hot Art by Joshua Knelman


Intriguing, shocking, eloquent, compelling, unfathomable. There have been many books on art theft, but none that reveal like this one does, the extent to which this underworld exists and thrives. It's a page turner and a truly unbelievable story.

Marg from Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, recommended: Two Billion Trees and Counting by John Bacher


I chose this book because it is an exceptional true story about the beginnings of forest management in Canada. It is about Canada's original 'Man Who Planted Trees', Edmund Zavitz. He work to stop desertification and flood events in Ontario and to restore forests starting in the 1920s. He also created the first laws and program to protect northern communities from wildfires. He had to battle timber barons and hostile elected officials, but his legacy has still prevailed. This book is a testament to his perseverance. It is very engaging and well-written book. I chose it because I found it a very inspiring read. I work in forestry, and these can be very discouraging times. It was interesting to see what tribulations that Zavitz went through so many years ago - some not unlike some things that hae happened in the last 15 years.

The highest profile areas that he started tree restoration are the Simcoe County Forests (Oak Ridges Moraine), the Gordon Cosens Forest, St Williams nursery. He also began the conservation area program to prevent flooding in southern Ontario.

Rebecca from Kentville, Nova Scotia, recommended: The Boy in the Moon by Ian Brown


I see this has already been recommended and I just wanted to add my vote. As the mother of a child with special needs I found Ian Brown's honesty in this book so very refreshing. Mr. Brown touches on topics, question and emotions that we only dare to allow in thought. I want to thank him for this very matter of fact book that does not sugar coat the true conflict of emotions that such a life brings. My one wish is that this book be placed in the hands of all the professionals who work with these children so that they may have some understanding of what it is that they ask of us and what it is that we are truly struggling with each day, each month, each year.

Clela from Toronto recommended: A Fair Country: Telling Truths about Canada by John Ralston Saul


I don't read non-fiction very often. My aunt Jane recommended this book to me and it keeps me reading night after night. The content is fascinating;the way we Canadians view ourselves historically and politically. So much Canadian history, analysis and thought provoking ideas here. It seems so logical when explained by the author and yet I've never heard anyone discuss the subject in this way before.

Matthew from Ottawa recommended: Shock Troops by Tim Cook


Tim Cook dramatically recreates the life of the Canadian soldier during the last two years of the Great War in Shock Troops. This book is social history at its best. Following the footsteps of Canadian Expeditionary force, Cook takes the reader deep inside the dugouts of the Western Front with the men doing the hard fighting. During the book, the Canadian Expeditionary Force become masters of trench warfare and are unstoppable from Vimy, to Passchendaele, to battles of the final hundred days. We see the war through the eyes of the men that fought. We are alongside for their triumphs, share their sadness and loss, and no longer wonder at how they survived the all hardships they faced. This isn't just a study of battles and generals, but a total history of the culture of Canadians at war. All historians should aim to what Cook has achieved - a readable, enjoyable, and serious history of a group of Canadians that we can all be proud of.

Carol from Clarksburg, Ontario, recommended: One River by Wade Davis


I have read practically everything Wade has written he is brilliant. I am absorbed by the environment ans social history, Wade creates a wonderful story and writes with aplomb. A book to to enjoyed by everyone, interested in faraway places.

Andrea from Vancouver recommended: Growing Up Jung by Micah Toub


A great balance between funny, engaging memoir and well-researched history of Jungian psychoanalysis. A pleasure to read.

Katie from Ottawa recommended: My Turquoise Years by M.A.C. Farrant


This is a wonderful memoir of a young girl coming of age on Vancouver Island surrounded by an unconventional and quirky, yet loving family. It made me laugh out loud, and moved me to tears. M.A.C. Farrant has a beautifully wry, understated style of prose that leaves enough space for the reader to bring their own imagination to the work. I was reluctant to read it a second time because I thought it wouldn't have the same magic. I was wrong. It was even better the second time.

Suzanne from Burnaby, British Columbia, recommended: Burning Down the House by Russell Wangersky


I realized this book was going to live with me for a long time when it fell on my face as I futilely stared down sleep in order to keep reading.

I shook myself awake and kept reading. It is no wonder that the book's author, Russell Wangersky went on to win a lot of acclaim, not to mention lucrative awards following the books publication in March of 2008.

The book offers up the inner secrets of that most stalwart and heroic of professions - firefighting.

Wangersky is a natural writer and that combined with his well-honed reporter eye gives the reader finely-detailed scenes, riveting descriptions of fear and uncertainty, and of course the wrenching unraveling of his mind and marriage.

The concurrent themes running throughout the book reveal a stunning level of self-awareness as the profession he longed to be part of from a young age touch all aspects of his life.

Laura from Toronto recommended: Down to This: Squalor and Splendour in a Big-City Shantytown by Shaughnessy Bishop-Stall


Because it was an excellent read with insight into a world most of us will never experience. Most people walk past the homeless man on the corner, Bishop-Stall lived with him and others and provided a valuble look into their lives.

Marjorie from Ottawa recommended: Fatal Tide by David Leach


In Fatal Tide David Leach, former editor of Explore, the Outdoor Magazine, captures the excitement and unexpected disaster in a triathlon held near and on the unpredictable Bay of Fundy. Information from the inquest that followed the death of one of the competitors and interviews with participants, local people and family members allow readers to follow the adventure and draw their own conclusions about the safety of such events and the nature of people who search for the ultimate adventure. Adrenaline flows, but nature rules.

Phemie from Ottawa recommended: The Chimps of Fauna Sanctuary by Andrew Westoll


This book deeply touched me. Westoll spent an internship at the sanctuary and he effectively tells stories about the chimps... stories that illustrate the life, personalities and relationships of the big primates in the sanctuary. These stories include the effect of the chimps on all the men and women who work there. Having met the animals through the descriptions of Westoll it's difficult to rationalize the suffering they have endured for human entertainment and research. But this isn't just a blaming story; it is a window into the life of a wild animal species. It is a compassionate tale of unforgettable characters.

This sanctuary in Quebec was built and operated by the very determined Gloria Grow and her veterinarian husband. The chimps have been rescued from laboratories, circuses and private owners.

Errol from Ajax, Ontario, recommended: Red Blood by Robert Hunter


I have read most books that Robert (Bob) Hunter wrote during his lifetime. Having authored 6 and co-authored 5 nonfiction novels, numerous articles and his television journalism career I can't think of a more prolific Canadian nonfiction author other than Robert Hunter. When you read his books his writing style puts you right there with him in the scene. In chapter 17 in Red Blood, Hunter and his Native buddies take over one of Columbus’s replica ships in Puerto Rico on the 500th anniversary of its arrival to North America from Spain. The book has both intense and hilarious circumstances throughout and after reading Red Blood you feel empowered to go out and protest anything that destroys the environment or undermines human rights. It was a toss up for me as Hunter's confronting thermagedon in our lifetimes should be read by everyone and compulsory reading in schools. That is if we want to survive as a species.

Tracy from Toronto recommended: Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth by Margaret Atwood


Margaret Atwood IS Canada's premier author.

Her CBC lecture series manuscript; Payback, is a sobering look at the history, context, myth and reality surrounding our current monetary and environmental predicaments.

Atwood uses her dry wit and boundless imagination to paint an informative history, rich with historical fact, contextual myth and educated presuppositions. A must read for anyone troubled by the direction our society, economy and environment are heading.

I personally read this book almost 3 years ago and still think and talk about it: All. The. Time.

Payback has changed the way I deal with and think about money, debt and all that comes with it. Debt is not just a monetary issue...

Donna from Fenwick, Ontario, recommended: Too Close to the Falls by Catherine Gildiner


It is a great story with lots of humour. It is especially appealing to anyone who has been taught by nuns... and MANY of us were. I enjoyed it so much I read it two different times. Along with that the author is a very entertaining and engaging speaker.

Almonte from Mississippi Mills, Ontario, recommended: Kingfisher Days by Susan Coyne


This is a lovely little sleeper of a a book which when you read it transports you back to carefree summers of childhood past. A book that can be shared with children and enjoyed by men and women alike. We have recommended it to our patrons over and over and always with positive results.

Heather from Ottawa recommended: A Great Feast of Light by John Doyle


This is a fascinating memoir about growing up in Ireland in the 50's and 60's. It is a personal history and social history combined. John Doyle is a wonderful writer, and it has been a popular pass-along book in our family for the past few years.

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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