The story of place in Canada is often told through biography, but rarely through multiple biography. Often, the place seen by one is not the place seen by another.
It's worth repeating how much this book made me laugh. Who doesn't like to laugh?
Beautifully written, true-life journey of passion, imagination, and discovery fuelled by the transcendent power of a musical masterpiece. has won a lot of awards.
Judy from Hanover, Ontario, recommended: Shooting for the Moon: The Bill Beagan Story by Paul White with Bill Beagan
Shooting for the Moon: The Bill Beagan Story by Paul White, is a fantastic story of a young boy growing up in the small, northern Ontario town of Parry Sound. Very poor, the eleventh of thirteen children, Bill like many kids in that situation wanted more. He made some brave and extremely tough decisions. He joined the Canadian Army Apprentice Program, where he learned some savvy skills of leadership and ended up as Commissioner of four hockey leagues and sitting in on some of the most powerful boards in the world of hockey. He mingled and befriended other great Canadians in the world of hockey and the book is full of fascinating stories. This is an amazing true story of rags to riches, accomplishment and inspiration.
Linda from Kingston, Ontario, recommended: Double Vision: The Inside Story of the Liberals in Power by Anthony Wilson-Smith and Edward Greenspon
This book is a fascinating read.(period). It tells the story of Jean Chretien and Paul Martin in power from 1993 and it explains a lot about what has happened to Canada since 1993.
Cheryl Ann from Cornwall, Prince Edward Island, recommended: Quilts of Prince Edward Island by Sherrie Davidson
In September 1991, Sherrie Davidson began the Heirloom Quilt Survey on Prince Edward Island. She wished to document quilt making in PEI from the 1700s to the 1970s and photograph as many of the heirloom quilts as possible. 305 quilts were documented from her visits to over 100 Island homes.
The stories in this text are as interesting as the quilts are beautiful. I enjoyed hearing about the various quilting fads over the years. Of course being PEI, there is a reference to L.M. Montgomery's quilts as well as references to quilting in her stories. There were great stories of important family heirlooms either lost to spring cleaning, or to other branches of the family while others were horded safely in a trunk or closet. Far from being a collection of stories, it traces the history of quilting through examples from the survey.
A quilt hoarder myself, I could relate to Sherrie Davidson's interest in the techniques of quilting and the history of behind each masterpiece. She has loved, sewn, and collected quilts for over 30 years. If you have any interest in quilting this book is a must have.
Keri from Toronto recommended: Hot Art by Joshua Knelman
It is a brilliantly written non-fiction book that reads like a novel. The subject is truly fascinating as well.
Diane from Winnipeg recommended: Epic Wanderer by D'Arcy Jenish
Although not as widely known, Thompson's story is as central to Canada as Lewis & Clark's is to the US; Also because it's the story of an ordinary man who had endurance beyond belief; and who worked himself to the bone to map the country in the expectation not of greatness -- but of mere recognition and compensation for immense task he undertook in mapping the west -- only to end up in complete despair and poverty. It's a story of that scours the heart.
Shawn from Bradford, Ontario, recommended: On a Cold Road by Dave Bidini
It took me a while to get into the Rheostatics -- I had friends who love them, I had friends in bands who knew them and played with them. Try as I might I just didn't get them ( I always like the singles but that was it) they weren't a band I would ever go out of my way to listen to.
It wasn't until I left home in Totteham Ontario, heading west to Whistler BC by car that I came to love the Rheostatics. Their sound and writing totaly capture what Canada is to me. The space, the landscape, the new horizons ahead and nostalgia caught in review mirror. My partner had brought some Rheos and as they played and our beautiful countryside rolled past our car their music started to stick.
When we arrived in Whistler we found out the Rheos were playing in town at the Boot Pub. We arrived at the pub early. We watched the band arrive, do a sound check and got to seen the interaction between the members. Once Martin Tielli started to sing during that sound check I was captured. It all came together for me. Cue the angels and gospel choir I was lost and now I'm found.
This book is required fall reading for me every two years I gravitate to it. It seems to fill a need I have in the fall -- the nostalgia, the history, the dreams of something bigger etc. To me it's a perfectly Canadian book!
Terry from Morin Heights, Quebec, recommended: Tangles by Sarah Leavitt
I will not only nominate a non-fiction book, I will go one better and nominate a feature length memoir, Tangles by Sarah Leavitt. It is a graphic memoir about her mother's struggle and eventual death from Alzheimer's. It's a beautiful, painful and honest portrayal. And you could get either Sarah or Tegan to defend it. I felt very sorry for Sarah or Tegan (whoever it was) when her book, the graphic collection of hockey stories, was the first title voted off last time. Bring her or her sister back and give her a second chance. She will surely do better next time.
Erin from Ottawa recommended: True Story by Mike Holmes
This book is funny, clever, entertaining and, of course, full of true stories as told to Mike Holmes by friends, acquaintances and strangers. Its even CALLED True Story! I think it would also be great for CBC to have a wide variety of types of non-fiction on the list, and True Story represents that is often not seen in non-fiction- the comic book. Perfect!
Michele from Regina recommended: Paddle to the Amazon by Don Starkell
One of my fav non-fiction Canadian reads is totally out of character for me but I couldn't put it down: Paddle to the Amazon by Don Starkell. It's an older book but still poignant with every read.
It's the story of a father and his two sons who decide to paddle from Winnipeg to where the Amazon meets the ocean in Brazil. I often recommended it to my high school students, especially those interested in extreme outdoor sports. Always a page turner.
There are so many great Canadian non-fiction books out there that it will be hard to choose. I do hope that this one will get some consideration in the race, though, because it is a wonderful read.
Richard from Toronto recommended: Have Not Been the Same: The CanRock Renaissance, 1985-95 by Michael Barclay, Jason Schneider and Ian Andrew Jack
I'm 37 and this book covers the formative years of my musical education. In my opinion, this is the most important period in Canadian music history, and Have Not Been the Same does an amazing job in covering the various sceens across the country during this exciting time.
It represents a real maturing of the Canadian music scene and showed that homegrown acts could hold their own against the best that the U.S., U.K. and beyond had to offer with or without CanCon requirements. The success of independant artists like the The Lowest of the Low, Barenaked Ladies and Moxy Fruvous (of course!) and labels like Mint Records, DROG and Sonic Unyon proved that success could be achieved without the need for the Corporate music making machine.
The reverberations of these 10 years are still being felt today as we are in the midst of yet another healthy amd exciting CanRock Renaissance. The successes of artists like Broken Social Scene, Arcade Fire and Stars as well as labels like Arts & Crafts and Six Shooter Records in recent years owe a lot to the successes and inspiration of the scene documented in Have Not Been The Same.
After being out of print for the past few years, a 10th Anniversary Edition has recently been released, so, should it win Canada Reads 2012, it will be available for anyone interested in reading it.
Janet from Toronto recommended: The Paper Garden by Molly Peacock
This is a fascinating story about a woman in 18th century England who began her life's work at the age of 72 -- and created a new art form in the process. The book itself is an objet d'art with its beautiful reproductions of Mrs. Delany's creations.
Theresa from Ottawa recommended: Tree: A Life Story by David Suzuki and Wayne Grady
The text is by our famous environmentalist and scientist David Suzuki teaming up with Governor General Award winner and prolific nature writer Wayne Grady. The art is by Robert Bateman. Need I say more?
Chandra from Lethbridge, Alberta, recommended: A New Kind of Monster: The Secret Life And Chilling Crimes of Colonel Russell Williams by Timothy Appleby
You said you wanted something different, this one gives you different. Shocking and terrifying, this is the story of a man in the Canadian military, with much more under his repitoire than suited air force colonel. He pretty much packs into his story every crime in the book, which makes for slightly more than a mediocre read.
Brittany from Toronto recommended: The Making of a Nurse by Tilda Shalof
This is a rare piece of non-fiction that explores the work of a registered nurse. It is an honest, thought-provoking account that provides insight into a profession that is not well understood by the general public and not accurately represented in popular media.
Jacqui from London, Ontario, recommended: From This Moment On by Shania Twain
This book is MUCH better than I expected it to be-not only a wonderfully written memoir, but of potential interest to ALL Canadians for the fascinating and detailed descriptions of blue-collar family life in Northern Ontario from the 1960's on. This is not your typical 'famous star tells all' bio, and really deserves to be read whether or not you are a fan of Ms. Twain's music. For fans of The Glass Castle I'd venture to say this book is a BETTER READ than that and I nominate it here because I think it's historical depictions that go beyond Ms. Twain's own compelling life are worth the read alone. Fans of Joseph Boyden will also love this book. Having said all of that, Shania Twain has done an amazing job of telling her own story. I can't say enough about this work. It truly is a great Canadian Story in more ways than one.
Justin from Ottawa recommended: Shake Hands with the Devil by Romeo Dallaire
The role Canada took in Rwanda before, during and after the world changing genocide showcases the determination and compassion of Canadians who supported the mission, and the utter failure of the world community, especially the UN and US to stop the atrocity. Canada stood tall in the face of terror, and one man, Lt. Gen. Dallaire embodied everything Canadians should strive to be.
Heather from Toronto recommended: The Chimps of Fauna Sanctuary by Andrew Westoll
This is an amazing book, blowing apart all the myths that animal testing is necessary or helpful. Westoll devotes most of the book to the chimps he sees every day at Fauna, strong personalities each, while recounting this history of chimps in research, and the fight to stop it from continuing. The lessons learned in The Chimps of Fauna Sanctuary reach beyond primates, and make the reader question their relationship with all animals.
Guarav from Fort Erie, Ontario, recommended: Louis Riel: A Comic-Strip Biography by Chester Brown
I have only been in Canada for the past 10 years. Once I received my citizenship I found myself hungry for a history I knew nothing about. As a university student I stumbled upon Chester Brown's graphic memoir of Louis Riel and found myself riveted by the rich and violent history that this nation was founded upon. Whether or not you agree with Mr. Brown's particular vision of Canadian history and how he portrays Mr. Riel, the graphic novel presents this history in a multifaceted and engaging. It was the perfect entry into a larger cultural history that I was joining.
Jamie from Calgary recommended: The Truth About Stories by Thomas King
Thomas King blends personal narrative with broader social commentary in an approachable manner; without authors such as King I believe that many issues, particularly relating to Indigenous people in North America, would not be as recognized as they are currently. Additionally, King's narrative structure appeals to a broad audience without being too academic or complex to read.
Bud from Grimsby, Ontario, recommended: This Crazy Time by Tzeporah Berman
This memoir, by one of Canada's most influential environmentalist , offers an insight into the environmental movement in Canada form the early days of rainforest preservation. In her reasoned and reasonable writing goes to the heart of problems facing our world with humour and insight.
In her memoir, Tzepora Berman talks about her transition from everything is black and white to honest, reasoned discussion and negotiation as a means to achieve environmental protection goals. She allows those of us who think something needs to be done to be comfortable in making the first step to involvement, even on an individual level. One need not see the environmental movement as all radical eco-terrorism.
Ms. Berman's work is an important read for every Canadian. Best of all, it isn't painful! It isn't preachy. Her humourous, and wry, outlook and writing style make this one more than worthwhile.
Tracy from Pickering, Ontario, recommended: The Prisoner of Tehran by Marina Nemat
We read this book a couple of years ago in my book club. It was such an edge of your seat kind of book. Obviously Marina gets out of the situation because she wrote the book but while you are reading it you forget and worry she might not make it. I devoured this book and I think that Iran is a topic that is very much in the news now so the book still retains its relevancy. It inspired me to learn more about Iran and I was excited to learn that she had wrote a follow up book as well.
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!