11 books to read for Remembrance Day

This collection of war literature includes recent fiction, nonfiction and children's books written by Canadians.

On Remembrance Day, Canadians across the country will observe two minutes of silence for those who fought and lost their lives for Canada. To commemorate this day, CBC Books has collected a list of Canadian fiction, nonfiction and children's books that examine history and describe experiences of war.

Everyday Heroes by Jody Mitic

Jody Mitic is a city councillor in Ottawa and a former Canada Reads panellist. (CBC/Simon & Schuster)

What it's about: Everyday Heroes is collection of first-person essays written by members of the Canadian Armed Forces. Harrowing and heroic, Jody Mitic — a city councillor in Ottawa and a Canada Reads panellist in 2017 — brings soldiers' stories from several wars together, including World War Two, the Korean War and the war in Afghanistan. Mitic is a veteran and also the author of the memoir Unflinching: The Making of a Canadian Sniper.

​Vimy by Tim Cook

Tim Cook is a military historian at the Canadian War Museum and author of Vimy: The Battle and The Legend. (John Williams)

What it's about: Historian Tim Cook examines the battle of Vimy Ridge, a defining moment of the First World War in which 10,600 Canadians were killed or injured. These four days in April 1917 are often referred to as the "birth of the nation."

By Chance Alone by Max Eisen

By Chance Alone is Max Eisen's memoir of surviving the Holocaust. (Nick Iwanyshyn)

What it's about: Holocaust survivor Max Eisen has toured the world, educating people about the horrors he survived during the Second World War. He has recorded his memories in the deeply moving memoir By Chance Alone, which was a finalist for the 2017 RBC Taylor Prize.

I, Who Did Not Die by Najah Aboud & Zahed Haftlang, with Meredith May

Meredith May tells the story of Zahed Haftlang and Najah Aboud in I, Who Did Not Die. (Courtesy of Meredith May/Simon & Schuster Canada)

What it's about: I, Who Did Not Die tells the remarkable true story of a friendship between two men on the opposite sides of war. Najah Aboud, conscripted to the Iraq military in 1980, was close to death on the battlefield when he was saved by Zahed Haftlang, a 13-year-old Iranian soldier. Nearly 20 years after this encounter, Aboud and Haftlang found themselves sitting beside each other at the Vancouver Association for Survivors of Torture.

​Dazzle Patterns by Alison Watt

Dazzle Patterns is Alison Watt's first novel. (

What it's about: The novel Dazzle Patterns begins on the day of the Halifax Explosion of 1917, the worst man-made disaster in Canadian history. Two thousand people were killed and 10,000 were injured on Dec. 6, 1917, when a Norwegian steamship delivering relief supplies crashed into a French munitions vessel carrying TNT. 

A Boy from Botwood by Bryan Davies & Andrew Traficante

A Boy From Botwood tells a Newfoundland soldier's story from the First World War. (Dundurn)

What it's about: First World War veteran Arthur Manuel rarely spoke of his experience in battle. In 2011, 27 years after his death, 400 pages of writing and 60 hours of tape were discovered by Manuel's grandson David. Working from this material, Bryan Davies and Andrew Traficante have written an account of Manuel's life, from his enlistment in the Royal Newfoundland Regiment, to his 1917 capture at the battle of Passchendaele and survival as a prisoner of war.

​The Water Beetles by Michael Kaan

Michael Kaan is the author of The Water Beetles. (Goose Lane Editions/Leif Norman)

What it's about: Inspired by the diaries of Michael Kaan's father, The Water Beetles takes place in Hong Kong during the Second World War. It follows a young boy named Chung-Man, forced to leave his parents and hide in the countryside when Japan invades Hong Kong. Kaan's novel was shortlisted for the 2017 Governor General's Literary Award for fiction.

ةيلمع Operación Opération Operation 行 动 Oперация by Moez Surani

Moez Surani is the author of ةيلمع Operación Opération Operation 行 动 Oперация. (

What it's about: Moez Surani's long poem ةيلمع Operación Opération Operation 行 动 Oперация systematically lists the names of military operations conducted by United Nations member states from 1945 to 2006.

Lost in September by Kathleen Winter

Kathleen Winter's previous novel, Annabel, was on Canada Reads in 2014. (CBC/Penguin Random House Canada)

What it's about: Lost in September is a complex and layered story of a homeless, former soldier who suffers from PTSD. Jimmy bears a resemblance to General James Wolfe, "Conqueror of Canada" and "Hero of Quebec," who died on the Plains of Abraham in 1759. The book, Winter's second novel, was a finalist for the 2017 Governor General's Literary Award for fiction.

​To Look a Nazi in the Eye by Kathy Kacer, with Jordana Lebowitz

To Look a Nazi in the Eye is a nonfiction book about Jordana Lebowitz (right), who attended a war criminal trial in 2015. Kathy Kacer writes her story. (Second Story Press)

What it's about: Jordana Lebowitz, 19, is the granddaughter of Holocaust survivors. In this nonfiction book written by Kathy Kacer, Lebowitz reflects on what it was like to attend the 2015 trial of Oskar Groening, known as the "bookkeeper of Auschwitz."

The Road to Afghanistan by Linda Granfield, illustrated by Brian Deines

Linda Granfield is a war historian and has written several children's books about veterans and their families. (Scholastic Canada, Linda Granfield)

What it's about: War historian Linda Granfield composes the stories of three generations of soldiers in this children's book: a young soldier recently returned from Afghanistan, his grandfather, a veteran of the Second World War, and his great-grandfather, who fought in the trenches of the First World War.