Books

15 Canadian books to read on International Women's Day

Looking for a way to mark International Women's Day? Check out one of these great books.

Looking for a way to mark International Women's Day on March 8? Check out one of these books by Canadian writers and artists.

Split Tooth by Tanya Tagaq

Split Tooth is Polaris Prize-winning artist Tanya Tagaq's first book. (Penguin Random House, Peter Power/Canadian Press)

Combining memoir with fiction, Tanya Tagaq writes about a young girl's coming of age in 1970s Nunavut. She is a witness to the mythic wonders of the Arctic world, which juxtapose harshly against the violence and alcoholism in her community. Split Tooth is the first book by Tagaq, a Polaris Prize and Juno-winning Inuk singer.

Split Tooth was on the longlist for the 2018 Scotiabank Giller Prize.

Women Talking by Miriam Toews

Women Talking is Miriam Toews's latest novel. (Carol Loewen, Knopf Canada)

In Miriam Toews's powerful novel, eight Mennonite women come together to talk. Why? They have 48 hours to make a decision that will impact every woman and child in their community. Women Talking is inspired by a real-life case in the 2000s, when women in a Bolivian Mennonite community began whispering that they were waking up groggy, in pain, feeling like they had been sexually molested.

Women Talking was a finalist for the 2018 Governor General's Literary Award for fiction.

Divided Loyalties by Nilofar Shidmehr

Divided Loyalties is a short story collection by Nilofar Shidmehr. (House of Anansi Press)

Divided Loyalties is a collection of stories about the diverse lives of Iranian women through the past several decades and across Iran and Canada. Nilofar Shidmehr's stories follow young girls and women as they look beyond their designated roles as mothers, daughters, sisters and wives in times of war, refuge and reflection. Divided Loyalties is poet and essayist Shidmehr's debut collection of short fiction.

I'm Afraid of Men by Vivek Shraya

I'm Afraid of Men is a book by Vivek Shraya. (Zachary Ayotte, Penguin Canada)

Multidisciplinary artist Vivek Shraya recounts a lifetime of resilience in her new nonfiction book, I'm Afraid of Men. From childhood to adulthood, Shraya maintains a constant survival act, combating misogyny, homophobia and transphobia, and candidly shares the ways she's been shaped by trauma. 

Port of Being by Shazia Hafiz Ramji​

Port of Being is a poetry collection by Shazia Hafiz Ramji. (Invisible)

Shazia Hafiz Ramji's debut poetry collection casts the public against the private for a look into the many ways we are surveilled — online, on the street, by the government or otherwise. Port of Being is smart, surprising and often sinister, with language that lurks and lurches with great precision.

Woman World by Aminder Dhaliwal

Woman World is Aminder Dhaliwal's first graphic novel. (Drawn & Quarterly, Kenneth Hung)

In Woman World, a genetic defect has left the earth populated entirely by women and natural disasters have ravaged the planet. Only Grandma remembers a world with men — a time of that's-what-she-said jokes and heroic mall cops named Paul Blart. Initially created as a series of bi-weekly comic strips posted to Instagram, Woman World was published after gaining a sizeable following online.

The Red Word by Sarah Henstra

The Red Word is Sarah Henstra's first work of adult fiction. (Grove Press, ECW Press)

In Sarah Henstra's novel The Red Word, a group of feminists at an American university plot to bring down a notorious fraternity after Karen, a college sophomore, wakes up one night on the fraternity's front lawn. As part of an elaborate plan for payback, Karen finds herself immersed in fraternity party culture while becoming further integrated into feminist activism. The Red Word examines consent, rape culture and politics as they play out on a mid-1990s college campus. 

The Red Word won the 2018 Governor General's Literary Award for fiction.

It Begins with the Body by Hana Shafi

It Begins With The Body is a poetry collection by Hana Shafi​. (Dylan van den Berge, Book*Hug)

Artist Hana Shafi has written an original exploration of coming-of-age as a brown girl. It Begins With The Body combines poetry with illustrations to explore growing up, being an outsider and all the weird, scary and wonderful stuff your body goes through — and you put it through — as you get older.

​Surviving the City by Tasha Spillett, illustrated by Natasha Donovan

Surviving the City is Tasha Spillett's debut graphic novel. It's illustrated by Natasha Donovan. (Portage & Main Press)

High school students Miikwan, who is of Anishinaabe descent, and Dez, who is of Inninew descent, are best friends in Winnipeg. Both have experienced loss, as women in their lives have gone missing or been murdered. In Surviving the City, Miikwan and Dez lean on each other and their communities for support and strive to change the devastating trend of missing and murdered Indigenous women.

This Book Betrays My Brother by Kagiso Lesego Molope

This Book Betrays My Brother is a novel by Kagiso Lesego Molope. (Mawenzi House)

Kagiso Lesego Molope's YA novel follows a 13-year-old narrator named Naledi who witnesses her beloved older brother committing a terrible act of violence. Naledi is lost in the aftermath, unsure how to reconcile who she thought her brother was with what he has done. Set in the 1990s, This Book Betrays My Brother received the 2013 Percy FitzPatrick Prize for Youth Literature in South Africa where it was first published.

Stars by Lucy Haché, illustrated by Michael Joyal

Stars is a poetry collection by Lucy Haché, a writer of Kwakwaka'wakw/Métis and Scottish/Irish descent. (At Bay Press)

Lucy Haché explores her personal and ancestral connections to the stars in this moving poetry collection. Haché's writing is a tribute to Indigenous women of past and present, observing how trauma and healing has passed through generations. She lives in Port Hardy, B.C.

The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore by Kim Fu

Kim Fu is a Canadian-born writer and editor living in Seattle. (L D’Alessandro, HarperCollins)

In Kim Fu's second novel, an overnight kayaking trip goes awry when a group of girls attending Camp Forevermore are stranded in the wilderness. Each camper has a role to play in the group's survival, and as the story fast forwards into their adult lives, readers can discern the indelible scars left by childhood trauma.

The Wife's Tale by Aida Edemariam

Aida Edemariam is a senior feature writer and editor for the Guardian. (David Levene, Penguin Random House Canada)

In The Wife's Tale, Aida Edemariam records her grandmother Yetemegnu's long and storied life in Ethiopia. Yetemegnu was born in Gondar, married to an ambitious man before the age of 10 and grew into a spiritual and resilient woman. Over the stretch of her 97 years, Yetemegnu raised a family through violent fascist regimes, civil war and revolution.

The Wife's Tale was shortlisted for the 2018 Governor General's Literary Award for nonfiction.

Sit How You Want by Robin Richardson

Sit How You Want is a poetry collection by Robin Richardson. (sithowyouwant.org, Véhicule Press)

Strong female voices open up revealing narratives of trauma and pain in Robin Richardson's poetry collection. Sit How You Want deploys a sharp poetic wit to address themes of abuse, anxiety and powerlessness. This is Richardson's third poetry collection.

​Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson & Emily Carroll

Laurie Halse Anderson's (left) book Speak is brought to life by illustrations from Emily Carroll (right). (Raincoast Books, Farrar Straus & Giroux, Emily Carroll)

Originally published in 1999 as a YA novel, Speak is the story of a teenage girl named Melinda who is ostracized by her peers for calling the police and shutting down an end-of-summer party. Unbeknownst to the other students, Melinda was raped by an upperclassman at the party and through an art project she struggles to face what happened to her.

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