Books

15 Canadian books to read on International Women's Day

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

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

Every Little Piece of Me by Amy Jones

Every Little Piece of Me is a novel by Amy Jones. (Ali Eisner, McClelland & Stewart)

Every Little Piece of Me revolves around the friendship of two women, Ava and Mags, whose every humiliation is tabloid fodder. Ava grew up on a hit reality television show where her big city family runs a small town B&B. Mags is the lead singer of a troubled Halifax rock band. 

Every Little Piece of Me is Amy Jones's sophomore novel. Her first, We're All in This Together, was a national bestseller and a finalist for the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour. Jones also won the 2006 CBC Short Story Prize. Originally from Halifax, she now lives in Toronto after spending many years in Thunder Bay. 

Not One of These Poems Is About You by Teva Harrison

Not One of These Poems Is About You is an illustrated poetry collection by Teva Harrison. (House of Anansi Press, David Leonard)

In Not One of These Poems Is About You, Teva Harrison ponders what it means to live with metastatic breast cancer. From preparing to lose her husband to how the disease has influenced her identity, Harrison's poems explore life, love and death with striking honesty.

Harrison was an award-winning cartoonist known for her poignant comics about living with an incurable illness. Her 2016 graphic novel In-Between Days won the Kobo Emerging Writer Prize for Non-Fiction and was a finalist for the Governor General's Literary Award for nonfiction. She died on April 28, 2019 at the age of 42.

We Have Always Been Here by Samra Habib

Samra Habib is the author of We Have Always Been Here. (CBC)

Samra Habib's memoir We Have Always Been Here is an exploration of the ways we disguise and minimize ourselves for the sake of survival. As a child, Habib hid her faith from Islamic extremists in Pakistan and later, as a refugee in Canada, endured racist bullying and the threat of an arranged marriage. In travelling the world and exploring art and sexuality, Habib searches for the truth of her identity. 

Actor Amanda Brugel is defending Habib's We Have Always Been Here on Canada Reads 2020. The debates take place March 16-19 and will be hosted by Ali Hassan. They will air on CBC Radio OneCBC TVCBC Gem and on CBC Books

Habib is a journalist, photographer and activist based in Toronto. CBC Books named her a writer to watch in 2019We Have Always Been Here is her first book.

Shut Up You're Pretty by Téa Mutonji

Shut Up You're Pretty is a book by Téa Mutonji. (Arsenal Pulp Press, Sandro Pehar)

Shut Up You're Pretty is a short fiction collection that tells stories of young women coming of age in the 21st century. Mutonji's characters include a young woman who shaves her head in an abortion clinic waiting room, a mother and daughter who bond over fish and a teenager seeking happiness with her pack of cigarettes.

Shut Up You're Pretty was on the 2019 Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize shortlist

CBC Books named Mutonji a writer to watch in 2019Shut Up You're Pretty is her first book. She lives in Scarborough, Ont.

Téa Mutonji talks to Shelagh Rogers about her Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize nominated novel, Shut Up You're Pretty. 17:00

This Woman's Work by Julie Delporte

This Woman's Work is a comic by Julie Delporte. (Julie Delporte, Drawn & Quarterly)

This Woman's Work offers a string of memories that explore Julie Delporte's experience of womanhood. Throughout the book, the Montreal artist challenges gender assumptions and looks at how rape culture and sexual abuse has shaped her life and the world of women around her. In cursive writing and coloured pencil drawings, This Woman's Work is a personal and contemplative inquiry into femininity and feminism.

Delporte's previous work includes the book Everywhere Antennas, for which she was nominated for the Doug Wright Spotlight Award.

Had It Coming by Robyn Doolittle

Had It Coming is a nonfiction book by Robyn Doolittle. (Galit Rodan, Allen Lane)

Based on the years Globe and Mail reporter Robyn Doolittle spent examining how police mishandle sexual assault cases, Had It Coming is an in-depth look at how attitudes around sexual harassment and assault are changing in the #MeToo era. Doolittle's investigative series Unfounded looked into sexual assault allegations using data gathered from over 870 police forces across the country and found that many cases were deemed "baseless" and not properly investigated.

Had It Coming was on the shortlist for the 2020 RBC Taylor Prize.

Doolittle is a journalist based in Toronto. Her previous book, Crazy Town: The Rob Ford Story, was published in 2014.

Globe and Mail reporter Robyn Doolittle talks to us about her new book, "Had It Coming: What's Fair in the Age of #MeToo?" 24:53

If I Go Missing by Brianna Jonnie with Nahanni Shingoose, art by Nshannacappo

If I Go Missing is a graphic novel inspired by a letter Brianna Jonnie wrote to the Winnipeg chief of police. (CBC, Lorimer Children & Teens)

When Brianna Jonnie was 14 years old, she wrote a letter to the Winnipeg chief of police asking him what he would do if she, a young Ojibwe woman, went missing. Would she get the same treatment as a young white boy who went missing? Or would her disappearance be ignored? The letter went viral online and sparked an important conversation about missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada. 

If I Go Missing is a graphic novel adaptation of Jonnie's letter, featuring artwork by Nshannacappo, a poet and artist from Ditibineya-ziibiing (Rolling River First Nation).

An indigenous girl in Winnipeg has a message for police chief Devon Clunis: You can do better. 1:51

How She Read by Chantal Gibson

Chantal Gibson is the author of How She Read. (Caitlin Press, Chantal Gibson)

Chantal Gibson's How She Read is a collection of genre-blurring poems about the representation of black women in Canada. The Vancouver-based Gibson has East Coast roots and she brings a holistic, decolonized approach to challenging imperialist ideas by way of a close look at Canadian literature, history, art, media and pop culture.

Gibson is an artist, poet and educator who currently teaches at Simon Fraser University. CBC Books named Gibson a black Canadian writer to watch in 2019How She Read is her first poetry collection.

Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club by Megan Gail Coles

Megan Gail Coles is the author of Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club. (CBC)

Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun ClubMegan Gail Coles's debut novel, revolves around a cast of flawed characters all connected to a trendy St. John's restaurant, The Hazel. Over the course of a snowy February day, they are implicated in each other's hopes, dreams and pains as they try to survive harsh economic times in the province. 

Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club was shortlisted for the 2019 Scotiabank Giller Prize and it will be defended by Alayna Fender on Canada Reads 2020. 

Megan Gail Coles is a playwright from St. John's. Her first fiction collection, Eating Habits of the Chronically Lonesome, won the BMO Winterset Award, the ReLit Award and the Margaret and John Savage First Book Award. It also earned her the one-time Writers' Trust 5x5 prize.

Shelagh Rogers talks to 2019 Giller Prize nominee, Megan Gail Coles, about Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club. 17:07

Five Wives by Joan Thomas

Joan Thomas is the author of Five Wives. (HarperAvenue, Bruce Thomas Barr)

In 1956, five evangelical Christian missionaries were killed when they ventured into the Ecuador rainforest to convert the Waorani, a group of Indigenous people who had no previous contact with the outside world. Five Wives fictionalizes the story of the women left to deal with the fall-out of their husbands' actions and deaths, which were widely covered by the media.

Five Wives won the 2019 Governor General's Literary Award for fiction.

Joan Thomas is the author of three previous novels. Her novel The Opening Sky was a finalist for the Governor General's Literary Award for fiction in 2014.

Winnipeg novelist Joan Thomas on Five Wives, which won this year's Governor General's Literary Award for English-language fiction. 16:35

Death Threat by Vivek Shraya & Ness Lee

Death Threat is a comic by Vivek Shraya (right) and Ness Lee. (Arsenal Pulp Press, Tanja Tiziana)

In Death Threat, Vivek Shraya collects the transphobic hate mail she received from a stranger in the fall of 2017. These disturbing letters, along with her responses, are accompanied by illustrations from Ness Lee, culminating in a surreal and satirical comic book about the spread of hatred and violence, and the dangers of the internet. 

Shraya is a multidisciplinary artist who sings, makes films and visual art. She is also the author of the essay I'm Afraid of Men and the poetry collection even this page is white.

Lee is an illustrator and artist based in Toronto. Her work has been exhibited at galleries in Toronto, New York, Boston and Tokyo. 

Vivek Shraya talks to Shelagh Rogers about her comic book, Death Threat. 14:33

Truth Be Told by Beverley McLachlin

Truth Be Told is a memoir by Beverley McLachlin. (Jean-Marc Carisse, Simon & Schuster)

Beverley McLachlin became the first woman to hold the office of Canada's chief justice in January of 2000. Throughout her 17 years as chief justice and 28 years on the Supreme Court, McLachlin helped shape Canadian law and governance, including legislation on sex work and mandatory minimum prison sentences. She shares her story in the memoir Truth Be Told.

In 2018, McLachlin became a Companion of the Order of Canada, the highest honour within the Order. She is also the author of the fictional thriller Full Disclosure

Beverley McLachlin, the first woman to be named Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, spoke to us about her remarkable ascent from a small Alberta town to the highest court in the country, the people who encouraged her to get there, and some of the most difficult legal and personal decisions she's had to make along the way. 25:17

High School by Tegan Quin & Sara Quin

High School is a memoir by Tegan Quin and Sara Quin. (CBC, Simon & Schuster)

High School shares the life story of the famous identical twins and LGBTQ icons. Tegan and Sara Quin grew up in Calgary at the height of grunge and rave culture in the 1990s. High School is written in chapters alternating between Tegan's point of view and Sara's and explores how they coped with their parents' divorce and how they navigated issues around love, drugs, sexuality, queer identity and academic pressures during their high school years. 

Tegan and Sara have been performing together for 20 years and have released nine albums. Their most recent album, Hey, I'm Just Like You is a companion work to High School and consists of songs they first wrote in high school.

Love Lives Here by Amanda Jetté Knox

Amanda Jetté Knox is the author of Love Lives Here. (Submitted by Amanda Jetté Knox, Viking)

Amanda Jetté Knox chronicles the making of her loving family in the memoir Love Lives HereHappily married with three children, Knox noticed that her middle child was struggling with depression and skipping school. After Alexis came out as transgender at the age of 11, Knox dove headlong into trans rights research and advocacy. Just over a year later, Knox's spouse came out as transgender, marking another, ultimately triumphant, transition for the family.

Knox is a writer, activist and public speaker who lives in Ottawa. Love Lives Here is her first book. She also blogs at The Maven of Mayhem. 

Amanda Jetté Knox supported both her child and her spouse when they came out as trans. In a new book, she gets real about what she's learned, and the mistakes she made along the way. 12:53

Dear Scarlet by Teresa Wong

Dear Scarlet is a graphic memoir by Teresa Wong. (Arsenal Pulp Press, Ken Hurd)

Teresa Wong pens an honest and emotional letter to her daughter in Dear Scarlet. The comic describes her experience with postpartum depression — how feelings of sadness, loss and guilt consumed her — and her many attempts at healing. 

Wong is based in Calgary. Dear Scarlet is her first book. CBC Books named Wong a writer to watch in 2019.

Teresa Wong and Amanda Munday both struggled with postpartum depression, a condition reported to affect as many as 20 per cent of Canadian mothers. Both women have written books about their experiences, from their feelings of inadequacy, to difficulties breastfeeding, and even being admitted to a psychiatric ward. 25:44

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.