15 Canadian books to read on International Women's Day
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 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.
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.
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.
- Why Samra Habib shares her story about being a queer Muslim woman and coming to Canada as a refugee
- Read an excerpt from We Have Always Been Here
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 One, CBC TV, CBC Gem and on CBC Books.
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.
- Why Téa Mutonji wanted her first short story collection to challenge what diverse literature is supposed to be
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.
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.
Doolittle is a journalist based in Toronto. Her previous book, Crazy Town: The Rob Ford Story, was published in 2014.
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).
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.
Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club, Megan 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.
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.
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.
- Why Joan Thomas wrote a novel about wives of missionaries killed trying to convert Ecuador's Waorani people
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.
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.
Lee is an illustrator and artist based in Toronto. Her work has been exhibited at galleries in Toronto, New York, Boston and Tokyo.
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.
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.
Amanda Jetté Knox chronicles the making of her loving family in the memoir Love Lives Here. Happily 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.
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.