17 Canadian books coming out in February we can't wait to read

A new month means new books! Here are the novels, poetry and more coming out in February we can't wait to read.

A new month means new books! Here are the novels, poetry and more coming out in February we can't wait to read.

When We Lost Our Heads by Heather O'Neill

Heather O'Neill is a Canadian novelist, poet, short story writer, screenwriter and journalist. (HarperCollins Canada, J Artacho)

When Marie, the spoiled daughter of a sugar baron living in 19th-century Montreal, meets the brilliant Sadie, the two are immediately inseparable. Marie has bubbly charm and sees the pleasure of the world, whereas Sadie's obsession with darkness is all-consuming. Class and circumstance lead them down different paths, while each woman plays an unexpected role in the events that upend their city.

When We Lost Our Heads is a story that explores gender, power, sex, desire, class and status.

When you can read it: Feb. 1, 2022

Heather O'Neill is a writer and author from Montreal. O'Neill's debut novel, Lullabies for Little Criminals, was a finalist for a Governor General's Literary Award and won Canada Reads 2007. The Montreal-based writer was the first back-to-back finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize: her novel The Girl Who Was Saturday Night was a finalist in 2014 and her short story collection Daydreams of Angels was a finalist in 2015. Her latest books are the novel The Lonely Hearts Hotel and the nonfiction book Wisdom in Nonsense

Kim Fu on exploring what happens when summer camp takes a dark turn in her novel The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore.

Lesser Known Monsters of the 21st Century by Kim Fu

Kim Fu is the author of Lesser Known Monsters of the 21st Century. (L D’Alessandro, Coach House Books)

In this collection of stories, Kim Fu turns the familiar on its head to weave tales of new worlds where strange happenings, like a girl growing wings on her legs or toy boxes that control the passage of time, are the ordinary trappings of everyday life. The stories deal with themes of death, technological consequence, guilt and sexuality and unmask the contradictions within humanity. 

When you can read it: Feb. 1, 2022

Kim Fu is a Washington-based, Canadian-born fiction writer and poet. She has published two other works of fiction, For Today I Am a Boy and The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore, and a book of poetry called How Festive the Ambulance.

Iceland's Canadian-born first lady sees solutions to climate change

1 year ago
Duration 1:49
Canadian-born Eliza Reid, married to Iceland's president, talks to CBC News about climate change and what others can learn from her adopted homeland.

Secrets of the Sprakkar by Eliza Reid

Secrets of Sprakker is a nonfiction book by Iceland's first lady, Eliza Reid. (Simon & Schuster Canada)

Eliza Reid, the Canadian-born first lady of Iceland, looks at the country's success with gender equality. Sprakkar, an ancient Icelandic word, means extraordinary or outstanding women and this notion permeates the country's attitude towards women. 

Through interviews and stories of her own experiences, Reid explores what it means to move through the world as a woman and how the rules of society play more of a role in who we view as equal than we may understand. 

When you can read it: Feb. 1, 2022

Reid is the Canadian-born first lady of Iceland. She has been first lady for the past five years, after her husband Guðni Thorlacius Jóhannesson was elected to the role of President and head of state in 2016. Reid has been a champion for gender equality, tourism, sustainability and literature during her tenure as first lady.

Sarah de Leeuw is an Assistant Professor in the Northern Medical Program at the University of Northern British Columbia. She's pioneered the idea that the creative arts can actually aid with medical science. She spoke with guest host Betsy Trumpener.

Lot by Sarah de Leeuw

Lot is a poetry collection by Sarah de Leeuw. (Caitlin Press)

Sarah de Leeuw reflects on her early girlhood and the racial complexities of colonial violence. Written in a time where the government has voiced support for the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples while continuing to arrest Indigenous people on unceded lands, de Leeuw draws a line between past and present violence. Lot uses lyric traditions and interrogates the role of language in centering stories of white supremacy on the islands of Haida Gwaii in British Columbia.

When you can read it: Feb. 11, 2022

Sarah de Leeuw is a poet and writer who melds social criticism with literary nonfiction. Her book Where It Hurts, a collection of personal essays, was a finalist for the 2017 Governor General's Literary Award for nonfiction. De Leeuw won the 2009 CBC Creative Nonfiction Prize.

In the years after 9/11, the West went into Afghanistan to root out the Taliban, and improve Afghan life. The military mission is largely over now, but journalist Matthieu Aikins says, after 13 years of war, Afghanistan is now a "Narco State."

I Wish I Could be Peter Falk by Paul Zits

I Wish I Could be Peter Falk is a book by Paul Zits. (University of Calgary Press/CBC)

I Wish I Could be Peter Falk challenges the standards and restrictive expectations tied to masculinity. From telling men how to think, dress, feel and identify to the damage resulting from ignoring mental health, these poems provide a critique and nuanced exploration of modern masculinity.

When you can read it: Feb. 15, 2022

Paul Zits is a Calgary-based poet and teacher. He is the author of Massacre Street, which won the 2014 Stephan G. Stephansson Award for Poetry, Leap-Seconds, winner of the 2016 Robert Kroetsch Award for Innovative Poetry, and Exhibit.

The Naked Don't Fear the Water by Matthieu Aikins

The Naked Don't Fear the Water is a book by Matthieu Aikins. (Kiana Hayeri, HarperCollins Canada)

Journalist Matthieu Aikins leaves behind his passport and identity to follow a young Afghan named Omar, as he leaves his war-torn country. Omar and Matthieu journey across land and sea from Afghanistan to Europe, coming face to face with smugglers, cops, activists and other refugees. 

The Naked Don't Fear the Water is a story about friendship across borders, as it shines a light on the heart of the migration crisis. 

When you can read it: Feb. 15, 2022

Aikins is a Canadian journalist living in Kabul who has been reporting on the war. He is also a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a contributing editor at Rolling Stone. The Naked Don't Fear the Water is his first book.

Sheila Heti on getting into readers' minds with Motherhood

4 years ago
Duration 1:02
'The book is a really sort of a portrait of a consciousness,' says the 2018 Giller finalist.

Pure Colour by Sheila Heti

Sheila Heti is the author of Pure Colour. (Margaux Williamson, Knopf Random Vintage Canada)

Pure Colour follows a woman named Mira, who leaves home for school and meets a person named Annie. Annie has this power over Mira and opens her chest like a portal. Many years later when Mira is older, her father dies and his spirit passes into her. Together, they become a leaf on a tree. But when photosynthesis gets boring, Mira must choose whether or not to return to Annie and the human world she has left behind.

Pure Colour is a funny exploration of the wonderful and terrible aspects of being alive.

When you can read it: Feb. 15, 2022

Sheila Heti is a Canadian playwright and author whose work has been translated in over a dozen languages. Her novel Motherhood was on the shortlist for the 2018 Scotiabank Giller Prize. She is also the author of the novels Ticknor and How Should a Person Be? and the self-help book The Chairs Are Where the People Go.

Arleen Paré reads "Call and Response" from her poetry collection "Lake of Two Mountains".

Time Out of Time by Arleen Paré

Time Out of Time is a poetry collection by Arleen Paré. (Caitlin Press, Chris Fox)

Time Out of Time is inspired by the poems in the collection Time by Syrian American poet Etel Adnan. In her own collection, Paré mirrors the form, rhythm and shape of Adnan's poetry and reflects on lesbian identity in the 21st century. 

When you can read it: Feb. 18, 2022

Arleen Paré is a poet originally from Montreal. Her first book, Paper Trail, was nominated for the Dorothy Livesay BC Book Award for Poetry and won the City of Victoria Butler Book Prize in 2008. Paré won the 2014 Governor General's Literary Award for Poetry for her collection, Lake of Two Mountains. She lives in Victoria, B.C.

Sook-Yin Lee asks, Where have all the poets gone?

7 years ago
Duration 1:57
In Sook-Yin Lee's new documentary, the DNTO host goes on a quest to find the host of a show from the deep within the CBC archives, and to figure out what has happened to poetry over the past 50 years.

From the Shoreline by Steffi Tad-y

From the Shoreline is a book by Steffi Tad-y. (Gordon Hill Press)

In her debut collection, Steffi Tad-y explores the intersection of mental illness and the diasporic experience. Her poems reflect tenderly on challenging and dangerous circumstances, finding beauty in detail and repetitive acts of love. 

When you can read it: Feb. 20, 2022

Steffi Tad-y is a poet and writer from Manila. Her work includes the chapbooks I Did Not Want to Be Read, I Wanted to Be Believed In and Merienda. Tad-y lives in Vancouver.

How Beautiful People Are by Ayaz Pirani

How Beautiful People Are is a book by Ayaz Pirani. (Gordon Hill Press)

In his latest collection, Ayaz Pirani writes trans-national, intergenerational poetry born of a post-colonial world and inspired by the diwan of ginan and granth literature. 

When you can read it: Feb. 20, 2022

Ayaz Pirani is a poet from Tanzania, who studied writing in Toronto and Montreal. His books include Happy You Are Here, Kabir's Jacket Has a Thousand Pockets and Bachelor of Art.

its th sailors life / still in treetment by bill bissett

its th sailors life / still in treetmen is a book by bill bissett. (Talonbooks)

bill bisset describes his latest collection as "an epik poetik novel uv langwage n speech" that explores "acceptans uv loss greef separaysyuns charaktrs in serch uv self liberaysyun n societal equalitee n all th forces against that path." The poems in its th sailors life / still in treetment are paired with illustrations by the author.

When you can read it: Feb. 22, 2022

bill bissett is a poet and artist born in Halifax and based in Toronto. Known for his unconventional writing style, bissett has written more than 60 books of poetry. His awards include the George Woodcock Lifetime Achievement Award and the BC Book Prizes Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize.

Sarah Weinman tells Michael Enright about a candid photograph of Sally that has stayed with her.

The School of Mirrors by Eva Stachniak

Eva Stachniak is the author of The School of Mirrors. (Stanisław Jerzmański, Doubleday Canada)

Set against the backdrop of 18th century France on the grounds of the Palace of Versailles, King Louis XV houses his mistresses in a mansion. A young woman named Veronique comes to live in the mansion under the guise of employment and quickly falls for the King, without knowing his true identity. ​​When she realizes who he really is, Veronique must contend with the stakes of their affair and what she will have to give up in order to survive.

When you can read it: Feb. 22, 2022

Eva Stachniak is a Polish Canadian historical novelist. Her books include Necessary Lies, which won the 2001 Canada First Novel Award, now known as the Amazon Canada First Novel Award, Empress of the Night, The Chosen Maiden and The Winter Palace.

Scoundrel by Sarah Weinman

Sarah Weinman is the author of Scoundrel (Nina Subin, Knopf Canada)

Scoundrel tells the true story of Edgar Smith, a convicted murderer who was saved from Death Row via an unlikely friendship with a famous figure in the neo-conservative movement. After Smith killed a 15-year-old girl in 1957, he was set to be executed. But he struck up a friendship with the conservative William F. Buckley Jr., who hired lawyers to fight for a new trial. Smith also enlisted the help of Sophie Wilkins, a book editor he would go on to have an affair with, and would be released from prison to become a bestselling author.

When you can read it: Feb. 22, 2022

Sarah Weinman is a journalist and author based in New York City. Her other novels include The Real Lolita, which tells the tale of the life of 11-year-old Sally Horner, who was abducted in 1948 and whose story inspired Vladimir Nabokov's seminal novel Lolita. The Real Lolita won the Arthur Ellis Award for best nonfiction crime book.

Di-bayn-di-zi-win (To Own Ourselves) by Jerry Fontaine & Don McCaskill

Di-bayn-di-zi-win (To Own Ourselves) is a book by Don McCaskill and Jerry Fontaine. (Dundurn Press/CBC)

Authors Jerry Fontaine and Don McCaskill provide insight into decades of Ojibway-Anishinabe resistance in Canada. They suggest that Ojibway-Anishinabe i-zhi-chi-gay-win zhigo kayn-dah-so-win (ways of doing and knowing) provide an alternative model for living and thriving in the world. 

Di-bayn-di-zi-win (To Own Ourselves) shares Ojibway-Anishinabe values, language and ceremonial practices and it peels away layers of colonialism, violence and injustice, leading to true reconciliation. 

When you can read it: Feb. 22, 2022

Fontaine (Makwa Ogimaa) is from the Ojibway-Anishinabe community of Sagkeeng in Manitoba. He was Chief from 1987 to 1998 and has been an adviser to Anishinabe communities. Fontaine currently teaches in the Department of Indigenous Studies at the University of Winnipeg.

McCaskill (Ka-pi-ta-aht) is professor emeritus in the Department of Indigenous Studies at Trent University. He has edited seven books about Anishinabe culture, education, community development and urbanization. McCaskill lives in Toronto.

The Running-Shaped Hole by Robert Earl Stewart

The Running Shaped Hole is a book by Robert Earl Stewart. (Dundurn Press)

At 38 years old, Robert Earl Stewart weighed 368 pounds and was slowly eating himself to death. After a terrifying doctor's appointment, he decided to go for a walk, which set him on a life-altering course. Within a year, he ran long distances and lost weight, but not without setbacks and some time in jail.

When you can read it: Feb. 22, 2022

Stewart is a writer and poet. His first book of poetry, Something Burned Along the Southern Border, was shortlisted for the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award. Stewart lives in Windsor, Ont. 

Our Little Secret by Emily Carrington

Our Little Secret is a memoir by Emily Carrington. (Drawn & Quarterly)

Artist Emily Carrington, now in her 50s, looks back on a traumatic winter when she was 15 years old. She lived with her single father in a drafty rural home, enduring the harsh cold winter of the Maritimes. Their neighbour, spying a vulnerable girl, offered his assistance — changing the course of her life for much worse. As an adult, Emily experiences depression, goes to therapy and battles against the justice system to find peace.

Our Little Secret will be published on Feb. 22, 2022.

Carrington is a poet and illustrator of picture books. She was longlisted for the CBC Poetry Prize in 2017. Raised in Prince Edward Island, Carrington now lives on the Gulf Islands. Our Little Secret is Carrington's debut book.

My Privilege, My Responsibility by Sheila North

My Privilege, My Responsibility is a book by Sheila North. (Great Plains Publications)

In her memoir, Sheila North shares the stories of the moments that shaped her and the violence that nearly stood in the way of her achieving her dreams. From her advocacy work in journalism, communications and economic development to creating the widely used hashtag #MMIW, North reflects on her experiences and the systemic racism faced by Indigenous women and girls.

When you can read it: Feb. 24, 2022

North is the former Grand Chief of the Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak. She worked as a broadcast journalist and won a Radio Television Digital News Association Award. She is a Gemini Award nominee and was featured in Chatelaine Magazine's list of the Top 30 Women of 2015. North is a member of the Bunibonibee Cree Nation.

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