Books

20 books to get your mom on Mother's Day

Books make great gifts. From history to fantasy and everything in between, here are some suggestions for your mom on Mother's Day.

Books make great gifts. From history to fantasy and everything in between, here are some suggestions for your mom on Mother's Day.

If your mother likes mother/daughter stories, try My Mother's Daughter by Perdita Felicien

My Mother's Daughter is a memoir by Canadian Olympian Perdita Felicien. (Martin Brown, Doubleday Canada)

Perdita Felicien's mom Catherine was a poor young woman in St. Lucia when she was given a seemingly random, but ultimately life-changing, opportunity: to come to Canada with a wealthy white family and become their nanny. But when she gets to Canada, life is tougher than she expected, as she endures poverty, domestic violence and even homelessness. However, she still encouraged and supported her youngest daughter's athletic dreams. Felicien would go on to be a world-class hurdler and one of Canada's greatest track athletes. My Mother's Daughter is the story of these two women, and how their love for each other got them through difficult times and changed their lives.

Felicien was a 10-time national champion, a two-time Olympian and became the first Canadian woman to win a gold medal at a world championships. She now works as a sports broadcaster and is part of CBC's team covering the Olympics. My Mother's Daughter is her first book.

When Canadian hurdling champion Perdita Felicien and her mother Cathy Felicien Browne joined As It Happens host Carol Off to talk about Felicien's new book, My Mother's Daughter: A Memoir of Struggle and Triumph. 27:11

If your mother admires strong women, try Women of the Pandemic by Lauren McKeon

Women of the Pandemic is a book by Lauren McKeon. (McClelland & Stewart, Yuli Scheidt)

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a story of women. It's a story of women leaders, in political office, medical fields and in public health. But it's also a story of how the pandemic has disproportionately impacted women: taking them out of the workforce, putting them in charge of virtual or homeschooling and making them the primary providers of childcare and elder care. Women of the Pandemic is the portrait of several women during the early months of the pandemic and how their resilience, perseverance and creativity can serve as inspiration for future challenges.

Lauren McKeon is also the author of the books F Bomb: Dispatches on the War on Feminism and No More Nice GirlsHer writing has appeared on CBC, Toronto Life, Hazlitt, The Walus and Chatelaine. 

If your mother enjoys a triumph of the human spirit story, try Crossroads by Kaleb Dahlgren

Crossroads is a memoir by Kaled Dahlgren, a Humboldt Broncos crash survivor. (Collins)

On April 6, 2018, the news of a bus crash sent shock waves through Canada and around the world. The Humboldt Broncos, a junior hockey team, were travelling to an away game when a semi-truck missed a stop sign and the bus carrying the team crashed right into it. Sixteen people on board the bus were killed. Kaleb Dahlgren, the assistant captain of the team at the time, was one of the crash's 13 survivors. He shared his story of recovery, and eventually went on to study — and play hockey again — at York University. It's been three years since the crash and Dahlgren is now sharing his story in a memoir, Crossroads.

Dahlgren is a student at York University, where he plays on the varsity hockey team. Crossroads is his first book.

The Humboldt Broncos bus crash on April 6, 2018, shook Canadians to the core. Kaleb Dahlgren survived the crash, but he also experienced unspeakable loss. He joins Matt Galloway to speak about his new memoir, Crossroads: My Story of Tragedy and Resilience as a Humboldt Bronco, and the power of family and community. 23:23

If your mother appreciates solitude, try In Praise of Retreat by Kirsteen MacLeod

In Praise of Retreat is a book by Kirsteen MacLeod. (ECW Press)

In Praise of Retreat is an exploration and celebration of solitude, of disconnection, of finding quiet — of retreats and retreating. Yoga teacher and writer Kirsteen MacLeod looks at the history of retreats and explores how the practice of retreat can enhance contemporary life.

MacLeod is a writer and yoga teacher from Ontario. She is also the author of the short story collection The Animal Game. She was a former finalist for the CBC Nonfiction Prize.

"In Praise of Retreat: Finding Sanctuary in the Modern World" is the title of Kirsteen MacLeod's latest book. She shared with Gill Deacon how the ancient act of stepping back from society to reconnect with a deeper part of ourselves is even more important today than ever. 10:24

If your mother loves outdoor adventures, try This One Wild Life by Angie Abdou

This One Wild Life is a book by Angie Abdou. (ECW Press, Arsenal Pulp Press)

This One Wild Life is the story of a mother and daughter bonding over hiking. When Angie Abdou sees her daughter becoming more introverted, she decides to give both of them a challenge one summer: to hike a different peak near their Fernie, B.C., home each week. This One Wild Life is the story of this summer, and how this goal changed their relationship and helped her daughter become more confident and more comfortable with who she is.

Abdou is a teacher, writer and frequent columnist for The Next Chapter. Her first novel, The Bone Cage, was championed by Georges Laraque on Canada Reads 2011. Her other books include the novels The Canterbury Trail, Between and In Case I Go and the nonfiction book Home Ice.

TNC columnist and author talks to Shelagh Rogers on her latest memoir This One Wild Life. 13:43

If your mother likes to laugh, try Indians on Vacation by Thomas King

Indians on Vacation is a novel by Thomas King. (CBC/Sinisa Jolic, HarperCollins Publishers)

Indians on Vacation is about a couple named Bird and Mimi. They decide to travel through Europe after discovering postcards from Mimi's long-lost Uncle Leroy. Leroy had sent them while on his own European adventure almost 100 years ago.

Indians on Vacation is currently on the shortlist for the Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour and the Governor General's Literary Award for fiction. It was shortlisted for the 2020 Writers' Trust Fiction Prize and longlisted for the 2020 Scotiabank Giller Prize.

Thomas King is a Canadian-American writer of Cherokee and Greek ancestry. His books include Truth & Bright WaterThe Inconvenient IndianGreen Grass, Running Water and The Back of the Turtle. He also writes the DreadfulWater mystery series.

Thomas King talks about the autobiographical inspiration by his novel Indians on Vacation, which is longlisted for the 2020 Scotiabank Giller Prize. 16:47

If your mother loves romance, try Hana Khan Carries On by Uzma Jalaluddin

(HarperCollins, Andrea Stenson)

Hana Khan Carries On is a romantic comedy from Uzma Jalaluddin. In Hana Khan Carries On, Hana is an aspiring radio host who is working at her family's halal restaurant. When her aunt and a cousin come to town, and a rival restaurant opens in their neighbourhood, Hana's life is upended and family secrets are revealed. Fighting for her family is a big battle, one that will put all of Hana's skills to the test. It's a battle that gets more complicated by Hana's growing attraction to the rival restaurant's attractive owner, Aydin.

Jalaluddin is a teacher, parenting columnist and author based in Ontario. She is also the author of the novel Ayesha At Last.

Toronto writer Uzma Jalaluddin is back with her second novel, Hana Khan Carries On. It's a romantic comedy about rival Halal restaurants that draws comparisons to the Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan movie, You've Got Mail. Jalaluddin’s book is already on the Globe and Mail's bestseller list. She joined Tom Power to talk about the novel and how she puts a different spin on the rom-com format. 19:17

If your mother enjoys poetry, try home body by Rupi Kaur

home body is a book by Rupi Kaur. (Simon & Schuster, Amrita Singh)

home body is the third collection from bestselling poet Rupi Kaur. home body, which also features illustrations by Kaur, explores the concept of self and reflects on home, mental health, love and acceptance. 

Kaur is a poet and artist from Brampton, Ont. She currently has more than 4 million Instagram followers. At the beginning of 2020, she was named the writer of the decade by U.S. publication The New Republic. Her other poetry collections are milk and honey and the sun and her flowerswhich both made the New York Times bestseller list.

Rupi Kaur has been able to reach millions of people around the world with her short, visual poetry on Instagram. She's now a New York Times bestselling author and was named "writer of the decade" by The New Republic last year. Kaur joined guest host Talia Schlanger to talk about her new live show, Rupi Kaur Live, and how performing saved her life. 20:59

If your mother is into thrillers, try The Girls Are All So Nice Here by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn

Laurie Elizabeth Flynn is a former model who lives in London, Ont. with her husband and three children. She is the author of three young adult novels. (Simon & Schuster, Sandra Dufton)

Newfound freedom, insecurity, sexual competition — these are the elements Laurie Elizabeth Flynn mixes together in her psychological thriller, The Girls Are All So Nice Here. The book is about two former best friends, Ambrosia and Sloane, who return to their college reunion to learn that they have been targeted by someone who wants revenge for what they did 10 years before.

Flynn is a novelist based in London, Ont. She is also the author of the YA novels Firsts, All Eyes on Her and Last Girl Lied To.

Laurie Elizabeth Flynn talks to Shelagh Rogers about her psychological thriller The Girls Are All So Nice Here. 11:27

If your mother is a history buff, try The Bomber Mafia by Malcolm Gladwell

The Bomber Mafia is a book by Malcolm Gladwell. (Celeste Solomon, Little, Brown & Company)

The Bomber Mafia is an exploration of the relationship between technology and ideology and how they come together during times of war. Malcolm Gladwell uses a range of anecdotes and stories to examine how societal structures shape human behaviour, decision-making and the spread of ideas. The Bomber Mafia looks at the deadliest night during the Second World War, and how it was caused by the collision of different approaches and beliefs about air bombing. The book builds on themes that Gladwell explored in a 2020 episode of his podcast, Revisionist History.

Gladwell is a bestselling author, journalist and staff writer at the New Yorker. His books include The Tipping PointBlinkOutliersWhat the Dog Saw and David and GoliathHis previous book, Talking to Strangerswas one of the top 10 bestselling Canadian books of 2019.

The firebombing of Tokyo was one of the single most destructive nights of the Second World War. But before that mission, Malcolm Gladwell says there were efforts to fight less deadly wars, and to end them faster with precision bombing. Gladwell explores those efforts in his new book, The Bomber Mafia: A Dream, a Temptation, and the Longest Night of the Second World War. 23:13

If your mother likes historical fiction, try Letters Across the Sea by Genevieve Graham

Letters from Across the Sea is a historical novel by Genevieve Graham. (Simon & Schuster Canada, Nicola Davison)

Letters Across the Sea is the story of a Protestant girl and her Jewish neighbour in Toronto, against the backdrop of the Depression. Their lives are forever changed living through the rise of Adolf Hitler, the Nazis and a wave of hate that would ignite the Second World War.

Genevieve Graham is a historical fiction writer from Nova Scotia. Her other books include At the Mountain's Edge, Tides of Honour, Come From Away and The Forgotten Home Child.

If your mother likes Bridgerton, try The Midnight Bargain by C.L. Polk

The Midnight Bargain is a book by C.L. Polk. (Erewhon Books, Mike Tan)

In The Midnight Bargain, Beatrice is about to make her debut at "bargaining season" — an annual event where wealthy young men and women gather from all over the world to make advantageous marriages. But she harbours secret plans that will upend society. Rather than get married, Beatrice plans to bind a greater spirit and become a full magician. Performing the secret ritual goes against the rules of her world, which prohibits women from practicing magic while they can still bear children. With the help of the wealthy Lavan siblings, fiery Ysbeta and her handsome brother Ianthe, Beatrice searches for a way to change old patriarchal traditions. 

The Midnight Bargain was championed by Rosey Edeh on Canada Reads 2021.

C.L. Polk concocts a page-turning fantasy with love, magic and rebellion swirling at the centre. The Calgary writer's previous books include the award-winning novel Witchmark and its sequel Stormsong.

C.L. Polk on her Canada Reads 2021 contender, The Midnight Bargain. 14:06

If your mother is always losing things, try The Finder by Will Ferguson

The Finder is a novel by Will Ferguson. (Genki Alex Ferguson, Simon & Schuster Canada)

The Finder is an adventure novel about finding things that are lost in the world. The story takes readers to Japan, Australia and New Zealand as Interpol agent Gaddy Rhodes, photographer Tamsin Greene and travel writer Thomas Rafferty unexpectedly cross paths as they track "The Finder" — a mysterious figure who believes they can find history's lost objects, such as the missing Romanov Fabergé eggs and Muhammad Ali's Olympic gold medal

Will Ferguson has written humour, travel books and fiction. He won the 2012 Scotiabank Giller Prize for his thriller 419. He has won the Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour three times: for his novel Generica (now titled Happiness), his Canadian travel book Beauty Tips from Moose Jaw and his travel memoir Beyond Belfast. He currently lives in Calgary. 

Will Ferguson's new novel The Finder follows a middle-aged travel writer. 12:36

If your mother likes being in nature, try Two Trees Make a Forest by Jessica J. Lee

Two Trees Make a Forest is a book by Jessica J. Lee. (Hamish Hamilton, Ricardo A. Rivas)

Two Trees Make a Forest is a nonfiction book that explores how geographical forces are interlaced with our family stories. A chance discovery of letters written by her immigrant grandfather leads Jessica J. Lee to her ancestral homeland, Taiwan. There, she traces his story while growing closer to the land he knew. Throughout her adventures, Lee uncovers surprising parallels between nature and human stories that shaped her family and their beloved island. In the memoir, she also turns a critical eye on colonialist explorers who mapped the land and named plants, and both relied on and often erased the labour and knowledge of local communities.

Two Trees Make a Forest won the 2020 Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction. It was championed by Scott Helman on Canada Reads 2021.

Lee is a British Canadian Taiwanese author and environmental historian. She won the RBC Taylor Prize Emerging Author Award in 2019. Her first book, Turning, was longlisted for the Frank Hegyi Award for Emerging Authors. Lee has a PhD in environmental history and aesthetics, and currently lives in London.

Jessica J. Lee's 2021 Canada Reads contender, Two Trees Make a Forest, In Search of My Family's Past Among Taiwan's Mountains and Coasts. 11:58

If your mother likes superheroes, try Hench by Natalie Zina Walschots

Hench is a book by Natalie Zina Walschots. (HarperCollins Canada, Max Lander)

Hench is the story of a woman who pays the bills by doing administrative work for villains. But then an incident involving the world's most popular superhero leaves her injured and gets her fired. She ends up realizing what happened to her isn't unique — and she might have the means to take down the so-called hero who hurt her. How? With every office workers's secret weapon: data.

Hench was championed on Canada Reads 2021 by Paul Sun-Hyunh Lee.

Natalie Zina Walschots is a writer and journalist from Toronto. She is also the author of the poetry collections DOOM: Love Poems for Supervillains and Thumbscrews.

Natalie Zina Walschots on the inspiration behind her 2021 Canada Reads shortlisted novel, Hench. 16:41

If your mother likes Jane Austen, try The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner

The Jane Austen Society is a novel by Natalie Jenner. (nataliejenner.com, St. Martin's Press)

The Jane Austen Society is a novel about an unexpected community, and the quiet triumph and tragedies of everyday life in post-Second World War Britain. In Chawton, an English village that was the last home of iconic novelist Jane Austen, a small group of locals decide to do what they can to preserve Austen's home and legacy, and hopefully revitalize the town in the process. The group comes together in surprising ways and, despite being very different, unite through their common goal.

Natalie Jenner is a novelist based in Oakville, Ont. The Jane Austen Society is her first book.

If your mother cares about the environment, try Not on My Watch by Alexandra Morton

Not On My Watch is a book by Alexandra Morton. (Random House Canada, Chris Corday/CBC)

Alexandra Morton is a biologist and activist with a mission: to save British Columbia's wild salmon. She's been dedicated to this cause for 30 years. Not on My Watch chronicles this long fight, but also provides a roadmap for those who want to take up the cause and protect other natural habitats themselves.

Morton is a biologist and activist known for her research on ocean-based salmon farming. She has authored more than 20 scientific papers on the impact of salmon farming. Not on My Watch is her first book.

Alexandra Morton had planned to devote her life to studying orcas, but when fish farms moved into her remote B.C. community, she couldn’t ignore their impact on wild salmon. The biologist has chronicled her decades-long crusade against open-net aquaculture in her new book, Not on My Watch. 27:32

If your mother likes powerful stories about family, try Butter Honey Pig Bread by Francesca Ekwuyasi

Butter Honey Pig Bread is a novel by Francesca Ekwuyasi. (Monica Phung, Arsenal Pulp Press)

Butter Honey Pig Bread is a novel about twin sisters, Kehinde and Taiye, and their mother, Kambirinachi. Kambirinachi believes she was a spirit who was supposed to die as a small child. By staying alive, she is cursing her family — a fear that appears to come true when Kehinde experiences something that tears the family apart, and divides the twins for years. But when the three women connect years later, they must confront their past and find forgiveness.

Butter Honey Pig Bread is currently a finalist for the Amazon Canada First Novel Award and the Governor General's Literary Award for fiction. It was championed on Canada Reads 2021 by Roger Mooking.

Francesca Ekwuyasi is a writer, filmmaker and visual artist. Her writing has appeared in the Malahat Review, Guts and Brittle Paper, and she was longlisted for the 2019 Journey PrizeButter Honey Pig Bread is her first book.

Francesca Ekwuyasi on her Canada Reads 2021 book, Butter Honey Pig Bread 13:46

If your moms wants her spirits lifted, try Love After the End, edited by Joshua Whitehead

Love after the End is an anthology edited by Joshua Whitehead. (Arsenal Pulp Press, Joshua Whitehead)

Love after the End is an anthology of speculative fiction that imagines a utopian future for LGBTQ and Two-Spirit people, curated and edited by poet and novelist Joshua Whitehead.

Contributors include Nathan Adler, Darcie Little Badger, Gabriel Castilloux Calderon, Adam Garnet Jones, Mari Kurisato, Kai Minosh Pyle, David Alexander Robertson, jaye simpson and Nazbah Tom.

Whitehead is an Oji-nêhiyaw, two-spirit writer, poet and Indigiqueer scholar from Peguis First Nation. His book, full-metal indigiqueer, is a collection of experimental poems that aim to provoke discussion and debate. Jonny Appleseed, his debut novel, is about a two-spirit person trying to put his life back together following the death of his stepfather. 

Joshua Whitehead and Darcie Little Badger talk to Shelagh Rogers about Love After The End. 17:19

If your mom is creative, try The Age of Creativity by Emily Urquhart

The Age of Creativity is a book by Emily Urquhart. (The Walrus Books, Emily Urquhart)

Emily Urquhart is the daughter of writer Jane Urquhart and artist Tony Urquhart. When the family was celebrating her father's 80th birthday, Emily was struck by how her father has continued his daily artistic practice into his old age, and was even trying new forms and styles. The Age of Creativity is Urquhart's exploration into later-in-life creativity, blending the story of her father with research and the stories of other seniors finding new and dynamic creative outlets later in life.

Urquhart is a writer and folklorist currently living in Kitchener, Ont. She is also the author of the memoir Beyond the Pale.

Emily Urquhart says for a long time she assumed her father's abilities as a painter would diminish with age. But what really happened challenged conventional wisdom and her own. 25:28

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