Books·Fall Book Preview

20 works of Canadian nonfiction to watch for this fall

These 20 books explore various cultural and political touchstones that make up our collective Canadian identity, which is why we're excited to read them.

These 20 books explore various cultural and political touchstones that make up our collective Canadian identity, which is why we're excited to read them. You can see the entire fall preview here.

Want a PDF of the entire preview? Find that here.

Curry by Naben Ruthnum

Naben Ruthnum's book Curry is part of Coach House Books' Exploded Views series. (Coach House Books)

What it's about: As part of Coach House Books' insightful Exploded Views series, Naben Ruthnum explores how curry has come to represent South Asian cuisine and identity around the world. 

Why we chose it: Ruthnum, one of CBC Books' writers to watch this year, uses his deft and incisive prose to make astute reflections on complex issues like racism and representation. Also, curry is delicious.

When you can read it: Aug. 14, 2017

From Oral to Written by Tomson Highway

Award-winning playwright and author Tomson Highway reflects on Indigenous literature from 1980 to 2010. (Sean Howard/Talonbooks)

What it's about: Playwright and author Tomson Highway studies the literary tradition of Indigenous writers in Canada from 1980 to 2010. Highway explains how Indigenous literature has been challenged by the fact that writers are unable to write in their own language, and instead are limited by the language of their colonizers.

Why we chose it: Highway has produced iconic works — such as the theatre production The Rez Sisters and the novel Kiss of the Fur Queenand has been a staple of the Canadian art scene for over three decades. 

When you can read it: Aug.15, 2017

Extended Families by Ven Begamudré

Extended Families is Ven Begamudré's ninth book. (Coteau Books)

What it's about: In this memoir, Ven Begamudré delves deep into the lives of his South Indian, high-caste family. Begamudré's relationship to his parents — who maintained a tumultuous marriage throughout his life — is at the centre of this book.

Why we chose it: The Regina, Sask. writer draws upon unconventional materials to create this memoir, using family members' journal entries, poetry and fiction to paint a grander picture of Begamudré family history. Extended Families is his ninth book.

When you can read it: Sept. 1, 2017

My Conversations With Canadians by Lee Maracle

Lee Maracle is the author of numerous works, including the novels Ravensong and Celia's Song. (Columpa Bobb/BookThug)

What it's about: Throughout her celebrated literary career, Lee Maracle has toured the country and encountered challenging questions on topics such as law, prejudice and reconciliation. This book collects these questions and the years of contemplation that have followed them, and attempts to find answers.

Why we chose it: This collection of essays on big picture questions facing Canadians today, written by one of the country's great thinkers, promises to be a penetrating read. Maracle's previous books include I Am Woman and Celia's Song.

When you can read it: Sept. 1, 2017

The Ghost Orchard by Helen Humphreys

Helen Humphreys' book The Ghost Orchard explores the history of apples in North America. (Ayelet Tsabari/HarperCollins Canada)

What it's about: Acclaimed novelist Helen Humphreys delves into the surprising, hidden history of the apple in North America. Humphreys becomes interested in apple history after discovering that a tree of the Winter Pear Pearmain, considered the best-tasting apple in the world, grows at an abandoned cottage near her home.

Why we chose it: Helen Humphreys is one of the country's great writers of prose, with novels like The Evening ChorusIn her skillful hands, The Ghost Orchard promises to be a fascinating, soulful read.

When you can read it: Sept. 5, 2017

In Search of a Better World by Payam Akhavan

Payam Akhavan is a UN prosecutor, human rights scholar and the 2017 Massey Lecturer. (House of Anansi Press)

What it's about: UN prosecutor Payam Akhavan examines the geo-political forces behind human rights abuses, genocide and terrorism.

Why we chose it: This year's 2017 Massey Lecturer, Akhavan makes timely reflections on the rise of global violence.

When you can read it: Sept. 9, 2017

Dirty Kids by Chris Urquhart

Dirty Kids is Chris Urquhart's first book of nonfiction. ( Books)

What it's about: At the age of 22, Chris Urquhart joined a group of young nomads as research for a magazine article. She ended up staying with them for three years, roaming the world, facing adversity and embracing a different approach to freedom.

Why we chose it: Dirty KidsUrquhart's first nonfiction book, exposes a subculture in Canada that is little-known and understood.

When you can read it: Sept. 9, 2017

Apron Strings by Jan Wong

Jan Wong's Apron Strings describes her trip to discover more about home cooking in France, Italy and China. (George Whiteside/Goose Lane Editions)

What it's about: Jan Wong and her 22-year-old son embark on an enviable food tour of France, Italy and China.

Why we chose it: Wong is a bestselling author and one of Canada's most celebrated memoirists. Her previous books include Out of the Blue, Red China Blues and Beijing Confidential.

When you can read it: Sept. 12, 2017

All We Leave Behind by Carol Off

An older woman with red curly hair.
Carol Off is the host of CBC's As It Happens and author of All We Leave Behind. (CBC)

What it's about: When Asad Aryubwal publicly spoke out against warlords in Afghanistan, death squads were sent after him and his family. Fleeing with his wife and five children, Aryubwal sought help from the journalist who had interviewed him — CBC's Carol Off. 

Why we chose it: Off has travelled around the world, covering conflicts in the Middle East, Haiti and the former Soviet Union for the CBC. This story recounts the difficult decision she made to go beyond her role as a journalist and become part of the story. 

When you can read it: Sept. 19, 2017

The Reconciliation Manifesto by Arthur Manuel and Grand Chief Ronald Derrickson

Arthur Manuel, pictured here in 2001, died in January 2017. (Canadian Press/Tom Hanson/Lorimer)

What it's about: Arthur Manuel and Grand Chief Ronald Derrickson examine and criticize the lack of meaningful progress towards reconciliation between Canada and Indigenous Peoples.

Why we chose it: This book takes a wide-ranging look at the issues facing Indigenous communities in Canada from the perspectives of two respected Indigenous leaders. Naomi Klein pens a preface for this book, as she did for their previous collaboration Unsettling CanadaManuel died in January 2017 at the age of 66.

When you can read it: Sept. 22, 2017

Collected Tarts and Other Indelicacies by Tabatha Southey

Tabatha Southey is a columnist at Maclean's. (Basil Southey/Douglas & McIntyre)

What it's about: Collected Tarts and Other Indelicacies is a collection of essays from Globe and Mail columnist Tabatha Southey, who tackles subjects from what it's like to anger jazz enthusiasts to the turbulent U.S. political climate with her trademark wit.

Why we chose it: Laughter is the best medicine, as they say, and humorist Southey knows how to deliver a whip-smart punchline.

When you can read it: Sept. 30, 2017

Seven Fallen Feathers by Tanya Talaga

Tanya Talaga highlights the lives of seven Indigenous teachers in Seven Fallen Feathers. (Steve Russell/Toronto Star/House of Anansi)

​What it's about: Award-winning journalist Tanya Talaga shines a spotlight on the lives of seven Indigenous high school students in Thunder Bay, Ont., who lost their lives between 2000 and 2011 while separated from their families.

Why we chose it: Seven Fallen Feathers highlights an ongoing crisis in northern Ontario and pays tribute to seven lost lives: Jordan Wabasse, Kyle Morriseau, Curran Strang, Robyn Harper, Paul Panacheese, Reggie Bushie and Jethro Anderson. It is a book that is sorely needed at a time of reconciliation.

When you can read it: Sept. 30, 2017

What I Think Happened by Evany Rosen

Evany Rosen is a comedian based in Toronto. (Erica Genereux Smith/Arsenal Pulp Press)

What it's about: Comedian Evany Rosen casts a feminist's eye over major historical events in the western world in this essay collection. Armed with humour and a lack of research, Rosen examines why figures such as Napoleon, the royal family and American presidents have been objects of fascination to her.

Why we chose it: As one of the founding members of the troupe Picnicface, Rosen has serious comedy chops. This is the Toronto comedian's first book.

When you can read it: Oct. 1, 2017

Something Is Always on Fire by Measha Brueggergosman

Opera star Measha Brueggergosman has documented her life story in Something Is Always On Fire. (Craig Cooper/CBC/HarperCollins)

What it's about: The astonishing talent of opera singer Measha Brueggergosman has led her to prestigious concert halls around the world. In this memoir, Brueggergosman — who was a panellist on Canada Reads 2017 — gives a candid account of the highs and lows of her life and career. 

Why we chose it: From marrying young to performing for the Queen, Brueggergosman's life story promises to be as remarkable and compelling as her Grammy-nominated voice. 

When you can read it: Oct. 3, 2017

A History of Canada in Ten Maps by Adam Shoalts

Adventurer Adam Shoalts was once called "Canada's Indiana Jones" by the Toronto Star. (Alexia Wiatr/Allen Lane)

What it's about: Adam Shoalts uses centuries-old maps to tell a history about how early European explorers encountered and understood Canada upon their arrival.

Why we chose it: Shoalts is a professional explorer — he's currently on a solo five-month trek across Canada's Arctic — and his first book Alone Against the North was a bestseller. 

When you can read it: Oct. 10, 2017

Game Change by Ken Dryden

Ken Dryden speaks at the "We Can Do Better" Governor General's Conference on Concussions in Sport in 2016. (Fred Chartrand/Canadian Press/Signal)

What it's about: NHL Hall of Famer Ken Dryden investigates the serious consequences of concussions in hockey and tells the tragic story of enforcer Steve Montador, who died at the age of 35.

Why we chose it: The hockey legend and bestselling author interviews friends, former players and leading neurobiologists for a comprehensive look at a controversial issue facing professional sports.

When you can read it: Oct. 17, 2017

Everyday Heroes by Jody Mitic

Jody Mitic is a city councillor in Ottawa and a former Canada Reads panellist. (CBC/Simon & Schuster)

What it's about: A collection of first-person essays written by members of the Canadian Armed Forces. Harrowing and heroic, Jody Mitic — a city councillor in Ottawa and a Canada Reads panellist in 2017 — brings soldiers' stories from several wars together, including World War Two, the Korean War and the war in Afghanistan.

Why we chose it: This rare, emotional document demonstrates the physical and mental sacrifices made by men and women who serve in the Canadian military.

When you can read it: Oct. 24, 2017

Following the River by Lorri Neilsen Glenn

Lorri Neilsen Glenn's book Following the River is about her great-grandmother. (

What it's about: After learning about her great-grandmother's tragic death, essayist and poet Lorri Neilsen Glenn becomes entrenched in researching everything she can about her great-grandmother. 

Why we chose it: Neilsen Glenn served as Halifax poet laureate from 2005 to 2009. Her repertoire includes four books of poetry and a collection of prose and poetry titled Untying the Apron: Daughters Remembers Mothers of the 1950s. 

When you can read it: Nov. 14, 2017

Feeding My Mother by Jann Arden

Singer-songwriter Jann Arden's book is about taking care of her mother, who suffers from Alzheimer's. (Alkan Emin/Random House Canada)

What it's about: Platinum-selling recording artist Jann Arden lives in rural Alberta where she takes care of her mother, who suffers from Alzheimer's. On Facebook and Instagram, Arden has kept a honest record of what it's been like to become her mother's primary parent, bringing comfort to thousands of fans who care for their elderly loved ones. This memoir has grown from the inspirational, poignant and funny stories Arden posted on social media.

Why we chose it: Arden is as well-known for her wit and warmth as she is for her award-winning music. This book looks to be a touching, inspirational read about a common human experience.

When you can read it: Nov. 21, 2017

Lightfoot by Nicholas Jennings

Nicholas Jennings is the author of the biography Lightfoot. (Jaime McCuaig/Viking)

What it's about: A detailed biography about Canadian folk legend Gordon Lightfoot. Music journalist Nicholas Jennings digs into Lightfoot's past, finding recordings of "Gordie" singing at age 9 and following his development from burgeoning songwriter to world-renown musician.

Why we chose it: Lightfoot's musical legacy spans generations and continents. His influence is recognized by the American Songwriters Hall of Fame, who inducted him alongside Bob Seger and Tom Jones in 2012.

When you can read it: Nov. 21, 2017