Books·Reading List

26 Canadian books to read for Pride Month

June is Pride Month. Celebrate by checking out these Canadian books.

June is Pride Month. Celebrate by checking out these Canadian books.

The Listeners by Jordan Tannahill

The Listeners is a novel by Jordan Tannahill. (Yuula Bernivolski, HarperCollins Canada)

In the novel The Listeners, Claire Devon is one of a disparate group of people who can hear a low hum. No one in her house can hear it, and this sound has no obvious source or medical cause, but it starts upsetting the balance of Claire's life. She strikes up a friendship with one of her students who can also hear the hum. Feeling more and more isolated from their families and colleagues, they join a neighbourhood self-help group of people who can also hear the hum, which gradually transforms into something much more extreme, with far-reaching and devastating consequences. 

The Listeners was on the 2021 Scotiabank Giller Prize shortlist.

Tannahill is a playwright, filmmaker, author and theatre director. He has twice won the Governor General's Literary Award for drama: in 2014 for Age of Minority and in 2018 for Botticelli in the Fire & Sunday in Sodom. He is also the author of the novel Liminal.

Featured VideoJordan Tannahill talks to Shelagh Rogers about his latest novel, The Listeners

A Dream of a Woman by Casey Plett

A Dream of a Woman is a short story collection by Casey Plett. (Arsenal Pulp Press, Joanna Eldredge Morrissey)

A Dream of a Woman is a collection of short stories revolving around transgender women who are looking for stable, adult lives. Taking place in Prairie high-rises and New York warehouses, during freezing Canadian winters and drizzly Oregon days, these stories explore partnership, sex, addiction, romance, groundedness and love.

A Dream of a Woman was on the 2021 Scotiabank Giller Prize longlist.

Casey Plett is a Windsor-based writer who was born in Manitoba and has lived in Oregon and New York. Her novel Little Fish won the Lambda Literary Award, Amazon First Novel Award and the Firecracker Award for Fiction. Her first collection of short stories, A Safe Girl to Love, was published in 2014.

Featured VideoCasey Plett talks to Shelagh Rogers about the novel, A Dream of a Woman.

The Spectacular by Zoe Whittall

The Spectacular is a novel by Zoe Whittall. (HarperCollins Canada, Ali Eisner)

In The Spectacular, it's 1997 and Missy's band is touring across America. Every night, she plays the song about her absent mother that made the band famous. As the only girl in the band, she wants to party just as hard as everyone else, but a forgotten party favour strands her at the border. Carola is just surfacing from a sex scandal when she sees her daughter Missy for the first time in 10 years — on the cover of a music magazine. Ruth plans on returning to the Turkish seaside but then her granddaughter Missy crashes at her house. Ruth decides it's time the women in her family try to understand each other again.

Zoe Whittall's three novels have won her a Lambda Literary Award, the Dayne Ogilvie Prize and was shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize. Her novel The Best Kind of People is currently being adapted for a limited series by Sarah Polley. Her other novels are Holding Still for as Long as Possible and Bottle Rocket Hearts. She has also written for Schitt's Creek and the Baroness Von Sketch Show

Featured VideoZoe Whittall talks to Shelagh Rogers about her new novel, The Spectacular

Be a Triangle by Lilly Singh

Be A Triangle is a self-help book by Lilly Singh. (Shayan Asgharnia, Ballantine Books)

Actor, author and creator Lilly Singh explores how to create inner peace in the face of adversity. From Singh's personal struggles with identity, success and self-doubt, she teaches readers to "unsubscribe" from cookie-cutter ideals.

Be a Triangle is an uplifting guide to befriending yourself.

Lilly Singh is a Toronto-born entertainer, author, YouTuber and former late-night talk show host. She gained international popularity through her YouTube channel, Superwoman. Her debut book, How to Be a Bawsewon a 2017 Goodreads Choice Awards.

Featured VideoIn 2019, Canada's Lilly Singh was celebrated as the first LGBTQ+ woman of Indian descent to host a late night talk show on a major American television network. Two years and one ongoing pandemic later, NBC cancelled the show, leaving Singh to figure out her next move, while trying to conquer her feelings of failure. Singh, who rose to fame as a YouTube sensation, shares how she worked her way out of a slump in her new book Be a Triangle: How I Went from Being Lost to Getting My Life Into Shape. She speaks with Piya Chattopadhyay about how she regained her happiness by finding her foundation, the barriers she came up against in the late-night arena, and what it means to be a leader as a person of Indian heritage in North American culture.

My Volcano by John Elizabeth Stintzi

My Volcano is a novel by John Elizabeth Stintzi. ( John Elizabeth Stintzi, Arsenal Pulp Press)

My Volcano is a pre-apocalyptic tale following a cast of characters from all over the world, each experiencing private and collective eruptions. From a jogger discovering a growing active stratovolcano in Central Park to a boy living through the fall of the Aztec Empire, My Volcano moves through time and space to create a contemporary story about climate change. 

John Elizabeth Stintzi is a writer from northwestern Ontario, currently based in Kansas City, Mo. Their work Selections From Junebat won the 2019 RBC Bronwen Wallace Award for Emerging Writers and the Malahat Review's 2019 Long Poem Prize. Their poetry collection, Junebatwas published in spring 2020. They are also the author of the novel Vanishing Monumentswhich was a finalist for the 2021 Amazon Canada First Novel Award. CBC Books named Stintzi a 2020 writer to watch.

Featured VideoJohn Elizabeth Stintzi talks about their novel Vanishing Monuments, which follows a photographer's return to their mother's home in Winnipeg after a 27-year absence.

Sister Seen, Sister Heard by Kimia Eslah

Sister Seen, Sister Heard is a book by Kimia Eslah. (Fernwood Publishing,

Farah's ready to move out and become an independent university student, but her first-generation Iranian immigrant parents wish she wouldn't. When they begrudgingly agree to let her move, Farah begins to explore her new exciting life. But after Farah is assaulted on campus, her life changes dramatically.

Born in Iran, Kimia Eslah spent her early childhood in New Delhi before immigrating to Toronto with her family. She is a feminist, queer writer and the author of the 2019 novel The Daughter Who Walked Away

Beast at Every Threshold by Natalie Wee

Beast at Every Threshold is a book by Natalie Wee. (May Truong Photography, Arsenal Pulp Press)

In Beast at Every Threshold, Natalie Wee unravels the constructs of otherness and reflects on the intersection of queerness, diaspora and loss. These poems explore thresholds of marginality, immigration, nationhood and reinvention of the self through myth. 

Natalie Wee is a queer author who was born in Singapore to Malaysian parents and currently lives in Toronto. Her other work includes the chapbook Our Bodies & Other Fine Machines. Her work was named first runner-up for the 2020 Pacific Spirit Poetry Prize, winner of the 2019 Blue Mesa Review Summer Contest for poetry and a Best of the Net finalist.

Swollening by Jason Purcell

Swollening is a book by Jason Purcell. (Zachary Ayotte, Arsenal Pulp Press)

In Swollening, Jason Purcell contemplates the intersection of queerness and illness. Part memoir, these poems explore what it's like to live in a homophobic world as a queer person. From heteronormativity to anxiety around desire and internalized homophobia, Purcell wonders how a sick, queer body living in a sick world moves toward hope.

Jason Purcell is a writer and musician currently living in Edmonton, where they are also the co-owner of Glass Bookshop. Swollening is their first full-length collection.

You Still Look the Same by Farzana Doctor

You Still Look the Same is a poetry collection by Farzana Doctor. (Freehand Books)

In her debut poetry collection, Farzana Doctor dives into the tumultuous decade of her forties. She explores mid-life breakups and dating, female genital cutting, racism, misogyny, sex, love and the ways in which human relationships are never how we expect them to be.

Doctor is an Ontario author and social worker. Her books include the novels SevenAll InclusiveSix Metres of Pavement and Stealing Nasreen. She won the 2011 Dayne Ogilvie Prize from the Writers' Trust of Canada for an emerging lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender writer.

Featured VideoFarzana Doctor tackles taboo subjects in her new novel Seven.

Nothing Will Save Your Life by Nancy Jo Cullen

Nothing Will Save Your Life is a book by Nancy Jo Cullen. (Wolsak & Wynn)

From kitten videos to confirmation bias and vintage Vivienne Westwood, these poems are an explosion of pop culture, femininity, sex, religion and motherhood. Nothing Will Save Your Life tackles topics like body image, aging, climate change, capitalism and death, revealing what it's like to be alive in this moment.

Nancy Jo Cullen is a poet and writer. She is the author of three critically acclaimed books of poetry. Her short story collection, Canary, was winner of 2012 Metcalf-Rooke Award. In 2010, Cullen won the Dayne Ogilvie Prize, which recognizes emerging LGBTQ writers. She lives in Kingston, Ont. 

Plenitude by Daniel Sarah Karasik

Plenitude is a poetry collection by Daniel Sarah Karasik. (Daniel Sarah Karasik, Book*Hug Press)

Drawing on their personal experience in social and political advocacy, Daniel Sarah Karasik imagines a world that might be in Plenitude. Karasik contemplates how we might dream of and build a more humane future without cops, bosses, prisons and the oppressive regulation of gender and desire.

Daniel Sarah Karasik is a writer, playwright and poet from Toronto. They are the author of five books of drama, poetry and fiction. Karasik won the 2012 CBC Short Story Prize.

Cut to Fortress by Tawahum Bige

(Nightwood Editions, Megan Naito)

In Cut to Fortress, Tawahum Bige considers the possibility of decolonization through a personal lens. From familial conflicts to the death of his older brother, Bige examines his own origins and reconnects with the land and his Dene and Cree cultures. 

Tawahum Bige is a Łutselkʼe Dene, Plains Cree poet and spoken word artist from unceded Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-waututh territory. Their poems explore growth and resistance as a Two Spirit nonbinary artist. Bige's work can be found in publications like Red Rising Magazine, Prairie Fire, CV2 and Arc Poetry Magazine.

People Change by Vivek Shraya

People Change is a book by Vivek Shraya. (Penguin Canada, Ariane Laezza)

In People Change, multidisciplinary artist Vivek Shraya reflects on what motivates us to change and why we often fear it. From making resolutions to outgrowing relationships and dreams, the nonfiction book looks at why and how we are constantly contemplating who we want to be. 

People Change is a guide to celebrating the many versions of ourselves — and inspires us to discover who we'll become next. 

Shraya is a Canadian artist and author whose work in music, writing and visual art often transcends and overlaps with one another. Her books include the novel The Subtweet, the longform essay I'm Afraid of Men and graphic novel Death Threat.

Featured VideoVivek Shraya talks to Shelagh Rogers about her latest book, Next Time There's a Pandemic.

Rooms by Sina Queyras

Rooms is a book by Sina Queyras. (, Coach House Books)

Thirty years ago, a professor threw a chair at Sina Queyras after they submitted an essay on Virginia Woolf. In their book, Queyras returns to that first encounter with Virignia Woolf and blends memoir, tweets, poetry and criticism to reflect on how they found their way as a young queer writer from a life of chaos to a public life as a writer. 

Queyras is a poet and novelist from Montreal. Their other books include My Ariel, the poetry collection Lemon Hound, which received the Pat Lowther Award and a Lambda Literary Award, and her debut novel Autobiography of a Childhood, which was shortlisted for the First Novel Award in 2011.

Featured VideoSina Queyras on her latest book of poetry My Ariel, a "poem-by-poem engagement with Sylvia Plath's Ariel."

The Language We Were Never Taught To Speak by Grace Lau

The Language We Were Never Taught to Speak is a poetry collection by Grace Lau. (Guernica Editions)

The poems in The Language We Were Never Taught To Speak are a form of therapy that, according to Lau, few Chinese Canadians ever get to experience. It delves into the shapes that love and apologies take: the eternal debt one takes on knowing they'll never be able to repay their parents, the coming out journey in a traditional household and the never ending task of trying to better understand the perspectives of your elders. 

Grace Lau was raised in Vancouver and currently lives in Toronto. The Language We Were Never Taught to Speak is her first poetry collection.

Sulphurtongue by Rebecca Salazar

A woman with dark curly hair standing in the middle of a tree trunk and the book cover with the title written entwined with flowers
Sulphurtongue is a poetry collection by Rebecca Salazar. (Sam Evans, McClelland & Stewart)

Sulphurtongue is the debut poetry collection by Rebecca Salazar. The wide array of poems explores how we create our identities and how they collide with and complicate each other. They take on the relationships to family, desire, religion, the land, politics, trauma and the natural world — and how these things shape who we are.

Sulphurtongue was on the shortlist for the 2021 Governor General's Literary Award for poetry.

Salazar is a writer, editor and community organizer from New Brunswick. They edit the publications The Fiddlehead and Plenitude.

The Untranslatable I by Roxanna Bennett

The Untranslatable I is a poetry collection by Roxanna Bennett. (Gordon Hill Press)

Roxanna Bennett is a queer poet living with a disability, and explores both these identities in their work. The Untranslatable I continues this tradition as Bennett reflects on how their lived experiences have shaped them.

The Untranslatable I was on the shortlist for the 2021 Governor General's Literary Award for poetry.

Bennett is a poet from Whitby, Ont. Their other poetry collections include Unmeaningable and The Uncertainty Principle. Unmeaningable won the 2020 Raymond Souster Award from the League of Canadian Poets and the 2020 Trillium Book Award for poetry.

Umbilical Cord by Hasan Namir 

Umbilical Cord is a poetry collection by Hasan Namir. (Tarn Khare, Book*Hug Press)

Umbilical Cord is a collection of joyous free-verse poems that chronicle Hasan Namir's journey to fatherhood. The book is brimming with hope and love, as Namir writes love letters to his new son, recounts how he and his husband fell in love and documents the complicated process of IVF and surrogacy.

Namir is an Iraqi Canadian author who currently lives in Vancouver. His other books include God in Pink, which won the Lambda Literary Award for best gay fiction, and War/Torn, which was a 2020 Stonewall Book Awards winner. 

Featured VideoBilleh Nickerson talks to Shelagh Rogers about his poetry collection, Duct-Taped Roses.

Duct-Taped Roses by Billeh Nickerson

Duct-Taped Roses is a poetry collection by Billeh Nickerson. (Book*Hug Press, Kerry Dawson)

While on a flight to Cairo, Nickerson listened to The Bee Gees' 70s pop hit How Deep is Your Love 20 times in a row. It inspired him to write about the depth of his own love, a poem that became part of his poetry collection Duct-Taped Roses. The book's title, which refers to how Nickerson's father would use duct-tape to keep his airplanes together, is a nod to the gentle humour and heartbreak of the poetry as it examines the resiliency of love and family. 

Nickerson is a writer from Halifax who now lives in Vancouver. His other poetry collections include The Asthmatic Glassblower, McPoems, Impact: The Titanic Poems and Artificial Cherry. He teaches creative writing at Kwantlen Polytechnic University.

Featured VideoDavid Demchuk talk to Shelagh Rogers about his novel, Red X.

Red X by David Demchuk

Red X is a novel by David Demchuk. (, Strange Light)

In Red X, men are disappearing from the gay village in Toronto. Their disappearances are ignored by the police and media, but they rock the community — the same community dealing with the HIV/AIDS crisis, police brutality and homophobia. This story unfolds alongside author David Demchuk's own story, as he explores the relationship between queerness and horror and how the scariest monsters that move through his community aren't imaginary, they are all too real.

Demchuk is a writer and a CBC communications officer. His first book, The Bone Motherwas longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize.

Featured VideoIvan Coyote talks to Shelagh Rogers about Care Of: Letters, Connections and Cures.

Care Of by Ivan Coyote

Care Of is a book by Ivan Coyote. (McClelland & Stewart, Ivan Coyote)

Care Of is a collection of moving correspondence Ivan Coyote wrote in the early days of the COVID-19 lockdown, in response to letters and communications they had received, some of which dated back to 2009. The correspondence ranges from personal letters to Facebook messages to notes received after performing onstage, Coyote told CBC Radio host Dave White on Airplay. 

Ivan Coyote is a writer, storyteller and performer from Yukon. They have written more than a dozen books, created four short films and released three albums combining storytelling with music, and are known for exploring gender identity and queer liberation in their writing. Their other books include Tomboy Survival GuideRebent SinnerGender FailureOne in Every Crowd and the novel Bow GripCoyote won the 2020 Freedom to Read Award, in recognition of their body of work that examines class, gender identity and social justice.

Featured VideoThe playwright Brad Fraser talks with Shelagh Rogers about his memoir, All the Rage.

The Pump by Sydney Hegele (formerly Sydney Warner Brooman)

The Pump is a book by Sydney Warner Brooman. (Invisible Publishing, Sarah Bohri)

In The Pump, the small southern Ontario town known as The Pump has a tainted water supply, an apathetic municipal government and the decay of rural domesticity. In this book of interconnected stories, the characters must figure out their own morality while living on land that's slowly killing them. No one can escape The Pump's sacrificial games. 

Sydney Hegele is a writer living in Toronto. Their story The Bottom was shortlisted for The Malahat Review's 2020 Open Season Awards. They have been published in American Chordata, Thorn Literary Magazine and other literary journals. The Pump, their first book, won the 2022 ReLit Award for short fiction.

All the Rage by Brad Fraser

All the Rage is a memoir by Canadian playwright Brad Fraser. (Doubleday Canada, David Hawe)

All the Rage is a memoir by Brad Fraser that doesn't hold back in reflecting on his impoverished and abusive childhood. The frank and witty memoir looks at his life's trajectory — from living with his teenage parents in motel rooms and shacks in Alberta and Northern British Columbia, experiencing prejudice around his gender identity, and how he got to be known, both at home and abroad, as a controversial and acclaimed playwright.

Fraser is an author, TV writer, cultural commentator and one of Canada's best known playwrights. The Edmonton-born Fraser has written for magazines and newspapers, including the Globe and Mail and the National Post, and for three seasons was a TV writer and producer on Queer As Folk.

On Property by Rinaldo Walcott

Rinaldo Walcott is a professor at the University of Toronto, where he is the director of women and gender studies and teaches at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. (Biblioasis)

In On Propertyauthor and academic Rinaldo Walcott examines the legacy of indentured servitude and racial slavery and casts an analytical eye on the complex concept of property. The pamphlet book calls for systemic changes and sets forth the argument that owning property should be abolished.

Walcott is a professor at the University of Toronto, where he is the director of women and gender studies and teaches at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education.

Why I Was Late by Charlie Petch 

Why I Was Late is a poetry collection by Charlie Petch. (Brick Books)

Petch's debut collection of poems, Why I Was Late, explores decades-long trans/personal coming of age. The collection combines text with performance, sharing wisdom, humour and personal experience. 

Charlie Petch is a musician, spoken word artist and playwright based in Toronto. He was the 2017 poet of honour for Spoken Word Canada and the founder of Hot Damn It's a Queer Slam. Petch's poem Hey You Lucy Liu was longlisted for the 2021 CBC Poetry PrizeWhy I Was Late won a 2022 ReLit Award in the poetry category. 

Everyone in This Room Will Someday Be Dead by Emily Austin

Everyone in This Room Will Someday Be Dead is Emily Austin's debut novel. (Bridget Forberg, Atria Books)

Everyone in This Room Will Someday Be Dead follows the misadventures of Gilda, a 20-something atheist hired at a local Catholic church to replace their recently deceased receptionist, Grace. When Gilda receives email messages from the old receptionist's friend, she takes on Grace's identity to avoid breaking the sad news. Things unravel when the police show up at the church's door, investigating Grace's suspicious death.

Emily Austin is a writer based in Ottawa. She studied English literature and library science at Western University. Everyone in This Room Will Someday Be Dead is her debut novel; it was a finalist for the 2022 Amazon Canada First Novel Award.

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