The CBC Books spring reading list: 32 great Canadian titles to read in spring 2021
The CBC Books spring reading list is here! Enjoy one of these great Canadian books as the weather heats up!
Nishga is a memoir by Griffin Poetry Prize winner Jordan Abel. In it, Abel grapples with his identity as a Nisga'a writer, with being an intergenerational residential school survivor and with his own Indigenous identity while consistently being asked to represent Nisga'a language and culture. Blending memoir, transcriptions and photography, Nishga is an exploration of what it means to be a modern Indigenous person and how both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people engage with the legacy of colonial violence and racism.
Kazim Ali was the child of South Asian immigrants, who unexpectedly spent years of his childhood in the small Manitoba town of Jenpeg, a town that existed because of the hydroelectric dam nearby. As an adult, he found himself wondering about the town: did it even exist anymore? And if it did, what was it like? These questions sent him on a journey, one that looked at the environmental destruction the dam caused, and the local Pimicikamak community that fought against it. Northern Light is Ali's story, the story of the Pimicikamak community and the story of a town that no longer exists.
Kazim Ali is an academic, poet and writer who currently teaches at the University of California in San Diego. His poetry collections include Sky Ward and The Far Mosque. Northern Light is his first work of nonfiction.
Find You First is the latest thriller from bestselling author Linwood Barclay. Miles Cookson is a millionaire who has been told he only has a short time left to live. He decides it's time to connect with the children that were born with sperm he donated decades before. But as his search unfolds, his offspring vanish, one by one. What is happening? Who is behind it? And can Miles figure it out before it's too late?
Barclay is an American Canadian thriller writer, with almost 20 books to his credit. His books include the adult thrillers Broken Promise, A Noise Downstairs, Elevator Pitch and the middle-grade novels Escape and Chase.
The Speed of Mercy is a novel that explores what is misunderstood about older women and others who are marginalized by mainstream society. It also looks at what happens when we forget our history, suppress our memories — and what happens when long-held secrets finally come to light.
Christy Ann Conlin is a writer who lives in Nova Scotia. Her first novel, Heave, was shortlisted for the Amazon Canada First Novel Award. Her short story collection, Watermark, was nominated for the 2020 Forest of Reading Evergreen Award. Her short fiction has been longlisted for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize and the American Short Fiction prize.
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.
Kaleb Dahlgren is a student at York University, where he plays on the varsity hockey team. Crossroads is his first book.
Heaven No Hell is a collection of comics from Michael DeForge that explores the nature of relationships, life and society in general. The included stories range from an angel touring heaven to a couple following their pregnancy with an app to a couple who make terrible choices after an experiment goes wrong.
DeForge is a Toronto-based creator who has won awards for comics like Leaving Richard's Valley, Dressing and Lose #1. Other acclaimed books include Stunt, Big Kids, Ant Colony, Sticks Angelica, Folk Hero and more.
Cyclopedia Exotica is a comic set in a parallel universe where cyclops are part of our society. They are artists and doctors and parents and students. But they regularly face discrimination and xenophobia and micro-aggressions. Through this alternate world, Aminder Dhaliwal explores race, discrimination, marginalization, beauty and belonging with humour and heart.
Aminder Dhaliwal is a comic writer and television animator originally from Brampton, Ont. Now based in Los Angeles, Dhaliwal is a director at Disney TV Animation. Her comic series Woman World, originally published on Instagram to hundreds of thousands of followers, was released as a graphic novel by Drawn & Quarterly in 2018. CBC Books named Dhaliwal a writer to watch in 2019.
Speak, Silence follows a journalist named Gota who travels to Sarajevo to cover a film festival alongside the fallout of the Bosnian war. She also has a personal mission: to connect with her former lover, Kosmos. Once there, Gota encounters a country and a man changed beyond recognition. But once she forms a bond with Komsos' new lover, Edina, Gota has a new mission: to share the stories of women who experienced sexual violence during the war.
Kim Echlin is a writer who lives in Toronto. Her other novels include Elephant Winter, Dagmar's Daughter, The Disappeared and Under the Visible Life. The Disappeared was shortlisted for the 2009 Scotiabank Giller Prize.
In her debut poetry collection, Phantompains, Therese Estacion shows what it means to bear witness to one's own pain and sexuality, to find catharsis and self-love, after a rare infection stole her limbs but not her life. Estacion takes her audience through the monotony of recovery and explores themes of disability, grief and life in a surrealist fashion, travelling across geographies and writing in a combination of English and Visayan, the language of Cebu, where her mother is from, and of her father's small home town of Guihulngan.
Estacion is a writer and teacher from the Philippines who now lives in Toronto.
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.
Perdita 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.
The novel Satellite Love is set in a city in Japan in 1999. Anna is a lonely teenager who turns to stargazing for comfort and escape. But when the Low Earth Orbit satellite (aka LEO) returns Anna's gaze and comes down to earth as Leo, what follows is an unconventional story about love, loneliness and human connection.
Genki Ferguson is a writer from Calgary, and the son of acclaimed writer Will Ferguson. Satellite Love is his first book.
The Relatives is a novel that explores what it means to make — and be — a family. Lila is working on becoming a mother, alone, while Tess and Emily are figuring out what happens to their embryos now that their relationship is ending. The man who donated the sperm to all three of them is being held captive in Somalia, his life hanging in the balance. As he faces the potential end of his life, what will happen to the lives he helped create, which haven't quite started yet?
Camilla Gibb is a writer who lives in Toronto. Her other books include the novels Mouthing the Words, Sweetness in the Belly and The Beauty of Humanity Movement and the memoir This is Happy. Sweetness in the Belly won the 2006 Trillium Book Award and was shortlisted for the 2005 Scotiabank Giller Prize.
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 Point, Blink, Outliers, What the Dog Saw and David and Goliath. His previous book, Talking to Strangers, was one of the top 10 bestselling Canadian books of 2019.
In the graphic novel, Shadow Life, 76-year-old Kumiko is placed in a long-term care home by her daughters. It's not what Kumiko wants and she breaks out and takes refuge in an apartment she keeps secret from her children. She finds pleasure in simple, daily life, but Death's shadow haunts her. Kumiko is ready to fight for the life she's built herself, but how long can she fight back?
Hiromi Goto is a writer and editor from British Columbia. Her novels include Chorus of Mushrooms, Half World and Darkest Light. Shadow Life is her first graphic novel. She was shortlisted for the 2020 CBC Poetry Prize.
Ann Xu is an American illustrator.
The Good Father is about a divorced man, Harry, and his daughter, Daphne. Harry is living a quiet life in Toronto with his second wife, while Daphne is a volatile teenager growing up in Vancouver. But when a terrible event takes place, both Harry and Daphne are forced to re-examine their lives, and their relationship to each other.
Wayne Grady is a writer and translator from Kingston, Ont. His other books include the nonfiction books The Quiet Limit of the World, Bringing Back the Dodo and Tree: A Life Story, co-written with David Suzuki, and the novels Emancipation Day and Up From Freedom. Emancipation Day won the 2013 Amazon Canada First Novel Award.
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.
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.
- Uzma Jalaluddin's novel Hana Khan Carries On is a modern day meet-cute inspired by a love of rom-coms
Jalaluddin is a teacher, parenting columnist and author based in Ontario. She is also the author of the novel Ayesha At Last.
In the novel Lost Immunity, a dangerous bacteria has caused local outbreaks around the world. When it hits Seattle, the local public health officer asks a pharmaceutical company working on the vaccine to release it to the city early. At first, the controversial plan works. But when people start dying from an even more terrible and more mysterious illness, the vaccine gets blamed. Can they figure out what's really happening before it's too late?
Iron Goddess of Mercy is a long poem comprised of 64 fragments, inspired by the history, politics and culture of Hong Kong, and explores the complicated personal and collective identity of what it means to be "Asian." The 64 fragments honour the hexagrams of the ancient Chinese text I Ching. The poem is also inspired by the Japanese tradition of haibun, where travel diary entries end with a haiku.
Larissa Lai is a writer from Calgary. She is also the author of the novels The Tiger Flu, Salt Fish Girl and When Fox is a Thousand and the poetry books Sybil Unrest, co-written with Rita Wong, and Automaton Biographies. The Tiger Flu won a Lambda Literary Award. She is a Canada Research Chair in creative writing at the University of Calgary.
A Town Called Solace is a novel told from three different perspectives: Clara, a young woman who sits at her window, waiting for her missing sister to return home, Liam, Clara's new neighbour who Clara watches with suspicion, and Mrs. Orchard, the old woman who owns the house Liam is staying in. As their stories unfold, so does the mystery of what happened to Clara's sister and how Mrs. Orchard and Liam are connected.
Mary Lawson is an acclaimed novelist who grew up in Ontario and now lives in the U.K. Her other novels include Crow Lake, The Other Side of the Bridge and Road Ends. Crow Lake won the Amazon Canada First Novel Award.
The Centaur's Wife is a novel that weaves together fairy tales with a story of an apocalypse. The world has nearly ended: meteors have destroyed the city Heather and her family live in, and humanity is facing extinction. There are only a handful of survivors, including Heather, her husband and their twin daughters. The mountain that looms over the city becomes the survivors' focus, as it remains lush and green and full of life. Heather is one of the few people who knows how to get there — and what creatures they will encounter.
Amanda Leduc is the communications and development coordinator for the Festival of Literary Diversity (FOLD) in Brampton, Ont. She is also the author of the novel The Miracles of Ordinary Men and the nonfiction book Disfigured. She was longlisted for the 2019 CBC Short Story Prize.
Novelist and broadcaster Jen Sookfong Lee turns to poetry for the first time with the collection The Shadow List. The Shadow List is a collection of lyric poems that explore the tension in the narrator's life between who they are, who they want to be and what they really want.
Lee is a novelist, broadcast personality, a past Canada Reads panellist and The Next Chapter columnist from Vancouver. She is the author of the novel The Conjoined and the nonfiction book Gentleman of the Shade. The Shadow List is her first poetry collection.
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.
Pizza Punks is a comic that celebrates pizza, and asks the question how far would a pizza-loving punk rocker go for a slice? All kinds of pizza are celebrated in this quirky comic, from deep dish to backpack pizza to mosh-pit pizza and more.
Cole Pauls is a Tahltan comic artist. He created his first comic, Dakwäkãda Warriors, as a language-revival initiative. In 2017, it won Broken Pencil magazine's Best Comic and Best Zine of the Year Award.
Watermelon snow is the name given to snow that goes pink or red from a species of ice loving algae. Watermelon Snow is also the name of Canadian scientist Lynne Quarmby's latest book. It's about a recent adventure trip she took on a schooner full of artists in the high Arctic. Her years of climate change activism hadn't achieved what she had imagined, and she was deeply concerned about the future of the planet.
Quarmby is a Canadian scientist, activist and politician. She is a professor and chair of the department of molecular biology and biochemistry at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, B.C.
Gutter Child is about a young girl growing up in a world divided: the Mainland, where people of privilege live, and the Gutter, a policed state where the most vulnerable reside. A social experiment results in 100 babies born in the Gutter to be raised in the Mainland. One of those babies is Elimina Dubois. But when Elimina's Mainland mother dies, she is sent to an academy with rules and a way of life Elimina doesn't understand.
Jael Richardson is the founder and the artistic director of the Festival for Literary Diversity (FOLD) and the books columnist for q on CBC Radio. She is also the author of the nonfiction book The Stone Thrower, which was also adapted into a picture book of the same name. Gutter Child is her first work of fiction.
Return of the Trickster is the third book in celebrated writer Eden Robinson's Trickster trilogy, after Son of a Trickster and Trickster Drift. In Return of the Trickster, Jared is coming to terms with his trickster powers — and with the havoc they create for him and everyone he loves. His mom, Maggie, is coming to terms with them as well. But when his power-hungry Aunt Georgina comes to town, it's the beginning of a magical war — with Jared in the middle of it all.
Robinson is an award-winning writer from Kitamaat, B.C. She is also the author of the novels Monkey Beach, Son of a Trickster and Trickster Drift. Return of the Trickster completes the Trickster trilogy. Son of a Trickster was a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and was championed on Canada Reads 2020 by actor Kaniehtiio Horn.
Sportswriter Dan Robson always admired his father: a loving blue-collar man who worked hard and knew how to fix things. When his father dies, Dan is hit hard. He not only misses his father, he realizes there is so much he never learned from him. So he decides to learn all the skills his father had: plumbing carpentry, basic electrical work and more. Measuring Up is the story of Dan's father, their relationship, and how Dan found ways to keep his father's memory alive.
Dan Robson is the author of Quinn: The Life of a Hockey Legend, and the co-author of The Crazy Game with Clint Malarchuk, Change Up with Buck Martinez and Killer with Doug Gilmour. He is currently a senior writer at The Athletic.
Fred Sasakamoose was the first Indigenous hockey player with Treaty status to play in the NHL. He was sent to residential school when he was seven years old, and endured that horror for a decade. But he became an elite hockey player, joining the Chicago Blackhawks in 1954. He only played 12 games in the NHL, but the legacy he left would have a huge impact for decades to come. He became an activist, dedicated to improving the lives of Indigenous people through sport. He shares his story in the memoir Call Me Indian.
Fred Sasakamoose is a member of the NHL Hall of Fame and the Order of Canada. He died in 2020.
Lucky is a novel about a scam artist named Lucky Armstrong. She just pulled off her biggest scam yet, a million dollar heist with her boyfriend. But things don't go as planned and Lucky ends up alone. Her escape hatch is a lucky lottery ticket she bought. It's worth millions, but if she cashes it in, the police will know where she is. With no one she can trust, and nothing to lose, what is she going to do?
Marissa Stapley is a writer and journalist from Toronto. Her other novels include Mating for Life, Things to Do When It's Raining and The Last Resort.
Goodbye, Again is a collection of essays that reflect on loneliness, being an outsider, productivity, anxiety, depression and more. Jonny Sun is open and vulnerable in these heartfelt and humorous pieces.
Jonny Sun is an engineer, artist, comic and PhD candidate at MIT. He gained fame on Twitter with comics featuring an alien trying to understand the human condition. He is also the author of the comic Everyone's a Aliebn When Ur a Aliebn Too.
We, Jane is about a young woman named Marthe, who ends up befriending an older woman while living in Montreal. She learns about how the woman used to help young women in rural Newfoundland get abortions, and the two return to the island to continue this cause. But over time, things become more difficult, and more complicated, than Marthe ever imagined.
Aimee Wall is a writer and translator from Newfoundland who now lives in Montreal. Her translations include Vickie Gendreau's novels Testament and Drama Queens. We, Jane is her first novel.