35 Canadian books to check out in summer 2021
The CBC Books summer reading list is here!
The CBC Books summer reading list is here! Here are 35 Canadian books to check out this summer.
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 them both 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.
Angie 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.
Home of the Floating Lily is a short story collection about the lives of Bangladeshi immigrants living in Toronto, exploring the love, loss, displacement and connection that comes with making a new country home. A newly married woman, an international student, a domestic helper and a working-class single mother are just a few of the characters who come to life in these dynamic and vibrant stories.
Silmy Abdullah is a lawyer and author who lives in Toronto. Home of the Floating Lily is her first book.
Nothing the Same, Everything Haunted is an inventive novel about a Jewish man named Motl. The Second World War has just begun in Europe, and Motl's quiet life in a small village is completely upended. Friends and neighbours are being killed, and Motl dreams of having enough strength and bravery to go on a trek across Europe to stop the Nazis. Motl believes a Jew's greatest revenge against Hitler would be to procreate — which isn't easy since Motl lost that ability during the First World War. So Motl ends up on a quest, one stranger than he ever dreamed.
Gary Barwin is a writer, composer, visual and multidisciplinary artist and the author of several books of poetry, fiction and books for children. His first novel, 2016's Yiddish for Pirates, won the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour as well as a Canadian Jewish Literary Award. It was also a finalist for both the Governor General's Award for fiction and the Scotiabank Giller Prize. He lives in Hamilton, Ont.
The Lover, the Lake was a sensation when it was originally published in French. Now available in English, The Lover, the Lake is a celebration of Indigenous sexuality and sensuality. It is the story of a forbidden but fulfilling love affair between Wabougouni and Gabrie, set against the backdrop of Lake Abitibi.
Virginia Pésémapeo Bordeleau is a visual artist and published author of Cree origin. She has published three novels and four poetry collections, including Blue Bear Woman.
Susan Ouriou is a writer, editor and literary translator from Calgary. She has won the Governor General's Literary Award for translation for her work.
Bruised is a YA novel about Daya Wijesinghe, a teen girl who navigates first love and identity after a family tragedy. After a tragic accident results in the death of her parents, Daya has taken to bruising herself as a way to cope with her grief. It leads her to the physical and colourful world of roller derby. Bruised explores Daya's healing process and journey to wellness.
Tanya Boteju is an author and educator based in Vancouver. Her debut YA novel, Kings, Queens and In-Betweens, followed a high school student named Nima and explored themes of gender identity and belonging.
The YA novel Hurricane Summer is a coming-of-age story about a teen named Tilla. Her relationship with her Jamaican-born father is straining due to his frequent absences from her life. Tilla decides to spend the summer in Jamaica in order to reconnect with her father and understand herself and the island he calls home.
Asha Bromfield is a Black Canadian actress, singer and author best known for her role as Melody Jones, drummer of Josie and the Pussycats in the television show Riverdale.
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.
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 Guide, Rebent Sinner, Gender Failure, One in Every Crowd and the novel Bow Grip. Coyote won the 2020 Freedom to Read Award, in recognition of their body of work that examines class, gender identity and social justice.
Marcello Di Cintio explores the role of the taxi cab in contemporary culture in Driven. Taxis are both public and private space, and their small dimensions mean strangers share an intimate closeness during the duration of a trip. Di Cintio interviews several taxi drivers from different backgrounds, and attempts to make sense of the role cabs plays in our culture, while also shedding light on those who drive them, often silently and anonymously.
Marcello Di Cintio is a writer from Calgary. His other books include Walls and Pay No Heed to the Rockets. Walls won the 2013 Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing. His work can also be found in the International New York Times, Afar and Canadian Geographic.
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.
The story begins in 1618, in the German duchy of Württemberg. Plague is spreading and the Thirty Years' War has begun. In the small town of Leonberg, Katharina Kepler is accused of being a witch. Katharina is an illiterate widow, known by her neighbours for her herbal remedies and the success of her children — enough to make anyone jealous. Everyone Knows Your Mother Is a Witch is a story of how a community becomes implicated in collective aggression and hysterical fear is a tale for our time. It illuminates a society and a family undone by superstition, the state and the mortal convulsions of history.
Rivka Galchen is a Canadian American writer. She is also the author of the novel Atmospheric Disturbances. She lives in New York City.
Bonnie Jack is a novel about a search for lost family and the cost of keeping secrets. As a boy, Jack Anderson was abandoned by his mother in a Glasgow movie theatre. Now living in the United States and facing his impending retirement, Jack and his wife Anne travel to Scotland to track down his long-lost sister. Along the journey, Jack gets entangled in local affairs and must confront the truth about his family, legacy and the wife he thought he knew.
Ian Hamilton is a Canadian mystery writer, a former journalist and civil servant. He is the author of both the Ava Lee series and the Uncle Chow Tung series.
Accidentally Engaged is the second romantic comedy from Farah Heron. In Accidentally Engaged, Reena Manji refuses to be attracted to the man her parents have set her up with — the charming and attractive Nadim. But when Reena gets the opportunity to enter a cooking competition, she will do anything to win — including pretending to be engaged to Nadim.
Heron is a writer from Toronto. She is also the author of the romantic comedy The Chai Factor. Her first YA novel, Tahira in Bloom, will also be published in 2021.
Letters in a Bruised Cosmos is the second collection from Griffin Poetry Prize winner Liz Howard. Letters in a Bruised Cosmos brings together Western and Indigenous astrophysical science to explore the nature of needing and connecting with others. It's a collection that explores family, tragedy, triumph, love and the meaning of life.
In Rebecca and Lucie in the Case of the Missing Neighbor, new mother Rebecca is on a quest to solve a local mystery. When her neighbour, and health care provider, Eduardo, goes missing, Rebecca is on the case. She juggles caring for her eight-month-old baby with detective work, including interviews and stakeouts. Rebecca and Lucie in the Case of the Missing Neighbor is a light-hearted look at post-partum life.
Pascal Girard is a comics creator from Montreal. He is also the author of the comics Nicolas, Bigfoot, Reunion and Petty Theft.
In Five Little Indians, Kenny, Lucy, Clara, Howie and Maisie were taken from their families and sent to a residential school when they were very small. Barely out of childhood, they are released and left to contend with the seedy world of eastside Vancouver. Fuelled by the trauma of their childhood, the five friends cross paths over the decades and struggle with the weight of their shared past.
Michelle Good is a Cree writer and retired lawyer, as well as a member of Red Pheasant Cree Nation in Saskatchewan. Five Little Indians is her first book.
Sufferance is about Jeremiah Camp, a man who can look into the "heart of humanity" and see what's really causing society's biggest problems. But when he's seen one too many problems, he decides to go into hiding. But he can't escape his past — he once made a list of 12 billionaires for a past job. When the men on this list start dying, one by one, people want to know why.
Thomas King is a Canadian American writer of Cherokee and Greek ancestry. He delivered the 2003 Massey Lectures, The Truth about Stories. His books include Green Grass, Running Water, Truth & Bright Water, The Inconvenient Indian and The Back of the Turtle. He also writes the DreadfulWater mystery series.
Stone Fruit is a comic about a queer couple, Bron and Ray, and the ups and downs a relationship goes through as it begins to fall apart. Stone Fruit explores family, identity and relationships through Bron and Ray's journey.
In The Creep, journalist Whitney Chase grapples with a mysterious compulsion to enhance her coverage with intriguing untruths and undetectable white lies. She calls it "the creep" — an overpowering need to improve the story in the telling. And Whitney has a particular genius for getting away with it.
Set against the ramp-up to the US invasion of Iraq and the decline of print journalism, The Creep portrays an increasingly unequal 21st century — exploring how deceitfulness, self-enhancement and confidently delivered lies can be transfused into fact and constitute a broader violence against the social fabric and public trust.
Michael LaPointe is a writer and critic from Toronto. His writing has appeared in The Atlantic, The New Yorker, The New York Times and the Times Literary Supplement.
Day for Night is a novel about a couple, Richard and Joanna, who are making a film about Walter Benjamin. Walter Benjamin was a Jewish German who killed himself while running from the Nazis in 1940. Richard and Joanna are making this movie on the eve of Brexit, and the unsettled political state, the intense experience of making a movie together and the charismatic actor they cast as Walter turn their lives upside down.
This Eden is a techno thriller about a man named Michael. He gets caught up with a spy named Aoife and a wargamer named Towse when his girlfriend, a coder who was headhunted by a dangerous tech mogul, dies. The unlikely threesome end up on a chase around the world for the truth — and for their lives.
Ed O'Loughlin is a Canadian author and journalist who currently lives in Dublin. His other books include the novels Not Untrue and Not Unkind and Minds of Winter. Minds of Winter was a finalist for the 2017 Scotiabank Giller Prize.
Pure Flame is a reckoning with feminism, family and motherhood. Michelle Orange learns about Jerome, one of her mother's many alter egos, and about her mother's midlife choice to leave her husband and children to pursue career opportunities in a bigger city. Through a blend of memoir, social history and cultural criticism, Pure Flame traces the forces that helped transform the world and what a woman might expect from it. Orange's account of her mother's life and their relationship results in a meditation on becoming, selfhood, freedom, mortality, storytelling and what it means to be a mother's daughter now.
Orange is a contributing editor to VQR and the author of This is Running for Your Life: Essays. Her writing has appeared in Harper's, the New York Times and other publications.
The Son of the House is the story of two Nigerian women, the housemaid Nwabulu and the wealthy Julie. The two live very different lives, but when both are kidnapped and forced to spend days together in a dark, tiny room, they connect and keep hope alive through sharing their lives' stories, and finding common ground.
Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia is a lawyer, academic and writer who divides her time between Lagos and Halifax. The Son of the House is her first novel.
The Sister's Tale is the sister novel to Beth Powning's The Sea Captain's Wife. In The Sister's Tale, Josephine Galloway, a sea captain's wife, is drawn to taking in a British home child named Flora. When Josephine suddenly becomes the manager of a boarding house, she is faced with bringing harmony, stability and peace to the lives of several women, including Flora's and her own.
Powning is a writer from New Brunswick. Her other books include the nonfiction work Seeds of Another Summer: Finding the Spirit of Home in Nature, the memoir Shadow Child, and the novels The Hatbox Letters and The Sea Captain's Wife.
In Ice Walker, explorer and adventurer James Raffan asks readers to look at the Arctic through the eyes of a polar bear named Nanu and her family. As climate change changes the Arctic, the bear must figure out how to find food and shelter for her family. The landscape that is warming up, and precious ice is melting rapidly and everything is changing.
Raffan is a writer, teacher, geographer and adventurer. He has written more than 20 books, including Circling the Midnight Sun, Emperor of the North and Summer North of Sixty. His work has appeared in several Canadian media outlets, including the Globe and Mail, Canadian Geographic and CBC. In 2020, Canadian Geographic named him one of the "90 most influential explorers in the nation's recorded history."
Super Important Filipina Thoughts is the first poetry collection from comedian writer and performer Alia Ceniza Rasul. Rasul shares her funny and irreverent reflections on identity, family, relationships and her upbringing.
Rasul is an artist, producer, comedian, performer and writer from Toronto. She is a member of the comedy troupe the Tita Collective.
Sugar Falls is based on the true story of Betty Ross, an elder from Manitoba's Cross Lake First Nation. Adopted into a loving family at a young age, Ross was sent to residential school at eight years of age — and endured abuse while she was there. Sugar Falls recounts her journey in an age-accessible way, and highlights the role her father's teachings played in helping Ross to keep hope alive.
A 10th anniversary edition of Sugar Falls was published in 2021.
David A. Robertson, a Cree author based in Winnipeg, writes books for readers of all ages. He has published 25 books across a variety of genres, including the graphic novels Will I See? and Sugar Falls, a Governor General's Literary Award-winning picture book called When We Were Alone, illustrated by Julie Flett, and The Reckoner, a YA trilogy. In 2020 alone, Robertson published three books: the memoir Black Water, the graphic novel Breakdown and the middle-grade novel The Barren Grounds. He also hosted the CBC Manitoba podcast Kiwew.
Not Dark Yet is the 27th book in the Inspector Banks mystery series by Peter Robinson. In Not Dark Yet, there's been a double murder on a property developer's luxury home. The owner has ties to the mafia — and when the security camera reveals ties to even more crimes, the original murders that brought Banks on the scene look completely different.
Robinson is a Canadian mystery writer. His books have won awards and have been translated into 20 languages. He's been called the master of the police procedural — and with the latest Inspector Banks novel Not Dark Yet, he's up to book number 27 in the popular series.
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, but also 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.
Gladys is an old woman determined to end her life on her own terms. She's lived in the Ontario town of Swastika for the past 50 years. She leaves the town and her daughter behind when she takes the train north. But where does she go? An unnamed narrator tells Gladys' story in And Miles to Go Before I Sleep.
Jocelyne Saucier is a novelist from New Brunswick. Three out of her four novels have been finalists for the Governor General's Literary Awards. Dancer and presenter Geneviève Guérard championed her fourth novel, Il pleuvait des oiseaux, during the 2013 edition of Le combat national des livres. Two years later, the novel's English translation, And the Birds Rained Down, was defended by folk singer Martha Wainwright on Canada Reads.
Rhonda Mullins is a writer and translator living in Montreal. She won the 2015 Governor General's Literary Award for French-to-English translation for Jocelyne Saucier's Twenty-One Cardinals. She has also translated Louis Carmain's Guano, Élise Turcotte's Guyana, Hervé Fischer's The Decline of the Hollywood Empire and Julie Demers's Little Beast.
The Last Exiles is a novel set in North Korea. It's about two young lovers, Jin and Suja. They meet in university, but their class differences become apparent when they return home — and may keep them apart. When Jin sees how much his family is struggling, he decides to escape. When Suja discovers this, she sets after him, and what unfolds is a dangerous and precarious journey for them both.
Ann Shin is a writer and filmmaker from Toronto. Her documentary films include My Enemy, My Brother and The Defector: Escape from North Korea. My Enemy, My Brother was nominated for an Academy Award in 2014. She has directed programs for several television networks, including CBC. She is also the author of three poetry collections. The Last Exiles is her first novel.
Green Glass Ghosts is a YA novel about gender identity and seeking a better life. When a queer young person leaves behind a troubled home situation, they arrive in downtown Vancouver with a dream of becoming a successful musician. But the protagonist must navigate jealousy, abuse and trauma to reach their desired outcome in life — playing live music in front of a crowd.
Rae Spoon is a non-binary musician, producer and author from Calgary, who currently lives in Victoria. Their other books include First Spring Grass Fire and Gender Failure, which was co-written with Ivan Coyote.
Gem Hall is an interdisciplinary artist currently based on Coast Salish lands.
In the short story collection What You Are, two-time Giller Prize winner M.G. Vassanji engages with the intellectual and political questions that inspire him as a writer and a citizen, while always matching the energy of his ideas with the empathy and emotional depth he invests in his characters. What You Are weaves between wistful memories of youthful ambition and the compromises and comforts of age in 15 compelling stories.
Vassanji is an author from Toronto. He has published short stories, novels, memoir and biography. He has won the Scotiabank Giller Prize twice: in 1994 for The Book of Secrets and in 2003 for The In-Between World of Vikram Lall. He is a member of the Order of Canada and has been awarded several honorary doctorates. His novel Nostalgia was defended on Canada Reads 2017 by Jody Mitic.
Jonny Appleseed is a novel about a two-spirit Indigiqueer young man who has left the reserve and becomes a cybersex worker in the big city to make ends meet. But he must reckon with his past when he returns home to attend his stepfather's funeral.
Jonny Appleseed was also on the longlist for the 2018 Scotiabank Giller Prize and the shortlist for the Governor General's Literary Award for fiction and was a finalist for the Amazon Canada First Novel Award.
Joshua Whitehead is a two-spirit, Oji-nêhiyaw member of Peguis First Nation, currently pursuing his PhD. He is also the author of the poetry collection full-metal indigiqueer and is the editor of the anthology Love after the End. Jonny Appleseed is his first novel.
Najwa Zebian is a poet who has gained a loyal following online for her moving and inspirational poems. Zebian's personal story is as powerful as her poetry. She came to Canada from Lebanon when she was 16 years old, and was faced with the challenge of figuring out who she was in a new country and who she wanted to be, while also dealing with racism and societal pressures. Welcome Home is her first work of nonfiction. It combines Zebian's personal story with poetry and writing to inspire readers to live with vulnerability and authenticity.
Najwa Zebian is a Lebanese Canadian activist, educator and writer. Her books include the poetry collections Mind Platter, The Nectar of Pain and Sparks of Phoenix.
This Place is an anthology of comics featuring the work of Indigenous creators as they retell the history of Canada. Elements of fantasy and magical realism are incorporated throughout the book, telling the stories of characters like Jack Fiddler, an Anishinaabe shaman facing murder charges, and Rosie, an Inuk girl growing up during the Second World War.
Contributors include Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm, Sonny Assu, Brandon Mitchell, Rachel and Sean Qitsualik-Tinsley, David A. Robertson, Niigaanwewidam James Sinclair, Jen Storm, Richard Van Camp, Katherena Vermette, Chelsea Vowel, Tara Audibert, Kyle Charles, GMB Chomichuk, Natasha Donovan, Scott B. Henderson, Ryan Howe, Andrew Lodwick, Scott A. Ford, Donovan Yaciuk and Alicia Elliott.