Books·Fall Book Preview

40 works of Canadian nonfiction to watch for this fall

Here are 40 works of Canadian nonfiction coming out in the second half of 2019 that we can't wait to read.

Here are 40 works of Canadian nonfiction coming out in the second half of 2019 that we can't wait to read.

From the Ashes by Jesse Thistle

From the Ashes is a memoir by Jesse Thistle. (Lucie Thistle, Simon & Schuster)

Jesse Thistle has earned many honours for his work in academia, including the 2016 Governor General's Silver Medal. He is also a Trudeau and Vanier Scholar. He specializes in Indigenous homelessness, a topic he understands all too well. Abandoned by his parents and raised by his difficult grandparents, Thistle struggled with addiction as an adult and spent 10 years homeless. He shares his story of overcoming his circumstances in the memoir, From the Ashes.

When you can read it: Aug. 6, 2019

Hello I Want to Die Please Fix Me by Anna Mehler Paperny

Hello I Want to Die Please Fix Me is a memoir by Anna Mehler Paperny. (Random House Canada)

Anna Mehler Paperny is a journalist who has struggled with depression her entire life. After a suicide attempt in her 20s, she decided to look into her disease: how it's caused, treated and talked about. Part memoir, part investigation, Hello I Want to Die Please Fix Me is a examination of an illness that is far too common and far too little understood. 

When you can read it: Aug. 6, 2019

The Vagina Bible by Dr. Jen Gunter

The Vagina Bible is a nonfiction book by Jen Gunter. (, Random House Canada)

Canadian ob-gyn Dr. Jen Gunter is known for her pithy takedowns of pseudo-science wellness trends on Twitter. The Vagina Bible, her first book, is a deep dive into women's health, covering everything from questionable Goop-endorsed hygiene practices to reproductive health. 

When you can read it: Aug. 20, 2019

Breaking the Ocean by Annahid Dashtgard

Breaking the Ocean is a memoir by Annahid Dashtgard. (Darius Bashar, House of Anansi Press)

Annahid Dashtgard's comfortable life in Iran as part of a mixed-race family was turned upside down in 1979 when the Iranian Revolution happened. Her family fled to small-town Alberta, where they experienced racism and she was bullied. Dashtgard chose to overcome her past by becoming a political activist and leader. She's the co-founder of the consulting company Anima Leadership, which explores inclusion and representation. Her book, Breaking the Ocean, is both a memoir and a guide to facing discrimination, racism and trauma in society.

When you can read it: Aug. 20, 2019

Girls Need Not Apply by Kelly S. Thompson

Girls Need Not Apply is a memoir by Kelly S. Thompson. (Dorian Wilding, McClelland & Stewart)

Kelly S. Thompson is from a military family and didn't think twice about becoming the fourth generation to enlist in the Canadian Armed Forces. But actually being a solider didn't match the image Thompson had in her mind ⁠— and being a woman made everything that much worse. Girls Need Not Apply tells Thompson's story, highlighting the misogyny and sexism she experienced in uniform and sharing her own reckoning about who she wants to be.

When you can read it: Aug. 20, 2019

In My Own Moccasins by Helen Knott

In My Own Moccasins is a memoir by Helen Knott. (Tenille K. Campbell/, University of Regina Press)

Helen Knott is a poet and writer of Dane Zaa, Nehiyaw and European descent. Her memoir, In My Own Moccasins, is a story of addiction, sexual violence and intergenerational trauma. It explores how colonization has impacted her family over generations. But it is also a story of hope and redemption, celebrating the resilience and history of her family.

When you can read it: Aug. 24, 2019

The Wake by Linden MacIntyre

The Wake is a nonfiction book by Linden MacIntyre. (Joe Passaretti, HarperCollins Canada)

Linden MacIntyre is an award-winning journalist and novelist. He was born near a small Newfoundland village called St. Lawrence, a community that was almost completely wiped out by a tsunami in 1929. Twenty-eight people died in that tsunami, hundreds more were injured or left homeless and the town would never be the same again. After transitioning from fishing to mining, it was later discovered that the underground mine was radioactive and killed hundreds of miners. The Wake tells the story of how one wave changed everything for an entire community.

MacIntyre's novel The Bishop's Man won the Scotiabank Giller Prize in 2009.

When you can read it: Aug. 27, 2019

I Hope We Choose Love by Kai Cheng Thom

I Hope We Choose Love is a nonfiction book by Kai Cheng Thom. (Rachel Woroner, Arsenal Pulp Press)

I Hope We Choose Love is a collection of essays and prose poems from writer, performer and social worker Kai Cheng Thom. Thom explores several social movements and the issues that complicate them, such as violence, complicity and forgiveness. She calls for respect, nuance, understanding and love as we work toward making the world a better place.

When you can read it: Sept. 1, 2019

Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell

Talking to Strangers is a book by Malcolm Gladwell. (AP Photo/Little, Brown and Company, Brooke Williams)

Talking to Strangers explores how we interact with people we don't know, and the impact of the assumptions we bring to these conversations. As with his previous books, Malcolm Gladwell uses anecdotes and a narrative voice to examine how societal structures shape human behaviour, including decision-making and the spread of ideas. 

Gladwell is the author of several books, including BlinkOutliers and The Tipping Point.

When you can read it: Sept. 10, 2019

Into the Planet by Jill Heinerth

Into the Planet is a memoir by Jill Heinerth. (Doubleday Canada)

Jill Heinerth is one of Canada's most renowned cave divers and is one of the few female cave divers working today. She was the first person in history to dive into an Antarctic iceberg and led the team that discovered ancient remains of Mayan civilizations. She was also a go-to expert during the rescue of the young Thai soccer team in 2018.

Into the Planet is her story, but it's also an introduction to the drama and adventure of cave diving.

When you can read it: Sept. 10, 2019

On Fire by Naomi Klein

On Fire is a nonfiction book by Naomi Klein. (Kourosh Keshiri, Simon & Schuster)

Naomi Klein is an award-winning journalist, bestselling author, political thinker and outspoken advocate regarding climate change and the ills of corporate globalization. Her latest book, On Fire, examines how bold climate action can be a blueprint for a just and thriving society.

Her previous books include No Is Not Enoughabout the forces behind Donald Trump's successful presidential election campaign, No Logo, which became a cult hit, and This Changes Everything, which also explores climate change. 

When you can read it: Sept. 17, 2019

The North-West is Our Mother by Jean Teillet

The North-West Is Our Mother is a nonfiction book by Jean Teillet.
The North-West Is Our Mother is a nonfiction book by Jean Teillet. (Ed Henderson, HarperCollins Canada)

Jean Teillet is a lawyer, Métis expert and the great-grandniece of Louis Riel. Her book, The North-West is Our Mother, is a history of the Métis Nation. It begins in the early 1800s, when the Métis became known as fierce nomadic hunters, and continues to the late 19th-century resistance led by Riel to reclaim the land stolen from them, all the way to present day as they fight for reconciliation and decolonization.

When you can read it: Sept. 17, 2019

Power Shift by Sally Armstrong

Power Shift is a nonfiction book by Sally Armstrong. (Peter Bregg, House of Anansi Press)

Award-winning author, journalist and human rights activist Sally Armstrong is this year's CBC Massey Lecturer. In her lectures, titled Power Shift, Armstrong argues that improving the status of women is crucial to our collective surviving and thriving. The facts are beyond dispute, she argues: when women get an education, all of society benefits and when they get better healthcare, everyone lives longer.

When you can read it: Sept. 17, 2019

Coventry by Rachel Cusk

Coventry is a book by Rachel Cusk. (Siemon Scammel-Katz, HarperCollins Canada)

In Coventry, Rachel Cusk gathers a selection of her nonfiction that explores urgent personal, social and artistic questions on families, gender, politics, the nature of art and more.

Cusk is also the author of an autofiction trilogy. Two of the books in the series, Transit and Outline, were shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize.

When you can read it: Sept. 17, 2019

Older Sister. Not Necessarily Related. by Jenny Heijun Wills

Older Sister. Not Necessarily Related is a memoir by Jenny Heijun Wills. (McClelland & Stewart)

Jenny Heijun Wills was born in Korea, but was adopted by a Canadian family and raised in a small town. When she was in her early 20s, she decided to travel back to Korea to meet her extended birth family and other young people who were adopted from Korea and raised abroad. 

Older Sister. Not Necessarily Related. shares Wills's journey and also explores the impact of being raised by a family of a different ethnicity and culture.

When you can read it: Sept. 17, 2019

Scarred by Sarah Edmondson, with Kristine Gasbarre

Scarred is a memoir by Sarah Edmondson. (Liz Rosa, Chronicle Prism)

Sarah Edmondson is a Canadian actor who became a high-ranking member of the cult NXIVM. She long believed that it was a self-help organization, but when she learned the truth, she knew she had to do something about it. Scarred is the story of how Edmondson became so deeply involved in NXIVM and how she later risked everything to escape and expose the truth.

Edmondson's story was the basis for the CBC podcast Uncover: Escaping NXIVM.

When you can read it: Sept. 17, 2019

Strangers in the House by Candace Savage

Strangers in the House is a nonfiction book by Candace Savage. (Keith Bell, Greystone Books)

When Candace Savage decided to research the first owner of her Saskatchewan home, she did not expect to uncover an entire largely untold Prairie history. The first occupant was Napoléon Sureau dit Blondin, who built the home in the 1920s — a man who hid his French identity and Anglicized his family in order to fit in and be safe. 

Savage's previous book, A Geography of Blood, won the Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction.

When you can read it: Sept. 24, 2019

Daughter of Family G by Ami McKay

Daughter of Family G is a nonfiction book by Ami McKay. (Ian McKay, Knopf Canada)

Ami McKay's family has a history of dying early, thanks to a a genetic disorder called Lynch syndrome. This discovery began with McKay's great-aunt Pauline Gross, who, in 1895, went to a doctor with the expectation she would die at a young age. What followed was a decades and generations-long study of one family and their relationship to cancer. It would become the longest and most detailed cancer genealogy study ever.

In Daughter of Family G, McKay explores this family history while grappling with the fact she tested positive for the gene while raising a family of her own.

When you can read it: Sept. 24, 2019

Had It Coming by Robyn Doolittle

Had It Coming is a nonfiction book by Robyn Doolittle. (Galit Rodan, Allen Lane)

Based on the years Globe and Mail reporter Robyn Doolittle spent examining how police mishandle sexual assault cases, Had It Coming is an in-depth look at how attitudes around sexual harassment and assault are changing in the #MeToo era. Doolittle's investigative series Unfounded looked into sexual assault allegations using data gathered from over 870 police forces across the country and found that many cases were deemed "baseless" and not properly investigated.

Doolittle's previous book, Crazy Town: The Rob Ford Story, was published in 2014.

When you can read it: Sept. 24, 2019

Murdered Midas by Charlotte Gray

Murdered Midas is a nonfiction book by Charlotte Gray. (Valberg Imaging, HarperCollins Canada)

Historian Charlotte Gray explores the "crime of the century" in her latest book ⁠— the 1943 murder of gold mining tycoon Sir Harry Oakes. No one was ever convicted of the crime. Murdered Midas examines the case and trial while also delving into Oakes's personal history, humble upbringing and rise to wealth. 

When you can read it: Sept. 24, 2019

Truth Be Told by Beverley McLachlin

Truth Be Told is a memoir by Beverley McLachlin. (Jean-Marc Carisse, Simon & Schuster)

Beverley McLachlin became the first woman to hold the office of Canada's chief justice in January of 2000. Throughout her 17 years as chief justice and 28 years on the Supreme Court, McLachlin helped shape Canadian law and governance, including legislation on sex work and mandatory minimum prison sentences. She shares her story in the memoir Truth Be Told.

McLachlin is also the author of the fictional thriller Full Disclosure

When you can read it: Sept. 24, 2019

High School by Tegan and Sara

High School is a memoir by Tegan Quin and Sara Quin. (Trevor Brady, Simon & Schuster)

Indie pop band Tegan and Sara have written a memoir. The book, titled High School, will share the life story of the famous identical twins and LGBTQ icons. Tegan and Sara Quin grew up in Calgary at the height of grunge and rave culture in the 1990s. High School is written in chapters alternating between Tegan's point of view and Sara's and will explore how they coped with their parents' divorce and how they navigated issues around love, drugs, sexuality, queer identity and academic pressures during their high school years. 

When you can read it: Sept. 24, 2019

Peace and Good Order by Harold R. Johnson

Peace and Good Order is a nonfiction book by Harold R. Johnson. (McClelland & Stewart)

Harold R. Johnson is a former prosecutor and the author of several books. In his latest, Peace and Good Order, Johnson makes the case that Canada is failing to fulfill its legal duty to deliver justice to Indigenous people. In fact, he argues, Canada is making the situation worse and creating even more long-term damage to Indigenous communities. 

When you can read it: Sept. 24, 2019

Highway of Tears by Jessica McDiarmid

An orange book cover featuring an artistic illustration of a stylized eye.
Highway of Tears is a book by Jessica McDiarmid. (Doubleday Canada, Wendy Perry)

The Highway of Tears is an isolated stretch of highway in northwestern British Columbia where many Indigenous women and girls have gone missing or been murdered. In Highway of Tears, journalist Jessica McDiarmid investigates some of the tragedies that have taken place along this road and explores the larger societal and cultural issues that have led to this crisis.

When you can read it: Sept. 24, 2019

Rebent Sinner by Ivan Coyote

Rebent Sinner is a nonfiction book by Ivan Coyote. (Emily Cooper, Arsenal Pulp Press)

Ivan Coyote is a filmmaker, storyteller and writer. Rebent Sinner is an essay collection from various aspects of Coyote's life: helping younger LGBTQ folks, paying homage to their heroes, dealing with legislation and governments and being part of protests. Rebent Sinner is about Coyote's journey and shares a message of resilience, inclusion and hope.

Coyote's previous memoir, Tomboy Survival Guidewas a finalist for the Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction in 2017.

When you can read it: Oct. 1, 2019

Beyond the Trees by Adam Shoalts

Beyond the Trees is a memoir by Adam Shoalts. (Allen Lane)

In 2017, explorer Adam Shoalts decided to undertake a journey that had been deemed impossible: he would traverse Canada's Arctic from west to east. Beyond the Trees, Shoalts' third book, chronicles this adventure and captures the majestic beauty and very real danger of Canada's north. 

Shoalts is an explorer and a fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographic Society. He is also the author of Alone Against the North and A History of Canada in Ten Maps.

When you can read it: Oct. 1, 2019

Rising by Sharon Wood

Rising is a memoir by Sharon Wood. (Alexis McKeown, Douglas & McIntyre)

Sharon Wood was the first North American woman to summit Mount Everest self-supported. But the journey was a race to the top — another group with an American woman had the same plan. Wood's memoir Rising chronicles this memorable journey while showcasing the human side of pursuing such a daunting and ambitious goal.

When you can read it: Oct. 1, 2019

Angry Queer Somali Boy by Mohamed Abdulkarim Ali

A young Black man looking pensively at the camera.
Angry Queer Somali Boy is a memoir by Mohamed Abdulkarim Ali. (Philip Sutherland, University of Regina Press)

Angry Queer Somali Boy is a memoir by Mohamed Abdulkarim Ali, a young man who left Somalia, spent time in the Netherlands, and ended up homeless in Canada. Canada was the promised land, but when he didn't fit in and life was more difficult than he expected, Ali turned to drugs and partying before finding his way. 

Angry Queer Somali Boy combines Ali's personal story with the history of and commentary on the places he's called home: Somalia, Europe and Canada.

When you can read it: Oct. 5, 2019

I Wanted Fries with That by Amy Fish

I Wanted Fries with That is a nonfiction book by Amy Fish. (New World Library)

Amy Fish knows a good complaint when she sees one. She also knows how to get what you want. Why? She's spent her entire career as a university ombudsman and, when it comes to complaints, she has seen it all. In I Wanted Fries with That, her first book, she reveals how to complain effectively to get what you want while also being honest and fair in the process. 

When you can read it: Oct. 11, 2019

Soulman by Rocky Johnson, with Scott Teal

Soulman is a memoir by Rocky Johnson with Scott Teal. (ECW Press)

Retired professional wrestler Rocky Johnson, a WWE Hall of Famer and father of Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, has written a memoir about his remarkable road to success. Co-written with Scott Teal, Soulman begins with 13-year-old Johnson experiencing homelessness in Amherst, N.S. He rose to fame as a professional wrestler, becoming the first black man to win the Southern, Georgia and Florida heavyweight titles. Johnson later trained his son, who went on to become a legend in sports entertainment and one of the most highly paid actors in the world.

The Rock inducted his father into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2008 and wrote the foreword for this book.

When you can read it: Oct. 15, 2019

Things No One Else Can Teach Us by Humble the Poet

Things No One Else Can Teach Us is a nonfiction book by Humble the Poet. (CBC, HarperCollins Canada)

Things No One Else Can Teach Us is a book by Humble the Poet about finding personal happiness.

Humble the Poet, a pseudonym for Kanwer Singh, is an MC, rapper, poet and spoken word artist. He has previously written two books, Unlearn: 101 Simple Truths for a Better Life and Beneath the Surface: 101 Honest Truths to Take Life Deeper. He won Canada Reads 2017, when he successfully defended André Alexis's novel Fifteen Dogs

When you can read it: Oct. 15, 2019

The Cure for Hate by Tony McAleer

The Cure for Hate is a memoir by Tony McAleer. (Carlos Taylhardat, Arsenal Pulp Press)

Tony McAleer chronicles how he went from being an angry kid in an affluent family to becoming the leader of a neo-Nazi group. The birth of his child, and the overwhelming sense of love he felt, was a turning point for McAleer. He ended up leaving the neo-Nazi group and, in The Cure for Hatemakes a case for how understanding and compassion can bring people together.

When you can read it: Oct. 15, 2019

One Drum by Richard Wagamese

One Drum is Richard Wagamese's final book. (Douglas & McIntyre)

One Drum is a collection of stories and ceremonies inspired by the foundational teachings of Ojibway tradition.  Wagamese's original plan was to focus on each of the seven lessons, known as the Seven Grandfather Teachings, but he died before completing the manuscript. The Seven Grandfather Teachings are humility, courage, honesty, wisdom, truth, respect and love. One Drum will focus on the lessons of humility, respect and courage and will feature four ceremonies that anyone can do.

Wagamese died in March 2017 at the age of 61.

When you can read it: Oct. 19, 2019

Murder by David Adams Richards

Murder is a nonfiction book by David Adams Richards. (Bruce Peters, Doubleday Canada)

Murder is acclaimed writer David Adams Richards's first collection of nonfiction in more than 25 years. The book includes several meditations on murder and explores the lure of evil.

Richards is also a Canadian senator. He won the Giller Prize in 2000 for the novel Mercy Among the Children.

When you can read it: Oct. 22, 2019

Blanket Toss Under Midnight Sun by Paul Seesequasis

Blanket Toss Under Midnight Sun is a nonfiction book by Paul Seesequasis. (Knopf Canada)

After Canada's Truth and Reconciliation Commission report was released, writer and journalist Paul Seesequasis felt compelled to do something to contribute and understand what his mother, a residential school survivor, went through. He began to collect and share archival photos of Indigenous communities, and learned the stories of those photographed. Blanket Toss Under Midnight Sun shares some of the most compelling images and stories from this project. 

When you can read it: Oct. 22, 2019

An Earthling's Guide to Outer Space by Bob McDonald

An Earthling’s Guide to Outer Space is a nonfiction book by Bob McDonald. (Jennifer Hartley, Simon & Schuster)

In An Earthling's Guide to Outer Space, science radio host Bob McDonald shares his unbridled enthusiasm for space — and tries to answer any question you may have about it, from black holes and aliens to dark matter and Mars.

McDonald is the host of CBC Radio's Quirks & Quarks, an award-winning weekly show that brings listeners the latest in scientific discovery.

When you can read it: Oct. 22, 2019

Voice of Rebellion by Roberta Staley

A young woman with striking blue eyes in a blue coat with a hood.
Voice of Rebellion is a biography by Roberta Staley. (@robertastaley/, Greystone Books)

Mozhdah Jamalzadah, who arrived in Canada as a child refugee and later hosted a groundbreaking television show in Afghanistan, is the subject of Voice of Rebellion by Roberta Staley. Called the "Oprah of Afghanistan," Jamalzadah became known for tackling taboo subjects like divorce and domestic violence on The Mozhdah Show. Despite its success, Jamalzadah also received death threats and was eventually advised to return to Canada for her safety.

In 2018, Jamalzadah defended Sharon Bala's debut novel The Boat People on Canada Reads.

Roberta Staley is a writer and documentary filmmaker.

When you can read it: Oct. 22, 2019

Scotty by Ken Dryden

Scotty is a nonfiction book by Ken Dryden. (Sergey Smirnov, McClelland & Stewart)

Scotty Bowman is considered one of the greatest hockey minds to ever be part of the game. He's won more Stanley Cups and been around more of the game's greats than anyone else. In Scotty, Ken Dryden gets Bowman to share memories from his stellar career while also posing questions like, what teams would be in the top eight best teams of all time? And, if they played head-to-head in a playoff series, who would win?

Dryden, a legendary former goalie for the Montreal Canadiens, is also the author of The Game and Game Change.

When you can read it: Oct. 29, 2019

You Won't Always Be This Sad by Sheree Fitch

You Won't Always Be This Sad is a nonfiction book by Sheree Fitch. (Nimbus Publishing, Twitter/@sherfitch)

Sheree Fitch is one of Canada's most iconic children's writers. In You Won't Always Be This Sadher first memoir, Fitch shares her struggles after the unexpected death of her son at 37 years old. You Won't Always Be This Sad is a story of loss, love and healing.

Fitch's books for younger readers include the picture books Mabel Murple and Everybody's Different on Everybody Street.

When you can read it: Oct. 31, 2019

Beyond the Known by Andrew Rader

Beyond the Known is a nonfiction book by Andrew Rader. (Carolyn Barnes/Alexander McGrellis, Simon & Schuster)

Beyond the Known is a book about exploration. It looks at major periods of discovery — such as in ancient Greece and Rome, the age of European exploration and the scientific revolution — to show how being curious and inquisitive can lead to unimaginably great things.

Andrew Rader is a Mission Manager at SpaceX. Beyond the Known is his fourth book. 

When you can read it: Nov. 12, 2019