Books·My Life in Books

6 books that inspire New Fire host Lisa Charleyboy

The author, editor and CBC host shares the books that have special meaning to her.
Lisa Charleyboy hosts CBC Radio One's New Fire, which airs Mondays at 7:30 p.m. and Wednesdays at 9:30 a.m. (Eyoälha Baker/CBC)

Lisa Charleyboy is Tsilhqot'in from Tsi Deldel First Nation and the host of New Fire, which is in its second season on CBC Radio One in June. When she's not hosting on the CBC airwaves she's editing Urban Native Magazine and writing books like #NotYourPrincess: Voices of Native American Women, which will be available this fall.

In her own words, Charleyboy — also known as Urban Native Girl — shares six of the books that have inspired her.

Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan

Author Kevin Kwan concludes the Rich Asians trilogy with his book Rich People Problems. (CBC/Doubleday Canada)

"I just downloaded Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan, it's the third in a trilogy that's dedicated to following the lives of wealthy elite families from Singapore. It definitely feels like an indulgence, not quite as guilty as the $3,000 Three Twins Absurdity sundae, but delicious and a little icy, which makes it just perfect for the summer season."

The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron 

Julia Cameron is bestselling author of The Artist's Way, a guide to productive creativity. (Twitter/Perigree)

"One book that I've consistently recommended to friends is The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron because I found it to be a easy step-by-step way of unleashing the inner artist. Whenever my friends are having a writer's block, trying to create space in their busy lives to be creative, I find myself recommending this book." 

The Break by Katherena Vermette

Katherena Vermette won the Governor General's Award in 2013 for her poetry collection North End Love Songs. Her debut novel The Break was a 2017 Canada Reads contender. (CBC)

"Another book that I've been recommending a lot lately is The Break by Katherena Vermette. I read this book while stuck in Calgary hotel on a long weekend and I was totally engrossed in it. I was completely taken by surprise by the ending. It's one of those books that reveals so much about societal, structural, and systemic issues without having to explain it." 

The Seat of the Soul by Gary Zukav

Gary Zukav's bestseller The Seat of the Soul includes a workbook and is forwarded by Oprah and Maya Angelou. (Simon and Schuster)

"In my twenties, I used to reach out for my copy of The Seat of the Soul by Gary Zukav. The first time it got me through a lot was during a very painful breakup. I found my relationships within those pages, and I would underline passages and write little notes in the margins. The second time I reached for it, I was going through (yet another) breakup. Do you recognize a pattern here? Still, I found the words so soothing and grounding. Each time I read it, I interpreted the chapters very differently depending on what I was going through at the time. I underlined and wrote notes all over that book and since then I have passed it on to a friend who was… going through a breakup." 

I Am Woman by Lee Maracle 

Lee Maracle is a Canadian First Nations Coast Salish poet and author. (Columpa Carmen Bobb Photography/Press Gang)

"This is one of those books that floors me every single time I read it. Lee Maracle is an intensely passionate and opinionated writer who doesn't hold her language or her words back to appease an audience. This book looks at the history of colonialism and its continued violence against Indigenous women in a very visceral manner and has had a profound effect on my life." 

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown 

Dee Brown documents the history of harm done to Indigenous people in America in his bestselling book Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee. (Henry Holt & Co./Open Road Media)

"If there was only one book I could take with me to a deserted island, it would be Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown. I've tried on a few occasions to read this book and each time it hurts me so much that I must put it away. It's never a good day to read about the death and displacement of Indigenous peoples in Turtle Island. It's utterly gut wrenching and I think on a desert island, I'd finally be able to get through it."

Lisa Charleyboy's comments have been edited and condensed.