The CBC Books fall reading list: 30 Canadian books to read now
The CBC Books fall reading list is here! Here are 30 books, from fiction to poetry to comics, to check out this season.
Ducks is an autobiographical graphic novel that recounts author Kate Beaton's time spent working in the Alberta oil sands. With the goal of paying off her student loans, Beaton leaves her tight-knit seaside Nova Scotia community and heads west, where she encounters harsh realities, including the everyday trauma that no one discusses.
Beaton is a cartoonist from Nova Scotia who launched her career by publishing the comic strip Hark! A Vagrant online. The sassy historical webcomic gained a following of 500,000 monthly visitors and was eventually turned into a bestselling book. Beaton's success continued with the book Step Aside, Pops! and two children's books, King Baby and The Princess and the Pony.
LISTEN | Kate Beaton discusses Ducks with Tom Power:
A Minor Chorus is the debut novel from Griffin Poetry Prize-winning poet and author Billy-Ray Belcourt. A Minor Chorus follows an unnamed narrator who abandons his thesis and goes back to his hometown, where he has a series of intimate encounters bringing the modern queer and Indigenous experience into focus.
Belcourt is a writer and academic from Driftpile Cree Nation in Alberta. In 2016, he became the first Indigenous person from Canada to be a Rhodes Scholar. Belcourt won the 2018 Griffin Poetry Prize for This Wound is a World. He is also the author of NDN Coping Mechanisms.
LISTEN | Billy-Ray Belcourt on the power Indigenous joy:
Nomenclature by Dionne Brand collects eight volumes of the celebrated poet and author's work that were originally published between 1982 and 2010. With a critical introduction by the literary scholar and theorist Christina Sharpe, the book features a new long poem, the titular Nomenclature for the Time Being, which is a thoughtful and wide-ranging reflection on location, consciousness, time and the current state of the world.
Brand is an award-winning poet and novelist from Toronto. She won the Governor General's Literary Award for poetry and the Trillium Book Award for her 1997 collection Land to Light On. Her collection thirsty won the 2003 Pat Lowther Award. In 2009, she served as the poet laureate of Toronto. Her novel What We All Long For won the City of Toronto Book Award in 2006. She won the 2011 Griffin Poetry Prize for Ossuaries and in 2017, she was named to the Order of Canada.
Passengers is the sixth collection of poetry by Newfoundland writer and poet Michael Crummey. The work reimagines the life of Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer who has embarked on a circumnavigation journey of Newfoundland. Along the way, the poems explore geography, folklore and the human spirit.
Haven is a novel set in 7th-century Ireland in a time of plague and terror. A scholar priest named Artt has a dream in which God tells him to leave the sinful world behind. With two monks — young Trian and old Cormac — he rows down the River Shannon in search of an isolated spot in which to found a monastery. Drifting out into the Atlantic, the three men find the steep, bare island known today as Skellig Michael. In such a place, what will survival mean?
Emma Donoghue is an Irish Canadian writer. Her books include the novels Landing, Room, Frog Music, The Wonder, The Pull of the Stars and the children's book The Lotterys Plus One. Room was an international bestseller and was adapted into a critically acclaimed film starring Brie Larson.
LISTEN | Emma Donoghue discusses Haven with Tom Power:
In Lesser Known Monsters of the 21st Century, a collection of short stories, Kim Fu turns the familiar on its head to weave tales of new worlds where strange happenings, like a girl growing wings on her legs or toy boxes that control the passage of time, are the ordinary trappings of everyday life. The stories deal with themes of death, technological consequence, guilt and sexuality and unmask the contradictions within humanity.
Fu is a Washington-based, Canadian-born fiction writer and poet. She has published two other works of fiction, For Today I Am a Boy and The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore, and a book of poetry called How Festive the Ambulance.
LISTEN | Kim Fu discusses Lesser Known Monsters of the 21st Century with Shelagh Rogers:
The characters in Stray Dogs, a short story collection, are restless travellers, moving between nation states and states of mind, seeking connection and trying to escape the past. Set in Montreal, Beirut, Tokyo and more, these stories highlight the often random ways our fragile modern identities are constructed, destroyed and reborn.
LISTEN | Rawi Hage discusses Stray Dogs with Shelagh Rogers:
Set during the golden age of the Roman Empire, We Should Not Be Afraid of the Sky follows five sisters who are abducted by soldiers from their small Portuguese village. The sisters are suddenly forced to face long-buried secrets as they find themselves at the centre of a deadly standoff. They must part ways to fight their own battles in order to survive.
- Emma Hooper reimagines the stories of Roman Empire-era female saints in We Should Not Be Afraid of the Sky
LISTEN | Emma Hooper discusses We Should Not Be Afraid Of The Sky:
Novelist Wayne Johnston tells the sad, tender and funny story of his childhood in Newfoundland in the memoir Jennie's Boy. At seven years old, Johnston was sick and too skinny. He had insomnia and a cough that wouldn't go away, despite the doctors removing his tonsils, adenoids and appendix in an effort to cure him. Jennie's Boy, named after Johnston's mother, is his tribute to his family and a community that were incredibly protective over him but were tired of making allowances for him.
- Wayne Johnston reflects on the wisdom, wit and tough love of his mother and grandmother in Jennie's Boy
Johnston is a writer from Newfoundland. His novels include The Divine Ryans, A World Elsewhere, The Custodian of Paradise, The Navigator of New York and The Colony of Unrequited Dreams. The Colony of Unrequited Dreams was shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and was a 2003 Canada Reads finalist, when it was championed by now prime minister Justin Trudeau.
LISTEN | Wayne Johnston discusses Jennie's Boy with Shelagh Rogers:
Namwayut follows Chief Robert Joseph — the hereditary chief of the Gwawaenuk and a globally recognized peacebuilder — as he takes readers on a journey, starting with his childhood surviving residential school to his current role as a leader. Chief Joseph teaches readers about honour and respect for the truth of stories, so they can discover how to dismantle the walls of discrimination, hatred and racism.
Joseph is a hereditary chief of the Gwawaenuk People, an ambassador for Reconciliation Canada and the chair of the Native American Leadership Alliance for Peace and Reconciliation. He received the 2016 Indspire Lifetime Achievement Award.
LISTEN | Chief Robert Joseph reflects on his life and sharing his story:
Junie is a novel about Junie, a creative and observant child, who moves to Hogan's Alley in the 1930s with her mother. Hogan's Alley is a thriving Black immigrant community in Vancouver's east end and Junie quickly makes meaningful relationships. As she moves into adulthood, Junie explores her artistic talents and sexuality, but her mother sinks further into alcoholism and the thriving neighbourhood once filled with potential begins to change.
Chelene Knight is a writer and poet from Vancouver. She is the author of Braided Skin and the memoir Dear Current Occupant, which won the 2018 Vancouver Book Award.
LISTEN | Chelene Knight discusses Junie with Shelagh Rogers:
We Measure the Earth with Our Bodies is a novel that recounts a Tibetan family's struggle to create new lives of dignity, love and hope after China's invasion of Tibet in the 1950s. Readers follow sisters Lhamo and Tenkyi on a multi-decade journey through exile, from a harrowing trek across the Himalayas to a refugee camp on the border of Nepal. Decades later, the sisters are separated. Tenyki lives in Toronto with Lhamo's daughter Dolma, who has to decide if it's worth risking her dreams to help her community.
Tsering Yangzom Lama is a Tibetan Canadian author based in Vancouver. Born and raised in Nepal, she's also lived in Toronto and New York City. We Measure the Earth with Our Bodies is her debut novel. Lama was named a writer to watch by CBC Books in 2022.
LISTEN | Tsering Yangzom Lama discusses We Measure the Earth with Our Bodies with Piya Chattopadhyay:
In The Myth of Normal, Gabor Maté examines why chronic illness and general health problems are on the rise in Western countries with good healthcare systems. Maté explains how Western medicine, while technologically advanced, fails to treat the whole person and ignores cultural stressors. With his son Daniel, Maté untangles common myths about what makes us sick and offers a guide on health and healing.
Gabor Maté is a doctor and an expert on topics such as addiction, stress and childhood development. He's the author of several other books, including In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts, When the Body Says and The Cost of Hidden Stress.
Daniel Maté is a composer and lyricist whose musicals include The Longing and the Short of It, Hansel & Gretl & Heidi & Gunter and Middle School Mysteries. He's received the Kleban Prize for Lyrics and the ASCAP Foundation Cole Porter Award.
LISTEN | Gabor Maté and Daniel Maté discuss our 'toxic culture' with Matt Galloway: