The CBC Books winter reading list: 15 Canadian books to read this season
Looking for a new book? We've rounded up some recent Canadian fiction and nonfiction to cozy up with as temperatures drop.
Winner of the 2018 Scotiabank Giller Prize, Washington Black follows a boy known as "Wash" who was born into slavery on a Barbados sugar plantation. At the age of 11, Wash witnesses a man's death and escapes his own doom by taking off with his master's brother, an eccentric inventor he calls "Titch." Their escape takes Wash on a dangerous adventure around the globe.
Winner of the 2018 Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize, Dear Evelyn is the story of a war-time marriage that withers over the course of 70 years. Harry Miles is an English poetry lover who falls in love with Evelyn, the ambitious daughter of an alcoholic, before shipping off to serve in the Second World War.
In the final days of his life, Leonard Cohen completed The Flame, a collection of previously unpublished poetry, selections from his notebooks and lyrics from his albums. Cohen curated the book's selections, which include his insights as an artist and thinker.
Final Report by Rick Mercer
Comedian Rick Mercer's new book is a carefully curated look at never-before-published rants from the last five seasons of his hit show, along a collection of the very best rants from earlier years.
The second novel in Eden Robinson's Trickster trilogy returns to Jared — the main character from the trilogy's first book Son of a Trickster — who is now 17 years old and living in Vancouver with his formerly estranged Aunt Mave. He's been sober for a year, in an attempt to keep magic out of his life. But as the son of a Trickster and a witch, this proves nearly impossible. Things take a turn when David, his mom's violent ex-boyfriend, starts stalking him around the city.
This dark and witty memoir by Vancouver-based writer Lindsay Wong takes a look at the impact of mental illness on families. Wong delivers an honest and emotional look at whispered secrets, dysfunctional relationships — and how her grandmother, mother, aunt and even herself initially blamed the mythical "woo-woo," Chinese spirits that plague the living, for their mental health issues. The memoir is equal parts blunt, honest and hilarious.
- Rejected multiple times, Lindsay Wong's memoir is now a finalist for Canada's biggest nonfiction prize
Moon of the Crusted Snow by Waubgeshig Rice
Moon of the Crusted Snow is Waubgeshig Rice's second novel. In the book, a northern Anishinaabe community loses power just as winter arrives, burying roads and creating panic as the food supply slowly runs out. Newcomers begin to arrive on the reserve, escaping a nearby crisis, and tension builds as disease begins taking lives. Rice is the host of the CBC Radio show Up North.
- Why Waubgeshig Rice wrote a dystopian novel about the collapse of society from an Indigenous perspective
Kingdom of the Blind is the latest in Louise Penny's hit mystery series. It begins when Armand Gamache, former head of the Sûreté du Québec, is named an executor of the will of an elderly woman he's never met before. The contents are extremely strange, eventually leading to the shocking discovery of a dead body. Meanwhile, an internal investigation into the events that led to Armand's suspension is underway and deadly opioids threaten to hit the streets of Montreal.
Winner of the 2018 Governor General's Literary Award for nonfiction, Darrel J. McLeod's Mamaskatch is a memoir of his upbringing in Smith, Alta., raised by his fierce Cree mother Bertha. McLeod describes vivid memories of moose stew and wild peppermint tea, surrounded by siblings and cousins. From his mother, McLeod learned to be proud of his heritage and also shares her fractured stories from surviving the residential school system.
- How writing about his traumatic childhood helped Darrel J. McLeod heal — and help others in the process
This novel follows a woman named Tilly, as she impulsively agrees to drive eight elders on a life-changing road trip to Albuquerque for the Gathering of Nations Pow Wow. The eight elders, who call themselves the Crazy Eights, each choose a stop on the way to check something off on their bucket list. Each new place unearths old stories and offers healing to ancient scars.
Winner of the 2018 Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction, All Things Consoled is a memoir about Elizabeth Hay's transition from daughter to caregiver. With both her parents — a financially prudent artist and a schoolteacher with a short fuse — Hay had a challenging relationship growing up.
Big Lonely Doug by Harley Rustad
Big Lonely Doug is about an ancient Douglas fir tree that stands at roughly the height of a 20-storey building on Vancouver Island. Saved by a logger named Dennis Cronin, the tree stands alone in the forest near Port Renfrew, as its neighbouring cedar, hemlock and great fir trees were clear cut and hauled away. Big Lonely Doug was originally a magazine article, which won silver at the National Magazine Awards.
Buffy Sainte-Marie by Andrea Warner
Music critic and CBC Music producer Andrea Warner drew from over 60 hours of interviews with iconic Cree singer-songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie for this authorized biography. The book goes deep into Sainte-Marie's childhood and through her storied career as a groundbreaking artist and tireless First Nations activist who won an Oscar and was blacklisted by two U.S. presidents.
Journalist and writer Tanya Talaga investigates the alarming rise in youth suicides in Indigenous communities. All Our Relations — part of the 2018 Massey Lectures and based on Talaga's Atkinson Fellowship in Public Policy series — is a call for action and justice for Indigenous communities and youth.
Defying Limits by Dave Williams
Dafydd Rhys Williams — also known as "Dr. Dave" — is a Canadian physician and retired astronaut. He's set records for spacewalking, saved lives as a ER doctor and performed surgery in zero gravity. Defying Limits is a memoir about passion and exploring everything life has to offer from the perspective of one of the country's most accomplished astronauts.