The top 10 bestselling Canadian books of 2019

CBC Books is counting down the top 10 bestselling Canadian titles of 2019, using data from close to 300 independent Canadian bookstores, courtesy of Bookmanager. 

CBC Books is counting down the top 10 bestselling Canadian titles of 2019, using data from close to 300 independent Canadian bookstores, courtesy of Bookmanager

You can listen to the countdown special hosted by Ali Hassan below or keep scrolling to see which books made the cut! 

Featured VideoCBC Books is counting down the best Canadian books of the year, as determined by sales data from nearly 300 independent bookstores. Hosted by Ali Hassan.

10. 21 Things You May Not Know About the Indian Act by Bob Joseph

21 Things You May Not Know About the Indian Act by Bob Joseph is a guide to understanding the Indian Act, created in 1876, and its ongoing impact on Indigenous people in Canada. (

Based on a viral article, 21 Things You May Not Know About the Indian Act is the essential guide to understanding the 1876 Indian Act and its repercussions on generations of Indigenous Peoples. It also explores how the legal document's legacy has shaped the lives of Indigenous people from 1876 until now.

Bob Joseph is is a member of the Gwawaenuk Nation and is an initiated member of the Hamatsa Society. He is the founder of Indigenous Corporate Training Inc. and is the author of several books about Indigenous history and relations, including  Indigenous Relations and Working Effectively with Indigenous Peoples.

Featured VideoRichard Wagamese has had a successful career as a journalist and author. His books have earned him accolades across Canada. But he may never have become a writer, were it not for the kindness of a group of librarians in St. Catharines, Ontario.

9. Embers by Richard Wagamese

Embers is a nonfiction book by Richard Wagamese. (Yvette Lehmann, Douglas & McIntyre)

Embers is a collection of meditations and reflections from beloved Ojibwe author, the late Richard Wagamese. In the book, he explores concepts like grief, joy, beauty and gratitude and reflects on how they shape our lived experience.

Wagamese was a novelist, short story writer and journalist.  His books include Medicine WalkRagged Company, Him Standing, Dream Wheel, the poetry book Runaway Dreams and memoirs For Joshua and One Native Life. Wagamese died in 2017, at the age of 61.

Featured VideoAuthor Max Eisen on his new book about living in the Auschwitz concentration camp during the Second World War....and the random acts of kindness that helped him survive and rebuild his life.

8. By Chance Alone by Max Eisen

Max Eisen is the author of By Chance Alone. (CBC)

When Max Eisen was 15 years old, he and his family were taken from their home to Auschwitz, where Eisen worked as a slave labourer. He survived the Holocaust and emigrated to Canada in 1949. Eisen has toured the world, educating people about the horrors he survived during the Second World War. He has recorded his memories in the deeply moving memoir By Chance Alone.

By Chance Alone won Canada Reads 2019. It was defended by science journalist Ziya Tong. It was also shortlisted for the RBC Taylor Prize in 2017.

Eisen is a speaker and educator dedicated to Holocaust education. By Chance Alone is his first book.

Featured VideoThe celebrated Canadian writer talks to Michael about growing up black in Calgary, the legacy of slavery, and what it's like to win (or be nominated for) so many literary prizes.

7. Washington Black by Esi Edugyan

Esi Edugyan is a Scotiabank Giller Prize-winning novelist. (Canadian Press, HarperCollins)

Washington Black tells the story of 11-year-old Washington Black, a slave on a Barbados sugar plantation. His master is Englishman Christopher Wilde, who is obsessed with developing a machine that can fly. The two develop a bond, but when a man is killed, Wilde must choose between his family and saving Washington's life — and the choice results in an unforgettable adventure around the world. 

Washington Black won the 2018 Scotiabank Giller Prize. It was also a finalist for the 2018 Man Booker Prize and the 2018 Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize

Esi Edugyan is a two-time Scotiabank Giller Prize winner. She also won the award in 2011 for her novel Half-Blood Blues. She is also the author of the 2004 novel The Second Life of Samuel Tyne and the 2014 work of nonfiction Dreaming of Elsewhere: Observations on Home

Featured VideoThe Canadian literary icon joined Eleanor Wachtel onstage at the Rialto Theatre in Montreal. His new novel, Warlight, is being hailed as a masterpiece.

6. Warlight by Michael Ondaatje

Warlight is the latest novel from author Michael Ondaatje. (McClelland & Stewart, Getty Images)

Michael Ondaatje's Warlight is the lushly told story of a young man trying to understand his strange childhood. In the days following the Second World War, Nathaniel and his sister are abandoned by their parents in their London home and left in the care of two devoted men. It's a story that traces the journey of a son attempting to understand war and his family's involvement in it.

Warlight was named one of Barack Obama's favourite books of 2018. It was shortlisted for 2019 Walter Scott Prize for historical fiction and made the 2018 Booker Prize longlist.

Ondaatje is a Canadian literary icon. His novels and poetry have earned international acclaim, and he was the first Canadian ever to win the Man Booker Prize — in 1992 for the wartime story The English Patient. His other books include Anil's Ghost, The Cat's Table and In the Skin of a Lion.

Featured VideoIn conversation with Peter Gzowski, the author describes the setting of her dystopian new novel and says she had many sources of inspiration for its grim vision.

5. Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell

Malcolm Gladwell is the author of Talking to Strangers. (Celeste Sloman, Hachette Book Group Canada)

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 a staff writer for The New Yorker and the author of several nonfiction books, including BlinkOutliers and The Tipping Point.

Featured VideoCherie Dimaline discusses the reception of her YA novel, The Marrow Thieves, which is shortlisted for Canada Reads 2018.

4. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

In 1986, Margaret Atwood discussed the international success of 1985 novel The Handmaid's Tale on CBC's The National. (McClelland & Stewart, CBC Archives)

Released in 1985, The Handmaid's Tale was Atwood's breakthrough book on an international scale. The modern classic tells the story of a Handmaid known as Offred who is trapped in a society where her only purpose is to conceive and bear the child of a powerful man.

The Handmaid's Tale won Atwood her second Governor General's Literary Award and scored her first nomination for the Booker Prize. It has since undergone several adaptations, for film, stage, ballet, opera and most recently, TV and graphic novel. 

Atwood is one of Canada's best known and most prolific writers. She has written more than 40 books in nearly all literary forms including short stories, nonfiction, children's books and stage.

Featured VideoMargaret Atwood talks to Shelagh Rogers about The Testaments, the highly anticipated sequel to her 1985 bestseller, The Handmaid's Tale.

3. The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline

Cherie Dimaline is the author of the YA novel The Marrow Thieves. (CBC)

In 2017, The Marrow Thieves won the Governor General's Literary Award for Young people's literature — text and the Kirkus Prize for young readers' literature. It is currently being adapted for television.

The Marrow Thieves was defended by Jully Black on Canada Reads 2018.

Cherie Dimaline is a Métis author and editor whose award-winning fiction has been published and anthologized internationally. Her first book, Red Rooms, was published in 2007. Her follow-up to The Marrow Thieves, a novel for adults called Empire of Wild, was released in 2019.

2. A Better Man by Louise Penny

Louise Penny is the author of A Better Man. (Jean-François Bérubé, Raincoast Books)

In Louise Penny's latest Inspector Armand Gamache mystery novel, A Better ManGamache has been reinstated as head of the homicide department in Quebec. But when the province is hit with a flooding crisis, a father begs Gamache to help find his missing daughter, a case that draws intense public scrutiny. 

 A Better Man is the 13th book in the  Gamache mystery series.

Penny is a former CBC broadcaster and journalist. Her other books include Still LifeBury Your DeadA Trick of the Light and Glass Houses. In 2013, she was named to the Order of Canada.

1. The Testaments by Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood is the author of The Testaments. (Tolga Akmen/AFP via Getty Images)

The Testaments is set 15 years after the events of The Handmaid's Tale and includes the "explosive testaments" of three women. The book answers questions on the inner-workings of Gilead, the oppressive dystopia where Offred, the novel's original narrator, was stripped of her freedoms and forced to be a handmaid for powerful men.

The novel co-won the 2019 Booker Prize and broke Canadian sales records. It was also longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and made several best books of the year lists, including CBC Books' best Canadian fiction list.

Atwood's acclaimed books include Alias GraceOryx and Crake and The Edible Woman. She has won several awards for her work including the Governor General's Literary Award, the Scotiabank Giller Prize and the Man Booker Prize. 

On Nov. 18, 2019, Atwood turned 80. In fall 2019, a documentary was released about her life, activism and the year she wrote The Testaments.