Day 6

The Day 6 holiday books guide is here: 6 picks for everyone on your list

Attention, last minute shoppers! Day 6 books columnist Becky Toyne is back with her recommendations for giftable books, including fiction, non-fiction and two picks for kids.

Books columnist Becky Toyne has recommendations for fans of fiction, graphic novels, kids books and more

From fiction to kids' books, there's something for everyone on this holiday gift list. (Shutterstock)
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Still have a few last minute gifts to buy for those hard-to-shop-for loved ones? 

Day 6 books columnist Becky Toyne is here to help with a few books that could fit the bill for anyone on your list.

From fiction to picture books, here are Toyne's top picks for the holidays.

The Innocents by Michael Crummey, fiction

(Penguin Random House)

Toyne calls The Innocents one of her favourite Canadian novels of the year.

"It's been quite successful, but also a bit of a literary bridesmaid this year because it was the only novel that was shortlisted for all three of Canada's big three fiction prizes this fall, and it didn't win any of them," Toyne said.

The Innocents is inspired by a true story and set in late 18th century Newfoundland. 

Two orphaned siblings live alone in an isolated cove along the island's northern shore. They must fight for their survival with nothing but the family's boat and the little knowledge passed on haphazardly by their mother and father.

Night Boat to Tangier by Kevin Barry, fiction

(Penguin Random House)

Night Boat to Tangier is Toyne's favourite non-Canadian novel of the year. 

"I felt delight — like actual delight — reading the language in this book," Toyne said.

The book's author, Kevin Barry, may be familiar to some as the author of City of Bohane, which won many awards after its release in 2011. Whereas Bohane was written, in part, in an invented language, Tangier is not.

It's the story of two aging, Irish mobsters who spend 24 hours at a port in Algeciras, Spain. As they await the daughter of one of the men, they reminisce on their life of crime.

"They're very funny, hugely likable characters and yet at the same time, they're frightening. Like you really have the sense that violence is never far from the end of their fingers," Toyne said.

Catch and Kill by Ronan Farrow, non-fiction

(Little, Brown and Company)

Despite its hard-hitting subject matter, the Pulitzer Prize-winning Catch and Kill reads like a spy novel, says Toyne.

"If you're on the fence about it, it is as good as they say," she added.

Catch and Kill details journalist Ronan Farrow's efforts to uncover decades of sexual misconduct allegations against Harvey Weinstein — and the road blocks he faced in telling the story.

"This is a true story of a journalist in pursuit of one of the biggest stories of this decade," Toyne said.

Agnes, Murderess by Sarah Leavitt, graphic novel

(Freehand Books)

Inspired by a true story, Agnes, Murderess, is based on the life of serial killer Agnes McVee who is said to have killed more than 50 people in British Columbia during the early 19th century.

"Not that much factual information is known about her, so Sarah Leavitt found out the story and then felt at liberty to fictionalize a backstory for Agnes," Toyne said.

Based on the story which has never been verified, Leavitt crafts an intricate backstory for McVee, from her immigration to Canada from Scotland, to her "terrifying" grandmother.

Toyne calls the book "beautifully illustrated" with black and white, gothic-style drawings and recommends it for older teenagers.

Just Because by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault, children's literature

(Penguin Random House)

Just Because is a "brightly" illustrated picture book for young kids.

The story is about a girl who asks endless questions as her father tucks her into bed.

"The answers he gives her are just wonderful. They're completely fantastical, imaginative," Toyne said.

"It's a brilliant story about the power of imagination and the beauty of dreams."

King Mouse by Cary Fagan, illustrated by Dena Seiferling, children's literature

(Tundra Books)

Toyne calls King Mouse an "enchantingly, delicately illustrated" story of friendship for young readers.

The story is about a community of animals who each find a crown — except for a bear, who ends up feeling left out and lonely.

So the "King Mouse" fashions him one out of dandelions and they sit to watch the sunset together.

"It's also a story about about a child's imagination," said Toyne, adding that her three-year-old "heartily approves" both of her picture book picks.


To hear more from Day 6 books columnist Becky Toyne, download our podcast or click Listen above.

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