Day 6

Looking for a last minute book gift? Becky Toyne's holiday reads list might have just what you need

There’s just one week until Christmas — and if you’re looking for a last minute gift idea, books are always a good option. Day 6 books columnist Becky Toyne joined host Peter Armstrong to give her top reads of the year. 

Day 6's books columnist has something for everyone — from non-fiction lovers to kids

Day 6 books columnist Becky Toyne returns with her annual holiday reads list. (Maglara/Shutterstock)

There's just one week until Christmas — and if you're looking for a last-minute gift idea, books are always a good option.

Day 6 books columnist Becky Toyne joined host Peter Armstrong to give her top reads of the year. 

This year, her list offers plenty for the non-fiction lovers in your life — and something for everyone else, too.


Vanderbilt: The Rise and Fall of an American Dynasty by Anderson Cooper and Katherine Howe 

(Harper Collins Canada)

From CNN anchor Anderson Cooper, Vanderbilt: The Rise and Fall of an American Dynasty tells the story of New York high society and celebrity culture.

Toyne calls it the book version of a supermarket checkout gossip magazine — a guilty pleasure many of us enjoy.

While Cooper, whose mother is Gloria Vanderbilt, has distanced himself from the famed family, he uses his personal connections and privilege to tell its history.

"This is a book about … celebrity gossip and scandal and family legends — and of huge, huge fortunes amassed and then frittered away by subsequent generations," said Toyne.

"I loved it."

Toyne recommends the book for fans of Erik Larson, author of Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania, or Amor Towles, who penned Rules of Civility.

Klondikers: Dawson City's Stanley Cup Challenge and How a Nation Fell in Love with Hockey by Tim Falconer

(ECW Press)

For the first time in more than a decade as Day 6 books columnist, Toyne is recommending a book about hockey. But she says that Tim Falconer's latest is about far more than that.

The book tells the story of the Klondikers, an underdog hockey team, who journeyed from the Yukon to Ottawa over three-and-a-half weeks to compete for the Stanley Cup in 1905. It was a story that caught the imaginations of Canadians across the country as well as the newspapers of the day. 

"That is indeed part of the story, but it's also really kind of the peg on which Tim Falconer hangs this much larger story about the history of hockey in Canada and a little bit of the history of the Yukon gold rush," said Toyne.

Toyne says Klondikers is a perfect book for those who love Canadian history, and the work of author Charlotte Gray.

"It's also a great book for a hockey lover who's interested in something to read alongside this year's celebrity player memoir," she added.

The Day the World Stops Shopping by J.B. MacKinnon

(Penguin Random House Canada)

J.B. MacKinnon's latest imagines a world where people drastically reduce their consumption in an effort to mitigate climate change.

While politicians and some experts may promote the idea that "greening" the production of goods is one way to combat climate change, MacKinnon argues that limiting what we buy can have a bigger impact.

And the COVID-19 pandemic provided a perfect example of how shifting our habits can create positive change.

"While he was writing the book, what happened? COVID happened, and so overnight consumption dropped," Toyne said. 

"What is so excellent about this book is that while he was kind of conducting this thought experiment, it actually happened."

With the new year just around the corner, she says it's a perfect book to help people that want to make a change in 2022 reflect on what they buy — and why they buy it.


Harlem Shuffle by Colson Whitehead

(Penguin Random House Canada)

One of the biggest novels of the year, Toyne says that Colson Whitehead's latest, Harlem Shuffle, is a book with plenty of appeal. 

Whitehead is the winner of back-to-back Pulitzer Prizes for his two previous novels, The Nickel Boys and The Underground Railroad.

Harlem Shuffle is a crime story set against the backdrop of the Civil Rights movement in New York. Ray Carney is an honest furniture seller, but with cash tight, he doesn't ask questions about where the "lightly used" furniture he sells comes from. 

"Then he ends up sort of getting accidentally pulled into a heist by his cousin, who's always been a bit of a bad influence," said Toyne.

According to Toyne, it's a different kind of crime novel that explores what is criminal — and what actions fall into a grey area.

She calls Harlem Shuffle is a perfect selection for anyone new — or returning — to Whitehead's work, and especially for readers who enjoy crime novels set in the 1960s.


Time is a Flower by Julie Morstad

(Penguin Random House Canada)

Rounding out Toyne's holiday reads is a book for the younger ones on your list.

Time is a Flower explores what time means — a concept that is tricky for some children to understand, but that adults often take for granted.

"[It] deals with that question so perfectly and so beautifully," Toyne said. 

"On the first page, it says time is the tick-tick-tock of a clock. But what else is time? And then on each page, it gives you a beautiful illustration and an example of something that shows that time is always moving forward and always progressing."

For example, time is a seed becoming a flower, or your hair growing from short to long.

Toyne says Time is a Flower is a good fit for readers from three to seven years old.

What books would you recommend? Tell us in the comments below.

Written by Jason Vermes. Produced by Laurie Allan.

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