At 49th Shelf, list-making is an all-year-round concern, and a task we take very seriously. Which means that this Books of the Year list is one of the best you're going to find anywhere, expert-compiled with a mind to critically acclaimed titles that readers have loved.
We have added annotations springing from chats and posts we've enjoyed featuring the authors of these 13 books over the past year—please follow the links to learn more.
As ever, we remind you that a books list is only the beginning. Make sure to explore the whole site to discover more great books from this year, and all the years before it.
Undermajordomo Minor, by Patrick de Witt
Utterly original, hilarious, and beautiful, Undermajordomo Minor is both a black comedy of manners and an otherworldly love story. It's deWitt's follow-up to his hugely successful The Sisters Brothers, and it does not disappoint. We completely agree with this caution from The Independent: "The challenge for the reader is to resist the temptation to devour a novel which should be savoured."
Next week, on November 18 in Toronto, the 2015 Canadian Children's Book Awards will be presented, celebrating the best in Canadian kids' books; you can explore the shortlists here. And this week with "Seeds of a Story," nominees will be sharing their literary inspirations with us—where did these stories come from? Where they inspired by real life encounters? Amazing flights of the imagination?
The answers to these questions are various and curious, each one a story of its own, offering remarkable insight into some excellent books. And don't miss Part One: Seeds of a Story from earlier this week.
Julian, by William Bell
Nominated for the John Spray Mystery Award
My novel, Julian, begins on miserable, snowy March morning when Aidan, a foster child, steps off the bus at the art gallery on a class field trip. Aidan feels a vague stirring of adventure inside, a sense that today will mark a new turning in his life. And Aidan was exactly right. That day unleashes events he could never have expected and puts him on the path to completely change his life: within weeks, Aidan becomes Julian and strikes out with a completely new identity and existence. In this novel I was interested in exploring a concept that I think has universal appeal: what does it take for you to …
It's easy to be overwhelmed by literary awards season, with a different shortlist announced every week, so that it's even easier to miss what's so great about these lists: the incredible books they bring attention to. This year in particular, jurors have made such surprising and exciting choices.
We've highlighted many of these books and authors on 49th Shelf, and we're pleased to share these highlights below: links that will take you deeper into the big books that Canadian readers have been celebrating in 2015.
Fifteen Dogs, by André Alexis
Shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, a finalist for the 2015 Toronto Book Awards, a finalist for the 2015 Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize
Arvida, by Samuel Archibald
Shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize
Don't miss Archibald's interview on "The Chat."
Every year has its preoccupations: cultural, political, and psychic. Here's a snapshot of what 2015 felt like (feels like!), as reflected in recent (and great) Canadian books.
Every year is strange, but 2015 was stranger. We lurched from angst about wars and injustices to Instagram and its marvelous filters. It was the year of the selfie – and its helpful new stick for optimal posing. The news informed us of refugees, mass drownings, Halloween candy rankings, and the current Chinese headwear fad. Who better to make sense of the state of humanity in 2015 than robots, teenagers, porn stars, and parrots?
Boo, by Neil Smith
Oliver Dalrymple, nicknamed "Boo" because of his pale complexion and staticky hair, is an outcast at his Illinois middle school—more interested in biology and chemistry than the friendship of other kids. But after a tragic accident, Boo wakes up to find himself in a very strange sort of heaven: a town populated only by 13-year-old Americans. Read more.
Fishbowl, by Bradley Somer
A goldfish named Ian i …
January is a fine time for looking ahead, and for scoping out the scene on the forthcoming reading year. Spoiler: it's going to be a good one. Throughout the month, we'll be sharing titles of books you're going to be falling in love with, beginning with kids' books.
On your marks; get set; GO!!!
Hooray for us! We've got a new picture book from Caroline Adderson, Eat, Leo! Eat! (April), illustrated by Josée Bisaillon, about a clever Nonna who convinces her grandson to eat his lunch using the power of story (and the power of pasta). In Ready, Set, Kindergarten (February), by Paula Ayer and Danielle Arbour, a young girl readies herself for the big adventure that is school. Award-winners Carolyn Beck and Francois Thisdale team up for That Squeak (May), the story of a young boy grieving the death of a friend. In Giraffe Meets Bird (May), Rebecca Bender shares the origin story of the animal friends whose adventures have been captured in her two previous acclaimed books.
Brandee Bublé (younger sister of the singing Michael) releases her f …