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Books to Break Your Reading Slump

Carrie Snyder's latest novel is Francie's Got a Gun, and it's one of the excellent picks on our August Summer Reading List.

Enter for your chance to win a copy (and all the other books on the list) at the link in our profile.

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That Time I Loved You, by Carrianne Leung, stories linked by place and time, and especially by the children who move in packs around the neighbourhood, picking up clues; pleasurable and immersive and beautifully observed.

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Fight Night, by Miriam Toews, oh my goodness, the voices of these characters, the richness and joy of their wisdom, the humour, the odyssey undertaken—I wanted it to go on forever; I’d read anything by Miriam Toews, anytime, anywhere.

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Most Anticipated: Our 2022 Fall Nonfiction Preview

Memoir, food writing, nature, ideas, politics, sports, health, music, and more! Here's the nonfiction we're excited about for the second half of 2022.

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Part travelogue, part philosophical musing, Tree Abraham's Cyclettes (November) probes the millennial experience, asking what a young life can be when unshackled from traditional role expectations yet still living in consistent economic and environmental uncertainty. In Aboriginal™ (October), Jennifer Adese explores the origins, meaning, and usage of the term “Aboriginal” and its displacement by the word “Indigenous.” Michael Andruff’s The Russion Refugees (October) is a sweeping family history, chronicling the journey of a group of Russian refugees who settled in rural Alberta in 1924, also paying tribute to countless people who have found a safe haven in Canada over the past 100 years. And for the meat-eater looking to incorporate vegetarian options into their repertoire; for the novice chef trying to develop new techniques; for the home cook who wants to dazzle with recipes that are bold, flavourful, and totally unique—French-trained chefs Romain Avril and Richelle Tablang want to introduce you to the Vegan Bridge (October).

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The Chat with Cody Caetano

The Toronto Star says, “Caetano’s voice leaps off the page with a rhythmic, hip-hop style right from the first page…[It] gives this memoir energy and descriptive heft.”

Cody Caetano is a writer of Anishinaabe and Portuguese descent and an off-reserve member of Pinaymootang First Nation. He has an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Toronto, where he wrote this memoir under the mentorship of Lee Maracle.

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Trevor Corkum: In the prologue, you write about the idea of “the buckle” and its impact. It’s a concept that comes up throughout the memoir. Can you talk about the buckle a little more?

Cody Caetano: The idea of the buckle came to me one night in the summer of 2018. The visual of an unsteady hand on a bar stool or counter and the visual of a buckling knee struck me. With time, I began to see the buckle as an entity that speaks to the unknowns that foment human error, and as a way to parody the dehumanization that gets inflicted upon those who make mistakes or repeat them.

TC: You write with such love, respect, and clarity about your parents, siblings, and other family members. How have they responded to the memoir?
 

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The Chat with Michelle Porter

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Author Lisa Moore says, “Michelle Porter’s Scratching River is both a reckoning and an elegy; a scathing, powerful roar against social injustice, the scars of trauma, climate crisis, environmental damage and, at the very same time, a love song to the power of family, Métis history, rivers, Bison, burdock, and the Métis storyteller and musician, Louis Goulet, who is her great-great-grandfather’s brother.”

Michelle Porter's first novel will be published by Penguin Canada in 2023. Her first book of poetry, Inquiries, was shortlisted for the Pat Lowther Memorial Award in 2019 and was a finalist for the E.J. Pratt Poetry Award in 2021. Her previous non-fiction book, Approaching Fire (2020), in which she embarks on a quest to find her great-grandfather, the Métis fiddler and performer Léon Robert Goulet, was shortlisted for the Indigenous Voices Awards 2021. She is a citizen of the Métis Nation and member of the Manitoba Métis Federation.

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Trevor Corkum: Scratching River is a powerful read, a memoir about your brother, a river, a Métis ancestor and relations among all things. It’s a braided narrative grounded in the richness of relationships and the resilience of life. Can you talk more about when and how you began to work on the project?

 

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Stories As Sanctuary

Told with deadpan humour and insightful lyricism, Ceilidh Michelle's Vagabond is an observant and at times shimmering narrative suspended between a traumatic past and an as yet unimagined future. Coursing through it is the story of an emergent writer just beginning to find sanctuary in her own creative instincts.

Here, Michelle shares seven of her favourite reads.

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Book Cover Summer of My Amazing Luck

Summer of My Amazing Luck, by Miriam Toews

Miriam Toews has such a way of transcribing loneliness and ferocity into words, it’s almost as if she carries it for you a little bit. During the bleakest of my seasons Toews’ books have taught me that you can be desperately achingly broken and still laugh, and that women are strong and can find each other in their sadness and hang on. I chose Toews’ first book though because I think in her great canon of work this first book sometimes gets forgotten. The Summer of My Amazing Luck is so weirdly cozy, this story of young moms on welfare trying to keep their heads above water, and the wonderful weirdos who wind up around you as you’re tryin …

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Books for International Women's Day

Women's voices, women's lives. Great books to pick up on the occasion of International Women's Day.

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I Am Because We Are: An African Mother’s Fight for the Soul of a Nation, by Chidiogo Akunyili-Parr

About the book: In this innovative and intimate memoir, a daughter tells the story of her mother, a pan-African hero who faced down misogyny and battled corruption in Nigeria. 

Inspired by the African philosophy of Ubuntu — the importance of community over the individual — and outraged by injustice, Dora Akunyili took on fraudulent drug manufacturers whose products killed millions, including her sister.

A woman in a man’s world, she was elected and became a cabinet minister, but she had to deal with political manoeuvrings, death threats, and an assassination attempt for defending the voiceless. She suffered for it, as did her marriage and six children. 

I Am Because We Are illuminates the role of kinship, family, and the individual’s place in society, while revealing a life of courage, how community shaped it, and the web of humanity that binds us all.

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Book Cover Okanagan Women's Voices

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The Chat with Mary Fairhurst Breen

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Author Nancy Jo Cullen says “Without minimizing her and her family’s experiences, Breen manages to pull off a breezy read that feels a little bit like sitting around a kitchen table reminiscing with an old friend. This book is serious and honest; it’s full of self-awareness, devoid of self-pity and very engaging.”

Mary Fairhurst Breen grew up in the suburbs of Toronto and raised her kids in an artsy, slightly gritty part of the city. A translator by training, she spent thirty years in the not-for-profit sector, managing small organizations with big social-change mandates. She also launched her own arts business, indulging her passion for hand-making, which was a colossally enjoyable and unprofitable venture. Its demise gave her the time and impetus to write her family history for her daughters. She began to publish autobiographical stories, and wound up with her first book, Any Kind of Luck at All.

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Trevor Corkum: Congrats on the publication of your debut memoir, Mary. It’s such a powerful exploration of resilience and a reminder of the vita …

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Books for Black History Month—And All Year Long

I Am Because We Are: An African Mother’s Fight for the Soul of a Nation, by Chidiogo Akunyili-Parr

About the book: In this innovative and intimate memoir, a daughter tells the story of her mother, a pan-African hero who faced down misogyny and battled corruption in Nigeria. 

Inspired by the African philosophy of Ubuntu — the importance of community over the individual — and outraged by injustice, Dora Akunyili took on fraudulent drug manufacturers whose products killed millions, including her sister.

A woman in a man’s world, she was elected and became a cabinet minister, but she had to deal with political manoeuvrings, death threats, and an assassination attempt for defending the voiceless. She suffered for it, as did her marriage and six children. 

I Am Because We Are illuminates the role of kinship, family, and the individual’s place in society, while revealing a life of courage, how community shaped it, and the web of humanity that binds us all.

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Black & White: An Intimate, Multicultural Perspective on “White Advantage” and the Paths to …

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Shattering Effects: Living With Violence and War

Peacekeeper’s Daughter is the astonishing story of a French-Canadian military family stationed in Israel and Lebanon in 1982-1983. Told from the perspective of a twelve-year-old girl, Peacekeeper’s Daughter parchutes the reader into the Lebanese Civil War, the Palestinian crisis, and the wave of terrorism—including the bombing of the American Embassy—that ravaged Beirut at the height of the siege. This novelistic memoir moves from Jerusalem to Tiberius, from the disputed No-Man’s Land of the Golan Heights to Damascus, and on to Beirut by way of Tripoli, crossing borders that remain closed to this day.

In this list, Tanya Bellehumeur-Allatt shares five works of fiction and five memoirs about terrorism and war.

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Rue des Rosiers, by Rhea Trebegov

Winner of the Nancy Richler Award for fiction, Rue des Rosiers is an engrossing historical coming-of-age story with a timely examination of hatred’s long consequences. The novel is set in Toronto, Winnipeg and Paris in the spring and summer of 1982. Its 25-year-old protagonist, Sarah Levine, finds …

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Struggling Through Pandemonium

(We've got Donna Morrissey's memoir Pluck is up for giveaway right now! Don't miss your chance to enter to win.)

While writing Pluck I was drawn to the stories of others struggling through pandemonium and learning to quieten its crazed babel. We all have a have memoir in us, we talk it out every time we sit with family, friends or shrinks, trying to make sense of whatever the hell just happened back there, and why’s it still happening.

We find patterns of behaviour in all of us, and in our relationships and workplaces and the towns we live in.  We are all living out the stories of our ancestors going back thousands of years. Which is why I varied my reading to include more objective works as well as personal memoir. God knows, we need all the help we can in navigating this terrible wonderful life bestowed upon us.  

These are only some of the books from which I learned of new questions to ask, and found answers to those I hadn’t thought of asking.

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Care Of: Letters, Connections, and Cures, by Ivan Coyote

As deep as it is poignant, Care Of is a co …

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8 Books that Explore Memory and Place

Fawn Parker—whose latest novel Dumb-Show has been described by Adnan Khan as “vivid and vicious”—recommends eight books of fiction, memoir, and poetry exploring themes of memory and physical place.

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Householders, by Kate Cayley

The stories in Householders are haunting and enigmatic, with a clarity of emotion that cuts through the dreamlike atmosphere Cayley has crafted. With the first sentence of the opening story, “A Crooked Man,” we are introduced to the feeling of isolation that runs throughout the book: “Martha regarded herself skeptically and assumed skepticism from the other mothers at the table.” In “A Beautiful Bare Room” a strange infectious rash spreads among Palo Alto. A woman in a bunker considers whether she is “there to be amusing to languid virtual people, if the distinction between virtual and actual was meaningful anymore.” With incredible attention to the nuance of interpersonal relationships—whether familial, romantic, situational, dysfunctional—each story in Householders is a window into an eerie but …

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Genre-Bending Memoirs

Every September since 1997, the Winnipeg International Writers Festival presents THIN AIR, a celebration of books and ideas. Their curated line-up is a perfect fit for curious readers who are ready to discover strong voices and great storytelling in practically every genre. This year, they're presenting a hybrid festival featuring 60 writers, live events, and a dynamic website.

To watch video content Rowan McCandless has prepared for them, visit the festival website.

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Book Cover Persephone's Children

While there are many memoirs on the market, the majority adhere to a linear form and narrative. Recently, more genre-bending memoirs have proven successful, and my first book, Persephone’s Children: A Life In Fragments pushes those boundaries even further.

Persephone’s Children, is a hybrid memoir that chronicles my leaving a domestic abuse situation as a black and biracial woman and how writing sustained me during that difficult process. Through a series of essays that are often nonlinear and experimental in form, readers explore themes such as intergenerational trauma, racism, …

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