Thousands of Canadian-authored kids and YA books


Marcello Di Cintio's Lit Wish List is Five Books that Find Beauty in Unexpected Places

What Canadian books would you like give or recieve this holiday season?

Marcello Di Cintio, author of Walls: Travels Along the Barricades (Goose Lane, 2012).

Marcello Di Cintio's latest book is Walls: Travels Along the Barricades—a finalist for the 2012 British Columbia National Award for Non-Fiction, the 2013 Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction and named to The Globe 100 for 2012—and asks the question, What does it mean to live against a wall? What does it meant to be walled out, or in, and to live a barricaded life? In Walls, Di Cintio sets out to discover which societies create walls, and what societies the walls themselves create. It stands to reason perhaps that Di Cintio's Lit Wish List is Five Books that Find Beauty in Unexpected Places.

Bull Head, by John Vigna (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2012).

Bull Head
John Vigna
Arsenal Pulp Press, 2012

Somehow, John managed to finish writing this book while simultaneously editing mine—thus proving his skills at multitasking are only surpassed by his deft storytelling. Vigna’s debut collect …

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Waubgeshig Rice's Lit Wish List is Eight Books that Embody Indigenous Culture

What Canadian books would you like give or recieve this holiday season?


Waubgeshig Rice, author of Midnight Sweatlodge (Theytus Books, 2011).

Waubgeshig Rice is the author of Midnight Sweatlodge (Theytus Books), winner of the 2012 Independent Publisher Book Award for Multicultural Fiction Adult. Midnight Sweatlodge is Waub's debut book, a collection of short fiction that explores the unique challenges faced by young Aboriginal people in contemporary Canada. Waub's Lit Wish List is Eight Books that Embody Indigenous Culture. But, first, let's talk to him about Midnight Sweatlodge.

Julie Wilson: What function—functions—do these stories play in your life? I'm thinking in part about something I read on your Facebook page. You say, "[Brothers in Arms] really catalyzed my desire to explore the written word as a viable option for storytelling and for maintaining our culture and some of the stories I heard as a kid."

Waubgeshig Rice: I guess first and foremost I was hoping to satisfy a somewhat selfish impulse, to see if I had it in me to capture some of the unique things happening around me as a youth growing up in an Anishinaabe community. I wrote the first versions of the stories in Midnight …

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Bernadette McDonald's Lit Wish List is Five Books to Connect You to the Landscape

What Canadian books would you like give or recieve this holiday season?


Bernadette McDonald, author of Freedom Climbers.

Bernadette McDonald's latest book is Freedom Climbers, the most honoured book of mountaineering literature published in Canada. It tells the story of a group of Polish adventurers who emerged from under the blanket of oppression following the Second World War to become the world's leading Himalayan climbers. When I asked McDonald to contribute a holiday Lit Wish List to 49th Shelf, she responded with titles that all share these characteristics: fine writing, compelling characters, compassion, excellent research and a tangible connection to landscape. Is it any wonder that she's such a celebrated author? That sounds like the formula for any great book!

First, let's hear from McDonald about how she got her start in writing, and the "aha" moment that first took her to Banff. Then we'll check out her Lit Wish List: Five Books to Connect You to the Landscape.

Julie Wilson: Before you began to write, there was a magnificent evolution from musician living in Saskatchewan to your twenty years at The Banff Centre where you created the division for Mountain Cul …

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Maureen Bush's Lit Wish List is Five Books for Children of All Ages

What Canadian books would you like give or recieve this holiday season?


Maureen Bush, author of The Veil of Magic Series (Coteau).

Maureen Bush is the author of The Veil of Magic series (Coteau Books)—The Nexus Ring, Crow Boy, The Veil Weavers—and a lifelong lover of fantasy books.

Maureen's Lit Wish List is Five Books for of All the Ages. On the list are some of Maureen's favorite Canadian books for kids. They're funny and exciting stories that would make great gifts this holiday season, or any season, for children of all ages.

First, let's hear from Maureen about her own youthful experiences as a reader.


Julie Wilson: Do you have a specific memory of reading as a child?

Maureen Bush:I have lovely early memories of being read to, but most of my book-related memories are from when I was older, and immersed in favorite novels, like The Hobbit, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, and Arthur Ransome's Swallows and Amazons. To me reading was very solitary—just me living in the book.

JW: What kind of reader were you back then, and what kind of reader are you now?

MB:When I was a child, I read everything—cereal boxes, my dad's Scientific American Magazine, Mom's Robertson Davi …

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JJ Lee's Lit Wish List is Five Books to Mull Over by the Fire

What Canadian books would you like give or recieve this holiday season?


J. J. Lee is the author of The Measure of a Man: The Story of a Father, a Son, and a Suit, which was shortlisted for the 2011 Governor-General’s Literary Award for Non-Fiction, the 2012 Charles Taylor Prize for Non-Fiction, and the 2011 BC Book Prizes Hubert Evans Prize for Non-Fiction.

Below is J. J. Lee's Lit Wish List: Five Books to Mull Over by the Fire: "Upon a Winter Midnight Dreary when the wind pushes against the windows, these are the books I would like to mull over by the fire. My choices are not flashy or dashy, but each book indeed carries deep hot embers that appeal to a philosophic and reflective frame of mind without risk of putting the reader to sleep."

The Golden Mean, by Annabel Lyon (Random House, 2010).

The Golden Mean
Annabel Lyon
Random House, 2010

While I never earned a PhD in Classical Philosophy as Ms. Lyon does (I studied Classics at McGill for one year, Latin nearly did me in, and Ancient Greek made me drop out), I do maintain a great interest in the Hellenistic world. Lyon's choice to explore the relationship between Alexander the Great and his teacher, Aristotle, makes for a …

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Lee Kvern's Lit Wish List Is Five Authors Who Make Her Want to Write (and Keep Writing)

What Canadian books would you like give or recieve this holiday season?

Beyond the idealized notion of what fiction writing is and how it should function, there are authors who know how to get down "into the muck," as Lee Kvern notes in her Lit Wish List: Five Authors Who Make Her Want to Write (and Keep Writing), authors who get life—"from A to Z"—and can create compassion for even the most unsavoury characters, all while making the fiction feel plausible, as if it's actually happened.

In the video below, Lee Kvern introduces her latest novel, The Matter of Sylvie (Brindle & Glass, 2010), shortlisted for the Alberta Book Awards and longlisted for the ReLit Award, a true example in which life greets fiction via the writer's craft. Kvern also shares the five authors who first inspired her to write and continually inspire her to keep writing.


Lit Wish List: Five Authors Who Make Her Want to Write (and Keep Writing)

Alice Munro

The Love of a Good Woman cover

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Julie Booker's Lit Wish List Is Five Books to Make You Laugh Out Loud

What Canadian books would you like give or recieve this holiday season?

Here's Julie Booker, author of Up Up Up (House of Anansi Press, 2011) and her Lit Wish List: Five Books to Make You Laugh Out Loud.(She's pretty damn funny, too, as you'll see.)

Central to each of Julie's picks is humour, be it tiny observations about marriage while roadtripping around the Great Lakes, to poetic "gems" that list random facts about horses—they like the smell of telephones?—to the kind of things we all think but would think twice before saying—but we so think them!

What are some of the funniest Canadian-authored books you've read or recommended? Share them in the comments.


Julie Booker's Lit Wish List: Five Books to Make You Laugh Out Loud

Lenny Bruce is Dead cover

Lenny Bruce is Dead
Jonathan Goldstein
Coach House Books, 2001

What others have said:

"Jonathan Goldstein is one of the funniest and most original writers I can think of. Anything by him is better than anything by just about anyone else."

—David Sedaris




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Lesleyanne Ryan's Lit Wish List Is Five Books to Change the Way You See the World

What Canadian books would you like give or recieve this holiday season?


Braco cover

Lesleyanne Ryan is the author of Braco (Breakwater Books, 2012), her debut novel. I'd title her Lit Wish List: Five Books to Change the Way You See the World, in part because Ryan herself wrote a book that will change the way you see yours, and it would seem her reading leans in a similar direction, tales of survival, challenge, trial and adversity.

Ryan is a Canadian Armed Forces veteran and served as a Peacekeeper in Visoko, Bosnia from October 1993 to April 1994. For her years in service, Ryan has received The Canadian Decoration (for 12 years of service), The UN Protection Force Medal, and the UN Peacekeeping Medal.

Ryan is also a four-time winner of the Newfoundland and Labrador Arts and Letters Award in the category of Non-Fiction, and the winner of the Fresh Fish Award for Emerging Writers.

Look for her Lit Wish List: Five Books to Change the Way You See the World after this interview.

Julie Wilson: Tell us the story at the core of Braco, and the inspiration for your young protagonist.

Lesleyanne Ryan: When I was serving in Bosnia in 1993-94, my u …

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Lorri Neilsen Glenn’s Lit Wish List Is Four Books Worth a Second Look

What Canadian books would you like give or recieve this holiday season?

Lorri Neilsen Glenn's Lit Wish List: Four Books Worth a Second Look are books she hopes readers will buy, love and revisit, as she did in compiling this list. That's the brilliance of books, not only that they can be used as many times as the reader likes, but that with each use the contents may appear as both hauntingly familiar and entirely new. With this list, Lorri rediscovered some Can Lit treasures full of wit and wisdom just by scouring her bookshelf.

Threading Light cover

First, let's put Lorri Neilsen Glenn's latest book at the top of the pile and ask her a few questions about Threading Light: Explorations in Poetry and Loss (Hagios Press, 2011).

"The act of reading this volume forces us to look closely and listen intently. Such attention, such awareness slows the clock, 'calls forth our humanity,' engenders empathy, offers joy. . . . Threading Light is a conversation and an offering, a gift to share."
—Mary Jo Anderson, The Chronicle Herald

Julie Wilson: Is Threading Light more scholarly meditation than personal memoir? Or does it operate in equal parts?

Lorri Nei …

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Charlotte Gray Begins the Great Canadian Biographies Lit Wish List

Our next Lit Wish List comes directly from an expert, Great Canadian Biographies as selected by Charlotte Gray. This list is fantastic, but it's only the beginning; political biographies only, nothing by women. Where are Rosemary Sullivan, Elspeth Cameron, Charles Foran, Ken McGoogan? What other books, what other authors belong here? What about biographies of Native Canadians, and Canadians of author ethnicities and cultures. What's the Canadian biography you'd most like to give or receive this holiday? Let us know in the comments below.

Book Cover John A

John A, The Man Who Made Us by Richard Gwyn This is the first volume of a vivid, multi-dimensional portrait of a fascinating character and his times, by one of Canada’s finest political pundits. Gwyn combines contemporary insights, anecdotes, and impeccable research for this biography of our Founding Father, who created a country that is, in Gwyn’s view, a miracle of peacefulness, diversity, and determined un-Americanness. Volume 2 coming this fall.

The Madman and the Butcher: The Sensational Wars of Sam Hughes and General Arthur Currie by Tim Cook

Book Cover The Madman and the Butcher

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Elisabeth de Mariaffi's Lit Wish List is Three Bite-Sized Books to Fill You Up

What Canadian books would you like give or recieve this holiday season?

In this video, Elisabeth de Mariaffi gives us her Lit Wish List: Three Bite-Sized Books to Fill You Up. Two titles are short story collections, and one title is a book aphorisms. All the titles are considerably well-crafted and exhibit a range of talent and theme that's, well, a literary smörgåsbord that will keep you going back for more. So, eat up!


Elisabeth de Mariaffi's Lit Wish List: Three Bite-Sized Books to Fill You Up.

Glimpse, by George Murray (ECW Press)


Glimpse: Selected Aphorisms
George Murray
ECW Press

"An engaging little package of 409 aphorisms. . . . Murray may have come up with the ideal poetic form for the age of Twitter. It’s easy to breeze through its bite-sized witticisms in a sitting. And yet, what’s perhaps a bit surprising is that the book continues to yield enjoyment, and a sense of discovery, on rereading."

—Toronto Star


The Cloaca, by Andrew Nathan Hood (Invisible Publishing)


The Cloaca
And …

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The Poetry Gateways Lit Wish List

Lit Wish List

Lists are what we're big into at 49thShelf all year around, but we're getting to that time of year when making lists and checking them twice becomes particularly important, and so we're pleased to bring you Lit Wish List. A Lit Wish List is a mutable thing, comprising either all the books you want to receive this holiday season, or the books you want to give, or the books that you're convinced that everybody ought to be reading. Our host/producer Julie Wilson will be talking Lit Wish Lists with Canadian authors for the next few weeks—see last week's conversation with Christine Pountney. And every Monday I'll be posting a new themed Lit Wish List to our site in hopes of collaborating with you. The posted list will be a "starter list", and we encourage you to post your own suggestions in an effort to help us all #giveCDN this holiday season. 

We begin with Poetry Gateways, a Lit Wish List for readers who don't know they like poetry (yet). What are the best books to introduce a novice reader to the wonders of poetry? What books have been your gateways to poetry love? We're starting with a list of five, and encourage you to add your own suggestions, along with a short explanation as to why your suggested book belongs on the list.

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