Whether a tower of milk-crates, a high-end built-in unit, or a couple of two-by-fours propped up with bricks, the Canadian bookshelf is a various thing. It contains all the CanLit you studied in school, Fifth Business and The Stone Angel. Or else it’s stocked by nonfiction fiends who can’t get enough of Malcolm Gladwell, the Franklin Expedition, or Peter C. Newman political biographies. It holds innovative and challenging works by independent presses like Coach House, Gaspereau or Biblioasis, as well as novels written by women called Margaret, or by Pierre Berton or Farley Mowat.
There is young adult fiction with adult appeal, from Anne of Green Gables to Susan Juby. Or children’s books written by Robert Munsch, Sheree Fitch, Marie-Louise Gay and Marthe Jocelyn. Short story collections by Mavis Gallant, Alice Munro, Alexander MacLeod, Zsuzsi Gartner and Sarah Selecky. Cookbooks, craft books and books about Canadian wine. It’s got graphic novels by Mariko and Jillian Tamaki, or anything by Drawn & Quarterly. Not to mention Margaret Atwood’s Survival and Noah Richler’s This is My Country, What is Yours? Marshall McLuhan and Northrop Frye. Or Joy Fielding and Kelley Armstrong.