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Most Anticipated: Our Fall 2021 Nonfiction Preview

New books about everything, including food, beauty, art, travel, singing, healing, grieving, shopping, aging, and so much more.

Our 2021 Fall Preview continues (have you seen our Most Anticipated Fiction yet?) with nonfiction, and exciting new books about everything, including food, beauty, art, travel, singing, healing, grieving, shopping, aging, and so much more.


Book Cover Return

In Return (September), Kamal Al-Solaylee interviews dozens of people who have chosen to or long to return to their homelands, from the Basques to the Irish to the Taiwanese, and makes a return of sorts himself, to the Middle East, visiting Israel and the West Bank as well as Egypt to meet up with his sisters. Gone Viking II (November) features a series of remarkable excursions occurring over before, during, and after the voyages recounted in Bill Arnott's previous memoir, Gone Viking: A Travel Saga. The original French-language edition of Made-Up (September) was a cult hit in Quebec. Translated by Alex Manley—like author Daphne B., a Montreal poet and essayist—the book's English-language text crackles with life, retaining the flair and verve of the original, and ensuring that a book on beauty is no less beautiful than its subject matter.

Book Cover Christi Belcourt

Aki-wayn-zih (September), by Eli Baxter, is a story about the land and its spiritual relationship with the Anishinaabayg, from the beginning of their life on Miss-koh-tay-sih Minis (Turtle Island) to the present day. Christi Belcourt (September) is the first book devoted exclusively to Belcourt’s life and work, her early paintings showcasing the natural world’s beauty and interconnectedness, her monumental "flower beadwork" paintings, and her recent collaborations with Isaac Murdoch, an Anishinaabe knowledge keeper. And Tanya Bellehumeur-Allatt’s Peacekeeper’s Daughter (September) 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

Book Cover Special Topics of Being Human

In his memoir I Thought He Was Dead: A Spiritual Memoir (September), TV and radio personality Ralph Benmergui looks critically at what it means to grow old in our society, and also reflects on where he came from. S. Bear Bergman’s Special Topics in Being a Human (October) calls out social inequities and injustices in traditional advice-giving, validates your feelings, asks a lot of questions, and tries to help you be your best possible self with kindness, compassion, and humour. And Donna Basel’s The Unravelling (November) is a brave, riveting telling of the destruction caused by sexual assault, and the physical, psychological, emotional, financial, and legal tolls survivors often shoulder.

Book Cover The Weight of Sand

The Weight of Sand (September) is Edith Blais’ earth-shattering memoir about her kidnapping and 450 days of captivity at the hands of terrorists—and her stunning escape to freedom. The Laughing People (August), by Serge Bouchard, with Marie-Christine Lévesque, translated by Craig Lund from the award-winning Le peuple rieur, conveys the richness and resilience of the Innu while reminding us of the forces—old and new—that threaten their community, this memoir and tribute telling the tale of the very long journey of a very small nation, recounting both its joie de vivre and its crosses borne. And from questions of love and money, to the search for solitude in a clamouring world, to poetry and the place of art today, Tim Bowling writes beautifully and thoughtfully on what it means to be alive now in The Call of the Red-Winged Blackbird: Essays on the Common and Extraordinary (November).

Book Cover Any Kind of Lucky at all

Mary Fairhurst Breen’s Any Kind of Luck at All (October) explores whether the strength accumulated over a lifetime of losses can be enough to cope with a daughter’s death. Intensely personal, Cid V. Brunet’s This Is My Real Name (November) demystifies stripping as a career with great respect and candour, while at the same time exploring the complex, sex-positive relationships (queer and otherwise) that make it meaningful. And This Strange Visible Air (September), by Sharon Butala, is a collection of essays on women and aging from a renowned Canadian writer.

Book Cover Spilexm

In Hard to Be Human: Overcoming Our Five Cognitive Design Flaws (October), Ted Cadsby shares powerful strategies to combat the design flaws of the human brain that make life in the twenty-first century unreasonably difficult. In the memoir Spílexm: A Weaving of Recovery, Resilience, and Resurgence (September), best-selling author Nicola I. Campbell deftly weaves rich poetry and vivid prose into a story basket of memories orating what it means to be an intergenerational survivor of Indian Residential Schools. And while the United States stumbles, award-winning foreign correspondent Joanne Chiu, in China Unbound (September), chronicles China’s dramatic moves to become a dominant power.

Book Cover #BlackInSchool

Where Beauty Survived (August) is a revealing memoir about the cultural and familial pressures that shaped George Elliott Clarke’s early life in the Black Canadian community that he calls Africadia, centred in Halifax, Nova Scotia. #BlackInSchool (September) is Habiba Cooper Diallo’s high school journal, in which she documents, processes, and resists the systemic racism, microaggressions, stereotypes, and outright racism she experienced in Canada’s education system. And in The Rebel Christ (October), Michael Coren presents the real Jesus: a rebel, a radical, and a revolutionary.

Book Cover Good Burdens

Good Burdens (October), by Christina Crook, provides practical, research-based solutions to help readers begin to reclaim joy, unplugging from toxic influences, and retake decision-making power over their time and emotional energy. Be Free (September) is a collection of personal travel essays that takes the reader on a roller-coaster ride across Africa as seen through the eyes of a solo female backpacker, Angela deJong. And in A War Guest in Canada (December), W.A.B. Douglas tells a story of exposure, at an impressionable age, to ocean passage in wartime, the sights and sounds of New York, the totally new and unfamiliar world of Canada, the wonderful excitement of passage home in a Woolworth Aircraft Carrier as a "Guest of the Admiralty," and his eventful return to a world he had left behind three years before.

Book Cover Out of the Sun

Twenty-five years after her mother’s brutal death made headlines, Phyllis Dyson felt compelled to unearth the truth about her mother’s illness, chronicling the events of her childhood, uncovering family secrets and betrayals and gaining access to government documents, capturing the heart of her family’s tragedy in a debut memoir Among Silent Echoes (September). Two-time Scotiabank Giller Prize winner and internationally bestselling author Esi Edugyan delivers an incisive analysis of the relationship between race and art in this year’s CBC Massey Lectures, Out of the Sun (September). And Returning to Ceremony (October) is the follow-up to Chantal Fiola’s award-winning Rekindling the Sacred Fire and continues her ground-breaking examination of Métis spirituality.

Book Cover Missed Connections

Missed Connections (August), by celebrated novelist Brian Francis, is an open-hearted, irreverent, often hilarious, and always bracingly honest examination of the pieces of our past we hold close—and all that we lose along the way, and also a profoundly affecting meditation on how Francis’s generation, the queer people who emerged following the generation hit hardest by AIDS, were able to step out from the shadows and into the light. And Joseph William McKay: A Métis Business Leader in Colonial British Columbia (July), by Greg N. Fraser, takes a look at the accomplishments and contradictions of Joseph William McKay, best known as the founder of Nanaimo, BC, and one of the most successful Métis men to rise through the ranks of the Hudson’s Bay Company in the late nineteenth century.

Book Cover A Womb in the shape of a heart

Carla Funk’s Mennonite Valley Girl (September) is a funny and whip-smart memoir about a feisty young woman’s quest for independence in an isolated Mennonite community. A Womb in the Shape of a Heart (September) is the intimate story of Joanne Gallant's journey through miscarriage and motherhood, holding space for the complicated paradoxes of grief and gratitude, of life and death, and the impenetrable depths of a mother's love. Susan Glickman dives into poetry and prose, music and visual art in Artful Flight (October), an effort to find the joy in creative work not as a path to the truth but as an end in itself. And from an honest and personal perspective, Surviving Samsara (September) traces Kagan Goh’s experiences as he wanders through the highs of mania, the terrors of psychosis, and the lows of depression.

Book Cover The Healing Powers of Singing

Illustrated in kaleidoscopic full colour, Wonder Drug (November), by Hugh D.A. Goldring, is the graphic history of a controversial and little-known medical research project carried out in the Canadian prairies—one that championed LSD as a way to model schizophrenia and cure ailments from alcoholism to depression. Find vocal health tips, stories from the tour bus, and action items to improve your voice and boost your self-confidence from an award-winning musician and life coach Emm Gryner in The Healing Power of Singing (October). Retracing a traditional route to the shrine of Saint Thomas Becket at Canterbury Cathedral, Ken Haigh walks in honour of his father, a staunch Anglican who passed away before they could begin their trip together, and wonders in On Foot to Canterbury (September): Is there a place in the modern secular world for pilgrimage?

Book Cover All We Want

CBC journalist Ian Hanomansing profiles Canadian infectious disease doctors who stepped up to guide the nation through its worst medical crisis in a century in Pandemic Spotlight: Canadian Doctors at the Front of the COVID-19 Fight (October). Michael Harris’s All We Want (December) reveals the origin of consumer culture—from the early ad men who learned to foment desire, to the politicians that promised endless material growth—and then reveals powerful alternatives to the consumer story. And though First Nations communities in Canada have historically lacked access to clean water, affordable food, and equitable healthcare, they have never lacked access to well-funded scientists seeking to study them, as Travis Hay shows in The Science of Settler Colonialism (September).

Book Cover The Light Streamed Beneath It

In The Light Streamed Beneath It (October), a deeply poignant memoir combining sober self-portrait with tender elegy, Shawn Hitchins explores the messiness of being alive: the longing and desire, scorching-earth anger, raw grief—and the pathway of healing he discovers when he lets his heart remain open. Award-winning and beloved author Helen Humphreys discovers her local herbarium and realizes we need to look for beauty in whatever nature we have left—no matter how diminished—in Field Study (September). And capricious, big-hearted, joyful: Permanent Astonishment (September) is an epic memoir from Tomson Highway, offering insights, both hilarious and profound, into the Cree experience of culture, conquest and survival.

Book Cover Bread and Water

The lyricism of dee Hobshawn-Smith’s Bread & Water (September) interweaves culinary insights and literary essays to pose fundamental questions about how we live—and how we feed—the larger hungers that motivate our lives. And how do we console each other and ourselves in an age of unbelief? In a series of meditations on writers, artists, musicians, and their works, writer and historian Michael Ignatieff shows how men and women in extremity have looked to each other across time to recover hope and resilience in On Consolation: Finding Solace in Dark Times (November).

Book Cover Code White

Written in the style of patchwork quilt that takes the reader back and forth between the present and the past, Anita Jack-Davies examines her grief from the perspective of a Canadian-born Black woman of Caribbean descent in Lawrencia’s Last Parang (November), and she begins to question her identity and what it means to be a Black Canadian in new ways. Code White (September), by Margaret M. Keith and James T. Brophy, exposes a shocking epidemic of violence that’s hidden in plain sight, one in which healthcare workers are bruised, battered, assaulted, and demeaned, but carry on in silence, with little recourse or support.

Book Cover Rebound

From basketball hoops to cricket bats, Perry King explores the role community sports play in our cities and how crucial they are to diversity and inclusion in Rebound (October). Beginning with his childhood in rural Ontario, where at the annual village jumble sale Marius Kociejowski would buy books not so much for their content as for their tactile qualities, and from there to Ottawa, where he first learned books can have a value, and from there to England, where he fell into the book trade almost by accident, A Factotum in the Book Trade (November) is an elegy for a floating world on the cusp of disappearance

Book Cover Vegetables a Love Story

In Vegetables: A Love Story (October), the follow-up to her Taste Canada Gold Winner All the Sweet Things, Renée Kohlman turns her attention to vegetables—and her love for a handsome vegetable farmer. Inquisitive and relatable, Arno Kopecky strikes a rare note of optimistic realism as he guides us through the moral minefields of our polarized world in The Environmentalist’s Dilemma (October). Nothing Ordinary: The Story of the Northern Ontario School of Medicine (October), by Larry Krotz, is the story of how 800,000 citizens created their own school of medicine, and what it has meant for the region and its people.

Book Cover Spin Doctors

Canada and Climate Change (October), by William Leiss, explains the importance of policies that will ensure we meet the net-zero emissions target. Nora Loreto’s Spin Doctors (December) argues alternative ways in which Canadians should understand the big themes of the Covid-19 crisis and create the necessary knowledge to demand large-scale change. And Ethan Lou’s Once a Bitcoin Minder (October) is the definitive parable of everything Bitcoin, cryptocurrency, and blockchain.

Book Cover Flora

Flora! (October), by the late Flora MacDonald and Geoffrey Stevens, describes MacDonald's amazing journey from her childhood and her time at secretarial school in Cape Breton, through her years in backroom Progressive Conservative politics, to elected office and her appointment as Canada’s first female minister of foreign affairs. In University Women (November), Sara MacDonald explores the processes of integration and separation that marked women’s contested entrance into higher education. And Uncommon Sense (September), by Adam Mardero, is a vulnerable and insightful exploration of a boy growing into a young man while battling a label and the misunderstandings that arise from being on the Autism spectrum.

Book Cover The Shaytan Bridge

The Shaytan Bride (September), by Sumaiya Matin, is the true coming-of-age story of a girl who suddenly finds herself unravelling the complexities of identity and desire in both the physical and spiritual worlds. Persephone’s Children, by Rowan McCandless, a previous Journey Prize finalist, chronicles the author’s odyssey as a Black, biracial woman escaping the stranglehold of a long-term abusive relationship. And in Nothing Will Be Different (October), a memoir-in-essays by Tara McGowan-Ross, a neurotic party girl scrambles to rationalize her life as she knows it after finding a lump in her breast.

Book Cover Talking to Canadians

In The Racial Mosaic (December), a groundbreaking study of the pre-history of Canadian multiculturalism, Daniel Meister shows how the philosophy of cultural pluralism normalized racism and the entrenchment of whiteness. For the first time Rick Mercer, this most private of public figures, has turned the spotlight on himself in Talking to Canadians (November), a memoir that's as revealing as it is hilarious. Having spent much of her youth outrunning family turmoil, the peripatetic lifestyle once key to Ceilidh Michelle’s survival is now a habit she can’t or won’t break—unless it breaks her first, which is a story she tells in her memoir Vagabond: Venice Beach, Slab City and Points In Between (September).

Book Cover Tumblehome

As she delves into her family’s history, accompanied by her husband, a native British Columbian, Isa Milman travels to contemporary Poland, Ukraine, and Germany in her memoir Afterlight (September), trying to reconcile her shifting appreciation of people and place, in a world where anti-Semitism and other forms of extremism are on the rise once again. Ralph Milton’s Well Aged: Making the Most of Your Platinum Years (October) expands the conversation around aging, and it is a must-read for anyone who needs to put out their birthday cake with a fire extinguisher—as well as those who love and care for them. And in the wake of a broken engagement to her "One True Paddling Partner", Brenda Missen ventures into the near wilderness on a series of solo canoe trips that blow all her perceptions of romance, relationships, God, and her own self (gently) out of the water in Tumblehome (September).

Book Cover Not of Reason

In Not of Reason (September), award-winning writer Rita Moir explores her intense love for her sister with unwavering honesty, and wrestles with the alluring solace of religion when her sister dies and the natural order is knocked out of alignment. Omar Mouallem travels to thirteen special mosques across North America and discovers the surprising history and humanity of their communities in Praying to the West: How Muslims Shaped the Americas (September)—but what he finds also challenges his own long-held personal beliefs, and even his sense of identity. When Jane Munro’s husband is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, the Griffin-award-winning poet must chart a path through the depths of grief, learning to live with loss and to take solace and find freedom in the restorative powers of writing, which she shares in her memoir Open Every Window (September).

Book Cover My Privilege My Responsibility

Known as a “bridge builder,” Sheila North is a member of Bunibonibee Cree Nation and her work in advocacy journalism, communications, and economic development harnessed her passion for drawing focus to systemic racism faced by Indigenous women and girls, and in her memoir, My Privilege, My Responsibility (November), she shares  stories of the events that shaped her and the violence that nearly stood in the way of her dreams. And from leaving Communist Poland to enduring the demands of medical school, through living with a long undiagnosed mental illness to discovering the fascinating field of genetics, plunging into the pressures of prenatal diagnosis and finally finding the tools of writing and of narrative medicine, Margaret Nowaczyk shares a journey that is both inspiring and harrowing in Chasing Zebras: A Memoir of Clinical Genetics, Mental Health and Writing (November).

Book Cover A Matter of Equality

A Matter of Equality: The Life's Work of Senator Don Oliver (September), by Donald Oliver, examines the legacy of the first man, and the second Canadian, to bring the Black experience directly to the upper house. Molly Peacock uncovers the history of neglected painter Mary Hiester Reid, a trailblazing artist who refused to choose between marriage and a career in Flower Diary (October). The celebrated author of Anne of Green Gables and Emily of New Moon receives much-deserved additional consideration in L.M. Montgomery and Gender (November), edited by E. Holly Pike & Laura M. Robinson.

Book Cover Breastfeeding and the Pursuit of Happiness

Michael Posner’s Leonard Cohen, Untold Stories: From This Broken Hill is the second volume of the extraordinary life of the great music and literary icon Leonard Cohen, in the words of those who knew him best. Breastfeeding and the Pursuit of Happiness (October), by Phyllis L.F. Rippey, rejects the dichotomy of right versus wrong, exploring the historical, political, and symbolic roots of this sacrosanct belief in “breast is best”—from allusions to biblical milk and honey to contemporary claims of parenting and wellness experts. 

Book Cover Shut Out

Mary Louise (née Bangs) Rockthunder, wêpanâkit, was an Elder of Cree, Saulteaux, and Nakoda descent, born in 1913, raised and married at nehiyawipwatinahk / Piapot First Nation, a much-loved storyteller who, in kayas nohcin: I Come from a Long Time Back (October), speaks of her memories, stories, and knowledge, revealing her personal humility and her deep love and respect for her family and her nêhiyawêwin language and culture. A highly readable history of Montreal municipal politics over the past 30 years, Saving the City (September), by Daniel Sanger, also discusses issues of interest to city-dwellers across Canada. And Shut Out (October), by Bernie Saunders, is a memoir about professional hockey by a player who had the potential to become a star but was blocked at almost every opportunity because of his race.

My Mother My Translator

Spanning three decades and ten countries, award-winning author and journalist Andrew Scott’s travelogue, Under the Bright Sky (September), is an intimate account of finding family interwoven with moments of historical reflection. Tracing the men and especially the women of his family from the 1918 pandemic through the calamitous events of Partition, My Mother, My Translator (September) takes us through Jaspreet Singh's childhood in Kashmir and with his grandparents in Indian Punjab to his arrival in Canada in 1990 to study the sciences, up to the closing moments of 2020, as he tries to locate new forms of stories for living in a present marked by COVID-19 and climate crisis. First Nations, Métis and Inuit artists, activists, educators and writers, youth and elders come together to envision Indigenous futures in Canada and around the world in Me Tomorrow (October), edited by Drew Hayden Taylor.

Book Cover Tongues

Life in the City of Dirty Water: A Memoir of Healing (August), by Clayton Thomas-Muller braids together the urgent issues of Indigenous rights and environmental policy, from a nationally and internationally recognized activist and survivor. Hidden Scourge (October), by Kevin P. Timoney, takes the reader on a journey into a covert world of energy industry spills with environmental incident data from over 100,000 spills in Alberta, Saskatchewan, North Dakota, Montana, and the Northwest Territories. Jules Torti's rollicking travel memoir Trail Mix (September) invites the curious, the initiated, and even the skeptics to tag along on the ever-changing landscape of “The Way.” In Tongues: On Longing and Belonging Through Language (October), edited by Ayelet Tsabari, Eufemia Fantetti, and Leonarda Carranza, writers examine their intimate relationship with language in essays that are compelling and captivating. And set in a high-adventure narrative on the unforgiving savannah, Tracking Lions, Myth, and Wilderness in Samburu, by Jon Turk, explores the aboriginal wisdoms that endowed our Stone Age ancestors with the power to survive – and how, since then, myth, art, music, dance, and ceremony have often been hijacked and distorted within our urban, scientific, oil-soaked world.

book Cover Insurgent Love

Through an ethnographic exploration of Canada’s ten UNESCO Natural World Heritage sites, Inhabited (November), by Phillip Vannini and April Vannini, reflects on the meanings of wildness, wilderness, and natural heritage. In In the Midst of Civilized Europe: The Pogroms of 1918-1921 and the Onset of the Holocaust (October), drawing upon long-neglected archival materials, acclaimed historian Jeffrey Veidlinger shows for the first time how this wave of genocidal violence created the conditions for the Holocaust. Through examining commonly accepted typologies of high-risk intimate partner violence, Ardath Whynacht shows that policing can be understood as part of the same root problem as the violence it seeks to mend and provides an abolitionist frame for the most dangerous forms of intimate partner violence in Insurgent Love (November).

Book Cover Disorientation

Bestselling, Scotiabank Giller Award-winning writer Ian Williams brings fresh eyes and new insights to today’s urgent conversation on race and racism in Disorientation (September), startling, illuminating essays that grow out of his own experience as a Black man moving through the world. “Indian” in the Cabinet: Speaking Truth to Power (October) is the story of why Jody Wilson-Raybould got into federal politics, her experience as an Indigenous leader sitting around the Cabinet table, her proudest achievements, the very public SNC-Lavalin affair, and how she got out and moved forward. Based on the core philosophy expressed in the forthcoming documentary film of the same name, The Zone (October) is an autobiographical account that details the emotional and physical struggles of renowned mountaineer, naturalist, and architect Rob Wood as he deals with the ravages of Parkinson’s disease on his body and mind. And in On Opium (September), Carlyn Zwarenstein describes her own use of opioid-inspired medicines to cope with a painful disease.