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Nonfiction You Need to Know

This round-up of stories and ideas offers something to every kind of reader.

Book Cover Harvesting Freedom

Harvesting Freedom: The Life of a Migrant Worker in Canada, by Gabriel Allahdua, with Edward Dunsworth

About the book: In this singular firsthand account, a former migrant worker reveals a disturbing system of exploitation at the heart of Canada’s farm labour system.

When Gabriel Allahdua applied to the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program in Canada, he thought he would be leaving his home in St. Lucia to work in a country with a sterling human rights reputation and commitment to multiculturalism. Instead, breakneck quotas and a culture of fear dominated his four years in a mega-greenhouse in Ontario. This deeply personal memoir takes readers behind the scenes to see what life is really like for the people who produce Canada’s food.

Now, as a leading activist in the migrant justice movement in Canada, Allahdua is fighting back against the Canadian government to demand rights and respect for temporary foreign labourers. Harvesting Freedom shows Canada’s place in the long history of slavery, colonialism, and inequality that has linked the Caribbean to the wider world for half a millennium—but also the tireless determination of Caribbean people to fight for their freedom.


Book Cover My Own Blood

My Own Blood, by Ashley Bristowe

About the book: Mothering under normal circumstances takes all you have to give. But what happens when your child is disabled, and sacrificing all you've got and more is the only hope for a decent future? Full of rage and resilience, duty and love, Ashley Bristowe delivers a mother's voice like no other we've heard.

When their second child, Alexander, is diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder, doctors tell Ashley Bristowe and her husband that the boy won't walk, or even talk--that he is profoundly disabled. Stunned and reeling, Ashley researches a disorder so new it's just been named—Kleefstra Syndrome—and she finds little hope and a maze of obstacles. Then she comes across the US-based "Institutes," which have been working to improve the lives of brain-injured children for decades. Recruiting volunteers, organizing therapy, juggling a million tests and appointments, even fundraising as the family falls deep into debt, Ashley devotes years of 24/7 effort to running an impossibly rigorous diet and therapy programme for their son with the hope of saving his life, and her own. The ending is happy: he will never be a "normal" boy, but Alexander talks, he walks, he swims, he plays the piano (badly) and he goes to school.

This victory isn't clean and it's far from pretty; the personal toll on Ashley is devastating. "It takes a village," people say, but too much of their village is uncomfortable with her son's difference, the therapy regimen's demands and the family's bottomless need. The health and provincial services bureaucracy set them a maddening set of hoops to jump through, showing how disabled children and their families languish because of criminally low expectations about what can be done to help.

My Own Blood is an uplifting story, but it never shies away from the devastating impact of a baby that science couldn't predict and medicine couldn't help. It's the story of a woman who lost everything she'd once been—a professional, an optimist, a joker, a capable adult—in sacrifice to her son. An honest account of a woman's life turned upside down.


Book Cover How to Clean a Fish

How to Clean a Fish: And Other Adventures in Portugal, by Esmeralda Cabral

About the book: How to Clean a Fish describes an extended family stay in Portugal, full of food, adventure, and the search for home. Offered the opportunity to live in Costa da Caparica for an extended period, Esmeralda Cabral jumped at the chance to return to the country of her birth. Together with her Canadian-born husband, children, and Portuguese Water Dog, Maggie, Cabral makes new and nostalgic discoveries—a labyrinth of cobblestone alleys and beautiful painted tiles, a delicious bica and pastel de nata, a classic fado concert, the gentle ribbing of local fishmongers, a damaging high tide—translating words and emotions for her family along the way. Packed with local cuisine and customs, tales of language barriers and bureaucracy, and threaded with that irresistible need to connect with the culture of our birth, How to Clean a Fish is for readers curious about life in Portugal and for anyone who has moved from one place to another and is seeking their own version of home.


book Cover Wanda's War

Wanda's War: An Untold Story of Nazi Europe, Forced Labour, and a Canadian Immigration Scandal, by Marsha Faubert

About the book: What does it mean to be exiled? For the landmarks of your past to disappear?

In 1943, Wanda Gizmunt was ripped from her family home in Poland and deported to a forced labour camp in Nazi Germany. At the end of the war, she became one of millions of displaced Europeans awaiting resettlement.

Unwilling to return to then-Soviet-occupied Poland, Wanda became one of 100 young Polish women brought to Canada in 1947 to address a labour shortage at a Quebec textile mill. But rather than arriving to long-awaited freedom, the women found themselves captives to their Canadian employer. Their treatment eventually became a national controversy, prompting scrutiny of Canada’s utilitarian immigration policy.

Wanda seized the opportunity to leave the mill in the midst of a strike in 1948. She never looked back, but she remained silent about her wartime experience. Only after her death did her daughter-in-law assemble the pieces of Wanda’s life in Poland, Nazi Germany, and finally, Canada. In this masterful account of a hidden episode of history, Faubert chronicles the tragedy of exile and the meaning of silence for those whose traumas were never fully recognized.


Book Cover Almost Brown

Almost Brown: A Mixed-Race Family Memoir, by Charlotte Gill

About the book: An award-winning writer retraces her unconventional, biracial, globe-trotting family’s journey as she reckons with ethnicity and belonging, diversity and race, and the complexities of life within a multicultural household.

Charlotte Gill’s father is Indian. Her mother is English. They meet in 1960s London when the world is not quite ready for interracial love. Their union results in a total meltdown of familial relations, a lot of immigration paperwork, and three children, all in varying shades of tan. Together they set off on a journey to Canada and the United States in an elusive pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness—a dream that eventually tears them apart.

Almost Brown is an exploration of diasporic intermingling involving two deeply eccentric parents from worlds apart and their half-brown children as they experience the paradoxes and conundrums of life as it’s lived between race checkboxes. Their intercultural experiment features turbans and tube socks, chana masala and Cherry Coke, feminist uprisings, racial alliances and divides, a divorce, multiple grudges, and plenty of bad fashion. The family implodes, but after twenty years of silence, father and daughter reclaim a space for forgiveness and love.

Almost Brown is a funny, turbulent, and ultimately heartwarming book about the brilliant messiness of a mixed-race family and a search for answers to the question, What are you? Tender and incisive, it is both a deeply personal memoir and an excavation into ethnicity, ancestry, and race—a historical concept that still informs our beliefs about identity today.


Book Cover Message in a Bottle

Message in a Bottle: Ocean Dispatches from a Seabird Biologist, by Holly Hogan

About the book: From the heart of the Labrador Current to the furthest reaches of our global oceans, Message in a Bottle conjures an exquisite diversity of marine life and warns of a central threat to its survival: ocean plastic.

The dovekie is a stocky seabird the size of a child’s heart that spends its winters on the coast of Newfoundland, thriving in one of the toughest climates on Earth. The polar bear is an apex predator, designed to persevere in the Arctic's extreme conditions. The North Atlantic right whale outweighs the humpback by more than twenty tons and feeds on enormous quantities of tiny plankton in northeastern waters before migrating south for the winter.

In Message in a Bottle, wildlife biologist and writer Holly Hogan brings to life the wonder of these creatures and many other birds, fish and marine mammals she has encountered in her thiry years of ocean travel. On these voyages, Hogan has noticed a troubling pattern: the constant presence of plastic, in the form of adrift fishing gear ("ghost gear"), garbage and micro-plastics that create an invisible but pervasive smog in our oceans and threaten even the most seemingly resilient forms of sea life.

Bringing together nature, science and adventure writing, Hogan shines a light on our plastic-addicted lifestyle, offering an eyewitness account of its devastating effects on the marine environment—and highlighting international efforts to combat it. With lyrical prose and a reverential eye for the majesty and fragility of our natural world, Message in a Bottle is a clarion call to protect global oceans and the life they sustain, including our own.


Book Cover Rubymusic

Rubymusic: A Popular History of Women's Music and Culture, by Connie Kuhns

About the book: When journalist Connie Kuhns approached Vancouver Cooperative Radio in 1981 to host a music program dedicated solely to playing music by women, there was some doubt at the station that there was enough music by women to fill half an hour—and besides, who would tune in?

Such was the underground nature of women’s music. Despite the doubters, Rubymusic Radio became a successful program, running for fifteen years, introducing listeners to countless artists through radio, magazines and newspaper columns and on stage at Vancouver’s annual Folk Music Fest, and serving as a powerful platform for the feminist movements taking place in Vancouver’s punk scene and throughout music history in the 80s and 90s. Rubymusic also served as the launching pad for Kuhns’ life-long passion—the preservation of the histories and stories of the women with whom she crossed paths on the airwaves.

Here is a time capsule of a pivotal moment in women’s music history, with special emphasis on the women’s music movement in Canada, including the only written history of the women involved in Vancouver’s punk rock scene. Rubymusic also includes over two dozen first-person interviews going back into the early 1980s, featuring a diverse group of women, including Ferron, Etta James, Roni Gilbert, Lillian Allen, Koko Taylor, Gloria Steinem, kd lang, Michelle Shocked, Amy Grant, Ellen McIlwaine, as well as essays on Joni Mitchell, Janis Joplin, and why Yoko Ono matters. Rubymusic: A Popular History of Women’s Music and Culture is a necessary reflection on fifteen years of radio history and forty years in music journalism that contains unparalleled stories of women who fought for the right to be heard.


Book Cover Remnants

Remnants: Reveries of a Mountain Dweller, by Natalie Lang

About the book: In Remnants: Reveries of a Mountain Dweller, writer and educator Natalie Virginia Lang offers a vision of Sumas Mountain throughout the seasons to expose the impact of toxic progress on Place. Through poetic prose, Lang meditates on the social, historical, cultural, and environmental losses suffered at the hands of infringement upon natural areas. Remnants ventures into the natural spaces on Sumas Mountain, illuminating the errors of the modern colonial approach to progress and posing philosophical queries for alternate pathways into the future.

With whimsical descriptions and close encounters with creatures, forests, and climate change, Lang brings us an embodied experience of nature and bridges the gap between science, philosophy, academic theories, and the social sphere. Remnants offers a shift in the way environment is perceived and celebrates the value of interconnected relationships with and within ecosystems. The result is a fresh lens through which to see our relationship with that natural world, one that inspires us to join an ever-growing conversation about finding balance with our environment, even in the midst of growth.


Book Cover Tracking Giant

Tracking Giants: Big Trees, Tiny Triumphs, and Misadventures in the Forest, by Amanda Lewis

About the book: A funny, deeply relatable book about one woman's quest to track some of the world's biggest trees.

Amanda Lewis was an overachieving, burned-out book editor most familiar with trees as dead blocks of paper. A dedicated "indoorswoman," she could barely tell a birch from a beech. But that didn't stop her from pledging to visit all of the biggest trees in British Columbia, a Canadian province known for its rugged terrain and gigantic trees.

The "Champion" trees on Lewis's ambitious list ranged from mighty Western red cedars to towering arbutus. They lived on remote islands and at the center of dense forests. The only problem? Well, there were many. . .

Climate change and a pandemic aside, Lewis's lack of wilderness experience, the upsetting reality of old-growth logging, the ever-changing nature of trees, and the pressures of her one-year timeframe complicated her quest. Burned out again—and realizing that her "checklist" approach to life might be the problem—she reframed her search for trees to something humbler and more meaningful: getting to know forests in an interconnected way.

Weaving in insights from writers and artists, Lewis uncovers what we’re really after when we pursue the big things—revealing that sometimes it's the smaller joys, the mindsets we have, and the companions we're with that make us feel more connected to the natural world.


Book Cover Tales of an Unsung Sourdough

Tales of an Unsung Sourdough: The Extraordinary Klondike Adventures of Johnny Lind, by Phil Lind & Robert Brehl

About the book: In the mid-1880s, Johnny Lind, a teenager from Pond Mills, Ontario, struck out for adventure and wealth. After a decade working as a railroader in the United States, Johnny headed north, to Yukon and Alaska, and he was mining gold nearby when the Klondike Gold Rush began.

As a "sourdough," albeit an unsung one—the nickname for miners who had survived an entire winter in the North—Lind's story goes largely unrecognized in the lore of the era, his understated demeanor overshadowed by the larger-than-life characters that dominate the history books. But he kept journals recording his adventures in the Klondike, and these form an invaluable personal record. His stories shed light on the people and events of the gold rush, from the perspective of an everyman who wound up striking it rich.

Here, Johnny Lind's grandson Phil Lind shares his grandfather's fascinating story, along with his love of the Klondike, the history of the gold rush, the colourful players in that famed period, and the peoples and land affected by the legendary stampede for wealth.


Book Cover Bleed

BLEED: Destroying Myths and Misogyny in Endometriosis Care, by Tracey Lindeman

About the book: Have you ever been told that your pain is imaginary? That feeling better just takes yoga, CBD oil, and the blood of a unicorn on a full moon? That’s the reality of the more than 190 million people suffering the excruciating condition known as endometriosis. This disease affecting one in ten cis women and uncounted numbers of others is chronically overlooked, underfunded, and misunderstood — and improperly treated across the medical system. Discrimination and medical gaslighting are rife in endo care, often leaving patients worse off than when they arrived.

Journalist Tracey Lindeman knows it all too well. Decades of suffering from endometriosis propelled the creation of BLEED—part memoir, part investigative journalism, and all scathing indictment of how the medical system fails patients. Through extensive interviews and research, BLEED tracks the modern endo experience to the origins of medicine and how the system gained its power by marginalizing women. Using an intersectional lens, BLEED dives into how the system perpetuates misogyny, racism, classism, ageism, transphobia, fatphobia, and other prejudices to this day.

BLEED isn’t a self-help book. It’s an evidence file and an eye-opening, enraging read. It will validate those who have been gaslit, mistreated, or ignored by medicine and spur readers to fight for nothing short of revolution.


Book Cover The Human Scale

The Human Scale: Murder, Mischief and Other Selected Mayhems, by Michael Lista

About the book: Whether investigating a gruesome triple-murder, a fairy tale marriage gone horribly wrong, or a brilliant con artist, Michael Lista has proven himself one of the most gifted storytellers of his generation. In his belief that crime reporting thrives the closer it moves to "the human scale"—where every uncovered secret reveals the truth of our obligations to each other—Lista builds his compulsively readable narratives from details (fake flowers, a little girl's necklace) others might pass over, details that provide a doorway into the extreme situations he is drawn to. The Human Scale not only includes Lista's most celebrated magazine stories to date, but comes with postscripts that describe his process in writing each piece, and the fallout from publication. Here is long-form journalism in its most hallowed form: brilliant and bingeable.


Book Cover Unearthing

Unearthing: A Story of Tangled Love and Family Secrets, by Kyo Maclear

About the book: For readers of Crying in H Mart and Wintering, an unforgettable memoir about a family secret revealed by a DNA test, the lessons learned in its aftermath, and the indelible power of love.

Three months after Kyo Maclear’s father dies in December 2018, she gets the results of a DNA test showing that she and the father who raised her are not biologically related. Suddenly Maclear becomes a detective in her own life, unravelling a family mystery piece by piece, and assembling the story of her biological father. Along the way, larger questions arise: what exactly is kinship? And what does it mean to be a family?
Thoughtful in its reflections on race and lineage, unflinching in its insights on grief and loyalty, Unearthing is a captivating and propulsive story of inheritance that goes beyond heredity.

What gets planted, and what gets buried? What role does storytelling play in unearthing the past and making sense of a life? Can the humble act of tending a garden provide common ground for an inquisitive daughter and her complicated mother? As it seeks to answer these questions, Unearthing bursts with the very love it seeks to understand.


Book Cover Searching for Happy Valley

Searching for Happy Valley: A Modern Quest for Shangri-La, by Jane Marshall

About the book: A global quest to comprehend the meaning of “Happy Valley” on three continents and how these mountain communities continue to survive in a world that constantly challenges the very notion of “happiness.”

Over her 17-year career as a travel writer, Jane Marshall has wandered the planet, always in search of wild, high-altitude, off-the-beaten-track places. During her travels she discovered something profound. On three continents, separated by vast oceans, she found hidden valleys known locally as “Happy Valley.” Her quest: to discover what makes them happy and learn from their Indigenous keepers.

The happy valleys share common characteristics. They are geographically isolated and protected by walls of mountains; they are home to rare and endangered plants and animals; they exist outside of protections zones — which gives them autonomy but also makes them vulnerable; their Indigenous populations name the land after human and divine body parts; and women are seen as powerful. Inside these Happy Valleys a balance between humans and nature has been struck. Sleeping on ridges, in caves, and in the traditional homes of local people, Marshall makes gruelling journeys to the heart of the happy valleys as she strives to comprehend the deep peace she feels within them.

In a world facing environmental devastation, illness, and unprecedented mental anxieties, Marshall’s book offers an alternative. She immerses herself in the land and forms deep connections with its people so she can learn sustainable ways of living their Indigenous populations have honed over millennia. From a goat herder’s hut in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco, to a Sundance ceremony with the Blackfoot/Soki-tapi people of Alberta, and ultimately to her dangerous pilgrimage in Nepal where she reaches the heart of a sacred land studded with treasures hidden by a famous yogi, Jane Marshall takes readers on the greatest adventure of all: The search for Shangri-La and the wisdom that can save the planet and our own hearts.


Book Cover All Things Move

All Things Move: Learning to Look in the Sistine Chapel, by Jeannie Marshall

About the book: A deeply personal search for meaning in Michelangelo’s frescoes—and an impassioned defence of the role of art in a fractured age.

What do we hope to get out of seeing a famous piece of art? Jeannie Marshall asked that question of herself when she started visiting the Sistine Chapel frescoes. She wanted to understand their meaning and context—but in the process, she also found what she didn’t know she was looking for.

All Things Move: Learning to Look in the Sistine Chapel tells the story of Marshall’s relationship with one of our most cherished artworks. Interwoven with the history of its making and the Rome of today, it’s an exploration of the past in the present, the street in the museum, and the way a work of art can both terrify and alchemize the soul. An impassioned defence of the role of art in a fractured age, All Things Move is a quietly sublime meditation on how our lives can be changed by art, if only we learn to look.


Book Cover Starter Dog

Starter Dog: My Path to Joy, Belonging and Loving This World, by Rona Maynard

About the book: An irresistible tale of reluctant dog ownership full of heart, humor, and wisdom

Rona Maynard wants to love her life again. Stuck in the what-next doldrums after quitting a big job, she needs a new bridge to the world. So, well into their married life, she lets her husband talk her into their first dog, a rescue mutt named Casey. Rona frets about shedding, lost travel opportunities, and arguments about walking duty. She doubts she can love a dog. But when Casey romps through her door, Rona falls hard. Over time he gives her what no human could — a new way of seeing and a pathway to the heart of a moment. Her downtown neighborhood reveals its true face as she explores it with Casey, making new friends and discovering hidden beauty spots. She learns to have adventures on her own stomping ground. Through Casey, Rona falls in love with the world and her place in it, an animal among other animals.


Book Cover Scar Tissue

Scar Tissue: Tracing Motherhood, by Sara Danièle Michaud

About the book: Perhaps more than any other relationship or identity, motherhood is both organic and constructed. Mothers are created by their children, and then simultaneously expanded and abbreviated by maternity as a social category. In Scar Tissue: Tracing Motherhood, Montreal writer and literary philosopher Sara Danièle Michaud brings her considerable intellectual scope to the impossible intimacy of this most primal human relationship. Intense and intertextual, the book draws as easily from Saint Augustine as from Sheila Heti, weaving a long essay that is both deeply personal and eloquently universal.


Book Cover Saving

Saving: A doctor's struggle to help his children, by Shane Neilson

About the book: Why do we fall ill? How do we get better?

When his two-year-old son develops epilepsy, Shane Neilson and his wife, Janet, struggle to obtain timely care for him while at the same time navigating their young daughter's diagnosis of childhood depression. His family's journey through a sometimes inadequate and often uncaring medical system is informed by Shane's personal history of bipolar disorder and his professional experience with disability as a practicing physician.

With poetic language and imagery, Shane illustrates his personal experience of "madness" and describes his struggles with neurodivergence from the point of view of both patient and practitioner. In this poignant memoir about fatherhood, illness, and family, Shane Neilson shows that it is possible to not only escape the wreckage of the past, but to celebrate living with disability in the present.


Book Cover Making a Home

Making a Home: Assisted Living in the Community for Young Disabled People, by Jen Powley

About the book: In some Canadian provinces, people with severe physical disabilities are simply warehoused in nursing homes, where many people, especially in the age of homecare, are in the final stages of their lives. It is difficult for a young person to live in a home geared for death; their physical assistance needs are met, but their social, psychological and emotional needs are not. Jen Powley argues that everyone deserves to live with the dignity of risk.

In Making a Home, Powley tells the story of how she got young disabled people like herself out of nursing homes by developing a shared attendant services system for adults with severe physical disabilities. This book makes a case for living in the community and against dehumanizing institutionalization.


Book Cover I Got a Name

I Got a Name: The Murder of Krystal Senyk, by Eliza Robertson & Myles Dolphin

About the book: A vivid and meticulous true-crime story that exposes the deep fractures in a system that repeatedly fails to protect women, while tracking the once-cold trail of a murderer still at large.

Krystal Senyk was the kind of friend everybody wants: a reliable confidant, a handywoman of all trades, and an infectious creative with an adventurous spirit. Most importantly, she was tough as nails. So when her best friend needed support to leave her abusive husband, Ronald Bax, Krystal leapt into action.

But soon Krystal became the new outlet for Bax’s rage. He terrorized and intimidated her for months on end, and finally issued a chilling warning to her and his ex-wife: the hunt is on. Krystal was scared but she was smart: she reached out to the RCMP for a police escort home. The officer brushed her off.

Bax’s threat had been all too real. At 29 years old, the woman who seemed invincible—who was a beloved sister, daughter, and friend—was shot and killed at her home in the Yukon. Ronald Bax disappeared without a trace.

Three decades later, Eliza Robertson has re-opened the case. In compelling, vibrant prose, she works tirelessly to piece together Krystal’s story, retracing the dire failings of Canadian law enforcement and Bax’s last steps. I Got a Name uses one woman’s tragic story to boldly interrogate themes of gender-based violence and the pervasive issues that plague our society. In this riveting true-crime story about victimhood, power, and control, Robertson examines the broken system in place, and asks: if it isn’t looking out for the vulnerable, the threatened, the hunted—who among us is it protecting?


Book Cover These Days Are Numbered

These Days Are Numbered: Diary of a High-Rise Lockdown, by Rebecca Rosenblum

About the book: The diary of a woman longing for community in a crowded downtown in pandemic times, when casual intimacies are forbidden.

Novelist Rebecca Rosenblum lives in St. James Town, Toronto—the most densely populated square kilometre in all of Canada. When the Covid-19 pandemic and ensuing lockdowns arrive, she’s cut off from colleagues, friends, and family, and not allowed to go near neighbours. As the world constricts, Rebecca keeps a weird and worried diary online—a love letter both to the outside world that she misses so desperately, and the little world inside St. James Town that she can see from home.

As Rebecca watches and wonders from inside her box in the sky, her diary entries mix an account of a tough time in a tough place with joyful goofiness and moments of unexpected compassion.


Book Cover Canada

Canada: Beyond Grudges, Grievances, and Disunity, by Donald J. Savoie

About the book: Canada’s political structure runs contrary to North America’s economic geography and the north-south economic pull. Canada imported political and administrative institutions designed for a unitary state, and its political leaders have struggled to make them work since the country was founded. Because of this, many Canadians, their communities, and their regions view themselves as victims, to a greater degree than groups in other Western democracies do.

Our federal government has shown a greater willingness to apologize for historical wrongs than other Western countries. Canada also outperforms other nations in helping victims make the transition to full participants in the country’s political and economic life. Donald Savoie maintains that Canada continues to thrive despite the many shortcomings in its national political institutions and the tendency of Canadians to see themselves as victims, and that our history and these shortcomings have taught us the art of compromise. Canada’s constitution and its political institutions amplify rather than attenuate victimization; however, they have also enabled Canadians to manage the issue better than other countries. Canadians also recognize that the alternative to Canada is worse, and this more than anything else continues to strengthen national unity.

Drawing on his extensive experience in academe and as an advisor to governments, Savoie provides new insights into how Canada works for Canadians.


Book Cover Ordinary Notes

Ordinary Notes, by Christina Sharpe

About the book: A dazzlingly inventive, deeply moving, intellectually bracing exploration of pain and beauty, private memory and public monument, art and complexity in contemporary Black life.

“I wanted to write about silences and terror and acts that hover over generations, over centuries. I began by writing about my mother and grandmother.” —from “Note 18” in Ordinary Notes

A singular achievement, Ordinary Notes explores with immense care profound questions about loss, and the shapes of Black life that emerge in the wake. In a series of 248 brief and urgent notes that gather meaning as we read them, Christina Sharpe skillfully weaves artifacts from the past—public ones alongside others that are poignantly personal—with present-day realities and possible futures, intricately constructing an immersive portrait of everyday Black existence. Through the striking images and words in these pages, themes and tones echo: sometimes about life, art, language, beauty, memory; sometimes about history, photography, and literature—but always attending, with exquisite care, to the ordinary-extraordinary dimensions of Black life.

At the heart of Ordinary Notes is the indelible presence of the author’s mother, Ida Wright Sharpe. “I learned to see in my mother’s house,” writes Sharpe. “I learned how not to see in my mother’s house . . . My mother gifted me a love of beauty, a love of words.” Using these and other gifts and ways of seeing, Sharpe steadily summons a chorus of voices and experiences to become present on the page. She articulates and follows an aesthetic of "beauty as a method,” collects entries from a community of thinkers towards a “Dictionary of Untranslatable Blackness,” and rigorously examines sites of memory and memorial. And in the process, she forges a new literary form, as multivalent as the ways of Black being it traces.


Book Cover Unbroken

Unbroken: My Fight for Survival, Hope, and Justice for Indigenous Women and Girls, by Angela Sterritt

About the book: Unbroken is an extraordinary work of memoir and investigative journalism focusing on missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, written by an award-winning Gitxsan journalist who survived life on the streets against all odds.

As a Gitxsan teenager navigating life on the streets, Angela Sterritt wrote in her journal to help her survive and find her place in the world. Now an acclaimed journalist, she writes for major news outlets to push for justice and to light a path for Indigenous women, girls, and survivors. In her brilliant debut, Sterritt shares her memoir alongside investigative reporting into cases of missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada, showing how colonialism and racism led to a society where Sterritt struggled to survive as a young person, and where the lives of Indigenous women and girls are ignored and devalued.

Growing up, Sterritt was steeped in the stories of her ancestors: grandparents who carried bentwood boxes of berries, hunted and trapped, and later fought for rights and title to that land. But as a vulnerable young woman, kicked out of the family home and living on the street, Sterritt inhabited places that, today, are infamous for being communities where women have gone missing or been murdered: Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, and, later on, Northern BC's Highway of Tears. Sterritt faced darkness: she experienced violence from partners and strangers and saw friends and community members die or go missing. But she navigated the street, group homes, and SROs to finally find her place in journalism and academic excellence at university, relying entirely on her own strength, resilience, and creativity along with the support of her ancestors and community to find her way.

"She could have been me," Sterritt acknowledges today, and her empathy for victims, survivors, and families drives her present-day investigations into the lives of missing and murdered Indigenous women. In the end, Sterritt steps into a place of power, demanding accountability from the media and the public, exposing racism, and showing that there is much work to do on the path towards understanding the truth. But most importantly, she proves that the strength and brilliance of Indigenous women is unbroken, and that together, they can build lives of joy and abundance.


Book Cover The Deepest Map

The Deepest Map: The High-Stakes Race to Chart the World's Oceans, by Laura Trethewey (Coming in July)

About the book: Five oceans cover approximately seventy per cent of the earth, yet we know little of what lies beneath them. Now, the race is on to completely map the oceans’ floor. Scientists, investors, militaries, and private explorers are competing in this epic venture to obtain an accurate reading of this vast terrain and understand its contours and environment.

In The Deepest Map, Laura Trethewey chronicles this race to the bottom. Following global efforts around the world, she documents Inuit-led crowdsourced mapping in the Arctic as climate change alters the landscape, a Texas millionaire’s efforts to become the first man to dive to the deepest point in each ocean, and the increasingly fraught question of whether and how to mine the deep sea.

A true tale of science, nature, technology, and extreme outdoor adventure, The Deepest Map both illuminates why we love — and fear — the earth’s final frontier and contributes to increasingly urgent conversations about climate change.


Book Cover The Autumn Ghost

The Autumn Ghost: How the Battle Against a Polio Epidemic Revolutionized Modern Medical Care, by Hannah Wunsch

About the book: A suspenseful, authoritative account of how the battle against a mid-century polio epidemic sparked a revolution in medical care.

Americans knew polio as the "summer plague." In countries further North, however, the virus arrived later in the year, slipping into the homes of healthy children as the summer waned and the equinox approached. It was described by one writer as "the autumn ghost."

Intensive care units and mechanical ventilation are the crucial foundation of modern medical care: without them, the appalling death toll of the COVID-19 pandemic would be even higher. In The Autumn Ghost, Dr. Hannah Wunsch traces the origins of these two innovations back to a polio epidemic in the autumn of 1952. Drawing together compelling testimony from doctors, nurses, medical students, and patients, Wunsch relates a gripping tale of an epidemic that changed the world.

In vivid, captivating chapters, Wunsch tells the dramatic true story of how insiders and iconoclasts came together in one overwhelmed hospital in Copenhagen to save the lives of many polio patients dying of respiratory failure. Their radical advances in care marked a turning point in the treatment of patients around the world—from the rise of life support and the creation of intensive care units to the evolution of rehabilitation medicine.

Moving and informative, The Autumn Ghost will leave readers in awe of the courage of those who battled the polio epidemic, and grateful for the modern medical care they pioneered.