Books for the Holidays

The holidays are coming, but we've got you covered with amazing book suggestions for all the types on your list.

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For the CanCon TV Buff

25 Years of 22 Minutes, by Angela Mombourquette

About the book: The final chaotic season of Codco had just wrapped when Mary Walsh sat down at a Toronto bistro with George Anthony, then creative head of CBC TV's arts programming. She'd been thinking about a news-based comedy show—did he think that would fly? He did. That was the early '90s. Twenty-five seasons later, hundreds of thousands of Canadians continue to tune in weekly to This Hour Has 22 Minutes for its unashamedly Canadian, biting satirical take on politics and power. 

25 Years of 22 Minutes takes readers backstage to hear first-hand accounts of the show's key moments—in the words of the writers, producers and cast members who were there. Readers will have a front-row seat to the birth of the show—including a crisis that had producers scrambling in the very first episode—and offer an insider's take on the highs, the lows, and the daily grind behind the scenes at 22 Minutes.

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For the Dog Person: 

As a Dog Thinketh, by Monique Anstee

About the book: Confused by your canine? Monique Anstee believes we have made dog training much too hard, when it really is very simple. Anstee teaches you to think differently, which will help you get out of your mind and into the moment.

Monique Anstee trains dogs kindly, but effectively, and her clients love her for her honesty. Now, she has compiled a book of daily wisdom in which she shares her most deeply held values and philosophies, and her most sought-after lessons gleaned from more than 25 years in the business. With her signature no-nonsense approach and wry sense of humour, Anstee shares reflections that will inspire a-ha moments, nurture your confidence, and invite you to be more authentic with yourself and with your dog.

When should you reward, and when should you tell him to try harder? How can you create ten moments a day where you can praise your dog sincerely? How can you use your own thoughts, beliefs, and body language to improve communication with your dog? How are we creating reactivity in our dogs? 

Anstee offers a new and inspiring way to think about your relationship with your dog, tempered with the clear-eyed perspective of one who has seen dogs and their owners find solutions to all kinds of problems. She empowers her readers to affirm their instincts with their dog, and to believe in the power to change together, each and every day.

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For the Foodie: 

Apron Strings, by Jan Wong

About the book: Jan Wong knows food is better when shared, so when she set out to write a book about home cooking in France, Italy, and China, she asked her 22-year-old son, Sam, to join her. While he wasn’t keen to spend excessive time with his mom, he dreamed of becoming a chef and saw an opportunity he couldn’t pass up.

On their journey, Jan and Sam live and cook with locals, seeing first-hand how globalization is changing food, families, and cultures. In southeast France, they move in with a family sheltering undocumented migrants. From Bernadette, the housekeeper, they learn classic French family fare such as blanquette de veau. In a hamlet in the heart of Italy’s Slow Food country, the villagers teach them without fuss or fanfare how to make authentic spaghetti alle vongole and a proper risotto with leeks. In Shanghai, they home-cook firecracker chicken and scallion pancakes with the nouveau riche and their migrant maids, who comprise one of the biggest demographic shifts in world history. Along the way, mother and son explore their sometimes-fraught relationship, uniting—and occasionally clashing—over their mutual love of cooking.

A memoir about family, an exploration of the globalization of food cultures, and a meditation on the complicated relationships between mothers and sons, Apron Strings is complex, unpredictable, and unexpectedly hilarious.

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For the (Armchair) Arctic Explorer: 

Dead Reckoning, by Ken McGoogan

About the book: With this book—his most ambitious yet—Ken McGoogan delivers a vivid, comprehensive recasting of Arctic-exploration history. Dead Reckoning challenges the conventional narrative, which emerged out of Victorian England and focused almost exclusively on Royal Navy officers. By integrating non-British and fur-trade explorers and, above all, Canada’s indigenous peoples, this work brings the story of Arctic discovery into the twenty-first century.

Orthodox history celebrates such naval figures as John Franklin, Edward Parry and James Clark Ross. Dead Reckoning tells their stories, but the book also encompasses such forgotten heroes as Thanadelthur, Akaitcho, Tattanoeuck, Ouligbuck, Tookoolito and Ebierbing, to name just a few. Without the assistance of the Inuit, Franklin’s recently discovered ships, Erebus and Terror, would still be lying undiscovered at the bottom of the polar sea.

The book ranges from the sixteenth century to the present day, looks at climate change and the politics of the Northwest Passage, and recognizes the cultural diversity of a centuries-old quest. Informed by the author’s own voyages and researches in the Arctic, and illustrated throughout, Dead Reckoning is a colourful, multi-dimensional saga that demolishes myths, exposes pretenders and celebrates unsung heroes. For international readers, it sets out a new story of Arctic discovery. For Canadians, it brings that story home.

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For the Cozy Mystery Lover

Body on Baker Street, by Vicki Delany

About the book: Gemma Doyle and Jayne Wilson are busy managing the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop and Emporium on Baker Street and adjoining Mrs. Hudson’s Tea Room in anticipation of the store’s upcoming book signing with the illustrious Renalta Van Markoff, author of the controversial Hudson and Holmes mystery series. But during the author Q&A session, dedicated Sherlockian Donald Morris verbally attacks Renalta and her series for disgracing Sherlock’s legacy, only to be publicly humiliated when the author triumphantly lashes back and gains the upper hand. That is until Renalta collapses on the table—dead.

Donald insists he didn’t do it and pleads to his friends to clear his name. Fortunately, Gemma and Jayne have no shortage of suspects between author’s bullied personal assistant, her frustrated publicist, the hapless publisher, a handsome rare book dealer, an obsessively rabid fan, and a world of other Sherlock enthusiasts with strong objections to Renalta’s depiction of the Great Detective. It’s up to the shrewd sleuthing duo to eliminate the impossible and deduce the truth before the West London police arrest an innocent man in Body on Baker Street, the second Sherlock Homes Bookshop mystery perfect for fans of Miranda James and Kate Carlisle.

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For the Pop Culture Fiend

Sputnik's Children, by Terri Favro

About the book: Cult comic book creator Debbie Reynolds Biondi has been riding the success of her Cold War era–inspired superhero series, Sputnik Chick: Girl with No Past, for more than 25 years. But with the comic book losing fans and Debbie struggling to come up with new plotlines for her badass, mutant-killing heroine, she decides to finally tell Sputnik Chick’s origin story.

Debbie’s never had to make anything up before and she isn’t starting now. Sputnik Chick is based on Debbie’s own life in an alternate timeline called Atomic Mean Time. As a teenager growing up in Shipman’s Corners—a Rust Belt town voted by Popular Science magazine as “most likely to be nuked”—she was recruited by a self-proclaimed time traveller to collapse Atomic Mean Time before an all-out nuclear war grotesquely altered humanity. In trying to save the world, Debbie risked obliterating everyone she’d ever loved—as well as her own past—in the process.

Or so she believes . . . Present-day Debbie is addicted to lorazepam and dirty, wet martinis, making her an unreliable narrator, at best. A time-bending novel that delves into the origin story of the Girl with No Past, Sputnik’s Children explores what it was like to come of age in the Atomic Age.

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Beyond Bannock: For the Indigenous Food Lover

Cooking With the Wolfman, by David Wolfman

About the book: While there were major variations from region to region and from season to season, in general, the traditional diets of Indigenous peoples of North America were remarkably healthy—high in protein and nutrients, low in salt, sugar and nearly without refined carbohydrates, featuring large and small game, waterfowl, eggs, fish and seafood, tubers, berries, tree roots, grasses, seeds and cultivated food crops. 

As a classically trained chef of First Nations heritage, David Wolfman has a passion for bringing these traditional food sources together with European cooking techniques. In Cooking with the Wolfman, he and his wife, Marlene, share recipes gathered from David's career as a caterer, culinary professor and host of a popular cooking show, as well as a few family favourites, like an updated version of Marlene's great-grandmother's recipe for pemmican. 

Covering everything from the origin of bannock to the finer points of filleting a fish, Cooking with the Wolfman is accessible to readers of every culinary skill level, with step-by-step instructions and charts covering the fundamentals of cooking, from knife handling techniques, choosing cuts of meat and making stocks and sauces to home smoking. 

From foodies who want to try locally foraged ingredients to Indigenous cooks looking for new ways to enjoy familiar traditional foods, David Wolfman's easy-to-follow recipes make Indigenous Fusion available to everyone. With over one hundred recipes including Buffalo Egg Rolls with Mango Strawberry Dip, Buttery Bourbon Hot-Smoked Oysters, Slow-Cooked Ginger Caribou Shanks, and Blackened Sea Scallops with Cream of Pumpkin as well as beautiful colour photographs, Cooking with the Wolfmanwill inspire readers to bring more traditional foods into their kitchens.

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For the Humanitarian

Your Heart is the Size of Your Fist, by Dr. Martina Scholtens

About the book: Your Heart Is the Size of Your Fist draws readers into the complicated, poignant, and often-overlooked daily happenings of a busy urban medical clinic for refugees.

An Iraqi journalist whose son has been been murdered develops post-traumatic stress disorder and mourns his loss of vocation. A Congolese woman refuses antiretroviral treatment for her new HIV diagnosis, and instead places her trust in Jesus. Two conservative Muslim Iraqi women are inadvertently exposed to pornography when a doctor uses Google Images to supplement a medical discussion. By turns humorous, distressing, and moving, these stories offer insight into the people seeking a new life while navigating poverty, language barriers, and neighbours who aren’t always friendly.

This riveting collection of true stories from Dr. Martina Scholtens is filled with hope and humour, and together make up a deeply moving portrait of how one doctor attempts to provide quality care and advocacy for patients while remaining culturally sensitive, even as she wrestles with guilt, awareness of her own privilege, the faith she was raised with, and vicarious trauma after hearing countless stories of brutality and suffering.

In the spirit of Louise Aronson and Atul Gawande, Scholtens’ writing is based on her personal experiences and explores the transformative moments in which a clinical doctor-patient relationship becomes a profound human-human connection.

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For the Sports Fan

Best Canadian Sports Writing, Edited by Stacey May Fowles and Pasha Malla

About the book: For 25 years, sports journalists south of the border have been collected in best-of anthologies. With Best Canadian Sports Writing, editors Stacey May Fowles and Pasha Malla offer a long overdue rejoinder from the North, showcasing top literary sports writing from diverse homegrown talent.

This extraordinary anthology of recent writing mixes columns and long-form journalism, profiles and reportage, new voices and well-known favourites such as Stephen Brunt, Rachel Giese, Eric Koreen, Morgan Campbell, and Cathal Kelly. The assembled pieces offer polished prose, unusual perspectives, and rare insight into their subjects, whether it’s a Filipino basketball league in the Yukon, the rise and fall of ski ballet, or a field trip to the Mexican hometown of the Jays’ Roberto Osuna. With its many voices and approaches, Best Canadian Sports Writing expands the genre into more democratic and conversational territory, celebrating the perspectives of both fans and experts alike.

These remarkable pieces offer lasting insight that, like sport itself, excites, inspires, and never fails to reveal the truth about ourselves.

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For the Conversationalist

My Conversations With Canadians, by Lee Maracle

About the book: On her first book tour at the age of 26, Lee Maracle was asked a question from the audience, one she couldn't possibly answer at that moment. But she has been thinking about it ever since. As time has passed, she has been asked countless similar questions, all of them too big to answer, but not too large to contemplate. These questions, which touch upon subjects such as citizenship, segregation, labour, law, prejudice and reconciliation (to name a few), are the heart of My Conversations with Canadians.

In prose essays that are both conversational and direct, Maracle seeks not to provide any answers to these questions she has lived with for so long. Rather, she thinks through each one using a multitude of experiences she's had as a First Nations leader, a woman, a mother, and grandmother over the course of her life. Lee Maracle's My Conversations with Canadians presents a tour de force exploration into the writer's own history and a reimagining of the future of our nation.

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For the Bookish Teen

Saints and Misfits, by S.K. Ali

About the book: There are three kinds of people in my world:

1. Saints, those special people moving the world forward. Sometimes you glaze over them. Or, at least, I do. They’re in your face so much, you can’t see them, like how you can’t see your nose.

2. Misfits, people who don’t belong. Like me—the way I don’t fit into Dad’s brand-new family or in the leftover one composed of Mom and my older brother, Mama’s-Boy-Muhammad. Also, there’s Jeremy and me. Misfits. Because although, alliteratively speaking, Janna and Jeremy sound good together, we don’t go together. Same planet, different worlds. But sometimes worlds collide and beautiful things happen, right?

3. Monsters. Well, monsters wearing saint masks, like in Flannery O’Connor’s stories. Like the monster at my mosque. People think he’s holy, untouchable, but nobody has seen under the mask. Except me.

December 4, 2017
Books mentioned in this post
25 Years of 22 Minutes

25 Years of 22 Minutes

An Unauthorizedl Oral History of This Hour Has 22 Minutes, As Told by Cast Members, Staff, and Guests
edition:eBook
tagged : political
More Info
As A Dog Thinketh

As A Dog Thinketh

Daily Words of Wisdom for Dog People
edition:Paperback
also available: eBook
tagged : essays, training
More Info
Apron Strings

Apron Strings

Navigating Food and Family in France, Italy, and China
edition:Paperback
also available: eBook
More Info
Dead Reckoning

Dead Reckoning

The Untold Story of the Northwest Passage
edition:Hardcover
also available: eBook
tagged :
More Info
Body on Baker Street

Body on Baker Street

A Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery
edition:Hardcover
More Info
Sputnik’s Children

Sputnik’s Children

A Novel
edition:Paperback
also available: eBook
tagged : literary
More Info
Your Heart is the Size of Your Fist

Your Heart is the Size of Your Fist

A Doctor Reflects on Ten Years at a Refugee Clinic
edition:eBook
also available: Paperback
More Info
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