Books for the Holidays Part Three

There's still time to find that perfect holiday gift for your special someone, and to that end, we're recommending more books for every kind of someone on your list. 

*****

For the Armchair Sleuth

Glass Houses, by Louise Penny

About the book: When a mysterious figure appears in Three Pines one cold November day, Armand Gamache and the rest of the villagers are at first curious. Then wary. Through rain and sleet, the figure stands unmoving, staring ahead.

From the moment its shadow falls over the village, Gamache, now Chief Superintendent of the Sureté du Québec, suspects the creature has deep roots and a dark purpose. Yet he does nothing. What can he do? Only watch and wait. And hope his mounting fears are not realized.

But when the figure vanishes overnight and a body is discovered, it falls to Gamache to discover if a debt has been paid or levied.

Months later, on a steamy July day as the trial for the accused begins in Montréal, Chief Superintendent Gamache continues to struggle with actions he set in motion that bitter November, from which there is no going back. More than the accused is on trial. Gamache’s own conscience is standing in judgment.

In Glass Houses, her latest utterly gripping book, number-one New York Times bestselling author Louise Penny shatters the conventions of the crime novel to explore what Gandhi called the court of conscience. A court that supersedes all others.

*

For the Pal Who's Mourning the End of Canada 150

Is Canada Even Real, by J.C. Villamere

About the book: This quirky ode to a quirky land is a humorous nostalgia trip and a fun Canadian history lesson couched in a hipster quiz book.

If you’ve ever wondered:

Why is the inuksuk more revered than Wheelchair Jimmy?
Does the iconic beaver really represent us better than The Littlest Hobo?
Is everyone going canoeing without me or is canoeing way less of a thing than it’s made out to be?
then this book is for you.

Is Canada even real? It’s a question that’s being asked more and more, thanks to our waterproof, see-through, supposedly maple-scented currency and our improbably hot prime minister’s assertion that Santa lives here.

In the age of Google Maps and #factcheck, how could the existence of Canada be questioned? And yet how could a nation that’s the home of toboggans, Drake, and KD exist in the same realm as, say, Belgium or Niger?

Is Canada Even Real? examines the cultural factors behind the twenty-first-century monolithic myth of Canada, a nation that is lovable and real—if only in your imagination.

*

For the Island Dweller

On Island: Life Among the Coast Dwellers, by Pat Carney

About the book: In this story collection, Pat Carney follows the rhythms of day-to-day life in coastal BC. Featuring a revolving cast of characters—the newly retired couple, the church warden, the musician, the small-town girl with big city dreams—Carney’s keen observations of the personalities and dramas of coastal life are instantly recognizable to readers who are familiar with life in a small community. With her narrative of dock fights, pet shows, family feuds, logging camps and the ever-present tension between islanders and property-owning “off-islanders,” Carney’s witty and perceptive voice describes how the islanders weather the storms of coastal life.

Carney writes evocatively of the magical landscape of the British Columbia coast, where she has lived and worked for five decades. At the same time, she addresses the less-idyllic moments that can also characterize coastal life: power outages, winter storms, isolation. On Island brings the West Coast landscape—human and natural—to life, and gives islanders and mainland dwellers alike a taste of what it means to be “on island.”

*

For the HER-storian

Amah and the Silk-Winged Pigeons, by Jocelyn Cullity

About the book: Prior to 1857, the year it was engulfed by tragic historical conflict, the cosmopolitan city of Lucknow thrived on open-mindedness, great prosperity and pride, the city a magnet for musicians, poets, painters and chefs, drawing the finest cultural talent from other parts of India and the wider world. It proved too tempting a prize for the English East India Company not to attempt a takeover of the Kingdom of Awadh with its capital city, Lucknow. The devastation and disaster that came to be known as "the Red Year" was a turning point in the history of Indian colonialism. It gave birth to the self-conscious, anti-colonial nationalism that would define the next ninety years, eventually leading to Gandhi's nonviolent measures to oust the British from India once and for all.

Synthesizing a wealth of meticulous historical research, Amah and the Silk-Winged Pigeons plunges the reader into the complex drama and historical dilemmas faced by both ordinary and extraordinary Lakhnavis (people of Lucknow) at the time. The story is centered on a group of strong, independent women who take action to defend their world and way of life. The novel's protagonist, Amah, is a member of the Rose Platoon, an elite corps of female military guards of African descent who have protected Lucknow's royalty for generations. Appalled by the mounting affronts and threats to her absent ex-husband's kingdom, Begam Hazrat Mahal, one of Lucknow's former queens and also of African descent, enlists Amah to be her eyes and ears and help coordinate resistance to the British takeover.

When the women decide to take on the English colonists who declare rule, what will be the ultimate price of the women's loyalty to the royal family and to the place they've grown to love?

*

For the Woke Millennial

Are We Screwed?: How a New Generation is Fighting to Survive Climate Change, by Geoff Dembicki

About the book: The Millennial generation could be first to experience the doomsday impacts of climate change. It's also the last generation able to do something about them. With time ticking down, 31-year-old journalist Geoff Dembicki journeyed to Silicon Valley, Canada's tar sands, Washington, DC, Wall Street and the Paris climate talks to find out if he should hope or despair. What he learned surprised him. Millions of people his age want to radically change our world, and they are at the forefront of resistance to the politicians and CEOs steering our planet towards disaster.

In Are We Screwed?, Dembicki gives a firsthand account of this movement, and the shift in generational values behind it, through the stories of young people fighting for their survival. It begins with a student who abandons society to live in the rainforest and ends with a Muslim feminist fomenting a political revolution. We meet a Brooklyn artist terrifying the oil industry, a Norwegian scientist running across the melting Arctic and an indigenous filmmaker challenging the worldview of Mark Zuckerberg.

Are We Screwed? makes a bold argument in these troubled times: A safer and more equitable future is more achievable than we've been led to believe. This book will forever change how you view the biggest existential challenge of our era and redefine the generation now battling against the odds to solve it.

*

For the Epistolary History Lover

A Queer Love Story: The Letters of Jane Rule and Rick Bébout, edited by Marilyn Schuster

About the book: A Queer Love Story presents the first fifteen years of letters between Jane Rule—novelist and the first widely recognized “public lesbian” in North America—and Rick Bébout, journalist and editor with the Toronto-based Body Politic, an important incubator of LGBT thought and activism. Rule lived in a remote rural community on Galiano Island in British Columbia but wrote a column for the magazine. Bébout resided in and was devoted to Toronto’s gay village. At turns poignant, scintillating, and incisive, their exchanges include ruminations on queer life and the writing life even as they document some of the most pressing LGBT issues of the ’80s and ’90s, including HIV/AIDs, censorship, and state policing of desire.

*

For the Sweet-tooth

All the Sweet Things, by Renee Kohlman

About the book: Winner of a Gourmand World Cookbook Award for best First Book in English Canada.

More than 100 recipes for desserts and baked goods from the kitchen of Renée Kohlman, named one of the Canada's top food bloggers by the National Post.

All the Sweet Things is full of delectable desserts and wholesome baked goods with recipes for muffins, cookies, cakes, pies, custards, pastries, truffles, and ice cream. Reinvent last night's dessert for this morning's breakfast, whip up your very first pie, and wow your colleagues, friends, and family during the holidays by gifting them with impressive baked goods. With wit and warmth doled out in equal measure, Renée acknowledges that baking can be intimidating, but assures you that whether you're a beginner baker or a seasoned pro, each recipe is doable and delicious.

Offering a list of pantry essentials and useful tools and equipment, a photograph to accompany every recipe, variations for gluten-free bakers, and essays written in Kohlman's signature style, this gorgeous new cookbook will pull you into the kitchen to bake, then back to the couch to curl up and read.

*

For the Cat Person

Book Cover Bolt and Keel

Bolt and Keel, by Kayleen VanderRee

About the book: Two kittens were abandoned in a park. The women who found them were about to head off on a mountain trek. And the animal shelter was closed. The cats seemed game so their intrepid rescuers brought Bolt and Keel (so named) along for the adventure. It was the first of many. Kayleen VanderRee, an avid photographer, chronicled their trips on Instagram,and soon the cats' adventures went viral. Stars were born!Bolt and Keel invites readers to join the cats (and their humans) on a striking photographic journey through British Columbia's beautiful forests, mountains, and rivers. With the cats sitting in the bow of a canoe, perched on Danielle's shoulder, or navigating snowy hiking trails, Kayleen's images and charming captions capture an exploration of the natural world that any house cat—and any cat lover or adventure seeker—would envy.

*

For the Dystopian Conspiracy Theorist

Autonomous, by Annalee Newitz

About the book: When anything can be owned, how can we be free

Earth, 2144. Jack is an anti-patent scientist turned drug pirate, traversing the world in a submarine as a pharmaceutical Robin Hood, fabricating cheap scrips for poor people who can’t otherwise afford them. But her latest drug hack has left a trail of lethal overdoses as people become addicted to their work, doing repetitive tasks until they become unsafe or insane.

Hot on her trail, an unlikely pair: Eliasz, a brooding military agent, and his robotic partner, Paladin. As they race to stop information about the sinister origins of Jack’s drug from getting out, they begin to form an uncommonly close bond that neither of them fully understand.

And underlying it all is one fundamental question: Is freedom possible in a culture where everything, even people, can be owned?

*

For the Activist: 

Engagement Organizing:The Old Art and New Science of Winning Campaigns, by Matt Price

About the book: What separates campaigns that win from those that don’t? At any given moment, there are hundreds of campaigns under way that seek to persuade citizens or decision makers to think, act, or vote in a certain way. Engagement Organizing shows how to combine old-school people power with new digital tools and data to win campaigns today. Over a dozen case studies from NGOs, unions, and electoral campaigns highlight this work in practice. At a time of growing concern about what the future holds, this book is an indispensable guide for seasoned campaigners as well as those just getting started, who want to apply the principles of engagement organizing to their own campaigns.

*

For the Mom Who Volunteers Too Much

Class Mom, by Laurie Gelman

About the book: Laurie Gelman's clever debut novel about a year in the life of a kindergarten class mom—a brilliant send-up of the petty and surprisingly cutthroat terrain of parent politics. 

Jen Dixon is not your typical Kansas City kindergarten class mom—or mom in general. Jen already has two college-age daughters by two different (probably) musicians, and it's her second time around the class mom block with five-year-old Max—this time with a husband and father by her side. Though her best friend and PTA President sees her as the wisest candidate for the job (or oldest), not all of the other parents agree.

From recording parents' response times to her emails about helping in the classroom, to requesting contributions of "special" brownies for curriculum night, not all of Jen's methods win approval from the other moms. Throw in an old flame from Jen's past, a hyper-sensitive "allergy mom," a surprisingly sexy kindergarten teacher, and an impossible-to-please Real Housewife-wannabe, causing problems at every turn, and the job really becomes much more than she signed up for.

Relatable, irreverent, and hilarious in the spirit of Maria Semple this is a fresh, welcome voice in fiction—the kind of novel that real moms clamor for, and a vicarious thrill-read for all mothers, who will be laughing as they are liberated by Gelman's acerbic truths.

*

For the Enviro-Sleuth

Flush: A Robin McFarland Mystery, by Sky Curtis

About the book: Robin MacFarland is a somewhat eccentric and highly intelligent journalist for the Home and Garden section of a Toronto paper, who at age fifty-five looks aghast in the mirror and pronounces herself, "Old. Fat. Alcoholic. Alone. Failure." She resolves to lose weight, quit drinking, and try online dating, although not, perhaps in quite that order. The intrigue begins when Robin chooses to cover a water cooling system conference where she thinks there will be a lot of men. By coincidence, her first online date is with the owner of the water company who is found dead after they have coffee. Dauntless, Robin wades into what is now a murder investigation, under the supervision of her new editor, and with the help of her best friend, Cindy, a crime reporter. The novel is framed around a plot to steal Canada's fresh water, but it hinges on Robin's hilarious journey through the middle portion of her life, a serious social issue, and a highly ironic murder weapon.

*

For Anyone in a Strop About Tax Law

Give and Take: The Citizen-Taxpayer and the Rise of Canadian Democracy, by Shirley Tillotson

About the book: A book about tax history that’s a real page-turner? Give and Take is full of surprises. A Canadian millionaire who embraced the new federal income tax in 1917. A socialist hero who deplored the burden of big government. Most surprising, twentieth century taxes have made us richer, in political engagement and more. Taxes make the power of the state obvious, and Canadians often resisted that power. But this is not simply a tale of tax rebels. Tillotson argues that Canadians also made real contributions to democracy when they taxed wisely and paid willingly.

*

For Your Friend Who Wants to Change the World

Beautiful Rising: Creative Resistance from the Global South, edited by Juman Abujbara; Dave Oswald Mitchell; Marcel Taminato & Andrew Boyd

About the book: Harare, Dhaka, Kampala, and Oaxaca, Beautiful Risingincludes stories of the Ugandan organizers who smuggled two yellow-painted pigs into parliament to protest corruption; the Burmese students’ 360-mile long march against undemocratic and overly centralized education reforms; the Lebanese “honk at parliament” campaign against politicians who had clung to power long after their term had expired; and much more.

*

For the Johnny Cash Fan

The Man Who Carried Cash, by Julie Chadwick

About the book: Before there was Johnny and June, there was Johnny and Saul. The Man Who Carried Cash chronicles a relationship that was both volatile and affectionate between Johnny Cash and his manager, Saul Holiff. From roadside taverns to the roaring crowds at Madison Square Garden, from wrecked cars and jail cells all the way to the White House, the story of Johnny and Saul is a portrait of two men from different worlds who were more alike than either cared to admit.

Saul handled the bookings and the no-shows, the divorce and the record deals, drugs, overdoses, and arrests. He was there for the absolute worst of times, but also for the best: Carnegie Hall, Folsom Prison, “A Boy Named Sue,” and Cash’s hit television series. But in 1973, at the zenith of Cash’s career, Saul quit. Until now, no one knew why.

*

For the Free Speech Defender

Censored: A Literary History of Subversion and Control, by Matthew Fellon and Kathryn Inglis

About the book: When Henry Vizetelly was imprisoned in 1889 for publishing the novels of Émile Zola in English, the problem was not just Zola’s French candour about sex—it was that Vizetelly’s books were cheap, and ordinary people could read them. Censored exposes the role that power plays in censorship.

In twenty-five chapters focusing on a wide range of texts, including the Bible, slave narratives, modernist classics, comic books, and Chicana/o literature, Matthew Fellion and Katherine Inglis chart the forces that have driven censorship in the United Kingdom and the United States for over six hundred years, from fears of civil unrest and corruptible youth to the oppression of various groups—religious and political dissidents, same-sex lovers, the working class, immigrants, women, racialized people, and those who have been incarcerated or enslaved. The authors also consider the weight of speech, and when restraints might be justified. Rich with illustrations that bring to life the personalities and the books that feature in its stories, Censored takes readers behind the scenes into the courtroom battles, legislative debates, public campaigns, and private exchanges that have shaped the course of literature.

A vital reminder that the freedom of speech has always been fragile and never enjoyed equally by all, Censored offers lessons from the past to guard against threats to literature in a new political era.

December 18, 2017
Books mentioned in this post
Is Canada Even Real?

Is Canada Even Real?

How a Nation Built on Hobos, Beavers, Weirdos, and Hip Hop Convinced the World to Beliebe
edition:eBook
also available: Paperback
More Info
On Island

On Island

Life Among the Coast Dwellers
edition:Paperback
also available: Paperback eBook
More Info
Are We Screwed?

Are We Screwed?

How a New Generation is Fighting to Survive Climate Change
edition:Hardcover
also available: Paperback
More Info
A Queer Love Story

A Queer Love Story

The Letters of Jane Rule and Rick Bébout
edited by Marilyn Schuster
foreword by Margaret Atwood
edition:eBook
also available: Hardcover
More Info
All the Sweet Things

All the Sweet Things

Baked Goods and Stories from the Kitchen of Sweetsugarbean
edition:Hardcover
tagged : baking, cakes, desserts
More Info
Autonomous

Autonomous

A Novel
edition:Hardcover
also available: Paperback
tagged : high tech
More Info
Engagement Organizing

Engagement Organizing

The Old Art and New Science of Winning Campaigns
edition:Paperback
also available: eBook
More Info
Class Mom

Class Mom

A Novel
edition:Paperback
also available: Hardcover
More Info
Flush

Flush

A Robin MacFarland Mystery
edition:Paperback
More Info
Give and Take

Give and Take

The Citizen-Taxpayer and the Rise of Canadian Democracy
edition:eBook
also available: Hardcover
More Info

edition:
also available: Hardcover Book Book
tagged :
More Info
The Man Who Carried Cash

The Man Who Carried Cash

Saul Holiff, Johnny Cash, and the Making of an American Icon
edition:Paperback
also available: eBook
More Info
Censored

Censored

A Literary History of Subversion and Control
edition:eBook
tagged :
More Info
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