Most Anticipated: 2019 Fall Nonfiction Preview

The second instalment of our fall preview is that amazing catch-all: nonfiction. New books about family, mountain climbing, millionaires murdered or missing, travel, history, water, climate change, sexism and #MeToo, disability, the mosquito and the sasquatch, and so much more. 

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Dance Me to the End (September), by Alison Acheson, is the profoundly honest and intensely personal story of a woman who cares for her husband after his devastating terminal diagnosis of ALS. Polepole (October), by Erinne Adachi and Angela DeJong (the title comes from a Swahili term meaning “slowly, slowly,” which is what porters on Kilimanjaro say as you climb the mountain), is a comprehensive long-distance-mountain-trek training manual relevant for anyone looking to engage in one of the more defining moments of their life. Marion Agnew's debut is the essay collection Reverberations (October), a reflection on the endurance of love and family. And Major Misconduct: The Human Cost of Fighting in Hockey (September), by Jeremy Allingham, explores the lives of those who bare-knuckle boxed on ice for a living and investigates the human cost we're willing to tolerate in the name of hockey fighting.

In her 2019 CBC Massey Lectures, Power Shift: The Longest Revolution (September), award-winning author, journalist, and human rights activist Sally Armstrong illustrates how the status of the female half of humanity is crucial to our collective surviving and thriving. In Whose Water Is It, Anyway?: Taking Water Protection into Public Hands (September), renowned water justice activist Maude Barlow recounts her own education in water issues as she and her fellow grassroots water warriors woke up to the immense pressures facing water in a warming world. And Governor General Award-winning historian Jean Barman describes how a family of mixed Indigenous and white descent faced prejudice in BC, a long-ignored aspect of the province’s history in Invisible Generations: Irene Kelleher’s Story of Living between Indigenous and White (January).

Diane Beresford-Kroeger's To Speak for the Trees (September) is not only the story of a remarkable scientist and her ideas, it harvests all of her powerful knowledge about why trees matter, and why trees are a viable, achievable solution to climate change. With lively, informative contributions by both scholars and activists, Bucking Conservatism (August), edited by Leon Crane Bear, Larry Hannant, and Karissa Robyn Patton, highlights the individuals and groups who challenged Alberta’s conservative status quo in the 1960s and 70s. Nekt wikuhpon ehpit: Once there lived a woman: The Painting, Poetry and Politics of Shirley Bear (June) chronicles the sources, inspiration, and personal circumstances that have shaped Shirley Bear's visual art, poetry, and political activism and presents the integral relationship amongst these important activities in her life. Deni Ellis Béchard's new book is My Favourite Crime: Essays and Journalism from Around the World (October), including articles about Cuba, Colombia, Iraq, Rwanda, Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Québec, and the United States. And Matthew J. Bellamy traces the evolution of Canada's Labatt brewery from its colonial beginnings until its sale to Belgium-based Interbrew in Brewed in the North (October). 

Seasoned writers align with emerging writers who share from a worldview promoting anti-racism, anti-sexism, anti-ageism, and anti-ableism, and more in Radiant Voices: 23 Feminist Essays for Rising Up Inspired by EMMA Talks, compiled by Carla Bergman. Carol Bishop Gwyn’s Art and Rivalry: The Marriage of Mary and Christopher Pratt (October) is the unauthorized biography of Canada’s most famous artist couple and the rivalry that drove them. Sonja Boon’s What the Oceans Remember (September) shows the multiplicity of identities and origins that can shape the way we understand our histories and our own selves. And 7th Cousins: An Automythography (October), documents the walk (and performance text it generated) taken by Erin Brubacher and Christine Brubaker in July 2015 as they traced the migration route of their Mennonite ancestors from Pennsylvania to Ontario through the American Bible Belt.

All the Wrong Moves (August) traces Sasha Chapin’s two-year journey around the globe—to tournaments in Bangkok, Hyderabad, and LA—in search of chess glory. Following up The Tomboy Survival Guide (shortlisted for the Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction, named an American Library Association Stonewall Honor Book, and longlisted for Canada Reads), Ivan Coyote takes on the patriarchy and the political, as well as the intimate and the personal, in Rebent Sinner (October), a collection of beguiling and revealing stories of what it means to be trans and non-binary today. And for the first time, bestselling novelist, columnist, and humorist Lesley Crewe’s finest newspaper columns are collected in one place: Are You Kidding Me?! Chronicles of an Ordinary Life (September).

Breaking the Ocean (August), by Annahid Dashtgard, introduces a unique perspective on how racism and systemic discrimination result in emotional scarring and ongoing PTSD, and is a wake-up call to acknowledge our differences, offering new possibilities for healing and understanding through the revolutionary power of resilience. The Missing Millionaire (September), by Katie Daubs, is the gripping true crime story of the disappearance of a millionaire, Ambrose Small, from Toronto in 1919, a case that captivated the city and that remains one of its great unsolved mysteries. And Susan Doherty’s The Ghost Garden (May) illuminates a world most of us try not to see: the daily lives of the severely mentally ill, who are medicated, marginalized, locked away, and shunned.

Robyn Doolittle brings a personal voice to what has been a turning point for most women: the #MeToo movement and its aftermath in Had It Coming: What's Fair in the Age of #MeToo? (September). In her memoir Waiting for the Rain (October), Lamees Al Ethari traces her transition from an idyllic childhood in a large extended Iraqi family to the relative stability of family exilic life in Canada. My Father, Fotune-Tellers and Me (October) is a resilient and witty story of fate, free will and superstition by award-winning author Eufemia Fantetti. And from an award-winning essayist and acclaimed poet Carla Funk comes Every Little Scrap and Wonder (October), a radiant, observant, and warmly funny memoir about childhood, family, and small-town life. 

Bestselling memoirist Catherine Gildiner, who is also a therapist, creates moving portraits of five of her most memorable patients—men and women she considers psychological heroes—in Good Morning Monster (September). Debi Goodwin’s A Victory Garden for Trying Times (September) is a journey through a year of love and despair, and a testament to healing in the natural cycles of the earth. Photography, sculpture, woven work, folk art, painting, found art, and more are found within Ekpahak: Where the Tide Ends/Où la Marée Aboutit (June), a collaboration with Terry Graff and Alan Syliboy. A gold mine, a millionaire, an island paradise, an unsolved murder, a missing fortune: Murdered Midas (September) is the story of the infamous Sir Harry Oakes as only Charlotte Gray can tell it. 

In Possess the Air: Fascism, Freedom, and the Fate of Mussolini’s Rome (September) Taras Grescoe tells the inspiring true story of political resistance in Mussolini’s Italy. Dr. Jen Gunter's The Vagina Bible (August) is the ultimate guide to everything a person needs to know about the vagina and vulva. South Away (October) is an adventure story of Meaghan Marie Hackinen’s bicycle trip with her sister from Terrace, BC along the West Coast to (almost) the tip of the Baja Peninsula. Max Hamon offers a new view of Louis Riel's life and a rethinking of the history of colonialism in The Audacity of His Enterprise (December). Identity and Industry, by Mark Hayward, explores how ethnocultural media in Canada developed between the end of the Second World War and the arrival of digital media. And taking you to places no one has ever gone before, while blending memoir, adventure and science, Jill Heinerth's Into the Planet (September) is a riveting account of one of the most dangerous yet exhilarating pursuits in the world: diving to the centre of the earth.

Under the Nakba Tree: Fragments of a Palestinian Family in Canada (September), by Mowafa Said Househ, compares and contrasts the lives of immigrants with the lives of those who live on occupied land and considers the struggles that define them both. In Things No One Else Can Teach Us (October), Humble the Poet once again flips the conventional script for happiness and success, this time showing us how our hardest moments can be our greatest teachers. And from one of Canada’s most popular and connected political journalists, John Ivison, Trudeau: The Education of a Prime Minister (August) is an unblinkered warts-and-all look at Justin Trudeau and the Liberal government’s record in power.

Celebrated biographer James King tells the story of artist Michael Snow in Michael Snow: Lives and Works (October). Naomi Klein pairs a decade of her writing on our acute environmental decline with new material on the staggeringly high stakes of what we choose to do next, offering a politically viable, just, sustainable path forward in On Fire: The Burning Case for a New Deal (September). Amanda Jetté Knox’s Love Lives Here (July) is an inspirational story of accepting and embracing two trans people in a family—a family that shows what’s possible when you “lead with love.” And in the coming-of-age memoir Every Boy I Ever Kissed (July), Nellwyn Lampert looks back on her experiences with humour and insight to explore what true liberation and empowerment may look like for today’s young women. 

Darryl Leroux's Distorted Descent (September) brings to light to how claims to an “Indigenous” identity are used politically to oppose actual, living Indigenous peoples, exposing along the way the shifting politics of whiteness, white settler colonialism, and white supremacy. In the vein of Erik Larson’s Isaac’s Storm and Dead Wake comes The Wake (August), an incredible true story of destruction and survival in Newfoundland by the award-winning novelist and journalist Linden MacIntyre. Keith Maillard’s memoir Fatherless (October) is a suspenseful work of historical reconstruction—a social history often reading like a detective story—as well as a psychologically acute portrait of the impact of a father’s absence. In Food Security: From Excess to Enough (November), Ralph C. Martin shows how Canadians can move from excess to enough in terms of food production and consumption. And in Tony McAleer’s A Cure For Hate (October) breaks commonly held stereotypes and delivers valuable insights into how regular people are drawn to violent extremism, how the ideology takes hold, and the best ways to help someone leave hate behind.

Highway of Tears (September) is Jessica McDiarmid’s piercing exploration of our ongoing failure to provide justice for missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, and testament to their families and communities’ unwavering determination to find it. In An Earthling's Guide to Outer Space (October), Bob McDonald takes readers on a tour of our galaxy, unravelling the mysteries of the universe and helping us navigate our place among the stars. Weaving together family history, genetic discovery, and scenes from her life, novelist Ami McKay tells the compelling, true-science story of her own family’s unsettling legacy of hereditary cancer in Daughter of Family G: A Memoir of Cancer Genes, Love and Fate (September). And Catherine McKercher reconstructs her brother’s story and explores the clinical and public debates about institutionalization and the pressure to "shut away" children with disabilities in her book Shut Away: When Down Syndrome Was a Life Sentence (September). 

Former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada Beverley McLachlin offers an intimate and revealing look at her life, from her childhood in the Alberta foothills to her career on the Supreme Court in Truth Be Told (September). Injichaag: My Soul in Story (October) shares the life story of Anishinaabe artist Rene Meshake in stories, poetry, and Anishinaabemowin “word bundles” that serve as a dictionary of Ojibwe poetics. Morning Glory on the Vine (October) is a gorgeous compendium of Joni Mitchell's handwritten lyrics and drawings, originally handcrafted as a gift for a select group of friends in 1971 and now available to the public for the first time. The Trail of Nenaboozhoo (September), by Isaac Murdoch, is a book of art and storytelling that preserve the legends of the Anishinaabe people, each story accompanied with illustrations by Isaac Murdoch and Christi Belcourt. And Constructive Negativity: Prize Culture, Evaluations, and Disability in Canadian Poetry (October) combines Shane Neilson's lived experience of disability with prize culture theory in order to create that rarest of creatures: criticism as page-turner.

In Lost Feast (October), food expert Lenore Newman sets out to look at the history of the foods we have loved to death and what that means for the culinary paths we choose for the future. With her memoir Falling for Myself (October), Dorothy Ellen Palmer reckons with her past and with everyone’s future, and allows herself to fall and get up and fall again, knees bloody, but determined to seek disability justice. In You Are Awesome: 9 Secrets to Getting Stronger and Living an Intentional Life (November), Neil Pasricha shares a new approach to resilience in the form of nine accessible, story-based, science-backed secrets that will help you live stronger and with intention. A nonfiction investigation into masculinity, Liz Plank’s For The Love of Men (September) provides actionable steps for how to be a man in the modern world, while also exploring how being a man in the world has evolved. And Joanne Pocock’s Surrender (September) explores the changing landscape of the American West and the outsider eco-cultures that have taken root in an era of increasing climatic disruption.

Anna Mehler Paperny chronicles with courageous honesty and uncommon eloquence her experience of depression and her quest to explore what we know and don't know about this disease in Hello I Want to Die Please Fix Me (August) First loves, first songs, and the drugs and reckless high school exploits that fuelled them—music icons Tegan and Sara share an intimate and raw account of their formative years in High School (September). David Adams Richards’ Murder and Other Essays (October) is rich with revelations and insights, deepening our appreciation for this major talent and offering a provoking thought on every page. In a quest to mend their relationship, Katrine Rosen and her husband embark on a year long, 13,000 kilometre cycling tour with the hope of strengthening their commitment to one another, as she documents in her memoir With You By Bike: One Couple’s Life-Changing Journey Around the World (October). And from Robert William Sandford, one of the world’s foremost authorities on the connections between water, landscape, and our changing climate, comes Rain Comin’ Down: Water, Memory and Identity in a Changed World (October), an intimate look at what drives one man’s obsession with the world’s most precious resource.

Renowned author Candace Savage investigates the dark history of her prairie house in Strangers in the House: A History of Bigotry and Belonging (September). Blanket Toss Under Midnight Sun (October) is a revelatory portrait of eight Indigenous communities from across North America, shown through never-before-published archival photographs—a gorgeous extension of Paul Seesequasis’s popular social media project. Attentive to the majesty of the natural world, Beyond the Trees (October), by Adam Shoalts, captures the ache for adventure as only an adventurer can, the story of his nearly 4,000 km solo journey across Canada’s arctic. And through an original retelling of the Indigenous commercial and social networks that existed in the northeast before European contact, Georges Sioui shows how the Wendat Confederacy was at the geopolitical centre of a commonwealth based on peace, trade, and reciprocity in Eatenoha (September). 

Written over a period of more than a decade, The Nothing That Is (October), by Johanna Skibsrud, is a collection about the very concept of "nothing," approached from a variety of angles and in a variety of ways. In Let ’Em Howl: Lessons from a Life in Backroom Politics (September), Patricia Sorbara shares her best lessons from the back room—the ones that sustained her in the darkest hours—illustrated by stories featuring key political figures in Canadian politics. The healing power of music is at the heart of The Awesome Music Project Canada: Songs of Hope and Happiness, by Terry Stuart and Robert Carli (October), a collection of intimate stories from Canadians of all stripes—from teachers and cab drivers to bestselling authors and global pop stars. And Allen Smutylo’s The Mongolian Chronicles (October) recounts a story of an untamed world, set within the context of Mongolia's past—the long shadow cast by the empire of Genghis Khan, the deprivations of early twentieth century warlords-cum-mystics—and its protean present, where ancient customs and shamanistic beliefs exist among an increasingly urbanized people.

The North-West is Our Mother (September), written by Jean Teillet, who is the great-grandniece of Louis Riel, is a popular and engaging history of the Metis, the “forgotten people,” telling their story up to the present era of national reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. In From the Ashes: My Story of Being Métis, Homeless, and Finding My Way (August), Jesse Thistle—once a high school dropout and now a rising Indigenous scholar—chronicles his life on the streets and how he overcame trauma and addiction to discover the truth about who he is. And in I Hope We Choose Love: A Trans Girl's Notes from the End of the World (September), a heartbreaking yet hopeful collection of personal essays and prose poems, blending the confessional, political, and literary, acclaimed poet and essayist Kai Cheng Thom dives deep into the questions that haunt social movements today.

Girls Need Not Apply (August), by Kelly S. Thompson, chronicles the experiences of a female captain serving in the Canadian Armed Forces, and her journey to make space for herself in a traditionally masculine world. Peter Thompson examines the ways in which contemporary authors, filmmakers, and artists explore the lingering consequences of Nova Scotia's boom-and-bust cycles of mining and manufacturing in Nights Below Foord Street (December). With her just-right combination of sensitivity, vulnerability, and hilarity, comedian and podcaster Alicia Tobin takes readers through the funniest parts of sadness and the saddest parts of funniness in So You’re a Little Sad, So What? (October). 

Un-Canadian: Prejudice and Discrimination Against Muslims in Canada (October), by Graham Truelove, is a provocative warning to Canadians that the values they cherish are being eroded through a pattern of political, legal and social prejudice directed towards Muslims in Canada. Unbecoming Nationalism (September), by Helene Vosters, investigates the power of commemorative performances in the production of nationalist narratives. BlackLife (June), by Rinaldo Walcott and Idil Abdillahi, seeks to place the activist work of Black Lives Matter Toronto in a broader context of Black Canadian activist struggles and Black struggles globally. And The Clean Body (November), by Peter Ward, explores one of the most fundamental and pervasive cultural changes in Western history since the seventeenth century: the personal hygiene revolution.

Little by little, Jenny Heijun Wills learns and relearns her stories and those of her biological kin, piecing together a fragmented life into something resembling a whole in her memoir on transnational adoption, Older Sister. Not Necessary Related (September). The Mosquito (August), by Timothy C. Winegard, is the untold story of the mosquito’s reign through human history and her indelible impact on our modern world order. And John Zada goes in search of the sasquatch in an evocative work of nature writing that traverses the world’s largest temperate rainforest, In the Valleys of the Noble Beyond (August). 

July 22, 2019
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