Most Anticipated: Spring 2020 Nonfiction Preview

Art, bees, cooking, design, education, fairy tales, graphic memoirs, and so it goes. There's something for everyone in our nonfiction preview, featuring exciting debuts and new books by Jenna Butler, Jordan Abel, Billy-Ray Belcourt, Donald Savoie, Lauren McKeon, and more!  

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From Griffin Poetry Prize winner Jordan Abel comes Nishga (April), an autobiographical meditation on the complicated legacies that Canada’s reservation school system have cast on his grandparents’, his parents’ and his own generation. Coalesce (April), by mixed-media artist Barry Ace, is a fusion of distinct Anishinaabeg aesthetics of the Great Lakes region, using refuse from Western society’s technological and digital age to intentionally shift an object’s materiality and its accepted paradigm within the physical world. And Artistic Glass: One Studio & Fifty Years of Stained Glass (January) is a full-colour large format art book contextualizing the history of stained glass in Canada, showcasing the life and work of Josef Aigner, an artist and master craftsman whose 50-year career has had a lasting impact on the Canadian art landscape.

Zahra Al-harazi’s What It Takes: To Live And Lead with Purpose, Laughter, and Strength (January), travels from a small village in Yemen to a Calgary suburb, Al-harazi describing surviving two civil wars; her years as a young, stay-at-home immigrant mother with little education; and how she became one of Canada’s most successful businesswomen. Uncovering the core mechanism behind post-truth politics, Framing Risky Choices: Brexit and the Dynamics of High-Stakes Referendums (May), by Ece Özlem Atikcan, Éric Bélanger and Richard Nadeau, shows that the strength of an argument is not its empirical validity but its public appeal. And Paul Bae’s You Suck, Sir: Chronicles of a High School English Teacher and the Smartass Students Who Schooled Him (April) collects a series of hilarious and touching conversations between a teacher and his students.

Billy-Ray Belcourt, the youngest ever winner of the Griffin Prize, mines his own personal history to reconcile the world he was born into with the world that could be in The History of My Brief Body (May). No Place for a Woman? (June), by Anthony Berger, opens an illuminating window on life in twentieth-century Newfoundland, and preserves the work of a truly original Newfoundlander Ella Manuel, writer, broadcaster, journalist, advocate for peace, and staunch feminist. Drawing on everything from the modern science of memory to the romantic ideals of advertising, and traversing cultural movements from futurism to fascism to Facebook, cultural critic David Berry examines how the relentless search for self and overwhelming presence of mass media stokes the fires of nostalgia in On Nostalgia (May).

Talking to Strangers (April) is a graphic memoir and the true story of Marianne Boucher’s experiences in a cult that brainwashed her and took over her life. Featuring essays by renowned curators, artists, and scholars, Sylvia Grace Borda: Shifting Perspectives (April) constructs a conversation between the remembrance of place and current narratives in art history. And part memoir, part social history, Lois Braun’s essay collection Peculiar Lessons (June) explores the various physical and natural elements that form the backdrop to Braun’s memories of growing up on a farm in southern Manitoba in the mid-20th century.

After five years of working with bees on her farm in northern Alberta, Jenna Butler shares with the reader the rich experience of keeping hives in her memoir (and personal survival story) Revery: A Year of Bees (June). Lara Campbell follows the propaganda campaigns undertaken by suffrage organizations and traces the role of working-class women in the fight for political equality in Great Revolutionary Wave: Women and the Vote in British Columbia (May). And in Road Trips (June), Trevor Carolan shares tales of backpacking and flashpacking, from near home and far away, offering a harvest of encounters with intriguing people, remarkable landscapes and rich cultures—with side orders of tasty food and wine.

Book Cover Open House

Health policy expert Timothy Caulfield’s Relax, Dammit!: A User's Guide to the Age of Anxiety (April) is an entertaining and practical guide to getting through the day with less stress and better health. In his 100th book, Saltwater Chronicles (April), Lesley Choyce takes readers along as he writes about nearly everything under the sun from his home by the seas on the North Atlantic coast of Canada—all of it most ordinary and extraordinary at the same time. With humour and irreverence, Open House: A Life in 32 Moves (March), by Jane Christmas, reveals that what we think we gain by constantly moving house actually obscures the precious and vital parts of our lives that we leave behind.

Book Cover the Skin WE're In

In the tradition of Ta-Nehisi Coates, a bracing, provocative and perspective-shifting book from one of Canada’s most celebrated and uncompromising writers, Desmond Cole, The Skin We’re In (January) will spark a national conversation, influence policy and inspire activists. Kyle Conway confronts the communication challenges of our modern world by navigating the space between opposing perspectives in The Art of Communication in a Polarized World (March). George Copway’s Recollections of a Forest: The Life and Travels of Kah-ge-ga-gah-bowh (April) is the first book published by an Indigenous author in Canada, now published in a new edition with an afterword by Deanna Reder, comparing the differences between early versions of this classic as a way to think through discussions that are still pertinent today. And recognizing that reconciliation is not only an ultimate goal, but a decolonizing process of journeying in ways that embody everyday acts of resistance, resurgence, and solidarity, coupled with renewed commitments to justice, dialogue, and relationship-building, Pathways of Reconciliation (April), edited by Aimée Craft & Paulette Regan, helps readers find their way forward.

In Her Own Person: The Life of Mary Quayle Innis (March), Anne Innis Dagg uncovers the story of her mother’s extraordinary professional achievements at a time when gender expectations relegated her work to the background. In Show Me the Honey (April), accidental apiarist Dave Doroghy recounts his often tension-filled misadventures in beekeeping with self-deprecating humour and lightheartedness. Cameron Dueck seeks out isolated enclaves of Mennonites—and himself—on a motorcycle trip across the Americas in Menno Moto (March). Beloved Montreal author Louise Dupré conjures up the tragedies and joys of her mother's life against the backdrop of Quebec before, during and after the Quiet Revolution in her memoir A Woman of Her Time (March), translated by Liedewy Hawke. Are Quebecers less tolerant than other Canadians? Ongoing debate about secularism and religious symbols has led many observers to ask that very question, which Raquel Fletcher explores in Who Belongs in Quebec? (March). And in a world that now plays out on mobile devices, Bill Fox's Trump, Trudeau, Tweets, Truth (May) seeks a path through the debris left behind by recent seismic shifts in political media and technology

Through compelling interviews in Out of Milk: Infant Food Insecurity in a Rich Nation (June), Lesley Frank answers the breastfeeding paradox: why women who can least afford
 to buy infant formula are less likely to breastfeed. Based on many interviews and exhaustive archival research, Sherrill Grace’s TIFF: A Life of Timothy Findley (June) explores Findley’s life and work, the issues that consumed him, and his often profound depression over the evils of the 20th-century. In her memoir Borderline Shine (February), mental health therapist Connie Greshner breaks the silence and shame of intergenerational violence. And a mother must confront the unthinkable when her son is diagnosed with a rare medical condition in Patti M. Hall’s memoir Loving Large (April).

Book Cover Still

At once honest, brave, and uplifting, Emma Hanson’s Still (April) is about one woman’s search for her own definition of motherhood even as she faces one of life’s greatest challenges: learning to live after loss. Nothing But the Truth (April) is an intimate and provocative memoir by Canada’s top (and most controversial) defense lawyer, weaving Marie Henein’s personal story with her strongly held views on society’s most pressing issues, legal and otherwise. And part memoir, part travelogue, part investigation, Lean Out (March), tracks journalist Tara Henley’s journey from the heart of the connected city to the fringe communities that surround it, connecting the dots between anxiety and overwork to confront the biggest issues of our time.

Popular blogger and lifestyle influencer Monika Hibbs shares her favourite recipes and crafts to bring thoughtful touches to all of life’s moments—big or small—in Gather at Home: Over 100 Simple Recipes, DIYs, and Inspiration for a Year of Occasions (March). Nerve (April), by Eva Holland, offers readers an often personal, sometimes funny, and always rigorously researched journey through the science of facing our fears. And The Home Stretch: A Father, a Son, and All the Things They Never Talk About (May), by George K. Ilsey, is a memoir about aging parents who do not "go gently," and their adult children who must reckon with their own pasts before helping to guide their parents on their way.

In an era of community gardens, farmers markets and renewed interest in heirloom species, Saving Seeds: A Home Gardener’s Guide to Preserving Plant Biodiversity (January), by Dan Jason, is a timely call to ensure a more secure future for our seeds and ourselves. Green Meat? (April), by Ryan M. Katz-Rosene and Sarah J. Martin, teases out complexity in order to consider what roles animals and their products might play in the future as the world works towards new ways of living. James King’s last book, Early Snow (January), focuses on the nascent stages of Michael Snow’s career—which is comparatively underexamined in art commentary and critical literature—and demonstrates how wide-ranging were his achievements in painting, drawing, sculpture, foldage, cinema, and photography. And in I Overcame My Autism and All I Got Was This Lousy Anxiety Disorder (April), Sarah Kurchak examines the Byzantine steps she took to become “an autistic success story,” how the process almost ruined her life and how she is now trying to recover.

Resilience sounds like a positive thing, so why do we often use it against women? Tenacity and bravery might help us survive unimaginable horrors, but where are the spaces for anger and vulnerability? Julie S. Lalonde explores these questions in her memoir, Resilience is Futile (February), a challenge to the ways we understand trauma and resilience. Orwell in Cuba: How ‘1984’ Came to Be Published in Castro’s Twilight (May), by Frederick Lavoie, translated by Donald Winkler, is akin to a detective story, as the author investigates how and why a state-run publishing house came to release a new translation of George Orwell’s iconic anti-totalitarian novel Nineteen-Eighty-Four, formerly taboo, in 2016.

In Disfigured: On Fairy Tales, Disability, and Making Space (February), Amanda Leduc Challenges the ableism of fairy tales and offers new ways to celebrate the magic of all bodies. Fit Cities: My Quest to Improve the World's Health and Wellness—Including Yours (January) is a riveting memoir how public health pioneer Karen Lee and her many teams of brilliant collaborators uncovered, and set about eradicating, the causes of a pandemic of unhealthy living. Liz Levine creates a genuinely moving, funny, and inventive account of loss and grief, mental illness and suicide in Nobody Ever Talks About Anything But the End. (January). And Enemy Alien (March), a graphic history by Kassandra Luciuk and illustrated by nicole marie burton, tells the story of Canada’s first national internment operations through the eyes of John Boychuk, a Ukrainian internee held in Kapuskasing from 1914 to 1917.

In Find Your Pleasure (January), Cynthia Loyst (co-host of The Social) shows readers how to take the guilt out of pleasure and get to the heart of what you need and want in all aspects of life—from family, home, and work to love and sex. Harriet Alida Lye follows her debut novel The Honey Farm with a memoir, Natural Killer (April), about her early experience surviving a deadly form of cancer and her pregnancy years later, despite having been told that her chemotherapy treatment would likely make natural conception impossible. And in the essay collection Might Nature Be Canadian? (March), William A. Macdonald examines how Canada is leading the way in mutual accommodation on the world stage.

In 1989 the Berlin Wall fell, and Rory MacLean travelled from Berlin to Moscow, exploring lands that were—for most Brits and Americans—part of the forgotten half of Europe. 30 years on, MacLean traces his original journey backwards in the memoir Pravda Ha Ha (January). Chef Joshna Maharaj shows that institutional kitchens have the ability to produce good, nourishing food and social change in her book Take Back the Tray (May). And as the fight against climate change comes to a head, Mike Mason's Carbon Blues: Cars, Catastrophes, and the Battle for the Environment (April) searches for fruitful ways forward.

Eternity Martis’ They Said This Would Be Fun: Race, Campus Life, and Growing Up (March) captures the work that students of colour must do to fight for themselves in spaces where they are supposed to be safe to learn and grow. With irreverence and honesty—and a little help from her mother’s journals and self-published dating guide, plus hours of conversations recorded in her dying days—Rachel Matlow brings her inimitable mother to life on the page in Dead Mom Walking (March). And Sean McCann, founder of Great Big Sea, explores his alcoholism, childhood abuse, and fight to save his marriage, family and himself in his memoir, One Good Reason (April).

CBC radio host Duncan McCue takes readers on an evocative exploration of his teenage years, growing up in a mixed-race family, and the culture shock of moving to the unfamiliar North in his memoir The Shoe Boy (April). In Fearless: Girls With Dreams, Women with Vision (March), Janice McDonald—entrepreneur, speaker, and host of the Fearless Women podcast—brings together more than 100 extraordinary, unafraid women and asks them to look back at the moments in their youth that set them on the path to leadership. We're excited about Lauren McKeon’s latest, No More Nice Girls: Gender, Power, and Why It’s Time to Stop Playing by the Rules (March), a hopeful and potent path forward for how to disrupt the standard (very male) vision of power, ditch convention, and build a more equitable world for everyone. And celebrated food writer Lindy Mechefske's latest book is Ontario Picnics (May), looking back at a century of photographs, recipes and art.

Award-winning physician and scientist Sharon Moalem makes the game-changing case that genetic females are stronger than males at every stage of life in her new book The Better Half: On the Genetic Superiority of Women (April). Professional Heckler (May) is the first biography of political cartoonest Duncan Macpherson, written by Terry Mosher and lavishly illustrated with hundreds of examples of Macpherson's drawings, paintings, and cartoons, as well as archival photographs. Big: Stories About Life in Plus-Sized Bodies (January), by Christina Myers, tackles diverse and intimate experiences of being large in a culture obsessed with thinness. And A Spicy Touch (May) is Noorbanu Nimji’s celebration of her North Indian Ismaili Muslim ancestry and the East African cuisine from her homeland in Kenya.

Peter Nowak meets real-life superheroes, individuals who take on masked personae to fight crime and help the helpless, in The Rise of Real-Life Superheroes: and the Fall of Everything Else (April). Part lyric essay, part prose poetry, Where Things Touch: A Meditation on Beauty (May), by writer and physician-in-training Bahar Orang, grapples with the manifold meanings and possibilities of beauty. And in The Kitchen (February), John Ota sets out on a quest across North America to explore the wonders of kitchen design, including the kitchens of people ranging from pilgrims to President Thomas Jefferson, from turn of the century tenement dwellers to 21st century Vancouver idealists, from Julia Child to Georgia O’Keeffe, and from Elvis Presley to Louis Armstrong.

Exploring the landscapes of grief and death, Locations of Grief: An Emotional Geography (April), edited by Catherine Owen, takes the reader through a series of essays, drawn together from 25 Canadian writers reaching across different ages, ethnicities and gender identities as they share their thoughts, struggles and journeys relating to death. Alone: A Love Story (May), by Michelle Parise, is raw and deeply personal memoir of heartbreak and hope—and the inspiration behind the smash-hit, award-winning CBC podcast of the same name. And behind the scenes at the world's major art museums, the life of a curator can be thrilling, amusing, disappointing, but never boring, as Montreal curator Rosalind Pepall shows in her essay collection, Talking to a Portrait (May).

Benjamin Perrin, a law and policy expert, shines a light in the darkest of corners of the opioid crisis in Overdose (March)—and his findings challenge many assumptions. In Take D Milk, Nah? (May), a funny, fresh, and skeptical take on the identity play, Jivesh Parasram blends personal storytelling and ritual to offer the Hin-dos and Hin-don’ts within the intersections of all of his highly hyphenated cultures. In Choosing Hope (April), Munira Premji tells the story of battling three aggressive cancers in five years. Rejecting the old Left/Right ideologies, Tom Rand develops a more pragmatic view capable of delivering practical solutions to the critical problem of climate change in The Case for Climate Capitalism (March). And part criticism, part memoir, Making Believe (April), by Magdalene Redekop, argues that there is no such thing as Mennonite art, but at the same time, her close engagement with individual works of art paradoxically leads Redekop to identify a Mennonite sensibility at play in the space where artists from many cultures interact.

Ray Robertson follows up his acclaimed book Why Not: 15 Reasons to Live with How to Die: A Book About Being Alive (January), a self-help book for people who hate self-help. In Gideon’s Bible (May), biblical text is framed with striking illustrations and caricatures (by illustrator Dusan Petricic) of Rick Salutin and his son Gideon as they relate to the passage and discuss subjects like God, parenting, current concerns of youth, literature, friends, and formative experiences that each of them have had. And, are entrepreneurs born or made? Award-winning writer Donald J. Savoie’s “Thanks for the Business”: Arthur L. Irving and the Story of Irving Oil (June) addresses this age old question.

Julie L. Schwartz struggles to understand the life and death of her son, who lived with Autism Spectrum Disorder and died of an accidental overdose at age 25, in Since Joel (March). In Legacy of Trees (April), Nina Shoroplova tours Stanley Park’s seawall and beaches, wetlands and trails, pathways and lawns in every season and every type of weather, revealing the history and botanical properties of each tree species. Johanna Skibsrud takes a fresh look at poetry’s vital role in exploring—and extending—our sense of what it means to be human in The Poetic Imperative (April). And Barbara Smith takes readers on a cross-country trip of sinister spirits, urban myths, haunted houses, ghostly shipwrecks, and other unexplained phenomena in Campfire Stories from Coast to Coast (April), just in time for camping season. (Shivers!)

In Won't Get Fooled Again (May), a meticulously researched but accessibly written comic illustrated by Alan Spinney, Erin Steuter shows us how to spot fake news and how to stop it. Through spoken word, storytelling, and hip hop, acclaimed wordsmith Donna-Michelle St. Bernard challenges racial discrimination, the suppression of expression, and the trials of activism in her play Sound of the Beast (March). Tech expert Avery Swartz shares the secrets of digital marketing in her book, See You on the Internet (March). The Imperilled Ocean (February) by Laura Trethewey is a deeply reported work of narrative journalism that follows people as they head out to sea, showing how what they discover holds inspiring and dire implications for the life of the ocean—and for all of us back on land.And Betsy Warland’s roving observations in and around Stanley Park’s Lost Lagoon offer insights into nature, narratives, and the urban environment in Lost Lagoon/Lost In Thought (February).

Alison Wearing’s new memoir Moments of Glad Grace (April) begins with a father-daughter pilgrimage and moves into the realm of family and forgiveness, the primal search for identity and belonging, and questions about responsibility to our ancestors and the extent to which we are shaped by the people who came before us. Karin Wells tells the story of how a group of women helped bring about abortion reform in The Abortion Caravan When Women Took to the Streets and Shut Down Government in Their Battle for the Right to Choose (April). James  Wilt  takes  a  closer  look  at  the  state  of  public  transit  in  North  America  and  the  devious  ways  that  corporations  have  worked  to  dismantle our public systems in Do Androids Dream of Electric Cards? (April). And Julia Zarankin discovers an unexpected passion for birding, along with a new understanding of the world and her own place in it, in her delightful debut, Field Notes from an Unintentional Birder (April).

January 23, 2020
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