Most Anticipated: Our 2020 Fall Nonfiction Preview

We're looking forward to books about history, true crime, memoir, nature, music, dance, food, and so much more. There's something for everyone looking for fantastic nonfiction in Fall 2020.

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Wish You Were Here: A Murdered Girl, a Brother's Quest and the Hunt for a Serial Killer (September), by John Allore and Patricia Pearson, is the story of a brother’s lifelong determination to find the truth about his sister’s death, a police force that was ignoring the cases of missing and murdered women, and, to the surprise of everyone involved, a previously undiscovered serial killer. Barbara Amiel’s memoir Friends and Enemies (October) is not a book of vengeance (though that this needs to be denied is intriguing!) but an attempt to find her own truth: a life that reads like a novel. Jann Arden—bestselling author, recording artist and late-blooming TV star—is back with If I Knew Then (October), a funny, heartfelt and fierce memoir on becoming a woman of a certain age. And Bill Arnott guides readers on an epic literary odyssey following history’s most feared and misunderstood voyageurs in Gone Viking (September).

In the face of ecological degradation and massive species extinction, the editors of A Book of Ecological Virtues: Living Well in the Anthropocene (October)—Heesoon Bai, David Chang and Charles Scott—ask the critical question, What does living well look like in the Anthropocene? From Joel Bakan, the author of The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power comes The New Corporation (September), a deeply informed and unflinching look at the way corporations have slyly rebranded themselves as socially conscious entities ready to tackle society’s problems...while CEO compensation soars, income inequality is at all-time highs, and democracy sits in a precarious situation.

This is Not the End of Me (August), by Dakshana Bascaramurty, is the moving, inspiring story of a young husband and father who, when diagnosed with terminal cancer at the age of 33, sets out to build a legacy for his infant son. The youngest ever winner of the Griffin Prize, Billy Ray Belcourt, mines his own personal history to reconcile the world he was born into with the world that could be in A History of My Brief Body (August). Our Trip Around the World (September), by Renate Belczyk, is a spirited 1950s travelogue that takes the reader around the world during a time when two young women travelling alone was considered almost revolutionary. And Like a Boy but Not a Boy (October) explores author andrea bennett's experiences with gender expectations, being a non-binary parent, and the sometimes funny and sometimes difficult task of living in a body.

Balancing Bountiful (October) is the compelling memoir by Mary Jayne Blackmore, the daughter of convicted polygamist Winston Blackmore, exploring a young woman’s journey from polygamy to feminism and independence. Because They Were Women: The Montreal Massacre (November), by Josée Boileau, translated by Chantal Bilodeau, examines how December 6, 1989 precipitated an entire cultural shift in thinking around gender-based violence. In his first true crime memoir, Horseplay (November), undercover operator Norm Boucher recounts eight months spent infiltrating Vancouver’s heroin scene, a world of paranoia, ripoffs, and violence. And An Echo in the Mountains (September), edited by Nicholas Bradley, reassesses Al Purdy's works, the shape of his career, and his literary legacy, grappling with the question of how to read Purdy today n a new era of Canadian literature.

In the long-awaited follow-up to Journeywoman, Kate Braid returns with Hammer and Nail (September), a powerful collection of essays reflecting on work in a male-dominated profession and the changes female trade labourers have witnessed. A book of recipes from Laura Bradbury, author of the Grape Series memoirs, Bisous and Brioche (November) will transport readers to a rustic French cottage surrounded by vineyards, no matter where in the world their kitchens might be. And 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 Revery (October).

Small Courage (September), by Jane Byers, is the moving and inspiring memoir of a same-sex couple as they create a life together, adopt twins, and overcome challenges, from outside and within, to build their family. Relax, Dammit!: A User's Guide to the Age of Anxiety (December) is an entertaining and practical guide to getting through the day with less stress and better health, from Timothy Caulfield, the host of the hit TV series A User’s Guide to Cheating Death. Claudia Cornwall’s British Columbia in Flames (September), a moving personal and journalistic account of wildfire season in British Columbia. Compelled to Act (September), edited by Sarah Carter and Nanci Langford, showcases fresh historical perspectives on the diversity of women’s contributions to social and political change in prairie Canada in the twentieth century, including but looking beyond the era of suffrage activism. And in Stand on Guard, Stephanie Carvin sets out to explain the range of activities that are considered national security threats by Canadian security services today.

Bill Cosgrave’s memoir Love Her Madly (October) is the story of Jim Morrison’s first love, a long-lost friendship, and the man who existed before The Doors. Be Scared of Everything (October), an essay collection by Peter Counter (who reads Goosebumps novels on Friday nights on Instagram) is a frighteningly smart celebration of horror culture that will appeal to both horror aficionados and casual fans. And evoking Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking and Rachel Cusk’s A Life’s Work, Christa Couture explores the emotional and psychological experiences of motherhood, partnership and change in her gorgeous and powerful memoir How to Lose Everything (September).

“We aspired to flourish together and thrive in words and books and gardens.” Lorna Crozier’s memoir Through the Garden: A Love Story (with Cats) (September) is a powerful portrait of a long marriage and a clear-eyed account of the impact of grief, writing as consolation, and the enduring significance of poetry. With 1945: The Year That Made Modern Canada (October), Ken Cuthbertson has written a highly readable narrative that commemorates the seventy-fifth anniversary of the end of WWII and chronicles the events and personalities of a critical year that reshaped Canada. And a captivating new book from Wade Davis—award-winning, bestselling author and National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence for more than a decade—Magdalena: River of Dreams (September) brings vividly to life the story of the great Río Magdalena, illuminating Colombia’s complex past, present, and future

In The 2020 CBC Massey Lectures, Reset: Reclaiming the Internet for Civil Society (September), bestselling author and renowned technology and security expert Ronald J. Deibert exposes the disturbing influence and impact of social media on politics, the economy, ecology, and our humanity. In The Queer Evangelist (December), Rev. Dr. Cheri DiNovo (CM) tells her story, from her roots as a young socialist activist in the 1960s to ordained minister in the ‘90s to member of provincial parliament. And Words of the Inuit (September), by Louis-Jacques Dorais, is an important compendium of Inuit culture illustrated through Inuit words, bringing the sum of the author’s decades of experience and engagement with Inuit and Inuktitut to bear on what he fashions as an amiable, leisurely stroll through words and meanings.

Richly evocative, Antonio Michael Downing’s memoir Saga Boy (January) is a heart-wrenching but uplifting story of a lonely immigrant boy who overcomes adversity and abandonment to reclaim his black identity and embrace a rich heritage. The Truth About The Barn (October), by David Elias, offers answers to important questions about how barns came into being, why they look the way they do, why they're worth reflecting on, and what possible future they may have. And What Bears Teach Us (October), by biologist Sarah Elmeligi and photographer John E. Marriott is a lavishly illustrated book that explores the complex behavioural characteristics of North America’s largest land carnivores by examining the bear–human relationship from the bear’s perspective.

Marcia Jenneth Epstein gives readers the impetus and the tools to understand the sounds and noise that define their daily lives in a groundbreaking interdisciplinary study of how auditory stimuli impact both individuals and communities with Sound and Noise (October). In The Taste of Longing: Ethel Mulvany and her Starving Prisoners of War Cookbook (September), a novelistic, immersive biography, Suzanne Evans presents a truly individual account of WW2 through the eyes of Mulvany—mercurial, enterprising, combative, stubborn, and wholly herself. And a lively biography of a critical technology, Beyond the Finish Line (September), by Jonathan Finn, illuminates the cultural role of the photo-finish in win-at-all-costs culture and warn that in our pursuit for precision we may threaten the human element of sport that galvanizes mere spectators into fans.

Genocidal Love (September), by Bevann Fox, delves into the long-term effects of childhood trauma on those who attended residential school and demonstrates the power of story to help in recovery and healing. Part memoir, part coming-of-age story and part handbook for ceramicists, My Life as a Potter (September), by Mary Fox, recounts the artist’s long journey to the peak of her craft. And Dr. Andrew Furey shares how the caring spirit of Newfoundland was exported to a world in crisis in his memoir Hope in the Balance (October).

The first reliable account of Mary Riter Hamilton's impressions of Canada's most haunting sites of conflict, I Can Only Paint (December) captures with detail and sensitivity an experience that defined the artist's life and recovers a body of work that stands as a unique and enduring portrait of the effects of the Great War. Inspired by American studies of the impact of government programs on clients' political activity, Take a Number (December), by Elisabeth Gidengil, breaks new ground by investigating the lessons that people draw from their experiences with government bureaucracies, reaching very different conclusions about the effects of program participation in Canada. And insightful and experimental, Ode to the Unpraised (August), by Abena Beloved Green, explores the practical knowledge, life lessons, and personal essence of women in Canada and Ghana through conversation, prose, and poems.

Blood Washing Blood (November), by Phil Halton, is a clear-eyed view of the conflict in Afghanistan and its century-deep roots. Anxious Days and Tearful Nights (October), by Martha Hanna, highlights how Canadian women's experiences of marital separation during World War One resembled and differed from those of their European counterparts. And Reaching Mithymna: Among the Volunteers and Refugees on Lesvos (September), by Steven Heighton, is a poet’s firsthand account of a month volunteering on the frontlines of the Syrian refugee crisis.

Without Compassion, There Is No Healthcare (November), edited by Brian D. Hodges; Gail Paech and Jocelyn Bennett, argues that compassion must be upheld as the bedrock and guiding purpose of healthcare work in the face of technological change. Calling on history, cutting-edge research, complexity science and even Lord of the Rings, Thomas Homer-Dixon lays out the tools we can command to rescue a world on the brink in Commanding Hope (September). With interviews from Chris Hadfield and Marc Garneau, Canadarm and Collaboration: How Canada's Astronauts and Space Robots Explore New Worlds (October), by Elizabeth Howell, is the tale of Canada’s involvement in international space exploration from the 1960s to the present day. 

A writing couple searches for answers when Alzheimer's causes one of them to lose the place where stories come from—memory—in Four Umbrellas (October), June Hutton and Tony Wanless. For readers of Thomas King’s The Inconvenient Indian and Chelsea Vowel’s Indigenous Writes, Tireless Runners (April), by Robert Jago, tells the history of colonization from pre-contact to the present day through the story of one Indigenous family. And The Red, Forgiving Earth (September) describes what happened after critically acclaimed author Tasneem Jamal and her husband gave up their secure and well-paying jobs and moved with their two young daughters to Tanzania.

The Right to an Age-Friendly City (December), by Meghan Joy, offers both broad and tangible insights into the intermingled political, economic, cultural, and administrative changes needed to protect the rights of senior citizens to access urban space. Hope Matters (October), by Elin Kelsey, boldly breaks through the narrative of doom and gloom that has overtaken conversations about our future to show why hope, not fear, is our most powerful tool for tackling the planetary crisis. And exploring themes of modern distraction, the loss of ancient wisdom and the process of coming to terms with his child’s autism diagnosis, Bruce Kirkby’s Blue Sky Kingdom (August) is the remarkable tale of one family’s experience living in the Himalayas, a refuge where ancient traditions intersect with the modern world.

Seth Klein’s A Good War (September) is a bold blueprint to retool our economy and transform our politics for a zero-carbon future. In Recognition and Revelation (September), Nora Foster Stovel brings together Margaret Laurence's short nonfiction works, including many that have not previously been collected and some that have never before been published. Set against the natural world of remotest Alberta (“in winter the cold will kill you, nothing personal”), Vicki Laveau-Harvie’s award-winning memoir The Erratics (August)—at once dark and hopeful—shatters precedents about grief, anger and family trauma with surprising tenderness and humour.

Acadian Driftwood: One Family and the Great Expulsion (June), by Tyler LeBlanc, is the untold story of one Acadian family: their experiences following their expulsion and their determination to find home. In Who Was Doris Hedges? (November), Robert Lecker provides a detailed account of the remarkable career of the woman who started Canada's first literary agency. In Working in the Bathtub (September), a collection of wide-ranging interviews with Adam Leith Gollner, portions of which were originally published in The Paris Review, Dany Laferrière reveals how his life and his writing are inseparable. And In Sight is a memoir about how a love of science and discovery drove Julia Levy, a celebrated scholar and biotech CEO, to work her way through gender bias in order to achieve academic and professional recognition.

Angela Liddon, author of bestselling Oh She Glows cookbooks, returns to offer readers nourishing plant-based dinners bursting with layers of flavor in Oh She Glows for Dinner (October). Missing From the Village (September), by Justin Ling, is the tragic and resonant story of the disappearance of eight men—the victims of serial killer Bruce McArthur—from Toronto’s queer community. In Take Back The Fight (November), Nora Loreto examines the state of modern feminism in Canada and argues that feminists must organize to take back feminism from politicians, business leaders and journalists who distort and obscure its power.

In Finding Our Niche (October), Philip A. Loring imagines a world where humanity was not destined to cause harm, where win-win scenarios—people and nature thriving together—are possible. Equal parts travelogue and pandemic guide, journalist Ethan Lou examines the societal effects of COVID-19 in Field Notes from a Pandemic: A Journey Through a World Suspended (September), taking readers on a mesmerizing journey around a world that will never be the same. And Dammed: The Politics of Loss and Survival in Anishinaabe Territory (September), by Brittany Luby, explores Canada’s hydroelectric boom in the Lake of the Woods area, complicating narratives of increasing affluence in postwar Canada, revealing that the inverse was true for Indigenous communities along the Winnipeg Rive

We Still Here (October), edited by Charity Marsh and Mark V. Campbell, maps the edges of hip-hop culture and makes sense of the rich and diverse ways people create and engage with hip-hop music within Canadian borders. Julie Macfarlane’s Going Public: A Survivor's Journey from Grief to Action (September) is more than a memoir, it’s a courageous and essential blueprint on how to go toe-to-toe with the powers behind institutional abuse and protectionism. And War: How Conflict Shaped Us (September) offers thoughtful and brilliant insights into the very nature of war—from the ancient Greeks to modern times—from the world’s foremost expert historian, Margaret MacMillan.

With the state of global ice constantly in the news, mountain journalist Lynn Martel examines Canadian glaciers to uncover their secrets and their future in Stories of Ice (September). Award-winning author Merl Massie brings to the page the life and career of Sylvia Fedoruk, which encompassed some of the most ground-breaking scientific, athletic and public transformations of the 20th century in A Radiant Life (August). In Solved (October), David Miller argues that cities are taking action on climate change because they can—and because they must. With Some Good: Sweet Treats (July), Jessica Mitton follows the success of her first cookbook, Some Good, with the course that everyone’s been waiting for—dessert! And Beaver, Bison, Horse (May), by R. Grace Morgan, is an interdisciplinary account of the ecological relationships the Indigenous nations of the Plains had to the beaver, bison, horse, and their habitat prior to contact.

Balfour Mount facilitated a sea change in medicine by foregrounding concern for the whole person facing incurable illness, and in the memoir Ten Thousand Crossroads (October), Mount leads the reader through the formative moments and milestones of his personal and professional life as they intersected with the history of medical treatment over the last 50 years. Cold Case North (November), by Michael Nest, with Deanna Reder and Eric Bell, is the story of how a small team, with the help of the Indigenous community, exposed police failure, discovered new clues and testimony, and gathered the pieces of the North’s most enduring missing persons puzzle.

Hall of Famer Willie O’Ree tells his story in Willie: The Game-Changing Story of the NHL's First Black Player (October). The climate crisis requires a drastic reduction of carbon dioxide emissions, and The Story of CO2 (November), by Geoffrey Ozin & Mireille Ghoussoub, contributes to this vital conversation by highlighting the cutting-edge science and emerging technologies that can transform carbon dioxide into a myriad of products. Warrior Life: Indigenous Resistance and Resurgence (October) is the second collection of writings by Pamela Palmater, as fiercely anti-colonial, anti-racist, and more crucial than ever before. And based on recorded interviews and journal entries, Following the Good River (September), by Briony Penn, a major biography of Cecil Paul (Wa’xaid), is a resounding and timely saga featuring the trials, tribulations, endurance, forgiveness, and survival of one of North American’s more prominent Indigenous leaders

Singer-songwriter Hayley Gene Penner tells all in People You Follow (July), an honest memoir of her relationships and life in the music industry. Falling into Flight: A Memoir of Life and Dance (October), by Kaija Pepper, untangles a daughter’s complicated relationship with immigrant parents as she grapples with the mysteries of her own body and self during the long years of growing up. As tech investors the world over search for elusive unicorns (start-ups valued at over $1 billion), acclaimed business journalist Gordon Pitts, in Unicorn in the Woods (September), asks whether there can be a place for high-tech innovation and unicorn-like value creation outside of major urban centres, whether in Atlantic Canada, rust-belt New York, or Northern Ontario.

In Approaching the Fire (October), Michelle Porter embarks on a quest to find her great-grandfather, the Metis fiddler and performer Leon Robert Goulet, creating a portait where truth meets metaphor. In Leonard Cohen: Untold Stories, The Early Years (October), the  first volume of three, bestselling author and biographer Michael Posner draws on hundreds of interviews to reach beyond the Cohen of myth and reveal the unique, complex, and compelling figure of the real man. And in Saved by Science (September), scientist Mark Poznansky examines the many crises facing humanity while encouraging us with the promise of an emerging solution: synthetic biology.

From the vantage of a schooner full of artists on an adventure in the high Arctic, biologist Lynne Quarmby explains in Watermelon Snow (October) the science that convinced her of an urgent need to act on climate change and recounts how this knowledge—and the fear and panic it elicited—plunged her into unsustainable action, ending in arrests, lawsuits, and a failed electoral campaign on behalf of the Green Party of Canada. Lisa Ray is one of India’s first supermodels. She’s also an actor, a cancer survivor, a mother of twins through surrogacy. She is a woman who has lived many lives, and she tells her story in Close to the Bone (November).

From bestselling author James Raffan comes Ice Walker (September), an enlightening and original story about a polar bear’s precarious existence in the changing Arctic. Kiin: Recipes and Stories from Northern Thailand (October), by Nuit Regular, is a journey through Northern Thailand in 120 authentic recipes with stunning location photography. A son who grew up away from his Indigenous culture takes his Cree father on a trip to their family's trapline, and finds that revisiting the past not only heals old wounds but creates a new future in David A. Robertson’s Black Water: Family, Legacy and Blood Memory (September).

An Alphabet for Joanna: A Portrait of My Mother in 26 Fragments (September) is a gripping memoir from acclaimed poet Damian Rogers about being raised by a loving but erratic single mother who is today diagnosed with a rare form of frontal-lobe dementia. In their own words, queer and trans organizers, artists, healers, comrades, and leaders speak honestly and authentically about their own experiences with power, love, pain, and magic to create a textured and nuanced portrait of queer and trans realities in Our Work is Everywhere (October), by Syan Rose, with a foreword by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha

Cooking Meat (October) is a cookbook to turn passionate meat lovers into confident meat cooks, with more than 120 deliciously meaty recipes from butcher and chef, Peter Sanagan. Ruwanmali Samarakoon-Amunugama’s Milk, Spice and Curry Leaves (October) celebrates the unique flavours and ingredients of Sri Lanka, lovingly presented for the home cook. And Catastrophe (November), by T. Joseph Scanlon, weaves together compelling stories and potent lessons learned from the calamitous Halifax explosion—the worst non-natural disaster in North America before 9/11.

Book Cover The Smallest Lights in teh Universe

Canadian MIT astrophysicist Sara Seager interweaves the story of her search for meaning and solace after losing her first husband to cancer, her unflagging search for an Earth-like exoplanet and her unexpected discovery of new love in The Smallest Lights in the Universe (August). From Harnarayan Singh, distinct and vibrant voice behind Hockey Night in Canada Punjabi, comes One Game at a Time (September), the story of pursuing a dream and defying the odds, reminding us all of hockey’s power to unite.

Hana Shafi’s Small, Broke, and Kind of Dirty: Affirmations for the Real World (September) is a call to action, one that asks us to remember that we are valid as we are—flaws and all—and to not let the bastards grind us down. Kelly A. Small’s The Conscious Creative (August) is a fresh, actionable guide to mindfulness and practical ethics—perfect for any creative professional who wants to make a living without selling their soul. And The Scientist and the Psychic: A Son's Exploration of His Mother's Gift (December), by Christian Smith, is a captivating, one-of-a-kind memoir about a scientist’s life with his famous psychic mother and his revealing exploration of the paranormal realm.

Book Cover Concrete

Concrete: From Ancient Origins to a Problematic Future (October), Mary Soderstrom tells the story of concrete’s glorious past, extravagant present, and uncertain future with careful research, lively anecdotes, and thoughtful reflection. With tenderness and affection, Finding Heartstone (October), by Cathy Sosnowsky, captures the psychological, physical, and emotional impact of wilderness living and family tragedy. And John Stackhouse contends that our country’s greatest untapped resource may be the three million Canadians who don’t live here in his new book Planet Canada: How Our Expats Are Shaping the Future (October).

World-renowned ice climber Margo Talbot shares her compelling story of healing and self-discovery amid the frozen landscapes of the planet in All That Glitters (October). From the devastation of the Syrian civil war, through their life as refugees in Lebanon, to their arrival in a small town in Atlantic Canada, Peace by Chocolate (October), by Jon Tattrie, is the story of one family and the story of the people of Antigonish, Nova Scotia, and so many towns across Canada, who welcomed strangers and helped them face the challenges of settling in an unfamiliar land.

With tender illustrations by Keet Geniza, Kimiko Does Cancer (October), by Kimiko Tobimatsu is a graphic memoir that upends the traditional cancer narrative from a young woman's perspective, confronting issues such as dating while in menopause, navigating work and treatment, and talking to well-meaning friends, health care professionals, and other cancer survivors with viewpoints different from her own. Longtime Jeopardy! host and television icon Alex Trebek reflects on his life and career in his memoir The Answer Is: Reflections on My Life (July).

Featuring vivid and unforgettable imagery together with engaging essays that will inspire and educate, Into the Arctic (October) enables readers to experience Cory Trépanier’s evocative and authentic vision of a land that few have had the opportunity to even visit, let alone preserve on canvas. Emily Urquhart reveals how creative work, both amateur and professional, sustains people in the third act of their lives and tells a new story about the possibilities of elderhood in The Age of Creativity: Art, Memory, My Father, and Me (September). In The Juggling Mother (September), Amanda Watson makes the controversial case that mothers with the most power are complicit in the exclusion of less privileged ones—and in their own undoing. And with text by Lorna Crozier, photographer George Webber's Saskatchewan Book (September) shines a light on the charm and disintegration of small towns in Saskatchewan.

In Finding Murph (October), Rick Westhead traces the tragic true story of Joe Murphy and examines the role of the NHL in the downward spiral of one of the league’s most promising players. Laced with humour and revelation, Anne Wheeler’s Taken By The Muse (October) tells of her serendipitous journey in the '70s, when she broke with tradition and found her own way to becoming a filmmaker and raconteur. The only known first-person account from a Chinese worker on the famously treacherous parts of transcontinental railways that spanned the North American continent in the 19th century, The Diary of Dukesang Wong: A Voice from Gold Mountain (August) is edited by David McIlwraith, translated by Wanda Joy Hoe. And Field Notes from an Unintentional Birder (Septenber), by Julia Zarankin, tells the story of finding meaning in midlife through the magic of birding.

July 23, 2020
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