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Great Books: People, Places and Prairies

A recommended reading list by the author of the new story collection All the Bears Sing.

Book Cover All the Bears Sing

All the Bears Sing, by Harold Macy, is up for grabs on our Giveaways Page right now.

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Harold Macy’s story collection highlights the particular magic of the West Coast, reflecting on how we both shape—and are shaped by—the land we inhabit.

Whether he’s chronicling fallen old-growth monarchs sprawled on a steep slope up-coast, the brassy orchestra of trumpeter swans, or the ecstasy of a smokejumper’s fall from the sky, Harold Macy contemplates the beauty of all that British Columbia has to offer with graceful lyricism and appreciation for the natural world.

It is the human ties to the land that shine in Macy’s stories: everyday fishermen and loggers, gardeners and wildland firefighters, rock blasters and island homesteaders. From the rich bounty of the glacial loam to the wondrous stands of Sitka spruce, BC’s natural landscape is as much a character in Macy’s tales as any person.

Check out other great titles with Macy's list of recommended reads below.


Book Cover And the Birds Rained Down

And the Birds Rained Down, by Jacelyn Saucier

This short, intense novel tells of two octogenarians in the northern Ontario forest who chose to “make do” with what they make and do. Not a cute “back to the land” epic, but a saga of determination free of ties and imposed expectations. Until they get visitors. A Canada Reads selection.


Book Cover The Golden Spruce

The Golden Spruce, by John Vaillant    

Another visionary, though some would call him misplaced or even perhaps mad, commits an act destroying an example of what he hoped to save. Paying the ultimate price himself? No one ever knows for sure. A Governor General's Literary Award winner.


Book Cover Outlander

The Outlander, by Gil Adamson  

In the early 1900s, in the wild mountains of Crowsnest Pass, BC, a young woman is alone. One step ahead of dogs and vengeful men, and a recent widow thanks to her own justified hand. This Gothic Western is a page-turner with twists at every shadow.


Book Cover Broken Ground

Broken Ground, by Jack Hodgins           

After the Great War (so-called by those far from the guns, gas and gore), a group of survivors straggle back to Vancouver Island to receive their allotments of stumps and swamp as payment for serving the King and Country. The new adversary is not the Hun or even the conniving bureaucrats, but an immense forest fire that calls on the small community to find strength from each other.


Book Cover the Friends of Meagre Fortune

The Friends of Meagre Fortune, by David Adams Richards        

There are some writers whose craft is so subtly and skilfully applied, I have to pause after each sentence to fully digest what wonderful thing has just happened. Though the characters are often unpleasant and coarse, they are believably similar to us, or those we know.


Book Cover The Measure of Man

The Measure of a Man, by J.J. Lee           

A nice suit, family dynamics between a father and son, the search for one’s place in the world. Themes we all must explore set in the metaphor of a tailor’s shop.


Book Cover Home Schooling

Home Schooling, by Carol Windley             

This collection of short stories was a Giller Prize finalist and each story could be a stand-alone novella.


Book Cover Cool Water

Cool Water, by Dianne Warren           

Like the title, this Governor General's Literary Award-winning novel refreshes and quenches; gulping from a deep well in an emotional dry land I drink and shiver to my bones.


Book Cover Diamond Girll

Diamond Grill, by Fred Wah      

Reading this prose transports me to a time of chrome counter stools, shiny Formica tables, and glass shelves displaying pies with tall, meringue toppings. A true Canadian epic of both hot turkey sandwiches with gravy and fried rice, egg foo yung. Hyphenated citizens gathered for a meal in Nelson, 1951.


Book Cover Mnemonic

Mnemonic: A Book of Trees, by Teresa Kishkan            

Kishkan writes of trees, culture, her personal travels, and thoughts on arboreal mythology. Entertainment beneath a spread of bows. What’s not to inspire?   


Book Cover Small Beneath the Sky

Small Beneath the Sky, by Lorna Crozier              

Another excellent work by this renowned author. She explores the connection between the wide prairie of her youth. My wife and I are both transplanted, grateful prairie dogs and despite living on this blessed and bountiful island for over fifty years, we still hear the wind of the grasslands in these pages.


Tom Wayman, Patrick Lane, Sid Marty, Peter Trower, and Howard White—among many other writers—have given voice to literature on the job. White collar, blue collar, greasy uniform, blood-stained scrubs, stanfields soaked … we owe them so much.

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