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2014: Our Books of the Year
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2014: Our Books of the Year

By 49thShelf
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You're probably already railing about the proliferation of year-end best-of lists cluttering up your social media feeds of late, but we promise you that this one is a little different for the rest. How? First, because we're expert list-makers here at 49th Shelf, and we're doing it all year around, so you can trust our judgement. And second, because we've created our list by selecting titles we know that readers have adored and whose authors have contributed to our site in amazing ways this year. And just a note: this list is only the beginning of the huge number of fantastic Canadian titles that were published in 2014. Please do explore our site to find out about so many others, not to mention the great books that were published last year, and the year before that, and the year before that, etc. We promise that you will never ever run out of great things to read.
Between

Between

edition:Paperback
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Why it's on the list ...
"The work of feminism is not done," notes Angie Adbou in her Q&A with us from September. "Of course our struggles in North America are not the same as the struggles of someone like Ligaya in the third world. Nonetheless, it is worth acknowledging that disparity exists here, too. I was pleased when Stacey May Fowles, in her Quill and Quire review, called Between a 'glaringly feminist narrative.'"
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Just Pretending
Why it's on the list ...
"With Just Pretending I set out to write about identity and meaning in families and relationships," remarks Bird-Wilson of her award-winning collection, "how individuals negotiate the sometimes-murky waters of their families and how that is all complicated further by having two families—a family of origin and a family that raises you—and so on—it can go further than that—there is no 'typical' or 'normal' family is there? I have a strong appreciation for the irony that we think of home as safe and the outside world as dangerous and how that notion is so easily turned on its head."
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Almost Criminal

Almost Criminal

A Crime in Cascadia Mystery
edition:eBook
also available: Paperback
tagged : hard-boiled, crime
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Why it's on the list ...
"Books are not about to disappear," writes Brown in his post about the inevitable comparisons between his acclaimed novel and the TV show, Breaking Bad. "Digital downloads may be a threat, but an event like the Edgars demonstrates that books will be all right. They survived the advent of radio plays, then feature films and broadcast television, and they will tough it out against cable and Netflix. Because of the power of the reading experience."
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A Siege of Bitterns

A Siege of Bitterns

A Birder Murder Mystery
edition:Paperback
also available: eBook
More Info
Why it's on the list ...
Throughout the day, the cast changes, but the plot remains the same," writes Steve Burrows of bird-watching, a hobby he has linked with fiction in more ways than one (including in the debut novel of his Birder Murder Mystery series). "And like all the best plots, it grips you because it matters. It truly is a life-or-death situation. Will the feeders be well-stocked enough? With the right sorts of food? Niger seed is no good for the cardinals, after all, nor corn for the woodpeckers. But even assuming there is the right food, and enough of it, and they don’t get outcompeted by others, all after the same prize, will the birds be able to evade the predators?"
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Rivering

Rivering

The Poetry of Daphne Marlatt
edition:Paperback
also available: eBook
tagged : poetry, canadian
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Why it's on the list ...
"It is the gift of poetry to require attention—this requirement is what makes poetry transformative," writes Susan Knutson in her Q&A with us about the experience of creating this collection, and how reading Marlatt's poetry aided in her recovery from a traumatic brain injury after a terrible car accident during the editing of this book. "As a species, now, we must transform, so in this sense, poetry is more important that ever."
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Detachment

Detachment

An Adoption Memoir
edition:Paperback
also available: eBook
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Why it's on the list ...
"Parenting as a narrative is chaotic, denouement-less as you say, and so memoir that focuses on storytelling, like mine does, is somewhat artificial," notes Mierau in his Q&A with us about family, fatherhood, and the experience of writing memoir. "But literature depends on contrivance, as all avid readers know. Narrative problems were what made this book challenging and also fun to write."
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Sanaaq

Sanaaq

An Inuit Novel
edition:eBook
also available: Paperback
More Info
Why it's on the list ...
In the early 1950s, Mitiarjuk Nappaaluk was asked by a priest working in Kangiqsujuaq in northern Quebec to write down some Inuttitut phrases to assist him in the study of the language. At the age of 22, Nappaaluk began writing but did not stop at mere phrases. She invented a group of characters and events and, over the next 20 years, wrote the first Inuit novel, simultaneously reinventing the novel form.

The result is an entertaining, accessible, and fascinating novel as remarkable as its origin story.
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Pedal

Pedal

edition:Paperback
also available: eBook
tagged : literary
More Info
Why it's on the list ...
Steven W. Beattie recommended Pedal as a dazzling debut that "delves into situations and characters that many people will find uncomfortable... but does so in a manner that is intelligent and in no way exploitative." Beattie called Pedal "a brave book", and that same brave spirit (as well as Rooney's excellent prose) is on display in the list she created for us of books that explore notions of sexuality and gender.
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