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16 Books About Never Giving Up

By kileyturner
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As Stephen Hawking so concisely put it, "It matters that you don’t just give up.” These books of fiction and memoir breathe life into this simple yet profound truth.
Heart Berries

Heart Berries

A Memoir
edition:Hardcover

*New York Times Bestseller
*National Bestseller
*Named one of the most anticipated books of 2018 by: ChatelaineEntertainment Weekly, ELLECosmopolitan, Esquire, Huffington Post, B*tch, NYLON, BuzzFeed, Bustle, The Rumpus and Goodreads
*A New York Times Editor's Choice 
*Selected by Emma Watson as the Our Shared Shelf Book Club Pick for March/April 2018 
 
Guileless and refreshingly honest, Terese Mailhot's debut memoir chronicles her struggle to balance the beauty of her Native heritage with …

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Advocate

Advocate

edition:Paperback
also available: eBook

When Jacob is called back to Advocate, he is not only returning home again, something he knows he cannot really do; he is going to face his dying grandmother and the people of the town who turned on one of their own.

 

Twenty years earlier, when his uncle David came home, it was to die. The response in Advocate was typical of most towns, large and small, in 1984: when his disease became known, Jacob, his grandmother, his mother, and his aunt, were shunned, turned out from school and their jobs, ou …

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Unearthed

Unearthed

Love, Acceptance, and Other Lessons from an Abandoned Garden
edition:Paperback
also available: Paperback

Shortlisted for the 2018 Kobzar Award
Shortlisted for the 2018 Frank Hegyi Award for Emerging Authors

Alexandra Risen's father dies just as she and her husband purchase a nondescript house set atop a natural gorge in the middle of the city. The garden is choked with weeds and crumbling structures. Over the years, as she undertakes the replanting, it stirs memories of her childhood when a nearby forest was her only escape from an empty home life. 
 
As Risen beats back the bushes to unveil the gar …

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Birdie

Birdie

edition:Paperback
also available: eBook Paperback Hardcover
tagged : literary

A CBC Best Book of 2015

A National Post Best Book of the Year

A CBC Writers to Watch 2015 Selection

Finalist for CBC Canada Reads 2016

Finalist for the Alberta Readers’ Choice Award

Finalist for the Kobo Emerging Writer Prize

Finalist for the Georges Bugnet Award for Fiction

Finalist for the Evergreen Award

“Twisting, darkly funny, heartbreaking, sometimes brilliant.” —Publishers Weekly

Bernice Meetoos will not be broken.

A big, beautiful Cree woman with a dark secret in her past, Bernice, known …

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Scarborough

Scarborough

edition:Paperback

Trillium Book Award and City of Toronto Book Award finalist; Edmund White Debut Fiction Award finalist; A Globe 100, National Post and Quill and Quire Best Book of the Year; Longlisted for Canada Reads

Scarborough is a low-income, culturally diverse neighbourhood east of Toronto, the fourth largest city in North America; like many inner-city communities, it suffers under the weight of poverty, drugs, crime, and urban blight. Scarborough the novel employs a multitude of voices to tell the story of …

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I Bificus

I Bificus

edition:Paperback
also available: eBook Hardcover Hardcover

From one of Canada’s most original musical artists comes a bestselling new memoir about life, love, loss and triumph

Bif Naked was born in secret to a teenager living in India, the product of the relationship between a Canadian girl and a British boy. She was rejected by both families and hidden away in a mental hospital until being adopted by missionaries and moved to North America. She then began what she recalls with ironic humour as a “charmed life.” Targeted by girl gangs and facing ot …

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An Audience of Chairs

An Audience of Chairs

edition:Paperback
tagged :

Like beauty, madness altered perception, but instead of offering illusion, it offered delusion. Moranna leaned the tricks madness played on perception the hard way as experience showed her how persuasively madness distorted reality. Experience also showed her that if she hung on long enough, the panic would subside and the delusions would pass. There were many dawns on the ferry when the sight of the ugly smoke stacks reassured her. They were proof that once again she had won the showdown with t …

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Excerpt

ONE

Picture a woman playing a piano board at the kitchen table on a late December morning. Her hands, warmed by knuckle gloves, move across the wooden keys as she leans into the music. Pedalling a foot against the floor, her strong, supple fingers pound the opening chords of a Rachmaninov concerto. As she plays, the woman imagines heavy velvet curtains drawing apart and lively notes rush onstage, where leaping and skipping, they perform a short, spirited dance. The dancers depart and, swaying from side to side, the woman plays slower notes and hums along, her voice mellifluous and soothing as she imagines herself beside a stream sliding through waving grass. Outside the window, the winter landscape is frozen and drab, but inside the farmhouse it is summer and music shimmers on sunlit water as notes flow from the woman’s fingertips, moving outward in ever-expanding circles. Except for the fire crackling inside the wood stove and the woman’s hum, no sound can be heard in the kitchen, for the painted keys of the piano board are as mute as the table beneath.

The music shifts and now there is a spill of high notes trickling down a mountain fell. The woman hears the lonely call of a French horn from an alpine meadow and the answering shiver of strings. Lifting her hands from the board, she begins conducting the orchestra, combing and parting the air, keeping time as she leads the musicians toward the finale, which she plays with a burst of energy, thumping her hands on the piano aboard, bringing the moderato to a satisfying end.

Having concluded the morning’s concert, the woman lowers her head and for a few moments rests, hands in her lap. The performance has exhausted her, but not for long, and soon she is on her feet, bowing to an audience of chairs. Over and over she bows to the thunderous applause that always follows a perfect performance. A benevolent smile illuminates her face. You are so kind, she says, attempting to be gracious and humble, but she is far from humble and is merely acknowledging the praise that is rightfully hers. Every audience has its limitations and shortcomings, but today’s has been particularly responsive. They know they have been listening to the gifted playing of Moranna MacKenzie, musician extraordinaire.

Tomorrow she will play the adagio.

Picture a glass globe of swirling snow. Inside the globe, at the end of a winding drive, is a low, wide house with three dormer windows above a veranda wrapped in clear plastic. The house is badly in need of repair, but most of the dereliction cannot be seen from the road, and at first glance it might be mistaken for a genteel country hideaway whose privacy is maintained by a thick stand of trees. Assuming the house has an interesting and possibly distinguished past, winter visitors approaching Baddeck by way of the Bay Road will sometimes pause between the crumbling concrete posts at the entrance to the driveway for a closer look at the old farmhouse, but the locals, well aware of its occupant, continue on without a glance.

Inside the house, Moranna, still basking in the satisfaction of the morning’s performance, goes into the bedroom adjacent to the kitchen and begins dressing in clothes laid out the night before. Until she knocked down the wall – who would have guessed whacking a wall with a sledgehammer could be so much fun? – her bedroom had been used as a dining room, but its proximity to the wood stove makes it more practical for sleeping.

Laying out the next day’s clothes is a strategy carried over from a time when Moranna was chronically depressed, but she still employs it as a way of avoiding an early-morning decision. There is the occasional day when she wakens heavy-headed and lethargic, unwilling to make a decision, and stays in bed as late as mid-afternoon. More often than not, these decisions concern what she will do today and in what order. Will she, for instance, work on a carving of the Brahan Seer or finish a sermon? Will she do her errands this morning or this afternoon? Will she write another letter to the Cape Breton Post castigating the government for its slowness in cleaning up the Sydney tar ponds, or will she put it off to another day? These decisions weigh heavily on her and, like choosing what clothes to wear, are better decided the night before. A creature of the moment, Moranna must constantly remind herself to follow the schedule she has worked out in an effort to keep herself balanced and sane.

As she pulls on a sweater and jeans, not for the first time she wonders if the poet Robert Burns laid his clothes on a chair before retiring for the night, in order to avoid having to decide if he should wear a clean shirt in the morning. His wife, Jean Armour, might have decided for him but, having so many children to look after, what her husband would wear the following day was probably the last thing on her mind. There was a time when Moranna regarded Burns as a confidante and friend, and although she no longer writes him letters, she still feels a strong kinship with him. Not only was Burns melancholic, but like her he was a musical genius, gifted with the ability to hear every note on the musical scale with the precision of a tuning fork.

Once she’s dressed, Moranna puts on her Army and Navy jacket, goes out into the snow and carries in two loads of firewood from beneath the tarp where she and her lover, Bun, stacked it before his return to Newfoundland. She stokes the fire, adds wood, then makes herself porridge and strong tea. While she’s drinking the last of the tea, she gets out the old portable Royal she once used to write a novel about Robert Burns and types the sermon she’s been composing for the new minister of Greenwood United Church, Reverend Andy Scott. Moranna has no patience for badly performed music and, because the choir cannot sing an anthem without going flat, rarely attends church. That hasn’t prevented her from pegging the minister as a thoughtful, unstuffy person, a breath of fresh air who, unlike his predecessor, doesn’t mind being given advice. She has decided she likes him and, because he saves his newspapers for her, intends to give him the sermon free of charge.

According to Lottie MacKay, Moranna’s neighbour and a regular churchgoer, Andy’s vague sermons ramble on far too long, and Moranna figures she can help him by providing a sample of a concise, hard-hitting, effective sermon. When he was alive, Moranna’s father, Ian MacKenzie, rarely missed a Sunday service and often expressed the opinion that sermons should be short and straight to the point. He wasn’t suggesting the United Church return to the dour agenda of the Presbyterians and Methodists, but he thought a good sermon should offer fare the congregation could sink their teeth into while they were eating their Sunday dinner at home.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Waiting for First Light

Waiting for First Light

My Ongoing Battle with PTSD
edition:Hardcover
also available: Paperback

Longlisted for the RBC Taylor Prize: In this piercing memoir, Roméo Dallaire, retired general and former senator, the author of the bestsellers Shake Hands with the Devil andThey Fight Like Soldiers, They Die Like Children, and one of the world's leading humanitarians, delves deep into his life since the Rwandan genocide.

At the heart of Waiting for First Light is a no-holds-barred self-portrait of a top political and military figure whose nights are invaded by despair, but who at first light f …

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