Book present concepts for large readers are featured within the second of our vacation book present lists
The holidays won’t be the same this year; but the desire to share a good book won’t change. Exchanging ideas and comforts while crouching is a gesture of generosity. However, it can be difficult to decide what to give. As every year around this time, we summarize the recommendations over a few weeks: Last week with an emphasis on culture, art and food; This week we’re focusing on books for the voracious reader on your list. Come back next week for recommendations for the young readers in your life.
Books to understand the world we are in
Pandemic Field Notes, Ethan Lou (McClelland and Stewart, 240 pages, $ 22) One of the first books on COVID-19 out of the gate, written by a young Canadian journalist who was in China at the start of the pandemic. He went on to Singapore and went to Germany just in time, where he was jailed. Part travel report, part guide to the pandemic and its impact on society.
The Skin We Are In, Desmond Cole (Doubleday Canada, 256 pages, $ 29.95) Toronto Book Award 2020 winner. Cole reports on a year – 2017 – fighting racism in this country. An in-depth book that explores rallies, lawsuits, and protests month after month to fuel dialogue and shed light on a perspective more of us need to see.
Homelegia, Ayad Akhtar (Little Brown, 368 pages, $ 35) Akhtar seems to be using at least parts of his own story in this novel: it is about a father and son looking for 9/11 in the US; about an immigrant’s dreams – the Pakistani born father a Trump supporter; the American-born son not – and the increasingly broken country in which they find themselves. Important and immensely legible.
Songs for the End of the World, Saleema Nawaz (McClelland & Stewart, 440 pages, $ 24.95) From page one, it’s uncanny how much Nawaz’s novel reflects what we saw during this pandemic. Why choose a novel to understand the world we are in? She has researched this extensively – which is why she got it right – and fiction is sometimes more effective than nonfiction at urging us to break down and understand our own reaction to the world. Plus, it’s great read.
Books to escape the world we are in
In Love with George Eliot, Kate O’Shaughnessy (Scribe Publications, 400 pages, $ 25.50) A romanization of the life of Marian Evans – alias George Eliot – who wrote “Middlemarch” and “Silas Marner”. When her books adopted polite society, she was shocked by the way she led her own life – and she became famous in the celebrity culture of the time. Thoroughly researched, intimate and readable.
Dear Margaret Atwood (McClelland & Stewart, 136 pages, $ 32.95) Atwood is perhaps best known for her dystopian worlds and great fiction, but she started her life as a poet. This volume, her first in 10 years, is as beautiful in its physical form as the personal poems in it. The two birds on the cover reflect her long marriage to Graeme Gibson, and the poems inside reflect their life together.
Hamnet & Judith, Maggie O’Farrell (button Canada, 384 pages, $ 24.95) This story, which won the British Women’s Fiction Award and was selected as Book of the Year by the bookseller Waterstone, inspired Shakespeare’s Hamlet – the real death of the bard’s son, Hamnet, from the plague. What was the impact of his son’s death on his writing, marriage, family?
Shuggie Bain, Douglas Stuart (Grove / Atlantic, 448 pages, $ 25.50) Stuart won the Booker Prize earlier this year for his debut novel – a heartbreaking and powerful story from the 1980s in Glasgow about a boy, Shuggie Bain, the youngest of three siblings, trying to make a life of poverty and addiction. His mom is an addict, they live in the post-Thatcher working class in Glasgow and the odds are slim.
Ridgerunner, Gil Adamson (Anansi’s house, 400 pages, $ 32.95) This Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Award winner and Giller finalist will appeal to a wide range of readers. It’s a full, haunting story that takes us back to the early 1900s and World War I. Partly Western literary, part really entertaining read, and Adamson’s attention to detail and history takes us back in time.
This is the season for hosiery
Object Lessons, Various Authors and Subjects, Bloomsbury, $ 20 – This little series has grown in popularity since the first books came out in 2015. They are published by Atlantic Monthly and Bloomsbury. You take a look at everyday objects – remote control, golf ball, signature, hotel, bookshelf, queue, exit – and delve into their history and the impact they have had on our lives. There are dozens of themes with something that is suitable for every occasion.
The Christmas ghost stories Series from Biblioasis ($ 9.50 each or $ 25 for all three) is a tradition that we look forward to every year. Inspired by the Victorian practice of telling a ghost story on Christmas Eve – and from Seth’s extensive collection of such stories (and he also designs them) three new stories have been revived this year: “The Open Door” by Mrs. Oliphant; “The Story of a Disappearance and an Appearance” by MR James and “The Morgan Trust” by R. Bridgeman.
Because We Love We Cry, Sheree Fitch (Nimbus, 24 Pages, $ 17.95) Grief was part of many people’s lives this year – because of COVID-19, but also in Fitch’s case because of the tragic rampage in Portapique, Nova Scotia. She wrote a poem about the grief she felt, which was read in Parliament; It’s a little book now.
The Lost Spells, Robert MacFarlane, Jackie Morris (House of Anansi, 240 pages, $ 31) A beautiful, enchanting little volume of poems and watercolor illustrations conjuring up the wonder of nature, of moths and foxes and herons and owls and thrift and daisies. The continuation of the internationally best-selling book “The Lost Words”.
A couple of paperback titles that fit this stocking: Karen Swan’s annual Christmas reading, it’s this year Together until Christmas (Pan Macmillan, 448 pages, $ 24.99) and the story takes place in Amsterdam – equal parts romance and Christmas story, it has become a best-selling holiday tradition; and by bestseller London, Ontario, is the writer Jenny Holiday A Princess for Christmas (Avon Books, 400 pages, $ 19.99) Billed as a modern Christmas fairy tale in New York – not to be confused with the Christmas carol of the perennial pogues – with a few twists.
And the time of inspiration …
Everyday Hockey Heroes, Bob McKenzie and Jim Lang (Simon and Schuster, 320 pages, $ 34.99) Why do we like competitive sports? The drama, the stories, the heroics – the stories behind the game. McKenzie and Lang show people who share their love for the game and how they stand up for the next generation – paying special attention to those who are working to make it inclusive.
Nerv: A Personal Journey through the Science of Fear, Eva Holland (Penguin Canada, 288 pages, $ 32.95) Most people’s worst fear? The death of a parent. It was for Holland too – and then she unexpectedly lost her mother. She began looking at fear, examining it, figuring out how it was holding it back, and understanding through science what drives our fears – and how to most effectively counter them. Personal and inspiring.
Transcendent Kingdom, Yaa Gyasi (Doubleday Canada, 288 pages, $ 32) Gyasi’s first book, Homegoing, was a comprehensive saga spanning generations. This is the story of a Ghanaian family in Alabama. Gifty is studying neuroscience at Stanford and tries to understand the depression and addiction that her godly mother suffers from. Can Science Help Her Understand Suffering? Powerful, heartbreaking and ultimately redeeming. Fiction, yes, but still inspiring.
Visual novels for art-loving readers
Dancing After Ten: A Graphic Memory, Vivian Chong and Georgia Webber (Fantagraphics Books, 128 pages, $ 33.50) The real story of what it’s like to go blind, mostly during a brief, heart-wrenching period when the eyesight of its creator temporarily returned. “
Slaughterhouse Five, Kurt Vonnegut, Ryan North, and Albert Monteys (Archaia / Boom! Studios, 192 pages, $ 32.99) The graphic novel adaptation of the famous book and, as a non-linear story, probably the most successful adaptation of its kind
The Contradictions, Sophie Yanow (Drawn & Quarterly, 200 pages, $ 29.95) Beautifully crafted, this is an insightful, entertaining story about a young, strange schoolgirl’s travels through Europe and the lessons she is learning. “
The Low, Low Woods, Carmen Maria Machado, Dani, and Tamra Bonvillain (Hill House Comics / DC Comics, 160 pages, $ 33.99) The creepy, clever story of two young women who live in a mysterious city, with years of fire in the coal mine below and forests full of strange creatures all around. «
Titan, François Vigneault (Oni Press, Intelligent, 160 pages, $ 33.99) Exciting and slippery science fiction about love and working relationships on an industrialized moon. «