Spring has sprung, and with it comes a brand new season of rejuvenation, growth, and really awesome books. If you’re looking for something to do besides scrolling through TikTok, our gift guide has the books to get you off your phone - until you just HAVE to post about, of course 😉. Check out our top book recommendations by Canadian authors from nonfiction to mystery! You can also order these titles right now on our website or your favourite local bookstore.
For the millennials who feel lost and not sure what to actually do with their lives (hello, I can relate), British Columbiana by debut author Josie Teed is literally the greatest. I mean, imagine leaving all modern technology behind to work as a heritage interpreter at a remote gold rush site…WILD. Even if you can’t relate to the niche story, I know you’ll definitely be able to relate to the quarter-life-crisis situation.
Now, if exploring cancel culture is more your thing, then do we have the book for you! Wine Witch On Fire by wine expert Natalie MacLean is her story of what lead to her life falling apart, followed by a dog piling of misogynistic messages, badly photoshopped pics of her face onto someone else’s body, and the witch hunt (pun intended) to knock her off her wine writing throne. Us women know how it is around men with fragile egos, right?
If you’re trying to expand your understanding of different experiences and perspectives, Bones of Belonging by Annahid Dashtgard is your next read, especially since Annahid is the CEO of Anima Leadership, a racial justice consulting firm. Her memoir-in-essays really speaks to her experiences as a Brown woman in a white world that’s not always welcoming, understanding, or forgiving.
In a recent report from the Canadian Femicide Observatory for Justice and Accountability, 2022 was the highest year of reported murders of women and girls (nearly 200) since this data started being tracked. Unfortunately, many cases both past and present aren’t even on our radars, so if you don’t know the story of Robert Killins, a former United Church minister who murdered most of this family in Ontario in the 1960s, I wouldn’t be surprised. The Castleton Massacre by Sharon Anne Cook and Margaret Carson (eldest of two children who survived the Castleton massacre) is our recommendation for you if you want to explore more about femicide within a historical context in Canada.
If I say the name Steve Ryan, you probably know him as the dude on CP24, specifically their Crime Analyst. His previous job was a true living nightmare - a homicide detective with the Toronto Police Services, working on Toronto’s worst murder cases. In The Ghosts That Haunt Me, he talks about the process behind six cases that changed him, including Holly Jones and his last ever case, Dr. Elana Fric-Shamji.
For the literary fiction fans, Suite as Sugar by Camille Hernández-Ramdwar is one short story collection that kind of requires you to read it in little chunks, but it’s oh so worth it. The meaning of each story is a little nuanced, so you’ll definitely have to take it slow, but the themes of gentrification and colonial violence leave a lot to discuss and think about.
The 20th anniversary edition of The Polished Hoe by Austin Clarke brings this classic Canadian novel to current times with a brand new cover design and foreword. It’s easy to have missed books with this subject matter like, 20 years ago, but there’s no way you can ignore this book about a woman confessing to murdering the village plantation owner.
If something that’s scandalously bingeable is what you need, Even So by Lauren B. Davis is a powerful novel that addresses faith, friendship, and honesty. Can we always agree with the choices characters make? Heck no, but that’s also the beauty of fiction novels like this that makes it a perfect pick for you to kick off a book club with, especially since it explores some difficult ideas.
Literary fiction might not be your thing, and that’s absolutely okay - here at Dundurn Press, we don’t discriminate against genres or formats you read your books in! That’s why we recommend Gone but Still Here by Jennifer Dance for the contemporary readers, with an autofiction twist. Jennifer Dance draws on her real life story to talk about the tragedies following her own interracial marriage and being a caregiver to someone with Alzheimer’s.
What Remains of Elsie Jane by Chelsea Wakelyn might be autofiction, but it’s raw and honest look at grief, sadness, and healing gets us in tears every time! When Elsie Jane’s partner suddenly dies from drug poisoning, she’s left as a single mother trying to pick up the pieces while hopelessly falling apart, eventually trying to hire a space-time wizard to turn back time so she can save her partner…yeah, she’s definitely one messy character you’ll be rooting for.
And if you’re a fan of Marissa Stapley, then After Elias by Eddy Boudel Tan is the next contemporary book for you. This book does a great job of really getting you to root for the characters and wanting to see them heal from their past and the grief they carry around throughout the novel.
Switch it up with a wildly accurate dystopian pandemic novel such as The Petting Zoos by K.S. Covert, who finished writing her debut in March 2020 - how do these authors come up with these things, seriously? In a time that’s eerily similar to what we lived through, this book is more about rediscovering who you are after years of social isolation.
I think we can all agree that mystery and thriller books are perfect for spring … and every season, for that matter! So instead of boring you with a long paragraph, here’s some rapid fire reasons why you need to read the following books:
Cold Mourning by Brenda Chapman: a Christmas murder leaves a new detective relying on her intuition to find the perpetrator.
Wreck Bay by Barbara Fradkin: a remote island mystery where a rich surfer goes missing, with no one else but a reclusive old man in the area at the time of his disappearance.
Eve’s Rib by C.S. O’Cinneide: a mother who called upon a devil to help her conceive a child 18 years ago, and now that very child might just be pure evil.
Blood Atonement by S.M. Freedman: a cult thriller that follows a young woman suffering from dissociative identity disorder who needs to figure out if she’s the murderer, or the next target.