29 June 2018

Oh, Canada! 10 Books We Love by Canadian Authors



The long weekend is almost here and we thought what better theme for a list than a spotlight on our favourite books by Canadian authors.

If you've been reading this blog for a long time this was likely expected. I love this book so. frigging. much. and I generally enjoy most Ondaatje fiction. This is the ultimate love story for me, about a man who quite literally walks across the desert to try and find help for the injured love of his life only to be captured by soldiers.

If you're not a reader the movie is just as good (rare statement for me). I feel weirdly proud that this book is written by a Canadian author because it's not just top of this list, it's top of almost any fiction list for me. You will cry reading this so beware. You will also fall madly in love with Ralph Fiennes if you opt for the movie.



I haven't read a ton of Margaret Atwood but this is easily my favourite one. I love reading about female friendship, but I weirdly prefer to read about the sometimes toxicity of it. I know that sounds bleak and that we are supposed to all unite together, but friendship between young girls has always interested me. Cat's Eye focuses on Elaine, an artist who reflects on the ups and downs of her relationship with her childhood/teenage best friend Cordelia.

Atwood perfectly describes how alienating it is to be in a group of friends ... how those closest to you can exclude you, pick on you, but can also care deeply about you. In the book Elaine thinks "Forgiving men is so much easier than forgiving women." The line is so unfortunately simple and true, and I've found myself struggling with it for my entire life.

I've just finished reading this book and I found it SO interesting. And the author is from London, Ontario! I'll likely have a full review on here in a few weeks or so. I bought it at a used book store years ago because a friend I was with was telling me it was 'almost as if Grey's Anatomy was a novel'.

It's technically a fiction novel about a bunch of students working through medical school but it's incredibly detailed as Lam is a doctor himself and it's based on his own experiences. The characters are well-written (likely because they are based off real people) and it's the perfect medical school substitute for someone like myself who could never stomach it (and who could also never get in). In Grey's Anatomy fashion, it covers their personal lives as well as their lives as medical students. There are really cool scenes where Lam describes cutting bodies open in a way that makes you feel like you're holding the scalpel.

I think anyone could find this interesting, there are enough medical dramas on television to vouch for the fact that even non-medical people enjoy the content. The fact that it's a local author somehow adds another level of authenticity for me to a book that's already incredibly experience-driven.


We were assigned this book in high school and I'll probably never forget it. I remember we were all sitting in class and Mr. Killen carted in ~20 copies and they hit our desks with a thud... A Fine Balance is ~800 pages and was the first time I was assigned a list of books with such short due dates to complete them. A Fine Balance covers the caste system in India during "The Emergency" time period, and specifically covers characters categorized as "untouchables."

It was also probably the first time I read something so explicit... something that talked about caste, rape, mutilation, depression, suicide. I remember reading this over the Christmas break because we had an essay due in January. It was definitely a depressing read, but I'd love to go back to it now that I'm older.


You can read a full review of this short story compilation here, but I clearly love it as I listed it in our best reads of 2017 list. It's actually written by a friend of mine and Meghan's but, as I've mentioned before, not a good enough friend that I'd lie about how much I like it. It's a collection of incredible short stories all set on the Canadian east coast. A lot of the themes surround common hardships for maritimers such as lack of work, perceived lack of ambition, etc. but it's also filled with facts about the history of the region, animals, and major Canadian events (and I love a good fact). One of the stories, "Enigma", won Huebert the CBC short story prize in 2016.

One of the reasons I love short story collections so much is how approachable they are. You can easily skip over stories that don't appeal to you and you can put the book down and pick it up months later without having to remember what happened. Not only do I love this book, but I think it would make an amazing gift for anyone you know who likes short stories or Canadian literature.


I read this in my Intro to Fiction class during my undergraduate degree. I barely took any English Literature classes during my undergrad ... I hated that the only books they ever assigned seemed to be from the Victorian period or even earlier. This class was mostly the same, but the last book assigned to us was Mark Blagrave's Silver Salts (the only book from the 21st century). I was shocked by how much I enjoyed reading it.

The book is about Lillie, a young girl who is obsessed with movies (silent pictures at the time) and who, after a weird turn of events, ends up an actress. Silver Salts covers the majority of her life and the struggles she faced as a child (orphaned due to influenza) and as an adult.

But I love this book even more because it is set in SAINT JOHN (where I'm from/where I live)! Blagrave is originally from Ontario but made his home in Sackville, New Brunswick, where he taught at Mt. Allison University. It is so cool to read about the Imperial Theatre (where I literally went to see a movie last week), Haymarket Square, unions, etc... all places and topics I've been familiar with all my life.




I grabbed this book of a shelf at a house I was dog-sitting for and literally inhaled it in one weekend. Apologies to the dog I was meant to be playing with. When the homeowners returned they told me the author was actually from their neighborhood (Wortley Village in London, Ontario) and I was baffled. The book was already being adapted into a major film and I couldn't believe such fame could exist in my city. I've since SEEN DONOGHUE at three different restaurants.

While I included this book mostly because of how cool the experience was to read it knowing the author lived so close to me, I think the movie was ultimately better, and Donoghue wrote the screenplay for it as well so I don't feel this is too insulting. The book alternates between the perspective of a four year old boy and his mother and I found it very hard to read from the perspective of a child. The story is about a boy and his mom who've been held captive in a tiny room for years (the boy was actually born in the room) and without spoiling the plot for you all, it's very sad.

Donoghue will likely be remembered as one of Canada's most famous authors because the movie was nominated for a ton of awards globally. The story of how the film came to be is also quite interesting and I talked about it a lot more in our post on our favourite book to movie adaptations. It feels hopeful that if an author from a tiny town in Canada can write a book and adapt it into an award winning movie, there's that potential for anyone, you don't need to like, move to LA.

This is another book I was assigned in high school and I remember thinking this was one of the greatest titles I have ever seen. I actually still have the copy we were given in class (oops). It was cool to read David Adams Richards because he is such a famous Canadian author and he is from Miramichi, New Brunswick (about 3 hours from where I live).

This is actually the only book I have ever read of his, but again, I would be very interested in re-reading it now that I'm a bit older. The book focuses on two ex-convicts, one who has been acquitted and the other who has escaped prison. There is a constant sense of foreboding and dread throughout the book and you know it has to end violently. It also has a lot to do with trying to move forward and reckoning with your past.



The subtitle should tell you all you need to know about why you should read this book: The Untold Story of Canada's Serial Killer Capital. It was a hard toss up for me whether to include this one or Arntfield & Danesi's Murder in Plain English which I also loved, but in the end I felt this one was more Canadian because it's really focused on crimes in London, Ontario and the surrounding area. You can read a complete review of Murder City here. It's a very captivating but also very spooky nonfiction account of the serial killings that were prevalent in the London area from the 50's to 80's.

This book goes into a lot of detail about the different kinds of murder and serial killers in general, as well as various factors that indicate someone could become a killer. It also goes through a detailed history of the London and surrounding area police forces, the way their communication styles have changed as a result of this peak crime period, and different techniques they use to catch these types of killers.

Arntfield is a Western professor, which makes this an even cooler read for me. I think if you're into true crime or local history this would be a great book for you.


I've read two books by Douglas Coupland, but this is easily his most famous. I found it so interesting because stylistically the book is pretty unique... the text is in the centre of the page (obviously) but there are comics on the side and random dictionary definitions for terms like "McJobs." Coupland lives mostly out west and is a very weird/cool visual artist, and you can kind of see that with how this book is constructed. The book centres around three characters from generation x... they all move to California and are pretty disinterested in their lives. I will say that I despise gen x'ers but that this book was still somewhat relatable.

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