Great Canadian books for the holidays

December 12, 2013 1:05 PM

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Great Canadian books for the holidays

An Astronauts Guide to Life on Earth by Chris Hadfield (Random House Canada, $32)

Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield presents an inspiring tale of his own perseverance in pursuing his dream. There are many interesting tidbits about space included here that can only be related by someone who has been there.

The hockey legend has written a memoir detailing his youth through to the glory days of his NHL career. Orr touches upon fighting, the responsibilities of coaches and parents, and the pressure on young kids to play year-round.

David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits and the Art of Battling Giants by Malcolm Gladwell (Little, Brown and Company, $34)

Who doesn’t love reading about the underdog? In Malcolm Gladwell’s new book, he looks at the power that comes from being a longshot, and how those who appear to have setbacks create change and beauty through their struggles. A good read for the struggling entrepreneur.

The Longer I’m Prime Minister: Stephen Harper And Canada, 2006-, by Paul Wells (Random House Canada, $32)

Veteran political writer Paul Wells writes a compelling history of Prime Minister Stephen Harper from the day following his 2006 election victory to the present. It provides insights into how Harper has controlled his image and stayed in power longer than many anticipated.

Not for the faint of heart, this book details the kidnapping and 15-month captivity of Amanda Lindhout, who was 27 when she set out for Somalia, with nothing more than a dream of becoming a journalist. The story documents her brutal ordeal and shows how the human spirit can rise above a seemingly hopeless situation.

The Massey Murder: A Maid, Her Master and the Trial that Shocked a Country by Charlotte Gray (HarperCollins Publishers, $33.99)

Charles Bert Massey is gunned down at his home in 1915 by his maid Carrie Davies, a young migrant from Britain. A sensational trial follows. Historian Charlotte Gray takes a shocking true crime in Toronto’s history and turns it into a captivating social exploration of the time, with the backdrop of the First World War and the far-reaching power of the Massey family.

Hailed as a master of the short story for decades, Alice Munro won the 2013 Nobel Prize for Literature. Treat someone on your gift list to her latest collection of stories set in small-town Canada and relating the extraordinary events that happen to ordinary people.

This is a taut psychological thriller about a relationship gone bad and what one partner will do to keep up appearances. Jodi has always remained silent about Todd’s indiscretions but now that he’s leaving her for another woman, her coolness is about to turn deadly. It’s a chilling account of what can happen when someone quietly accepts a devastating situation for too long.

An epic historical novel, The Orenda has been hailed as a masterpiece. Set in the 17th century and exploring the bitter rivalry between the Hurons and the Iroquois, the story is told from the point of view of three individuals: Bird, a Huron warrior chief; Snow Falls, the Iroquois girl he has kidnapped; and Christophe, a Jesuit priest. Boyden pulls off a suspenseful, captivating read.

Cal’s teenage son died in a tragic accident, leaving him with a grief he can’t get past. One night Cal picks up a hitchhiking teenage girl who looks to be the same age as his son, and so begins to uncover a string of horrible secrets in the small town where he lives.

Canadian-born Eleanor Catton, 28, is the youngest writer to win the coveted Man Booker Prize, which she received for this stunning work of fiction. Set during the New Zealand gold rush, it details three unsolved crimes and how they bring together the lives of 12 men. The novel threads together stories of love, betrayal and murder with Catton’s richly created characters.

You might think it sounds a bit dark for the holidays, but Lynn Coady’s collection of short stories, winner of the 2013 Scotiabank Giller Prize, is a rewarding read. Coady throws the reader into her characters’ confusions, obsessions and eccentricities. Laced with a sympathetic humour, her stories speak to the frustrations and misunderstandings of people.


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