*by Maitland Shaheen
The holidays are the best time for reading. Whether you’re buying for yourself or a loved one, there’s no better time to cozy up indoors with a book! In the age of subjective truth, reading can be both an escape from daily life and an opportunity to learn about the world around us.
2018 was a great year for literature, introducing us to a number of breakthrough Canadian artists. From poetry to biography, here are a few of our favourites to bring you into the new year.
Scarborough is written by a local of the Toronto suburb, Catherine Hernandez, and tells intimate stories of childhood poverty, trauma, and growth through the eyes of three children. Hernandez’s first novel, Scarborough is not only a must-read for those in the city but for all Canadians. Its lyrical storytelling has already won the novel a number of awards, and most recently was longlisted in the 2018 CBC Canada Reads list.
Seven Fallen Feathers
Written by Canadian investigative journalist Tanya Talaga, Seven Fallen Feathers examines the seven deaths of Indigenous students that occured in Northern Ontario between 2000 and 2011. Talaga takes the reader into the city of Thunder Bay, where racism and colonial practices have faced Indigenous communities for decades. A portion of profits from the 2018 RBC Taylor Prize-winning book go to the Dennis Franklin Cromarty Memorial Fund, which provides financial assistance to Nishnawbe Aski Nation students’ studies in Thunder Bay and at post-secondary institutions.
Warlight is the latest novel by best-selling Canadian author, Michael Ondaatje. Set in post-World War II London, the novel follows a young man through his adolescent years as he pieces together the puzzle of his family’s past.
21 Lessons for the 21st Century
21 Lessons for the 21st Century is the third book by Yuval Noah Harari. His first, Sapiens, discussed human history; Homo Deus predicted the future. In this book, Harari narrates a number of issues facing humankind in the present: the rise of authoritarianism, threats of climate change, and ethical questions of technology to name a few. In 21 essays (the book reads much like a collection of opinion articles), he discusses the intersecting issues facing the modern world, and what we, as global citizens, must do about it.
Educated is the memoir of historian Tara Westover, who was raised in a Mormon survivalist family. Born in a farming town in Idaho, Westover first set foot in a school at seventeen years old. Now an award-winning scholar, the book tells the story of her personal journey from isolation to academia, and the transformative abilities of education. Educated is Indigo and Amazon’s book of the year, racking up high acclaim.
Indianland is a collection of poetry by Anishinaabekwe writer Lesley Belleau. The collection is inspired largely by the imagery and storytelling of the Ojibwe language. The content ranges from missing and murdered Indigenous women, to motherhood, to personal relationships; with a focus on the issues facing Indigenous peoples in Canada. A PhD candidate from Garden River First Nation, Belleau’s first poetry collection has garnered attention from across the country.
Trust No Aunty
Trust No Aunty is the first book by Toronto artist, Maria Qamar. Known as @Hatecopy on Instagram, Qamar brings humour into her account of growing up first-generation in a South Asian household. Her first book is a tell-all of cultural diaspora, overbearing family, and the importance of pursuing your passions.
The Boat People
Canadian author Sharon Bala’s first novel, entitled The Boat People, was a finalist for CBC’s Canada Reads 2018. Based on the Sri Lankan refugee crisis, the novel tells the tale of Mahindan, a young refugee fleeing civil war with his six year-old son. The novel is narrated through the voices of Mahindan and those with the power to save his chance of survival in Canada, providing a deeply emotional reflection on today’s refugee crises.
Have these books whet your appetite? Tweet us @leveljustice and let us know what’s on your holiday reading list!
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*Maitland Shaheen is a Level volunteer and senior at the University of Ottawa, studying a joint honours BA in Communication and Political Science. An aspiring lawyer, she is passionate about human rights, feminism and justice.