My 2016 Reading List

Photo of Birdie by Tracey Lindberg being read in a coffee shop

Looking back over the books I read this year, they ended up being about half fiction and half non-fiction. I completed my goal of reading every Canada Reads winner since the show began, tackled a couple more Massey Lectures, read some Agathie Christie for the first time (while on a train in the UK!), and tried to read more books done in different formats – including finally making time to get through some of the graphic novels I’ve been gifted over the years (why didn’t I read Essex County and Fun Home sooner!?)

Any recommendations you have for books to read in 2017 are highly welcome!

If I had to pick my top choices from this year, in no particular order, they would be:

Fiction: Birdie, The Book of Negroes, Essex County, The Orenda, For Today I Am a Boy, and the combination of Secret Path/Wenjack (books, music, film and all).

Non-Fiction: Fun Home, Men Explains Things to Me, You Only Live Twice: Sex, Death and Transition, Out in the Union: A Labor History of Queer America, and the TRC’s A Knock on the Door – The Essential History of Residential Schools

Beyond that, this year’s reading list is below with a (highly inconsistent) 5 star system, but if you want to know more about any of them definitely feel free to ask!

Canada Reads Books

  • The Orenda – Joseph Boyden (2014 Winner) (*****)
  • The Book of Negroes – Lawrence Hill (2009 Winner) (*****)
  • The Illegal – Lawrence Hill (2016 Winner) (****)
  • The Hero’s Walk – Anita Rau Badami (2016 Shortlist) (****)
  • Bone & Bread – Saleema Nawaz (2016 Shortlist) (***)
  • Birdie – Tracey Lindberg (2016 Shortlist) (*****)
  • King Leary – Paul Quarrington (2008 Winner) (***)
  • Next Episode – Hubert Aquin, Translated by Sheila Fischman (2003 Winner) (***)
  • Rockbound – Frank Parker Day (2005 Winner) (****)
  • The Last Crossing – Guy Vanderhaeghe (2004 Winner) (***)
  • Natasha and Other Stories – David Bezmozgis (2007 Shortlist) (****)
  • Essex County – Jeff Lemire (2011 Shortlist) (*****)

Indigenous Literature/Studies

  • A Knock On The Door – The Essential History of Residential Schools – From the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (*****)
  • Secret Path – Gord Downie & Jeff Lemire (*****)
  • Wenjack – Joseph Boyden (*****)
  • In This Together: Fifteen Stories of Truth & Reconciliation – Edited by Danielle Metcalfe-Chenail (****)
  • They Called Me Number One: Secrets and Survival at a an Indian Residential School – Bev Sellars (*****)
  • Goodbye Buffalo Bay: A true story of life in a residential school… and of moving on – Larry Loyie with Constance Brissenden (****)
  • Urban Indigenous People: Stories of Healing in the City – John G. Hansen & Rose Antsanen (**)

Other Lit/Fiction

  • Fifteen Dogs – André Alexis (Giller Prize 2015) (****)
  • milk and honey – Rupi Kaur (****)
  • Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic – Alison Bechdel (*****)
  • The Old Man and The Sea – Ernest Hemingway (***)
  • Murder on the Orient Express – Agatha Christie (*****)
  • And Then There Were None – Agatha Christie (*****)
  • The Book of Unknown Americans: A Novel – Christina Henríquez (****)
  • A Very British Coup – Chris Mullin (****)
  • Death of a Salesman – Arthur Miller (***)
  • Gray Mountain – John Grisham (****)

CBC Massey Lectures

  • The Malaise of Modernity – Charles Taylor (****)
  • A Short History of Progress – Ronald Wright (****)

Political, Cultural Studies and Other Non-Fiction

  • What Kind of Citizen? Educating our Children for the Common Good – Joel Westheimer (****)
  • Out In The Union: A Labour History of Queer America – Miriam Frank (*****)
  • Men Explain Things to Me – Rebecca Solnit (*****)
  • You Only Live Twice: Sex, Death and Transition – Chase Joynt & Mike Hoolboom (****)
  • A Just Transition For All: Can the past inform the future? – International Journal of Labour Research (****)
  • Unfree Labour? Struggles of Migrant and Immigrant Workers in Canada – Edited by Aziz Choudry and Adrian A. Smith (****)
  • Jane Jacobs: The Last Interview and Other Conversations (****)
  • Uranium: Correspondence with the Premier – Bill Harding (***)
  • The New Urban Agenda – Bill Freeman (****)
  • A Labour of Liberation – Baijayanta Mukhopadhyay (****)
  • The Surprising Lives of Small-Town Doctors – edited by Dr. Paul Dhillon (****)
  • Fault Lines:Life and Landscape in Saskatchewan’s Oil Economy – Photographs by Valerie Zink, Text by Emily Eaton (*****)
  • City Voices: A Book of Monologues by Toronto Artists – Edited by Jenna Harris, Anila Pant and Ronit Rubinstein (****)
  • Food Sovereignty: Reconnecting Food, Nature and Community – Edited by Hanna Wittman, Annette Desmarais and Nettie Wiebe (****)
  • Before Night Falls – Reinaldo Areans (**)
  • The Book of Letters I Didn’t Know Where to Send – Steve Patterson (**)
  • History of the USSU: 100 Years of Activism, Debate and Snake Dances – Robert Morley & Robert Martz
  • The Ocean of Life: The Fate of Man and the Sea – Callum Roberts (****)
  • Confessions of a Modern Queer Beatnik – Elise Pallagi (****)
  • The Anti-Capitalist Resistance History Comic Book – Gord Hill (****)
  • Drawn to Change: Graphic Histories of Working-Class Struggle – Edited by the Graphic History Collective with Paul Buhle (****)
  • Cool Comforts: Bargaining For Our Survival – A Union Activist’s handbook on global warming. (***)

Link to my: 2015 Reading List
Link to my: 2014 Reading List

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