When winter arrives, there’s nothing quite like cosying up with a good book, hot beverage in hand, as the snow falls outside. There are plenty of great new reads to consider for such an occasion and in the spirit of giving, we’ve put together a list of the top ten titles that stood out to us in 2018. From award-winning fiction and nonfiction to whimsical children’s tales, these picks are guaranteed to delight any reader on your shopping list.
Perhaps the most talked-about book of the year, Esi Edugyan’s historical epic was shortlisted for both the Man Booker Prize for Fiction and the Rogers’ Writers Trust Fiction Prize, and received the Scotiabank Giller Prize last month. Novels like Washington Black don’t come around very often, which is why Edugyan is only one of three authors to have won the Giller Prize twice!
When we spoke to Sarah Henstra earlier this year, she explained that The Red Word was a product of her “interest in the clash between ideas and real life that can happen to university students when they begin to learn about big ideas in the classroom.” Shortly after our Festival Celebration: GG Books event, Henstra was announced as the winner of this year’s Governor General’s Literary Award for English-language Fiction!
This year’s Festival Celebration: GG Books event also saw Lee Maracle presented with the 2018 Harbourfront Festival Prize, which annually recognizes one author for their outstanding contributions to the Canadian writing community. Maracle’s most recent book, My Conversations with Canadians, is the icing on the cake in that sense—another incredible addition to Maracle’s already-extraordinary library of works.
The Unpublished City, Vol. II is an anthology of creative non-fiction authored by emerging writers based in Toronto. Through their stories, readers are offered a glimpse at the city’s many different neighbourhoods and nuances—think of it as an experiment in cartography via storytelling! The first volume of The Unpublished City was a finalist for the 2018 Toronto Book Award.
Similar to The Unpublished City, Vol. II, we have a book that serves as a deep dive into the history of Toronto. In particular, this collection of essays traces the growth of Toronto’s queer communities over the past century, from Oscar Wilde’s lecture at the University of Toronto in 1882 to the Yonge bathhouse raids to the emergence of Pride Toronto. It was an honourable mention in the 2018 Heritage Toronto Awards!
At the end of this year’s Double Interview: Buffy Sainte-Marie with Andrea Warner event, the legendary singer-songwriter offered the audience some homework in the form of a brief reading list. Now you can do the same by gifting someone this fascinating exploration of Buffy Sainte-Marie’s career!
Looking for a book to complement young readers’ holiday cheer? Emma Donoghue’s The Lotterys More or Less fits the bill! The book is actually Donoghue’s second story focused on the titular Lottery family (the first being The Lotterys Plus One), who must make the best of a bad situation when ice storms, blackouts and flight cancellations threaten their would-be winter wonderland.
Kenneth Oppel has proven time and time again that he’s a master of fiction for young readers and this time he has teamed with artist Sydney Smith to tell the story of a inkblot come to life. But don’t let the conceit fool you: though full of humour and excitement, Inkling’s tender portrayal of a family in mourning is sure to tug at your heartstrings.
A Thrilling Read
For those who prefer to go about the holiday season with a dash of danger and darkness peppered in, Find You In the Dark by Nathan Ripley (the pen name of Naben Ruthnum) is just what the doctor ordered: a chilling excursion into the world of serial killers, crooked cops and gravediggers for whom death and decay are more daily companions than they are deterrents.
A Remixed Romance
“I wanted to write joyful narratives about people of colour,” Uzma Jalaluddin told us this past summer when explaining why she chose the romance genre for her first book. She also cited Jhumpa Lahiri and Jane Austen as influences on the novel, which has been widely billed as a Pride and Prejudice remix starring, as Jalaluddin puts it, “a hijab-wearing spoken-word poet.”
What books are you hoping to crack open this holiday season? Send us your recommendations by tagging us on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook (@festofauthors)!