The past year was another outstanding one for great books, and the Toronto International Festival of Authors (TIFA) is here to help you find the perfect one to gift your book-loving friends and family. From local authors to chilling stories of crime and mystery, as well as buzzworthy award-contenders to gorgeously illustrated KidLit, here is a selection of some of our favourites to share during the holidays.
With Indigo and Rakuten Kobo as TIFA’s official booksellers, you can get that perfect gift as an ebook, audiobook, hardcover or paperback.
You don’t need to look far or wide to find exciting new reads, as Toronto is brimming with talented authors. Each year, the Toronto Lit Up programme (spearheaded by TIFA and the Toronto Arts Council) features a selection of new works of fiction and non-fiction for adults and young people, in all genres, by debut and established local authors. While there have been over 161 books selected for the programme since 2016, be sure to check out these latest titles:
Love from Mecca to Medina by S.K. Ali (Simon & Schuster Canada)
For romance enthusiasts, Love from A to Z and its sequel, Love from Mecca to Medina, by S.K. Ali are the perfect choice. Adam and Zayneb’s relationship is heartwarming and entertaining, but there are many questions the two must face. Was their meeting just an oddity? Or, like the greatest marvels of the world, can their love transcend anything? Journey through the story of their relationship, and adventure through Qatar and Saudi Arabia as the backdrop of their love story.
The Loyal Daughter by Nancy Lam (At Bay Press)
Nancy Lam’s The Loyal Daughter is a novel in stories, told from the perspective of mother, daughter and granddaughter; spanning through generations from the 1940s to modern day. Following a young woman in Communist China to her life in Toronto, the book is filled with heart-breaking sacrifices, struggles and secrets, and provides a thought-provoking portrayal of a woman’s resilience.
Toronto, I Love You by Didier Leclair (Mawenzi House)
In Toronto, I Love You, Didier Leclair explores various perspectives of Toronto, from the friendly and welcoming ideal to the darker, hidden struggles of the Afro-Caribbean community. After fleeing unrest and misery in Benin, protagonist Raymond Dossougbé is initially enamored with Toronto as a new home, but he soon uncovers complex social dynamics in a community unwilling to adapt. Part love letter, part social critique, this book is a great gift for the literary readers in your life.
Thrills & Chills
TIFA launched the first annual MOTIVE Crime and Mystery Festival in June, and thrilling to-be-read piles have been growing ever since. While we can’t share what’s in store for the 2023 edition of MOTIVE just yet, be sure to grab a copy of these 2022 featured titles for the mystery fan in your life.
Deep House by Thomas King (HarperCollins Canada)
Thomas King’s books are a gift that always keeps on giving. Deep House, the sixth book in the DeadfulWater series, sees Thumps DreadfulWater entangled in a new mystery when he unexpectedly finds a dead body. It throws his peaceful, post-pandemic life in small-town Chinook into a puzzling adventure. With King’s usual wit and wry humour, it’s a perfect choice for those looking for a cozy mystery.
The Dark Flood by Deon Meyer (Grove/Atlantic)
A perfect gift for detective fiction fans, The Dark Flood features two superstar detectives on a pursuit to clear their names after an unauthorized investigation threatens to reveal corruption in South Africa’s halls of power. Deon Meyer is a South African author known for writing with a powerful punch, full of twists and sharp prose. This spotlight on state capture and corruption lends political weight to an already intriguing story.
Inside the Montreal Mafia by Félix Séguin and Eric Thibault (ECW Press)
Inside the Montreal Mafia leaves no stone unturned with an exclusive inside look at the North American Mafia through the secret confessions its authors perilously collected from high-ranking Mafioso Andrew Scoppa between 2014 and 2019. This investigative work will appeal to true crime readers everywhere.
2022 was another tremendous year for readers as Canadian book awards highlighted a diverse and talented selection of titles and authors telling powerful stories through poetry, short stories and novels. Here are some of our most buzzworthy picks to peruse this year.
Run Towards the Danger by Sarah Polley (Penguin Random House Canada)
The visceral collection of personal essays, Run Towards the Danger, was announced as the 2022 Toronto Book Award winner in November. Toronto-based, Oscar-nominated screenwriter, director and actor Sarah Polley delves into her past to illuminate powerful truths about post-traumatic memory, our relationship to the body and how we tell our stories. It’s an honest, humorous and inspiring read for anyone brave enough to confront the constant human state of becoming, learning and changing.
Her First Palestinian by Saeed Teebi (House of Anansi Press)
As a finalist of the Atwood Gibson Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, Saeed Teebi’s short story collection is a must-have for readers this year. Teebi offers compelling reflections on the Palestinian diaspora with grace and deep insight. From the perspectives of a doctor, professor, student, refugee and more, these intense and compelling stories share diverse perspectives of the immigrant experience.
We Measure the Earth with Our Bodies by Tsering Yangzom Lama (McClelland & Stewart)
Tsering Yangzom Lama came onto the literary scene with a bang with her debut novel, We Measure the Earth with Our Bodies, making the shortlist for the 2022 Scotiabank Giller Prize, and the longlists for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize and Toronto Book Awards. The book is a poignant meditation on colonization, displacement and rebirth, recounting a Tibetan family’s 50-year journey through exile and their struggles to shape new lives.
It wouldn’t be a complete gift guide without books for young readers! From toddlers to young adults, here are some of our favourite 2022 findings to consider for the bookish kids in your life.
Benny the Bananasaurus Rex by Sarabeth Holden & Illustrator Emma Pederesen (Inhabit Media)
A perfect gift for the banana and dinosaur-loving child in your life; Benny the Bananasaurus Rex is a fun, beautiful and wholesome book about a kid named Benny. Benny loves bananas. He eats them morning, noon and night. He even rides a bike with a yellow banana seat. In fact, Benny has a secret, he hopes one day he will turn into a banana! And if there is one thing Benny knows, it’s that with a little imagination anything is possible. This is a great gift for kids aged 3 and up.
The Global Ocean by Rochelle Strauss & Illustrator Natasha Donovan (Kids Can Press)
The Global Ocean is a stunning book that explores the ocean’s enormous influence on the planet, as well as humans’ often detrimental influence on the ocean. It may seem like Earth’s five oceans are separate and distinct, but they are actually a linked system of circulating water that is one single ocean: the global ocean. This book provides young readers with the knowledge about inspiring initiatives that are underway to restore and heal Earth’s most important feature. This gift is recommended for children aged 8 and up.
Twice as Perfect by Louisa Onomé (HarperCollins Canada)
Give your YA reader Louisa Onomé’s latest novel, Twice as Perfect, this year. The novel follows 17-year-old Ada and her struggle of putting everyone else first, from school and the debate team to her Nigerian parents and even her cousin. Amid parental pressure, reconnecting with her estranged brother and her cousin’s enormous wedding, Ada faces the question, what makes her happy? This book is recommended for readers aged 12 and up.
Looking for more? Check out our 2021, 2020, 2019 & 2018 holiday gift guides for more inspiration.