Looking for the right holiday gift for the avid reader in your life? The Toronto International Festival of Authors is here to help! From award-winning titles to debuts and stories for young people, we’ve curated an assortment of unique options to surprise your favourite readers this holiday season.
Autographed Bookplates Paired with #FestofAuthors20 Titles
Gift the book lover in your life their next read, but make it extra special with an autographed bookplate from their favourite author! Many of the books featured at this year’s Festival are still in stock at the University of Toronto Bookstore, and many come paired with autographed bookplates by the authors themselves. Books with signed bookplates include titles by authors Catherine Bush, Farzana Doctor, Emma Donoghue, Francesca Ekwuyasi, Catherine Hernandez, John Elizabeth Stintzi and Jesse Thistle,. Browse offered books with bookplates here while supplies last.
Any Night of the Week Prints
During #FestofAuthors20, indie musician and writer Jonny Dovercourt took readers on an audio walking tour through several Toronto neighbourhoods in the Any Night of the Week podcast. The five-episode journey, based on his book Any Night of the Week: A DIY History of Toronto Music 1957-2001 (Coach House Books, 2020), highlights milestone events in Toronto’s music history and how, over time, the music scene migrated through different neighbourhoods throughout the city. To accompany the podcast, artist Daniel Rotsztain created three beautiful maps of the Yonge Street, Urban Villages and Queen Street West corridors discussed in the podcasts. You can now order these incredible maps as limited edition prints here.
Friend of the Festival
Share the gift of the Toronto International Festival of Authors with your friend, family or colleague. Your gift will support TIFA in providing even more free events and activities to book lovers year-round, while also unlocking specific Friends of the Festival personal benefits for your giftee, from complimentary tickets to retail discounts and access to exclusive offers.
How to Pronounce Knife by Souvankham Thammavongsa
Souvankham Thammavongsa’s How to Pronounce Knife explores the immigrant experience through a collection of short stories, giving readers an intimate look at several characters’ struggle, hopes, disappointments, love affairs, acts of defiance and pursuits of finding a place to belong. As the winner of the 2020 Scotiabank Giller Prize, How to Pronounce Knife is the perfect gift for those looking for beautiful prose and heartfelt moments. Autographed bookplates are available with a book purchase from the University of Toronto Bookstore while supplies last.
Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart
Winner of the 2020 Booker Prize, Douglas Stuart’s novel Shuggie Bain is a heartbreaking story of addiction, sexuality and love. The book tells the story of Shuggie’s life growing up in public housing in Glasgow during the 1980s. This intimate look at his coming of age in a dysfunctional family as the bad gets increasingly worse is a perfect gift for the book lover seeking an unflinching look at the bonds that tie us together.
The Skin We’re In: A Year of Black Resistance and Power by Desmond Cole
This book gives a vital and unapologetic look at the struggle against racism, by chronicling one year of racist activities in the city of Toronto. The Skin We’re In brings to light the entrenched, systemic inequality in Canada that continues to plague our social systems, communities and actions. As the winner of the 2020 Toronto Book Award, Desmond Cole’s book is a great gift for the reader looking for strong Canadian voices, and has the courage to deeply examine the social constructs that create and uphold oppression.
Ridgerunner by Gil Adamson
Ridgerunner is the follow-up to Gil Adamson’s first novel, The Outlander, and reconnects readers with William Moreland as he returns to the life of stealing, this time to secure financial stability for his son Jack. When William heads off, Jack is left semi-orphaned in the care of a nun and doesn’t take kindly to this new life. The historical novel, winner of the 2020 Writers Trust Fiction Prize, is a notable gift for readers looking for adventure. Autographed bookplates are available with book purchase from the University of Toronto Bookstore while supplies last.
The Cyborg by Lindsay B-e
Consider giving the poetry and sci-fi lovers in your life a copy of this new and innovative collection of poems by Lindsay B-e. The Cyborg Anthology is set in a hypothetical future after a disastrous event has wiped out all Robot and Cyborg life. Organized as an anthology, this book introduces readers to a range of poets within a futuristic world, where humans had recently lived peacefully with machines. Through the eyes of these technological beings, the anthology explores themes of personhood through beautiful prose and understanding.
I Overcame My Autism and All I Got Was This Lousy Anxiety Disorder by Sarah Kurchak
In this moving, yet cheeky, memoir, Sarah Kurchak gives readers a glimpse at her experience growing up with undiagnosed Autism and the effect her coping habits had on her mental health. I Overcame My Autism and All I Got Was This Lousy Anxiety Disorder examines Autism, and the stereotypes and preconceptions we have of the people living with it. The book is a must-read for those looking to support Canadian rising talent.
Nobody Talks About Anything but the End by Liz Levine
“I feel like I might be a terrible person to be laughing in these moments. But it turns out, I’m not alone.”
In Nobody Talks About Anything but the End, award-winning screen producer Liz Levine explores the feelings of grief and mourning that we often shy away from sharing and often keep to ourselves. By sharing the experience of the death of her sister and best friend, Levine provides a memorable account of life and loss that reminds us that even in the hardest times, life must be celebrated.
Bones by Tyler Pennock
Tyler Pennock’s debut book of poetry explores how we process the trauma of our pasts and move through personal shadows toward strength and awareness. Bones is a must-read for poetry lovers looking to celebrate the human spirit in all of us. Autographed bookplates from the Cree/Métis author are available with book purchase from the University of Toronto Bookstore while supplies last.
For the Young Reader in Your Life
Birdsong by Julie Flett
Moving can be difficult, so when a young girl named Katherena moves from the country to a small town, she is thrilled to find a new friend in Agnes, the elderly woman next door. The two bond over art and nature, and as Agnes’ health starts to decline, Cree-Métis author/illustrator Julie Flett gently guides young readers through the process of loss while celebrating the beauty of friendship and memories. Birdsong was the winner of the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award that was presented during the 2020 Children’s Book Centre Awards, and was a finalist for the 2019 Governor General’s Literary Awards for Young People’s Literature – Illustrated Books. Recommended for ages 3–8.
The Barren Grounds by David A. Robertson
Inspired by the series The Chronicles of Narnia and Indigenous storytelling, David A. Robertson’s The Barren Grounds follows Morgan and Eli, two Indigenous children forced away from their families and communities, then brought back together in a foster home in Winnipeg, Manitoba. As they struggle in this new place, feeling disconnected from everything they know, they find a secret place that transports them into a whole new world that they must work together to save. Recommended for ages 10 and up.
Small in the City by Sydney Smith
Sydney Smith’s gorgeous picture book follows a small child as he explores the big city during a snowy day. Throughout Small in the City, the thoughtful child navigates the city’s tall buildings, busy streets and unfamiliar faces to find his way back home. Winner of the 2019 Governor General’s Literary Awards for Young People’s Literature – Illustrated Books. Recommended for ages 4–7.
Our Little Kitchen by Jillian Tamaki
With a garden full of produce, a joyfully chaotic kitchen and a friendly meal shared at the table, Jillian Tamaki takes readers on an illustrated cooking adventure with a fun crew of neighbours. The book includes recipes that are easy to try at home. Recommended for ages 4–8. Autographed bookplates are available with book purchase from the University of Toronto Bookstore while supplies last.
Didn’t find what you’re looking for? Check out our 2019 Holiday Gift Guide for the Book Lover and TIFA’s Top Ten Books to Gift in 2018 for some inspiration.