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Free Press book reviewers pick their top reads of 2021


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Books continue to be a lifeline for those looking to weather the emotional ebbs and flows of the present day, whether we want to learn more about what is shaping our world or escape into a fictional landscape.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 04/12/2021 (256 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Books continue to be a lifeline for those looking to weather the emotional ebbs and flows of the present day, whether we want to learn more about what is shaping our world or escape into a fictional landscape.

Thankfully, the past year has provided a fine collection of fiction, non-fiction and more for readers of all ages — including some remarkable books about or set in our present-day pandemic. Here are some top picks from Free Press book reviewers — as we head into the holiday season, be sure to shop early (for yourself or others) to avoid any of the dreaded supply chain issues.

Ben Sigurdson, literary editor



A Dream of a Woman

By Casey Plett

Casey Plett’s collection of linked short stories is structurally innovative and deeply humane. In it, she follows a number of trans women in their 30s, through their breakouts and breakdowns, as they attempt to settle into the lives they dream.

—Melanie Brannagan Frederiksen


A Ghost in the Throat

By Doireann Ní Ghríofa

Irish poet Doireann Ní Ghríofa uses detailed research and creative speculation to bring the 18th-century Irish lament The Keen for Art O’Leary to life in her first prose book, A Ghost in the Throat. Her seamless combination of poetry and prose enlightens and enchants. She weaves the ancient text with her own life in a text that is challenging and entertaining as it solves some mysteries and introduces others.

—Bill Rambo



By Cedar Bowers

Cedar Bowers’ debut novel may remind readers of Winnipeg author Carol Shields’ 1993 Governor General prize-winning novel The Stone Diaries, in which the main character tells her own story in the third person, showing the impossibility of viewing yourself objectively. In a satisfying and unique storytelling method, Astra’s story is told by 10 of the people who come in and out of her life as she moves from girlhood to maturity. Through these encounters and others, Astra remains elusive and tantalizing to readers as a fascinating, sometimes unlikable but always sympathetic character.

—Kathryne Cardwell


Beautiful World, Where Are You

By Sally Rooney

Irish writer Sally Rooney’s third novel, after her highly successful Conversations with Friends and Normal People, offers more thoughtful insight into the lives of millennials, particularly two unmarried couples, who are not exactly sure if they can make the world a better place. Her combination of philosophical thought, authentic dialogue and appealing intimate scenes is a treat, relying on her command of the language rather than an overly inventive plot.

—Dave Williamson



By Richard Powers

Longlisted for the National Book Award and shortlisted for the Booker Prize, this novel of ideas deals with such urgent scientific issues as experimental neuroscience and environmental collapse but focuses, with tenderness and insight, on people, especially on the emotional bond between a struggling father and son. Powers can get awkward in his plotting, but his descriptive prose, whether he’s describing the smallest fungi or the vastness of the universe, is wondrous.

—Alison Gillmor



By Jonathan Franzen

A family of Protestant believers in suburban Chicago in 1971 is the subject of acclaimed U.S. novelist Jonathan Franzen’s tale of average people struggling for meaningful lives. But this just scrapes the surface of a story, told from multiple points of view, that involves youthful passion, adult betrayals, religious striving, drug addiction, mental illness and much else to boot. And, apparently, it is just the first volume of a planned trilogy.

—Morley Walker


Dante’s Indiana

By Randy Boyagoda

A theme park based on Dante’s Divine Comedy? Following the satirical and yet disturbing terrorist hell that Randy Boyagoda gave us in Original Prin (2018), the second installment, Dante’s Indiana, sends us to purgatory in the U.S. Rust Belt. With rollercoasters, self-branding and a therapist who advises Prin to “just let all life’s Billy goats pass by,” Dante’s Indiana succeeds as a funny, unpredictable and occasionally moving tale.

—Reinhold Kramer


Even So

By Lauren B. Davis

Set in Trenton and Princeton, N.J., this gripping novel explores forgiveness and redemption in a story dealing with lust, guilt and spiritual growth from the viewpoints of a nun and a privileged housewife. The plot revolves around the friendship between the two women until a tragedy ensues, altering the nature of their relationship. Davis’ keen ear for dialogue contributes much to the vignettes throughout the book.

—Bev Sandell Greenberg


Fight Night

By Miriam Toews

Narrated by nine-year-old Swiv, this feisty, funny novel deals with a slightly chaotic matriarchal household that holds three generations of unsinkable women. As Swiv wryly observes her harassed mother and irrepressible grandmother, regular Toews readers will recognize some recurring autobiographical elements, as well as the Manitoba-born writer’s knack for turning deep pain into human comedy.

—Alison Gillmor


The Girl From the Channel Islands

By Jenny Lecoat

A dramatic, tension-filled page turner, The Girl From the Channel Islands is a tale of bravery and survival. A young Jewish woman is trapped on the island of Jersey while it is occupied by the Germans during the Second World War. Based on a true story, it is riveting.

—Cheryl Girard


Hummingbird Salamander

By Jeff VanderMeer

American sci-fi writer Jeff VanderMeer’s latest is a fast-paced, genre-defying head trip that takes readers into unexpected directions. It can be a little confusing at times, but there is a payoff. The narrative has a very stream-of-consciousness quality at times; it also feels like a psychedelic detective story, but without an actual detective — until the book’s final act, that is. If you’re already a fan of VanderMeer, this should be right up your alley. If you’ve been thinking about giving him a try, this would be a good place to start.

—Alan MacKenzie


Letters Across the Sea

By Genevieve Graham

Fans of Genevieve Graham’s previous historical fiction works will likely enjoy this latest Second World War novel. Apart from a weak bit of romance, it contains well-researched, fascinating and important facets of Canadian history which actually took place in Toronto, Hong Kong and prisoner of war camps.

—Cheryl Girard


The Liquor Vicar

By Vince Ditrich

The former drummer and manager of Canadian band Spirit of the West has penned an energetic romp through a closet community on the Island, populated by well-drawn characters and strewn with more references to pop culture and euphemisms than you can shake a stick at. The first in a planned series, the adventure of accidental hero Tony Vicar is rich in detail, with an eye to make readers feel as if they are there with the book’s many eccentrics.

—Chris Rutkowski

Little Bandaged Days

By Kyra Wilder

Little Bandaged Days is a novel about feeling the need to be perfect, the trauma of isolation and the danger of being unable to express your own needs. Mostly, it’s a heartbreaking look at the pressures and unspoken expectations of marriage and motherhood.

—Kathryne Cardwell


Milk Blood Heat

By Dantiel Montiz

The bold title addresses three key elements in this electrifying debut short story collection about loss pertaining to girls, women, families and love. Rife with intensity, these intergenerational tales portray brief defining moments in the lives of ordinary citizens in the cities and suburbs of Florida. Much to her credit, Dantiel Montiz has a passion for her characters that is palpable on the page.

—Bev Sandell Greenberg


Minor Detail

By Adania Shibli, trans. Elisabeth Jaquette

The first of two linked short stories is chilling in its simplicity, describing the rape and murder of a Bedouin teenager by Israeli soldiers patrolling the Negev desert in 1949, a year after the establishment of the state of Israel. The narrative is pitiless, the narrator concerned with his daily ablutions than his humanity. In the overlapping second story, set 25 years later, a woman navigates her own perilous journey through a hostile, transformed environment to uncover the truth behind the crime. The shadow of the past haunts the present; the voiceless do call out long after they are gone.

—Harriet Zaidman


Mirror Lake

By Andrée A. Michaud, trans. J.C. Sutcliffe

A 50-something retiree, Robert, flees Quebec, seeking refuge from the onerous obligations of society, hoping to find peace in a cabin on Mirror Lake, Maine. With a name like Mirror Lake, you know there will be depths you cannot see, and Michaud takes readers on a whirlwind trip into Robert’s psychological wonderland as he deals with upheavals in his life both real and fantastic. It is an entertaining and thought-provoking book by a talented Quebec writer.

—Chris Smith


My Heart is a Chainsaw

By Stephen Graham Jones

Much like the slasher killers for whom he shows such affection, prolific horror novelist Stephen Graham Jones is an unstoppable force of a writer. My Heart is a Chainsaw, a thrilling love letter to the slasher movie genre, is a smart and brooding novel with an engaging protagonist in the loner, slasher-obsessed Jade and more twists and reveals then even the most seasoned horror fan could expect. Not for the faint of heart, but not to be missed, either.

—Keith Cadieux


The Night Always Comes

By Willy Vlautin

Willy Vlautin doesn’t write feel-good stories, but there are few out there who write heartbreakers any better. His down-on-their-luck characters won’t give up, no matter what it costs them. The choices that protagonist Lynette makes in The Night Always Comes lead her to reckon with her own morals while repeatedly risking her safety. Despite her questionable decisions, or maybe because of them, the reader can’t help but route for Lynette through all the twists and turns. Set among the dark, wet streets of Portland, Ore., Vlautin’s latest is an engaging, empathetic northwest noir that grapples with the question of whether the American dream is achievable for anyone living and working on the margins.

—Sheldon Birnie


Operation Angus

By Terry Fallis

Canadian author Terry Fallis has written several bestsellers, and his latest tale is a pleasant and comic thrill-ride. Combining Canadian politics with international spy craft, a Member of Parliament and his colleague cleverly and hilariously outsmart a variety of foreign and domestic intelligence sources. The dynamic duo manages a mysterious MI6 agent, the Russians, CSIS, the RCMP, and a rather complicated form of office politics as they attempt to thwart an assassination plot.

—Deborah Bowers


Our Country Friends

By Gary Shteyngart

Too soon for a pandemic novel? Think again. With echoes of Chekhov, Gary Shteyngart’s moving and often-hilarious novel sees eight people, friends and relations of a moderately successful writer, retreat to his rural New York acreage hoping to ride out the pandemic, which lingers in the background. Friendships and relationships are complicated, tempers flare and wine flows as freely as the evocative prose. Heartfelt and hilarious, Our Country Friends is Shyteyngart’s best novel yet.

—Ben Sigurdson


Out of Mind

By David Bergen

David Bergen has long been recognized for his spare, lean prose. His sculpted sentences are most often constituted via a remarkable alchemy: yearning, bleak stretches of absence, loneliness and pain become alloyed with a compassion and tenderness that seem first to emanate from a narrator’s oversight, but finally come to inhabit and inflect his characters as if these feelings were more truly their own. In his protagonist Lucille, the signature Bergen worldview — always evoked at eye level through characters in charged relation — has centred itself in his most memorable woman, in the most eminently readable of all his fictions to date.

—Neil Besner



By Michael Punke

The author of the novel The Revenant turns his attention to a carefully researched fictional examination of the U.S. Army’s worst defeat on the plains prior to the Little Bighorn, focusing on the tactical creativity of a young Crazy Horse as well as the hubris, blunders and in-fighting that hampered his uniformed foes.

—Bob Armstrong


State of Terror

By Hillary Rodham Clinton and Louise Penny

The former U.S. secretary of state and Canada’s pre-eminent author of murder mysteries have written a scintillating thriller about a terrorist plot to unleash nuclear weapons on the United States, as a secretary of state (allegedly fictional) desperately trots the globe to save the world. Features various conniving scoundrels in foreign places, and even viler traitors within American government, allegedly bearing no resemblance to persons living or dead.

—Nick Martin


The Strangers

By Katherena Vermette

From its opening pages, The Strangers speaks, starkly and eloquently, as if directly to its community of readers. Winnipeg author Katherena Vermette has an uncanny ear for the rhythm and the cadences of all her characters’ voices — internal, on the street or in jail, in a dark bar or at the dinner table in the family home. Always compelling, these voices are angry, sad, pained, loving, yearning, despairing — and occasionally hopeful.

—Neil Besner


The Thousand Crimes of Ming Tsu

By Tom Lin

When trained assassin Ming Tsu secretly marries Ada, daughter of a wealthy white racist, he soon finds himself beaten, enslaved and ravenous for revenge. Tsu’s quest takes him from Utah to California, a journey complicated by his encounters with a panoply of beings, including a blind prophet and the human miracles in a magic show. Set in the 1860s but richly resonant with present-day concerns, Ming Tsu’s story is meditative and propulsive, a page-turner that ponders the nature of time, space and memory. This bloody and beautiful reckoning is author Tom Lin’s unique and urgent debut.

—Jess Woolford



A Sailor, A Chicken, An Incredible Voyage: The Seafaring Adventures of Guirec and Monique

By Guirec Soudée, trans. David Warriner

This tale of a 21-year-old Breton who, with his sidekick chicken, sailed 72,000 kilometres around the world between January 2014 and December 2018 is full of adventure, sheer terror, feel-good situations and not a little head shaking over the author’s fly-by-the-seat-of-his-pants attitude to a journey so fraught with danger. There are times the reader wants to shout at the author for the risks he takes, but despite many setbacks, the plucky couple sailed around the world for five years, crossing the Atlantic, travelling to the North and South Poles, across to Cape Horn and back to the Caribbean and home. The journal format gives a sense of the mundane, the boredom, as well as the harrowing experiences of severe weather. It is a grand adventure on a shoestring budget.

—Chris Smith


The Afghanistan Papers: A Secret History of the War

By Craig Whitlock

Under the Freedom of Information Act, Craig Whitlock and the Washington Post obtained thousands of secret government interviews and reports on America’s conduct of the war in Afghanistan. For the families of soldiers from America, Canada and Europe who served in that war, this book would be painful but necessary reading. Although the American government soon realized it could not achieve its objectives, for 20 years it lied to the world about the calamity that was inexorably unfolding. “We didn’t have the foggiest notion of what we were undertaking,” said a senior military advisor to both presidents Bush and Obama.

—John K. Collins


This cover image released by Ballantine shows “All About Me!: My Remarkable Life in Show Business” by Mel Brooks. (Ballantine via AP)

All About Me: My Remarkable Life in Show Business

By Mel Brooks

Comedic genius and entertainment polymath Mel Brooks’ autobiography, All About Me: My Remarkable Life in Show Business, combines the arrogance of its title with the engaging personality of its author to entertain, and give a serious — and seriously fun — look into the diverse avenues for comedy which Brooks has mastered.

—Bill Rambo


Best Canadian Essays 2021

Edited by Bruce Whiteman

Reading essays might not be everyone’s idea of a good way of spending a quiet evening, but the topics of Best Canadian Essays might be an exception. In this volume, authors discuss topics ranging from childhood fishing trips to the Kremlin to coronavirus and ticks, with perspectives ranging from the personal to the academic. After discovering some of the insights in this collection, many readers will anxiously wait for next year’s edition.

—Susan Huebert


Broken Ribs & Popcorn: How the Winnipeg Jets became the best team In the NHL’s most offensive era to not win the Stanley Cup

By Geoff Kirbyson

Three times in the 1980s the Winnipeg Jets looked like Stanley Cup contenders. Geoff Kirbyson describes those turbulent years after the WHA Jets joined the NHL in 1979 and the league gutted the team of its best players, forcing them to rebuild. But one thing never changes and never will: at this level hockey doesn’t attract people, it seduces them. When the Jets score, the 15,000 in the stands believe that their eagerness and loyalty helped propel that puck into the net. Books like Kirbyson’s pleasantly sugar-coat this delicious fantasy.

—Barry Craig


The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing, and the Future of the Human Race

By Walter Isaacson

In his latest popular-science doorstopper, the accomplished American journalist and biographer Walter Isaacson details the discoveries that form the foundation of the coming bioscience revolution and which also led to the speedy development of the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines. A beach read this is not. But for those with sufficient curiosity and endurance, the book holds a fascinating and groundbreaking story.

—Morley Walker


Cruelly Yours, Elvira: Memoirs of the Mistress of the Dark

By Cassandra Peterson

In her funny and revealing new memoir, Cassandra Peterson takes readers on a wild ride from her awkward childhood in Kansas and Colorado to her career as Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, a pop culture icon who perfectly blended humour, sexiness and the macabre as a “horror host” on late-night cable TV in the 1980s. But as entertaining as the book is, it also has its dark side, as Peterson opens up about some troubling experiences with famous men, including Frank Sinatra, Tom Jones and, most notably, Wilt Chamberlain.

—Alan MacKenzie

Dammed: The Politics of Loss and Survival in Anishinaabe Territory

By Brittany Luby

A history about the damming of the Winnipeg River, Dammed bears witness to the colonization, industrialization and degradation of Anishinaabe land, water and ways of being in the 19th and 20th centuries. As a treaty member to the territory, historian Brittany Luby draws the reader into how she thinks in systems and brilliantly uses settler greed and notions of progress as a means to surface the trans-systemic gaps between Indigenous and Eurocentric worldviews. This history is hyper-relevant and educative to any state-led desire to reconcile the exploitation of land, water and people.

—Matt Henderson


The Data Detective: Ten Easy Rules to Make Sense of Statistics

By Tim Harford

Tim Harford’s The Data Detective teaches us to be skeptical and not rush to conclusions, which we can do by learning 10 rules on the use and abuse of statistics. If we follow these rules, we arm ourselves against misdirection. That is, by holding our emotions in check when drawing conclusions, asking what might be missing when examining research data, avoiding the lure of graphics and resisting the media hype when presented with statistics about medical advances, scientific findings and economic patterns. The Data Detective is both interesting and accessible.

—Christopher Adams


Finding the Mother Tree: Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest

By Suzanne Simard

For years, other writers have built careers parsing UBC scientist Suzanne Simard’s groundbreaking research on plant communication and intelligence. She was the first to prove that trees live in a “web of interdependence.” But now she tells her own story, starting with her childhood in the rain forests of British Columbia and ending as a forest ecology prof in Vancouver. But the meat of this book revolves around two battles: first, when the results of experiments with trees as a masters and PhD student run counter to the established practices of the logging industry and second, when she learns she has breast cancer. But Finding the Mother Tree isn’t just a memoir: Simard walks readers through her research, step by step, then puts it in context.

—Ariel Gordon


Forever Young: A Memoir

By Hayley Mills

British actor Hayley Mills was a wildly popular child star of Disney movies in the 1960s. Her lively and warm-hearted new memoir perfectly captures those days with her parents — actor Sir John Mills and author Mary Hayley Bell — and the making of her most famous movies, The Parent Trap and Pollyanna. The book is a goldmine of background memories — her travels, her friends, the young men in her life — and it’s a perfect distraction from the pandemic.

—Dave Williamson


“Indian” in the Cabinet: Speaking Truth to Power

By Jody Wilson-Raybould

There aren’t many political books that leave you wanting to have coffee with the author; this is one of them. Raised to lead by consensus in the tradition of her Indigenous heritage, Jody Wilson-Raybould writes like she speaks – honestly, simply, intelligently. With feeling. Little wonder, then, that her stint as a Liberal cabinet minister (2015-19) left her disillusioned at the self-serving bureaucracy, autocratic governance and general inaction typical of the federal political system. With kitchen table candor, JW-R, now the independent Member of Parliament for Vancouver Granville, shares her story, including the political muck of the SNC-Lavalin affair.

—GC Cabana-Coldwell


The Lesser Known: A History of Oddities from the Heart of the Continent

By Darren Bernhardt

In his quirky compilation of “lesser known” histories, local journalist Darren Bernhardt offers some surprising glimpses of Winnipeg’s past. Seventeen short chapters, richly illustrated with archival photos, include such subjects as mobsters, mini-golf, magicians and public bathrooms as well as a few brief critical glances at colonialism and racism. Attractively designed by Relish Branding, this book will change what you thought you knew about Winnipeg’s history.

—Mary Horodyski


Let’s Talk About Hard Things

By Anna Sale

As the host of the Death, Sex & Money podcast, American author Anna Sale switched media to write her first book about taboo topics. It’s incredibly uncomfortable in parts, sprinkled with “I feel seen” moments in others. A former journalist, Sale delves into death, sex, money, family and identity. (All that’s missing is religion.) Her observations and interviews are thoughtfully articulated, wonderfully messy and definitely worth talking about.

—Deborah Bowers


On Decline

By Andrew Potter

In On Decline, Andrew Potter argues that our instinctive, emotional reactions which served us well when we were foragers and hunters living in dangerous environments are now being exploited by social media companies to short-circuit and supersede our higher-level and longer-term reasoning skills, undermining democracy in the process.

—Michael Dudley


On Time and Water

By Andri Snaer Magnason, trans. Lytton Smith

Climate change is real, time isn’t on our side, but once again a recent international summit has failed to recognize the urgency. An alarming rate of glacier melt in his native Iceland prompts this well-known activist and author to add yet another existential danger to our planet.

—Joseph Hnatiuk


Orwell’s Roses

By Rebecca Solnit

Not just another biography, Solnit gives us the author of Nineteen Eighty Four and Animal Farm in a series of linked essays that engage his love of the natural world with his grimly focused worldly concerns. As the author sums him up, “The work he did is everyone’s job. It always was.”

—Ron Robinson



Pandemic Spotlight: Canadian Doctors at the Front of the COVID-19 Fight

By Ian Hanomansing

In Pandemic Spotlight, author Ian Hanomansing describes the dark side of public discourse at a time when nine infectious disease doctors give of themselves, gratis, to help people understand, and are met with vile reactions and horrendous name-calling by some. The book proves once more that the world includes what it always will — some very courageous people and some very ignorant ones.

—Barry Craig


– Doubleday Canada
Permanent Astonishment, by Tomson Highway, Doubleday Canada

Permanent Astonishment: A Memoir

By Tomson Highway

Cree author, playwright, and artist Tomson Highway beautifully shares his experience growing up in Northern Manitoba. He chronicles his early years, nestled in the cold landscape of the subarctic and in the warm security and love of his family. The nomadic and educative childhood is brought to an abrupt end when he and his younger sibling are forced to attend residential school. Exquisitely written and both hilarious and painful, Permanent Astonishment is a testament to the power of culture, language, family and the land.

—Matt Henderson


Pluck: A Memoir of a Newfoundland Childhood and the Raucous, Terrible, Amazing Journey to Becoming a Novelist

By Donna Morrissey

A troubled childhood combined with tough family issues can be difficult to handle when they happen, but they make good material for a memoir. In Pluck, Donna Morrissey relates her journey: her childhood in Newfoundland, early struggles, marriage and motherhood and finally her writing career. Imagination, fortitude, pluck and metamorphosis are some of the themes of this very interesting book, an engaging account of the author’s ties to Newfoundland and her family in the context of her development as a writer.

—Susan Huebert


This is How They Tell Me the World Ends: The Cyber-Weapons Arms Race

By Nicole Perlroth

Nicole Perlroth explains why we should all be having nightmares about “zero-day bugs.” Society relentlessly encourages us to plug more and more private residences, air traffic controls, banks, hospitals, electricity grids, hydro dams, pipelines and even cars into the internet, heedless of its vulnerability to government and criminal hackers. Low intensity cyber-war is already a reality. Individuals and governments are spied on daily and essential infrastructure, including health care, is frequently disrupted. Everybody has access to the latest weapon of mass destruction: the keyboard.

—John K. Collins


The Unconventional Nancy Ruth

By Ramona Lumpkin

Retired Canadian Senator Nancy Ruth is a compelling subject for this meticulously researched, very well-written and extremely honest biography by Dr. Ramona Lumpkin. The Honourable Nancy Ruth, who turns 80 next month, spent 12 years as a Senator, providing a powerful voice for equality rights, even re-writing Canada’s national anthem to make it gender neutral. As co-founder of the Canadian Woman’s Foundation, LEAF (Woman’s Legal Education and Action Fund) and the Charter of Rights Coalition, this excellent biography reveals how Ruth passionately and pragmatically pursued the advancement of economic and social justice for women and girls.

—Brenlee Carrington


Vagabond: Venice Beach, Slab City and Points in Between

By Ceilidh Michelle

A tone of looming danger is set early in this memoir of a season spent amid the street punks, home bums, travelling kids, addicts, criminals and crazies of southern California. Author Ceilidh Michelle gives an unflinching and unsentimental look at a youthful four-month sojourn in a chaotic, squalid and violent scene.

—Bob Armstrong


Book cover.

Vignettes from My Life

By Tannis M. Richardson

One of Manitoba’s most prominent citizens has written a fascinating and candid memoir which is also an important read. Born in 1926, Tannis M. Richardson, CM, has an impeccable record as one of this province’s most generous and remarkable philanthropists. Her autobiographical Vignettes From My Life reveals a woman of great character and strength, charm and wit with a profusion of wisdom she is refreshingly happy to share with readers. All proceeds from this excellent memoir are being donated to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

—Brenlee Carrington


Warming Huts: A Decade + of Art and Architecture on Ice

Edited by Lawrence Bird, Peter Hargraves and Sharon Wohl

Celebrating Winnipeg’s much-loved Warming Huts competition, this book looks at the structures that have popped up on our frozen rivers since 2010, from the spiky beauty of Shelterbelt to the cuddly, mop-like Nuzzles, and at contributors that range from international starchitect Frank Gehry to students from Kelvin High School. Generously illustrated for coffee-table perusing, the book also contextualizes the Warming Huts project with essays that consider the Indigenous roots of the Forks site, explore Winnipeg’s history as a winter city and examine the ability of public art and architecture to engage, inform, delight and — of course — warm.

—Alison Gillmor


The Way of the Gardener: Lost in the Weeds Along the Camino de Santiago

By Lyndon Penner

This little volume shines a light on how a knowing gardener is well-equipped to interpret unknown places. Canadian Lyndon Penner reluctantly embarks upon the age-old Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route across northern Spain. Typically, a pilgrimage unveils the traveller’s thoughts and feelings, and reveals truths unique to that person along the way. Penner recognizes familiar plants and discovers new ones; his reverence fortheir beauty, their medicinal powers and their stories is palpable. With his knowledge of botany, Penner discloses historical relationships between plants and people in this fascinating read.

—Gail Perry


We Are All Perfectly Fine: A Memoir of Love, Medicine, and Healing

By Jillian Horton

In this courageous memoir, a Winnipeg doctor tells why she almost gave up the profession she loves and what she learned about herself in the process of recovery.

—Faith Johnston


World War C: Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic and How to Prepare for the Next One

By Sanjay Gupta, MD

This is a well-crafted and user-friendly book for anyone who wants to be more informed about COVID-19. Dr. Sanjay Gupta deftly melds information about the science of vaccines and vaccinations with personal stories and observations, making for a mix at once informative and entertaining.

—Douglas J. Johnston


100 Things We’ve Lost to the Internet

100 Things We’ve Lost to the Internet

By Pamela Paul

Boomers and even Gen-Xers will relate to some of the once-common social customs and devices that have vanished into memory as identified by Pamela Paul, the New York Times Book Review editor. This list includes time spent chatting on the family phone hung on the kitchen wall, picking up printed photos that were often terrible, and simply being alone and unreachable.

Paul highlights how greatly our society has changed due to the power of the Internet.

— Andrea Geary


Updated on Saturday, December 4, 2021 11:07 AM CST: Adds additional review

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