Trillium Book Award Author Readings June 16

Open Book Recommends: 2015 Holiday Reading Guide Part One

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Despite the seasonally warm temperatures, the festive season is indeed upon us, and that means it's time for merrymaking and gift giving. For lit lovers, there is no better gift to give (or receive) than a new book!

Open Book is here to help you cross some names off your list, and perhaps pick up a book or two for yourself to enjoy with that glass of eggnog. Our two-part Holiday Reading Guide has something for every reader and features some of the year's best books from our local indie presses.

The Grand River (The Porcupine's Quill) by Gerard Brender à Brandis and Marianne Brandis

Wood engraver Gerard Brender à Brandis and writer Marianne Brandis reveal the private life of the Grand River in Ontario, documenting through words and images the ecological, social and historical significance of the Canadian Heritage River. It takes the reader on an imaginary journey from the Grand's first drop of moving water at the source to the point where it flows into Lake Erie.

One Who Saw (Biblioasis) by A.M. Burrage

Originally published at Christmas in 1931 and widely regarded as the author’s masterpiece, One Who Saw is a spooky Christmas tale that tells the story of a writer enchanted by the spectre of a weeping woman. His obsession builds until her ghostly hand falls from her face and he, in horror, becomes the “one who sees.”

How You Were Born (Pedlar Press) by Kate Cayley

Kate Cayley's stories deal with longing, with the uncanny fragments of history, and range from eccentric children to sinister old women, from cities like Toronto and tiny rural Canadian towns to the mountains of West Virginia, but all ask the same question: what if ordinary life is much stranger than we allow ourselves to think? Winner of the 2015 Trillium Book Award, Finalist for the 2015 Governor General's Award for Fiction.

Deep Diversity: Overcoming Us vs. Them (Between the Lines) by Shakil Choudhury

What if our interactions with those different from us are strongly influenced by things happening below the radar of awareness, hidden even from ourselves? Deep Diversity explores this question and argues that "us vs. them" is an unfortunate but normal part of the human experience due to reasons of both nature and nurture, while also helping readers identify their own bias and offering practical ways to break the “prejudice habits” we have all learned, in order to tackle systemic discrimination.

Frayed Opus for Strings & Wind Instruments (Brick Books) by Ulrikka S. Gernes

Frayed Opus for Strings & Wind Instruments is the translation by Canadian collaborators Per Brask and Patrick Friesen of a celebrated Danish poet. This collection of dreamlike poems zooms in and out of places and states of mind and attempts, with honesty and humour, to fathom what it is to inhabit a specifically unspecific point in life—not to mention in the Universe.

The River (ECW Press) by Helen Humphreys

In the watchful way of writers, Helen Humphreys has studied her little piece of the Napanee river through the seasons and the years, cataloguing its ebb and flows, the plants and creatures that live in and round it, the signs of human usage at its banks and on its bottom. The result is The River, a gorgeous and moving meditation that uses fiction, non-fiction, natural history, archival maps and images, and full-colour original photographs to get at the truth.

First Gear: A Motorcycle Memoir (Inanna Publications) by Lorrie Jorgensen

A powerful story of childhood physical, emotional and sexual abuse unrolls as the author, at age 50 and living with Multiple Sclerosis, rides her 2009 Harley-Davidson – named Thelma D. – from Ottawa to Winnipeg and back, with detours to northern Ontario and a detour into Quebec. Told with a frank openness and humour, First Gear is ultimately a story of courage, survival and recovery.

Golden Oldies (ECW Press) by Brian MacFarlane

From its moving introductory homage to the late Jean Béliveau, to its subtle, remarkable considerations of how the sport was shaped by legends like Newsy Lalonde, Gordie Howe, Dick Irvin Sr., Ted Kennedy and Hobey Baker, to its poignant lament for the untimely death of American hockey hero "Badger" Bob Johnson, Golden Oldies is the product of a lifetime love of hockey and a career in the game that spans six decades.

The Way to School (Second Story Press) by Rosemary McCarney

This beautiful picture book for young readers features minimal text and stunning photographs from around the world that describe the remarkable, and often dangerous, journeys children make every day on their way to and from school. Every image and spread speaks to the desire for an education and the physical commitment the children make each day as they make their way to school.

Witness (Second Story Press) by Eli Rubenstein

Holocaust Survivors are aging. Once they are no longer able to, who will tell their stories? For more than 25 years the March of the Living has brought together survivors and students from all over the world to ensure that first-hand accounts of the Holocaust are not lost. Moving photographs and firsthand accounts show us the remarkable passing of the torch to the young of many faiths and cultures who become the new witnesses, carrying the torch toward a future of peace.

Careen (Brick Books) by Carolyn Smart

Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow are the stuff of legend – why tell their story again? Chances are you don’t know the nuances – their love story and that of their accomplices Buck Barrow and his wife Blanche; their aspirations, conflicts and prayerful natures; and ultimately the sources of their tragedy. mart lets the principal actors relate their own tale—a book of voices speaking out of the desperate Dirty Thirties.

Giving Up (BookThug) by Mike Steeves

At times funny, at other times sad, and more than often a mixture of the two, Giving Up by Mike Steeves is a deeply felt account of what goes on in the inner sanctum of a modern couple's apartment. James is obsessed with completing his life's work. Mary is worried about their problems starting a family. In the span of a few hours on an ordinary night in a non-descript city, two relatively small events will have enormous consequences on James' and Mary's lives, both together and apart.

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