25th Trillium Award

Recommended Reads - Cobourg & Port Hope

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Cobourg's Waterfront (photo credit: Cobourg Tourism)

by Erin Knight and Megan Philipp

With the winds of March howling outside many Canadians will be flipping longingly through the pages of the newspaper's Travel section. Whether these last few weeks of winter find you heading south or tucking indoors, this selection of books by the talented authors of Cobourg and Port Hope will have you celebrating the inspiring landscape of Lake Ontario's northern shore. With recommendations for poetry, novels, YA fiction, memoir and reportage, our latest Recommended Reads list will point you in the right direction for finding your next great book.

Don't miss out on a chance to choose a selection of these books from The Avid Reader Magazines and Books! Enter our latest "Focus On" contest and you could win $50 to spend at this incredible independent bookstore. Click here for more details.

With thanks to Cobourg Tourism for permission to publish this photo.

The Ecstatic Torture of Gratitude (Guernica Editions), by Jill Battson

Jill Battson is a poet and poetry activist who recently served as Cobourg's Poet Laureate. Her latest collection, The Ecstatic Torture of Gratitude (Guernica Editions), follows the Gerald Lampert Award-nominated collection Hard Candy (Insomniac Press). Battson's own unique lyrical style graces the pages of The Ecstatic Torture of Gratitude, a book that sings the praises of the people and places that influence her life. These praise poems will resonate with anyone who has ever felt humbled by the sheer joy of being alive.

Read Open Book's On Writing interview with Jill Battson here.

Speaking from Among the Bones (Random House Canada), by Alan Bradley

Cobourg is proud to lay claim to the internationally renowned Alan Bradley, who spent his youth in the town. Bradley's Flavia de Luce mystery series is beloved by readers all over the world. The latest installment, Speaking from Among the Bones (Random House Canada), is rumoured to be the best book yet. The precocious Flavia de Luce (an 11-year-old amateur sleuth and poison expert) leaps into action again when the tomb of St. Tancred is opened to reveal the body of an integral member of the community. Flavia is always one step ahead of the rest...including her dedicated readers!

The Silence of the North (Bookland Press), by Alan D. Butcher

Alan D. Butcher has recently released his first book of poetry, The Silence of the North (Bookland Press). Though his home base is in Cobourg, the meditative poems in The Silence of the North are inspired by the awesome and intimidating landscape of the Canadian arctic. Art enthusiasts will also want to check out Unlikely Paradise (Dundurn Press), Butcher's biography of the artist France Gage.

Read Open Book's Poets in Profile interview with Alan D. Butcher here.

Highway of Heroes (Dundurn Press), by Pete Fisher

The towns of Cobourg and Port Hope are located just off the Highway of Heroes, the stretch of highway between Toronto and Trenton along which so many of Canada's fallen soldiers have made their final journey. As these soldiers were taken from the airport to Canada's largest military base, hundreds of pedestrians would spontaneously line the overpasses across the Highway of Heroes in a display of respect for the soldiers' sacrifice and solidarity with the families in mourning. With Highway of Heroes (Dundurn Press), Cobourg author and photojournalist Pete Fisher has written a touching and comprehensive history of how this section of Highway 401 earned its new official name.

That Summer in Franklin (Second Story Press), by Linda Hutsell-Manning

That Summer in Franklin (Second Story Press), by Linda Hutsell-Manning, has been compared to the work of Margaret Laurence and Maeve Binchy. Set in the town of Franklin, this emotionally-charged novel tells the story of childhood friends Hannah and Colleen, who have grown up and are facing the painful process of putting their ageing parents into nursing homes. Nothing in these women's lives is how they thought it would turn out, the summer in Franklin when they were 15 years old and working as waitresses in the Britannia Hotel. That summer, however, was far from innocent. The girls witnessed something that they have never spoken of — but now, for reasons both personal and beyond their control, they will finally need to reveal what they saw if they ever hope to come to terms with the choices they've since made. Originally from Winnipeg, Hutsell-Manning now lives just outside of Cobourg.

That Not Forgotten (Hidden Brook Press), edited by Bruce Kauffman

Part of Hidden Brook Press? North Shore series, That Not Forgotten is an anthology of poetry written by poets from the north shore of Lake Ontario who came together to paint an image of the area. Upon realizing that much of Kingston?s talent needed a bigger stage, poet Bruce Kauffman, the book?s editor, assembled a team of writers from Kingston and beyond, including poets from Port Hope and all the way north to Highway 7. Full of nostalgia for Lake Ontario and its north shore, the poets bring to life the historic and contemporary landscape; the spirit of the north shore is within each poem and on every page. Cobourg?s own Ashley-Elizabeth Best and Port Hope?s Diane Taylor contributed, as well as many new and seasoned poets.

Read Open Book: Ontario's Poets in Profile interview with Bruce Kauffman here.

Last Message (Orca Books), by Shane Peacock

Last Message (Orca Books) is Cobourg author Shane Peacock?s contribution to the popular Seven series. The Seven series begins when David McLean, the grandfather of seven boys, passes away at the age of 92, leaving behind a will that outlines tasks that each of the boys have to face. In Last Message, Adam, one of the grandsons, is living in Buffalo when he learns that he must go to France on a mission, as indicated in his grandfather?s will. He learns that he doesn?t just have one task, but three that he is required to complete. Facing danger and needing to make amends for an event from his grandfather?s past, Adam has to find the way to fulfill his grandfather?s wishes. Fans of Shane?s work will also want to check out the end to his Boy Sherlock Holmes series, Becoming Holmes: The Boy Sherlock Holmes, His Final Case (Tundra Books).

Shane Peacock was Open Book's Writer-in-Residence in September 2010. Read his Author Blog here.

The Reluctant Twitcher (Dundurn Press), by Richard Pope

Richard Pope, a resident of Cobourg and a lifelong birder, has written a book that is not just another book on birding. The Reluctant Twitcher (Dundurn Press) tells the story of how Richard tracked birds from Rainy River to Ottawa, and how he reluctantly transformed from a regular bird watcher to a ?twitcher." With humour, he writes about the hunt for rare birds, describing the challenges and failures he experienced along the way. Complementing the text, the book is filled with exceptional coloured photographs of the birds Richard pursued.

Canada?s Road (Dundurn Press), by Mark Richardson

In Canada?s Road (Dundurn Press), Cobourg resident Mark Richardson tells readers about his ten-week road trip on the Trans-Canada Highway in 2012, the year of the highway?s 50th birthday. As Mark followed the paths that Thomas Wilby and Jack Haney took when they tried to drive across Canada at a time when there weren?t enough roads, he discovered key historical sites and met many fascinating people along the way.

You Exist. Details Follow. (Anvil Press), by Stuart Ross

In Cobourg author Stuart Ross?s seventh full-length book of poetry, You Exist. Details Follow. (Anvil Press) he includes a collection of unusual poems, the kind of poems that Stuart is best known for. Filled with surprising narrative confessionals to poems in an abstract expressionist style, this book is weird, witty and entirely unique.

Richard Outram: Essays on His Works (Guernica Editions), edited by Ingrid Ruthig

The enormous talent of poet Richard Outram went largely unrecognized during his lifetime. After spending most of his working life in Toronto, he and his wife, the artist Barbara Howard, moved to Port Hope to enjoy their retirement. Tragically, when Barbara passed away only a few years after the move, Richard found that he could not live without her. In 2005 he took his own life on the porch of their home at 81 Pine Street. Richard Outram: Essays on His Work (Guernica Editions) is the first book to posthumously study Outram's considerable contribution to Canadian poetry. You'll find illuminating essays, interviews, a lecture and an elegy by poets and writers who have long admired Outram's work.

Visit Open Book: Ontario's Literary Landmark for Richard Outram's Port Hope home here.

Power Chord (Orca Press), by Ted Staunton

In Power Chord (Orca Books), Port Hope resident Ted Staunton writes about Ace and his friends Denny and Pigpen, all boys in Grade 9 who decide to form a band with one goal — to attract girls. Together, the boys learn their instruments, with Ace playing guitar and electric bass. Upon hearing about a local teen song-writing contest, Ace decides to enter, but writing a song is more difficult than he imagined and he?s disappointed to find that his friend Denny is much better at it than he is. When they decide to use Denny?s song in the competition, Ace soon discovers that the song is stolen, and he is challenged with the moral dilemma of the best way to win the contest — is it worth winning with a song that isn?t his own? Ted is also the author of Jump Cut (Orca Books), his contribution to the Seven series, and Acting Up (Red Deer Press).

Buy these books at your local independent bookstore or online from the publisher, at Chapters/Indigo or Amazon.

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