Every few months I post a list of some new books that have crossed my path. I am a bit behind in my posts this year due to everything going on between the flood, holidays and getting covid.
Below are a list of some of the books that I thought were worth sharing.
By: Jane Munro
When Jane Munro’s husband is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, the Griffin-award-winning poet must chart a path through the depths of grief, learning to live with loss and to take solace and find freedom in the restorative powers of writing.
Open Every Window is a genre-bending prose account of the unravelling of a life—two lives—when Jane Munro’s husband, Bob, is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Evoking Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking, this memoir charts a path through sorrow—the pain of seeing a partner age and approach death, the exhaustion of caretaking, and the regret in seeing life’s scope narrow and diminish.
Writing with courage and love, Munro grapples with what it means to care for a husband who is gradually but devastatingly deteriorating while her own identity is eclipsed by a single word—caregiver. Even a doctor admonishes, “What job could be more important than caring for your husband?”
In this portrait of the myriad lives contained in a single life, Munro ultimately finds respite in the power of writing, Iyengar yoga and in the rhythms of the moon—not to heal but to face grief without breaking.
A poignant evocation for anyone who has experienced loss, Open Every Window reveals the pain and power inherent in loving and being loved. Framed with short observations of the moon—from a New Moon in Pune, India to the following New Moon in Vancouver, Canada—this memoir will entrance with its lyricism and comfort with the writer’s hard-won warmth and wisdom.
This was a really good book to read. It was relatable – made you think about my own life of ups and downs. It was a hard book to put down.
By: Daniel Francis
A brisk chronicle of Vancouver, BC, from early days to its emergence as a global metropolis, refracted through the events, characters and communities that have shaped the city.
In Becoming Vancouver award-winning historian Daniel Francis follows the evolution of the city from early habitation by the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations, to the area’s settlement as a mill town, to the flourishing speakeasies and brothels during the 1920s, to the years of poverty and protest during the 1930s followed by the long wartime and postwar boom, to the city’s current status as real-estate investment choice of the global super-rich. Tracing decades of transformation, immigration and economic development, Francis examines the events and characters that have defined the city’s geography, economy and politics.
Francis enlivens his text with rich characterizations of the people who shaped Vancouver: determined Chief Joe Capilano, who in 1906 took a delegation to England to appeal directly to King Edward VII for better treatment of Indigenous peoples; brilliant and successful Won Alexander Cumyow, the first recorded person of Chinese descent born in Canada; L.D. Taylor, irrepressible ex-Chicagoan who still holds the record as the city’s longest-serving mayor; and tireless activist Helena Gutteridge, suffragist and Vancouver’s first woman councillor.
Vancouver has been called a city without a history, partly because of its youth but also because of the way it seems to change so quickly. Newcomers to the city, arriving by the thousands every year, find few physical reminders of what was before, making a new history like Becoming Vancouver long overdue.
A Must Read! What a great book! I cant say enough great things about this book.
As someone who has lived in the Vancouver area my whole life, it was so interesting to read about areas and names I had seen before. Expanded on some historical events I knew a bit about. It was a page turner. So informative and interesting. Well written. Lots of great information. I have been talking about it ever since.
In the summer of 2002, the discovery of a cave on Shuswap Lake in British Columbia by a group of houseboaters made headlines across the country. It had been the hideout of a fugitive known as the Bushman—real name John Bjornstrom—who had been arrested the previous winter after raiding cabins in the area for supplies.
Shortly after the cave was discovered, and before it was imploded by local authorities, author Paul McKendrick was able to explore the nine-hundred-square-foot bachelor pad. Its elaborate construction left the impression that the occupant was more than just a common thief with a preference for uncommon living arrangements.
Nearly two decades later, McKendrick set out to better understand what led the Bushman to the cave. The Bushman’s Lair is the culmination of numerous interviews, reviews of RCMP and court transcripts, declassified us government files and McKendrick’s own adventures in the Shuswap. The resulting book follows Bjornstrom’s circuitous path: a child of Romani refugees raised by nature lovers from Norway; a bizarre, top-secret us government program that recruited individuals with supposed psychic abilities; an investigation into the infamous Bre-X mining scandal that led to an alleged hit list; and an ardent mission to safeguard vulnerable youth from abuse.
While some mysteries remain unsolved, McKendrick’s exploration of Bjornstrom’s story is an unexpectedly moving and unforgettable account of a man who decided to pursue a quest with boundless commitment.
“What a great book to read!
The story had you wondering what would happen next. How this man was so smart in his surviving skills. The strength he had to survive – making due with what he had. He stole only what he needed to survive. He would mend cabins that others had vandalized and leave notes saying what he took – and only enough to survive. He was determined, hard working and skillful. It was a very engaging entertaining book.”
Faced with a constant stream of news reports of standoffs and confrontations, Canada’s “reconciliation project” has obviously gone off the rails. In this series of concise and thoughtful essays, lawyer and historian Bruce McIvor explains why reconciliation with Indigenous peoples is failing and what needs to be done to fix it.
Widely known as a passionate advocate for Indigenous rights, McIvor reports from the front lines of legal and political disputes that have gripped the nation. From Wet’suwet’en opposition to a pipeline in northern British Columbia, to Mi’kmaw exercising their fishing rights in Nova Scotia, McIvor has been actively involved in advising First Nation clients, fielding industry and non-Indigenous opposition to true reconciliation, and explaining to government officials why their policies are failing.
McIvor’s essays are honest and heartfelt. In clear, plain language he explains the historical and social forces that underpin the development of Indigenous law, criticizes the current legal shortcomings and charts a practical, principled way forward.
By weaving in personal stories of growing up Métis on the fringes of the Peguis First Nation in Manitoba and representing First Nations in court and negotiations, McIvor brings to life the human side of the law and politics surrounding Indigenous peoples’ ongoing struggle for fairness and justice. His writing covers many of the most important issues that have become part of a national dialogue, including systemic racism, treaty rights, violence against Indigenous people, Métis identity, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP) and the duty to consult.
McIvor’s message is consistent and powerful: if Canadians are brave enough to confront the reality of the country’s colonialist past and present and insist that politicians replace empty promises with concrete, meaningful change, there is a realistic path forward based on respect, recognition and the implementation of Indigenous rights.
By: Kimberly Belle
“Riveting suspense, truly surprising revelations, and silky smooth writing make this one unmissable!” — Joshilyn Jackson, New York Times bestselling author of Mother May I
Bestselling author of DEAR WIFE and THE MARRIAGE LIE, Kimberly Belle returns with her most heart-pounding thriller to date, as a masked home invader reveals the cracks in a marriage.
Everyone is about to know what her husband isn’t telling her…
Jade and Cam Lasky are by all accounts a happily married couple with two adorable kids, a spacious home and a rapidly growing restaurant business. But their world is tipped upside down when Jade is confronted by a masked home invader. As Cam scrambles to gather the ransom money, Jade starts to wonder if they’re as financially secure as their lifestyle suggests, and what other secrets her husband is keeping from her.
Cam may be a good father, a celebrity chef and a darling husband, but there’s another side he’s kept hidden from Jade that has put their family in danger. Unbeknownst to Cam and Jade, the home invader has been watching them and is about to turn their family secrets into a public scandal.
With riveting twists and a breakneck pace, My Darling Husband is an utterly compelling thriller that once again showcases Kimberly Belle’s exceptional talent for domestic suspense.
A great book to read. It had me picturing myself in the storyline. Wondering , how I am going to survive this one. It had me on the edge of my seat as the story unfolded. It was hard to put this book down.
By: Meg Waite Clayton
A NATIONAL BESTSELLER* A GMA BUZZ PICK * AN INDIE NEXT PICK* AN AMAZON BEST OF THE MONTH PICK, LITERATURE AND FICTION*A PEOPLE MAGAZINE PICK
The New York Times bestselling author of The Last Train to London revisits the dark early days of the German occupation in France in this haunting novel—a love story and a tale of high-stakes danger and incomparable courage—about a young American heiress who helps artists hunted by the Nazis escape from war-torn Europe.
Wealthy, beautiful Naneé was born with a spirit of adventure. For her, learning to fly is freedom. When German tanks roll across the border and into Paris, this woman with an adorable dog and a generous heart joins the resistance. Known as the Postmistress because she delivers information to those in hiding, Naneé uses her charms and skill to house the hunted and deliver them to safety.
Photographer Edouard Moss has escaped Germany with his young daughter only to be interned in a French labor camp. His life collides with Nanée’s in this sweeping tale of romance and danger set in a world aflame with personal and political passion.
Inspired by the real life Chicago heiress Mary Jayne Gold, who worked with American journalist Varian Fry to smuggle artists and intellectuals out of France, The Postmistress of Paris is the haunting story of an indomitable woman whose strength, bravery, and love is a beacon of hope in a time of terror.
A joy to read. An interesting and entertaining historical fiction book. Appeared to be well thought out, researched and accurate with the events of WWII. Those who are intrigued by this period in time will likely find this an enjoyable book.
By: Aaron Chapman
The late 1970s and early 1980s were a volatile period in the history of Vancouver, where broad social and cultural changes were afoot. This was perhaps most clearly evident in the West End, the well-known home to the city’s tight-knit gay community that would soon be devastated by the AIDS epidemic. But the West End’s tree-lined streets were also populated by sex workers, both female and male, who fought a well-publicized turf war with residents. This, combined with a rising crime rate, invited the closer attention of the Vancouver police, including its vice squad. But after a body was found dumped in nearby Stanley Park, it was discovered that the victim’s high-profile connections reached far beyond the streets and back alleys of the West End, making for one of the most shocking investigations in Vancouver history, with secrets long held, and never fully told until now.
Vancouver Vice reveals the captivating beating heart of a neighborhood long before the arrival of gentrifying condo towers and coffee bars. Part murder mystery, investigative exposé, and cultural history, this book transports readers back to a grittier, more chaotic time in the city, when gambling dens prevailed, police listened in on wire taps, and hustlers plied their trade on street corners. With warm regard and a whiff of nostalgia, Vancouver Vice peers behind the curtain to examine how the city once indulged in its vices, and at what cost.
Reading books about where I live, it always interesting. You gain so much more insight into what things used to look like or how things were, the memories that get brought up. It is nice to be able to picture or be right there in the place that you are also reading about.
This is a well told historical story about a volatile period in Vancouver. Well written and engaging. It provided a lot of information and insight into the late 70’s early 80’s in Vancouver.
I leant this book to a 77 year old relative to get his perspective as well.
“This is what he had to say ” I had the opportunity to review this book and I found it very interesting. I was born in Vancouver in 1945 and can relate to many of the stories and locations described in the book. I lived in the 1800 block of Comox Ave for a short period and also on 5th Ave and Arbutus. The 4th Ace area was more of a “hippy” hang-out with bars such as the Rentinal Circus.
I remember the scandal when Walter Mulligan was fired from the VPD.
I met Larry Campbell when he was the Chief Coroner with BC and he could tell some interesting stories of his experiences with his profession.
I was acquainted with Bob Rich who later became the Police Chief in Abbotsford, BC.
I was not involved in the gay community but was surprised to see so many younger men and boys looking for a pick up.
I also remember seeing the girls of all ages in short skirts and high heels handing around street corners looking for a “date” as they said back then.
It seemed that in the 60’s and 70’s the crackdowns by the police just pushed the activities to other locations and didn’t really stop the drugs or the prostitutes from doing their thing”
By: Hasan Namir
Once upon a time
Your baba fell in love with your dad
We got married and dreamt of having a baby
A roller coaster of emotions and feelings
We were always hopeful
Lambda Literary and Stonewall Book Award-winner Hasan Namir shares a joyful collection about parenting, fatherhood and hope. These warm free-verse poems document the journey that he and his husband took to have a child. Between love letters to their young son, Namir shares insight into his love story with his husband, the complexities of the IVF surrogacy process and the first year as a family of three. Umbilical Cord is a heartfelt book for parents or would-be parents, with a universal message of hope.
A collection of poems written by a dad to his son. About meeting his husband and the process they went through to have a child. Then to the birth and watching their son grow., dealing with depression and racism. The book contains some language choice that might be offensive to some people. The poems were very personal and many were very beautiful and moving.
One that stuck out to me was:
Take your time fight through it all
We are with you every step of the way
You are sitting up on your own
You are trying to walk
You do you on your own pace”
By: Nicola I. Campbell
In this extraordinary memoir, best-selling author Nicola I. Campbell deftly weaves rich poetry and vivid prose into a story basket of memories orating what it means to be an intergenerational survivor of Indian Residential Schools.
If the hurt and grief we carry is a woven blanket, it is time to weave ourselves anew. We can’t quit. Instead, we must untangle ourselves from the negative forces that have impacted our existence as Indigenous people.
Similar to the “moccasin telegraph,” Spíləxm are the remembered stories, also “events or news” in the Nłeʔkepmx language. These stories were often shared over tea, in the quiet hours between Elders. Rooted within the British Columbia landscape, and with an almost tactile representation of being on the land and water, Spíləxm explores resilience, reconnection, and narrative memory through stories.
Captivating and deeply moving, this exceptional memoir tells of one Indigenous woman’s journey of overcoming adversity and colonial trauma to find strength and resilience through creative works and traditional perspectives of healing, transformation, and resurgence.
Note: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. I get commissions for purchases made through certain links in this post. I was gifted a copy of all of the above books, for the books I have had a chance to read and write reviews on above, all my opinions are my own.