We could recommend books until the cows come home here at All Lit Up, but for gifts you'll love to give this holiday season, we deferred to the experts. From November 28th-December 2nd, tune in for recommendations from a book designer/poet, a festival director, a novelist, a bookseller, and an editor.
Notes from a Feminist Killjoy
Erin Wunker (BookThug)
If you, like me, have friends who buy "feminist killjoy" t-shirts, and hang "sushi rolls not gender roles" posters in their houses (oh wait, that one was me), then Erin Wunker's Notes from a Feminist Killjoy is probably already on your holiday gift list (and as a side note, congratulations on having such wonderful friends!). Not only is it a beautiful book (and being a book designer and general design nerd, this is a draw for me), it is an important one. From the politics of resting bitch face, to campus rape culture, the value and role of anger, and the difficulties of parsing social expectations and the realities of motherhood, Wunker's essays are timely, sometimes funny, sometimes upsetting, and always a great catalyst for dialogue. She writes about the same sorts of issues that I find myself discussing with friends in our day-to-day interactions: victim blaming in the media, street harassment, and the backlash against, but overwhelming need for feminism in our world today. Wunker uses pop culture, feminist theory, and anecdotal experience to articulate the feminist killjoy's invaluable role. She also pays particular attention to acknowledging and checking privilege and focusing on the ways that the issues she explores are intersectional and impacted by lived experience. Wunker allows the reader to engage with her process and the labour of writing itself; her sincerity as she picks through her struggles to articulate on certain issues gives Notes a strikingly approachable tone, even when tackling difficult subject matter. Pick up a copy for all the feminist killjoys in your life, or anyone else for that matter. They'll all get something valuable from reading it.
The Urban Cycling Survival Guide
Yvonne Bambrick (ECW Press)
This book is a great beginner's guide to commuter cycling in an urban setting. While it might not be on my gift list for my more seasoned cycling pals (or maybe it will, purely for it's adorable design!) this is a great present for anyone looking to ditch the car a bit more frequently and fall in love with a bicycle. From how to match your bicycle to your lifestyle and needs (do you need a high-end road racing bike to commute to work? Probably not), to rules of the road and safe cycling (various types of bicycle lanes, hand signals and more), to basic bicycle repair and maintenance (like fixing a flat or changing a tire), and even cycle style (what to wear in the rain? Look no further for the answer), The Urban Cycling Survival Guide has it all. Its sensible organization makes it a useful reference guide in a pinch, and its cute illustrations and casual tone will help temper any nervousness that newbie cyclists may have about busting out their bike among cars, trucks and city buses. Even for someone who cycles frequently, there's handy information in here (especially the repair section). Anything that helps get more bums on bicycles is a great idea as far as I'm concerned, and The Urban Cycling Survival Guide does just that: it gives readers the necessary knowledge to make city cycling approachable, comfortable, and fun.
D. D. Miller (Wolsak & Wynn)
As a roller derby skater with Windsor's Border City Brawlers, I'm always looking for great, interesting derby-related gifts for my friends and teammates, and D.D. Miller's Eight-Wheeled Freedom is just the ticket. A prominent feature in the Canadian roller derby scene as a coach, announcer and blogger, Miller aka the Derby Nerd has put together a fascinating roller derby compendium. As the sport of roller derby continues to grow in North America and around the world, with more and more new skaters joining local leagues and competing, it's important to maintain some connection and knowledge of the history of the sport and its 21st century revival. Miller provides just that in Eight-Wheeled Freedom, with a detailed history of derby as it dates back to the 1880s, but primarily focusing on its contemporary revival. What is particularly interesting about this book is its Canadian focus in a sport that is primarily dominated by the U.S. market, featuring "The Nerd's Five Favourite Canadian Skaters" and exploring the feminist aspects of the sport through Montreal team "The New Skids on the Block." Miller's book touches on many of the contemporary debates in derby and the ever-changing nature of the sport, as many skaters switch from skating under aliases to using their legal names, and the sport expands across the world, including men's and junior leagues. For those involved in roller derby, friends and family of skaters who'd like to learn more, or anyone interested the history and development of this much-storied sport, Eight-Wheeled Freedom will be a hit.
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Kate Hargreaves is a writer, book designer, and roller derby skater in Windsor, Ontario. She is the author of Talking Derby: Stories from a Life on Eight Wheels (Black Moss Press), and Leak (BookThug), a collection of poetry. Find her online at coruskate.com, on Twitter @PainEyre or on Instagram @CorusKateDesign.
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Thanks so much to Kate for these amazing picks. For more gift picks from festival directors, authors, booksellers, and editors, stay tuned for the rest of this week!
And for a gift to a lit-lover that they can open early, give them the Short Story Advent Calendar – 24 short stories from your favourite Canadian authors in one gorgeous package.