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For the reader who likes fact more than fiction. Memoirs, art books, sports, social justice reads, and more: they’re all to be found here among Bookville’s nonfiction picks.
Showing 1–20 of 22 results
(M)othering is a universally understood phenomenon that speaks to the act of becoming something unexpected and entirely outside ourselves. And this book is a collection of writing and art about that. 56 contributors illuminate the kind of gritty, body mind soul transformations that only the mothering myth can evoke. Their work will take you to wonder and wildness, kindness, beauty, grief, love.
These writers and artists show us what it means to create, to birth something, to love it, and to suffer loss. They share their truths about being persecuted, fleeing. About trans-generational trauma. Some write of broken women, mothering their mothers and sisters, choosing not to be mothers. Having many mothers. Mothering grown children. Men who want to be mothered. They tackle identity, adoption, abortion, addiction, self-care, sacrifice, nature and nurture, making art, unravelling, invention, loneliness, anger, laughter, and joy. They are queer, Metis, indigenous, French, male, Jewish, Mennonite, descendants of the Blackfoot and the Cree, settlers and immigrants. In unison, they speak about experiences far beyond the pathologizing of the pregnant female body.
When Tarah Schwartz miscarried for the first time at almost 5 months, she assumed this would be just a blip on the way to motherhood. But more miscarriages would follow, threatening her stability, her relationships, and changing her profoundly. In this memoir, Tarah puts words to excruciating loss as she recounts her unexpected and deeply inspiring journey to motherhood. As a longtime news reporter, she spent years working in front of a television camera, telling stories that reflected the power of the human spirit to survive. This time she tells her own.
Country of Poxes is the story of land theft in North America through three diseases: syphilis, smallpox and tuberculosis. These infectious diseases reveal that medical care, widely considered a magnanimous cornerstone of the Canadian state, developed in lockstep with colonial control over Indigenous land and life.
Pathogens are storytellers of their time. The 500-year-old debate over the origins of syphilis reflects colonial judgments of morality and sexuality that became formally entwined in medicine. Smallpox is notoriously linked with the project of land theft, as colonizers destroyed Indigenous land, economies and life in the name of disease eradication. And tuberculosis, considered the “Indian disease,” aroused intense fear of contagion that launched separate systems of care for Indigenous Peoples in a de facto medical apartheid, while white settlers retreated to sanatoria in the Laurentians and Georgian Bay to be cured. In this immersive and deeply reflective book, physician and activist Dr. Baijayanta Mukhopadhyay provides riveting insights into the biological and social relationships of disease and empire. Country of Poxes considers a future of health in Canada that heeds redress and healing for Nations brutalized by the Canadian state.
It’s a tale as old as time. Girl meets boy. Boy wants girl. Girl says no. Boy takes what he wants anyway.
After a violent sexual assault, Eden Boudreau was faced with a choice: call the police and explain that a man who wasn’t her husband, who she had agreed to go on a date with, had just raped her. Or go home and pray that, in the morning, it would be only a nightmare.
In the years that followed, Eden was met with disbelief by strangers, friends, and the authorities, often as a result of stigma towards her non-monogamy, sex positivity, and bisexuality. Societal conditioning of acceptable female sexuality silenced her to a point of despair, leading to addiction and even attempted suicide. It was through the act of writing that she began to heal.
Crying Wolf is a gripping memoir that shares the raw path to recovery after violence and spotlights the ways survivors are too often demonized or ignored when they belong to marginalized communities. Boudreau heralds a new era for others dismissed for “crying wolf.” After all, women prevailing to change society for others is also a tale as old as time.
An unstintingly honest and surprisingly humorous memoir that charts a couple’s parallel diagnoses of Parkinson’s and Lewy body dementia.
In 2011, Leslie Davidson and her husband Lincoln Ford were enjoying retired life to the fullest as ardent outdoor enthusiasts, energetic travellers, and soon-to-be grandparents. But when Lincoln’s confusion became a concern and Leslie began to experience a hesitant leg and uncontrollable tremors in one arm, a devastating double diagnosis completely changed their life.
In this personal and unstintingly honest memoir, Leslie recounts the years that follow the diagnoses—her Parkinson’s and Lincoln’s Lewy body dementia—charting physical changes, mastering medications (and sometimes flubbing it), the logistical puzzles of caregiving, and the steady support of their close-knit community in the small town of Grand Forks in south central British Columbia.
She describes her struggle to maintain perspective while questioning what having perspective even means, and the work of being an advocate while needing an advocate. And she explains how, amid all the challenges and tears, shared laughter remained all-important to their survival, especially in times when Lincoln saw her as an imposter. She shares powerful lessons in love, courage, and grace from the man who had always led the way and who, despite the ravages of his illness, in many ways, still did.
At once poignant and unflinchingly frank Dancing in Small Spaces is the story of a long and adventurous marriage, of deep gratitude, and, ultimately, of writing one’s way toward understanding and acceptance.
When Médecins sans Frontières (MSF) offered to send Maureen Mayhew to Taliban-occupied Afghanistan, she refused. Fearing she would be forced to give up her independence to preserve her safety, it was the last place on earth she wanted to volunteer medical expertise. But events didn’t unfold as she had anticipated and in April 2000, wrapped in unfamiliar clothing, she stepped out onto the Afghan dust for the first time. Walking toward Taliban immigration officials, a fire raged in her belly and a tremor shot through the hand grasping her blue knapsack. Little did she know that she would return to this country seven more times over the span of a decade, learn to converse in the regional Afghan language of Dari, and develop lasting relationships with women, men—even members of the Taliban—and families through her work as a physician.
In Hand on My Heart: A Canadian Doctor’s Awakening in Afghanistan, Mayhew juxtaposes her experiences of Afghanistan as a foreign, female physician with her personal journey of questioning who she is as a professional woman in the 21st century. As she travels from one remote outpost to another, sharing cups of tea in secret, muddling through language barriers, and brokering trust with her patients, she finds her Western beliefs challenged and makes sense of her own struggles with gender roles. With curiosity and tenderness, Mayhew reflects on moments of disorientation, fear, wonder and joy. Hand on My Heart is a moving account that takes readers on an uncharted path into the mysteries of the human heart.
How do we make sense of our relationships — successes and failures, preferences and challenges, past and present. And after we make sense of them all — what do we do to increase the successes that we are striving to attain. In It’s Attachment, Kussin offers us a comprehensive overview of this dominant theory of human development and relationships in a way that gives us both understanding and practical ideas for constructive changes. She shows us the central features of the main attachment patterns that are present throughout childhood and adulthood as well as clear suggestions for how we might identify what pattern characterizes our own life. From there, her book provides practical insights into how our attachment pattern is central in our choosing a partner and being a parent. It also explores how we might change our pattern toward one that provides the greatest likelihood for developing an autonomous sense of self and satisfying reciprocal relationships.
Sales and Market Bullets
Why do we stand in front of art and look at it? Why do we go to galleries and museums? What does it feel like? What do you expect to have happen there? How do you feel before you enter, after you leave? What do you do with all your moods, your attentions, your restlessness, your curiosity, your sense of time? How does a visit come to be in the way that a painting comes to be? Does it matter how you begin? Does it matter if you’re ready? Jeffery Donaldson’s Momento answers these questions and more by offering a poetic daydream about the curious, otherworldly, but urgent and existential experience of art, artifacts, and the buildings that house them. This little book itself is like a visit to a museum. Enter and wander as you please.
FINALIST, Red Cedar Nonfiction Award
Based on extensive interviews, My Left Skate: The Extraordinary Story of Eliezer Sherbatov is a first-person biography of a Jewish teenager who had it all on the hockey rink: guts, drive, and exceptional talent. When a freak accident leaves him with a permanent disability and no feeling below his left knee, everyone believes Eliezer’s career is over – everyone except his mother, a professional power skating coach. She teaches Eliezer to skate using the muscles in his upper leg, and after two and a half years of operations and rehabilitation, he returns to the rink to become one of Quebec’s elite junior players.
Still undrafted at age nineteen, Eliezer embarks on a professional career in Europe in the hopes of one day returning to the NHL. His travels lead him to France, Kazakhstan, Slovakia, and to Poland, where he lives and plays hockey just a few kilometres from the Auschwitz death camp, haunted by memories of the past.
In its stunning conclusion, My Left Skate describes Eliezer’s life in Ukraine and his struggle to escape from war after Russia invades the very region in which he plays.
“Eliezer Sherbatov scores a hat trick with  My Left Skate . This story is wonderfully told: gritty, inspiring, joyful at times and sad at other moments. He deserves to be a hockey hero for all that he has survived.” - Marty Klinkenberg,  The Globe and Mail
In 2008, Jaspreet Singh made a pact with his mother. He would gladly give her the go-ahead to publish her significantly altered translation of a story from his collection, Seventeen Tomatoes, if she promised to write her memoirs. After she died in 2012, he decided to take up the memoir she had started. My Mother, My Translator is a deeply personal exploration of a complex relationship. It is a family history, a work of mourning, a meditation on storytelling and silences, and a reckoning with trauma–the inherited trauma of the 1947 Partition of India and the direct trauma of the November 1984 anti-Sikh violence Singh experienced as a teenager.
Tracing the men and especially the women of his family from the 1918 pandemic through the calamitous events of Partition, My Mother, My Translator takes us through Singh’s childhood in Kashmir and with his grandparents in Indian Punjab to his arrival in Canada in 1990 to study the sciences, up to the closing moments of 2020, as he tries to locate new forms of stories for living in a present marked by COVID-19 and climate crisis.
Finalist, Alexander Kennedy Isbister Award for Non-Fiction
Finalist, Eileen McTavish Sykes Award for Best First Book
In September 2015, Sheila North was declared the Grand Chief of Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO), the first woman elected to the position. Known as a “bridge builder”, North is a member of Bunibonibee Cree Nation. North’s work in advocacy journalism, communications, and economic development harnessed her passion for drawing focus to systemic racism faced by Indigenous women and girls. She is the creator of the widely used hashtag #MMIW. In her memoir, Sheila North shares the stories of the events that shaped her, and the violence that nearly stood in the way of her achieving her dreams. Through perseverance and resilience, she not only survived, she flourished.
Poetry is Queer is a kaleidoscope of sexual outlaws, gay icons, Sapphic poets, and great lovers?real and imagined?conjured like gateway drugs to a queer world. Claiming the word ?queer? for those who self-proclaim the authority of their own bodies in defiance of church and state, Kirby pays tribute to gay touchstones while embodying both their work and joy. From gazing upon street boys with constant companion C.P. Cavafy, to end of day observances with Frank OHara, to mowing Walt Whitmans grass, Poetry Is Queer is a hybrid-genre memoir like no other.
Resilience is the third colouring book made up of works by Anishnaabe artist Jackie Traverse. As with her previous highly successful colouring books,
, this new book contains both drawings and paintings by Jackie. Resilience honours the Indigenous Peoples who were colonized by and endured the violence of Canada’s child stealing systems — residential schools, the Sixties Scoop and child “welfare.” Some Indigenous people survived those systems; tragically, some did not. Jackie and her art pay tribute to and celebrate the resilience of Indigenous Peoples as they rebuild their communities and lives. Grassroots grandmother Geraldine (Gramma) Shingoose provides a foreword.
Stephen Kakfwi was born in a bush camp on the edge of the Arctic Circle in 1950. In a family torn apart by tuberculosis, alcohol and the traumas endured by generations in residential school, he emerged as a respected Dene elder and eventually the Premier of the Northwest Territories.
Stephen belongs to a cohort of young northerners who survived the childhood abuses of residential school only to find themselves as teenagers in another residential school where one Oblate father saw them as the next generation of leaders, and gave them the skills they would need to succeed. Kakfwi, schooled on civil rights and 1960s protest songs, dedicated himself to supporting chiefs in their claim to land that had been taken away from them and in their determination to seize control of the colonial political system.
Kakfwi’s life has been a series of diverse endeavours, blending traditional Dene practices with the daily demands of political office—hunting moose one day and negotiating with European diamond merchants the next. Throughout his career, Kakfwi understood that he held the power to make change—sometimes he succeeded, sometimes he did not. But he also embraced the power of story-telling, and has helped change the story of the North.
Kakfwi combines his remarkable memory for detail with his compelling raconteur’s skill in taking us through the incredible story of his life and one of the most transformative times in Canadian history. In his candid description of the loneliness of leadership and his embrace of Dene spirituality, Kakfwi’s Stoneface transforms politics into philosophy and an intensely personal guide to reconciliation.
Sales and Market BulletsA DEEPLY PERSONAL ART: Devoted to the highly personal nature of tattoo art, Chris ruminates on the intimacy of permanent body art and its relevance in pop culture.THE SHOP: Under My Thumb Tattoo Shop is one of Toronto’s best-kept secrets, offering high-quality tattooing for more than 15 years. It was featured in a Toronto Star article and has 7,600 Instagram followers.AN UNSTOPPABLE TREND: Tattooing is the sixth fastest-growing American industry and, according to market research, it generates $1.6 billion in revenue a year. There are 21,000 tattoo parlors in the U.S. and 42% of U.S. citizens have at least one tattoo; 38% of Canadian citizens have at least one tattoo, and 35% of UK citizens aged 30–39 have at least one tattoo. Older millennials are the most likely to get a tattoo.
Countries where tattoos are popular: Italy, Sweden, USA, Australia, Argentina, Spain, Denmark, UK, and CanadaAudienceMembers of the tattoo community — both tattoo artists and people with tattoosPeople buying gifts for friends/family who are into tattoosReaders interested in artReaders who enjoy insider accounts of different industries
Thick Skin: Field Notes from a Sister In The Brotherhood, is a deep dive into the secret language and hidden culture of one of the most esoteric heavy construction trades: Boilermaking.
For more than two decades, Hilary Peach worked as a transient welder – and one of the only women – in the Boilermakers Union. Distilled from a vast cache of journals, notes, and keen observations, Thick Skin follows Peach from the West Coast shipyards and pulp mills of British Columbia, through the Alberta tar sands and the Ontario rust belt, to the colossal power generating stations of the Eastern Seaboard of the United States. At times edging up to the surreal, Thick Skin is a collection of strange stories carefully told, in tenderness and ferocity, for anyone who has spent time in a trade, or is curious about the unseen world of industrial construction.
A collection of essays on women and aging from Canadian legend Sharon Butala
“What I didn’t have a clue about was that I was soon to be old, or what being old would mean to my dreams and desires. While dreading old age with every fibre, I was at the same time in full denial that it would ever happen to me, and so, was shocked down to the soles of my feet when it did.”
In this incisive collection, Sharon Butala reflects on the ways her life has changed as she’s grown old. She knows that society fails the elderly massively, and so she tackles ageism and loneliness, friendship and companionship. She writes with pointed wit and acerbic humour about dinner parties and health challenges and forgetfulness and complicated family relationships and the pandemic — and lettuce. And she tells her story with the tremendous skill and beauty of a writer who has masterfully honed her craft over the course of her storied four-decade career.
Butala gives us a book to be cherished — an elegant and expansive look at the complexities and desires of aging and the aged, standing in stark contrast to the stereotyped, simplistic portrayals of the elderly in our culture. This Strange Visible Air is a true gift.
From boat-building to berries, from knitting socks to mending nets, Towards an Encyclopedia of Local Knowledge vividly presents the rich, place-based knowings and doings of more than one hundred knowledge-holders from rural Newfoundland. Renowned artist Pam Hall perfectly marries her singular artistic vision and her exhaustive community-based research in a stunning celebration and preservation of rural knowledge. These images and texts come together to reveal and revalue the local in a time when global monoculture seems overwhelming.
Presented in English and Mi’kmaq, the latest chapter in this ambitious series presents a remarkable and respectful collaboration between an Indigenous and non-Indigenous artist, deepening and diversifying our understanding of the intergenerational knowledge of a Mi’kmaw community in Newfoundland.
Miawpukek—The Middle River is Chapter III of Towards an Encyclopedia of Local Knowledge, the art-and-knowledge project of artist-scholar Pam Hall. This volume presents local, place-based knowledge gathered by Hall and artist Jerry Evans. From canoe-building to berry harvesting, from preparing moose nose to foraging for natural medicines, from stewarding eel populations to reclaiming language and traditional cultural practices, Towards an Encyclopedia of Local Knowledge: Chapter III: Miawpukek—The Middle River vividly presents the rich, place-based knowings and doings of this Indigenous community on the south coast of Newfoundland.