Gift Guide Week: Stacey May Fowles

We asked writer and Baseball Life Advice-giver Stacey May Fowles to give us some gifting advice this Gift Guide Week: her picks include a coming-of-age novel, an adorable book for kids, observances on masculinity, finely-crafted short fiction, and nonfiction about a local baseball hero (of course!).

Gift Guide Week: Picks by Stacey May Fowles.

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Big Shadow by Marta Balcewicz
(Book*hug Press)

For the young person ready to break out on their own:

Balcewicz’s beautifully written coming of age novel is perfect for readers in the midst of carving out their own identity—or for those simply nostalgic for that furtive, optimistic, and undeniably confusing time. Set in the summer of 1998, Big Shadow gives us Judy, a seventeen-year-old who has recently finished high school and is grappling with her burgeoning creativity. When she connects with significantly older former punk Maurice Blunt she revels in the attention, escape, and opportunity he offers, but also in the swift exit from a town and family dynamic determined to contain her. Despite some glaring red flags, Judy becomes preoccupied with Maurice’s interest, showing up at his university poetry class, studying up on his now faded glory in the 70’s punk scene, and eventually visiting him in New York City. From there Big Shadow becomes a thoughtful meditation on the contradictory quest for both approval and adventure, and the genuine struggle to find a sense of self, ultimately providing readers with a bittersweet—yet oddly triumphant—ending.

Find Big Shadow here on All Lit Up or use our Shop Local feature to purchase from your local indie bookstore.

Gibby by John Gibbons
(ECW Press)

For the disillusioned sports fan:

For those disappointed with (or rather devastated by) the Toronto Blue Jays postseason hopes being thwarted so early on, perhaps a walk down a more successful baseball memory lane is an appropriate gift. In Gibby: Tales of a Baseball Lifer former Blue Jays skipper John Gibbons brings readers not only a candid insider’s perspective on the team’s now legendary 2015 and 2016 postseason runs (the book is worth it for his bird’s eye view of the now famous Bautista bat flip game alone,) but also details his fascinating long life in the game. Written in Gibby’s signature no-nonsense style, this catcher turned coach and manager doesn’t hold back—he has lots to say about the state of baseball then and now, and has lots of fun stories from both on and off the field. This is a book that will have you cheering, and will certainly have you looking forward to another baseball season to come.

Find Gibby here on All Lit Up or use our Shop Local feature to purchase from your local indie bookstore.

The New Masculinity by Alex Manley
(ECW Press)

For the men (and frankly everyone else) on your list:

A great addition to the shelf of anyone who craves a brand new (and infinitely more freeing) perspective of what it really means to be “manly.” This conversational, accessible, and astute nonfiction offering from AskMen senior editor Alex Manley balances candid memoir and social commentary to give readers an alternative to our standard—and tired—conversations around masculinity. Helpfully organized into a list of recognizable and pervasive stereotypes, Manley handily takes each down with humour and intelligence—from “real men don’t cry,” to “real men don’t go to therapy,” to “real men don’t walk away from a fight.” This book is a genuine breath of fresh air, and the perfect gift for any reader concerned with the harmful nature of prescribed gender roles and ready to do some dismantling.

Find The New Masculinity on All Lit Up or use our Shop Local feature to purchase from your local indie bookstore.

The Whole Animal by Corinna Chong
(Arsenal Pulp Press)

For those who appreciate an exquisite short story:

Each finely crafted tale in Corrina Chong’s inventive, thoughtful, and frankly gorgeous debut collection is deceptively simple yet deeply meaningful. Chong is not only a master of gut-punch well-placed imagery, but she has a genuine knack for making the everyday quietly unsettling. On the surface this is a book about the body—human and otherwise—but it’s also about the relationships we have, the harm we cause each other, and the distances we unintentionally cultivate. Any seasoned reader will relish in Chong’s skill for finely crafted sentences, but will also find themselves deeply moved by the messages she imparts. A great way not only to appease the discerning literary lover on your list, but to show off your own great taste in books.

Find The Whole Animal here on All Lit Up or use our Shop Local feature to purchase from your local indie bookstore.

Kai’s Tea Eggs by Karina Zhou
(Arsenal Pulp Press)

For your littlest book lover:

With Multicultural Day approaching at school, Kai’s mom is excited to make some special dishes for Kai to share, but Kai herself is nervous about introducing her family’s Chinese food to her classmates. Via fun, dynamic imagery, a vibrant colour palette, and a magical journey with Ming the dragon, Zhou—who was inspired to by her own experiences at school—has generously given us a kind-hearted story about feeling different, the relatable yearning to fit in, and the necessary celebration of what makes us unique. This charmingly illustrated tale will not only delight the youngest readers (or soon to be readers) on your list, but Kai’s Tea Eggs also imparts vital wisdom about embracing who we are, regardless of what age group we’re in.

Find Kai’s Tea Eggs here on All Lit Up or use our Shop Local feature to purchase from your local indie bookstore.

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A photo of author Stacey May Fowles. She is a light skin-toned woman with brown mid-length hair, wearing a green shirt. She sits among lush greenery, which grows past her head.

Stacey May Fowles is an award-winning journalist and critic, the author of five books, and the editor of four anthologies. Her bylines include the Globe and MailToronto LifeThe Walrus, and others. Her national bestseller, Baseball Life Advice, was selected by the Globe and MailThe National Post, and Maisonneuve as a best book of the year. The Invitation, her first book for children, was released in spring 2023 with Groundwood Books.

Photo of Stacey by Jenna Marie Wakani.


Thank you to Stacey May Fowles for sharing perfect gift guide picks (for the whole family, no less!). Catch up on the other 2023 All Lit Up Gift Guides here.