Archives for posts with tag: Books of the Year

My 2012 Holiday Reads for Day 6 (also Far from the Tree, which I seem to have forgotten about when taking the picture...)


Three more shopping days till Christmas!

Here are my tips for the buzziest books underneath the tree this year, as shared with Brent Bambury on this morning’s CBC Day 6.

Shoppers in Toronto: you can get all of these and more at the fabulous Type Books, where I’m often to be found selling books of a weekend. All except Building Stories, that is, which is sold out everywhere in the city (gasp!) except for The Beguiling, which was clever enough to get a Santa’s warehouse full! Go indies!

Happy holiday reading folks.

The final Saturday papers of the year are stuffed with “Books of the Year” lists. As usual, they elicit  a mix of agreement, disagreement, and the sigh of, “Well I thought I was fairly well read, but it looks like there are another 50 must-read books I must still read.”

To add to the lists of lists before we prepare to say goodbye to 2011, here, in no particular order, are my top reads from the year. I’ve talked about many of them on CBC Day 6, CBC Fresh Air, and in the National Post.



The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt
An excellent read, deserving of its many awards and accolades. This book was a hand selling success at Type Books from early on. The staff there has pretty varied reading tastes but we all read and loved this one.

The Forgotten Waltz by Anne Enright
Delivers such a sock to the stomach I thought I might actually puke. Powerful stuff about the things we do in love and lust.

The Free World by David Bezmozgis
Bezmozgis’s debut novel was my pick to win the Giller. I was wrong, but I feel like he will get his turn. A moving and funny story about a Soviet family’s journey to a new life, it also exemplified a trend in CanLit in 2011 of Canadian stories (of journeys and immigration) set outside Canada.

Sanctus by Simon Toyne
Yes, this debut novel was written by my big brother so I may be biased, but the publishers who picked up the rights in more than 40 countries and 27 languages don’t (so far as I’m aware…) have any familial connection to us at all, and they all loved it. I read the draft manuscript of the follow up (The Key) over Christmas and it’s even better.

1Q84 by Haruki Murakami
I’ve been a Murakami fan since I first read A Wild Sheep Chase 10 years ago. 1Q84 isn’t a perfect novel, but it’s trademark Murakami and I got lost in every one of its 900-odd pages.

Algoma by Dani Couture
I was lucky enough to read an early draft of Dani Couture’s debut novel so was a cheerleader for the book when it was eventually published in October this year. Reminiscent of early Margaret Atwood it’s like Surfacing meets Anne Enright’s The Gathering, or something.

The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes
I’ve talked about this novel  a couple of times on air this year, and hand sold it to countless customers at Type. It’s perfection.

I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen
This picture book is just brilliant. Smart, concise and fun, and you can almost hear the kids shouting out “THE RABBIT HAS IT!!!” before the bear figures it out. The bear gets his own back though, in an oh-so-dark and cheeky finish.


Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
It would be easy to think that this book was reviewed so extensively that there’s now no need to read the actual book, but I disagree. Fascinating on so many levels, this is a book about the convergence of culture, design, and computing, and about the fine line between brilliance  and bullying.

Hark! A Vagrant by Kate Beaton
History with laughs! Part of the genius of Beaton’s comic is that to get the joke you first have to know the historical and literary references. Prepare to Google while you read and finish both wiser and with a few extra laugh lines.

The Chimps of Fauna Sanctuary by Andrew Westoll
This book spoke to the 9-year-old me who used to organize anti-vivisection fundraisers at school and to the grown-up me who has made a career out of making sense of the world through stories. A powerful portrayal of a community of chimps with extraordinary and heartbreaking life stories.


In a twist on our “Should I Read It?” segment, I talk to Brent Bambury on today’s CBC Day 6 about the buzz books that will be finding their way into many people’s stockings this year.

Gifts for fiction lovers, tricky teenagers, dentists, tech-fans, and anyone who enjoys a nice cocktail on a cross-country train.

Here’s the audio.