Thursday, December 28, 2023

Best Books of 2023


When you read as much as I do, it's especially hard to narrow down favourites. For context, I read more than 400 books in 2023 and I gave 156 of those 5 stars on Goodreads. Out of those, I chose 36 favourites. Nineteen are by Canadian authors, 12 are in audiobook format, 5 are in comics format, 8 are in translation, 27 are by women or nonbinary authors, at least 8 of them are by queer authors and 7 are by Indigenous authors. All of which reflects the kinds of books I prefer to focus on.

    Another thing that I noticed is that the books I read in tandem with other people tend to be the ones that left a lasting impression. Seven of my favourites were buddy reads.

    I've placed these 36 books in categories below. And while I was doing that, I managed to narrow these down a top ten, which I will list at the very end of this post.

Top 6 Nonfiction:

6 - Monsters: A Fan's Dilemma by Claire Dederer (audiobook)
5 - Ultra Processed People: The Science Behind Food that Isn't Food by Chris Van Tulleken (audiobook)
4 - My Fourth Time, We Drowned: Seeking Refuge on the World's Deadliest Migration Route by Sally Hayden (audiobook)
3 - 
Fire Weather: A True Story from a Hotter World by John Vaillant (audiobook)
2 - Valley of the Birdtail: An Indian Reserve, a White Town and the Road to Reconciliation by Andrew Stobo Sniderman and Douglas Sanderson
1 - No Friend but the Mountains: Writing from Manus Prison by Behrouz Boochani, translated by Omid Tofighian (audiobook)

Best Memoirs:

Thick Skin: Field Notes from a Sister in the Brotherhood by Hilary Peach
Namwayut - We Are All One: A Pathway to Reconciliation by Chief Robert Joseph (audiobook)

Best Graphic Memoirs:

Sunshine by Jarrett Krosoczka
The Talk by Darrin Bell

Best Re-reads:

Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe
Monkey Beach by Eden Robinson

Best Play:

Angels in America by Tony Kushner (full cast audiobook)

Best Poetry:

Knife on Snow by Alice Major

Best Novella:

Foster by Claire Keegan (audiobook)

Best YA:

Those Pink Mountain Nights by Jen Ferguson (audiobook)

Best Picture Book:

Wolf Suit by Sid Sharp

Best Children's Chapter Book:

The Runaways by Ulf Stark, translated by Julia Marshall

Best Graphic Novel for Kids:

Frizzy by Claribel Ortega and Rose Bousamra

Best Graphic Novel for Adults:

The Waiting by Keum Suk Gendry-Kim, translated by Janet Hong

Best Novels in Translation:

Permafrost by Eva Baltasar, translated by Julia Sanches
Tomb of Sand by Geetanjali Shree, translated by Daisy Rockwell

Best Mid-20th-Century Modern Classics in Translation:

The Tin Flute by Gabrielle Roy, translated by Alan Brown
Alberta Alone by Cora Sandel, translated by Elizabeth Rokkan
(with an honorable mention: Krane's Cafe by Cora Sandel, translated by Elizabeth Rokkan)

Best Historical Fiction:

Vaster Wilds by Lauren Groff (audiobook)
Held by Anne Michaels (audiobook)
The Lost Century by Larissa Lai

Best Novels by Indigenous Authors:

A Grandmother Begins the Story by Michelle Porter (audiobook)
And Then She Fell by Alicia Elliott (audiobook)

Best Canadian Novels:

We Meant Well by Erum Shazia Hasan
Your Driver Is Waiting by Priya Guns

Top Five I Loved Because of Their Innovative Style:

5 - Denison Avenue by Christina Wong and D Innes
4 - A Study for Obedience by Sarah Bernstein
3 - With or Without Angels by Douglas Bruton
2 - Osebol: Voices from a Swedish Village by Marit Kapla, translated by Peter Graves
1 - Mercy Gene by JD Derbyshire

And now [drum roll] my top ten favourites of 2023:

10 - Mercy Gene by JD Derbyshire
9  - Valley of the Birdtail: An Indian Reserve, a White Town and the Road to Reconciliation 
by Andrew Stobo Sniderman and Douglas Sanderson
8  - And Then She Fell by Alicia Elliott (audiobook)
7  - Wolf Suit by Sid Sharp
6  - We Meant Well by Erum Shazia Hasan
5  - The Talk by Darrin Bell
4  - Tomb of Sand by Geetanjali Shree, translated by Daisy Rockwell
3  - Alberta Alone by Cora Sandel, translated by Elizabeth Rokkan
2  - Your Driver Is Waiting by Priya Guns
1  - No Friend but the Mountains: Writing from Manus Prison by Behrouz Boochani, translated by Omid Tofighian (audiobook)

Thursday, November 30, 2023

November 2023 Reading Stats and Booktube Uploads

Still settling in to our new home in Victoria -- we moved six weeks ago. I read lots of picture books and books by Indigenous authors this month.

Favourite books in November (in alphabetical order):

The Adversary by Michael Crummey

And Then She Fell by Alicia Elliott; audiobook read by Jenna Clause and Cherri Maracle

Bea Wolf by Zach Weinersmith and Boulet

Denison Avenue by Christina Wong and Daniel Innes

Do You Remember by Sydney Smith

The English Understand Wool by Helen DeWitt

Farm & Folk Quilt Alchemy: A High-Country Guide to Natural Dyeing and Making Heirloom Quilts from Scratch by Sara Larson Buscaglia

Genderqueer by Maia Kobabe

Like Smoke, Like Light by Yukimi Ogawa

Misbelief: What Makes Rational People Believe Irrational Things by Dan Ariely; audiobook read by Simon Jones

My Brilliant Friend: The Graphic Novel; from the novel by Elena Ferrante; adapted by Chiara Lagani and Mara Cerri; translated by Ann Goldstein

The Mysteries by Bill Watterson and John Kascht

Pink Mountain Nights by Jen Ferguson; audiobook read by Julie Lumsden, Aaliya Warbus, Kimberly Woods & Shaun Taylor-Corbett

Sunshine: How One Camp Taught Me About Life, Death and Hope: A Graphic Novel by Jarrett Krosoczka

Unearthing: A Story of Tangled Love and Family Secrets by Kyo Maclear; audiobook read by the author

Upstream: Selected Essays by Mary Oliver; audiobook read by Hala Alyan, Joy Sullivan & Kate Bear

Did Not Finish: Chain-Gang All-Stars. My emotions have been close the the surface this month and this story about imprisoned queer women fighting each other to the death for the entertainment of others was just too visceral, especially in audiobook format.

Reading event participation: 

Nonfiction November - 13 books
Ernaux-vember - 1 book
Indigenous Heritage Month - 7 books
Read Across Canada Challenge - 
        The Adversary by Michael Crummey for Newfoundland (October)
        Nothing yet for Yukon (November) but I plan to read Care Of by Ivan Coyote

Booktube Uploads:

Wednesday, November 1, 2023

October 2023 Reading Stats and Booktube Uploads

    I saw a difference in my reading that reflects the stress of moving from Alberta to BC this month: mainly that I was fussier about what caught my interest (and abandoned three books), and also was more interested in visual narratives. Another thing is that I only made three YouTube videos in October; just not enough time for everything!

Best books that I read in October (in alphabetical order):

Lizzy and the Cloud by Eric Fan and Terry Fan

Lesser Known Monsters of the 21st Century by Kim Fu

The Vaster Wilds by Lauren Groff; audiobook read by January LaVoy

A Stone Is Most Precious Where It Belongs by Gulchehra Hoja; audiobook read by Sarah Suzuk

Namwayut--We Are All One: A Pathway to Reconciliation by Chief Robert Joseph; audiobook read by Dr Evan Adams

Women of the Fur Trade by Frances Koncan

Boys Weekend by Mattie Lubchansky

Western Lane by Chetna Maroo

The House by Paco Roca; translated by Andrea Rosenberg

Wrinkles by Paco Roca; translated by Erica Mena

A First Time for Everything by Dan Santat

The Wolf Suit by Sid Sharp

111 Trees: How One Village Celebrates the Birth of Every Girl by Rina Singh and Mariana Ferrer

Boobies by Nancy Vo

When You Can Swim by Jack Wong


Booktube Uploads:

Tuesday, October 24, 2023

September 2023 Reading Stats and Booktube Uploads

Best Books in September (in alphabetical order by title):

Big by Vashti Harrison

The Double Life of Benson Yu by Kevin Chong

Elf Dog and Owl Head by MT Anderson

Ephemera: A Memoir by Briana Loewinsohn

Everything in Its Place: A Story of Books and Belonging by Pauline David-Sax and Charnelle Pinkney Barlow

A Hero Ain't Nothin But a Sandwich by Alice Childress

Loop Tracks by Sue Orr; audiobook read by Vanessa Rhodes

The Skull by Jon Klassen

Study for Obedience by Sarah Bernstein

Supergirl: A Woman of Tomorrow by Tom King and Bilquis Evely

We Meant Well by Erum Shazia Hasan

 DNF: I Only Read Murder by Ian Ferguson

Booktube Uploads in September:

Friday Reads September 1

My 2023 Giller Prize Longlist Wishlist

Friday Reads September 8

8 Plays in 5 Days: A Theatre Festival Binge Vlog

Shawn and Lindy talk about the 2023 Giller longlist

The Friday Reads that took forever to upload

Recent Reads September 26

Friday Reads September 29

August 2023 Reading Stats and Booktube Uploads


Best books in August, in alphabetical order by title:

Blacksad: They All Fall Down part 1 by Juan Diaz Canales and Juanjo Guarnido

Buzz, Sting, Bite: Why We Need Insects by Anne Sverdrup-Thygeson; translated by 

Flung Out of Space: Inspired by the Indecent Adventures of Patricia Highsmith by Grace Ellis and Hannah Templer

A Grandmother Begins the Story by Michelle Porter; audiobook read by a full cast of 14 performers

In a Strange Room: Three Journeys by Damon Galgut

It's Lonely at the Centre of the Earth by Zoe Thorogood

Mercy Among the Children by David Adams Richards

The Night Ship by Jess Kidd; audiobook read by Fleur De Witt and Adam Fitzgerald

Paradise by Abdulrazak Gurnah; audiobook read by Chukwudi Iwuji

The Tin Flute by Gabrielle Roy

Tomb of Sand by Geetanjali Shree

DNF: Nomad Century by Gaia Vince

Booktube Uploads in August:

Sunday, September 3, 2023

July 2023 Reading Stats and Booktube Uploads

My favourite books in July were all nonfiction:

Fire Weather: The Making of a Beast by John Vaillant; audiobook read by Alan Carlson

Truth Telling: Seven Conversations About Indigenous Life in Canada by Michelle Good; audiobook read by Megan Tooley

Ultra-Processed People: The Food We Eat that Isn't Food and Why We Can't Stop by Chris van Tulleken; audiobook read by the author

Rehearsals for Living by Robyn Maynard and Leanne Betasamosake Simpson

The High Desert by James Spooner

Strong Female Character by Fern Brady; audiobook read by the author

La grosse laide / My Body in Pieces par / by Marie-Noelle Hebert (translation by Shelley Tanaka)


Booktube Uploads in July:

Friday Reads July 7

A Wildfire Smoky Friday Reads on July 14

Lindy and Shawn Discuss With or Without Angels by Douglas Bruton

Friday Reads July 21

Friday Reads July 28

Friday, September 1, 2023

June 2023 Reading Stats and Booktube Uploads

Best books that I read in June:

Angels in America by Tony Kushner; audiobook read by the cast of the National Theatre's 2018 Broadway revival

With or Without Angels by Douglas Bruton

Mercy Gene: The Man-Made Making of a Mad Woman by JD Derbyshire

Ordinary Notes by Christina Sharpe

Victory. Stand! Raising My Fist for Justice by Tommie Smith, Derrick Barnes and Dawud Anyabwile

Monsters: A Fan's Dilemma by Claire Dederer; read by the author

Forget My Name by Zerocalcare; translated by Carla Roncalli di Montorio

Love in the Library by Maggie Tokuda-Hall and Yas Imamura

Booktube uploads in June:


Tim Hortons References in Literature 2023 edition

A continuation of my ongoing collection of literary references to Canada's ubiquitous coffee chain. Zalika Reid-Benta's River Mumma gets to go first because there's a map of Toronto in it that shows the particular location of the Tim's mentioned in her novel.

    “I need a phone. I don’t care whose. I just need to look
something up.”

    “What’s wrong with your phone?” said Mars.

    “It got wet. So can I just—“

    “Dropped it in the sink?” asked Heaven.


    “Oh, damn,” said Mars. “The toilet?”

    “I fell in the river behind my building last night, OK? Or I didn’t, I don’t know.” Alicia motioned frantically with her hand. “I was kinda blem still.”

    “Bro, what?”

    “Is that why your hair is already starting to frizz? It hasn’t even been a full twenty-four hours, Alicia.”

    “What, you and my mom have a WhatsApp group or something? Just lend me a phone, yah.”

    “Not me, my data plan sucks,” said Mars. “Maybe you can hop on real quick when we get in the radius of a Tim’s or something.”

- - - - - - - - - - - - - 

    Finally, Mars spoke. “I’m really trying my best not to lose my shit, and I’m not doing a good job. So what’s going on, Leish?”

    Alicia looked around the store, at the eyes that were on them but not actually looking at them. “OK, first, someone has to order something or we’re going to get kicked out.”

    “No one gets kicked out of Tim’s,” said Mars, leaning back in his chair. “Mans can hijack a bus, bring it to Tim’s for a coffee, and still not get kicked out.”

River Mumma by Zalika Reid-Benta


Motley Crue announced a show in Toronto at the SkyDome (now known as the Rogers Centre) as part of the Dr Feelgood tour. I had to go. I called my friend Kelly, who lived in Toronto, and asked if she would go with me. I then called my mom to ask if I could buy two tickets on her credit card. Those two things secured, I had to figure out how to come up with the money to buy a plane ticket to Toronto. I looked in the newspaper, which was what we did back then to find a job, an apartment or what movies were playing at the theatre. I saw that Tim Hortons right across from my apartment was hiring for the back shift. I applied and got the job. I would be working from eleven at night until seven in the morning, which would give me just enough time to shower and get over to The Body Shop for 9:00 a.m. The pay was $4.35 per hour, minimum wage. When added to the five dollars an hour I was getting paid at The Body Shop, I thought I could save enough for my airfare.

from:  Scene 7: The one where I meet an even bigger mistake at Tim Hortons

    It also shocked me how coddled some of these young lawyers were. They would be devastated if their free parking space was two blocks away from the building. One of the yound associates had a total meltdown one evening because someone had taken her lunch out of the fridge. I mean a real meltdown. I was in my office when I heard the crying. She was in the hallway and some otheryers were around her consoling her. I thought someone close to her had died. I stood there stunned when I realized all this was about someone eating her Lean Cuisine. Jesus, did these people have no sense of real turmoil? I thought of some of the people who I had worked with at Tim Hortons, trying to raise kids on minimum wage and deciding between paying the rent or buying groceries. But for this privileged young woman, someone taking her lunch out of the fridge (ironically, a common occurrence I covered on my radio show years later) was a complete disaster to her.

from: Scene 10: The one where I meet some mean girls

Running Down a Dream by Candy Palmater


    I nodded, and did exactly what hockey players -- especially Canadian hockey players -- are still widely celebrated for. That is, I toughed it out, I gritted my teeth against the pain and went looking for the number of the guy who'd... except there wasn't any obvious enemy. In a real dark night of the soul, perhaps, the enemy never has a face or a number. And perhaps it is this primitive simplicity of the hockey code that explains its grip on the Canadian psyche? Perhaps the "eye for an eye," or, much more aptly, the "tooth for a tooth" logic, and the Darwinian dog-eat-dog philosophy are the Canadian value system? But if so, how to beat what lacks a jersey and a number? Tim Horton, drunk and weary at the end of his career, driving off the highway, or Jean Beliveau, graceful and celebrated all his life long, gritting his teeth against the Reaper. Derek Boogaard downing painkillers against the concussive goon whose jabs never weaken, or Guy Lafleur, in court, wondering what a father can ever do to help his son.
    The questions, the doubt, would not begin for decades, of course. At five, climbing up from the grainy surface of a frozen slough, I merely smelled the tobacco and beer, and I trusted.

"Initiation," The Call of the Red-Winged Blackbird: Essays on the Common and Extraordinary by Tim Bowling


    Jimmy ran his palms over his cheeks. "I wanna date myself."
    He hadn't shaved in ten months. He told me whenever he got clean-shaven, it meant he'd reached the height of recovery and soon they'd have to turn him out.
    Sitting by the windows, we share our four weekly donuts. I've offered to go to the schmancy place on Queen with their bacon & Cap'n Crunch donut, but he wants Tim's.
    Jimmy takes the apple fritter, the Boston cream, and the chocolate-glazed. I take the maple dip. Now that we're friends, we know each other's favourites. I always leave the chocolate-glazed for him, even if I pick first. I can get one any time.

Bellevue Square by Michael Redhill



  "You know how those people are," you said, grabbing the box.
    Ma's cheeks flushed. Those people? Really? She took a deep breath to calm herself down and said, "You know, Liz. I hired her through word of mouth. I heard she's the best of the best."
    Your face shifted. "How is she the best of the best?"
    "She ... she worked at the house of the ... the president?"
    "The president of what?"
    Ma backpedalled. She had forgotten Canada didn't have a president. "I mean, the prime minister."
    "Really? Which one?"
    "The one ... right now."
    "You're kidding me." Ma hated this Canadian expression, which forced her to repeat herself.
    "Really. She's the best of the best."
    Justin barged in through the front door with his arms full. "Morning, MG! I got doughnuts from Tim Hortons. Hope you're hungry."

The Story of Us by Catherine Hernandez


    At the Tim Hortons, the cashier was much more pleasant than expected when Jade ordered her French Vanilla and croissant in English. Jade had visited Montreal many times, but never alone. Even though she'd taken the mandatory classes up to grade nine, she still spoke no more French than what had been taught in grade three. Once, during a previous trip, a waitress had refused to take her order in English, and she couldn't figure out is the issue was her race or language limitations, as a white woman at a nearby table ordered in English with no issues. Montreal was like that -- beautiful and friendly some moments, cold and isolating at others.

Jade Is a Twisted Green by Tanya Turton


    When I first started thinking about alcohol and its costs, I found a forensic anthropologist. This was a man who had the tools and expertise to determine the total costs. I phoned him to set up a meeting and we met at a Tim Hortons. I explained to him in detail what I hoped he would do. I told him I would help to publish his findings and offered to coauthor any report. I offered to assist in any way that I could, but please, would he do the math? Would he come up with the numbers?
    I wanted to find out many things. How many deaths were the direct result of alcohol? What percentage of accidents? How many cancers? How many heart attacks? How many suicides? Could he determine how much shorter a child's life would be because the parents were drinking and not providing proper nourishment during the child's formative years? What is the cost to society for one child with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder during that child's life, due to the increased cost to education, should he require a special needs tutor, the cost to social services because he would have problems getting employment, the increased cost to policing when he messed up, to corrections because the justice system has no alternatives but to send him to jail? And the increased cost to health care, including mental health?
    Near the end of our two-hour meeting, I was nearly begging, but he refused to undertake this research. I couldn't understand why. Was it too difficult? Too time-consuming?
    But, when we were leaving, standing outside in the parking lot, he admitted that he still liked to take a drink now and then.
    Because I have been unable to obtain precise numbers of what alcohol costs us as a society, and what the statistics are for alcohol-related deaths, I have been forced to estimate. My estimate remains at one in two. That is, every second person in this Treaty 6 territory is going to die from an alcohol-related death, whether they drink or not. And, I have come to believe this estimate might be low.

Firewater: How Alcohol Is Killing My People (and Yours) by Harold R Johnson


    In the winter, I looked forward to snow days. The suspense, sitting on the edge of my mom's bed next to the radio, wishing desperately, dreaming of snow forts and snowmen. I would close my eyes, listening to the CBC radio host recite a list of school cancellations, to the soothing voice.    
    Snow day mornings were absolute heaven. My mom and I had a ritual. I would sit in a purple plastic sled and she would pull me through the snow. The destination? Tim Hortons. Marching along, crunch, crunch, her boots sinking, everything covered in white, icicles like spears.
    "I'll have a medium with double cream and just a pinch of sugar, not very much, thanks," I would mouth my mom's order at Tims in the mornings on the way to school while she leaned her head out the car window, neck reaching for the drive-three speaker. For me, I liked the hot chocolate.
    The sound of the little sled brushing the snow underneath, the steady glide through the barren landscape, offered tranquility, a sense of togetherness. Shut your eyes and you're flying through the universe.

Pageboy: A Memoir by Elliot Page


Once you've gone mad, you know the way

    It was 3 a.m., and they did ask, but still, going through the Timmy Ho's drive-thru to grab doughnuts and coffees with the paramedics driving me all the way out to the Chilliwack hospital because the psych ward at St Paul's downtown was stacked to the brim with nutbars and loony tunes was unnecessarily surreal. I mean, come on, there's a time and a place for double-doubles and chocolate glaze, and it's probably not when you've got a suicidal basket case shelved on the gurney in the back. What's true is that they likely couldn't have considered such an early morning snack with any other kind of patient rattling around in the back, and they were sock-monkey tired--five overdoses and one ridiculous car crash already that shift--and I was like a free ride. And also, for the record, I was saying over and over again, "It's okay, it's okay, it's okay." They didn't get that I was saying it to try to keep the voices calm and carry on because I was scared shitless, thinking a person like me doesn't want to end up in a place like Chilliwack, which is more or less exactly what the physiotherapist said to me when she shook me awake to throw the medicine ball around with the other caw caw cawrazies at 6 a.m.: "A girl like you doesn't want to end up in a place like this."

Mercy Gene: The Man-Made Making of a Mad Woman by JD Derbyshire


    Shit. How is it Sunday already? If Abe had to book a back-up preacher to pick me up, he'll be annoyed. He's wearing his church suit, so maybe he just cut the sermon a little short and skipped after-service fellowship in the foyer. I can taste that scalding caffeinated sludge at the back of my throat.
    Thankfully, there's an extra-large coffee from Timmy's and a crumpled paper donut bag wedged into Abe's cup holder, so that's one less reason for him to resent me. I'm jealous of the old man. He got to pregame this encounter with his beverage of choice and I didn't. I couldn't afford any of those tiny bottles of booze on the flights over here, so I'll need to conserve my energy until I can get to a liquor store. I want to ask him to stop somewhere in the city so I can stock up but don't because I can't stand the thought of the quiet judgement that would follow.

Wonder World by KR Byggdin


    Over the past few weeks, Simon had been lecturing me with increasing frequency about my alleged "aversion to kindness." He cocked his head with a pensive expression, and I could see that we were in danger of repeating the waterfall situation.
    To sum up: Simon had a car. When he first told me this, I'd said, "Of course you do," and he'd looked at me quizzically and I had not elaborated. It was an old, beat-up Volkswagen Golf in a subdued dark green, with scratchy carpeted seats and gummy cupholders. Occasionally he would pick me up and take me on a kind of drive-through buffet, hitting up Tim Hortons for a breakfast sandwich, McDonald's for hash browns and coffee, and Wendy's for a shake to dump our coffees into, something 6Bites had recently termed a "dirtbag affogato."

Really Good, Actually by Monica Heisey

    The source of the dog whistle was not in the hospital room, as Riot previously thought, nor in the Tim Hortons where he removed himself to avoid Faye. It was coming from inside of him.

Reproduction by Ian Williams

    By early March the accusations Gerald Dove had made against McVicer’s Works mounted. The incidences of allergy, cancer, and miscarriage among our community were eight times the provincial or national average.

    There were weekly meetings at the one-room schoolhouse, and I went to them. The highway was dark, the stars out at seven. I walked across the new bridge and down the old Bowie Road to the school. It was well lighted, and you could see your breath even though it was crowded. People drank coffee in Tim Hortons cups. There were ice crystals inside the window, and everyone kept on their hats and gloves.

Mercy Among the Children by David Adams Richards



    Uncle Derry, who never stopped talking, gave Lise all the specs on his beloved ’63 Porsche convertible as they drove out to the old house. A broken heater and the raw, early morning air forced Lise deeper into her flimsy West Coast jacket and the cigar-reeking scarf Uncle Derry had wrapped around her neck. Woofers crouched in the back seat, his overlarge head swaying between the two of them, tongue hanging out and breath foul with the smell of liver. They passed small desolate [Cape Breton] communities consisting of little more than a gas station, a Tim Hortons or a 7-Eleven along a secondary highway. The convertible seemed out of place amongst pickups and muscle cars, but everything was out of place this morning and had been since she’d arrived [from Victoria]. Her imagination leapt to Daniel: in a drug-induced stupor, or knocked unconscious after a drunken brawl, police surrounding the house while inside he held a woman such as herself, a mommy figure, hostage. The worst, the very worst, would be absence, the house empty with no sign of him. Depending on the outcome, she could leave tonight, couldn’t she? Go back to, what, the bakery, her inadequate life, her persistent ache for her son?

The Broken Heart of Winter by Judy LeBlanc


    In North Bay, the bus stopped, and I walked around the parking lot looking for my dad’s car. When I found him, he got out and hugged me. I pressed my hands against his back. I felt his nose against my hair, the soft whistle of his breaths against my head. When his arms loosened, he held me out in front of him, as though making sure I’d come back in the same condition I’d been left.

    He said, “Look at you. You’re a big-city girl now.”

    I mumbled no, no, and then asked him how his drive had been.

    Not far from the station, we stopped at a drive-through and he ordered a large black coffee and a box of timbits. He asked me if a wanted a hot chocolate, and I said I was okay.

    The roads were good, my father said, though it had snowed quite a lot the few days before. Even so, he turned on the radio, which updated us on the road conditions as we drove upon them.

    “Would you pass me a honey glazed?”

    The box of doughnuts was in my lap. I picked through them. Hard icing flaked onto his jacket collar.

The Adult by Bronwyn Fischer


    My stepsister Faith is doing great. She's still in Alberta and a supervisor at a Tim Hortons now. She sends me cat videos instead of texts. Sometimes I think she's making fun of me with them but I still like them. She has a boyfriend, of course. A nice-looking guy who always wears those big plaid hunting jackets. Dad had one for a while but Nikki hated it so I think she gave it away. This guy though, he wears it in every picture, and smiles big. Faith looks like she's drowning in him, probably is. Everyone has a person but me.

The Circle by Katherena Vermette


      Farrah gave her memory stick to Carol, who gave it to her assistant, who set it up to play Farrah's presentation on the projector screen.
      "There's coffee," Carol said, waving her hand in the direction of a table in the corner, where a spouted box of Tim Hortons coffee and a platter of pastries sat mostly untouched.
      "I'm okay, thanks," Farrah replied, holding up her Starbucks cup. "Got my chai latte right here."
      Carol wrinkled her nose. "Too sweet for me," she said. "But it must be nice to have a little taste of home for you."
      Farrah laughed in the noncommittal way that all non-white women learn to master. Inside her chest, the Fist from which she had learned to hide, in heels and pearls and linen and silk, and all the other camouflage handed down to her by parents who knew what it was to be a target, began to tighten.

'Stories in the Language of the Fist,' in Chrysalis by Anuja Varghese


    I sat in front of the window.

    I looked around. There were a couple of us on our own, sitting at the few tables, each with a coffee, a pineapple bun, an egg tart, or a bao. The man behind me was reading the Sing Tao and I suddenly wondered where in Chinatown the bak who sold the Sing Tao outside Hat Moon Low, before it closed and was boarded up, moved to. Every morning he meticulously rolled the newspapers in half, wrapped them with an elastic band, and sold them throughout the day. He usually sold out by two or three in the afternoon. And at his feet sat his coffee in a black-and-dark-brown paper cup from Fu La Wa, sometimes from Ding Dong, or Tim Hortons. Occasionally, he'd bring his portable radio with him, listening to the news.

Denison Avenue by Daniel Innes and Christina Wong



  The [fishing trip] invite went out to [Michael] Ignatieff and [Bob] Rae. Now this was a very interesting competition. They had been, for most of their lives, best of friends. Ignatieff famously helped Bob when he was fighting depression as a young man. At the time when people understood very little about that condition, Ignatieff was there for him. They both had impressive careers, and they were each supportive of the other. But now, politics and ambition had come between them. They were now decidedly not-close.

    How exciting was that? It was downright Shakespearean. It would make a great piece. The only question out of the gate was which one would drown the other.

    Unfortunately, no sooner had the invite gone out, when we hit a snag. Ignatieff wanted to see samples of my work. Not surprising. He had spent the last 20 years living outside of Canada. He famously stated that he returned to Canada regularly to receive honorary degrees.

    I knew someone in the Ignatieff camp and he confessed that the real concern wasn't with who I was, but with what I might say. Ignatieff, who was somewhat sensitive to the fact that he had lived outside Canada for so long, was worried I might pull on that thread. His camp was worried that I might give him a pop quiz on Canada and ask him some tough questions like: "What's a double-double?" and "Who's your favourite Canadian recording artist, Steve Fonyo or Terry Fox?"

    Ignatieff said no. He was going to run a classic frontrunner campaign and hide.

The Road Years: A Memoir, Continued by Rick Mercer