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  • Writer's pictureLori Callan

My favourite Canadian Reads

Updated: Jul 12, 2020

Thought I would share some of my all-time favourite Canadian works:


I won't list them in any particular order of preference. Every one of these books has in some way changed my perspective on reading or writing or maybe even my perspective on life.... I'll try to keep adding more favourites in future blog posts. This is just a start...




1. Fifteen Dogs, by Andre Alexis - won the 2015 Giller Prize for good reason!


2. Last Seen, by Matt Cohen - a wonderful talent, lost too soon. Cohen won the Governor General's Award for Elizabeth and After, but my favourite is this quirky Toronto story. For writers, there is Cohen's autobiography, Typing: A Life in 26 Keys, published posthumously.


3. All My Puny Sorrows, by Miriam Toews - some of the darkest and most difficult material, written with tenderness and incredible wit. Miriam Toews is seriously funny!


4. Origin of the Species, by Nino Ricci - Ricci's work is thoughtful, fully relatable, and chock full of original ideas. This one is a "do not miss".


5. Fugitive Pieces and The Winter Vault, by Anne Michaels - I am always a sucker for a novel written by a poet...her deftness with the language is unmatched! I only wish Michaels would fall a little more in love with fiction writing, and give us more!


6. The White Bone, by Barbara Gowdy - Fully narrated by the elephants in this heartbreaking story about big game poaching, this novel has stayed with me since I read it in 1999! Impossible to forget.


7. Cargo of Orchids, by Susan Musgrave - Another novel by an accomplished poet. The language! (Also was fortunate to interview Susan Musgrave after reading her novel. The interview is posted in full in my "Articles" tab. Ms. Musgrave was both generous with her time, and fully engaged. I only hope she had as much fun as I did chatting...it was a blast!).


8. Unless, by Carol Shields - Shields' final novel is, in my opinion, her best. A moving work about mothers and daughters, grief and loss and so much more. I loved it!


9. Barney's Version, by Mordecai Richler - My favourite novel by Richler. His last. It is a work of genius. Moving, serious depth, and laugh out loud funny! Another "do not miss"!


10. Robber Bride, by Margaret Atwood - Much noise is made about Handmaid's Tale, but this is still by far my favourite Atwood novel. It is masterful in it's narrative form. And again, Atwood is hilarious, while dealing with serious material regarding women and society.


11. The Wars, by Timothy Findley - This WWI epic novel (almost novella - it must be his shortest novel by a long shot)...is also Findley's masterpiece, in my humble opinion. Simply brilliant.


12. The English Patient, by Michael Ondaatje - This novel won everything. A 1992 Booker, a Governor General's Award. Again, a wonderful novel, written by a poet. The film was received with much adulation at the Oscars. Personally, I did not like the film. Stick to the novel. You'll come out ahead.


13. The Temptations of Big Bear, Rudy Wiebe and Stolen Life (Rudy Wiebe written with Yvonne Johnson) - Rudy Wiebe gets two mentions. I really enjoy his ability to fictionalize Canadian historical events in a fascinating way. Big Bear is brought to life in this tale of Indigenous othering. Stolen Life is the unforgettable story of Yvonne Johnson, and her harrowing experience with the Canadian justice system.


14. More to come....

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