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Canada Reads 2021

Jonny Appleseed, written by Joshua Whitehead and defended by Devery Jacobs, has been chosen as the 2021 Canada Reads winner!

Congratulations to them, and to all of this year's contenders, which can be seen in the list below. To find out more about Canada Reads and to watch recaps of this year's debates, visit CBC's website.


Jonny Appleseed

- by Joshua Whitehead

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2021 CANADA READS FINALIST WINNER, Lambda Literary Award; Georges Bugnet Award for Fiction Finalist, Governor General's Literary Award for Fiction; Amazon Canada First Novel Award; Indigenous Voices Award; Carol Shields Winnipeg Book Award; Firecracker Award for Fiction Longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize A Globe and Mail Best Book of the Year A tour-de-force debut novel about a Two-Spirit Indigiqueer young man and proud NDN glitter princess who must reckon with his past when he returns home to his reserve. "You're gonna need a rock and a whole lotta medicine" is a mantra that Jonny Appleseed, a young Two-Spirit/Indigiqueer, repeats to himself in this vivid and utterly compelling debut novel by poet Joshua Whitehead. Off the reserve and trying to find ways to live and love in the big city, Jonny becomes a cybersex worker who fetishizes himself in order to make a living. Self-ordained as an NDN glitter princess, Jonny has one week before he must return to the "rez"--and his former life--to attend the funeral of his stepfather. The seven days that follow are like a fevered dream: stories of love, trauma, sex, kinship, ambition, and the heartbreaking recollection of his beloved kokum (grandmother). Jonny's life is a series of breakages, appendages, and linkages--and as he goes through the motions of preparing to return home, he learns how to put together the pieces of his life. Jonny Appleseed is a unique, shattering vision of First Nations life, full of grit, glitter, and dreams.

Butter Honey Pig Bread

- by Francesca Ekwuyasi

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2021 CANADA READS FINALIST Longlisted for the 2020 Scotiabank Giller Prize; finalist, Governor General's Literary Award; finalist, Amazon First Novel Award; finalist, Lambda Literary Award An intergenerational saga about three Nigerian women: a novel about food, family, and forgiveness. Butter Honey Pig Bread is a story of choices and their consequences, of motherhood, of the malleable line between the spirit and the mind, of finding new homes and mending old ones, of voracious appetites, of queer love, of friendship, faith, and above all, family. Francesca Ekwuyasi's debut novel tells the interwoven stories of twin sisters, Kehinde and Taiye, and their mother, Kambirinachi. Kambirinachi feels she was born an Ogbanje, a spirit that plagues families with misfortune by dying in childhood to cause its mother misery. She believes that she has made the unnatural choice of staying alive to love her human family and now lives in fear of the consequences of that decision. Some of Kambirinachi's worst fears come true when her daughter, Kehinde, experiences a devasting childhood trauma that causes the family to fracture in seemingly irreversible ways. As soon as she's of age, Kehinde moves away and cuts contact with her twin sister and mother. Alone in Montreal, she struggles to find ways to heal while building a life of her own. Meanwhile, Taiye, plagued by guilt for what happened to her sister, flees to London and attempts to numb the loss of the relationship with her twin through reckless hedonism. Now, after more than a decade of living apart, Taiye and Kehinde have returned home to Lagos to visit their mother. It is here that the three women must face each other and address the wounds of the past if they are to reconcile and move forward.

Hench

- by Natalie Z. Walschots

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"This book is fast, furious, compelling, and angry as hell." -- Seanan McGuire, New York Times bestselling author



The Boys meets My Year of Rest and Relaxation in this smart, imaginative, and evocative novel of love, betrayal, revenge, and redemption, told with razor-sharp wit and affection, in which a young woman discovers the greatest superpower--for good or ill--is a properly executed spreadsheet.



Anna does boring things for terrible people because even criminals need office help and she needs a job. Working for a monster lurking beneath the surface of the world isn't glamorous. But is it really worse than working for an oil conglomerate or an insurance company? In this economy?

 As a temp, she's just a cog in the machine. But when she finally gets a promising assignment, everything goes very wrong, and an encounter with the so-called "hero" leaves her badly injured.  And, to her horror, compared to the other bodies strewn about, she's the lucky one.

So, of course, then she gets laid off.

With no money and no mobility, with only her anger and internet research acumen, she discovers her suffering at the hands of a hero is far from unique. When people start listening to the story that her data tells, she realizes she might not be as powerless as she thinks.

Because the key to everything is data: knowing how to collate it, how to manipulate it, and how to weaponize it. By tallying up the human cost these caped forces of nature wreak upon the world, she discovers that the line between good and evil is mostly marketing.  And with social media and viral videos, she can control that appearance.

It's not too long before she's employed once more, this time by one of the worst villains on earth. As she becomes an increasingly valuable lieutenant, she might just save the world.

A sharp, witty, modern debut, Hench explores the individual cost of justice through a fascinating mix of Millennial office politics, heroism measured through data science, body horror, and a profound misunderstanding of quantum mechanics. 

Two Trees Make a Forest

- by Jessica J. Lee

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NATIONAL BESTSELLER
WINNER
of the 2020 Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Non-Fiction Prize
Shortlisted for Canada Reads 2021
One of The Globe and Mail's "100 favourite books of 2020"
On CBC's list of "the best Canadian nonfiction of 2020"

An exhilarating, anti-colonial reclamation of nature writing and memoir, rooted in the forests and flatlands of Taiwan from the winner of the RBC Taylor Prize for Emerging Writers

"Two Trees Make a Forest is a finely faceted meditation on memory, love, landscape--and finding a home in language. Its short, shining sections tilt yearningly toward one another; in form as well as content, this is a beautiful book about the distance between people and between places, and the means of their bridging." --Robert Macfarlane, author of Underland

A chance discovery of letters written by her immigrant grandfather leads Jessica J. Lee to her ancestral homeland, Taiwan. There, she seeks his story while growing closer to the land he knew.
Lee hikes mountains home to Formosan flamecrests, birds found nowhere else on earth, and swims in a lake of drowned cedars. She bikes flatlands where spoonbills alight by fish farms, and learns about a tree whose fruit can float in the ocean for years, awaiting landfall. Throughout, Lee unearths surprising parallels between the natural and human stories that have shaped her family and their beloved island. Joyously attentive to the natural world, Lee also turns a critical gaze upon colonialist explorers who mapped the land and named plants, relying on and often effacing the labor and knowledge of local communities.

Two Trees Make a Forest is a genre-shattering book encompassing history, travel, nature, and memoir, an extraordinary narrative showing how geographical forces are interlaced with our family stories.