Ever heard of the 100 Mile Book Diet?
The other day I spent some time (maybe too much time) playing with the interactive Read Local map at 49th Shelf (a site devoted to Canadian books). It plots Canadian books not just within provinces or cities, but right down to exact addresses! I ended up finding a book set in my neighborhood, so I borrowed it for my weekend reading. Can you find one set near you?
I’ve been thinking about local books because last week I attended a Book Blitz with the Association of Manitoba Book Publishers (AMBP). This is where a series of speakers has just a few minutes to talk about top picks for the best new Manitoba books being published in several categories. I really enjoyed hearing about these local books so much that I thought I’d share a selection with you! For more of their choices, feel free to contact the AMBP.
*Many items are quite new therefore descriptions are adapted from book cover summaries or the Book Blitz booklet.
Kraken Bake, by Karen Dudley
It was a great day when Perseus slew the mighty Kraken. But what do you do with a 100 tonne sea monster on your shores? You eat it of course. Now, after months of Kraken cakes and kabobs the people of Greece are getting a little sick of Kraken and have decided they need to find a Bronze Chef with the skill to tackle the “Kraken crisis”. When Chef Pelops (who can’t cook any food from the sea having offended Poseidon) learns he has been chosen as a Bronze Chef candidate, he faces humiliation or worse, such as the end of his cooking career. Add to that the wedding of his beloved to his best friend as well as the need to dispose of a Gorgon’s head, and Pelops’s plate is full. This sequel to the critically acclaimed Food for the Gods mirthfully re-imagines the world of ancient Greece with a modern spin.
The Wittenbergs, by Sarah Klassen
All is not well with the Wittenbergs. Alice has given birth to her second child with a genetic disorder. Millicent has withdrawn into a depression. Joseph must choose between becoming principal of George Sutton Collegiate and the new English teacher. Mia finds herself at the mercy of an unsympathetic teacher while the attractive athletic neighbour ignores her. Only the oldest Wittenberg, the matriarch who holds the key to the family’s Mennonite past, can lead the Wittenbergs along the Dnieper River and toward a better tomorrow.
Tombstone Blues, by Chadwick Ginther
After beating back the might of Surtur, Ted Callan is getting used to his immortal powers. The man who would stop at nothing to rid himself of his tattoos and their power seems to be enjoying his new-found abilities. However, not everyone is happy the glory of Valhalla has risen from the ashes of Ragnarӧk. Thor, former God of Thunder, rages in the land of the dead, and now that Ted’s woken the dead, there’s going to be trouble.
North End Love Songs, by Katherena Vermette
For Katherena Vermette, Winnipeg’s North End is a neighborhood of colourful birds, stately elms, and wily rivers. It is where a brother’s disappearance is trivialized by local media and the police because he is young and Aboriginal. It is also a place that young girls share secrets, movies, cigarettes, Big Gulps and stories of love—where a young mother full of both maternal trepidation and joy watches her small daughters as they play in the park.
*Winner of the Governor General’s Literary Award for Poetry.
Rain on a Distant Roof: A Personal Journey Through Lyme Disease in Canada, by Vanessa Farnsworth
More than the story of one woman’s battle with Lyme disease, Rain on a Distant Roof: A Personal Journey Through Lyme Disease in Canada is also the story of an organism likened to a creature from outer space, and a medical system that continues to have no idea how to deal with it. Borrelia burgdorferi (Bb), the bacterium that causes Lyme disease, shares features with a parasite, but can switch from looking like an invading bacterium to being indistinguishable from a heart or neural cell. With many areas of Canada experiencing an increase in infected ticks, more and more of the population is at risk of contracting this tick-borne illness.
“Indians Wear Red”: Colonialism, Resistance, and Aboriginal Street Gangs, by Elizabeth Comack
With the advent of Aboriginal street gangs such as the Indian Posse, Manitoba Warriors, and Native Syndicate, Winnipeg garnered a reputation as the “gang capital of Canada”. Yet beyond the stereotypes, little is known about these street gangs and the conditions that have produced them. Drawing upon extensive interviews with Aboriginal street gang members as well as with Aboriginal women and elders, the authors develop an understanding from “inside” the inner city and through the voices of Aboriginal people — especially street gang members themselves. Solutions do not lie in quick fixes or getting tough on crime, but in decolonization, re-connecting Aboriginal people with their cultures, and building communities in which they can safely live and work. *Winner of the Alexander Kennedy Isbister Award for Non-Fiction at the Manitoba Book Awards.
Another great way to stay up to date on great local reads is with the Manitoba Book Awards held every spring. I love that there’s so much great writing going on in our own backyard! I want to ask – do you have a favourite book about, or published in, Manitoba?