CityNews Bookshelf top reads of 2023
Posted December 30, 2023 10:26 am.
It was another page-turning year at the CityNews Bookshelf. Here are the top reads of 2023, as chosen by you.
Decrim: How We Decriminalized Drugs in British Columbia
Earlier this year, B.C. took a bold, and to some, controversial step in addressing its unregulated toxic drug crisis. As of Jan. 31, the province started allowing adults to legally carry small amounts of illicit drugs — including opioids, cocaine, crystal meth, and MDMA — for personal use as part of a three-year federal trial. How that came to pass is the subject of the new book Decrim: How We Decriminalized Drugs in British Columbia by former Vancouver mayor Kennedy Stewart.
Exploring Vancouver: 10 Tours of The City and Its Buildings
Vancouver may not be in the top tier of great architectural cities of the world, but its buildings do tell a story of how this once rough frontier town has become, for good or ill, a world-class urban center. Now, a new book is telling that story once again – well, a new old book actually. Exploring Vancouver: 10 Tours of The City and Its Buildings is now in its fifth edition.
The Postmedia Effect: How Vulture Capitalism Is Wrecking Our News
The long-running saga of consolidation in Canada’s newspaper sector is one that B.C.-based journalist, author, and academic Marc Edge has been telling for decades, earning him the title of the definitive chronicler of Canada’s journalistic travails. His seventh and latest book – The Postmedia Effect: How Vulture Capitalism Is Wrecking Our News – tells us how we got here and provides a possible way forward too.
White Riot: The 1907 Anti-Asian Riots in Vancouver
Incidents of anti-Asian racism rose dramatically during the pandemic, fueled by rhetoric that COVID-19 was somehow a Chinese disease. Sadly, anti-Asian sentiment is hardly a new phenomenon in Canada, particularly on the West Coast. In White Riot: The 1907 Anti-Asian Riots in Vancouver, author Henry Tsang reminds us that those ugly feelings have always been bubbling below the surface.
Unlikely Insider: A West Coast Advocate in Ottawa
Jack Austin was B.C.’s man in Ottawa for decades, serving in the cabinets of Pierre Trudeau and later Paul Martin while representing the West Coast in the Senate. Now, at 91, he is adding author to his list of considerable achievements. Unlikely Insider: A West Coast Advocate in Ottawa is a fascinating survey of a unique life dedicated to public service.
Rick Mercer – The Road Years: A Memoir Continued
Rick Mercer ended his 2021 memoir Talking to Canadians teeing up “a great adventure” – one so great that it would take a separate, stand-alone book to do it justice. That adventure was hosting The Rick Mercer Report, which lasted 277 episodes across 15 seasons on CBC television. Now, he’s collected some of his favourite stories from that time in Rick Mercer – The Road Years: A Memoir Continued.
East Side Story: Growing Up at the PNE
Calgary has the Stampede, Edmonton has K-Days, Toronto has the Ex, and in Vancouver, the yearly summer celebration is known simply as the PNE. And few know it better than Vancouver-based writer, comedian, and elementary school teacher Nick Marino. He spent six summers working at the fair, beginning at age 12 in 1980. East Side Story: Growing Up at the PNE, part memoir and part history, is his first book.
Radio Jet Lag
A good tip for first-time writers is to write about what you know. For his latest book, author Gregor Craigie seems to have taken that advice to heart, tapping into his own life as a journalist and morning radio host to come up with Radio Jet Lag, his third book but his first published novel.
Tales of an Unsung Sourdough
Phil Lind had long been fascinated by the Klondike Gold Rush. The late vice chair of Rogers Communications had grown up hearing about the heroic exploits of his grandfather, John Grieve Lind, a railroader-turned-prospector from London, Ont. That lifelong passion for all things Klondike resulted in his final book — Tales of an Unsung Sourdough: The Extraordinary Klondike Adventures of Johnny Lind.
Mixtape: 21 Songs from 10 Years (1975-1985)
Before there were Spotify playlists or homemade mix CDs, there was the mixtape. Mixtape is also the name of the latest book from Vancouver’s Fiona McQuarrie, who has been writing about music in one way or another for over four decades. The full title is Mixtape: 21 Songs from 10 Years (1975-1985) – appropriate as this was an era when cassettes were indeed king.
Frances Barkley – Eighteenth-century Seafarer
As trailblazers go, Frances Barkley is hard to beat. Along with her husband, the explorer and sea captain Charles Barkley, she would sail around the world twice during an eight-year voyage. In fact, she is the first woman to openly sail around the world and she is also considered to be the first European woman to have ever visited what would become Canada’s West Coast. Now, her incredible life story is being told, in her voice, in the new book Frances Barkley – Eighteenth-century Seafarer.
Terry & Me: The Inside Story of Terry Fox’s Marathon of Hope
Every year, on the second Sunday after Labour Day, people across Canada and around the world lace up their shoes and run in honour of Terry Fox. More than 40 years after it began in 1981, the Terry Fox Run remains the largest single-day fundraiser for cancer research in the world. In Terry & Me, former publicist and confidant Bill Vigars offers a fresh perspective on the man who tried to run from coast to coast on one leg to raise money for a cure.
10 Days That Shaped Modern Canada
Rome wasn’t built in a day, as the old saying goes. However, according to a new book, modern Canada was built in about 10. From “Just watch me” to our most recent $10 bill, Paul Henderson’s game-winning goal in the Summit Series to the Tragically Hip’s farewell concert, 10 Days That Shaped Modern Canada author Aaron Hughes argues these are the days that have helped define the country as we know it today.
Tell Me Pleasant Things About Immortality
Her first book, The Woo-Woo: How I Survived Ice Hockey, Drug Raids, Demons, and My Crazy Chinese Family, has been described as a “darkly comic” coming-of-age memoir that offers a moving look at the Asian immigrant experience as well as a frank depiction of the impact of mental illness on a family. Her second book, My Summer of Love and Misfortune, was pithily summed up as Confessions of a Shopaholic meets Crazy Rich Asians. Now, author Lindsay Wong, a former Vancouverite now based out of Winnipeg, is back with Tell Me Pleasant Things About Immortality – a collection of 13 short stories.
Workday Warrior: A Proven Path to Reclaiming Your Time
For as long as Ann Gomez can remember, she has kept a hectic schedule – jumping from one activity to the next. As a management consultant, coach, and speaker, she has made a career of helping many of the world’s busiest people reclaim their time. Now, she’s sharing those strategies with a much wider audience in Workday Warrior: A Proven Path to Reclaiming Your Time, her second book.