Except for those who are super-organized and have already finished Christmas shopping, it’s time to start thinking about gifts for the special people in your life. For readers on your Christmas list, books are the perfect present. If you have a fiction lover to buy for, you might consider gifting one of these six novels, all published this past year. (And why not treat yourself to a good book too?)
The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Robinson
This is the perfect book for readers who enjoy historical fiction based on extensive research. It’s a story about the blue-skinned people of Kentucky, the Kentucky Pack Horse Library Project, and life in Depression-era Appalachia. It has suspense, romance, and humour. Some parts are heart-warming and others are heart-breaking. And what reader doesn’t enjoy a book about books and reading?
The Testaments by Margaret Atwood
Co-winner of the prestigious Booker Prize for Fiction, the book is set 15 years after The Handmaid’s Tale. Aunt Lydia secretly writes her memoirs explaining how she became a founder of the Gilead regime. The perspective of two other women is also given, that of Agnes who has grown up in Gilead and is being groomed to marry a Commander and that of Daisy, a 16-year-old living in Canada with very protective parents. This novel will be enjoyed by those who liked The Handmaid’s Tale or its television adaptation.
Bina: A Novel in Warnings by Anakana Schofield
For those who enjoy a challenging read, this experimental novel is perfect. On discarded pieces of paper, a 74-year-old woman writes her story to warn people not to repeat her mistakes. In her ramblings, she touches on topics such as ageism and the treatment of women. Despite the book’s unconventional style, serious subject, and often melancholic tone, there are wonderful touches of humour. And Bina’s voice is unforgettable.
Five Wives by Joan Thomas
This year’s winner of the Governor General’s Award for Fiction is based on actual events: the 1950s mission of Christian evangelists to convert the Waorani, an isolated Indigenous people in Ecuadorian Amazonia. Focusing on women connected to the mission, the book examines the impact of missionary zeal on the Waorani and their culture and provokes readers to reflect on the treatment of Canada’s Indigenous people.
Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout
Choose this sequel for fans of the Pulitzer Prize–winning Olive Kitteridge, which inspired an Emmy-winning mini-series. Olive is an opinionated and brutally honest woman struggling with the realities of aging and loneliness. In 13 interwoven stories, readers are given a portrait of a complicated, flawed, and often contradictory individual in whom they cannot but recognize some aspects of themselves. This book is an absolute gem.
The Innocents by Michael Crummey
This novel was a deserving finalist for Canada’s top three literary awards. In an isolated bay in northern Newfoundland, 9-year-old Ada and her 11-year-old brother Evered are orphaned and left entirely alone. With virtually no contact with or knowledge of the world outside their cove, they face food shortages, cold winters, illness, and accidents. This survival tale is both heart-breaking and thought-provoking.
Complete reviews of all these books can be found at https://schatjesshelves.blogspot.com/.
Merry Christmas and happy reading!
About the author: Doreen Yakabuski, a Barry’s Bay native, credits the Barry’s Bay Public Library and the Madonna House Lending Library for cultivating her love of reading. After a career as an English teacher/teacher-librarian in Timmins, she and her husband, Jack Vanderburg, settled near Cornwall. Now she reviews books for her blog Schatjes Shelves.
Photo Andreea Radu unsplash