It is the time of year when many people look to the past to determine what they want for the future. How can this year be better than last? How can I be better? What do I need to change?
Your thinking, maybe?
Want a better 2019? Look to 2018 and these ten titles that make our list of some of the most enlightening and impactful books to come out in the last year.
These are ten of the best books for providing perspective - often first-person - on social issues that we hear about daily in the news. The best at opening minds, offering differing views, and changing opinions on issues of poverty, mental health, emigration, the environment and much more.
Don’t be dissuaded by the target audience. While some books were written for children, adults can benefit equally.
The overviews include a combination of excerpts, publisher notes, author and critic comments and reader feedback.
Winner of the 2018 Orwell Prize
McGarvey's unflinching account of his life and the effects of deprivation and poverty is self-aware, brutally honest and more urgent than ever. It is heart-rending in its life story and its account of family breakdown and poverty.
What distinguishes Poverty Safari from a ‘straight’ description of a working-class life is his searing examination of the narratives that surround poverty – and the way in which no individual, least of all him, can neatly be fitted into them
FLY AWAY HOME
A homeless boy who lives in an airport with his father, moving from terminal to terminal trying not to be noticed, is given hope when a trapped bird finally finds its freedom.
The text and images are incredibly powerful. From the opening, you get an honest view of a hard-working father and his son, striving to create a better life for themselves.
Terese Marie Mailhot
Heart Berries is a powerful, poetic memoir of a woman's coming of age on the Seabird Island Indian Reservation in the Pacific Northwest.
Having survived a profoundly dysfunctional upbringing only to find herself hospitalized and facing a dual diagnosis of post traumatic stress disorder and bipolar II disorder; Terese Marie Mailhot is given a notebook and begins to write her way out of trauma.
The result is Heart Berries, a memorial for Mailhot's mother, a social worker and activist who had a thing for prisoners; a story of reconciliation with her father―an abusive drunk and a brilliant artist―who was murdered under mysterious circumstances; and an elegy on how difficult it is to love someone while dragging the long shadows of shame.
A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE STEREOTYPES
In this book, Lucy Nichol shares her experience with generalized anxiety disorder and panic attacks, and touches on the bullying and discrimination she experienced.
The various anecdotes have not been tidied up or sanitized for the sake of the book, but rather represent an authentic look at the author’s life and escapades. Nichol pokes fun at her anxiety-driven thoughts, such as suspecting she might have HIV because her gums were bleeding.
On the issues of bullying and discrimination at work she writes: “You think it shouldn’t be happening. Maybe it’s not even happening, because you’re a grownup. This kind of thing only happens in the playground, surely? … But adults are just as capable of bullying as children.”
The book is visually delightful and fun read, with an important message, Anyone who lives with mental illness is likely to recognize pieces of themselves in Lucy’s story.
In a landmark book from national drug policy leader Robert L. DuPont, MD, Chemical Slavery covers two crucial topics: First, the national drug epidemic including an understanding of its evolution to become a national emergency, and the science of addiction and recovery. Second, Dr. DuPont presents his experience-based guide to the intimate, day-to-day struggle with the disease of addiction from prevention to lasting recovery.
This book shows the ways in which these two domains of addiction, the national and the personal, are intertwined and can be both understood and managed.
Robert L. DuPont, MD was the first Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the second White House Drug Chief. A graduate of Emory University, DuPont received an MD degree from the Harvard Medical School and completed his psychiatric training at Harvard and the National Institutes of Health. He has been a practicing psychiatrist for more than fifty years.
This book follows three children and their families through horrendous times in history: Nazi Germany, Fidel Castro in Cuba, and Assad in Syria.
Gratz shares fictional stories based on real events of how families have been brutally forced from their homes, separated from loved ones, and treated like property.
Through his masterfully told story, he challenges us “regular humans” to take a stand, to be compassionate, and be willing to fight degrading treatment of humans in the face of danger.
Regardless of the target audience (4-8 grade), Refugee is emotionally raw and forces the reader outside of their comfort zone to be more humane.
THE BOY ON THE BEACH
The Vancouver author is the aunt of Alan Kurdi, the toddler whose body was photographed on a Turkish shore and became a flashpoint in the effort to help millions of dislocated Syrians.
Alan was 27 months when he drowned with his mother, Rehanna, and older brother, Ghalib, while crossing in a rickety dinghy to safe haven on the Greek island of Gos, four km away; father and husband Abdullah was the sole survivor.
This heartfelt memoir takes us deep into the large Kurdi family, before and since Alan’s death.
Source: Sarah Murdoch, Staff Reporter, Toronto Star
THE HAIDA GWAII DETOUR
Cool tells this story, "From the perspective of residing on the islands, not from the perspective of the tourist. The characters in the novel are real, or composites of real people. The scenes are real, the timing is real, the life is real."
Today, Haida Gwaii draws mainly global tourists to its rocky shores, serene forests, and Haida culture each year. Currently facing a decreasing availability of forestry jobs, and tensions between the BC Government (BC Timber Sales) and the Haida Nation, Haida Gwaii is still much the same now as it was back in 1985.
Detour will take readers back through time, to show the promise of the land and the potential adventure it still holds.
The Haida Gwaii Detour is the story of an eager, young hand logger surrounded by an unlikely community in the heart of West Coast wilderness. This travel memoir is based on real-life events and packed with a colourful cast of characters.
The story is told through the eyes of both a narrator and the protagonist named Ethan, who has escaped the concrete jungle of Vancouver in the hopes of earning enough money for Journalism school tuition.
"It is tourist fare to wander among the remains of structures and totems after kayaking to ancient Haida settlements, but only a fortunate few ever get to go west to do something meaningful; to work, to earn, to harvest. To live. Ethan felt privileged, that he was one of the luckiest men alive on that day, because he was going to work with the land, rather than destroy it." Excerpt
BRAVE NEW ARCTIC
Mark C. Serene
In a sweeping tale of discovery spanning three decades, Serreze describes how puzzlement turned to concern and astonishment as researchers came to understand that the Arctic of old was quickly disappearing–with potentially devastating implications for the entire planet.
Serreze is a world-renowned Arctic geographer and climatologist who has conducted fieldwork on ice caps, glaciers, sea ice, and tundra in the Canadian and Alaskan Arctic.
In this book, he blends invaluable insights from his own career with those of other pioneering scientists who, together, ushered in an exciting new age of Arctic exploration.
Along the way, Serreze describes the cutting-edge science that led to the alarming conclusion that the Arctic is rapidly thawing due to climate change, that humans are to blame, and that the global consequences are immense.
JUST LIKE BROTHERS
Elizabeth Baguley and Aurélie Blanz
This simple but profound story can help you start conversations with children about prejudice and empathy.
A human mother warns her young son to beware of wolves, with their long snouts and sharp teeth. She doesn’t know at the very same time that a wolf mother is telling her son to stay away from men, with their rough hands and jab sticks.
Both children are eager to play and soon forget their mothers’ warnings. When they meet in the woods alone, both mothers and children end up learning how fear can misshape our perceptions of others.