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Hamilton Reads for the holidays

Choosing the perfect book for a special someone on your list can be overwhelming, so we’ve created a list featuring some of our favourite recent reads — all by authors with a Hamilton connection. This holiday season, give the gift of local literature! 

Anuja Varghese

Since we first introduced you to Anuja Varghese in the spring issue of Hamilton City Magazine, her debut short story collection Chrysalis has won both the Dayne Ogilvie Prize for LGBTQ2S+ Emerging Writers and the Governor General's Literary Award for fiction. Drawing on folklore, fairy tale, and magical realism, Chrysalis blends genres and centres the stories of brown women and girls, giving them the space to be complex. It beautifully explores queerness, family, sexuality and cultural expectation through an unapologetically feminist lens.

100 Chapatis
Derek Mascarenhas

In 2019, Derek Mascarenhas released his memorable debut collection of short stories Coconut Dreams, inspired in part by his suburban Burlington upbringing. He’s back with his first picture book 100 Chapatis, an intergenerational tale about the power of patience, family and good food. In it, Simon and Pappa are waiting for a new baby to come. To pass the time, they make 100 chapatis, a traditional Indian flatbread – more importantly, making memories along the way. 

Imagining Imagining: Essays on Language, Identity and Infinity  
Gary Barwin

Writer, composer and multidisciplinary artist, Gary Barwin is the author of 26 books including Nothing the Same, Everything Haunted: The Ballad of Motl the Cowboy, which won the Canadian Jewish Literary Award. Most recently, he’s written Imagining Imagining, a book of essays released by Hamilton’s Wolsak and Wynn. Thinking deeply about big ideas, including (as the title suggests) language, identity and infinity, this thoughtful collection spans Barwin’s childhood in Ireland to his long-time home in Hamilton with great humour and insight. 

Sargasso Sea Scrolls
Dannabang Kuwabong

Dannabang Kuwabong is a Ghanaian Canadian and longtime Hamiltonian whose most recent book of poetry is Sargasso Sea Scrolls. In it, he takes readers on a powerful journey to the Dutch Caribbean island of Curaçao, located 60 kilometres north of the coast of Venezuela. Kuwabong’s poetry evocatively explores slave experiences through historical remains, human memories and his own associations with his native West Africa, bringing together elements of landscape, food and language. 

And Then She Fell
Alicia Elliott

And Then She Fell is the first novel from Brantford’s Alicia Elliott, whose previously published memoir A Mind Spread Out On The Ground was a national bestseller and winner of the Forest of Reading Evergreen Award. The story of Alice, a young Mohawk woman who has just given birth to a beautiful daughter, And Then She Fell is a book about belonging – or more precisely, feeling like one doesn’t belong. Upon moving to a wealthy neighbourhood in Toronto, Alice feels like an imposter. The result is an important and captivating book about motherhood, mental health, and false allyship.

Cake & Loaf Gatherings: Sweet and Savoury Recipes to Celebrate Every Occasion
Nickey Miller and Josie Rudderham

There’s no better time than the holidays to gather with friends and family to enjoy sweets, savoury dishes or both. Cake & Loaf Gatherings is the perfect hostess gift, bringing together 80 mouthwatering recipes from Nickey Miller and Josie Rudderham, the duo behind Cake & Loaf Bakery, which closed in October. They also share party planning advice, including tips for sustainable hosting and how to perfect your party spread. 

Come Ride with Me: Memoirs of a Paramedic
Steve Kawamura

Steve Kawamura, a paramedic for over 20 years, has seen it all. His new memoir, Come Ride with Me, is an unflinching look at his career with the Hamilton Paramedic Service, giving readers a front-seat look at life and death in an ever-changing city. 

Dedicated to “all the first responders who put on a uniform before work and willingly step into the unknown,” Come Ride with Me is an unpredictable and fast-paced book that isn’t just about rushing patients to the hospital. It’s a look at mental health, overcoming adversity, and making decisions that truly matter. 

Misfortune and Fame: 10 Reasons You Don’t Want to be Rich (or Famous)
Paul Berton

Paul Berton’s first book, 2022’s Shopomania was all about stuff and our rampant need to acquire more and more of it. His follow-up Misfortune and Fame continues to take aim at the excess of consumer culture, hilariously exploring what it means to be rich, famous and totally miserable. Expertly weaving together comedy and social commentary, Misfortune and Fame navigates the absurdities of wealth and celebrity, providing readers with a highly entertaining yet thought-provoking journey.

Garden Inventories: Reflections on Land, Place and Belonging
Mariam Pirbhai

“How long has it taken me to see, to really begin to see, this land?” writes Waterloo’s Mariam Pirbhai in Garden Inventories: Reflections on Land, Place and Belonging, recently released by Hamilton’s Wolsak and Wynn. A meditative exploration of Pirbhai’s own effort to create a garden and better understand her home, this stunning book goes beyond choosing the right plants or soil to populate a garden. Instead, it’s a powerful and reflective look at identity, belonging and the beautiful complexity of the natural world around us. 

Can You Believe It? How to Spot Fake News and Find the Facts
Joyce Grant

Can You Believe It? How to Spot Fake News and Find the Facts by Joyce Grant might be aimed at young readers ages 9-13; however, we can all stand to learn a little bit more about navigating the murky waters of social media and online news. A quirky, bright and informative book, Can You Believe It? was recently nominated for not one, but two, Hamilton Literary Awards in both the non-fiction category and the newly created children’s book category. Told alongside colourful illustrations, it asks and answers many important questions, including “What is fake news and why do people make it?”, “How can I tell if something’s fake?” and “How is real news gathered and reported?” It’s the perfect addition to any inquisitive young reader’s bookshelf!