There’s a place where you can find a thoughtful and personalized gift for every single person on your list without relying on an algorithm or boosting your annual consumption of plastic gadgets. It’s friendly, peaceful, and you can probably get there on public transit. It’s your local independent bookstore.
With help from your neighbourhood bookseller, you can find gifts as unique as each of your friends and loved ones. And when you buy a B.C.-published book from your local indie, you give yourself a gift: the gift of a vibrant local literary scene.
Below we recommend eight B.C.-published books for everyone on your list. For even more inspiration, Read Local BC hosts a rich archive of local books. To kick off a season of supporting local authors, publishers and booksellers, Read Local BC will be giving away an $100 gift certificate to the indie bookstore of the winner’s choice in the coming weeks. Stay tuned!
For the friend who knows what microdosing is
The Acid Room: The Psychedelic Trial and Tribulations of Hollywood Hospital
By Jesse Donaldson and Erika Dyck (Anvil Press)
“By the late 1940s, western psychiatry was at a crossroads.
“Most often people with mental illness found themselves removed from society, housed in large custodial hospitals or asylums, with little chance of recovery. Therapeutic options for mental illness were limited — either Freudian psychodynamic therapies (or ‘talk therapies’) or, for more severe cases, lifetime in an institution. But the introduction of the first psychopharmaceuticals marked a turning point. Throughout the 1950s, antidepressant, antipsychotic and anti-anxiety medications poured onto the market, suddenly giving doctors new ways to manage illness, bringing with them seemingly limitless potential to transform the field of mental health. Eager to capitalize on this pharmaceutical gold rush, the world’s major chemical companies raced to discover the next psychiatric wonder drug.
“One such company was Sandoz.
“Based in Switzerland, the chemical manufacturer had established a pharmaceutical division in the early part of the 20th century. There had been some success with a drug used to treat migraine headaches — one that the division’s founder, Arthur Stoll, had synthesized from a poisonous mould known as ergot. Commonly found on rye, ergot had been a well-known remedy since the Middle Ages, used by midwives and healers to promote contractions in childbirth, as well as to induce miscarriage. In large enough quantities, it also caused powerful hallucinations.”
For the city slicker
Becoming Vancouver: A History
By Daniel Francis (Harbour Publishing)
“Not surprisingly for a place that prides itself on its setting, Vancouver has always been about real estate. The early settlers appropriated the land from its First Nations inhabitants. Then most of it was handed over to a private railway company in a transfer that was generous even by the standards of its time. The Canadian Pacific Railway received the grant in return for locating its Pacific terminus on Burrard Inlet, and the company has been selling it back piece by piece ever since. In the city’s early days, speculating in property was the source of many personal fortunes, as well as a popular recreational pastime. Now, in our own day, the affordability crisis of the 2010s is the latest example of the way that the property market preoccupies the city. Along with the weather, real estate has always been the main topic of conversation in Vancouver.”
For gender norm-defying kids and their families
The Loudest Bark
By Gail Marlene Schwartz and Lucie Gagnon (Rebel Mountain Press)
“‘I hope we gave the puppies the right names.’
“‘Not sure I understand, lovely one,’ replies Chloe.
“‘When I was born, the baby fairy whispered my name to my parents. They thought she said Samuel, but she really said Simone.’”
For the health-care hero
Pandemic Spotlight: Canadian Doctors at the Front of the COVID-19 Fight
By Ian Hanomansing (Douglas & McIntyre)
“One of the most overused words of the pandemic has been ‘unprecedented,’ but it does describe how COVID affected the news. Every story on every day for weeks was connected to this new, frightening virus. The number of people watching, reading and listening to the news surged. We were all so desperate for information. Much of that came from government leaders and health officials. But, as always, we in the media needed more. We needed explanations and, perhaps above all, reassurance. What should we do to try to stay safe?
“Stepping into the void, one by one, across the country, was a group of infectious disease doctors…
“The more I interviewed them on The National and Cross Country Checkup, the more I was not just impressed, but also increasingly curious. However, like many of you, I knew virtually nothing about them, until I wrote this book.”
For the fine art aficionado and/or comic book fan
Mischief Making: Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas, Art and the Seriousness of Play
By Nicola Levell with Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas (UBC Press)
“The idea of putting unconventional character types, ideas and media ‘in play’ as means to expose, stretch and subvert our cultural perceptions is intrinsic to the art of Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas. On the surface of his works, he signs himself ‘mny’ with a fish-like flourish. His name has become synonymous with Haida manga, an artform he innovated that reformulates and blends Indigenous Northwest Coast iconographies and formlines with the graphic dynamism of Japanese manga.
“Through this creative mix or creolization, Haida manga has emerged as a vibrant visual idiom for retelling Indigenous oral histories and other narratives and for offering different ways of seeing and knowing cultural complexes. Its expressive imagery often engages with contemporary social issues concerning the environment and interdependent ecologies, Indigenous thought-worlds and global anxieties, and the materialities of cultural heritage and memory. Yet Yahgulanaas’s distinctive Haida manga aesthetic is not restricted to publications and paper-based graphic artworks: it has modulated into a diverse but coherent body of media and forms, including large-scale public art projects forged from steel; repurposed automobile parts covered in metallic leaf; mixed media installations; acrylic and oil painted canvases and boards; watercolours, ink drawings, ceramics and animated forms.”
For the community-minded young reader
Shelter: Homelessness in Our Community
By Lois Peterson (Orca Book Publishers)
“In the 40 years I worked in public libraries, I met many homeless people. I helped them use the library computers, fill in forms and find out where they could get a hot meal or medical help. On more than one rainy night I gave someone change so they could take a bus to a shelter that was holding a bed for them.
“Later I worked as the executive director of a homeless shelter on Vancouver Island. I loved my job. I appreciated the chance to meet our guests, who had such difficult lives through no fault of their own. I learned about other organizations providing important programs and services to people without homes. I realized how much our society has to change if everyone is to be safe and healthy as they have the right to be. And I saw how many people have strong opinions about homelessness and possible solutions.
“The more we know, the better we can decide what needs to be done and what we can all do to help. It all starts with information and understanding.”
For the reconciliation skeptic seeking a way forward
Standoff: Why Reconciliation Fails Indigenous People and How to Fix It
By Bruce McIvor (Nightwood Editions)
“I spend a lot of time in small towns across Canada. Often, I go for lunch with my First Nations clients. With one of my clients I noticed that we always ate at the same local restaurant over and over again, despite there being what seemed to be several other perfectly good places to eat. When I finally suggested we try one of those restaurants for a change, the response from my clients jarred me out of my comfortable complacency: This is where we feel safe, they said.
“The threat and reality of violence is at the core of Indigenous experiences with non-Indigenous Canada. My clients live with the threat of violence their entire lives. Violence inflicted on them and their loved ones by non-Indigenous people.”
Excerpt from ‘Reconciliation at the End of a Gun: The Wet’suwet’en and the RCMP’
For the lover of moving memoirs and local history
What Was Said to Me: The Life of Sti'tum'atul'wut, a Cowichan Woman
By Ruby Peter, in collaboration with Helene Demers (Royal BC Museum)
“The one that stays out in my mind, mostly as a very small child, was swinging on my dad’s hand and listening to the Elders talking about their traditions, and about how the Natives became. They used to talk about all the true stories about how they came to this Earth, full grown, and who was the first ones. And they always talked about the 13 Masked Dancers and the eight people that dropped from the sky full grown. Every one of these people had names. Every one of them had stories about them. How they came about, where they landed, what they had in their hands, or if they had outfits or masks. All of these people have descendants in the Cowichan Valley. And I remember the Old People saying, they’ll have to know, they’ll have to remember, who they are, their identities.”
About Read Local BC
Read Local BC is a project of the Association of Book Publishers of BC that celebrates the vibrant community of authors, publishers, bookstores and libraries that make up our province’s literary landscape.
Read Local BC acknowledges the support of: the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund, the Canada Council for the Arts, Creative BC and the City of Vancouver.
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