Canadian Literature

The Canadian Literature Collection highlights the diversity and talent of Canadian authors. Representing the broad range of genres and traditions reflected in Candian Literature, this Collection includes fiction by Margaret Atwood, John Irving, Lucy Maud Montgomery, and other Canadian writers who have shaped the nation's literary canon.

Publication year 2018Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Love, Identity: Mental Health, Values/Ideas: Truth & LiesTags Self Help, Inspirational, Psychology, Parenting, Sociology, American Literature

12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos (2018) is Jordan B. Peterson’s second book. Peterson’s self-help book seeks to provide practical and virtuous rules to live by for a wide audience and general readership. The book streamlines, simplifies, and reimagines some of the more traditionally academic topics of Peterson’s first book, Maps of Meaning: The Architecture of Belief. Each non-fiction work aims to explain human history and human nature according to universal frameworks. 12... Read 12 Rules for Life Summary

Publication year 1974Genre Short Story Collection, FictionThemes Life/Time: Childhood & Youth, Life/Time: Aging, Relationships: Grandparents, Society: War, Values/Ideas: Religion & Spirituality

Publication year 2003Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Safety & Danger, Values/Ideas: Fate, Values/Ideas: Good & Evil, Values/Ideas: Win & Lose, Identity: Mental Health, Emotions/Behavior: Determination / Perseverance, Emotions/Behavior: Guilt, Emotions/Behavior: ConflictTags Mystery / Crime Fiction, Horror / Thriller / Suspense Fiction, Relationships

Acceleration (2003) is a young adult novel by Graham McNamee. Narrated in the first person, it tells the story of 17-year-old Duncan as he learns of a potential serial killer in his city and his attempt to stop him. It examines themes of guilt, forgiveness, mental health, poverty, and more. Plot SummaryThe story opens with 17-year-old Duncan working a two-month stint at a lost and found, his boss being a quiet man named Jacob. The... Read Acceleration Summary

Publication year 2004Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Family, Values/Ideas: Religion & Spirituality, Society: Community, Emotions/Behavior: Loneliness, Relationships: Fathers, Relationships: Daughters & SonsTags Coming of Age / Bildungsroman, Depression / Suicide, Trauma / Abuse / Violence

Miriam Toews’s A Complicated Kindness (2004) is about Nomi Nickel, an adolescent living in the religious Mennonite town of East Village whose coming of age takes place against the backdrop of her family’s unraveling. Toews, who grew up in the Mennonite community of Steinbach, Manitoba, is the author of several novels set in Mennonite communities, many of which are critical of aspects of the faith. This novel, Toews’s third, has garnered considerable acclaim and many... Read A Complicated Kindness Summary

Publication year 2024Genre Novel, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Love, Values/Ideas: Fate, Values/Ideas: Loyalty & Betrayal, Emotions/Behavior: Guilt, Identity: Femininity, Relationships: Family, Relationships: Marriage, Self Discovery, Society: War, Values/Ideas: Power & GreedTags Fantasy, Romance, Mythology, Science-Fiction / Dystopian Fiction, Gender / Feminism

Publication year 1995Genre Novel, FictionTags Indian Literature

Indian-born Canadian writer Rohinton Mistry’s 1995 novel A Fine Balance is the story of four characters from diverse backgrounds whose paths converge in 1975 India. Maneck Kohlah, a college student, has rented a room in the city. On his way to inspect the apartment of Dina Dalal, he meets two tailors, Ishvar Darji and his nephew Omprakash (Om) Darji, also on their way to Dina’s to find sewing jobs.Dina hires the tailors to work from... Read A Fine Balance Summary

Publication year 2016Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Family, Emotions/Behavior: Memory, Emotions/Behavior: Guilt, Emotions/Behavior: Hate & Anger, Emotions/Behavior: Revenge, Emotions/Behavior: Love, Emotions/Behavior: Grief, Emotions/Behavior: Determination / Perseverance, Emotions/Behavior: Nostalgia, Emotions/Behavior: Conflict, Values/Ideas: Safety & Danger, Values/Ideas: Win & LoseTags Mystery / Crime Fiction, Horror / Thriller / Suspense Fiction, Trauma / Abuse / Violence

A Great Reckoning (2016) is the 12th novel in the Inspector Gamache series. The series consists of contemporary mysteries written by the Canadian author Louise Penny. Like the other novels in the series, A Great Reckoning revolves around the small village of Three Pines, Quebec, and its inhabitants. The novel includes a standalone murder mystery plot and references to events in other novels within the series; Penny explores themes of parenthood, loss, and betrayal. This... Read A Great Reckoning Summary

Publication year 2013Genre Autobiography / Memoir, NonfictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Determination / Perseverance, Emotions/Behavior: Hope, Values/Ideas: Safety & DangerTags Journalism, Trauma / Abuse / Violence, Coming of Age / Bildungsroman, Inspirational

A House in the Sky is a memoir co-written by Amanda Lindhout and Sara Corbett, published in 2013. The book recounts Lindhout’s experience as a Canadian journalist who was kidnapped and held captive in Somalia for 460 days. The memoir delves deep into The Psychological Impact of Captivity, exploring how Lindhout coped with the severe conditions she faced by holding on to hope and using survival strategies that centered around mental resilience and the creation... Read A House in the Sky Summary

Publication year 2004Genre Novel, FictionThemes Life/Time: Coming of Age, Self Discovery, Society: Class, Values/Ideas: Science & TechnologyTags Science-Fiction / Dystopian Fiction, Action / Adventure

Airborn is a 2004 Young Adult steampunk adventure novel by Canadian author Kenneth Oppel. Airborn is the first in Oppel’s Matt Cruse series, which would go on to include Skybreaker (2005) and Starclimber (2008). Airborn follows the adventures of Matt Cruse, a cabin boy on the airship Aurora. With passenger and love interest Kate de Vries, Matt discovers a previously unknown creature on an island in the Pacifica, the in-world version of the Pacific Ocean... Read Airborn Summary

Publication year 1996Genre Novel, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Memory, Values/Ideas: Truth & LiesTags Historical Fiction

Is Grace Marks a murderess or an innocent pawn? Is she an evil fiend or mentally ill? Margaret Atwood’s Alias Grace (1996) retells the story of Canada’s notorious nineteenth-century convicted murderess Grace Marks. Grounded in the historical record where available, Atwood’s novel probes issues of gender and class roles, identity, truth, and the nature of memory. Thomas Kinnear, a wealthy landowner, and Nancy Montgomery, his housekeeper and mistress, are murdered in July 1843. Grace, who... Read Alias Grace Summary

Publication year 2022Genre Novel, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Guilt, Relationships: Family, Relationships: Mothers, Emotions/Behavior: RevengeTags Historical Fiction, Holocaust, Drama / Tragedy, Trauma / Abuse / Violence

Publication year 2020Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Good & Evil, Relationships: Fathers, Values/Ideas: Truth & LiesTags Mystery / Crime Fiction

Publication year 1936Genre Short Story, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Love, Emotions/Behavior: Forgiveness, Relationships: Mothers, Life/Time: Coming of Age

"All the Years of Her Life" is a short story by Canadian author Morley Callaghan, first published in his collection Now That April’s Here and Other Stories in 1936. Set in a drugstore in an unknown city, it centers around a young man named Alfred Higgins, who is caught by his boss stealing items from his workplace. Instead of calling the police, the owner, Mr. Carr, calls Alfred’s mother to discuss her son’s actions. Exploring... Read All the Years of Her Life Summary

Publication year 2017Genre Novel, FictionTags Science-Fiction / Dystopian Fiction

American War is a speculative fiction novel published in 2017 by the Canadian-Egyptian author Omar El Akkad. Set is a dystopian near-future in which climate change has displaced millions, the book details a Second American Civil War fought between the federal government and the Southern United States over the use of fossil fuels. Prior to writing American War, El Akkad reported from conflict zones in Afghanistan and Egypt as a journalist for The Globe and... Read American War Summary

Publication year 2019Genre Autobiography / Memoir, NonfictionThemes Identity: Race, Identity: Gender, Society: ColonialismTags Race / Racism, Social Justice, Mental Illness, Colonialism / Postcolonialism

Publication year 2005Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Identity: Language, Life/Time: The Past, Values/Ideas: Religion & SpiritualityTags Self Help, Allegory / Fable / Parable, Religion / Spirituality

A New Earth: Create a Better Life by Eckart Tolle was originally published in 2005 with the title A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose. The book followed in the wake of Tolle’s seminal 1997 work The Power of Now, which discusses the potential inherent in the present moment and suggests that the destructive voice in our heads, which causes us to be constantly dissatisfied and compare ourselves to others, is the ego and... Read A New Earth Summary

Publication year 2000Genre Novel, FictionThemes Society: War, Society: Politics & Government, Identity: Indigenous, Life/Time: The Past, Society: ColonialismTags Mystery / Crime Fiction, Historical Fiction, Horror / Thriller / Suspense Fiction

In Anil’s Ghost, Michael Ondaatje explores the trauma of the Sri Lankan civil war of the 1980s and 1990s. Anil Tissera, a forensic pathologist who works with human rights organizations, returns to her home country of Sri Lanka after an absence of 15 years. As part of an investigation into government-sponsored violence against citizens Anil and her team discover, at a sixth-century burial site, what appears to be a recently murdered body, which they name... Read Anil's Ghost Summary

Publication year 1909Genre Novel, FictionThemes Life/Time: Coming of Age, Society: Community, Relationships: Friendship, Emotions/Behavior: Love, Society: Education, Emotions/Behavior: HopeTags Classic Fiction, Historical Fiction

Anne of Avonlea, the second novel in the Anne of Green Gables series, is the heralded sequel that brings readers back to the second chapter in Anne Shirley’s life from age 16 to 18. First published in 1909 by Canadian author L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Avonlea is set in the latter part of the 19th century in fictional Avonlea, a small town on Prince Edward Island, Canada. Filled with many familiar characters from the first... Read Anne of Avonlea Summary

Publication year 1908Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Family, Relationships: FriendshipTags Classic Fiction, Historical Fiction, Coming of Age / Bildungsroman

Anne of Green Gables is a world-renowned classic children’s novel first published in 1908 by Canadian author L. M. Montgomery. Set in the latter part of the 19th century in fictional Avonlea, a small town on Prince Edward Island, Canada, the story follows the accidental arrival of a precocious 11-year-old orphan girl, Anne Shirley, at Green Gables, the family homestead of middle-aged siblings Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert. Many mishaps, adventures, and ultimate successes follow Anne... Read Anne Of Green Gables Summary

Publication year 1989Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Friendship, Values/Ideas: Religion & Spirituality, Values/Ideas: FateTags Coming of Age / Bildungsroman, Historical Fiction

John Irving’s A Prayer for Owen Meany (1989) is the novelist’s seventh and best-selling novel to date. Through a series of flashbacks, it tells the story of an unusually small boy with a strange voice named Owen Meany who believes himself to be specially chosen by God. Narrated by John Wheelwright, Owen’s best friend, the narrative alternates between the past—which begins in 1950s New Hampshire and extends to the late 1960s—and the present, Toronto in... Read A Prayer for Owen Meany Summary

Publication year 2008Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Family, Emotions/Behavior: Revenge, Relationships: Fathers, Relationships: Daughters & Sons, Life/Time: The PastTags Mystery / Crime Fiction, Horror / Thriller / Suspense Fiction

Publication year 2004Genre Book, NonfictionTags Sociology

This study guide refers to the 2004 House of Anansi edition of Ronald Wright’s A Short History of Progress. The book is a printed version of five Massey Lectures that Wright delivered in Canada in 2004. Wright is a Canadian author of historical fiction and non-fiction with a background in archaeology, anthropology, and linguistics. This lecture series uses Wright’s unique set of skills as a storyteller and student of history to provide a sweeping and... Read A Short History of Progress Summary

Publication year 2022Genre Novel, FictionThemes Society: War, Values/Ideas: Safety & Danger, Relationships: Family, Life/Time: Mortality & Death, Identity: Mental Health, Emotions/Behavior: Shame & Pride, Emotions/Behavior: Love, Emotions/Behavior: Hope, Emotions/Behavior: Memory, Emotions/Behavior: courage, Emotions/Behavior: Determination / PerseveranceTags Historical Fiction, Romance, Fantasy, Magical Realism, Military / War

Publication year 2013Genre Novel, Fiction

A Tale for the Time Being is a 2013 work of literary fiction written by Japanese-American novelist Ruth Ozeki. Told in four parts, the book goes back and forth between the stories of two protagonists: sixteen-year-old Naoko “Nao” Yasutani, who is writing about her life in Tokyo during the early 2000s, and Ruth, a Japanese-American novelist living on an island off the coast of Western Canada. Ruth finds Nao’s diary on the beach shortly after... Read A Tale For The Time Being Summary

Publication year 2021Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Family, Life/Time: Childhood & Youth, Society: Community, Emotions/Behavior: Grief, Relationships: MothersTags Mystery / Crime Fiction, Coming of Age / Bildungsroman, Historical Fiction

Publication year 2010Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Identity: Mental Health, Emotions/Behavior: Love, Self DiscoveryTags Relationships, Self Help, Psychology, Science / Nature, Love / Sexuality

Publication year 1998Genre Novel/Book in Verse, FictionThemes Life/Time: Coming of AgeTags LGBTQ

Anne Carson's Autobiography of Red: A Novel in Verse reimagines the myth of Herakles and Geryon, the red winged monster whom Herakles slays in his tenth labor. Carson bases her version on fragments of the epic poem by Ancient Greek poet Stesichoros. Stesichoros' version of Herakles' tenth labor is unique in that it is told not from Herakles' perspective, but from "Geryon's own experience" (6). Using this as inspiration, Carson retells Geryon and Herakles' story... Read Autobiography Of Red Summary

Publication year 2015Genre Graphic Novel/Book, FictionThemes Relationships: Friendship, Values/Ideas: Art, Values/Ideas: Win & Lose, Values/Ideas: Science & Technology, Relationships: Teams, Society: Education, Life/Time: Childhood & Youth, Emotions/Behavior: RegretTags Realistic Fiction, Science / Nature, Education, Children's Literature, Bullying, Trauma / Abuse / Violence

Publication year 2022Genre Novel, FictionTags Mystery / Crime Fiction, Horror / Thriller / Suspense Fiction, Action / Adventure, Ekphrastic

Publication year 1974Genre Poem, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Power & Greed, Society: Nation, Emotions/Behavior: ConflictTags Free verse

Publication year 2019Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Identity: Language, Values/Ideas: Science & Technology, Society: CommunityTags Sociology

Publication year 2018Genre Graphic Memoir , NonfictionThemes Relationships: Friendship, Emotions/Behavior: Loneliness, Life/Time: Childhood & Youth, Self Discovery, Society: Class, Society: Immigration, Values/Ideas: Religion & Spirituality, Life/Time: Coming of AgeTags Humor, Action / Adventure, Coming of Age / Bildungsroman

Publication year 2023Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Good & Evil, Values/Ideas: Science & Technology, Natural World: EnvironmentTags Psychological Fiction, Horror / Thriller / Suspense Fiction, Mystery / Crime Fiction

Publication year 1985Genre Novel, FictionTags Historical Fiction

Black Robe is a 1985 historical fiction novel written by Brian Moore. It is set in the 17th century and tracks the journey of two Europeans—one of whom is a Jesuit priest—in New France. The two men find themselves caught between the two cultures shortly after the time of the first contact. Plot SummaryFather Laforgue awaits his orders from the Commandant of the new settlement of Québec, a small village that is home to around 100... Read Black Robe Summary

Publication year 2020Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Safety & Danger, Relationships: Friendship, Natural World: Flora/plantsTags Science-Fiction / Dystopian Fiction, Horror / Thriller / Suspense Fiction, Action / Adventure, Fantasy

Publication year 1993Genre Short Story, FictionThemes Identity: Race, Society: Colonialism, Society: Nation, Relationships: FamilyTags Satire, Colonialism / Postcolonialism

Publication year 2006Genre Novel, FictionThemes Life/Time: Coming of Age, Relationships: Fathers, Self Discovery, Values/Ideas: Fame, Values/Ideas: Music, Values/Ideas: Truth & Lies

Gordan Korman’s 2006 young adult coming-of-age novel Born to Rock follows teenager Leo Caraway as he sets out to get to know his biological father—the frontman of a legendary punk rock band—hoping to fund his college tuition while navigating the foreign world of punk rock and gets to know his roots. The novel, which was written for and dedicated to Korman’s son, also named Leo, explores themes of genetics, identity, self-expression, and lying.Korman is a... Read Born to Rock Summary

Publication year 1964Genre Short Story, Fiction

Alice Munro’s “Boys and Girls” was first published as an individual story in 1964 and was also included in Munro’s 1968 collection, Dance of the Happy Shades. The story takes place at one home in rural Canada, and the narrator, a soon to be 11-year-old girl, carefully describes her father’s work as a fox farmer. The work is seasonal, but the narrator begins in the “several weeks before Christmas” when her father would begin the... Read Boys And Girls Summary

Publication year 2017Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Family, Relationships: Siblings, Identity: RaceTags Race / Racism, Coming of Age / Bildungsroman, Trauma / Abuse / Violence

Publication year 1998Genre Novel, FictionTags Magical Realism

Nalo Hopkinson’s Brown Girl in the Ring was published in 1998. The science fiction novel was the winner of several awards that include the Warner Aspect First Novel Contest, the Locus Award for Best First Novel, and the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. Set after the Riots in Toronto that splintered the city into the impoverished center and wealthier surrounding suburbs, the novel follows the spiritual and personal journey of Ti-Jeanne, an... Read Brown Girl in the Ring Summary

Publication year 2019Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Friendship, Emotions/Behavior: Loneliness, Values/Ideas: Art, Natural World: Appearance & Reality, Identity: Mental HealthTags Horror / Thriller / Suspense Fiction, Fantasy, Magical Realism

Publication year 2010Genre Novel, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Grief, Society: Community, Emotions/Behavior: RegretTags Mystery / Crime Fiction, Horror / Thriller / Suspense Fiction

Bury Your Dead is a 2010 mystery novel in Louise Penny’s long-running Inspector Gamache series, the immediate sequel to 2009’s The Brutal Telling. The Gamache novels of Penny, a former broadcast journalist, have received critical acclaim, including multiple Agatha Awards for Best Mystery Novel of the Year and the Anthony Awards from the Mystery Writers of America. The most recent installment in the series, A World of Curiosities, was published in 2022.Content Warning: The source... Read Bury Your Dead Summary

Publication year 2023Genre Novel, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Love, Emotions/Behavior: Revenge, Life/Time: Mortality & Death, Self Discovery, Values/Ideas: Good & Evil, Values/Ideas: Justice & InjusticeTags Romance, Horror / Thriller / Suspense Fiction, Mystery / Crime Fiction

Publication year 1988Genre Novel, FictionThemes Life/Time: The Past, Emotions/Behavior: Memory, Identity: Gender, Values/Ideas: Art, Life/Time: AgingTags Coming of Age / Bildungsroman, Psychological Fiction, Gender / Feminism

Cat’s Eye is a 1988 coming-of-age novel by Canadian author Margaret Atwood that centers on Elaine Risley, a successful painter who is returning to Toronto for a retrospective show of her work. Throughout the novel, she has vivid recollections of her childhood and adolescence in the city during the postwar years—particularly of her friendship with Cordelia, who persecuted her in a way that had an indelible impact on her life. The novel was a finalist... Read Cat's Eye Summary

Publication year 1996Genre Novel, FictionThemes Identity: Sexuality, Identity: Gender, Emotions/Behavior: Memory, Society: ColonialismTags Colonialism / Postcolonialism, LGBTQ, Trauma / Abuse / Violence

Cereus Blooms at Night (1996) is the first novel-length work of fiction written by Shani Mootoo, a Canadian author who was born in Ireland and grew up on the island nation of Trinidad. The novel was originally published in Canada and received critical acclaim there and internationally. It was a finalist for the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize and the Giller Prize and was long-listed for the Man Booker Prize. Mootoo is also a visual artist... Read Cereus Blooms At Night Summary

Publication year 2020Genre Novel, FictionThemes Life/Time: Coming of Age, Values/Ideas: Truth & Lies, Society: ClassTags Romance, Realistic Fiction, Coming of Age / Bildungsroman

Publication year 2003Genre Novel, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: courage, Relationships: Family, Values/Ideas: Justice & Injustice

Publication year 1993Genre Novel, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Memory, Life/Time: Coming of Age, Relationships: Family, Life/Time: Mortality & DeathTags Historical Fiction, WWII / World War II, Holocaust, Trauma / Abuse / Violence

Carol Matas is the author of the 1993 novel for young readers, Daniel’s Story, and she published the book in conjunction with the United States Holocaust Museum Memorial exhibit Remember the Children: Daniel’s Story. Like the museum exhibit, Daniel’s Story presents a researched account of what it was like to grow up in Nazi Germany and live through the Holocaust. Before she wrote Daniel’s Story, Matas published two historical novels about the Dutch resistance during... Read Daniel's Story Summary

Publication year 2013Genre Book, NonfictionTags Psychology

Malcolm Gladwell’s 2013 book David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants is an investigation of the relationship—often distorted, in Gladwell’s view—between underdogs and giants. Taken from the Biblical account of David and Goliath, underdogs are cast as those battling (and overcoming) seemingly overwhelming odds, and giants are their adversaries. David and Goliath was a bestseller, but some critics and scholars found Gladwell’s conclusions unsatisfying and the stories he draws from unsubstantiated... Read David And Goliath Summary