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'We are the story of the women who die': 'In-Between Days' chronicles life with cancer

In-between Days

by Teva Harrison
(House of Anansi,
2016;
$19.95)

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'Oscar of Between' pushes boundaries of identity, language and form

Oscar of Between: A Memoir of Identity and Ideas

by Betsy Warland
(Dagger Editions,
2016;
$21.95)

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When Betsy Warland finds herself single and without a sense of family at the age of 60, she escapes to London. Upon discovery that she has never learned the art of camouflage, she delves into nine-year journey -- taking the name Oscar -- to tell her story as "a person of between."

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The power of memory and storytelling

Memory Serves

by Lee Maracle
(NeWest Press,
2015;
$24.95)

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Stories are an integral part of who we are as a people. So much so that I found myself unable to write about the power of storytelling and Lee Maracle's new book Memory Serves because it encapsulates that idea so completely.

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Olivia Chow's 'My Journey' is the antidote to political despair

My Journey

by Olivia Chow
(HarperCollins ,
2014;
$29.99)

When I think about Olivia Chow I always think about her seemingly endless energy and her infectious enthusiasm as she works with people on a huge array of social issues.

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'Together, we've got a fighting chance': Ed Finn's extraordinary life

Ed Finn: A Journalist's Life on the Left

by Ed Finn
(Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives,
2013;
$19.95)

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At first, the title of Ed Finn's memoir Ed Finn: A Journalist's Life on the Left seems somewhat misleading for a couple reasons.

Firstly, Ed Finn was more than your everyday journalist. In fact, he was the first NDP leader ever in Canada (formed as the Newfoundland Democratic Party in 1959 and a precursor to the New Democratic Party a few years later).

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Decolonizing mind and soul: 'They Called Me Number One' is a powerful read about residential schools and systemic racism

They Called Me Number One: Secrets and Survival at an Indian Residential School

by Bev Sellars
(Talonbooks,
2013;
$19.95)

I usually get very excited about reading a book written by a residential school survivor and this instance was no exception. I experience joy in that we are now hearing survivors’ voices that had in the past been silenced.

Bev Sellars’ They Called Me Number One: Secrets and Survival at an Indian Residential School details Sellars’ life from the time she was five years old until the age of 58 and she notes four reasons she felt compelled to write this book.

First, Sellars wanted to recognize that in the early 1990s "our communities first began to explore and deal with the aftermath of the Indian residential schools."

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Wael Ghonim on the social media spark that lit Egypt's revolutionary fire

Revolution 2.0: The Power of the People Is Greater Than the People in Power: A Memoir

by Wael Ghonim
(Mariner Books,
2012;
$18.95)

Reading Revolution 2.0 against the backdrop of the current unrest in Egypt, one can’t help but feel nostalgic.

After all, this book is an ode to the belief that people have the power to choose their political, social, and economic destinies -- at least if they unite in their struggle for justice.

And for all of us, it indeed seemed possible as we watched the Egyptian revolution unfold, when citizens who had up until been “unengaged,” “cautious” and “intimidated” finally broke through the barrier of fear. Who can forget those staggering scenes in Cairo’s Tahrir square full of millions of hopeful, demanding, persistent demonstrators finally finding their voice?

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Richard Stursberg: Inside the CBC

The Tower of Babble: Sins, Secrets and Successes Inside the CBC

by Richard Stursberg
(Douglas & McIntyre,
2012;
$32.95)

When Richard Stursberg took over as head of English services at the CBC in July 2004, he was determined to set a new course for the Mother Corp’s television operations. As far as he was concerned, CBC TV was plagued by elitism, mediocrity and, worst of all, indifference to its audience. Stursberg launched a new strategy to attract viewers by providing programming that was above all else entertaining. “There would be only one measure for success: audiences,” he writes in his new memoir, The Tower of Babble: Sins, Secrets and Successes Inside the CBC. “Everything would be pinned on rebuilding the audiences.”

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Eli Clare's Exile and Pride: Disability, Queerness and Liberation

Exile and Pride

Exile and Pride (Classics Edition): Disability, Queerness, and Liberation

by Eli Clare
(South End Press,
2009;
$19.99)

I often feel that describing the pieces that I write in response to books as “reviews” is a bit inaccurate because I only occasionally relate to the books in question in the ways that a review is, traditionally, supposed to. What I write tend to be more reactions or reflections or responses, or just meanderings. Nonetheless, I inevitably end up deciding just to sit with that unease -- to accept that the label “review” doesn’t always quite fit the way it is normatively intended and to trouble and loosen it by taking it on anyway. In the case of this book, I’m afraid that what I write will be more of a moderately reflective fanboy “squee” than a proper review.

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Eating Dirt: A tree-planting tale

Eating Dirt

Eating Dirt: Deep Forests, Big Timber, and Life with the Tree-Planting Tribe

by Charlotte Gill
(Greystone Books,
2012;
$29.95)

Tree planting is so much more than just a profession. It is an identity, a lifestyle and a responsibility. A select few people are built for tree planting life, which requires the physical and mental stamina to endure the elements, work long hours of monotonous labour, face insects and wildlife of all sizes and numbers, leave home for long periods of time and live with the bare necessities. Perceived as a bad dream to many, it is the unique and coveted life of tree planters, of which author Charlotte Gill is one.

Eating Dirt is the veteran tree planter's homage to not only planting life, but to the larger context in which deforestation and reforestation take place. It is also a journey through her planting career as it comes near to its bitter-sweet end.

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