Getting lost in a book

By Yolanda T. Marshall

Sometimes, the world around us is horrifyingly painful. I’ve found that books allow us to escape, even if it is for a moment. Stay strong, check in on your loved ones and open your mind to learning more. Here are this week’s recommended books.

My Name is Not Harry

My Name is Not Harry

Written by Haroon Siddiqui, an Indo-Canadian newspaper editor, journalist, and columnist.

Coming from India in 1967, he didn’t do in Rome as some Romans expected him to. He refused to forget his past. He didn’t change his name, didn’t dilute his dignity, didn’t compromise his conscience or his dissident views. Championed immigration and multiculturalism when that was not popular. Upbraided media colleagues for being white-centric, Orientalist. Pioneered cross-cultural journalism, bridging divided communities. Insisted it was un-Canadian to use free speech as a licence for hate speech. Opposed the limitless American war on terror, the invasion of Iraq, and the long war on Afghanistan. Exposed how liberals could also be narrow-minded and nasty. Here he shares such journalistic forays into the corridors of power, war zones, and cultural minefields.” – Dundurn Press, 2023.



Races: The Trials and Triumphs of Canada’s Fastest Family

Written by Valerie Jerome, a Canadian athlete, and the granddaughter of Canada’s first Black Olympian, John “Army” Howard.

In the 1960s, Harry Jerome set 7 world records, including the 100-yard dash, earning him the title of the world’s fastest man. His grandfather, John “Army” Howard, was Canada’s first Black Olympian, running in Stockholm in 1912 against nearly impossible odds. Harry’s sister, Valerie, competed for Canada at the 1960 Rome Olympics. With Races, Valerie Jerome sets the record straight on her heroic family’s history, and the racism they fought along the way — from their community, the press, their country, and even inside their family home. Races tracks Harry’s life through his inimitable athletic career and into his work as an advocate for youth sport and education. Bringing readers inside the Jerome household, Races reveals the hurdles they faced during the heavily segregated ’60s and the long reach of racism that plagued their family history.”Goose Lane Editions, 2023.



The Hockey Skates

The Hockey Skates

Written by Karl Subban, the Jamaican-born coach, principal, and father of three NHL players, including P.K. Subban. This book was charismatically illustrated by Maggie Zeng, an award-winning Canadian artist.

Little PK Subban loves watching hockey on TV with his father, and he can’t wait to finally go out and skate—just like his hockey heroes! With his mother’s help, PK orders a pair of black, single-blade, size 7 skates. Now he just must wait for them to come in the mail. So he waits. Every new delivery brings hilarity and dismay as PK receives skates in the wrong size, colour, and style—even a completely empty box! All the while, winter approaches and poor PK is very eager to get out on the rink. Even as he wonders if he will ever get to skate, his love of hockey pulls him to the sport in funny, imaginative ways.” –  HarperCollins, 2023.



Mehndi Boy

Mehndi Boy

Written by Zain Bandali, a brilliant poet of Indo-Tanzanian heritage. This story was illustrated by Jani Balakumar, a talented Tamil-Canadian artist.

“Tehzeeb drew curvy clouds, grand galaxies, squirmy squiggles, and delicate dots. He made charming checkerboards and even perfected paisleys. His practice was finally paying off! The first time Tehzeeb tries mehndi, his passion for the art form blossoms. Soon, he’s creating designs for all his friends and family and dreams of becoming the most in-demand mehndi artist in town. So Tez is hurt and confused when his favourite uncle tells him Mehndi isn’t for boys. His art brings people joy. How could it be wrong? Tehzeeb doesn’t want to disappoint his uncle. But when a crisis before his cousin’s wedding puts his talents to the test, Tehzeeb must find the courage to be his true creative self.” –  Annick Press, 2023.


The Islands: Stories

Written by Dionne Irving, a Canadian author and educator. This book was shortlisted for the 2023 Scotiabank Giller Prize.

Set in locations and times ranging from 1950s London to 1960s Panama to modern-day New Jersey, Dionne Irving reveals the intricacies of immigration and assimilation in this debut, establishing a new and unforgettable voice in Caribbean-American literature. Restless, displaced, and disconnected, these characters try to ground themselves—to grow where they find themselves planted—in a world in which the tension between what’s said and unsaid can bend the soul.” – Catapult, 2022.


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