Great books to read while studying abroad in Canada
Canada’s literature is rich, with many classic and contemporary authors contributing brilliant books to the world. As a student — at Nova Scotia’s St. Mary’s University, the rural haven of University of Victoria, beautiful University of Calgary, or bustling, vibrant University of Toronto — here are our favorite Canadian books to read in your downtime.
Anne of Green Gables
By Lucy Maud Montgomery, this classic 1908 novel tells the story of an imaginative young orphan, Anne Shirley, who lives with a brother and sister on Prince Edward Island. Read how she adjusts to her new life and many adventures and mishaps she has as she settles in. Widely translated, enjoyed, and adapted, this is one of the best-selling books of all time.
The Handmaid's Tale
Made even more famous by the gritty TV adaptation, Margaret Atwood's outstanding dystopian novel documents a society where women have no rights. The story follows Offred, a "handmaid" who is tasked with bearing children for her assigned male partner while navigating a society where disobedience can result in punishment or death. This novel is a powerful commentary on the dangers of totalitarianism.
The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz
By Mordecai Richler, this novel follows Duddy Kravitz, a young Jew determined to become a successful entrepreneur in Montreal during the 1940s. The story follows his schemes and wiles to become wealthy and successful, but at a great personal cost.
The Stone Angel
As 90-year-old Hagar Shipley approaches her death and as her memory fades, she reflects on her life and explores her past and struggles to come to terms with her mortality. A novel of pride, regret, and family relationships, the book is a tender collection of vignettes written by Margaret Laurence.
In the Skin of a Lion
Set in early 20th-century Toronto, this novel by Michael Ondaatje follows a group of immigrants as they work to build the city's infrastructure. The story follows Patrick Lewis, a young man who becomes involved with a group of workers and falls in love with a married woman. The novel explores themes of identity, memory, and power.
Katherena Vermette tells the story of the Métis family living in Winnipeg, Canada, and the aftermath of a violent crime that occurs in their neighborhood. Intergenerational stories of this group of Indigenous women explore trauma, family, and community in a raw and emotional read.
We Have Always Been Here
Samra Habib’s memoir explores their experiences growing up and finding her identity as a queer Muslim in Pakistan and emigrating to Canada. Ultimately a powerful testament to the resilience of the human spirit and the importance of living authentically, the book explores faith, family, and sexuality, and the struggles of navigating cultural and societal expectations.
Son of a Trickster
Eden Robinson’s darkly humorous novel follows Jared, a young man who lives in a small town in northern British Columbia. His life turns upside down when he discovers he has supernatural powers, and he must navigate the challenges of his troubled family and the mystical world around him.