Nothing brings a place to life like a book does. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but we disagree. A picture can’t tell you what the air feels like, or describe the earthy smell of a forest. A picture can’t vividly narrate the sound of crashing waves against a shore.
If you want to know what Canada smells like, tastes like, sounds like, or feels like, then read about it. Unsurprisingly, the beautiful and varied landscape in Canada has inspired novels and non-fiction books by authors from across the globe.
So to help you get a feel for the country ahead of your future Canadian holiday pick up one of our recommended reads. To celebrate the Toronto International Festival of Authors, a 10-day festival that runs until 30th October, we’ve listed our favourite books set in Canada that you need to read.
Anne of Green Gables
Author: L.M. Montgomery
A must-read book is Anne of Green Gables. This heart-warming novel tells the story of everyone’s favourite redhead, Anne Shirley, an orphan girl who is accidentally sent to live with farmers Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert.
The middle-aged brother and sister had wanted to adopt a boy to help them on their farm, which is located just outside of picturesque Avonlea in Prince Edward Island.
The tale of love, friendship and mischief as strong-willed Anne wins over the Cuthberts – and the readers – is a favourite, set against the backdrop of a close-knit Canadian community.
The book instantly became an international best-selling novel and due to this success it was made into a movie.
The Blind Assassin
Author: Margaret Atwood
Famous Canadian poet and novelist Margaret Atwood has written a number of beloved books that have been set in Canada. As her induction into Canada’s Walk of Fame would suggest, all her books have received rave critical acclaim. But our favourite has to be the Blind Assassin.
Narrated from the present day, the book refers back to events that span the twentieth century. The story is based on Iris Chase and her sister Laura, who grew up motherless in a small town in Southern Ontario.
As an old woman, Iris reminisces about the events and relationships of her childhood, youth and middle age, including her unhappy marriage to a Toronto businessman. The Man Booker Prize winner will keep you riveted as the plot gradually unfolds, illuminating a life full of intrigue.
The Call of the Wild
Author: Jack London
One of Jack London’s most famous books is The Call of the Wild. Despite being short, the adventure novel has enjoyed a long-lasting impact since its publication in 1903.
The book is set in the Yukon during the Klondike Gold Rush in the 1890s, at a time when sled dogs were in high demand. The novel revolves around a dog named Buck and his literal and metaphorical journey. From being stolen and sold as a sled dog to surviving in the harsh frozen environment, Buck eventually sheds the veneer of civilisation and emerges as a leader in the wild.
To write this fascinating story, Mr London spent around a year in the Yukon to collect material for the book. After its release it made him one of the first fiction writers to obtain worldwide celebrity status.
Author: Gary Paulsen
We think Hatchet is one of the best books set in Canada as it really gives the reader a fascinating insight into the country’s famed wilderness.
The award-winning story is about a thirteen-year-old boy named Brian Robeson. On his way to Canada to visit his father, the pilot of the small plane he is riding in suffers a heart attack.
Brian crash-lands the plane into a lake and after surviving the crash, finds himself stranded in the Canadian wilderness alone and with only a few possessions.
The reader is taken on the journey with Brian and this enthralling book is the ultimate story of survival and of transformation. This book has sparked many people’s interest in venturing into the wild.
The Shipping News
Author: Annie Proulx
Those who read this novel will not be surprised to learn that Annie Proulx found Newfoundland inspiring.
In an article on the Guardian she said, “Within 10 minutes of landing on the rock I knew that this was a tremendously important place for me.
“The more I saw the more I loved. I knew I wanted to write something about this place.”
You can really see this in the book. It tells the story of Quoyle, a man who leaves his unfaithful wife and retreats with his two daughters to the beautiful Newfoundland coast.
As Quoyle fights his private demons and the unpredictable forces of nature, he realises that love is possible without pain or misery.