Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

The 31 Books of December

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The 31 Books of December

A Gift Guide for the Enthusiastic Book Lover Who Wants to Give (Superlative, Mostly Canadian and Independent) Books as Gifts this Holiday Season

By Nathaniel G. Moore

Okay so first off, I know. How can you (that would be me) publish a list of 31 books when we’re already a few days into December? And why 31? And.... Stop. There are 31 days in December and 31 books on this list. They are not in order and this is not an advent calendar, no chocolate. Print this list off and go to your local independent bookstore, such as Type Books in Toronto. Or Book City in the St. Clair and Yonge area. As December gnaws away the final moments of 2010, you’ll notice these titles cover a major array of reading tastes. Share the list with your peers, your social worker, parole officer, mother, father, hair stylist or that cute girl who works at Film Buff named Nikki who always gives you attitude but you kind of like it.

Hit CTRL-P now!

  1. The Hair Wreath by Halli Villegas. A spooky romp through urban hysteria, strange school tragedies and eerie derangements of the senses. Great for Grandma, little Billy or that creepy girl who collects bugs who lives across the street.
  2. The Show That Smells by Derek McCormack. The undead fashion world and some good ol’ country folk, vampires, Vogue, backstage erotica, fan-fiction, swelling poetic prose all served in one hot pink cloud of fun.
  3. Holding Still For As Long As Possible by Zoe Whittall. I gave this to someone last year for a holiday gift. They loved it, and not just because most of it happens in Parkdale where they live with their baby and waffle maker.
  4. 8x10 by Michael Turner. The world presented in low-fi, pure emotional extract without any glitz or pomo special effects.
  5. The Night Is A Mouth by Lisa Foad. The 2009 ReLit winner for short fiction fuses deep alchemic human bondage on the road to self-exhumation and acceptance.
  6. Hitman by Bret Hart. It’s in paperback now, the best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be — wrestling autobiography from Canada’s most important wrestler ever.
  7. Got No Secrets by Danila Botha. Teenage dirtbags, sex, concrete, important college aged drama in the age of Facebook and Myspace. Great for your college-aged troublemaker who wants the big picture.
  8. Rope Opera: How WCW Killed Vince Russo by Vince Russo. This is a book for anyone who grew up in the final days of the Monday Night Wars between the WWE and WCW in the late 1990s. The story of the man who tried to save (he was a TV writer) Ted Turner’s wrestling empire.
  9. Winterkill by Catherine Graham. Another highly accessible collection of poetry from one of Toronto’s brightest poetry minds.
  10. The Mountie at Niagara Falls and other brief stories by Salvatore Difalco. These are great little literary vignettes, that somehow, in format, remind me of Smell It by Hal Niedzviecki. The perfect book to read in between trips to Home Depot or Aunt Maggie’s townhouse in Newmarket.
  11. The Peep Diaries by Hal Niedzviecki. Okay so this is the perfect coffee table book. I hear it's also going to be a documentary soon. Hal has a great take on our own impulse to pursue and develop our online vanity and obsessions with each other through that little lifeline called the Internet. Perfect for the creepy uncle who lives in your basement.
  12. Subway Medusa by Clara Blackwood. This is a great collection of poetry that seemingly takes on all nuances of possible topics. Great pacing and timing here, nothing is rushed and nothing is overtly maudlin.
  13. Bible Camp Bloodbath by Joey Comeau. Everyone at Broken Pencil is hysterical for anything this kid does. We should publish our meeting minutes in an anthology next year with a forward by Justin Beiber. Even though his new book is less than 100 pages long, self-published and is clearly trying to piss off God, who wouldn’t want the newest book from the post-indie sensation.
  14. Indexical Elegies by Jon Paul Fiorentino. I was lucky enough to hear some early poems from this collection at a reading in Montreal in 2007. I know this is probably the most personal book Jon has ever written, which could mean it's his best.
  15. The Withdrawal Method by Pasha Malla. You can probably get creative and try and order the Soft Skull edition of this book if you are a big weirdo, but the Anansi version also rules. I really liked the story where the main character’s name is Pasha, I think that one is my favourite.
  16. Pulpy and Midge by Jessica Westhead. So Jessica has a new book coming out in a few months, so get this one to hold you over until that happens. Jessica has probably the best ear for dialogue in the country.
  17. The Waterproof Bible by Andrew Kaufman. He won Opium Magazine’s Literary Deathmatch just a few weeks ago, and his new novel kicks ass as well, playing around with a bit of science fiction and religious morality along the way.
  18. Ravenna Gets by Tony Burgess. This book comes with a lot of unfortunate murders, but murders happen, and no one is better at explaining that than the unofficial minister of tourism for Ontario Mr. Tony Burgess.
  19. Stripmalling by Jon Paul Fiorentino. This book is very funny. And the artwork is good too. The layout is remarkable and overall it would make a great gift for the smartass kid you know who may or may not have, at one time, tried to mow your lawn for money while you were sleeping.
  20. This Cake Is For The Party by Sarah Selecky. My dad once broke a plate before even eating the food that was on it. I think it was on purpose. Anyway that is what I think of when I look at Sarah’s book cover. The inside has well-crafted stories that took her a long time to write. So you know it's good.
  21. Et Tu, Babe? by Mark Leyner. I met Mark one time. We had martinis. We talked about George Michael and Morrissey and De Kooning and Chris Chelios. Anyway Leyner is the master and this book is so funny you will cry all the way down an elevator shaft. That he pushes you down.
  22. How Should A Person Be? by Sheila Heti. This is the most readable book I’ve read this year. I think everyone should read it. It’s about Toronto, life, art, sex, and would be a perfect gift for just about anyone in your gift radar who is a person.
  23. How to Be a Bush Pilot: A Field Guide to Getting Luckier by Claudia Dey. This will make a really great XBOX video game someday. Until then, you can buy the book and read along with Captain Goodscrew.
  24. Sitcom by David McGimpsey. This is a great poetry book for anyone who sings the theme songs to Growing Pains or Family Ties. Or who loves to laugh and be merry.
  25. Cockroach by Rawi Hage. This is a great book for anyone who ever lived in Montreal or wanted to live there but in a very unpleasant way.
  26. Parts Unknown by Michael Holmes. Even though this book is over six years old, a lot of the wrestlers mentioned in these poems are still alive. And the book has so much play in it it's still raw. "Word Life." "You Can’t See Me." "The Goldberg Variations." And a funny poem that if I was writing the promo for would essential be: Christian Bök versus Cowboy Bob Orton.
  27. The City and the Pillar by Gore Vidal. This was such an important book when it came out, and it still gives me shivers every time I read it. It’s about Jim Willard, who is in love with his best friend and spends the whole book pining away for his childhood best friend. It's sort of like listening to New Order’s "True Faith" for like 25 years or something.
  28. Witness My Shame by Shary Boyle. This is Shary’s best book because it culls material from her zines/bookworks from 1999 onwards. Its in its second or third printing and you can get it at AGO for a few more weeks because she has a huge show there.
  29. The Porcupinity of the Stars by Gary Barwin. When the surreal gets too surreal and the normative lyric gets to sleeperhold, read this book. It’s the cure for the common poetry malaise. And go see him read when he’s in town.
  30. The Mourner’s Book of Albums by Daniel Scott Tysdal. This is one exciting poetry collection. It’s like an issue of Descant on acid, all about personal memory, loss and what goes on in the self. And it looks pretty too.
  31. Is/Was by Jenny Sampirisi. When I was a kid in the 1980s I had a paper route and would freak out every time a little missing girl was on the cover. This book reminded me of that terror. A perfect dark, terrifying book to read during a blizzard with the door locked while your family eats TV dinners.

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Nathaniel G. Moore is the author of the highly giftable and ReLit shortlisted novel Wrong Bar (Tightrope, 2009) and co-editor of anthology Toronto Noir (Akashic, 2008) Visit Watch a video for Wrong Bar.

JF Robitaille: Minor Dedications


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