* Indicates a book that appears in our feature "Around the World in 80+ Books" published in the April 2002 issue of National Geographic Traveler.
Beauty Tips from Moose Jaw, by Will Ferguson (2004). This collection of essays about Ferguson's travels to the little known or undervalued bits of CanadaChurchill, Manitoba; Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan; Thunder Bay, Ontariobenefits from the Canadian humorist's dry wit. If you like Bill Bryson, you'll like Ferguson's pointed musings on what defines Canada and what it means to be Canadian.
*Chasing Monarchs: Migrating with the Butterflies of Passage, by Robert Michael Pyle (1999). Monarchs are well-traveled, so peripatetic readers would be wise to take wing with lyrical lepidopterist Pyle as he trails monarchs south from their breeding grounds in British Columbia; down the Columbia, Snake, Bear, and Colorado Rivers; across the Bonneville Salt Flats; to the Mexican border; and finally up the California coast.
Consumption, by Kevin Patterson (2007). Victoria knows only the nomadic Inuit lifeuntil she is hospitalized at age 10 in a Manitoba sanatorium for tuberculosis. When she finally returns home after six years, she finds her family now living in Rankin Inlet on the Hudson Bay but feels a stranger to both her family and her culture. Patterson, who worked as a doctor in the Arctic, paints a fascinating portrait of modern Arctic life, where walrus hunting and sled dogs coexist with satellite TV and convenience foods.
Kamouraska, by Anne Hébert (1973). Set in a small 19th-century Quebec town, this based-on-real-life thriller has a seemingly submissive wife plotting with her American lover to murder her husband. Hébert is one of Canada's most lauded writers.
The Shipping News, by Annie Proulx (1993). After tragedy befalls his unfaithful wife, a desperate father relocates with his children and an elderly aunt to a remote harbor on the coast of Newfoundland. The icy, gray fishing village is filled with a cast of unforgettable townies that paints a picture of life in Canada's far-flung reaches. This novel is a National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize winner.
The Stone Diaries, by Carol Shields (1993). The Tyndall-stone municipal buildings of Winnipeg and southern Manitoba's rural towns inform Shields's Pulitzer Prize-winning fictional autobiography of an "ordinary" middle-class wife and mother whose life spans the 20th century.
Vancouver, by David Cruise and Alison Griffiths (2003). A richly imagined novel penned by a husband and wife team traces thousands of years of Canadian history through the shared stories of an epic cast of characters. Invoking Native American whalers, Chinese immigrants, Russian explores, trappers, and fishermen, Vancouver recounts the city's distinct culture, stunning landscape, and adventurous past.