The ‘Oh Canada’ Day Reading List

Happy Wednesday Savvy Readers! I can’t believe it’s already the end of June and that July is just around the corner! If you’ve grown up in Canada, chances are you have some fun memories of Canada Day spent with family, BBQs, and fireworks. Although public celebrations might be in short supply this year, I’ve found that one of the best ways to celebrate a special day is with some thematic reading, so I’ve put together a list of Canada Day reads by Canadian and Indigenous authors to see you through!


Sister Dear by Hannah Mary McKinnon

Hannah Mary McKinnon didn’t start writing her page-turners until she settled down in Oakville, Ontario, so we’re claiming her as our own! Her new thriller Sister Dear follows Eleanor, who uncovers another branch on her family tree—an infuriatingly enviable half-sister with whom she develops a dangerous obsession!

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Bloom by Kenneth Oppel

We don’t know about you, but here at Team Savvy Reader, we’ve been reading Kenneth Oppel since we were in middle school! Bloom is the first book in Ken’s explosive new trilogy following three teens who are strangely immune to an invasive species of apocalyptic alien plants. A total page-turner, we can’t wait to read Hatch!

Station Eleven and The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel

If you haven’t picked up either of these books by award-winning author Emily St. John Mandel, do yourself a favour this Canada Day and get acquainted with some homegrown talent! Both novels are set partly in Canada and are completely captivating! If you love sweeping novels that weave between past and present we have a feeling you’ll want both of these on your list!

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Five Little Indians by Michelle Good

While Canada Day is often regarded as a day of celebration, it’s also a day to reflect on our history. Taken from their families when they are very small and sent to a remote, church-run residential school, Kenny, Lucy, Clara, Howie and Maisie are barely out of childhood when they are finally released after years of detention into the seedy world of Downtown Eastside Vancouver. A compassionate and insightful look into the lives of five residential school survivors, Five Little Indians chronicles their desperate quest to come to terms with their past and, ultimately, find a way forward.

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The Lonely Hearts Hotel by Heather O’Neill

Set in Montreal and New York between the wars, The Lonely Hearts Hotel is a spellbinding story about two orphans whose unusual magnetism and talent allow them to imagine a sensational future, from the bestselling, two-time Scotiabank Giller Prize-shortlisted author.

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Crow Winter by Karen McBride

Winner of The Sunburst Award for Excellence in Canadian Literature of the Fantastic, Crow Winter tells the story of Hazel and one very tricky crow! Brimming with spirit, love, mystery, and good medicine, this is an enchanting debut novel from Algonquin Anishinaabe author Karen McBride.

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Room by Emma Donoghue

A celebration of resilience—and a powerful story of a mother and son whose love lets them survive the impossible, Room is a gripping story from Canadian author Emma Donoghue. If you haven’t had the chance to pick this one up, now’s your chance to catch up on Emma’s backlist before her new book The Pull of the Stars hits shelves!


The Illegal by Lawrence Hill

Lawrence Hill is one of the best and most important writers in Canadian literature, so any list without him wouldn’t be complete! Fast moving and compelling, The Illegal casts a satirical eye on people who have turned their backs on undocumented refugees struggling to survive in a nation that does not want them. Hill’s depiction of life on the borderlands of society urges us to consider the plight of the unseen and the forgotten who live among us.

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The Library of Legends by Janie Chang

From the author of Three Souls and Dragon Springs Road, Janie Chang‘s newest novel, The Library of Legends is a captivating historical novel in which a convoy of student refugees travel across China, fleeing the hostilities of a brutal war with Japan. Brimming with history and magic, this one is absolutely enchanting!

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Birdie by Tracey Linberg

A big, beautiful Cree woman with a dark secret in her past, Birdie has left her home in northern Alberta to travel to Gibsons, B.C. She is on something of a vision quest, looking for family, for home, for understanding. Informed by the lore and knowledge of Cree traditions, Birdie is a darkly funny and moving story about the universal experience of recovering from tragedy and an extraordinary woman who travels to the deepest part of herself to find the strength to face the past and build a new life.

The DreadfulWater series by Thomas King

Thomas King is something of a legend when it comes to Canadian and Indigenous literature. If you’re not familiar with his work we can’t recommend his DreadfulWater series enough and which follows a Cherokee ex-cop trying to make a living as a photographer in the small town of Chinook who becomes entangled in a murder mystery. Catchy and clever, we couldn’t put this series down!


The Diamond House by Dianne Warren

From the winner of the Governor General’s Literary Award, The Diamond House is an engaging novel about the unconventional Estella Diamond and her struggle with the expectations that bind her family. Suffused with small-town details, this tale is all about coming to terms with one’s past and the perfect read for a hot day in July!

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Washington Black by Esi Edugyan

Winner of the 2018 Scotiabank Giller Prize, Washington Black is a dazzling, original novel of slavery and freedom. A sweeping novel that takes readers from the blistering cane fields of Barbados to the icy plains of the Canadian Arctic, this award-winning book is a must-read for your Canada Day reading list and perfect for fans of literary fiction.

Well, Savvy Readers, that’s all I have for you today! Tell me, which of these Canada Day reads are on your list, and which ones have you already read?! Comment below or tweet us @SavvyReader.

Happy reading!


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