1. The Orenda By Joseph Boyden (Hamish Hamilton, $32)
No. 1 with a bullet – or with a sharply whetted knife, or with a white-hot iron poker. The violence in The Orenda is unflinching and hews closely to the truth of our country’s history. Joseph Boyden’s story of a Jesuit among the Hurons, which never shies away from moral complexity, is surely the newest inductee into the Canadian canon.
2. A House in the Sky By Amanda Lindhout (Scribner, $29.99)
For 460 days, journalist Amanda Lindhout was held for ransom by Somali insurgents, along with photographer Nigel Brennan. Through the beatings and violations, Lindhout imagined escaping to a house in the sky. Her story of resilience and compassion, co-written by Sara Corbett, is an Oprah interview waiting to happen.
3. The Silent Wife By A.S.A. Harrison (Penguin Canada, $18)
A.S.A. Harrison’s The Silent Wife is being hailed as this year’s Gone Girl. From the get-go, we know the marriage unravels and ends in death. But it’s the details – the husband’s philandering; his psychotherapist wife’s slow descent into murderousness – that hold the reader fast.
4. MaddAddam By Margaret Atwood (McClelland & Stewart, $32.95)
In Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam trilogy, where most of humanity has been wiped out by a “waterless flood,” the future hinges on the uncertain fertility of the Crakers, genetically modified humanoids whose prodigious genitalia turn blue when it’s mating season. But rest easy: Atwood tells Globe Books that, in her imagination, at least, those charming creatures can indeed breed, so this unfortunate tale will have a happy ending.
5. How the Light Gets In By Louise Penny (St Martin’s, $29.99)
Borrowing her title from the lyrics of Leonard Cohen (with the great one’s permission, we’re told), Louise Penny returns with the latest Inspector Gamache novel. According to Margaret Cannon, it’s yet another extremely strong entry in one of today’s finest crime series. Readers agree, proving once again that Quebec’s Eastern Townships, where the novels are largely set, appeal to everyone.
6. A Tap on the Window By Linwood Barclay (Doubleday Canada, $22.95)
7. The Massey Murder By Charlotte Gray (HarperCollins Canada, $33.99)
Like so many writers these days, Charlotte Gray has turned to crime. But, being one of the country’s preeminent popular historians, she’s turned to the crimes of yore, offering this riveting account of a 1915 Toronto murder. Like all good non-fiction books, it’s about so much more, and here we’re offered a remarkable portrait of a city starting to shake off its lingering Victorian staidness, struggling to become something more.
8. The Son of a Certain Woman By Wayne Johnston (Knopf Canada, $32)
Young Percy Joyce, port wine stained/walked the streets of St. John’s named/freak of nature but that’s the half./His mother walked a queerer path./Bootylicious, desired by all/in love with a woman she did fall./But wait there’s yet another twist/her girlfriend was practically her sis!/Johnston’s deftly comic touch/keeps the novel from wanting much.
9. The Dogs are Eating Them Now By Graeme Smith (Knopf Canada, $32)
10. David and Goliath By Malcolm Gladwell (Little, Brown and Co., $32)
Are you dissatisfied with yourself? Do you struggle with various tasks or concepts? Well, Malcolm Gladwell has good news for you! Those weaknesses, he argues in his new book, might just turn out to be your greatest strengths. As usual, he offers a pleasing array of studies and anecdotes to illustrate his points. Sure, the results might be more inspiring than comprehensively convincing, but what’s so wrong with a little inspiration?