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John Huston with Jack Nicholson, Kathleen Turner and daughter Anjelica Huston on the set of Prizzi’s Honor. Biographer Jeffrey Meyers portrays him as great filmmaker. (Handout)

John Huston with Jack Nicholson, Kathleen Turner and daughter Anjelica Huston on the set of Prizzi’s Honor. Biographer Jeffrey Meyers portrays him as great filmmaker.



43 non-fiction books from this year that are worth a read (or two) Add to ...

That emotion rather than reason is the key to understanding human nature is the central premise of Jonathan Haidt’s absorbing work. Breezy and accessible, but informed by an impressively wide range of cutting-edge research in the social sciences, evolutionary biology and psychology, The Righteous Mind is about as interesting a book as you’ll pick up this year. -- Andrew Preston

When I Was a Child I Read Books

By Marilynne Robinson,


I read When I Was a Child I Read Books slowly, not only because I was savouring the book’s gorgeous language, but also because I had to ride out the swells of wonder that another human soul could express ideas as crystalline and beautiful as those in her book. Her intellectual landscape is so vast and gently peopled, her humanism so clear and overarching, that at times she can render one wordlessly overcome. -- Lauren Groff


Travels Along the Barricades,

by Marcello Di Cintio,

Goose Lane

This is a remarkable book, and Di Cintio is a thoroughly engaged, and engaging, traveller and wordsmith. He shares tea with desert nomads, visits holding camps filled with broken-dreamed West African and Punjabi migrants, and – most dangerous of all, perhaps – travels the U.S.-Mexican border alongside a gun-toting yet oddly endearing redneck environmentalist. -- Will Ferguson


Saving Our Cities and Ourselves from the Automobile,

by Taras Grescoe,


Taras Grescoe had the smarts to apply himself systematically, leaving his Montreal home to test public transit in cities around the world. To this extensive legwork, Grescoe added context, theory and a series of interviews with key players. The end result is a marvellous investigation of urban transit. Straphanger is comprehensive, insightful and well-written. -- Ken McGoogan

The Conflict

How Modern Motherhood Undermines the Status of Women,

by Elisabeth Badinter, translated by Adriana Hunter.


Elisabeth Badinter forcefully returns women’s gaze from making soft goo-goo eyes at their babies to the feminist prize: economic independence and the right to self-determination. This passionate polemic grinds a new lens through which to view our culture. It is one of those rare books with the power to change the way we look at our world and change the choices we make. -- Claudia Casper

A More Perfect Heaven

How Copernicus Revolutionized the Cosmos,

by Dava Sobel,

Walker & Co.

Dava Sobel’s latest gem can take pride of place in the long tradition of books about the great Polish astronomer who proposed his heliocentric cosmological theory three centuries ahead of its time. She daringly fills in a gap in Copernicus’s biography by writing it as a play, in which she elegantly curates the facts and melds them with her formidable powers of invention. -- Siobhan Roberts

A Geography of Blood

Unearthing Memory from a Prairie Landscape,

by Candace Savage,


This winner of the Hilary Weston Wrters’ Trust non-fiction prize is an engrossing and unexpectedly page-turning account of trips in sparsely populated southwestern Saskatchewan. Motifs of trauma, repression or recollection appear on practically every page. Savage artfully blends travelogue, memoir, detective story, philosophy and history into a subtle and mournful (but humour-flecked) meditation on the relationship between present, future and past. -- Brett Josef Grubisic

Among the Islands

Adventures in the Pacific,

by Tim Flannery,


“Who knew? Who knew almost anything that is revealed in these fascinating, absorbing tales – about animals utterly unfamiliar, places utterly unknown, peoples generally unfavoured? Seldom have I been so captivated by a book, and for which I had such little expectation and which was devoted to topics and places in which I thought I had so little interest.” -- Simon Winchester

Seen Reading

By Julie Wilson,

Freehand Books

Wilson has created a book about seeing people read that requires readers, it requires the space between the reader and the text, it requires us to look at it, take it in, judge it, to be voyeurs. Taken as such, the best possible conceptual fate for this book would be to only be allowed to be seen reading Seen Reading on a subway or bus somewhere. -- Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer

Attack of the Copula Spiders

And Other Essays on Writing,

by Douglas Glover,


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