Chatelaine book club: November's best books

Chatelaine's book editor, Laurie Grassi, picks eight books for your bedside table this month

Blue Nights

8. Blue Nights

The Table Comes First

7. The Table Comes First

Lucky Break

6. Lucky Break

Island of Wings

5. Island of Wings

Gold Mountain Blues

4. Gold Mountain Blues

Falling together

3. Falling together

Bullets, Butterflies, and Italy

2. Bullets, Butterflies, and Italy

Canadian Pie

1. Canadian Pie



1. Canadian Pie by Will Ferguson, $33.
It’s hard to resist this collection of short essays and meditations on everything Canadian, from Pierre Berton and Anne of Green Gables ti raising a multicultural family and navigating mini-bars across the country. A laugh-out-loud travel read. – Madeline Cravit

2. Bullets, Butterflies and Italy by John Meyer, $17.
Turning 30 and being single sucks. Or, at least that’s what Zack Curtis thinks, so he takes a chance and embarks on the trip of a lifetime to Italy. But then he’s robbed of all his belongings, spends too much time “on the wrong side of drunk” and apparently negotiates his own murder – not exactly a promising start. He does, however, also fall madly in love. While the premise sounds mildly familiar and it’s at least partly based on real-life events, this is no Eat, Pray, Love. Instead it sets a fast and furious pace with destination unknown – but that’s the point. – Laurie Jennings.

3. Falling Together by Marisa de los Santos, $29.
An unexpected email reunites college pals and sends them on a quest to find a missing friend who doesn’t want to be found. As the story unfolds, fragile Pen Calloway slowly learns to stop grieving for lost friends and family, and to embrace love without reservation. An ideal book for a Sunday afternoon. – Catherine Franklin

4. Gold Mountain Blues by Ling Zhang, $32.
In 1879, 16-year-old Fong Tak Fat boards a crowded, stinky ship destined for British Columbia and joins the rush of Chinese men hoping to strike it rich in a cold, inhospitable land, This poignant family saga follows Tak Fat; his bride, brave and artistic Suk Yin; and three generations of their descendants, whose destinies are irrevocably altered by Tak Fat’s desperate decision. – Stacy Lee Kong

5. Island of Wings by Karin Altenberg, $23.
Putting their marriage and sanity to the test, the newlywed MacKenzies sail in 1830 to the isolated yet hauntingly beautiful St Kilda islands on Scotland’s outermost Hebrides. Neil’s evangelical mission is clear: Challenge the native’s pagan ways and find atonement for his own past sins, while his devoted wife, Lizzie, searches for a sense of purpose and belonging in a new world neither truly understands. – Kristina Gutauskas

6. Lucky Break by Esther Freud, $19.
Idealistic aspiring actors attend drama school then try to make it in the world of English stage and film. Are they the next big thing? Or are they destined to end up as wait staff in the pub around the corner? There’s a whiff of the autobiographical that lends authenticity: Freud studied drama herself and is married to actor David Morrissey (The Other Boleyn Girl). – Laurie Grassi

7. The Table Comes First by Adam Gopnik, $30.
In this collection of food essays, Adam Gopnik maps out how we became the manic and compulsive eaters we are today and weighs in on questions such as why we are still eating meat. An intelligent, entertaining conversation about the role of food in our everyday lives. – Carolyn Chua

8. Blue Nights by Joan Didion, $27.
Joan Didion’s heartbreaking meditations on life, death and aging; in particular, her daughter’s illness and death at a young age and Didion’s own physical decline. – Laurie Grassi