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Books for the break: To you, with love from UM faculty and alumni

Check out these must-reads

December 21, 2023 — 

We put some of these literary gems from UM alumni and faculty on our top books for summer list, but the holiday break and colder days are also a good time to curl up under a blanket and read. Spark your imagination and get your mind ruminating on the state of the world, true crime, far off worlds, or fiction and music history close to home.

Vaclav Smil, UM Distinguished Professor Emeritus – Invention and Innovation: A Brief History of Hype and Failure

Why wouldn’t you read something recommended by someone who changed the world with his technological genius? At the time of this 2017  CNBC article, Bill Gates said he had read 37 books by UM Distinguished Professor Emeritus from the Faculty of Environment and on his blog said, “I wait for new Smil books the way some people wait for the next Star Wars movie.” No doubt, Gates has read Smil’s latest book, Invention and Innovation: A Brief History of Hype and Failure , released earlier this year. It looks at the history of human invention and the hype that goes along with it, going over everything from new cures for diseases to AI. 

Gordon Goldsborough [BSc(Hons)/81, PhD/86], associate professor, Faculty of Science– On The Road To Abandoned Manitoba: Taking the scenic route through historic places

Gordon Goldsborough, recently launched his latest book in his Abandoned Manitoba series at McNally Grant Park on Nov. 24. On The Road To Abandoned Manitoba: Taking the scenic route through historic places is the third book in the series where he delves into little-known stories from across the province, including photos. 

Dr. David Annandale [BA/90, MA/92], senior knstructor, Department of English, Theatre, Film & Media – The Tyrant Skies: A Marvel: Untold Novel

If you’re a Marvel fan, you’ll want to immerse yourself in Dr. David Annandale’s latest Doctor Doom tale, The Tyrant Skies. Dr. Annandale crafts an interesting tale of conflict and intrigue as Doctor Doom faces Red Skull, his deadliest enemy, and confronts a wave of attacks, putting his beliefs, strength and powers to the ultimate test. 

Méira Cook [PhD/98] (Major: English) – The Full Catastrophe

If you’re in the mood for a heartfelt and beautifully written coming-of-age tale, 2023 Margaret Laurence Award for Fiction winner The Full Catastrophe by Méira Cook is an absolute must-read. Set in downtown Winnipeg, the story follows Charlie Minkoff, a thirteen-year-old boy navigating the complexities of adolescence while living with intersex traits. Amidst struggles at school and pondering his father’s abandonment, Charlie finds solace in the love of his grandfather, a group of endearing misfits and a lovable, always-hungry dog. When he sets out on a mission to rectify his grandfather’s past, he discovers the importance of embracing his own story. This novel is a compelling blend of psychological depth, tenderness and humor that will leave you captivated. 

Lise Gaboury Diallo [BesA/78] (Major: French) – Petites Déviations

For poetry enthusiasts looking for an asserting collection, Lise Gaboury Diallo’s Petites Déviations is a gem. As an acclaimed figure in French-Canadian literature, Diallo’s poetic skill shines through, where she delves into contemplations, introspective reflections and intimate confidences. The poems explore the masks we wear, the compromises we make and the passage of time, revealing a rich tapestry of emotions and experiences. Winner of the Rue-Deschambault prize, this collection will leave you with a heightened sense of awareness and a deeper connection to the world around you. This book is written in French. 

David Thomas Smith [BA/73, MCP/77] – After 60 and On the Edge Like Indiana Jones

Let’s dive into an exciting adventure through the eyes of a first-time author, David Thomas Smith, as he takes you on a journey through his travels and volunteer assignments for the Canadian Executive Service Organization (CESO). In After 60 and On the Edge Like Indiana Jones: Amazing Experiences Through Volunteering and Travel , Smith shares tales of his escapades in various developing countries, providing deep understanding into the challenges, rewards and cultural uniqueness he encounters. This story not only narrates the excitement of his experiences but also serves as a reminder of the value of volunteer service. If you’re seeking an inspiring and fascinating memoir, this book is the perfect companion for your summer reading list.  

John Einarson [BA/73, CertEd/78] (Major: History) – Heart of Gold: A History of Winnipeg Music

Let’s take a look at the rich musical heritage of Winnipeg with renowned music historian John Einarson’s, Heart of Gold: A History of Winnipeg Music. This comprehensive exploration takes readers on a fascinating journey through the city’s various music scenes, from Indigenous and francophone music to country, folk, rock’n’roll and more. Einarson reveals how Winnipeg has been a significant hub for Canadian music for over a century, with its artists shaping and influencing the nation’s musical landscape. If you’re a music enthusiast or simply curious about the vibrant cultural history of Winnipeg, this book is a must-read.

Guy Gavriel Kay [BA/75] (Major: Philosophy) – All the Seas of the World

The latest, All the Seas of the World from international best-selling fantasy author, Guy Gavriel Kay, is a page-turning drama that offers moving reflections on memory, fate and the random events that can shape our lives. Two assassins are dropped on a lonely stretch of coast in the dark of night. They have been hired by two of the most dangerous men alive to alter the balance of power in the world. If they succeed, the consequences will affect the destinies of empires and the lives of many. The books from this award winning author are definitely worth a look. In 2014, Kay was named to the Order of Canada and his works have been translated into more than thirty languages. 

James Arnett [BA/59, LLB/63] – Bean Fate: Based on a True Crime

If you’re a fan of gripping true-crime stories set in the Prohibition era, Bean Fate a debut novel from James Arnett will keep you on the edge of your seat. Inspired by shocking events in a Saskatchewan border town, this novel uncovers the intricate web of suspicions surrounding the politicians and their potential connections to Al Capone and the Chicago Mob. Follow rookie cop Jack Ross as he unravels the truth, even after being taken off the case. Bean Fate is a riveting tale of intrigue, crime and the quest for justice. Purchase: Bean Fate: Based on a True Crime

Chimwemwe Undi [BA(Adv)/16, JD/20] (Major: Linguistics)–“Auto-epithalamium” and “Epithalamium Ending in Death” included in Canthius 10

For lovers of evocative poetry, the works of Chimwemwe Undi, Winnipeg’s Poet Laureate for 2023-24 and a lawyer with TDS Law in Winnipeg, are a great choice. Her poems “Auto-epithalamium” and “Epithalamium Ending in Death” explore the intersection of love and climate grief, offering profound insights into human emotions and the impact of climate change. These poems celebrate love’s joy and simultaneously address the challenges posed by climate uncertainties in relationships. Undi’s unique storytelling and spoken word traditions will leave you moved and deeply connected to her words. You can read her poems in the 10th issue of feminist literary periodical Canthius. Also watch for Undi’s debut collection, Scientific Marvel, coming to print in April 2024.

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