Friday, December 23, 2016

5 Books by Indigenous Authors You Should Read

It's December, and 2017 is nearing, so I thought I'd revisit some of my 2016 reading goals and see how terribly I did (although seriously who wrote these goals!? They are super broad and they aren't measurable or specific... whoever wrote them should probably read my post on how to write goals.)

One of my goals was to "read more books by Indigenous authors, not just from the US and Canada but outside as well."

I didn't read as many books by Indigenous authors as I would have liked, and none outside of the US and Canada (books by Indigenous authors are very hard to find), but I thought I'd share the ones I did read.

1. Life Among the Qallunaat by Mini Aodla Freeman.

I did a review of this, so you can check that out, but I really enjoyed this book. I loved the author's voice, her story was so interesting to read, and I'm so happy that this book was republished otherwise I don't think I would have ever found it. Good on ya, U of M Press. (Also they favourited the tweet of my review, so that's fun).

 2.  Sanaaq by Mitiarjuk Nappaaluk (translated from French, translated from Inuktitut)

I was a bit surprised by this book, since the cover makes it seem like a dark, harrowing tale of life up North, when it's actually just a lot of short, quite funny stories about Inuit life. The writing was very direct which was hard to get into sometimes, but it was interesting being immersed in that culture for a bit and enjoying reading about the clumsy happenings of the community.

3. Indigenous Writes: A Guide to First Nations, M├ętis and Inuit Issues in Canada by Chelsea Vowel

I picked up this book because I've read a lot of glowing reviews of it in various publications, and its hailed as being super accessible to read. There was also one review I read that said that the author contests the arguments of John Ralston Saul, and I had to read A Fair Country for a course this semester so I was curious what she had to say. The reviewers are right - Indigenous Writes is a super accessible introductory book, aimed at Canadians ignorant of Indigenous issues in Canada. It provides a starting point for understanding Indigenous issues in Canada. The chapters are kind of written like (in depth, very well researched) blog posts. Reading this book definitely changed my perspective on a lot of things, and I definitely agree with Vowel that all Canadians need to become more aware of these issues.

4. North End Love Songs by Katherena Vermette

Recently I realized that while I like writing poetry, I don't really read a lot of poetry. One of the best ways to learn about writing is to read, so I bought this poetry collection at my local bookstore a few weeks ago.  This book of poetry has been highly regarded, and in 2013 it won the Governor General's Award for Poetry, which is one of Canada's highest literary awards I think. Let me just say that it definitely deserves the award, what a gorgeous book of poetry. This collection of poems brings you deep into the life and emotion of living in Winnipeg's North End. Now I'm excited to get my hands on her new novel, The Break.

Annd bonus 5. Thunder Boy Jr. by Sherman Alexie 

I was browsing in the children's section at my local bookstore to get a gift for my friend's baby's first birthday, and stumbled across this book. The fun thing about picture books is I could read it in five minutes on the spot at the bookstore. It's SO CUTE. It's about a boy who doesn't like that he has the same name as his dad, and wants his own name. It is super funny and a great father-son story. I ended up buying it for my friend's kid to read when he's a little older. ;) 

Who are your favourite Indigenous authors? Have you read any of these books? What did you think?

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