Quill and Quire

Books of the Year

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Q&Q’s picks for books of the year 2014


Women in ClothesSheila Heti, Heidi Julavits, and Leanne Shapton, eds.(Blue Rider Press)

Women in Clothes
Sheila Heti, Heidi Julavits, and Leanne Shapton, eds.
(Blue Rider Press)

Growing up, I never had an older sister, but if I had, I’d have liked her and her friends to be something like the contributors to the essay collection Women in Clothes: smart, challenging, and incredibly cool. The book’s genius is that it asks a simple question (“Why are you dressed that way?”), unravelling its implications through tangents and side-notes, like a conversation that leaves you feeling buzzy and broadened. I’ve worked my way slowly through this sisterhood of a book, and it’s easily one I’ll return to again. – JB


Up Ghost RiverEdmund Metatawabin and Alexandra Shimo(Knopf Canada)

Up Ghost River
Edmund Metatawabin and Alexandra Shimo
(Knopf Canada)

The word “courageous” is often tossed around without much thought, but in the case of Edmund Metatawabin’s residential school memoir, the label fits. For more than three years, Metatawabin worked with author and journalist Alexandra Shimo to document the systematic abuse he experienced as a child, and the devastating long-term effects it had on his mental health and familial relations. While the book’s early chapters unearth horrific memories, Up Ghost River unfolds into an activist’s triumphant story of survival and resilience. – SCF


Bitter: A Taste of the World's Most Dangerous Flavor, with RecipesJennifer MacLagan(HarperCollins Canada)

Bitter: A Taste of the World’s Most Dangerous Flavor, with Recipes
Jennifer MacLagan
(HarperCollins Canada)

In a market overrun with low-carb, everything-free (i.e. no fun) recipes, McLagan’s single-theme, meticulously researched food writing is always satiating. This time, the James Beard Award–winning chef (and author of Bones, Fat, and Odd Bits) investigates the science and cultural history of bitter flavours in a series of essays, accompanied by inventive recipes and superb photography. – SCF