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Thien and Boyden top holiday sales lists‚ booksellers say

Madeleine Thien and Tanya Tagaq

Madeleine Thien and Tanya Tagaq after Thien’s Giller win this year

With the retail industry this month in the midst of its busiest shopping season of the year‚ indie booksellers are taking note of the 2016 titles particularly popular with holiday shoppers.

The numerous accolades for Vancouver author Madeleine Thien’s novel Do Not Say We Have Nothing (Knopf Canada) – including Scotiabank Giller Prize and Governor General’s Literary Award wins as well as a Man Booker nod – have proven worthy sales drivers‚ as the title is the top Canadian seller at Café Books in Canmore‚ Alberta; Oxford Book Shop in London‚ Ontario; Otter Books in Nelson‚ B.C.; and indie chain Book City in Toronto.

Joseph Boyden’s novella Wenjack (Hamish Hamilton Canada)about the young Ojibwe boy who froze to death after fleeing a residential school‚ is “flying off the shelf” according to Bloor West Village Book City manager Sarah Ramsey‚ and is also finding success across the country at Café Books and Otter Books. Other titles by aboriginal authors or about aboriginal issues also are selling well: Gord Downie and Jeff Lemire’s Secret Path (Simon & Schuster Canada)‚ also with Charlie Wenjack as a subject, is a hit at Oxford Book Shop and Flying Books in Toronto; Harold R. Johnson’s Firewater: How Alcohol is Killing My People (And Yours) (University of Regina Press) tops the non-fiction list at Saskatoon’s SaskBooks; and Richard Wagamese’s Embers: One Ojibway’s Meditations (Douglas & McIntyre) is a favourite at Café Books.

Greystone Books’s The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate – Discoveries from A Secret World by German ecologist Peter Wohlleben has been a surprising “revelation and a delight” Ramsey says‚ and staff (and sales) at Café Books and Oxford agree.

Vancouver’s Spartacus Books cites high sales for the Between the Lines graphic anthology Drawn to Change: Graphic Histories of Working Class Struggle (by various authors) and Rad Families‚ Fernwood Publishing’s parenting manual by Rad Dad blogger Tomas Moniz. Children’s titles Shi-Shi-Etko (Groundwood Books)‚ by B.C. author Nicola I. Campbell‚ and Cory Silverberg and Fiona Smyth’s Sex is a Funny Word (Seven Stories) are also popular holiday titles at the non-profit bookseller.

Other notable titles in the books for young people category include: Jocey Asnog’s Nuptse and Lhotse Go To the Rockies (Rocky Mountain Books) and Lisa Bowes’s Lucy Tries Soccer (Orca Book Publishers)‚ both a hit at Café Books; Regina stress-reduction coach Trina Markusson and illustrator James Hearn’s picture book Good Morning, Sunshine: A Story of Mindfulness (Your Nickel’s Worth Publishing) andh Edmonton author/playwright Marty Chan’s latest installation in his middle-grade series‚ Barnabas Bigfoot: A Close Shave (Thistledown Press)‚ according to SaskBooks program officer Daniel Parr. Book City’s Ramsey at adds two picture-books illustrated by the Fan brothers to the list: The Night Gardener (S&S) and astronaut Chris Hadfield’s The Darkest Dark (Tundra Books). Phyllis Simon‚ founder of the West Coast children’s bookstore KidsBooks‚ names Julie Morstad’s Today (Simply Read Books)‚ Jon Klassen’s successful We Found a Hat (Candlewick Press)‚ Linda Bailey’s Seven Dead Pirates (Tundra Books)‚ and the book version of Stompin’ Tom Connors’s The Hockey Song (Greystone Books)‚ illustrated by Gary Clement.

Louise Penny’s latest crime novel A Great Reckoning (Minotaur Books)‚ Ami McKay’s The Witches of New York (Knopf Canada)‚ Lindy Mechefske‘s Sir John’s Table: The Culinary Life and Times of Canada’s First Prime Minister (Goose Lane Editions)‚ Shari Lapena’s domestic thriller The Couple Next Door (Doubleday Canada)‚ and Sharon Butala’s Wild Rose (Coteau Books) were among the remaining titles booksellers mentioned as in-demand this season. Works by local authors – such as Gerald Hill’s Line Dance (Burton House Books)‚ Robin and Arlene Karpan’s Great Saskatchewan Bucket List (Parkland Publishing)‚ and Leesa Dean’s Waiting for the Cyclone (Brindle & Glass) – are also a perennial favourite at select indie stores.

For international books‚ English novelist Zadie Smith’s lauded novel Swing Time (Hamish Hamilton)‚ Viet Thanh Nguyen’s Pulitzer Prize–winning The Sympathizer (Grove Press)‚ and U.S. author Paul Beatty’s Man Booker Prize winner The Sellout (Farrar, Straus and Giroux/Macmillan) are in-demand across the country.