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A Book Lover’s Guide to Things Canadian by Mel Tobias

The book is dead! But no, people still love books. They enjoy the tactile experience of leafing through paper pages and the fact they can take a book anywhere. Despite fears that the digital age will make books passé, many people continue to read books. This is especially true in Vancouver where small independent book stores, many serving as social centres for book lovers, thrive even as big box chain book stores are diminishing.Newcomers to Vancouver will have no problem finding books that will inform them about what make Canadians tick. In a recent visit to bookstores downtown and some funky neighborhoods, I found several books that recent immigrants wanting to know more about this city and country may find useful.

What Canadians Think

by Darrell Brecka and John Wright is a fun-filled but edifying book that gives hard statistics on what Canadians believe. The authors cite findings of leading pollsters on subjects that Canadians don’t normally talk about in public (marriage, morals, drinking, sex, porn, stress, relationships, death, parenting, religion).
For example, it is interesting to know that: (a) The vast majority of Canadians believe in God but just one in five (20%) attends church on a weekly basis; (b) About 70% of Canadians agree with the statement “my private beliefs about Christianity are more important than what is taught by any church;” and (c) Over one in 10 Canadians would cheat on a partner if there was no chance of being caught. Interestingly, residents of British Columbia and Ontario are more likely to cheat, whereas Atlantic Canadians are more faithful to their partners.

We Know What You’re Thinking — from Dollars to Donuts

by Darrell Brecka and John Wright. This is a perfect companion piece to What Canadians Think, written by the same authors. The book is filled with facts and trivia that will help the reader understand what makes Canadians tick (depending on province and territory or residence, age group and income bracket). The book reveals that British Columbians read more books than other Canadians — a typical B.C. reader goes through about 33 books a year.
He or she loves mysteries, detective stories, science fiction and thrillers. Surveys reveal that Pierre Trudeau is the person who most defines what it is to be Canadian, followed by Wayne Gretzky, Terry Fox,Celine Dion and David Suzuki. The most popular sandwich among Canadian children is grilled cheese followed by peanut butter and jelly, tuna fish and bologna. Canadians love to eat donuts and their favorites are Boston Cream and Apple Fritter.

The New Canada, a Globe and Mail Report on the Next Generation

by Erin Anderssen, Michael Volpy and others. What the authors call the new Canadians are men and women aged between 20 and 29 who are starting to attain positions of influence. These young people come from diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds — one in six Canadians in their 20s is an immigrant. Interestingly, ten years after their arrival in Canada, the values of new Canadians become indistinguishable from those of mainstream Canadians. A notable finding in the book is that young Canadians are deeply concerned with social issues and are involved in the country’s development.

So You Want to be Canadian

by Kerry Colburn and Rob Sorensen is a small book but an excellent guide on why Canada is not just cold but cool. Recent immigrants will find it most useful. It explains not only the technical requirements for becoming a Canadian citizen but gives simple and friendly tips on how newcomers can integrate into the Canadian way of life. It describes the various geographical features of Canada (from the cold North to the rainy West Coast). More important, it explains Canada’s core values like belief in freedom and the country’s multicultural policies.

Unlikely Utopia, the Surprising Triumph of Canadian Pluralism

by Michael Adams is a detailed explanation of Canada’s multiculturalism. It starts with the historical background of English and French colonialism and traces the evolution of the multiculturalism policies. The book argues that as a varied and multicultural society, Canada can be seen as a virtual utopia few countries have been able to attain.

Everything I Needed to Know about Business, I Learned from a Canadian

by Leonard Brody is a useful guide to a newcomer coming to Canada to do business. Written in a simple and, at times, tongue-in-cheek style, the book nevertheless provides excellent lessons on the fine art of business management. It also gives examples of successful entrepreneurs from Canada who have made their mark in other parts of the world.

The Naked Truth

by Chris Gudgeon breaks some of the taboos Canadians have built around sex. Although most Canadians are too polite to openly talk about sexual matters, this book dares to publish accounts of sexual exploits that have happened throughout Canada’s history. For example, readers may want to know what the etiquette is when going to a beach inhabited by nudists. What are “cougars” and how do they hunt their young male “victims”? Who are the most sexually active provincial residents in Canada?The curious newcomer may find this fun-to-read-but-informative book very enlightening.

More Canada Firsts – another Collection of Canadian Firsts and Foremosts

by Duff Conacher is a sequel to the author’s earlier book on successful Canadians. This educational book is a salute to creative, innovative and inventive Canadians who have contributed to the country’s development. Included in this well written book are Canadian inventors, business people, artists, politicians, and entertainment stars that have been greatly successful in their fields. The book is not only a great ego-booster for Canada — it informs the newcomer that the country has contributed immensely to human progress.

Books About Vancouver

The Vancouver Book of Everything

by Samantha Amara and Beverly Cramp is an excellent book that promises answers to “everything you wanted to know about Vancouver and were going to ask anyway.” The first chapter provides a useful timeline on the city’s history. It gives keen insights on individuals, including Captain George Vancouver and Terry Fox, who have contributed to Vancouver’s exciting history. It also explains why Vancouver is sometimes called “Lotus Land” and what people buying a house refer to as a “Vancouver Special”. The chapters on weather and people are both entertaining and informative. It is nice to know that 51% of people living in Vancouver have a library card and they borrow almost 10 million different materials a year.

Dream City, Vancouver and the Global Imagination

by Vince Berelowitz can be mistaken for a coffee table book because it is so handsomely illustrated with historical and contemporary photographs. The author, however, is an award-winning writer and renowned authority on urban planning. The book explains why Vancouver has consistently topped the list of the most livable city in the world. This is not just because of the city’s dramatic setting of snow-capped mountains, verdant forests and rivers and oceans – the city’s rich and varied cultural mix, comprehensive urban planning and efficient management are considered key factors by the author for its global reputation.

The Secret Vancouver, the Unique Guidebook to Vancouver’s Hidden Sites, Sounds and Tastes

by Alison Appelbe. This is the 2010 edition of this provocative and instructive book that is an excellent source of not easily known sites and events in Vancouver. Where can you find the best Indian, Chinese, Vietnamese or Cambodian food without breaking the bank? What is the best place for finding aboriginal art? And how can you satisfy your craving for mystery novels or science fiction books? This book is the best guide to exciting multi-ethnic Vancouver.The books cited, all at affordable prices, are just some of my recent discoveries in small, independent, second-hand bookshops.

These bookstores are located downtown or within neighborhoods shopping districts.They are vibrant meeting places for intellectual growth, human interaction and activism of all shades.It has always been my strong belief that one’s information should not come from hearsay, gossip, second hand information, unsolicited telephone calls and e-mails and information from unprofessional bloggers writing amateur reportage. Today, everyone is a writer and critic. The distinction between trained, experienced writers and prolific amateurs has become dangerously blurred. So read for yourself. There are so many exciting books out there and so little time.


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