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10 Great Books To Read By Toronto Authors

10 Great Books To Read By Toronto Authors

Published Date: 8 March 2022

Canadian authors are some of the world’s best writers, and we’re lucky enough to have some of the country’s most-talented authors based in Toronto! With multiple author and book events happening in Toronto, it’s no wonder the city has become such a literary hub and a place iconic Canadian writers like Margaret Atwood and Michael Ondaatje call home.

Looking for your next read while shopping in one of Toronto’s many book stores? Whether you’re commuting to Toronto via UP Express or looking for a little inspiration in books set in Toronto on your next visit to the city, here are 10 modern stories by Toronto-based authors for you to kick back and enjoy.

Scarborough By Catherine Hernandez

Photo credit: Noor Khan
Award-winning author Catherine Hernandez pays tribute to Toronto’s eastern suburb of Scarborough in her deeply moving and empathetic tale. The book centres on three children from low-income families who strive to rise above a system that continues to fail them, forging friendship in unlikely places. Hernandez draws upon her own Scarborough upbringing as a queer woman of colour to give voice to a diverse range of characters who are often forgotten in literature to paint a portrait of a low-income community built on strength, love, and perseverance. Scarborough was adapted into a feature-length film which premiered at the 2021 Toronto International Film Festival where it won the Shawn Mendes Foundation’s Changemaker Award and will be released in 2022.

The Skin We’re In: A Year Of Black Resistance And Power By Desmond Cole

Photo credit: Kate Yang-Nikodym
Canadian journalist, activist, and author Desmond Cole offers a provocative look at what it’s like to be Black in Canada and Toronto, in particular. Putting the spotlight on the injustices faced by Black Canadians on a daily basis, Cole’s memoir sparked a national discourse through his unflinching and important look the struggle against systemic inequality and racism in this country. The Skin We’re In: A Year Of Black Resistance And Power was named one of Indigo/Chapters’ Best Book Of 2020. For more books by Black authors, be sure to visit A Different Booklist at Bloor Street West and Bathurst Street, a short TTC subway ride from UP Express Bloor Station.

Bloom Trilogy By Kenneth Oppel

Photo credit: Mark Raynes Roberts
Toronto-based writer Kenneth Oppel is no stranger to young adult fiction with his Silverwing trilogy and Half Brother winning awards for children’s literature. But it’s his latest venture into YA horror with Bloom that has been earning buzz as one of the must-read collections not just for young readers, but for genre fans of all ages. Blending elements of “The Thing” and “Little Shop Of Horrors”, the alien invasion comes in the form of seeds that give way to human-eating plants that no one is immune to, except for three teenagers with strange allergies in the trilogy.

Seven By Farzana Doctor

Earning glowing reviews and a place among many best books of the year lists, Toronto-based Farzana Doctor’s Seven was named among Indigo/Chapters’ Best Book Of 2020. Set against a backdrop of cultural unrest, the fictional feminist novel follows a woman on a trip to India where she uncovers a family mystery surrounding her great-grandfather’s wives that tests the balance between traditional and modern customs, resistance and suppression when it comes to women. Swing by TYPE Books in the Junction, just a few blocks from UP Express Bloor Station to see if they have it in stock.

My Day With Gong Gong By Sennah Yee

Photo credit: Christine Ting Wei Wang
Children ages 4 to 7 can explore Toronto with the colourful picture book My Day With Gong Gong by Sennah Yee. In it, a young girl’s trip to Chinatown with her Chinese grandfather demonstrates that love has no boundaries when it comes to language and generational differences. Featuring Cantonese phrases throughout the story, the book includes a kid-friendly glossary of translations into both Chinese characters and English. For more books for kids, check out Mabel’s Fables Children’s Bookstore on Mount Pleasant Road.

Gutter Child By Jael Richardson

Photo credit: Simon Remark
Festival of Literary Diversity (FOLD) founder Jael Richardson’s dystopian novel Gutter Child is set in an imaginary world where society’s most vulnerable citizens must buy their freedom by working off their debts in the Gutter while the privileged live in the land of opportunity known as the Mainland. When the life of the novel’s young heroine Elimina takes an unexpected turn, she’s rocked by the injustices that surround her, setting her future on a brand new course. Try hunting for your next read at Another Story, located on Roncesvalles Avenue near UP Express Bloor Station.

They Said This Would Be Fun By Eternity Martis

Photo credit: Corey Misquita
Born and raised in Toronto, writer Eternity Martis chronicles her experiences as one of a only a few Black students on her university campus at Western. Here, Martis documents what it was like to be tokenized by romantic partners, be the only person of colour in her classroom, and be on the receiving end of racial slurs. Through adversity, Martis charts her own growth and sense of self and channels it into a portrait of hope and resilience, becoming part of a support network for other women of colour. They Said This Would Be Fun was named one of Indigo/Chapters’ Best Books Of 2020.

Debris By Kevin Hardcastle

Photo credit: Katrina Afonso
Set in an anonymous rural town, Kevin Hardcastle’s debut novel Debris explores the violent lives of those on the fringes of society in a collection of short fiction stories. Writing about unlikely characters including an MMA fighter, the institutionalized, an RCMP officer, and more while exploring themes of isolation, desperation, and poverty earned Hardcastle comparisons to literary giants Raymond Carver and Elmore Leonard’s stories about the underbelly of society. You can browse the book racks near UP Express Union Station at the Indigospirit store located in the PATH system under Brookfield Place.

Love From A To Z By S.K. Ali

Photo credit: Andrea Stenson
A powerful story about finding love in a time of Islamophobia, Love From A To Z by Toronto’s S.K. Ali was named one of Entertainment Weekly’s Top 10 Young Adult Book of 2019. Outspoken and passionate high school senior Zayneb Malik meets the quiet and sensitive Adam Chen after they are brought together in Doha, Qatar in this novel about first loves, loss, and friendship that transcends cultural borders. Ali has published several books about being a Muslim teenager in addition to co-authoring the children’s picture book The Proudest Blue which debuted on the New York Times Bestseller list.

Fifteen Dogs By Andre Alexis

Photo credit: Jamie Hogge
Winner of the 2015 Scotiabank Giller Prize, author André Alexis’ allegorical story tells the tale of 15 dogs kenneled in a Toronto veterinary clinic when they are suddenly given the gifts of human consciousness and language by the gods. The city itself plays a big part in global best-seller Fifteen Dogs with notable events taking place in High Park and Toronto’s oldest pub, The Wheatsheaf Tavern, which has been in operation for over 170 years at the corner of Bathurst Street and Spadina Avenue. At 160 pages, give this one a read and head over to The Wheatsheaf for a pint via UP Express Union Station and ponder what might happen if your pet dog was suddenly able to speak.