Gift Guide: B.C. books make beautiful homegrown presents

    1 of 5 2 of 5

      On, we’re going to post several articles before the end of this year recommending books either written by B.C. authors or issued by B.C. publishers.

      In that spirit, here’s our latest installment.

      They're all ideal gifts for any readers you love and cherish. And they're all written by women.

      British Columbia in Flames: Stories from a Blazing Summer

      By Claudia Cornwall. Harbour Publishing

      Are you curious to know how the city of Williams Lake was saved in the horrific 2017 wildfire season? Or how the chief of the Bonaparte First Nation relied on his community’s experience in fighting fires to stop the massive Elephant Hill Blaze from razing 40 homes and a new water-treatment system?

      This and so much more is captured in this deeply researched and literary book by North Vancouver writer Claudia Cornwall. She interviewed people in many B.C. communities affected by the wildfires, telling tales of remarkable courage and
      astonishing kindness in the face of monumental danger.

      “Forests are the lifeblood of many B.C. communities,” Cornwall writes. “They are also at the front line of our fight against global warming.”

      And that’s where this tale becomes even more frightening, as Cornwall explains how these forests, once magnificent carbon-storing sinks, became massive emitters of carbon dioxide in 2017. In fact, she points out, B.C. forest emissions in 2017 matched “the annual carbon dioxide exhaust from 44 million passenger vehicles—almost double the Canadian passenger fleet”.

      The Pocket Guide to the Unheralded Artists of B.C. Series

      Edited by Mona Fertig. Introduction by Marsha Lederman. Mother Tongue Publishing

      Most people have heard of famous B.C. artists like Emily Carr and Bill Reid. But what about countless others who soldier on minus any glowing media coverage, getting by on day jobs while labouring feverishly in their off hours to create evocative works? Salt Spring Island writer and publisher Mona Fertig decided to highlight 13 of these artists, including her father, George Fertig, in a gorgeous new book filled with images of lush paintings and intriguing sculptures.

      “Countless artists toil away in obscurity, making magnificent work nobody will exhibit or buy or give them a grant for,” Globe and Mail arts reporter Marsha Lederman writes in the introduction. “And they keep going. Their passion cannot be quelled by the lack of a paycheque or published review. Long after they gave up any possibility of fortune or fame, they are driven by something more authentic.”

      A similar level of passion drove Fertig to share these compelling untold stories of mostly dead B.C. artists. What a great gift for the unheralded artist in your life.

      Watermelon Snow: Science, Art, and a Lone Polar Bear

      by Lynne Quarmby. McGill-Queen’s University Press

      Lynne Quarmby, an SFU professor of cell biology, has many memorable observations in her deeply personal book detailing the impact of climate change in the Arctic.

      Some are of a scientific variety, such as her explanation of how cyanobacteria can contribute to the massive release of oxygen, which can react with methane to dramatically cool the Earth. That once led to an ice age.

      Now, she writes, the planet is being remodelled by the massive release of carbon dioxide, once again threatening many life forms. But Watermelon Snow goes far beyond biology. In the following passage, she candidly explains how she came to own the label “settler” in 2014 as she reckoned with her responsibility to seek true reconciliation.

      “Having grown up rural and definitely not wealthy, I resisted the label ‘privileged’. Being the fourth generation of my family grounded in this place, I also resisted the label ‘settler’,” Quarmby writes. “But I was learning of residential schools, of genocide, of the trauma of Indigenous people who lived just down the road when I was growing up; I was hearing the strong, clear voices of people who were invisible to me when I was young; I was learning what it meant to belong to the land. I came to recognize my privilege and responsibilities.”

      In case you're wondering about the title Watermelon Snow, it refers to the existence of a species of green algae containting a red pigment in addition to chlorophyll.