CPAWS Northern Alberta’s 2023 Summer Reading List
We’re pleased to share our THIRD annual summer reading list with you. Our staff and board have carefully selected titles that they’ve certified as a good read and we’ve included more that will be living in our to-be-read piles this summer. From graphic novels to poetry, we have tried to include titles of every genre. Our chapter’s reading list is an opportunity to dive deeper into topics of conservation, nature, Indigenous culture and community action. This year, we are pleased to be partnering with a bookstore local to Edmonton, the glassbookshop. Please consider ordering your top choices from the list through them.
Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands
|With the singular goal of paying off her student loans, Katie heads out west to take advantage of Alberta’s oil rush—part of the long tradition of East Coasters who seek gainful employment elsewhere when they can’t find it in the homeland they love so much. Katie encounters the harsh reality of life in the oil sands, where trauma is an everyday occurrence yet is never discussed.
Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds
adrienne maree brown
Inspired by Octavia Butler’s explorations of our human relationship to change, Emergent Strategy is radical self-help, society-help, and planet-help designed to shape the futures we want to live. Change is constant. The world is in a continual state of flux. It is a stream of ever-mutating, emergent patterns. Rather than steel ourselves against such change, this book invites us to feel, map, assess, and learn from the swirling patterns around us in order to better understand and influence them as they happen. This is a resolutely materialist “spirituality” based equally on science and science fiction, a visionary incantation to transform that which ultimately transforms us.
The Mushroom Fan Club
|Elise Gravel is back with a whimsical look at one of her family’s most beloved pastimes: mushroom hunting! Combining her love of exploring nature with her talent for anthropomorphizing everything, she takes us on a magical tour of the forest floor and examines a handful of her favorite alien specimens up close. While the beautiful coral mushroom looks like it belongs under the sea, the peculiar Lactarius indigo may be better suited for outer space. From the fun-to-stomp puffballs to the prince of the stinkers—the stinkhorn mushroom—and the musically inclined chanterelles, Gravel shares her knowledge of this fascinating kingdom by bringing each species to life in full felt-tip-marker glory.
On the Trapline
David A Robertson, Julie Flett
A boy and Moshom, his grandpa, take a trip together to visit a place of great meaning to Moshom. A trapline is where people hunt and live off the land, and it was where Moshom grew up. As they embark on their northern journey, the child repeatedly asks his grandfather, “Is this your trapline?” Along the way, the boy finds himself imagining what life was like two generations ago — a life that appears to be both different from and similar to his life now. This is a heartfelt story about memory, imagination and intergenerational connection that perfectly captures the experience of a young child’s wonder as he is introduced to places and stories that hold meaning for his family.
Hydronarratives: Water, Environmental Justice and a Just Transition
Matthew S Henry
The story of water in the United States is one of ecosystemic disruption and social injustice. From the Standing Rock Indian Reservation and Flint, Michigan, to the Appalachian coal and gas fields and the Gulf Coast, low-income communities, Indigenous communities, and communities of color face the disproportionate effects of floods, droughts, sea level rise, and water contamination.
Capricious, big-hearted, joyful: an epic memoir from one of Canada’s most acclaimed Indigenous writers and performers. Tomson Highway was born in a snowbank on an island in the sub-Arctic, the eleventh of twelve children in a nomadic, caribou-hunting Cree family. Growing up in a land of ten thousand lakes and islands, Tomson relished being pulled by dogsled beneath a night sky alive with stars, sucking the juices from roasted muskrat tails, and singing country music songs with his impossibly beautiful older sister and her teenaged friends.
Conor Kerr’s poetry is in constant motion. 4Runners streak through the night, racing with coyotes and roving across the land. Buses travel from town to town, from one memory to another, from past to present. Friends and lovers search for each other on Instagram and find nothing. And always the natural world travels alongside: the watching magpies, woodpeckers and cedar waxwings, the coyotes and porcupines. Family is the crisp wings of mallard ducks flying at dawn, just as it is a game of crib, a Mario Kart race, a dance party.
The Citizen’s Guide to Climate Success: Overcoming Myths That Hinder Progress
A good audiobook for leisurely summer walks, this author’s take on climate change leaves you remarkably hopeful for the future. Sometimes solving climate change seems impossibly complex, and it is hard to know what changes we all can and should make to help. This book offers hope. Jaccard shows how to distinguish climate-sincere from insincere politicians and increase the chance of electing and sustaining these leaders in power. In combining the personal and the political, The Citizen’s Guide to Climate Success offers a clear and simple strategic path to solving the greatest problem of our times. A PDF version of this title is also available as Open Access on Cambridge Core at doi.org/10.1017/9781108783453.
The Annual Migration of Clouds
In post–climate disaster Alberta, a woman infected with a mysterious parasite must choose whether to pursue a rare opportunity far from home or stay and help rebuild her community. The world is nothing like it once was: climate disasters have wracked the continent, causing food shortages, ending industry, and leaving little behind. Then came Cad, mysterious mind-altering fungi that invade the bodies of the now scattered citizenry.
Revery: A year of Bees
After five years of working with bees on her farm in northern Alberta, Jenna Butler shares with the reader the rich experience of keeping hives. Starting with a rare bright day in late November as the bees are settling in for winter she takes us through a year in beekeeping on her small piece of the boreal forest. Weaving together her personal story with the practical aspects of running a farm she takes us into the worlds of honeybees and wild bees.
The Arbornaut: A Life Discovering the Eighth Continent in the Trees Above Us
Nicknamed the “Real-Life Lorax” by National Geographic, the biologist, botanist, and conservationist Meg Lowman—aka “CanopyMeg”—takes us on an adventure into the “eighth continent” of the world’s treetops, along her journey as a tree scientist, and into climate action
Move: How Mass Migration Will Reshape the World
Parag Khanna, author of A Financial Times Best Book of 2021- Move: How Mass Migration Will Reshape the World and What It Means for You, shares insights and predictions regarding the future of climatic conditions. He points out some mind-boggling questions: How humanity will shape by 2050? Where will the future generation settle by 2040? And Where will humans live in 2030?
Paying the Land
Joe Sacco travels the frozen North to reveal a people in conflict over the costs and benefits of development. The mining boom is only the latest assault on indigenous culture: Sacco recounts the shattering impact of a residential school system that aimed to “remove the Indian from the child”; the destructive process that drove the Dene from the bush into settlements and turned them into wage laborers; the government land claims stacked against the Dene Nation; and their uphill efforts to revive a wounded culture. Paying the Land lends an ear to trappers and chiefs, activists and priests, to tell a sweeping story about money, dependency, loss, and culture.