6 books for the Vancouver book lover on your list!


As a collector of local stories as well as British Columbia history in general, there are countless books released by BC-based publishers over the years that I could recommend you buy for your loved ones this Christmas. To save myself a few months worth of writing (I also have Christmas shopping to do!) I’ve compiled a few of the best new releases that I’ve read over the last couple of months and which I would highly recommend, followed by one humdinger that I have not yet been able to read but will be digging into next year.

Terry David Mulligan’s Mulligan’s Stew from Heritage House.
– The legendary music journalist, TDM, shares his life (so far) with us. From being an RCMP officer with a smalltown rock radio show in Alberta all the way to hosting a wine TV show with Jason Priestley, this is a fantastic offering for music and book lovers alike. I actually sat down with him a couple of weeks ago so we could conduct a Most Awesome interview for you but it went long so I’m still transcribing. After Christmas, after you’ve read this book, you’ll enjoy that interview more anyway… so stay tuned.

Charlotte Gill’s Eating Dirt from Greystone Books.
– Charlotte spent a couple of decades as a tree planter in BC and she shares an intimate look into the industry and the weird world of reforestation which could also be described as a subculture. We’ve got a semi-major Charlotte Gill announcement coming up on the blog soon, so stay tuned.

Peter Ladner’s The Urban Food Revolution from New Society Books.
– One of the most informative and exciting books I’ve read in a long time. The “recovered politician”, founder of Business In Vancouver magazine and mayoral candidate a few years back spent the last two years as an SFU Fellow researching for this book. In it he offers real solutions for regular folks like you and me as well as policy makers who are also helping to transform the food system in order to keep it sustainable and have it keep up with the population boom. I met with Peter for coffee last week and will be sharing a 50 Coffees feature on him soon. First: buy the book!

Stan Douglas’s Abbot & Cordova, 7 August 1971 from Arsenal Pulp Press.
That massive photograph in the new Woodwards that cost a million dollars to produce? This book is a look behind the scenes from a number of different angles including its inspiration as well as the actual building of the set that was used as the backdrop for the image. No, that’s not an existing street in the photograph: they build that Vancouver scene from the ground up and destroyed it soon after, on a set. One of my favourite art books I’ve seen this year aside from Ken Lum released by D&M.

Martine J. Reid’s Bill Reid and the Haida Canoe from Harbour Publishing.
– A companion to the exhibition of the same name at the Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art, this beautiful book tells the story of Northwest canoe from pre-contact times all the way to Bill’s interpretation of it and the journey that his creation, Lootas (you know, the one that’s on our $20 bill and has been around the world), went on during his lifetime and after he had passed.

And the one that I haven’t truly been able to sink my teeth into even though I would recommend that you all go out and buy it RIGHT NOW is the Chuck Davis History of Metropolitan Vancouver from Harbour Publishing. It arrived a few weeks back and I tweeted about it, posted it to Facebook and Instgram, but instead of really getting into it I just gazed lovingly at it on my desk for a long time. It’s the late Chuck Davis’ magnum opus and is essentially a lifetime full of his work packaged into one incredibly massive volume of history about our region. Each page is broken up into a number of sidebars and there are thousands upon thousands of stories layered into it, all in order chronologically, peppered with thousands of historic photographs and illustrations as well. As I stare at it on my desk I think that the paper in it alone is worth the $49.95 retail cost of it, and I fear that spending more than half an hour flipping through it and I will sink into a wormhole of awesome Vancouver history from which I will never return.

As I said, I’ll be spending the next year digging through this amazing, amazing title. Harbour was nice enough to allow us to share an 8-page excerpt with you, so that you can have a small taste. Click the image below to download it.

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Bob is our founder and Editor-in-Chief. A family man and outdoors enthusiast in his 3rd decade of publishing, he steers the V.I.A. ship, hosts our 'BC Was Awesome' history TV show and co-hosts our weekly podcast. bobk@vancouverisawesome.com