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The best local books of 2015

Grant Lawrence puts the best books of year on the shelf
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Here’s my roundup of the best books released by local authors this year. Let us rejoice in the glory of Vancouver’s written word!


The Horrors, by Charlie Demers (Douglas & McIntyre)

A hilariously dark, alphabetized romp through the life and times of Vancouver comedian Charlie Demers, familiar to CBC Radio listeners as a favourite voice on The Debators, and playwright for the seasonal hit the East Van Panto. Funny, traumatizing, and very self-aware, this book offers Charlie’s whip-smart thoughts on everything from panic attacks, to capitalism, to losing his mother at an early age.


The Brink of Freedom, by Stella Leventoyannis Harvey (Signature Editions)

An excellent, fast-paced, tense, and extremely timely novel by skilled Whistler writer Stella Leventoyannis Harvey, which deftly weaves the stories of migrant families risking their lives only to wind up in the squalid refugee camps of Greece amidst their crumbling economy and fraying social infrastructure. This book is the modern refugee plight from the inside looking out, and the must-read for our times.


The Long Hello, by Cathie Borrie (Simon and Schuster)

Anyone who has ever dealt with a family member or friend fading from Alzheimer’s or dementia will relate with ease (and tears) to this humourous, poetic, and very heartwarming memoir of an adult daughter caring for her dying mother. The backstory of this book is almost as good: originally self-published by multi-talented North Vancouver author Cathie Borrie five years ago, The Long Hello got picked up and formally released by Simon and Schuster in 2015.


Hastings-Sunrise, by Bren Simmers (Nightwood Editions)

Poet Bren Simmers has beautifully crafted a love affair for a changing neighbourhood, told in a year of poems. Sharp on detail, and written with unflinching honesty of a community in transition, if you’ve ever spent any time in this enclave on the edge of the city, you’ll find yourself nodding with recognition with every page turned.


North Of Normal, by Cea Sunrise Person (HarperCollins)

This is a bit of a cheat, as this gripping counter-culture memoir by West Vancouver author Cea Sunrise Person actually came out in 2014, but I only discovered it this year. I’m so glad I did: it’s a rollicking, stark naked story of a young girl growing up way, way off the grid in BC and Alberta with her hippie family in the 1970s. The unfiltered stories of drugs, sex, teepees, canoes, guns, back-to-landers, mental illness and outlaws spill out in a fascinating read.


The First Little Bastard to Call Me Gramps, by Bill Richardson (Anansi)

West End author and former CBC celeb Bill Richardson nails it in this tidy, very funny, and very true book of rhyming verse subtitled “Poems of the Late Middle Ages”. Look up my Q+A with Bill from a few editions ago.

All of these books are available at Vancouver’s independent booksellers, none of which can be found downtown. But that’s a column for another day. Happy holidays and happy reading!

• Grant Lawrence is the author of two books: Adventures in Solitude (2010) and The Lonely End of the Rink (2013). A rock ‘n’ roll memoir is slated for fall of 2016.