The Greatest Canadian, Russian "Nonfiction" Books Since 1980

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This list represents a comprehensive and trusted collection of the greatest books. Developed through a specialized algorithm, it brings together 264 'best of' book lists to form a definitive guide to the world's most acclaimed books. For those interested in how these books are chosen, additional details can be found on the rankings page.

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  1. 1. No Logo by Naomi Klein

    This book explores the negative effects of corporate branding and globalization. It critiques the marketing strategies of large corporations, arguing that they exploit workers and manipulate consumers. The author also discusses how these corporations have a significant influence on culture and public space. The book suggests that consumer activism and grassroots movements can serve as effective counter-forces to corporate power.

  2. 2. The Great Transformation by Karl Polanyi

    The book in question is a seminal work in economic and social history that examines the development and impact of the modern market economy on global societies. It argues that the rise of market capitalism in the 19th century fundamentally transformed social structures and human relationships, with the commodification of land, labor, and money turning them into tradable goods. This transformation led to social dislocation and crises, prompting a counter-movement for social protection and the rise of the welfare state. The author challenges the idea that the market economy is a natural and inevitable form of social organization, instead presenting it as a constructed system with profound effects on the fabric of society.

  3. 3. The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism by Naomi Klein

    This book explores the concept of "disaster capitalism", the idea that global capitalism thrives on disaster and chaos. The author argues that free market policies are often pushed through while countries are reeling from wars, natural disasters, or economic crises. She provides a historical analysis of these events, from Chile in the 1970s, to Russia in the 1990s, to the war in Iraq, demonstrating how governments and corporations exploit these periods of shock to implement economic reforms that would otherwise be rejected.

  4. 4. 12 Rules For Life by Jordan B. Peterson

    "12 Rules for Life" by Jordan B. Peterson is a self-help book that offers practical advice on how to navigate the complexities of life and find meaning and purpose. Drawing from a wide range of disciplines, including psychology, philosophy, and biology, the author presents twelve rules that encourage readers to take responsibility for their actions, confront chaos and suffering, and strive for personal growth and fulfillment. With a blend of personal anecdotes, scientific research, and philosophical insights, this book aims to provide readers with practical tools to improve their lives and find harmony in an increasingly chaotic world.

  5. 5. Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

    The book examines the factors that contribute to high levels of success. Through a compilation of anecdotes and analyses of various cultural phenomena, it argues that success is not simply a result of individual talent or intelligence, but rather the result of a combination of opportunities, hidden advantages, cultural legacies, and the amount of time spent practicing a specific task. The author challenges the traditional notion of the "self-made" individual by emphasizing the importance of external influences and timing, such as being born in a certain era or having access to specific resources, in shaping one's ability to achieve extraordinary accomplishments.

  6. 6. The Glenn Gould Reader by Glenn Gould

    "The Glenn Gould Reader" is a compilation of writings by a renowned Canadian pianist, known for his unique and insightful perspectives on music and culture. This collection offers a window into the artist's mind, featuring a diverse range of essays, articles, reviews, and interviews that explore his philosophies on performance, the intricacies of musical interpretation, and the role of technology in the arts. His articulate and often provocative commentary extends beyond classical music to touch upon a variety of subjects, reflecting his broad intellectual interests and distinctive voice in the world of music and beyond.

  7. 7. Other Russias by Victoria Lomasko

    "Other Russias" is a powerful and thought-provoking graphic novel that offers an intimate and unfiltered glimpse into the lives of marginalized individuals and communities in contemporary Russia. Through her stunning illustrations and poignant interviews, Victoria Lomasko sheds light on the struggles, hopes, and resilience of diverse groups such as LGBTQ+ activists, migrant workers, political dissidents, and the forgotten voices of rural communities. This eye-opening book challenges stereotypes and provides a humanizing portrayal of those who are often overlooked or silenced in Russian society.

  8. 8. The Diary Of A Gulag Prison Guard 1935 6 by Ivan Chistyakov

    "The Diary Of A Gulag Prison Guard 1935-6" is a chilling and harrowing memoir that provides a firsthand account of the atrocities and cruelty witnessed by Ivan Chistyakov during his time as a guard in a Soviet Gulag prison. Through his detailed entries, Chistyakov reveals the dehumanizing conditions, brutal punishments, and constant fear that both prisoners and guards endured within the oppressive Soviet regime. This haunting narrative serves as a stark reminder of the dark realities of the Gulag system and the lasting impact it had on the lives of countless individuals.

  9. 9. The Unwomanly Face Of War by Svetlana Alexievich

    "The Unwomanly Face Of War" is a powerful and poignant collection of interviews with Soviet women who fought in World War II. Through their testimonies, the author sheds light on the often overlooked and untold stories of these brave women who served as snipers, pilots, nurses, and soldiers on the front lines. The book explores their experiences, sacrifices, and the lasting impact of war on their lives, providing a unique and intimate perspective on the realities of war from a female point of view.

  10. 10. The Taming of Chance by Ian Hacking

    "The Taming of Chance" delves into the evolution of the concept of probability and its societal implications. The book takes the reader through the historical progression of probability and statistics, illustrating how they have shaped and been shaped by societal norms. The author highlights the profound impact of this mathematical concept on various aspects of life, including law, science, and philosophy, and how it has fundamentally changed our perception of the world.

  11. 11. The Montreal Massacre by Louise Malette and Marie Chalouh

    The book provides a detailed account of a tragic event that took place at an engineering school in Montreal, where a gunman targeted female students, resulting in the loss of numerous lives. The authors delve into the societal and cultural factors that may have contributed to the perpetrator's motivations, examining issues of gender-based violence and misogyny. Through interviews, personal reflections, and analysis, the book seeks to honor the victims and explore the broader implications of the event for Canadian society and the ongoing struggle for gender equality.

  12. 12. My Father's House by Sylvia Fraser

    The book is a harrowing memoir that delves into the author's traumatic childhood, marked by the dark secret of her father's sexual abuse. The narrative unfolds as the author, after years of repressed memories, begins to confront the truth about her past. This journey of self-discovery and healing challenges her understanding of family, memory, and identity. The memoir is a poignant exploration of the long-term effects of abuse and the complex process of recovery, as the author grapples with the betrayal by a person who should have been her protector, ultimately striving to reclaim her sense of self.

  13. 13. Lost In Translation by Eva Hoffman

    "Lost in Translation" is a memoir that explores the profound complexities of identity and language through the lens of a young girl's emigration from Poland to Canada and then to the United States. The narrative delves into the emotional and psychological challenges of adapting to new cultures, the sense of displacement, and the search for belonging. It poignantly captures the experience of losing one's homeland and the struggle to assimilate while maintaining a connection to one's roots. The author reflects on the nuances of language and the deep connection between language and self, offering insights into the immigrant experience and the transformative power of embracing multiple worlds.

  14. 14. The Boy In The Moon: A Father’s Journey To Understand His Extraordinary Son by L. Brown

    "The Boy in the Moon" is a memoir written by Ian Brown, a Canadian journalist, about his life with his severely disabled son, Walker. The book chronicles Brown's struggles to understand and care for his son, who suffers from a rare genetic disorder that leaves him unable to walk, talk, or even eat on his own. Brown's journey is one of heartbreak, frustration, and ultimately, acceptance, as he learns to love and appreciate his son for who he is, rather than who he might have been. Through his compelling and deeply personal narrative, Brown sheds light on the challenges faced by families with disabled children, and offers a poignant meditation on the nature of love, family, and the human condition.

  15. 15. War by Margaret MacMillan

    "War" by Margaret MacMillan is a comprehensive analysis of the causes, conduct, and consequences of war throughout history. Drawing on a vast range of sources, including personal accounts, political documents, and military strategy, MacMillan explores the human motivations behind war and the complex web of political, economic, and social factors that drive nations to conflict. She examines the impact of war on individuals and societies, from the trauma of soldiers on the front lines to the far-reaching political and economic consequences of global conflicts. Ultimately, MacMillan argues that war is a deeply human phenomenon, shaped by the complex interplay of individual and collective desires, fears, and ambitions.

  16. 16. Power Of Now by Eckhart Tolle

    The book is a guide to spiritual enlightenment that emphasizes the importance of living in the present moment to achieve true happiness and fulfillment. It argues that many people are trapped in their own minds, dwelling on past regrets or future anxieties, which creates a barrier to inner peace. Through a series of insightful questions and meditations, the book encourages readers to shed their ego-based state of consciousness, embrace the now, and discover a deeper sense of self beyond their thoughts and emotions. The central message is that by connecting with the present moment, individuals can free themselves from suffering, access a higher state of awareness, and experience a profound transformation in their daily lives.

  17. 17. Die Wise by Stephen Jenkinson

    The book in question is a profound meditation on the necessity of acknowledging and accepting death as an intrinsic part of life. It challenges the modern denial of death and the prevalent notion of "dying well." Through a blend of storytelling, wisdom, and cultural critique, the author, who has worked extensively in palliative care, argues for a radical shift in how we perceive and approach the end of life. He advocates for a deep responsibility to dying people and a reimagined relationship with death that involves wisdom, community, and a recognition of its place in the natural order of things. The book serves as a call to awaken to the ways in which our cultural practices often leave us ill-prepared for the inevitable journey of dying, urging readers to live and die with a sense of true understanding and purpose.

  18. 18. Dark Matters by Simone Browne

    "Dark Matters" is a critical examination of how race and surveillance have intersected throughout history, particularly within the context of blackness. The book delves into the ways in which surveillance practices, both historical and contemporary, are rooted in racial discrimination and how these practices have served to enforce boundaries of social control. By exploring a range of topics, from the branding of slaves in the 18th century to modern-day policing and biometric technologies, the book challenges readers to consider the pervasive nature of surveillance and its disproportionate impact on black communities. Through this lens, the author reveals the deep-seated connections between visibility, race, and the monitoring of bodies in public and private spaces, urging a reevaluation of the role of surveillance in perpetuating systemic racial inequalities.

  19. 19. A History Of Reading by Alberto Manguel

    This book offers a captivating exploration of the evolution of reading throughout the centuries, tracing its transformation from a privileged art practiced by a select few to a widespread pastime enjoyed by many. The narrative delves into the intimate relationship between readers and texts, examining how reading practices have shaped human history, culture, and personal lives. Through a tapestry of anecdotes, analysis, and personal reflections, the work celebrates the reader's role in giving meaning to the written word and considers the future of reading in the digital age.

  20. 20. Let's Talk About Love by Carl Wilson

    "Let's Talk About Love" is a deep dive into the world of pop culture, specifically focusing on the polarizing figure of Celine Dion. The author explores the reasons behind Dion's extreme popularity and equally extreme criticism, using her as a case study to delve into the nature of taste and cultural consumption. The book challenges readers to question their own biases and preconceived notions about 'good' and 'bad' music, and what these judgments say about societal class, race, and gender norms.

  21. 21. The Warrior's Honor: Ethnic War and the Modern Conscience by Michael Ignatieff

    The book explores the moral and ethical challenges faced by modern societies when confronted with ethnic conflicts and wars. It delves into the complexities of humanitarian intervention, the role of the media in shaping public perception, and the struggle to reconcile the principles of human rights with the brutal realities of ethnic violence. Through a series of case studies and philosophical reflections, the author examines the tension between the universal claims of morality and the particular loyalties of kinship and nationality, questioning the capacity of moral conscience to mediate in conflicts where deep-seated cultural and ethnic animosities are at play.

  22. 22. Masterworks of the Classical Haida Mythtellers by Robert Bringhurst

    "Masterworks of the Classical Haida Mythtellers" is a collection of stories from the Haida people, an indigenous group from the Pacific Northwest Coast of North America. The book provides a deep and insightful exploration of Haida mythology and culture through its rich oral literature. The author has painstakingly translated these tales from the original Haida language into English, maintaining their poetic and narrative essence. The collection serves as a significant contribution to the preservation and understanding of Haida cultural heritage and indigenous storytelling traditions.

  23. 23. Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth by Margaret Atwood

    This book is an exploration of the concept of debt, both financial and moral, and its impact on individuals and societies. The author examines the historical, cultural, and moral implications of debt, drawing on a wide range of sources, from classical literature and modern economics to personal anecdotes. The book argues that our attitudes towards debt and wealth have a significant impact on our relationships, our societies, and our world, and calls for a re-evaluation of our attitudes towards debt and repayment.

  24. 24. Swimming Studies by Leanne Shapton

    This memoir offers a unique and introspective look into the world of competitive swimming and how it shapes one's identity and life beyond the pool. The author, a former Olympic trial swimmer, uses her experiences in the water to explore broader themes of discipline, memory, and the passage of time. Through a blend of personal narrative, vivid watercolor illustrations, and photographs, the book delves into the minutiae of swimming - from the smell of chlorine to the textures of different pools - and how these sensory experiences and the rigorous demands of training have influenced her artistic career and personal growth. It's a reflective and beautifully crafted exploration of the intersection between athleticism and artistry, and how past passions can continue to influence and inform our lives in unexpected ways.

  25. 25. The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia by Masha Gessen

    This book provides a deeply researched examination of the resurgence of totalitarianism in Russia, focusing on the lives of four individuals born at what promised to be the dawn of democracy. The book explores how, after the fall of the Soviet Union, instead of moving towards a democratic society, Russia has seen a rise in a new form of totalitarianism under its current leadership. It delves into the psychological shift in the Russian populace, the government's use of homophobia as a method of control, and how the internet and social media have been weaponized for political purposes.

Reading Statistics

Click the button below to see how many of these books you've read!

Download

If you're interested in downloading this list as a CSV file for use in a spreadsheet application, you can easily do so by clicking the button below. Please note that to ensure a manageable file size and faster download, the CSV will include details for only the first 500 books.

Download