The 2016 Winners of “The Very Best” Book Awards

It took a lot of deliberation, but here are seven of “The Very Best” books I have read in the 2015-2016 reading ‘season’ (September 2015 to mid-September 2016, in which I completed reading 80+ books).

It was easy to pick a clear winner in the Young Adult category (simply because I don’t get the opportunity to read that many YA titles): Prisoner of Warren by Andreas Oertel, published by Nimbus. A close second was the book Black Water Rising by Robert Rainer.

Likewise, the Fiction- Humour award goes to The Unknown Huntsman by Jean-Michel Fortier, published by QC Fiction.

Then it gets more difficult. It would have been easy to create a special niche category for every title, but I like to follow the K.I.S.S. principle when I can. Let’s start with Non-Fiction.

In the History category, I chose Graham Reynold’s Viola Desmond’s Canada from Fernwood Publishing which really exposed the racism experienced by blacks (and their descendants) who fled north to Canada to escape slavery, only to find attitudes not dissimilar to those they left behind.

In the Memoirs/Autobiography category, there is Diane Schoemperlen’s incomparable memoir of her relationship with a convicted killer, This is Not My Life from Harper Avenue Books.

Moving on to the Fiction-Short Story category, we have Wayne Curtis’ In the Country from Pottersfield Press, which narrowly beat out Wild Pieces by Catherine Hogan Safer.

Now to the Fiction category. Here, I had to go with two books, This Marlowe by Michelle Butler Hallett (Goose Lane) and Mister Nightingale by Paul Bowdring (Vagrant Press). This Marlowe is an original work of historical fiction, written with dialogue in the vernacular of the Elizabethan England era. Wonderful reading!

Mister Nightingale was a book that genuinely resonated with me. It was delightful to read and thought-provoking at the same time. While it is fictional, Mr Bowdring made the character of James Nightingale so real that it reads more like a memoir than a story. I loved every page of it.

So there we have it. Seven books that I enjoyed reading and would read again. They are all by Canadian authors from Canadian publishers, most established here in Atlantic Canada. I recommend all of them.

James M. Fisher is the owner and editor-in-chief of The Miramichi Reader. He began TMR in 2015, realizing that there was a genuine need for more book reviews of Canadian literature. It has since become Canada’s best-regarded source for the finest in new literary releases. James has been interviewed about TMR on CBC Radio and other media sites. James works as a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Technologist and lives in Miramichi, New Brunswick with his wife Diane and their tabby cat Eddie.