Literary Loves: 6 Must-Read Winter Releases

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Some cultural touchstones unite Canadians as a whole from coast to coast to coast – hockey, beer, the love of an early morning double-double at Timmy’s, the dislike of long lines while waiting to buy an early morning double-double at Timmy’s. But 130 years ago Canadian Pacific literally united Canadians from east to west with the opening of the transcontinental railroad.

With Canadian Pacific: Creating a Brand, Building a Nation, CP celebrates both their history and Canada’s with stunning historical images and illustrated posters. The coffee table book retails for $80 but $1,200 gets you the handcrafted, wood veneer collector’s case.

Of course, not every railroad tale comes polished with a wood veneer. Governor-General’s Literary Award-winning Canadian historian Karolyn Smardz Frost’s Steal Away Home: One Woman’s Epic Flight To Freedom – And Her Long Road Back To The South (Jan. 24) is the true story of a Kentucky slave who escaped to Canada via the Underground Railroad, eventually finding her way back to the U.S. and traversing everything from the Civil War to her racially-charged home.

Vancouver-born screenwriter (The F Word) Elan Mastai’s first novel, the time-travel utopian tale All Our Wrong Todays (Feb. 7), landed him a million-dollar movie deal while Teresa Messineo culled her debut novel, The Fire By Night (Jan. 17), about two American nurses immersed in the Second World War, from seven years of research including interviews with real military nurses from the battle.

Janie Chang’s Dragon Springs Road (Jan. 10) brings readers to 1908 Shanghai, where two young girls find themselves facing murder, mystery and a crumbling dynasty and, speaking of dynasties, famed writer of the Renaissance Sarah Dunant transports readers to 16th century Italy with In the Name of the Family (March 7), where a young Niccolò Machiavelli rubs shoulders with Pope Alexander VI and the ruling Borgias – which helped inspire his masterwork The Prince – as the family’s enemies move to topple the clan. Talk about being railroaded.