Tag Archives: books set in quebec

What I’m Reading – My Canadian Edition Part I


I’ve been on a kick to read a bunch of books that take place in Québec before our trip there this summer! Can you believe that of all the places in the world, I have never been to Canada?

We chose Québec for our annual international trip this year. Why Québec when we could just drive up to Winnepeg? I wanted the feeling of something more international. And I miss France. I really miss France. Québec is just a little more affordable right now.



Even if you don’t love a book, or don’t even like it… You can always learn something from it. If anything, you might learn that you don’t like books written in a certain style.

Even from Duddy Kravitz, which I pushed my way through because I felt I had to, I learned that hot dogs and smoked meat were a major part of the culture in Montreal in the 50s. And then I discovered they are both popular now, too!

From Ru, I got a glimpse of what it feels like to be a refugee, as well as a bit more knowledge of the Vietnamese culture – like soup for breakfast!


Still Life

Still Life by Louis Penny (Fiction)

From Still Life I learned that murder mysteries aren’t always my thing; but I did like the fact that this was set in a fictional town in Québec! I learned that pastries are as much a part of Québécois culture as they are French – why else would the author talk about them so much?! And that I really should get my hands on some cool Québécois pottery while I’m there. Now that I’m thinking about it, it was a cooler book than I thought it would be. But there were loose ends with one of the characters that made me wonder about her importance in the book. Unless she returns in future Chief Inspector Gamache novels? {BTW – I found out about this book on TripFiction!}


Fifteen Dogs by André Alexis (Fiction)

Unlike Still Life and Ru, most of the Canadian books I’ve been recommended haven’t been available at my library. Instead, I got many at my trusty ThriftBooks. But I found Fifteen Dogs and had it sent cheaply from the UK of all places!

I’m not even sure how I found this book. It’s actually set in Toronto, not Québec; but I was excited to read more about dogs! Little did I know how much death this book would contain. Not the kind of sad death of a beloved pet, but of brutal death that just angered me. The concept is an interesting one: What would life be like for dogs if they had the intelligence that humans do?

All of the Goodreads reviews intrigued me that I just had to read this book. This is the one I agree with the most: “This book is both a dog lover’s dream come true- and their worst nightmare.”

I want to tell you that I hated it. I really hated how things played out… but I’m still glad I read it. The back cover listing the dogs was very handy, because I had a hard time keeping track of them all!


sacre blues

Sacré Blues by Taras Grescoe (Non-Fiction)

This book came highly recommended if I wanted to learn a bit more about the Québécois. I almost dreaded reading it, thinking it would read more like a textbook. But it didn’t! {Well, not until toward the end.} I got a true glimpse of the people and way of life. However, this book was written in 2000, a time when cell phones weren’t quite popular yet. So I’m sure a few things were outdated.

A few things I learned…

We will be there for Canada Day, but it is also Moving Day in Québec! It’s when most leases end because it was once mandated that way. Now it’s tradition. This will be interesting to see… I also now understand the importance of the that classic work by Mordecai Richler.


The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up:
The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing
by Marie Kondō



Of course, this book has nothing to do with Canada, but it became available on my library wait list. Plus it was perfect to read right before the weekend Rob was going to be out of town so that I could do some purging of my closet.

I probably did not have to read this book because I read so many reviews that I really got the gist. Reading the book actually made me realize how neurotic and obsessive the author was as a child! I read many {hysterical} reviews of this book on GoodReads that made me laugh. She did seem kind of kooky talking to her socks and such. And I got really sick of the words “tidy” and “spark joy” almost all too quickly.

But all silliness aside, I tried to take that talk with a grain of salt because:

  1. At least someone who has been obsessive with organizing and “tidying” since the age of 5 can put such a preoccupation to good use – helping others.
  2. This book is translated from Japanese, so that culture and language needs to be taken into consideration.
  3. While determining if your belongings “Spark Joy” seem to the main theme of the book, I don’t really find joy in things like dental floss, etc. Instead, I asked myself if the object was something I loved, made me happy or the outcome of using that object made me feel more comfortable. I did not keep clothes that I may have liked at one time, but that don’t fit or feel good anymore.
  4. While talking to your socks to thank them for all of their hard work during the day sounds crazy, I’ve interpreted it to be more of having an attitude of gratitude for your belongings. Most people aren’t grateful for socks, but feel entitled to them. It’s time we have gratitude for the little things in life. Also, when getting rid of something, it’s also a good idea to feel gratitude for the purpose it had while you had it or maybe what it is teaching you by getting rid of it.

In any case, this book is more about what you can get out of it, rather than how it can be critiqued. I really and truly believed that I didn’t have many clothes compared to most people. But once I took all of my clothes out of drawers, closets and any nook or cranny they might be, I had piles on both our king-sized bed and the queen-sized one in the guest room. I was astonished. {And I meant to take a photo. Oops.}

It took me one day to sort, but in the end I had:

5 trash bags of clothing to donate and 1 bag to throw away.

That’s the most I’ve ever done. Pretty amazing for someone who “doesn’t have many clothes”, no? I would say that this book served it’s purpose. And now I only {well, mostly!} have things I love in my closet. I can’t tell you how good that feels.


I have five more books in queue on Québec. I’m not sure if I’ll have them all read before we go, so I may have one or two left to take with me! I am currently reading this book, which was just published in 2014.

sat nite girl

So far, I absolutely loving it! It’s set in the Montreal in the 1990s. I’ll tell me you more in my next edition of Canadian books!

Do you read about a place before you travel?

Do you like travelogues?

If so, what’s been your favorite?