Skip to main content

Holiday book list: 13 great reads

Concordia students, staff, faculty and alumni share their favourites
December 13, 2022
By Julia Scandella

A collage of 10 book covers

It’s almost that time of year — when we get to slow down, find a comfortable couch with a heavy blanket, grab a good book and get reading.

Don’t know what to choose? We’ve got you covered. First World War fiction, personality assessments, a page-turning thriller, holiday recipes, eye-opening data and more — here’s what the Concordia community recommends. 

book over with two images of one young male and one young woman

Joana Joachim

Assistant professor, Black studies in art history, art education and social justice

Open Water
By Caleb Azumah Nelson
Viking Press, 2021

This short novel is an achingly beautiful romance between two young artists. It is in many ways about fear, vulnerability, trust, art and human connection. The prose is luscious. It plays with rhythm and repetition, creating a hazy poetic bubble for readers to get lost in as we follow the protagonist falling in love. It is both tender and raw — best enjoyed slowly, wrapped in a blanket with a mug of tea.

book cover showing 9 cups from empty to full of coffee

Stacey Cann, MA 12

PhD student, Department of Art Education

Relax, Dammit! A User's Guide to the Age of Anxiety
By Timothy Caulfield
Penguin Canada, 2020

This book takes us through the science (or lack thereof) behind our everyday actions and how we all make decisions based on misinformation. It presents the data in funny, everyday language and although highly informative, it is a nice break from scholarly journals and books.

book cover showing black-and-yellow illustrations of 9 pastries or baked goods

Jang Kwon, MCompSc 03

Manager, Alumni & Shared Systems, Digital Solutions, Instructional and Information Technology Services (IITS)

Bread Ahead
By Matthew Jones
Hardie Grant, 2021

Baking and the holidays are a deliciously natural pairing. This cookbook will transform any reader who tries these recipes into a top-notch baker regardless of their current skill level. The title may say "bread," but it also contains recipes for cakes, cookies, doughnuts, tarts and even dedicated sections on Christmas baking and making preserves. What took me a lifetime to learn is condensed into this 288-page treasury of baking fundamentals. It will pave your way to successfully producing irresistible bakery-grade delights out of the oven at home.

7 book covers each black with an abstract illustration at the bottom

Mohammad Mannan

Associate professor, Concordia Institute for Information Systems Engineering, Gina Cody School of Engineering and Computer Science

Foundation Series
By Isaac Asimov
Penguin Random House

This summer I read all seven of the Foundation Series books (I read some in translation when I was too young). This series can still force someone to see life from a perspective outside the blue planet, and it makes us aware of the human flaws that are so common in us all.

book cover showing illustration of a green hill with river running down. The top of the river blends into a blue bird.

Anna Barrafato

Accessibility change lead, Equity Office

Valley of the Birdtail: An Indian Reserve, a White Town, and the Road to Reconciliation
By Andrew Stobo Sniderman and Douglas Sanderson
HarperCollins, 2022

This is the story of two communities, the town of Rossburn and the Waywayseecappo First Nation. After attending the book signing and hearing the authors speak about their writing journey, I purchased the book and now highly recommend others to do the same.

red book cover showing pint of beer on top of a hockey puck

Selvadurai Dayanandan

Professor and department chair, Biology

Back to Beer… and Hockey: The Story of Eric Molson
Also available in French
By Helen Antoniou
McGill-Queens University Press, 2018

This is a biography of Eric Molson, a great philanthropist, entrepreneur and former chancellor of Concordia. It’s written by his daughter-in-law, Helen Antoniou, the chair of the university Board of Governors. The beautifully written book reads like a novel yet provides detailed insights into the intricacies of corporate leadership through boardroom politics. It is appealing to those curious about the iconic Molson family of Montreal, with a legendary history spanning more than two centuries, as well as to emerging leaders longing for mentorship advice to hone their skills.

Book cover showing blonde woman in old-fashioned dress and yellow rubber gloves holding a cooked turkey

Victoria Stanton, BFA 95, Cert 96

PhD student, Art Education

I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence
By Amy Sedaris
Grand Central Publishing, 2008

New York City performance artist, writer, actor and all-around weirdo Amy Sedaris — “the funniest of the Sedaris clan,” claims her brother David — has crafted an untoward (and hilarious) guide to “hospitality under the influence.” I Like You, a coffee table book about being social, reads best while being read with others. It’s a cringe/gasp/grimace and laugh-out-loud perfect holiday activity. (It's also fun to curl up and read alone — which I am currently doing, again).

book cover showing male and female icons. The female icons are lighter and harder to see.

Kathleen Boies

Associate Dean, Research and Research Programs
Concordia University Research Chair in Leadership Development

Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men
By Caroline Criado Perez
Abrams Press, 2021

The author presents well-documented instances of how data used, for example, to design objects, make medical diagnostics or recommend medical treatments are overwhelmingly based on male characteristics and needs. Chapters are organized into big “life buckets”: daily life, workplace design, medical, public life. This is a real eye opener if anyone is interested in concrete examples of how systemic discrimination takes shape.

book cover showing dark stormy sky and rain

Geoffrey Dover

Associate professor, Department of Health, Kinesiology and Applied Physiology

The Guest List
By Lucy Foley
William Morrow, 2020

This book was written well. It did not take too long to get into it and once I did it was a real page turner for me.

book cover showing soldiers on the ground on a field, with one standing and using binoculars

Anton Jacobs-Webb

Undergraduate student, mechanical engineering

All Quiet on the Western Front
By Erich Maria Remarque (translated by Arthur Wesley Wheen)
Ballantine Books, 1987

This book is likely familiar to many. Although I read it a while ago now, for me it conjures up a snowy time of year. Erich Maria Remarque, a German veteran from World War I, writes from the perspective of a young soldier. He shares the impacts the gruesome war had on these young soldiers’ lives without romanticizing the conflict. This novel is a quick read, yet it is deeply moving and its vivid imagery has stuck with me.

book cover with illustration of human that blends into DNA strip

Cherine Zananiri

Director of experiential learning and cooperative education

Personality DNA: Discover Your True Personality
By Larry M. Cash and Carlos Davidovich
BookBaby, 2022

I recommend this book for anyone interested in self-assessments. It is easy to read, evidence-based and would help teams better understand how to work together based on their inherent personality. It also provides an insight on career perspectives based on the individual personality types.

Book cover that incorporates black-and-white image of 1950s housewife with dark lipstick with index finger to lip

Maxine Iannuccilli, BA 18

PhD student, Department of Psychology

Inferior: How Science Got Women Wrong – and the New Research That’s Rewriting the Story
By Angela Saini
Beacon Press, 2018

A compelling work by Angela Saini that highlights how academia has historically constructed the false narrative that women are the inferior gender. Bonus read: I also strongly recommend the author’s similar approach to race in Superior: The Return of Race Science. These are two must-reads, especially if you are pursuing a career in any scientific field.

Book cover showing man with apron holding butcher's knife while speaking

Daniel Therrien

Associate vice-president of integrated planning

White Heat
By Marco Pierre White
Octopus Books, 2009

I came across one reading that I found highly interesting for anyone who is passionate about cooking. It is not new, but it is a book on the life of Marco Pierre White, who earned his place in the British culinary history as much for his strong temperament as for his unique talent as a chef. White Heat talks about his life in becoming a chef; it’s very easy reading, great pictures and on top of it, there are recipes!

Do you have a favourite book you want your fellow Concordians to read? Share it via Twitter or Facebook. Be sure to add @concordia and #CUReads.


Back to top

© Concordia University