Despite what you may have heard, books are not dead. At least if they are, no one has told BC's book publishers, who have turned out another bumper crop this year.
To help you with that certain someone on your seasonal gift list, here are ten of my favourite recent BC reads, listed in no particular order.
The Chuck Davis History of Metropolitan Vancouver (Harbour). Did you know that there was a mayor of Coquitlam named Jimmy Christmas? Just the kind of factoid Chuck Davis loved and included in this huge volume, compiled by friends and admirers after Chuck's death based on years of his accumulated research.
The Drive (The Drive Press). Local historian Jak King as written a detailed and entertaining history of Vancouver's hippest neighbourhood, Commercial Drive, between 1935 and 1956.
Vancouver Noir (Anvil Press). A terrific history, by John Belshaw and Diane Purvey, of the seamy side of the city in the age before Kodak invented colour, 1930-1960. Lots of gunplay, mobsters and leggy broads, all displayed in glossy black and white.
The Sacred Headwaters (Greystone Books). Wade Davis recounts the struggle to preserve three of BC's northern rivers from destructive development.
Who Killed Janet Smith? (Anvil Press). An unsolved murder mystery from the 1920s morphs into one of the best social histories of Vancouver ever written. A re-issued classic by Ed Starkins.
Something Fierce (Douglas & McIntyre). Local playwright and actress Carmen Aguirre describes her life in the Chilean resistance during the Pinochet regime.
Whaling People of the West Coast (Royal BC Museum). BC's first whale hunters were the First Nations of the west coast of Vancouver Island. Eugene Arima and Alan Hoover tell their story in this handsomely illustrated volume.
Fred Herzog: Photographs (Douglas & McIntyre). Seems like Vancouver's history is now in the hands of its photographers. A collection of lush streetscapes from the 1950s and 1960s from the master of kodachrome.
Stan Douglas: Abbott & Cordova, 7 August 1971 (Arsenal Pulp Press). More photography. Billed as "an art book on the politics of urban conflict", it focusses on Douglas's stunning photo mural in the Woodward's complex, a depiction of the infamous Gastown Riot.
Texada Tapestry (Harbour). A long-awaited history of Texada Island, one of the largest yet least known of the Gulf Islands. By Heather Harbord.