Kick off the new year with some fresh reads as recommended by your friends at the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness (COH). Below is a collection of books that run the gamut from neuroscience and information organization to a deep dive into the Indigenous reconciliation process in Canada. Give them a read this winter!

1. The Organized Mind, Daniel Levitin

“We all lead busy lives, and it’s easy to become resigned to the idea that we can’t accomplish all that we wish we could. Or worse, we may secretly feel that we lack the willpower to change, that we’re lazy, or we have a procrastination problem. This book by McGill neuroscientist, Daniel Levitin, helped me see how our brains have evolved for optimum efficiency, but this doesn’t always work best in modern society. If this sounds familiar, I highly recommend this book. It’s a great read full of practical tips and hacks for overcoming mental fatigue and harnessing the power of habits.” - Karen Bosworth

Staff Bio: Karen is the Instructional Design & Content Developer with the COH's Homelessness Learning Hub (HLH). She is currently designing new courses for the HLH to support professional development within the sector.

2. From Where I Stand, Jody Wilson Raybould

“This book is a compilation of speeches that Jody Wilson-Raybould shared over the span of 10 years during her time as BC Regional Chief and Minister of Justice and Attorney General. This book appealed to me as someone who reflects on my roles and responsibilities in Reconciliation with Indigenous communities. Wilson-Raybould’s weaves between the legacies and impacts of Canada’s colonial and racist policies and practices and poses meaningful steps to be taken towards Reconciliation. She speaks about the rebuilding of Indigenous nations in a postcolonial world through making real changes and transformation, such as self-determination and sovereignty and moving past recognizing rights to actually implementing them. Speech-by-speech Wilson-Raybould provides compelling and thoughtful positions on a range of topics and concerns impacting Indigenous communities which oriented me to thinking about actions that I could take while ensuring that I do the right thing in the right way.” Erika Morton

Staff Bio: Erika is a Systems Planning Officer at the COH. She currently supports the work of the Systems Planning Collective and is leading the efforts to launch a new Duty to Assist project in Hamilton.

3. The Femicide Machine, Sergio Gonzalez Rodriguez

“Rodriguez documents how the war on drugs, the Mexico-US relationship and government corruption have lead to Mexican families living in terror, as they fear whether the women in their lives will wind up murdered the very next day. Rodriguez dismantles the media's narratives of the victims and their families, while highlighting the legal impunity of rape and murder of women and little girls. All these various systems lead to the creation of the "Femicide Machine" in Ciudad Juárez, which punishes and kills Juárez most impoverished citizens. The "Femicide Machine" is an excellent analysis on how the role of poverty and multiple, and seemingly distant, systems can hurt the most vulnerable.” - Aranie Vijayaratnam

Staff Bio: Aranie is a Data Coordinator for the COH and A Way Home Canada's Making the Shift Youth Homelessness Demonstration Lab Project (MtS DEMS). She oversees the data collection and analysis for the project and supports the senior researchers with their work.

4. Policing Black Lives: State Violence in Canada From Slavery to The Present, Robyn Maynard

“In Policing Black Lives, Robyn Maynard truthfully discusses Anti-Black racism within a Canadian context, explaining our governments involvement in issues relating to the Canadian and international Black communities in a manner that I've never read before. It brings to light some of our past and more recent darkest actions toward the Black community and links it to current events. Some of the actions described furthered the recognition that the Canadian narrative of slavery is entrenched in 'othering', misinformation and denial. Some content left me speechless and ashamed, but more informed as I reflect on the messages repeatedly reported by the Black community.” - Terry Smith

Staff Bio: Terry is a MSW practicum student who supports Hub Solutions and Making the Shift Youth Homelessness Demonstration Lab.

5. Educated, Tara Westover

“Educated is about Tara Westover’s journey out of her Mormon survivalist home to getting her PhD in history at Cambridge University. As a child, Tara did not have a birth certificate, did not attend school, and spent most of her days finding and sorting scrap metal for her father—gruelling physical work that not only threatened her life but caused numerous injuries for her and her siblings. Tara’s story of transformation and self-creation is told in a way that is both accessible and captivating, and her reflective, philosophical style allows readers to see their own life stories through hers. I recommend this book to everyone because it is about the process of separating, defining, and understanding oneself in relation to the unique circumstances of one’s upbringing. But it is especially relevant to those who are interested in the topics of poverty, families, rural communities, mental health, relationships, and education.” - Meryl Borato

Staff Bio: Meryl is a Postdoctoral Fellow for the MtS DEMS project. Meryl works with MtS DEMS community partners to conduct research and develop resources for MtS DEMS’ three demonstration projects: Housing First for Youth, Family and Natural Supports, and Youth Reconnect.