Book recommendations by Charlotte Stein, owner of Parry Sound Books

Edited by Janet Irving, Education Committee.

There is nothing – absolutely nothing – like reading a book on a summer’s day on Georgian Bay! This summer we suggest some books that are literally set on the Bay – or feel so much so that we just had to include them.

2023 Recomendations

NATURE PAINTING IN WATERCOLOR by Kristine A Lombardi will help you learn to create florals, trees, forest animals, and much more in watercolour. Discover the essential tools and materials, painting techniques, and tips for finding inspiration outdoors. Easy to follow instructions – just what you need to begin, or continue, to paint the world around us – a perfect cottage pastime!

Georgian Bay

Edited by Nick Eyles, UPDATED

Georgian Bay is the most extensive freshwater archipelago in the world. An iconic waterscape with an ecosystem unique in North America. It is the home to a diverse range of plants, fish and other animals including rare reptiles and birds, and sensitive wetlands. This book brings together leading geologists, ecologists, artists, and archaeologists to tell the dramatic story of Georgian Bay from its earliest beginnings. Essential cottage reading!

BEYOND THAT, THE SEA by Laura Spence-Ash is a novel that takes place in England and the United States. What makes it perfect for those of us who spend time on Georgian Bay is that the place of most importance in the story is an island off the coast of Maine. This is where Bea Thompson spends the years of the Second World War while evacuated from her home in London. A beautifully written and absorbing novel, full of grace and heartache, forgiveness and understanding, loss and love.

The Lodge that Beaver Built

Each summer I like to introduce a few new picture books for young children that reflect what they see around them in the natural world. The Lodge That Beaver Built, written by Randi Sonenshine, and illustrated by Anne Hunter, is informative and fun. Lively pictures of busy and resourceful beavers are the perfect accompaniment to this story about the lives of beavers and the hard work that beaver families do to make their homes. 


by Sarah Milroy is a spectacular new book focusing on Thomson’s oil sketches. This work was done on location as Thomson painted in Algonquin Park and among the lakes and woodlands of Northern Ontario – and along the shores of Georgian Bay in the summer of 1914. Scenes that are magnificently observed and brilliantly presented are still fresh more than a century later.

Woman, Watching by Merilyn Simonds is a remarkable biography of Louise de Kiriline Lawrence, a Swedish aristocrat who survived the Russian Revolution to become an internationally recognized ornithologist. Lawrence lived most of her life in Northern Ontario. Merilyn Simonds, infused with her own lifelong love of birds, presents a vivid portrait of a fascinating woman who lived an extraordinary life.

2022 Recomendations

LOON LESSONS – Uncommon Encounters with the Great Northern Diver by James D Paruk provides evolutionary and ecological knowledge about the Common Loon and considers every aspect of the loon, from its plumage and anatomy to its breeding, migration, and water strategies.

For the little people at the cottage BABY LOON by Aubrey Lang and Wayne Lynch provides simple informative stories about the first months in the life of a loon family, with great photographs.

THIS IS THE BOAT THAT BEN BUILT is written by Jen Lynn and beautifully illustrated by Maggie Zeng. We follow a boy exploring in his little boat, meeting a black bear swimming, a wobbly moose, a grinning goose, a proper and prim heron, and other residents of the water. Complete with factual information about the eco-system and each creature.

THE LAMPLIGHTERS by Emma Stonex may take place on an island off the far west of England but it is easy to imagine placing this lighthouse on Georgian Bay a century ago. Inspired by a haunting true story, this is an atmospheric and suspenseful novel about the mysterious disappearance of three lighthouse keepers from a remote tower, and the wives who were left behind. A riveting story of isolation and obsession, reality and illusion.

THE END OF THE POINT by Elizabeth Graver is a wonderful multi-generational novel about a close-knit family and the summer home that connects them all. The family grapples with the changes that come with time, in a place they want to keep as it has been for generations.

THE WRIGHT SISTER by Patty Dann is a novel that tells the story of Katharine Wright, sister to the famous aviators Orville and Wilbur Wright who in 1903 became the pioneers of aviation. It also tells of their connection to Georgian Bay and the importance of the island they owned, not only to Orville Wright, but also to his sister.

THE LITTLE BOOK OF WOODLAND BIRD SONGS brings the sounds of the forest to life. This “press the button for sound” book helps you to recognize several of the birds commonly found in this area. A fun way to spend time with the birds, and the kids.

FOLDING FIELD GUIDES are a great way to identify all that is alive in the natural world around us. Easy to pack in a pocket, and waterproof for paddling. Woodpeckers of North America, Great Lakes Birds, Ontario Fishes, Sandhill Crane Display are only a few of dozens. These handy dandy naturalist guides are perfect for all ages!

2021 Recomendations

Last Night in Twisted River by John Irving,
has Georgian Bay and a writing shack on an island in Pointe au Baril at its heart. The winter scenes describe the isolation and the fury of a storm in a place unlike any other. One of his best, and all our own!

The Beginner’s Guide to Growing Great Vegetables by Lorene Edwards Forkner
provides everything you need to know to grow beautiful, healthy, delicious veggies and herbs. Not only useful in the growing season but all year round as you plan – and dream – about the coming summer and all that you can grow for yourself!definitive book on the history, the culture, the natural history and ecology of the Bay. Richly illustrated, with each chapter written by an expert in their field. 

Safe From the Sea by Peter Geye
 is not set on Georgian Bay but it feels like it is! This is the story of the final illness of a father, and his estranged son who returns to do his duty. The son discovers the truth of his father’s experience as the survivor of a tragic wreck of a Great Lakes ore boat. Beautifully written and moving.

The Orenda is Joseph Boyden’s Georgian Bay novel, about which he said, “It was difficult to capture the beauty of the place … this is where my heart is”. This novel takes place in the 1600s, on the land along the shoreline between Midland and the French River – the Sweet Water Sea that was the route of the native people, and the early explorers and settlers who came after.

100 Plants to Feed the Monarch from the Xerces Society, a book that encourages creating healthy and sustainable habitats. We all watch for the Monarch butterfly migration through the islands, and this is an excellent book about the many plants we can grow that will encourage you to restore the habitat by planting the native wildflowers, shrubs and trees that monarchs depend on.

Big Water by Andrea Curtis is a novel for teens by a writer who knows the Bay well. She tells the story of the wreck of the steamship Asia from the perspective of the two teenage passengers who were the sole survivors of this shipwreck.

Midnight Sweatlodge

Indigenous author, Waubgeshig (Waub) Rice of the Wasauksing First Nation, who began writing while still in high school, studied Journalism at Ryerson, then worked for the CBC. He now divides his time between Sudbury and Wasauksing. His first short story collection, Midnight Sweatlodge, was inspired by his experiences growing up in an Anishinaabe community.


Waub Rice knows well the importance of storytelling, “a crucial practice that has kept our culture alive in our communities”. Midnight Sweatlodge was followed by his debut novel Legacy, a story of tragedy and family legacy, at once heart – breaking and uplifting. 

Moon of the Crusted Snow

His second novel, Moon of the Crusted Snow, is set somewhere in the north, in an Anishinaabe community struggling without electricity and without contact with the rest of the world. In a place where some know how to live off the land and have the resilience to survive, others do not. This post-apocalyptic novel is both chilling and terrifying, and hopeful.

A Perfect Likeness, two novellas by the late Richard Wagamese, are “poignant stories about young Indigenous people navigating their way through urban life while staying true to their roots.” Waubgeshig Rice writes in his forward to A Perfect Likeness about the influence of this iconic writer, “He’s gone now, but lives on through his work and the spirit of understanding he helped foster”.

Camp Cooking in the Wild is a guide to eating well in the great outdoors by Black Feather Wilderness Adventures. Operating from the Parry Sound area for decades, Wendy Grater has vast experience and some absolutely delicious recipes and information about how you can successfully plan and prepare meals for camping trips of all kinds.