Reading books on Québec is one of the best ways to begin planning a Québec City vacation, or vacation anywhere in Québec for that matter!
Whether you prefer well-research guidebooks, deep dives into the culture and history of Québec, or fictional stories set in Québec, we have some recommendations for you!
Here are some of our favourite books about Québec. Along with some French-language recommendations, and maps – for those of you who like to rock it old school style.
INTERESTING BOOKS ON QUÉBEC
Most Québec guidebooks will focus on Montréal and Québec City, with minor details on several destinations outside the city centres. While we wish these added areas were more in-depth (we are working on our own guides!), the guidebooks below are a good start for planning a Québec City Vacation.
Michelin Green Guide to Montréal and Québec City: Highlighting history and culture, the Michelin Green Guides are terrific for travellers who plan to road trip in Québec, or planning city stops with a focus on history and culture. [2020 edition]
Fodor’s Montréal and Québec City: Fodor’s is known for their local expert advice and offerings for all budgets. An ideal guide for just about any type of travel in Montréal, Québec City, and their surrounding areas.[2020 edition]
DK Eyewitness Travel Guide Canada: One of the BEST guidebooks on the market for in-depth information on history, culture, and more. [2019 edition]
HISTORY & CULTURE
The first well-known European explorer to visit what is now known as Québec was Jacques Cartier who began exploring the region in 1535. Seventy-three years later, the colony of New France was established by Samuel de Champlain.
Over the next four hundred years, the colony and surrounding regions have been embroiled in battles, large and small, scandals, triumphs, and disappointments. If you want to understand the culture of Québec, then reading up on its history is one of the best ways to start!
Champlain’s Dream by David Hackett Fischer: This tome digs into the life of Samuel de Champlain, the founder of New France (now Québec City).
Montcalm & Wolfe: Two Men Who Forever Changed the Course of Canadian History by Roch Carrier: Quite possibly one of the best novels on Generals Montcalm and Wolfe, and the battle of 1759. An excellent read!
Along a River: The First French-Canadian Women by Jan Noel: The first French-Canadian women were strong and fierce and absolutely fantastic. These women were vital to the colony’s survival, they helped shaped Québec into the city and province that it is today.
Hélène’s World: Hélène Desportes of Seventeenth-Century Quebec by Susan McNelley: There are not many books on the women of New France. Hélène Desportes was the first child (of French parents) in the colony of New France.
Québec Under Siege: French Eye-Witness Accounts from the Campaign of 1759: One of the few books interesting books on the 1759 siege of Québec, from a French perspective. Learn about the siege from the viewpoint of an artillery captain, nun, and more.
Québec has been capturing the imaginations of people around the world for hundreds of years, particularly Québec City (which was originally the colony of New France) and Montréal. Here are some of our favourite fiction books set in Québec City and Montréal.
Lost in September by Kathleen Winter: “Enter the world of Jimmy–a tall, red-haired, homeless thirty-something ex-soldier, battered by PTSD–as he camps out on the streets of modern-day Montréal, trying to remember and reclaim his youth. While his past is something of an enigma, even to himself, the young man bears a striking resemblance to General James Wolfe”. An absolutely captivating read!
Still Life by Louise Penny: This is the first book in the Inspector Gamache series, a murder mystery series set in locales such as Montréal, Québec City, and surrounding towns and villages. There are currently fifteen books in the series. Once you’ve read this one, continue with the following: A Fatal Grace / Dead Cold, The Cruelest Month, A Rule Against Murder / The Murder Stone, The Brutal Telling, Bury Your Dead (set in Québec City), A Trick of the Light, The Beautiful Mystery, How the Light Gets In, The Long Way Home, The Nature of The Beast, A Great Reckoning, Glass Houses, Kingdom of the Blind, and A Better Man.
Déjà Dead by Kathy Reichs: The Temperance Brennan books are set in Montreal and Charolette, and inspired the spinoff TV series, Bones. Engaging page-turners for anyone who is a murder mystery fanatic. The remaining books in the series are as follows: Death du Jour, Deadly Decisions, Fatal Voyage, Grave Secrets, Bare Bones, Monday Mourning, Cross Bones, Break No Bones, Bones to Ashes, Devil Bones, 206 Bones, Spider Bones, Flash and Bones, Bones are Forever, Bones of the Lost, Bones Never Lie, Speaking in Bones, and A Conspiracy of Bones.
The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz by Mordecai Richler: “Duddy — the third generation of a Jewish immigrant family in Montreal — is combative, amoral, scheming, a liar, and totally hilarious. From his street days tormenting teachers at the Jewish academy to his time hustling four jobs at once in a grand plan to “be somebody,” Duddy learns about living — and the lesson is an outrageous roller-coaster ride through the human comedy.”
Promised to the Crown (Daughters of New France) by Aimie K. Runyan: “They are known as the filles du roi, or “King’s Daughters”—young women who leave prosperous France for an uncertain future across the Atlantic. Their duty is to marry and bring forth a new generation of loyal citizens.” A charming book series. Her second book is titled Duty to the Crown.
When the French first landed in what we know now as Québec City they brought seeds and ingredients with them, however, that was not enough and they had to use meats, fish, grains, and herbs that were native to their new land as well. This marriage of ingredients, French and North American, helped to create what we know today as Québécois cuisine.
Made in Quebec by Julian Armstrong: An essential cookbook for those wishing to not only make Québécois cuisine at home but to learn a little bit about the history and culture of the food made in Québec.
The Farm to Table Phrasebook: Master the Culture, Language, and Savoir Faire of French Cuisine by Victoria Mas: French cuisine is at the heart of Québécois cuisine, so it only makes sense that one should utilize this handy little phrasebook. We always have this handy, in Québec and France.
Bienvenue au Québec by Christiane Thébaudin: This book is written in French, so you may need to use Google translate, but it is worth it. We recommend cipaille (sea pie) a traditional dish similar to shepherd’s pie, but better.
While it’s possible to find locals who speak a little English in places like Montréal, Québec City, Ile d’Orleans, Eastern Townships and other major areas, the main language of Québec is French. We’re not saying you need to learn French to visit Québec, but knowing some basic words and phrases shows locals you care.
Speak Québec! by Daniel J Kraus: Not a hardcore language guide, Speak Québec! is more a fun language guide with little insights in Québécois French – particularly its slang.