"The Morning After: The 1995 Quebec Referendum and the Day That Almost Was" (Knopf Canada), written by newspaper columnist Chantal Hebert with Jean Lapierre, looks at what might have happened had the "yes" side won.
"One Hour In Paris" (Freehand Books), by Guelph University professor Karyn L. Freedman, examines rape and sexual violence through the prism of the author's experience.
James Raffan's "Circling the Midnight Sun: Culture and Change in the Invisible Arctic" (Harper Collins) is a study of those most affected by climate change.
Rounding out the list is Alison Pick's exploration of religion "Between Gods: A Memoir" (Doubleday Canada).
The short list was selected by a jury made up of Globe and Mail arts editor Jared Bland, journalist John Fraser and Anne Giardini, who is a writer and the Chancellor of Simon Fraser University.
The winner will be announced in February.