Canadian bookworms are generally a shy bunch. We don’t get out much because we’re so busy reading and drinking tea (especially in the winter months) and our book awards are not as numerous as the Americans, so rarely do we get a chance to have national discussions about a book’s merit. That’s why the Canada Reads competition is so important to us; it is literally one of the only times you will see us Canucks get feisty over our local literature. This year, the contenders are as follows:

  1. Chantal Kreviazuk defends The Right to Be Cold by
    Sheila Watt-Cloutier
  2. Humble The Poet defends Fifteen Dogs by André Alexis
  3. Tamara Taylor defends Company Town by Madeline Ashby
  4. Candy Palmater defends The Break by Katherena Vermette
  5. Jody Mitic defends Nostalgia by M.G. Vassanji

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My thoughts on the nominees are as follows:

  1. I haven’t read this book, but I would like to. I’m ‘meh’ about Chantal K in general, but I’ve heard amazing things about Sheila Watt-Cloutier and this book about global warming. What’s fun about this book is that it’s going to introduce the environmental activism aspect into the discussions, which could get heated (put intended!).
  2. On one hand, this book doesn’t need any more attention, it has won two major book prizes already, so many have already heard of/read it. But, it’s published by a small press (Coach House Books) so it’s hard to not want to cheer this book on too. Alas, I have not read this one either.
  3. Wowza, this is a random pick. I was shocked to see this on the list, mainly becomes it seems kind of science-fictiony (not that there is anything wrong with that!) but you don’t usually see genre novels in this competition. No shock here that I haven’t read this either-and it doesn’t really interest me; unless it wins! I think this will be an uphill battle for its defender however, seeing as the winning title is being voted as ‘the one book Canadians need now’.
  4. This is the only book that I’ve read on this list, but I absolutely loved it (you can find my review here). I think this novel most answers the question ‘what Canadians need now’ because it addresses the systemic issues that First Nations people are facing. It’s brutal, but incredibly beautiful. And, I love Candy P, she’s got a voice like melted butter and she’s clearly prepared for this competition. If you watch the video of them discussing their books on Q, you will see she’s got one helluva game face on. Go Candy!
  5. Again, haven’t read this book (what kind of a book reviewer am I?), but he’s won a Giller Prize in the past, so he can’t be terrible. Jody Mitic has written a book himself (a memoir), which is important to note because I think he’s the only defender on the panel who is also an author (feel free to correct me in the comments if I’m wrong). Will this give him a bit of an edge? Perhaps. I have his book on my shelf at the moment, thanks to my mother-in-law (sorry I haven’t read it yet!), but depending on how this competition goes, I may have to pick it up sooner rather than later.

So there you have it, a quick rundown of the book-related excitement about to descend on us from March 27-April 3. Rest assured I’ll be listening to it from the comfort of my daughter’s playroom. Obviously, she will be forced to listen as well.

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