Gearing up for Canada Reads

In case you don’t already know and are interested, CBC’s 2010 Canada Reads program will take place March 8–12. The program will air on CBC Radio One at 10:30 and 7:30 pm. Are you ready? Have you read any of the books yet?

If you don’t know what Canada Reads is, here’s CBC’s own description:

Canada Reads celebrates five Canadian books for three months online, at public events and on air. It all leads up to a week-long show hosted by Jian Ghomeshi.

In this annual title fight, five celebrity panelists defend their favourite work of Canadian fiction. One by one, books are voted off the list, until one panelist triumphs with the book for Canada to read this year.

This year’s books and their defenders are:

I’ve read (and quite enjoyed) all but Generation X (even though I’ve read quite a few of Coupland’s novels and liked them) and Good to a Fault. I think I might, if I can, buy the two and read them before the Canada Reads program starts so I can participate in my own way. I love knowing the books they’re going to be discussing, and I can say right now, it’s going to be a hard choice.

On the other hand, perhaps I’ll wait to hear the debates. When I bought Lullabies for Little Criminals when it was the 2007 CR winner (I missed the debates that year), I was…disappointed. It took me a while to decide how I felt about it, but in the end, I ended up donating the book to the library. It just wasn’t for me. (Caution: this link leads to a post that contains some profanity. But then, so did the book.)

If I had to pick the winner of the ones I have read here, I’d say The Jade Peony, even though Nikolski really blew me away only recently. Wayson Choy’s writing is just so powerful and poetic, his characterization so real and concrete. He also treated the serious and important subject matter with humour, which is something I admire of Thomas King as well. The subject matter of The Jade Peony, from what I remember (it’s been years since I read the book and led a Chapters book club on it), gave voice to what must have been the experience of many Chinese immigrants in BC. Also, the format of the novel, three perspectives, worked very well to portray how adapting to immigrant life affects each in a different way.

Not to discount the ones I haven’t yet read, of course, but this book’s won quite a few awards and accumulated very high praise. Its subject matter is part of Canadian history and identity. It would be no surprise to me if it was the Canada Reads winner, too. Still, not one of these contests has been easy. Looking back to previous shows, the lineups have been impressive, each book a significant contribution to Canadian literature. In that case, perhaps it’s anybody’s guess, until we actually hear the show.

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  1. Ahem. You gave Lullabies for Little Criminals to me, thank you very much. I didn’t think it was terribly awful, I really liked how it started but then it got gradually worse. Initially I thought it was going to be a sort of Miriam Toews sort of book, but then discovered it was more depressing than humourous. In fact, I don’t really remember the book much, which tells you something, I guess. I just remember my reaction to it.
    Anyway, the book’s on my self, and I’ve been thinking of getting rid of it, since my selves are starting to sag, and it’s time to clean out….

  2. Haha! I forgot! I thought I donated it. I did donate a few.

    Well, I mean, probably I figured you like free books too and living in the city makes you a bit more used to the grittiness, you know. So I figured you might in fact like it. Funny to know not so much; we’re more similar than I realized!

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