books, reading

Keepin' It Real: Civilians Read

KIRBC Civilians Reads panelists

Canada Reads is a well-known CBC program. Perhaps not quite so well-known yet is the Canada Reads spinoff Civilians Read, dreamed up and hosted by an excellent booklovers’ blog called Keepin’ it Real Book Club (KIRBC). This time around (they’ve done it before), five panelists, each pulled from the publishing trade, battle it out over the same five books Canada Reads will begin debating on March 8 on CBC Radio ONE: Fall on Your Knees by Ann-Marie MacDonald, The Jade Peony by Wayson Choy, Nikolski by Nicolas Dickner, Generation X by Douglas Coupland, and Good to a Fault by Marina Endicott. I’m excited about this list of works, mainly because so far I’ve already read 3 of the 5.

As I type this post, I’m listening to a podcast by the KIRBC gang that is exciting because I feel as though I’ve rediscovered a lost piece of my life I’ve long missed. It’s been eons, about ten years or so, since I’ve had any sustained stimulating discussion about Canadian literature among other booklovers, and not only stimulating but intelligent—which you generally do not find in your local bookstore or library club. Wait—let me rephrase that lest I offend anyone: at least, I haven’t found that in the book clubs I’ve joined…and left. What I’m listening to now is the kind of discussion I want to hear in Biblio. It’s very good, well done, but not too serious—a perfect balance. Laughter abounds, and you can really hear the energy in the room. It makes me jealous, makes me wish I was there, but I feel woefully unprepared for such things now, being so out of practice.

Have a listen to the KIRBC podcast (at about 6 minutes in, I think, there’s a little blank air but keep listening, it will catch up) and see what you think. Their discussion has me pondering about not only who might win (I’m rooting for Nikolski, but the Jade Peony is a fave as well), and how best to defend a novel, but about how we might perpetuate this kind of appreciation for literature—particularly Canadian, which to my mind merits our support—by constantly changing the way we appreciate it, by how we voice that appreciation, and by keeping our expression of it interesting, unique, imaginative, exciting, and most of all tempting.

I’ve been thinking about this for Biblio, so that I don’t have a lame book club and so that I can watch those deserving books we discuss and promote fly out our wooden doors, beautifully wrapped in paper and twine, ready to be devoured with a cup of tea.

But I think the KIRBC has a fine head start (especially on unique: check out their YouTube pre-game confessionals in the bathroom, the only room with a closed door!). Stay tuned for more each day as they continue their debate!

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7 Comments to “Keepin' It Real: Civilians Read”

  1. JK

    Thanks for the wonderful write-up, Steph! I’m so glad you’re enjoying the podcasts and the KIRBC in general. Hopefully the next 4 episodes will be just as enjoyable. Though one thing, this is actually our first CR podcast series. We’re noobs, so to speak, though certainly with a great response like this one, we might do it again! (Maybe even with books of our own selection)

  2. JK: You’re welcome. And I hope you do it again with your own books! I would look forward to that. It would be refreshing, I think, because more than ever it would expose fellow panelists and readers to books they might not otherwise try.

  3. JK

    I also think if we did it with our own books people would be even more passionate and emotionally invested, which is likely to make for better arguments (or at least better theatrics!)

    1. I’m finding that listening to the podcasts, as people express a preference for the book they’re not defending. It’s almost sad! I totally loved Nikolski, and I want more from the debate in that case! :)

      1. Natalie

        But isn’t it great that we all found things to like about each other’s selections? I think it enriched the discussion, made it more like, well, a discussion than a series of grandstanding polemics.

  4. Yes, I agree! If everyone had only liked their own book and not appreciated the goodness of the others, that would have made the debate more like watching Canadian politics. And ugh to that!


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