#CanadaReads | Day 1 Recap

Canada Reads Day 1

Screen capture from CBC Books/Canada Reads

Happy Monday, friends! I know that I normally post Mondays Musings at the start of the week, but since Canada Reads has started, I thought I’d take a break and write a Canada Reads recap instead. I hope you’ll stick around and share your thoughts with me as well!

If you want to watch the broadcast before reading this post, click here. That being said, I promise to not give away who gets eliminated!

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It’s the Eve of #CanadaReads!

2016 CBC Canada Reads Shortlist

When I first started this blog, one of the big things that I wanted to accomplish was to foster a love for Canadian Literature, or CanLit. For a long time, I had discounted CanLit because I had a really outdated idea that it was boring. I don’t even know where I got that thought from! Well, I’m so glad that I have discovered otherwise because there are some truly fantastic Canadian books out there. Not only that — there are also so many ways to celebrate CanLit, including Canada Reads which starts tomorrow!

If you’re unfamiliar with Canada Reads, it’s basically a battle of the books type competition featuring 5 panel members who each defend a book that they believe best fits the year’s theme. This year’s theme is “starting over.” The four-day debate can be watched live online, on TV, or on the radio. Click here for more information!

Like most years, I challenged myself to read all 5 contending books and I was so so close to completing it this year. I ended up reading 4 of the 5 books in full, and unfortunately put down the last book after reading a few chapters because I wasn’t quite feeling it. That being said, here’s my breakdown of the five books:

Birdie by Tracey Lindberg (Defended by Bruce Poon Tip)
First line: “Maggie sits in the old tavern, amongst friends.”
My thoughts: Birdie is a complicated one for me, because I understand its significance but I spent half of the book not quite getting what was happening. It wasn’t until I got to see things from the perspective of other characters that I really truly “got” what was happening. While I think that’s more a shortcoming on my part, it did affect how I felt about it. That being said, I’m so excited to hear Bruce Poon Tip defend Birdie, as I think it will help me understand and appreciate the novel more.

Bone and Bread by Saleema Nawaz (Defended by Farah Mohamed)
First line: “If you listen, you can almost hear the sound of my son’s heart breaking.”
My thoughts: I loved Bone and Bread. I’m a sucker for family stories — especially if it has to do with sisters — and Bone and Bread was gut-wrenching and beautifully written. This is a book with characters that you’ll want to root for and care for, and I can’t wait to watch Farah Mohamed defend it in the debates.

The Illegal by Lawrence Hill (Defended by Clara Hughes)
First line: “Go home.”
My thoughts: Surprisingly, this was my first time reading Lawrence Hill. I was blown away by the complexity of the book, given how readable it is. Keita Ali has not had an easy life and he is fascinating to read about (and cheer on), but what ultimately impressed me the most about this book was how much I got sucked into each character’s story arc. Now that’s great characterization.

Minister Without Portfolio by Michael Winter (Defended by Adam Copeland)
First line: “She told him there wasn’t another person.”
My thoughts: This is the book that I didn’t end up finishing, so I’m going to really pay attention to what Adam Copeland says about it during the debates. (I always find that I appreciate a book more when I hear someone fiercely defending it.) I didn’t keep reading the book because I unfortunately didn’t feel like I cared about Henry enough.I’m sure the “point” of the book was to watch Henry grow as a person, but I just wasn’t compelled.

The Hero’s Walk by Anita Rau Badami (Defended by Vinay Virmani)
First line: “It was only five o’clock on a July morning in Toturpuram, and already every trace of night had disappeared.”
My thoughts: This was another book that I loved. And, surprise! It’s a book about a family. I especially loved this book because it features a child who is displaced to a completely foreign country (from Canada to India). As someone who also moved to a foreign place when they were young (I moved from Canada to Hong Kong in grade four), I could relate to seven-year-old Nandana but also appreciate how hard the adjustment must be for the adults as well. Everyone in The Hero’s Walk has their own story, problems, and regrets, and it was a fantastic character-driven novel.

So, who do I think will win? I have no idea! All five books have characters who are trying to find themselves and start over in a way. I’m just excited to see fellow book lovers defending their picks!

Did you read the Canada Reads shortlist? Are you rooting for a particular book? Let me know!

Wishlist Wednesday | Canada Reads 2016 Shortlist

This morning, the 15th annual Canada Reads shortlist was announced! If you’re unfamiliar with Canada Reads, it’s basically a “battle of the books” competition. Over the course of 4 days, 5 panelists, moderated by host Wab Kinew, will come together to champion the book that they believe represents this year’s theme — starting over — the most. It’s always fun to watch, and even more fun when you’ve read all of the books!

So, this week, here are the books that I’m adding to my wish list:

  • Birdie by Tracey Lindberg
  • Bone and Bread Saleema Nawaz
  • The Illegal by Lawrence Hill
  • The Hero’s Walk by Anita Rau Badami
  • Minister Without Portfolio by Michael Winter

Do you watch Canada Reads? Have you read any of the books on the shortlist?

A #CanLit TBR

Canada Day Canadian Literature Books TBR

Happy Canada Day, everyone!

You may remember how I used to think Canadian literature was “uncool” and how over the past few years I’ve been trying to catch up and keep up on all of the amazing books Canada has to offer. Well, as you may have guessed, there’s a lot that I haven’t read yet, so I thought I’d share with you a portion of my CanLit TBR. (Of course, after I took the picture for this post, I realized I forgot to include Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood, which is definitely something I’ve been meaning to check out.) If, after reading this post, you’re looking for even more Canadian reads to add to your list, here are 10 books that I’d recommend! Now, on to my (incomplete) list:

A Complicated Kindness by Miriam Toews

One of my favourite books from last year was Miriam Toews’ All My Puny Sorrows. It was heart-wrenching, beautifully written, and helped shape my worldview. I’ve heard many great things about A Complicated Kindness, so I’m looking forward to being immersed in Toews’ beautiful words and thoughts again. (Fun fact: I didn’t know how to pronounce “Toews” until last year when I finally heard someone say it out loud. I used to pronounce it as “toes.” It’s pronounced “tay-ves.”)

The Inconvenient Indian by Thomas King

Canada has a deep (and dark) history with its Native peoples, and Thomas King’s The Inconvenient Indian aims to shed some light on the relationship between Natives and non-Native peoples in North America. As someone who would love to be more aware of issues like these, The Inconvenient Indian, which was one of the selections for Canada Reads 2015, has made it to the top of my Can Lit TBR. (Fun fact: Thomas King has been nominated for the Governor General’s Award for both fiction and non-fiction.)

Chez L’Arabe by Mireille Silcoff

This collection of linked short stories centres around a woman in Montreal who is suffering from a chronic illness. I’ve actually read the first story from this collection and it is beautifully written. I can’t wait to read more. (Little known fact: Chez L’Arabe was inspired by Silcoff’s own medical struggles.)

Fifteen Dogs by André Alexis

I picked this up at Coach House Books‘ spring launch and have been meaning to get to it since. Set in Toronto, this book imagines what it would be like if dogs had human intelligence. Need I say more? (Fun fact: To get into the heads of the dogs he was writing about, Alexis went around Toronto to try to imagine how different neighbourhoods would smell like to a dog. “In some ways that’s disgusting because you have to have shades of urine or shades of merde,” he writes in this article on the CBC website.)

Undermajordomo Minor by Patrick deWitt

This is actually an upcoming title from House of Anansi Press, but I’m extremely excited to dive in because I’ve heard great things about deWitt’s writing, especially in his previous book The Sisters Brothers. The back of the book describes Undermajordomo Minor as “a triumphant ink-black comedy,” which has me intrigued to say the least. (Fun fact: 2011 was a huge year for deWitt as The Sisters Brothers was nominated for the Man Booker Prize, Scotiabank Giller Prize, Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, and Governor General’s Award for English language fiction alongside fellow Canadian writer Esi Edugyan.)

Have you read any of the books on my list? Is there anything that I missed and should read ASAP? If you’re in Canada, how are you spending your Canada Day?