December 7, 2009

The Mondays: Canada Reads ... or Does It?

December 1st marked the announcement of the five books included in 2010's Canada Reads event on CBC Radio's Q, hosted by Jian Ghomeshi. For those unfamiliar, it's an annual event on Q where five guests from varied fields chose a book that they consider indelibly Canadian and a must-read for all Canadians. They then hammer it out on the show, voting out one book each day, until there is one book left standing.

The five books and their advocates for 2010 are: Wayson Choy's The Jade Peony, defended by Samantha Nutt; Douglas Coupland's Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture, defended by Roland Pemberton; Nicolas Dickner's Nikolski, defended by Michel Vézina; Marina Endicott's Good to a Fault, defended by Simi Sara; and Ann-Marie MacDonald's Fall on Your Knees, defended by Perdita Felicien.

Of all five titles, I think the one I'm most likely to read by the time Canada Reads gets under way in late winter is Good to a Fault by Marina Endicott. As I recall, it was making the rounds last year with Canada's literary awards, though I think it fell short of claiming any of the three major awards. Still, the premise of a woman's struggle to go out of her way to be altruistic at her own expense is intriguing. The other titles, I am as yet wholly unfamiliar with, but that may be remedied thanks to Canada Reads.

It's one of the more entertaining book debates on radio, and I've managed to listen to it live or download the podcasts for the past couple of years. However, I've only read a couple of the books bandied about on the airwaves. Timothy Findley's Not Welcome on the Voyage was a candidate a couple of years ago, and so I read it and quite enjoyed it.

The thing I wonder about is the effect this event has on sales for any of the titles. I think last year's winner, The Book of Negroes, had a resurgence in sales, but that book was already selling respectably prior to its inclusion in Canada Reads. I can't say, personally, if I'll be rushing out to find a copy of any of these titles beyond Endicott's after the winner has been announced. I guess time will tell if the five advocates will be able to effectively sway me, with their back-and-forth on radio during that week, and cause me to seek out the other titles.

Are any of you, my fellow Canadians, paying attention to this year's Canada Reads? Have you by any chance read and enjoyed one or more of the titles named? Should I be searching for one in particular right now?


  1. Not a resident of Canada, but if I were, I wouldn't be paying attention. The reason is I don't plug in to the literary spots in the US. I avoid literary and go for the fluff...the junk food of books. ;)

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  3. I haven't read any of those on the list but am working my way through "Galore" by Michael Crummey (in support of a Newfoundland writer).

  4. J Kaye - Oh, don't discount literary entirely. Yann Martel's Life of Pi is a particularly amazing read. :)

    Alan - Galore looks interesting. There's another Newfoundland author with a book called Catherine Snow that looks particularly intriguing.

  5. Rabid Fox - Maybe after I get my fill in 2010. I am getting ready to cut loose and chow down on pure junk food.



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