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Resident blogger Flannery offers the story so far on her reading of the Canada Reads books

Hello, readers.

It's Week 4 of Canada Reads, and we're really steaming along. We've got our books, our panelists, we're getting to know our authors better each week, and most of us are going to get a few days of much deserved down-time to read and relax over the holidays.

I'm going to make the trek home to visit my family in eastern Ontario, with my books and notepad in tow. My parents have a woodstove in their living room at home and I fully intend to park myself in front of it while I read. Have you ever fallen asleep in front of a radiant fire while midway through a novel you're enjoying? It's more decadent than a second helping of tiramisu. I highly recommend you add this experience to your bucket list. The Grand Canyon can wait.

After an initial bout of how-am-I-going to read-all-these-books-in-time anxiety, I'm feeling pretty good about where I'm at. It's taken me a long time to figure out that the surest way to quell anxiety is to actually do what you're worried about. (Why does it take so long to figure the simplest things out?) I started the books almost immediately after the announcement and the pleasure of reading has seriously reduced my fears about not finding enough time to do it.

I'm a pretty speedy reader and have been since I was a kid. When I was younger I would spend most of my spare time reading and often finished a book in a day or over the course of a weekend (who needs prom when you have Our Mutual Friend?)

I'm fast, which is good. But I'm also forgetful, which is not so good. I can read a novel, be utterly engrossed, experience fear, sorrow and wonder, and 20 minutes after I've closed the book, I have no recollection of any of the major plot points. All I'm left with at the end of a book are the intensity of my impressions. That's often why I can tell you that I loved a story, and yet cannot express exactly why. Or at least, I can't without effort and a second reading. My father is the complete opposite. He reads at a sloth's pace and possesses the irritating ability to recall every single detail he has ever read. You cannot win an argument with a person like that. Not unless you fight dirty.

So, here are some first impressions of the three books I'm reading — I haven't cracked Nikolski or Fall on Your Knees yet; hey, I'm fast, but not superhuman-fast — before they fall out of my head and are lost forever.

Good to a Fault

Rife with allusions, the novel is manna to a poetry nerd like me. I'd love an annotated version of GTAF so I could catch all the allusions and not drive myself crazy trying to figure out what poem is being referenced.

The Jade Peony

I'm a sucker for a child narrator (in this case, three!) especially when it acknowledges the difficulty of being a kid. It's often idealized, but childhood presents many challenges to our courage and our understanding. Adults loom so large when you're a kid. I vividly remember feeling like an alien being on a foreign planet in their presence.

Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture

I have read 20 pages so far. I keep going back to the definition of "Historical Underdosing" on page seven. The definition: "To live in a period of time when nothing seems to happen. Major symptoms include addiction to newspapers, magazines and TV news broadcasts." I'm still trying to decide how I feel about this...

Don't forget, we're focusing on Nicolas Dickner starting today, so be sure to check the site daily for new material, including podcasts, interviews, a blog post from Nicolas, and much more.


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