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What a week: Flannery muses on making connections and Canada Reads

Hello again, readers.

This is my first Friday post — the first of many — and I cannot let it go by without first offering up a hearty TGIF. To everyone who is currently reading this post from a dimly lit office cube, I say, T to the G to the I and the F. It's been a long week, we've all worked hard, and personally I'm looking forward to spending the weekend getting down to the business of reading.

My nightstand is laden with books — almost dangerously so; I'm just waiting for the cat to bring everything down — and my bed, which is my preferred reading perch and will be for ever (how can people read a novel sitting up?), is beckoning. And now I've added five more books to the pile, the Canada Reads selections.

Here we are at the end of Canada Reads 2010, Week 1. We've accomplished a lot in four short days. We've got our five books, our quintet of literary-minded panelists, and we even took a little time to celebrate. Now we've just got to carve out the time to lie back and read.

On Tuesday I took the opportunity to ask a few of the panelists about their strategy for reading all five books in the coming weeks. Perdita Felicien is a reader after my own heart. She's letting the covers determine the order in which she reads the books. In addition to her pick, Fall on Your Knees, the two-time Olympian has read The Jade Peony and most of Generation X. Dr. Samantha Nutt has read most of the books before. "I read Fall on Your Knees in Liberia in 1997, and Generation X when I was in university," she told me. She'll be rereading both novels and the rest of the lineup over the holidays.

I'm going to reverse my usual tendency to stick with what I know best, in this case Fall on Your Knees and Generation X, and instead spend most of next week with the two books I know least: Good to a Fault and The Jade Peony. I had the pleasure of spending some time with both Marina Endicott and Wayson Choy at the launch party and I'm eager to get to know them better through their work. That may sound odd, but it's inspired by a curious phenomenon I observed as the resident blogger/fly on the wall this week. I'm calling it the "reader-meets-writer effect," and I saw it in abundance backstage during the launch.

With rare exception, I observed almost every author and their respective panelist become immediate friends upon introduction. Most were meeting for the very first time, but there were no awkward silences between author and panelist. Quite the opposite, in fact. Instead, there were plenty of hugs, laughter and exchanges of personal information.

So charmed was I by the obvious chemistry between Simi Sara and Marina Endicott that I rudely interrupted the duo mid-conversation to remark on it. I asked both of them how they accounted for their instant connection. Marina Endicott's response said it all: "When someone reads your book they really know you." I'm going to be bold and say that Endicott isn't talking about biography here as much as she's talking about spirit.

Despite the significant age gap that exists between them, Douglas Coupland and Roland Pemberton, a.k.a. Cadence Weapon, also seemed to hit it off from the get-go. When I cornered him backstage, Coupland was effusive about his young advocate. "I think you add three new people to your life each year and he is going to be one," said the author. It seems that making a deep connection with the book you're reading sometimes translates into a genuine affiliation with its author. That's chemistry, readers. It's what feeds our affection for books, and on occasion, for their authors.

Next week — Canada Reads, Week 2 — you'll get the chance to form your own relationships with the featured books. We're running excerpts from each book, starting Monday with Ann-Marie MacDonald's Fall on Your Knees. You can also get the inside scoop on how the covers came to be developed. Monday, hear how book designer Scott Richardson developed the cover for MacDonald's novel.

Until then, I'll be reading.

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