Friday, February 19, 2010 |
Hello again, readers.
I can't believe how quickly time is passing. It seems like only yesterday that I was cracking the spine on Good to a Fault, discovering Clara Purdy and the Gage family for the very first time, and now nearly two months have gone by and we're edging ever closer to the big event. Our reading group is about to get even more interesting as we finally get to hear more about the books from our panelists. I've been waiting to hear from Dr. Sam Nutt since December 2. Who are you looking forward to most?
I've been in a reflective sort of mood the past few weeks — reading and writing about reading can be a broody pursuit — and I was really pleased when a co-worker passed me a thoughtful estimation of what we're doing here at Canada Reads from a blogger south of the border. Admittedly, not all the "reaction" links I get passed are always as enjoyable to read.
The source of my pleasure was a blog called Librations, the "Internet's first library/bar," a site created by librarians and other information junkies that describes itself as "a safe place for nerds and geeks to revel in their nerdy and geeky interests." The blogger in question, Julie, had apparently heard about Canada Reads last year after being tipped off by one of her favourite singers, and one of our 2009 panelists, Sarah Slean.
As far as Julie is concerned, Canada Reads is a "book nerd's fantasy," and represents a rare opportunity for a literary conversation from the community level up. It's also an event she'd like to see take place in the U.S., where she lives. Perhaps even more significantly, she thinks it sounds like fun.
Julie is right on track. Canada Reads should be a book nerd's fantasy, it should foster greater connection between readers, and it should be fun.
Maybe Julie should be on the payroll, if only for the skilful way in which she isolates the pros and cons of a program like Canada Reads in her post.
"Choosing a book (just one book!) to represent is not easy. Apart from the potential clash of personal versus public tastes, the problem is that programs like Canada Reads can serve two very different functions. A national campaign can either rescue worthy books from obscurity or allow the nation the opportunity to re-visit old favorites."
I'd say that's a pretty fair description of what's going on this year — and every year. Canada Reads isn't just a book-selling or book-promoting program. A boost in book sales is the effect, but it isn't the intention. The intention is to share beloved books with a large audience. While publishers may want lesser known works to be at the forefront of the selection process, our panelists are mercifully free of external pressures or imposed agendas. Simi Sara and Michel Vézina are both avid readers — in fact, their consumption levels are nothing short of astounding — but they never forget the mandate to derive pleasure from one of life's greatest diversions.
So, take a page out of their book and enjoy yourself here, or on one of our discussion blogs.