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Blogger Flannery says adieu to Canada Reads...and bonjour to Hannah Sung, host of the CBC Book Club

Hello, readers.

What a week it was. Just seven days ago, I was anxiously anticipating the outcome of Canada Reads 2010. I surveyed the field before me, trying to get a read on our panelists. Who was the toughest cookie in our panelist platter, I wondered? Who would storm the studio and take their book all the way to the end? I was so sure I had it all figured out! But as it turns out, I was completely mistaken about how the week would play out.

Though I lost a toonie in the unofficial office pool, I came away with the knowledge that in these matters it's so much more fun to be wrong than right. Who needs smug satisfaction when there's surprise to be had? Come to think of it, $2 is a pretty cheap fare for the rollercoaster ride that was Canada Reads 2010.

I wish I could say that I had some inkling of what was to come. But truthfully, I was knocked for a loop by the first vote, the second, the third -- in fact, all of them. The moment that Ann-Marie MacDonald's Fall on Your Knees got the boot, things got very "bouncy" indeed, to borrow a term from Rollie Pemberton.

The panelists' passion and commitment truly surprised me (though now it seems odd to think that an Olympian wouldn't rise to the challenge at hand). In the end, all of them proved to be tough debaters, and each one acted as an eloquent defender of their book. But no one was as strong or persuasive an advocate as Michel Vézina for Nicolas Dickner's Nikolski. The novel was virtually unknown in English Canada until its selection for Canada Reads, but Michel never relented or retreated because of that in the debates. In fact, I think that challenge only urged him forward. His belief in the novel's virtues, innovations and its immediacy for contemporary audiences was impossible to ignore. In the end, it was infectious.

Now it's your turn. Yes, prepare to get infected, readers! Today, tune into Jian's exclusive interview with Nicolas Dickner on CBC Radio's Q at the top of the show. Also today, intrepid Book Club host Hannah Sung kicks off a celebration and investigation into the wonderful world of Nikolski. The Book Club has many tricks and treats in store over the coming weeks. The events of last week weren't an end — they were just the second act. I look forward to the third and final act as it plays out at the Book Club.

This is the end of the line for me — I'm packing up my book bag. It's a bittersweet moment. I've felt truly lucky to be a part of Canada Reads this year. Spending time with the books, the panelists, the authors, live chatting with Hannah, and getting to know all of the books-crazy people who put Canada Reads together every year, has been just plain fun. Seeing how the competition has inspired others to get involved, whether it's at Canada Also Reads or Civilians Read, has also added to the experience. I'm certain that the discussion surrounding Canada Reads — and what it means to Canadian readers and writers — will go on. The conversation can only continue to enrich the program for years to come.

Keep reading! And please join in on the Nikolski party at the Book Club.

Over to you, Hannah!


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