Thursday, October 14, 2010 |
Things are heating up in the race to the top 40! Several authors aren't taking any chances and have started campaigns of their own: Corey Redekop, author of Shelf Monkey, has a Facebook page dedicated to getting his novel on Canada Reads and Leo McKay Jr., author of Twenty-Six, has started a YouTube series sharing 26 reasons his novel should make the cut. We're not ready to reveal numbers just yet, but we're willing to say that the campaigns are working. If you're an author with a book you want to see make the list, you better get cracking. And if you're a reader who will be heartbroken if your favourite gets overlooked, why not start a campaign of your own?
If you're not the game-changing type, however, you can always submit your pick the traditional way: via our online form, through Twitter or on Facebook. The race is tight and every vote will count! In the meantime, here are 20 reader recommendations for you to contemplate:
Angèle DesJardins recommends: The Way the Crow Flies by Ann-Marie MacDonald
The Way the Crow Flies shatters what perceptions people have about the ideal family of the early sixties in Canada. Though it is a "fictional" story, it deals with some of our country's biggest shames: The wrongful conviction of Steven Truscott and child abuse in schools. The story also deals with military lies, family secrets, and loss of innocence at a time when Canada and Canadians were perceived as being optimistic, embracing and happy. Has anything really changed in the last 50 years? Are we not still dealing with issues of past child abuse, prejudice against Aboriginal people, military secrets, our own personal family secrets?
We want to believe ...
that we have no prejudices,..
that our children are protected...
that our Government, our court systems, our polices forces and military are fair...
that we are happy.
I recommend that we collectively read and discuss The Way the Crow Flies and then re-examine who we really are as Canadians.
Gordon Miller recommends: Twenty-Six by Leo McKay Jr.
In a time of loss due to environmental disasters that are often inextricably linked to political or corporate corruption, it's not often you get to really hear or feel the effect on the families who go through it. Not as much as we should, anyway. This book speaks to the families, the individuals, the community and looks for peace and resolution back in the natural world. A highly crafted book that is sparked by the mine explosion that brought on a major provincial battle which proved willful neglect because of monetary and personal gains. How those in charge will often hold the lives of their workers as collateral damage. Leo McKay Jr. speaks for Nova Scotia in a powerful way that reverberates across the country in the heart of our times.
Sheila Potter recommends: River Thieves by Michael Crummey
This book is beautifully poetically written, but I LOVED it because it transported me to an iconic Canadian time and place — to our farthest eastern coast of Newfoundland just as Europeans began arriving. Mr. Crummey does a wonderful job of examining eternally relevant human struggles in the context of this starkly lovely place and brutal time in our history.
Faith Shur recommends: The Lizard Cage by Karen Connelly
This is a superb narrative about the appalling conditions of a prison in Burma. It deals with the oppression of political prisoners and the endurance of characters that are so vividly drawn; making the entire experience a deeply emotional and cathartic read...
Richard Steel recommends: Alphabet by Kathy Page
A brilliant and gripping story. A grim subject matter, totally engrossing for the reader, but ultimately uplifting. Wonderfully condensed, vital writing. Alphabet really lives with the reader.
Liz Cole recommends: Marvellous Hairy by Mark A. Rayner
Brilliantly funny, surrealistic fiction written by a man who is almost certainly a genius. The characters are richly written, with their own unique voices. Delicious.
Laura Parsonson recommends: The Fallen by Stephen Finucan
It is a Canadian historical fiction novel. It is set in Italy during WW2. I found it interesting because I am a teacher and I can see a link between this novel and the grade 10 history curriculum. I also am a strong believer in appreciating what our veterans have done for us. This book makes that point.
Kim Holownia recommends: The Custodian of Paradise by Wayne Johnston
This book clarifies the mystery surrounding Sheilagh Fielding, known as Fielding to almost everyone; as she organizes her thoughts and feelings about her circumstances, while writing in isolation on the island of Loreburn, off the coast of Newfoundland. It is evocative of Newfoundland and Canada's history, and Fielding is a strong female character, developed further as we unravel the story continued from Wayne Johnston's first fabulous novel, The Colony of Unrequited Dreams, which I would have nominated had it been published just a little later!!! I guess I shouldn't say that... I love Wayne Johnston's writing, and everyone should read these books.
Stefan Dollinger recommends: Life of Pi by Yann Martel
An inspiring, unusual novel with a somewhat warped plot written by a consistent and dedicated contributor to Canadian literature who manages to produce quality work that appeals to a wide audience, here and abroad.
Kelly McLaren recommends: Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda
This book deserves a chance on Canada Reads because it is a heartfelt and touching story. It genuinely presents the strength, beauty and sacrifice that comes along with motherhood. It is a beautifully written novel.
Ruth Noel recommends: Far to Go by Alison Pick
Could not put the book down, carefully crafted, thoughtfully written, one I shall recommend to book club. One of the best books I have read in a while. I am waiting for her next one.
Tara Lynne Franco recommends: The Fearsome Particles by Trevor Cole
I have been reading Canadian authors exclusively for the past three years and Cole is definitely one of my favourites. This was a fantastic book about a family struggling to find out and understand what happened to their son when he returns home from serving with the Canadian army in Afghanistan. Cole always develops his characters so well. Trevor is an amazing author and would be a great addition to Canada Reads, which I follow and read the books from every year.
Alanna Jamieson recommends: Amphibian by Carla Gunn
Not only is Amphibian incredibly relevant at the moment due to its environmental message, the narrator Phin will worm his way into your heart. He is unforgettable! This is a sweet and original story.
Jenna Robertson recommends: Dreadful Paris by Melissa Thompson
Melissa is a Montreal-based writer and artist who really should be famous in Canada and beyond. Her debut novel, a small, square, pink book, has been my constant companion in recent years. I never tire of it. I have never read anything else like it. And I think it is a small but mighty work of creative genius. Her protagonist, Ramona DeLottenville, is smart, strange, and unforgettable. Both the writing and Melissa's drawings are surprising and better than Turkish Delight. I think I've read it 50 times. Please consider giving some well-deserved attention to this little pink book.
Glena Koehler recommends: Three Day Road by Joseph Boyden
It beautifully portrays the aboriginal experience of fighting in WWI as unsung heroes. The Canadian aboriginal wilderness experience is juxtaposed against the horror of war. A sense of peace and healing unexpectedly arises from this collision of forces. Brutality exists in both places but likewise the sense of the wholeness of life.
Jenny Wong recommends: Tempting Faith Di Napoli by Lisa Gabriele
Tempting Faith DiNapoli is a winning portrait of the turbulent and awkward coming of age of a young Catholic girl growing up in a small town of Ontario in the early 1980s. Title character Faith is a well-meaning and deeply religious girl who finds herself slowly slipping down the road to sin after the breakup of her parents' marriage. This memoir-style novel, the first from Canadian television producer Lisa Gabriele, chronicles Faith's adolescence from age eight to 18 as she transforms from proud first time communicant to the type of girl whose name is scribbled on the walls of high school bathrooms.
Bobbie Smith recommends: Gratitude by Joseph Kertes
I picked this book not only because the writing is of star quality, the images visceral and the characters still with me; it also made me think about the War, the Holocaust and the people affected in a whole new light. It made me feel a whole new level of emotion for black and white text. This book peels away precious layers and presents a raw and rare look at the souls who managed to save themselves from the chambers though they continued to live frightened and perilous lives.
Nancy Hall recommends: Annabel by Kathleen Winter
This compelling novel is a stunning feat by writer Kathleen Winter. Winter's use of language is magical, full of descriptions of the stark beauty of Labrador and the turmoil of a couple who give birth to an intersex child. The reader cannot help but feel part of Wayne/Annabel's pain and triumphant metamorphoses. The best book I have read in a decade.
Mary Bright recommends: A Man in a Distant Field by Theresa Kishkan
Kishkan's writing is poetic. Her main character, an Irish teacher, flees Ireland after his wife and daughters are killed by the British in a fire meant to kill him because he taught the Irish language to his students. Grieving, he travels to Canada and ends up living near the Sunshine Coast, trying to come to terms with his grief by translating Homer's Iliad while living a lonely, austere life and adapting to frontier living. His downward spiral and redemption are beautifully told.
Jennifer Holmes recommends: The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley
I've always enjoyed a good mystery. I considered Nancy Drew one of my best friends as a child. Reading Bradley's first book, I was taken back once again to those hours spent poring over Nancy's escapades, only this time, the story was even better. To me, the essential part of a good work of fiction is a captivating story, and Bradley nailed it with his book.
Erin Balser is an associate producer of Canada Reads.