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Reader Recommendation Daily: October 8

Another day, another round-up of reader recommendations! Remember, each recommendation is worth one point to the book of your choice! Haven't sent in a recommendation yet? You can do so here!


Christie Dennison recommends: Elle by Douglas Glover

This is a unique book about a time in Canada's history that we often choose to overlook. The images and writing have stuck with me for years.

Meg Taylor recommends: Annabel by Kathleen Winter

Beautifully written, took me to a completely new place (Labrador in the 1970s), and made me think more deeply about the differences between men and women.

Jason Openo recommends: The End of the Alphabet by C.S. Richardson

This novel begins like the late night college sessions we used to have, where you asked your friends, "What would you do if you only had six months to live?" "On or about his fiftieth birthday, Ambrose Zephyr failed his medical exam. An illness of inexplicable origin with neither known nor foreseeable cure was discovered. It would kill him within the month. Give or take a day." Ambrose Zephyr is an ordinary man who just discovered he doesn't have much time to live. When he was a child, he dreamed of travelling the alphabet of exotic places, which he now decides to do with his wife. This poetically crafted love story asks the reader, do you love enough? Have you satisfied your dreams and lived every day with passion? As you travel with Ambrose and his wife Zappora in the final days of their marriage, the journey to the end of the alphabet is heart-breakingly suspenseful. I loved every word of this novel. My wife and I read this to each other in bed. The language is lyrical, and it is a powerful, if occasionally sentimental, reminder not to defer your dreams or take your loved ones for granted.

Anna Stark recommends: Through Black Spruce by Joseph Boyden

I could not put this book down! Christmas 2008 was a dismal failure. My husband and I were to leave on December 12 for Maui for two weeks to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary and Christmas. We had a new heating system put in our home in the early fall and continuously had trouble with it. It failed on December 11 and we were unable to get repairs done on the system. We were living in northern B.C. and the temperature was dropping and we had no choice but to cancel our holiday plans. Boooohoooo. It was not until the new year that we were able to get a new heating system installed. My husband and I spent nights getting up, running the water so that the water did not freeze up and checking all the heaters we had plugged in throughout our two storey house. The coldest night was -42C. Needless to say, lots of sleepless nights. My husband suggested I go and spend New Year's with my sister and her family in the Okanagan area. I headed down on the bus, a 24 hour trip, and relaxed with family. One of the gifts I received was Joseph Boyden's Through Black Spruce. I was delighted with the book as I was a huge fan of Three Day Road. My brother-in-law also received the book. We both started reading it at the same time. Neither of us could put the book down. It was down to the final pages and became a race, but a race neither wanted to end. We kept getting up, cups of tea, munchies and finally relented and finished the book. What an ending! We then had a couple of hours discussing and digesting the book. Everyone else had to leave the room so they would not learn the ending. It was not Maui but a good family holiday that restored my soul and brought me out of my funk. Joseph Boyden was partially responsible for that too and Through Black Spruce. Read it!

Gwen Walker recommends: Happiness by Will Ferguson

I remember this book as being extremely funny. It examines the dark side of the publishing word. Apropos for Canada Reads which celebrates books!!

Sarah Cobb recommends: The Day the Falls Stood Still by Cathy Marie Buchanan

Great book. Fosters an appreciation for what I previously felt was just a tacky tourist destination. Interesting conservationist angle. Made me feel cool to be Canadian (no easy feat).

Eva Antonel recommends: Unless by Carol Shields

The book Unless by Carol Shields is a fine example of showing life as it is through a set of characters and circumstances that never were and allowing us to see it more clearly than if we had lived it ourselves. Its choice of family as the background for events, both personal and international, allows us to see ourselves and the world in a different way. Isn't that the aim of all good fiction? This book manages to do all that effortlessly.

Faith Shur recommends: The Lizard Cage by Karen Connelly

A little known masterpiece. An international story of injustice and dictatorial cruelty. Although, at times, a graphic depiction of incarceration in Burma, the characters we meet are so visceral and beautifully formed that they and their dreadful existences seep into our hearts. She is such a great talent.

Kevin Craig recommends: Before I Wake by Robert J. Wiersema

I think Before I Wake is evocative enough to appeal to ALL readers. It's an emotional roller-coaster involving a child involved in a hit and run accident. Any parent can imagine the struggles they would go through if one of their children were balancing on the edge of life and death. It's a gripping story that holds the reader hostage to the end. While the injured child, Sherry Barrett, languishes on her deathbed, her parents go through the struggles of everyday life that has them falling to pieces. When the comatose Sherry begins to show signs of healing powers, the story takes yet another turn. It's one of those books you just can't put down and I believe it would appeal to such a wide range of readers.

Deb Bisztriczky recommends: Holding Still for As Long As Possible by Zoe Whittall

The novel is an accurate snapshot of life in a pivotal neighborhood in Canada's most diverse and vibrant city. It is one of the few novels to feature a transgendered protagonist. One of my favourites.

Laurie Graham recommends: The Good Body by Bill Gaston

The Good Body is the best Canadian hockey novel you've never heard of. Or maybe you have. Hopefully you have. You've met Bobby Bonaduce, the book's main character, before no doubt; you've seen more successful versions of him skating around in various NHL jerseys. This version is a wash-up and a thug trying to start the second act of his life under the illusion that he can sustain a university career in order to both keep playing and get closer to his son. The train wreck that ensues is funny and groan-worthy and utterly real. If The Good Body doesn't end up on the list, I don't know what should.

Sarah Fanning recommends: Twenty-Six by Leo McKay Jr.

I chose this book because, being from Nova Scotia myself, I found it to reflect the "down home" atmosphere very nicely. It allows the reader to really connect with the traumatic main event (mining disaster) and reads wonderfully.

Meredith Hambrock recommends: Word Nerd by Susin Nielsen

Word Nerd is a heartbreaking story about a boy and his mother attempting to navigate life in Vancouver. It's one of my favourite books for young adults published this year and is remarkably emotional. It also provides the only published portrait of Kitsilano, a Vancouver neighbourhood, that I've ever seen and enjoyed. Amazing book!

Donna Fremont recommends: The Great Karoo by Fred Stenson

I really, really enjoyed this book. The characters became so real and so themselves! I loved the tone of it. Although my interest was focused on the Canadians, Frank Adams and Jeff Davis, the addition of Butler, the British military man, was so important. What an accomplishment to weave all the facts into such a moving story with so many characters.

Christine F. recommends: Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

An amazingly wonderful book about Jacob Jankowski, who, at 90-something, tells about joining the circus during the Great Depression and his ensuing adventures! This novel has everything going for it; mystery, romance, intrigue. It often had me chuckling on one page then be achingly moved on another. It is also about deep and abiding friendship, loyalty and loss, everything a good Canadian novel should contain. Gruen is a wonderfully gifted author who had me riveted from start to finish. I recommended it to so many people and still do. For me, it was 'the' find of the decade!

What do you think of people's choices? Share your comments on Facebook, Twitter or in the comments below!

Erin Balser is an associate producer of Canada Reads.

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