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Cast Your Vote: Book bloggers' True Stories picks

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UPDATE: These polls are now closed. Check out our other polls on our featured polls page!

There are a lot of great Canadian true stories out there. How is the regular reader going to sift through all of them? Recall the non-fiction classics? Unearth the much-loved but overlooked small press memoir? It's a difficult task. Which is why we aren't going to let you do it alone. We asked people from all across the publishing spectrum — booksellers, bloggers, publishers and more — to build their dream Canada Reads: True Stories list. We will roll these lists out through the Top 40 campaign. They can be a source of inspiration and a fantastic reading list, and they give these books an extra notch (as the bloggers' votes) to make it to the next round in this year's debates. But you also get to have your say.

Below the jump, you will find four polls, each submitted by a smart and savvy Canadian book blogger. In each poll, vote for the book you'd most like to see on the Canada Reads: True Stories list. You can vote once in each poll. The polls below will close on Wednesday, October 5, at midnight, ET. — but stay tuned for the next one!

Each vote counts as one point. Books accumulate points based on polls and recommendations. The 40 books with the most support will be named the Canada Reads: True Stories Top 40.

Vicki Ziegler, Book Gaga


Vicki Ziegler is a website/online/social media manager who is privileged to work with the Griffin Trust For Excellence in Poetry, among other amazing clients. She reads steadily and omnivorously, blogs about books from time to time at Book Gaga, and tweets regularly about things literary via @bookgaga.

When we asked Vicki to choose five titles for her dream Canada Reads: True Stories list, here's what she had to say:

"Applying literary styles and techniques to factual material can pose challenges — ones not always successfully met. The challenges are to keep something factually sound, but to also take those facts and give them new resonance and dimensions. When it is executed freshly but also with sensitivity to the material and the spirit of the real life characters connected to it, literary/creative non-fiction can open up history, biography, memoir, critical thought and more to larger, receptive audiences who will not only benefit, but will be captivated and compelled to learn more and perhaps be influenced in their own work and thoughts.

I believe that my Canada Reads 2012 True Stories choices all venture into uncharted terrain, in terms of both the subject matter and how it is viewed, crafted and retold. Some of that uncharted terrain is literal, and much of it is cultural, intellectual and emotional. Some of it is modest in literal scale — the life, or part of the life, or the thoughts of one person — and some of it is vast in geographic or psychic scale (from the Arctic to, well, mortality). All of it is vast in terms of capturing and re-articulating experiences and perspectives with which the reader might not be familiar.

Through all of the explorations I've chosen, the authors resourcefully and creatively probe if not solve mysteries, reveal new worlds and ways of looking at the world, but also open up new emotional and intellectual terrain."


Amy McKie, Amy Reads


Amy is a twenty-something bibliophile who is addicted to reading and discussing books. She reads an eclectic mix of fiction and non-fiction and loves to promote African (especially Nigerian) and GLBTQ literature. Originally from Prince Edward Island, she is now based in Toronto, and in her more official life she travels around North America working for a software company. She blogs about books at Amy Reads.

When we asked Amy to choose five titles for her dream Canada Reads: True Stories list, here's what she had to say:

"Originally I wasn't sure if I'd be able to come up with five Canadian 'True Story' non-fiction books, but once I started examining my shelves I realized what a hard choice it would be to pick only five. I tried, in my selections, to choose titles that covered a wide range of topics that I feel are very relevant to life today. I wanted to highlight titles I felt were important and informative, but that were also fun.

On my list are a few heavier books, including Romeo Dallaire's book on his experiences in Rwanda and Vallee's book on domestic abuse. I also included Atwood's book on debt which seems increasingly relevant given the economic woes the world is experiencing — plus, what list of Canadian literature is complete without a title by Atwood? I also thought a book on Canada as a nation would be fitting, and closed out the list with some humor and environmental knowledge from Smith and Lourie.

One of my favorite things about our wonderful country is our role as peacekeeper and leader on the global stage. Personally I love these books because they all take on big issues and discuss them in a frank and in-depth way that makes me continue to love my country and dream of our possibilities. I love Canadian non-fiction that highlights our role and possibilities as a country — I hope that you do as well."


Sean Cranbury, Books on the Radio


Sean Cranbury is a writer and web consultant living in Vancouver. He is the executive editor at Books on the Radio, curator of W2 Real Vancouver Writers' Series, and co-creator of Advent Book Blog and Bookcamp Vancouver. He is proud to be an organizer for the first-ever Giller Light Bash Vancouver coming this November.

When we asked Sean to choose five titles for his dream Canada Reads: True Stories list, here's what he had to say:

"As a semi-reformed independent bookseller I still possess the unique ability to scan bookshelves with laser precision from 30 paces. I am, of course, speaking as someone who adamantly refuses to use any sort of classification system for his books at home and who actually recently said to a friend, 'If you alphabetize my books I won't be able to find anything.'

So, in no particular order, five classics of Canadian storytelling in the non-fiction mode:

Vancouver Special by Charles Demers: The best book about Vancouver that anybody's ever written. Charlie's by turns harrowing, hilarious and fascinating stories are juxtaposed by some truly fine black and white photography of the city and its people.

Louis Riel by Chester Brown: Louis Riel is the 'Bust a Move' of Canadian literature, a great book with serious hooks and mass appeal that nobody saw coming. I guess that makes Chester Brown the Young MC of Canadian letters. Discuss.

Opium by Barbara Hodgson: Barbara Hodgson = amazing storyteller, archival explorer. This is our literature on drugs.

A Hunter's Confession by David Carpenter: I had the pleasure of driving with David across the Saskatchewan prairie this past summer. Lightning to the left, sheets of rain to the right and sunlight breaking right ahead of us. This book is funny, sad, honest and true. Great writing.

A Short History of Progress by Ronald Wright: There are big books and then there are monuments. Ronald's incredible storytelling and Ingrid's inspired design take this former Massey lecture out from behind the lectern and into tangible reality."


Allegra Young, A Young Voice Reads


Allegra is all about Canada. She studied opera singing at McGill and Communications at Concordia where she picked up her second language. She adores all things played on CBC Radio 3, and even licensed the music of some of their artists when she worked for Third Side Music in Montreal. She then shipped out to the Banff Centre as the podcast producer where she interviewed some of Canada's finest: Barbara Budd (CBC), John Vaillant (author) and Matt Andersen (Blues singer/songwriter). Allegra is currently doing Recording/Licensing for the Canadian Music Centre's record label, Centrediscs. She is also reading the top 40 picks of Canada Reads. Find her at ayoungvoicereads.blogspot.com.

When we asked Allegra to choose five titles for her dream Canada Reads: True Stories list, here's what she had to say:

"I adore CanLit. Each time I read it, feel more connected and part of where I live and it makes me proud to call myself a Canadian. This is especially the case with Canadian non-fiction. It was such a pleasure to raid my bookshelf and pick the five books that I feel best represent what I love about Canadian non-fiction: Canadian authors writing about Canada. Roy MacGregor is so passionate about the mystery of Tom Thomson that even after writing "Canoe Lake," he had to share more. "Northern Light" is an essential read for any Canadian interested in finding the romance in the mystery of the spirit of Canada captured on a canvas. Ian Brown is not only a father with a story to tell, he's an extremely gifted writer. His book is a touching collection of memories that sheds new light on the joys and heartache of having a mentally disabled child in Canada. Tim Cook's book is an astounding portrayal of the Canadian soldiers who fought in WWI. Cook's novel reads like anything but a history text book. Having visited Vimy, I strongly believe this novel is an essential read for any Canadian. Charlotte Gray tells the story of Susanna Moodie and Catharine Traill newly in Canada in 1834 and fighting through the harshness of the land to bring now historic literature from the edge of the wilderness. Lastly, I had to pick John Vaillant's "The Tiger" though I know it doesn't follow a story that takes place in Canada. He is such a gifted non-fiction writer and he makes the words fly off the page to create a compelling and frightening story where you won't even realize how much you've learned until you close the book. Enjoy!"


Don't forget you can recommend a book for Canada Reads: True Stories. If you do, you could win a trip to Toronto to see the final Canada Reads debate live in February. All the details are here.

Which books did you vote for? Let us know in the comments below.

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