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Cast Your Vote: Heather Mallick's picks

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 leave you to 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 bump to make it to the next round in this year's debates. But you also get to have your say.

One of the non-fiction mavens we turned to was Heather Mallick.


Heather Mallick is a staff columnist for the Toronto Star, a contributor to The Guardian and an author and lecturer. 

When we asked Heather for her dream Canada Reads: True Stories choices, these are the books she chose and why:

Thin Ice: Coming of Age in Canada by Bruce McCall


"Young Bruce grew up in a 1950s Toronto so limited, so gray and dour that I suspect the Stasi stopped by to admire and take notes. Has so much misery ever been contained in a small family apartment with a tyrannical father, a blanked-out mother and five children glassy-eyed with dreams of escape? Yes. But rarely. This was Canada before we fixed it and entered the modern world. Read McCall's memoir and weep. Bruce did. Then he left the country."

And No Birds Sang by Farley Mowat


"This memoir of Mowat's World War II is one of the finest renderings of foot-soldiering ever written. He started out a sweeet-natured boy in Richmond Hill, Ontario, and ended up in Sicily watching men of many nations turning each other into sliced, bloody meat. The book is the equivalent of a knife. After a war like this, Mowat left for the Arctic and as much solitude as he could find. And no birds sang, indeed."

Writing the Revolution by Michele Landsberg


"Whenever I get that surreal floating feeling of not existing in this world because I am a woman, I read Landsberg to understand how much worse it used to be, before Canadian feminism came roaring back. This collection is a narrative distilled from 25 years of newspaper columns about the lives being lived by fully half the country. The ignored half. Life before Landsberg? Can't even imagine it."

Survival by Margaret Atwood


"Look, if anything tells the Canadian story, Atwood's portrait of our literature does. "The central symbol for Canada is undoubtedly survival," she wrote in 1972. Both native Canadians and settlers survived a hostile landscape, the French survived the English, we survived British rule, we may or may not survive American hegemony, our sense of self survives and the next threat is climate change. I have Atwood's title written on a big card taped to the wall over my desk. Not "glory," not "money," not "win." Surviving, that's a win in itself. Yes, typical Canadian attitude."

Winter: Five Windows on the Season by Adam Gopnik


"Mon pays c'est l'hiver. I have never seen the season of the wintry Canadian soul better described, saluted and loved than in Adam Gopnik's collection of Massey Lectures essays: romantic, radical, recuperative, recreational and remembering the Canadian winter. He remembers the snowstorms of his Montreal youth the way I remember the blue light of a Toronto winter dusk, with a great yearning. A wonderful book that shakes my heart with love of country. This has to win Canada Reads. Okay, then."

Which one of Heather's picks was your favourite? Vote for the book you'd most like to see on the Canada Reads: True Stories list in each poll. The poll closes on Thursday, October 6 at midnight ET.

Each vote counts as one point, and the 40 books with the most support will be named the Canada Reads: True Stories Top 40.

Want to submit a recommendation of your own? You can do so here! 


Which book did you vote for and why? Let us know in the comments below!

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