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Reader Recommendation round-up: September 30

Recommendations are rolling in for Canada Reads: True Stories. 

Check out these highlights:


Peter from Toronto, Ontario recommended: Bandit by Wayne Tefs

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This life of Flying Bandit Ken Leishman of Manitoba -- who flew to Toronto to rob banks and who also masterminded a legendary gold robbery is riveting in the hands of Tefs, a master storyteller. A great read.





Michele from Lloydminster, Saskatchewan recommended: C'mon Papa: Dispatches from a Dad in the Dark by Ryan Knighton

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I had the opportunity to hear Ryan speak at the Saskatchewan Festival of words and yes he brings the funny, but he also brings truth.





Kimberly from North Battleford, Saskatchewan recommended: Maternity Rolls by Heather Kuttai

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Several reasons. As a special education teacher, I find that often adults see the disability first and the child second. This book provides a rare glimpse in to the daily life of a young girl with a physical disability, including her thoughts, fears, pain and how she sees the world around her. The author shares the impact of events in a raw honest way that allows the reader to imagine for just a moment what life must be like for her, both growing up and becoming a wife and mother. On a personal note, I became friends with the author in high school, and reading her very personal story impacted how I interact with my students, whether or not they have a visible disability.

The book is honest, raw, and beautifully written I highly recommend it for Canada Reads 2012.




Ann from Vancouver, British Columbia recommended: The Tiger by John Vaillant

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It is an epic story of man and beast pitted against one another in a far flung, inhospitable corner of the world, compellingly told by a master storyteller. It also comes with a lesson - that the tiger is an awesome and beautiful animal, deserving of our respect and protection.




Brennan from Vancouver, British Columbia recommended: Who Killed Mom? by Steve Burgess

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This book is an excellent read. It describes the intricacies of families, the questions we have about why our relations do the things they do, and ponders about the things you have done to your relations. Emotional and funny, the book showcases the dark humor that Burgess utters forth daily.




Colin from Guelph, Ontario recommended: Deep Waters by James Raffin

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Deep Waters is a well written, compelling and frightening account of the Lake Timiskaming canoe tragedy.





Danny from Toronto, Ontario recommended: Far and Away: A Prize Every Time by Neil Peart

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This book is written by one of the most talented drummers of all time. Known as a musician, Neil Peart is a tremendous writer and aside from writing most of the lyrics to the legendary RUSH rock band's songs. Peart has become an accomplished writer and his most recent work Far and Away: A Prize Every Time was released in May of 2011 details his two years of traveling North and South America. It tells how he found in a Brazilian town a unique combination of West African and Brazilian music.




Michelle from Vancouver, British Columbia recommended: Most of Me by Robyn Levy

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The book is a memoir of the author's experiences with not one, but two, serious medical conditions. It's funny, sad, sincere, quirky, moving and an altogether wonderful read.




Tammy from Calgary, Alberta recommended: The Making of Slap Shot by Jonathon Jackson

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The book is so historically correct and the research that backs it is amazing. It's a great read that accompanies the best loved hockey movie of all time. And what's more Canadian than hockey. Must read!




Pina from Vancouver, British Columbia recommended: The Door Is Open by Bart Campbell 

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This book just seems to get more and more relevent as poverty touches more and more Canadians. The author's journey teaches the reader how to see what is really happening with soupkitchen lives.





Matthew from Toronto, Ontario recommended: Down To This by Shaughnessy Boshop-Stall

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One of the best written accounts of mans lost spirit in the seedier side of our national identity. Honest, funny, sad, and redemptive.





Allan from Oakville, Ontario recommended: The Madman and the Butcher by Tim Cook

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First of all, it's called The Madman and the Butcher; even my 8-year-old daughter was intrigued by the title, and it doesn't disappoint. This is a dual biography of two Canadians who were knighted for their service in WWI, and yet became bitter opponents: Minister of Militia Sir Sam Hughes and General Sir Arthur Currie. Both were complex individuals. Tim Cook is a gifted writer who weaves their stories against the backdrop of the Great War. 420,000 Canadians went overseas to fight on the Western Front, this is a chance to meet both the man who led then in battle and one of the men most responsible for getting them there. How did Arthur Currie, a failed land speculator and embezzler, succeed to command the Canadian Corps? Why did Sam Hughes, who personally selected Currie to lead a Brigade of the first contingent, come to detest him? In the spring of 1919, when the physical and psychological wounds of the Great War were still raw, Sam Hughes stood up in the House of Commons and publicly branded Currie a butcher for ordering an attack on Mons in the final hours of the war. The vicious attack was motivated by personal revenge, but then again, did he have a point?




Douglas from Warkworth, Ontario recommended: An Imperfect Offering by James Orbinski

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Orbinski's book is part memoir, part call to action. He takes the reader through some of the most devastating humanitarian disasters of the past 20-odd years, from the Rwandan Genocide to New York on September 11, 2001, when Orbinski worked in triage at Ground Zero. He is able to describe the harsh differences between the time of acute crisis and normal daily life. For example, he worked in Rwanda doing HIV/AIDS research several years before the start of the 1994 genocide. This element helps him to challenge the perspective of African nations (and other developing countries) as places of perpetual crisis, while at the same time demanding action when that crisis does take place.




Mary-Ann from Lakefield, Ontario recommended: Too Close to the Falls by Catherine Gildner

tooclosetothefalls-50.jpgI loved the quirky younger self of the writer and thought that the writing style was smart, elegant and insightful.





Calinda Brown from Ottawa, Ontario recommended: Fatal Tide by David Leach

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I don't kayak, never have, but by the time I finished this book, I felt like I had been the one fighting for my life in the cold Atlantic. Leach gives a great description of the endurance race that led to a participant's death during the kayak portion. Then he goes into a total engaging discussion of why the man died, delving into the science of cold water exposure and fatigue.

This is a contemporary story, one that I think of every time I see young men and women suiting up and taking to the Ottawa River in their kayaks.




James from Kingston, Ontario recommended: One Bird's Choice by Iain Reid

onebirdschoice-50.jpgOne Bird's Choice really hit home for me. As a university student who had graduated directionless, it was almost therapeutic to hear a similar story. So much emphasis these days is placed on higher education as an end rather than a means, and I think it questions that in a lighthearted way.

In a similar position to the author (living at home, working in a dead-end job), I actually took the initiative to apply to medical school and was accepted into one here in Canada. I don't know if I can totally credit the book for pointing me in this direction, but it definitely made me think about where I was and where I wanted to go.




Susan from Everett, Ontario recommended: Trauma Farm by Brian Brett

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It's a beautifully written memoir, with phrasing that at times is quite poetic. I was entertained by it while also contemplating many of the issues that are so important to rural living.




Heather from Ottawa, Ontario recommended: A Great Feast of Light by John Doyle

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This is a fascinating memoir about growing up in Ireland in the 50s and 60s. It is a personal history and social history combined. John Doyle is a wonderful writer, and it has been a popular pass-along book in our family for the past few years.




Dominque from Victoria, British Columbia recommended: Growing Up Jung by Micah Toub

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This is a funny, insightful, coming-of-age memoir that made me smile, cringe and cry. I want other readers to share this lovely experience.




Kathy from Wadena, Saskatchewan recommended: Klondike by Pierre Berton

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This is a fascinating piece of Canadian history that is a far cry from what I previously imagined the Gold Rush to be like. Those in search of gold, and those who provided the services they needed, went through hell just to get that far north. Many died on the way, not realizing what they were in for when it came to the land they had to travel through, and/or the rapids when they went by water, and the weather. There was no effective law; there was lynch mob mentality. I have an old photo of people on a paddlewheeler who successfully made it through the Whitehorse Rapids, throwing their caps in the air in triumph, because so many didn't make it. It's a helluva story and Berton did a great job of telling it.




Marta from DDO recommended: Sophia Tolstoy: A Biography by Alexandra Popoff

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It paints a picture of a strong and intelligent woman living in a time and place when women were kept well in the background. Ms. Popoff has had access to previously unknown memoirs and diaries which allows her to portray both the Tolstoys more completely than ever before. Her writing is lucid and interesting and the book reads like a novel.




Ann from Thetis Island, British Columbia recommended: Drink the Bitter Root: A Writer's Search for Justice and Redemption in Africa by Gary Geddes

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Drink the Bitter Root by Gary Geddes is a must read for Canadians who are curious about Africa but have been reluctant to go themselves. Gary journeys to five of the most troubled countries in the Horn of Africa - Rwanda, DRC, Uganda, Ethiopia and Somaliland to talk to Africans who have been affected by war, violence and HIV/Aids. A moving and inspiring story, DBR will change the way readers view Canada's role in these countries.




Emma from Dartmouth, Nova Scotia recommended: Adventures in Solitude by Grant Lawrence

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I've chosen Adventures in Solitude because it reads as an informative yet highly entertaining novel.The way in which Grant Lawrence describes his various adventures in Desolation Sound draws the reader in & makes them feel apart of the mystique.




Megan from Toronto, Ontario recommended: Mrs. King by Charlotte Gray

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With all the biographies available about history's great men, Mrs. King by Charlotte Gray stands out as the story of the woman behind one great man. The relationship between William Lyon Mackenzie King, Prime Minister of Canada for over 20 years from the 1920s to the 1940s, and his mother, Isabel Mackenzie King, is the stuff of Canadian legend. Charlotte Gray presents it without judgment or denigration; their profound love may seem bizarre, but they were each other's point of stability in a changing world, and the impact they had on each other cannot be discounted.

Since Isabel was also the daughter of William Lyon Mackenzie, of the 1837 Upper Canada Rebellion fame, this biography spans two critical parts of Canadian history. Thus, Isabel's story is not only a good portrait of a woman's life in 19th and 20th century Canada, it also puts the lives of two of our key historical figures in new and fascinating perspective.




Dan from Kingston, Ontario recommended: Neil Young Nation by Kevin Chong

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I highly recommend Neil Young Nation by Kevin Chong. This book is a fun and engaging account of a cross country road trip by Kevin Chong and his three pot smoking, beer swilling buddies. The purpose of their trip of course is to follow the legendary routes taken by Neil from Winnipeg to Toronto and later from Toronto to Los Angeles on his way to fame and fortune. If you enjoy road stories, the amusing banter that takes place between good friends under the influence and you share their passion for Neil and his music, Neil Young Nation is for you. If you are like me, by the end of the book you'll wish you were riding along with these guys sharing barbs and listening to Neil Young tunes.




Steve from Vancouver, British Columbia recommended: Louis Riel by Chester Brown

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I am nominating Chester Brown's Louis Riel: A Comic-Strip Biography because it is a quintessential piece of Canadian non-fiction by one of our country's most talented cartoonists.

As was witnessed by last year's Canada Reads, Canadians absolutely have an appetite for quality graphic novels. Although Essex County did not win Canada Reads, it did win the Fan Choice award by a large margin because it spoke to Canadians of many different ages, backgrounds and tastes.

Louis Riel is one of the most controversial figures in Canadian history. A hero to many and a villain to others, this enigmatic character is someone whose story is very much relevant to Canadian society today. Unfortunately, his importance is not conveyed to most Canadians in an effective way. I recall learning about Riel as part of a New France unit in elementary school. Reading about such an important historical figure in a text book does not do justice to Riel's life. This is why Brown's portrait of Riel's life is so important. Louis Riel's life speaks volumes about relations in this country between people of different backgrounds (French, English, Native). Brown's interpretation of Riel's life does not take sides yet conveys a story in such an intense way, you are entirely drawn into that period in Canada's history. Children will learn about an important historical figure while adults will come to have a new appreciation of Riel's life and that's why Chester Brown's books should be a part of Canada Reads 2012.








Have a great true story you can to recommend for Canada Reads? You have until midnight ET on October 14 to get your submission in. Head over to the Submit Your Recommendation page now!

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