Past Canada Reads players give us their picks

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We called on former Canada Reads panelists and authors to play with our new theme and recommend their favourite true story.

Here are some of their non-fiction picks:

Canada Reads 2002 champion and musician Steven Page recommends Shake Hands with the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda by Roméo Dallaire


"This book is about the Rwandan genocide. Canadian Roméo Dallaire was in charge of the U.N. peacekeeping forces as [the genocide] began to unfold. I loved this book because it gave me an insight into the ups and downs of how modern politics and warfare work. And, though it is deeply depressing, there is still a sense of hope in humanity in the book."

2008 Canada Reads panelist, actor and Little Mosque on the Prairie star Zaib Shaikh recommends A Place Within: Rediscovering India by M.G. Vassanji


"A Place Within is part travelogue, part memoir, part love letter and part history lesson into what India means to the author...For me, whose parents are from Pakistan and, pre-1947, it was all India, it's a book that had many connections..."

2009 Canada Reads panelist, author and War Child co-founder Samantha Nutt recommends More Money than Brains: Why Schools Suck, College is Crap, and Idiots Think They're Right by Laura Penny


"[I]t's really about the rise of anti-intellectualism in universities and colleges...and the impact that's having on our society. I loved this book because, first of all, it's hilarious. She has a very wry sense of humour and her information is very well researched...But I also liked the personal elements of it, the anecdotes of her teaching experiences and what she's seeing in students."

2006 Canada Reads contender and award-winning author Joseph Boyden recommends Louis Riel: A Comic-Strip Biography by Chester Brown


"This book is about one of Canada's great heroes-slash-villains...I think all Canadians need to know our history and an incredibly important part of our history is our First Nations and Métis people. Chester Brown has captured in such a concise and perfect way this very complicated and fascinating and enigmatic character from our country's prairies."

2006 Canada Reads panelist, film director and Kandahar star Nelofer Pazira recommends Unlikely Soldiers: How Two Canadians Fought the Secret War Against Nazi Occupation by Jonathan Vance


"This book is the story of two upcoming, bright and young Canadians who were picked to work as part of a secret operation in WWII to help the resistance in France...I loved the book because, of course, it makes WWII very personal and it also captures the true reality and very brutality of what that war really meant to individuals like these two Canadians, who gave their lives to fight against Nazi Germany."

Canada Reads 2007's winning author Heather O'Neill recommends Angels and Ages: A Short Book About Darwin, Lincoln, and Modern Life by Adam Gopnik


"The book is about Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin, who happen to be born on the exact same day. [It's] about these two influential men and [w]e see the essence of their ideas but in a way that makes them human. One part of the book describes them as children, which is kind of fun. It's like the Muppet babies version of these iconic figures."

Canada Reads 2009 champ, author and critic Michel Vézina recommends Caribou Hunter by Serge Bouchard


"When he was a student, Serge Bouchard recorded an old Innu, apparently talking to himself...Years after, when the anthropologist had learned the language, he listened to the tapes and realized that the monologue of the old man were constituted of a amazing mix between his own hunting stories, his life and the oral tradition and founding myths of his Innu ancestors... A must to understand the deepest culture of our predecessors on this land, and the way history was being passed from one generation to the other...."

2003 Canada Reads contender and author Wayne Johnston recommends A History of Newfoundland by D.W. Prowse


"Judge Daniel Woodley Prowse's book, published in 1895, still holds up as THE great history of Newfoundland. Judge Prowse was the first Newfoundland writer to throw off the leaden mantle of colonialism and write about Newfoundland as a country, not merely a far flung afterthought of the British empire."

2005 Canada Reads panelist and MP Olivia Chow recommends Speaking Out Louder by Jack Layton


"It's very Jack Layton."

Which of these choices is your favourite? Let us know in the poll below. The poll closes at midnight ET on Sunday, October 16. Your votes will help these books on their way to the Canada Reads: True Stories Top 40!

We want to hear about your favourite true story. Recommend a book for Canada Reads and help us build a Top 40 list of non-fiction 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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