The Canada Reads team battles for their favourite 2012 books

Our celebrity panelists will be standing up for their favourite read in the February debates, but the Canada Reads team is ready to start right now! Five of our producers have chosen to go to bat for their favourite Canada Reads 2012 title. Each week, they will make a case for why their book is the best.

But why should we have all the fun? We want you to get in on the debate action too! Every week, we will pose a question about the books to the team, and we'll give you a chance to answer the very same question in the comments below for a chance to win a Canada Reads prize pack consisting of all five titles and a Canada Reads bag.

Today, we asked our team what book they are rooting for and why. Meet the defenders and their choices below!


Adrian defends The Game by Ken Dryden

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Hello friends of the internet! My name's Adrian, I'm an online producer with CBC Books, and I'm ready to drop the gloves to defend The Game by Ken Dryden.

Whether or not you're a hockey fan, it's undeniable that our national identity has strong associations with this sport. And while plenty has been written about hockey, nobody has come close to capturing the experience of playing the game — and devoting one's life to it — with as much insight and nuance as this Hall of Fame goaltender.

Deftly weaving together behind-the-scenes anecdotes, historical context and personal perspective, Dryden takes us into the locker room of the 1978-79 Montreal Canadiens, a legendary team boasting talents like Guy Lafleur and Guy Lapointe, and coached by Scotty Bowman. The Habs enter the season having won three straight Stanley Cup championships, but questions lingered over whether the team had enough fire left to win it all again. It's also Dryden's final season, and as much as he wants to retire with one more championship, he knows he has to look forward — to life after hockey.

Since this book was published in 1983, it's been heralded as one of the greatest hockey books ever written. That's because it isn't just a memoir about hockey. It's about family, community, pride and brotherhood. And it helps explain why so many Canadians, whether they play on the ice, watch from home or cheer in an arena, want to be part of the game.

Ken Dryden for the win!



Nicole defends On a Cold Road by Dave Bidini

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Hello! My name is Nicole, and I'm an associate producer with CBC Books. The two things I talk about the most are books and music. Concert tickets and new reads are where most of my time and money goes. So when On a Cold Road by Dave Bidini made the final five, it was like sweet music to my ears.

Sure, this book sounds perfect for me, but I bet it's a good fit for you, too. We've all been to a concert or two, but fewer of us have been up on stage performing in front of an audience (the glamorous side) or touring the country in a dingy bus (the less glamorous side).

In On a Cold Road, Bidini gives us an all-access pass to what it's like to be a touring musician in Canada, and he does it with the help of an allstar line-up of Canadian musicians. I'm excited to tour Canada with Bidini and his band of merry musicians, and get the inside scoop on what life is like when you're rockin' in the free world.



Barb defends Prisoner of Tehran by Marina Nemat

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Hi, I'm Barb, a member of the CBC Books team, and I'm defending Marina Nemat's powerful memoir, Prisoner of Tehran.

Like many people, I've been transfixed by recent developments in the Arab world, as popular protests have risen against repressive regimes and in some cases toppled them. In a way, Marina's book is a window on that world, even though it describes events that took place decades ago, in the 1980s, at the time of the Islamic Revolution in Iran. The issues — and the heavy-handed way in which dissent is dealt with — are very similar.

So it's a "big picture" story with relevance for what's happening in the world today. But it's also a very personal and dramatic narrative. Marina writes of being imprisoned and tortured at the age of 16. She was condemned to die — but through a remarkable series of events, she lived to tell this story.

Some of you may be thinking that you don't want to read about torture and summary executions. But the grimness is balanced by other passages about Marina's childhood and recollections of happy times, which give a vivid sense of Iranian society and culture. Moreover, the overall story is a testament to courage and hope. Prisoner of Tehran exposes the human capacity for hatred and cruelty — but conversely, also love and compassion.

Marina Nemat has said that she felt she had to write this memoir, to bear witness. I think you'll feel the same urgency about reading it, if you just give it a chance.



Debbie defends Something Fierce by Carmen Aguirre

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I'm Debbie, an associate producer here at the CBC.

I get bored easily. I'm a jack of all trades, but a master of almost none.

So, it's a testament to Something Fierce: Memoirs of a Revolutionary Daughter by Carmen Aguirre that I read it in one sitting! I spent the whole day on my couch.

I have no connection to South America. I also have no connection to living as a revolutionary. I've never worried about being captured and tortured, and if my parents were delayed coming home from work, I never feared that they'd been murdered by a military government.

But Something Fierce drew me in, just like it drew in its Canada Reads defender, Juno Award-winner Shad.

It's not a rose-garden read. The subject matter deals with harrowing circumstances. But, it's also funny. It`s part history book, political narrative and coming-of-age story.

It's also about something we all wrestle with: that fight between our desires and wants with our values and politics. Just as much as Carmen feared capture, torture and death, it seems she feared not living up to the image of a revolutionary even more. Revolutionaries don't go to Michael Jackson concerts!

In sum, masterful book Something Fierce + hiphop master Shad = Canada Reads win!

Doubters, see Drake.



Alison defends The Tiger by John Vaillant

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I'm Alison, a freelance writer and producer, and I've been working with the Canada Reads team since October. And now they are in trouble, because I'm about to sic The Tiger on them.

I was born to defend this book. I'm a Leo, which, okay, is a lion, not a tiger, but a giant man-eating cat is a giant man-eating cat. (Not that I'm a man-eater...or maybe I am. Time and this competition will tell.) I've always been a cat-person, and after reading John Vaillant's terrific (and terrifying) book, I am more convinced than ever that it's best to be on the side of the tiger, because otherwise the tiger is going to destroy you. (It might destroy you anyway.) Likewise, The Tiger is going to destroy you. Vaillant's account of the hunt for the man-eating tiger that terrorized the remote Russian village of Primorye in 1997 is both blood-curdling and heart-wrenching. He's equally vivid describing the sheer power of an Amur tiger and the bleakness of life in the remote rural areas of Russia post-Perestroika. Ultimately, the book is an insightful account of the delicate — and violent — balance between man and nature. Also, a tiger rips some dudes apart. It will make you appreciate your life immensely, especially if your life is lived nowhere near tigers.



Which Canada Reads 2012 title will you be championing and why? Let us know in the comments below for a chance to win!

The deadline for entries is midnight, ET on Thursday, December 1. The complete rules and regulations are here. Good luck!

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