Ian Mosby's choices for novels that could change Canada


Since Canada Reads is about finding novels to inspire change, we thought we'd turn to people actually making positive change in the world to share their book recommendations with us! 

Today, we turn to Ian Mosby, a SSHRC postdoctoral fellow at the University of Guelph and a historian of food, health and nutrition. When asked to chose novels that had the power to inspire change in Canada, here's what Ian had to say:

"I'm not sure that I ever pick up a novel thinking, 'This looks good -- it supports social change!' Mostly I read for much more selfish reasons like escaping my everyday life of reading dense academic texts and digging through piles and piles of primary sources. But, I guess, sometimes I unintentionally read something and think, 'Oh man, I wish more people would read something like this.' My favourite Canadian writer, Thomas King, is like that. I read his books because they are beautiful, funny, heartbreaking, and -- most of all ­-- simply great stories. But his books also offer some of the most humane treatment of the historical legacies of colonialism and the realities of contemporary Indigenous life that I've read, mostly because they are -- first and foremost -- just fantastic novels. If more Canadians would read something like Truth and Bright Water or Green Grass, Running Water it might help them get past the TV news tropes and harmful stereotypes that seem to dominate Canadians' ideas about the lives of Indigenous peoples in Canada and that have prevented Canada from truly dealing with the legacies of its colonial past (and present).

Canada also seem to be moving down a road towards what is looking increasingly like a national surveillance state where privacy is being sacrificed to combat vague and politically expedient threats like 'terror' and 'piracy.' You could read any number of non-fiction works on this creeping loss of our freedoms but I don't think any of them will make you want to stand up and actually do something about it like Toronto-born author Cory Doctorow's Little Brother. Not only is it a cautionary tale of a dystopian (but decidedly familiar) near-future where a terrorist attack is used to justify the permanent suspension of civil liberties, but it is almost a how-to manual of how someone -- particularly a bright, computer-savvy young person -- might fight back and protect themselves using tools that, in large part, already exist. A call to arms, a how-to manual for the teenage freedom-fighting hacker, and -- most importantly -- a great, fast-paced and fun story."

That's a lot to think about, Canada! Of the three books Ian mentioned, two are eligible for Canada Reads 2014. Which means, it's up to you! Cast your vote for your choice in the poll below by Sunday, October 20, at 11:59 p.m. ET. Your votes will help these books make the Top 40 and get them one step further to being a finalist on Canada Reads!

What is the one novel that could change our nation?

Poll is now closed. Thanks for voting!

Once you've voted, don't forget to submit your own recommendations here and enter our inspiring reads contest here!

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