I have this theory: we all assemble "best of" lists to help us organize the chaos of information that swirls around us as we live our lives. I have my own haphazard gatherings of movies, world cities, adverbs, restaurants, books, cookie recipes - the categories are infinite, when you stop to think of it!
A few things occur to me about "best of" lists. One is that they almost always come out of some kind of conversation. I have preferences and appetites, but I am inspired and influenced by others who share my passion for something. Every one of my "best of" lists is a mash-up of things I have experienced first-hand, and others which have come highly recommended by people who intrigue me.
Because of that blend of inside and outside information, I have come to realize that "best of" lists are never exhaustive. They reflect specific tastes and attitudes, but they also hang on chance. What has gone unnoticed? What has fallen off the collective radar screen?
What is "best" is also powerfully situational. How I choose something, whether that's food or book or company, will have a lot to do with where I am, what time of day it is, who recommends it, and how I want to massage my mood. It also has to do with my age and my experience with different tastes and textures. And it's personal - I have a friend who cannot bear the taste and texture of bananas. No amount of discussion is going to affect that!
When a little gang of serious readers got together to think about what books might represent Manitoba, we were charged with creating a "best of" list. We enjoyed that conversation - this province has generated a remarkable variety and quality of writing in its short history, and our conversation was peppered with pleasure and surprise as we jogged one another's memories or piqued one another's interest. This year's Manitoba Reads long list is certainly not exhaustive (we have years' worth of lists waiting in line!) but it captures the range and variety of great work our writers have contributed to the bigger literary world.
We think of this year's Manitoba Reads titles as a buffet of sorts, and we invite you to sample to your heart's content. Then get in on the conversation. Share your enthusiasm about one or more of these titles, and persuade others to get excited about them too.