Books·My Life in Books

4 books that inspired Sort Of star Supinder Wraich

The writer, filmmaker and star of the CBC comedy series Sort Of shares the books she loved reading. A new season of Sort Of premieres on Nov. 15 on CBC TV and CBC Gem.
Supinder Wraich is an Ontario-based writer and actor. (CBC)

Supinder Wraich is a Canadian writer, filmmaker and actress most noted for her starring role as Aqsa Mehboob in CBC original comedy series Sort Of

The second season of Sort Of will make its Canadian premiere beginning Tuesday Nov. 15 on CBC TV starting at 9 p.m. (9:30 NT) and episodes will also stream on CBC Gem.

Created by Bilal Baig and Fab Filippo, the theme of Sort Of's new season is "the season of love" as protagonist Sabi — a gender-fluid nanny/bartender played by Baig — is faced with new challenges navigating their work, family and romantic life. 

The show won a Peabody Award and the Canadian Screen Award for best comedy series. Amanda Brugel, Scott Thompson and Raymond Cham Jr. have joined the ensemble cast for the new season. 

Wraich is an Indian-born Canadian actress and filmmaker. The Ontario-based Wraich has been featured on television series The 99, Copper and Crawford and also created and starred in the CBC Gem series The 410.

On Sort OfWraich plays Aqsa, Sabi's sister and roommate who offers support — though at times their views on navigating their family's expectations and cultural beliefs differ.

Wraich talked to CBC Books about the books she loved reading.

White Oleander by Janet Fitch 

White Oleander is a novel by Janet Fitch. (Cat Gwynn, Back Bay Book)

"I must have read it when I was about 14 or 15 in high school. It's a beautiful book. It was my introduction to fiction that could be dark.

"The protagonist is very thoughtful. Her mother was in prison for murdering her father. The book had this darkness that I hadn't associated with women up to that point. It looks at what this young girl goes through and the way that she learns about the world.

The book had this darkness that I hadn't associated with women up to that point.

"That darkness and dangerousness really influences my own work. I tend to lean that way in the art that I make.

"That's surprising to people because when they meet me, it's like, 'She's bright! She's had this nice suburban life!' But I think that there's that draw to the unknown — the shadow parts of ourselves — that is something I have always been drawn to."

Women Who Run With the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estés

A photo composite of author and book.
Women Who Run With the Wolves is a book by Clarissa Pinkola Estés. (Ballantine Books, clarissapinkolaestes.com)

"This is so beautiful. Estés is a Jungian psychoanalyst. She uses folktales to illustrate how society has systematically stripped away the feminine spirit.

"If you were to talk about this in layman's terms or in a methodical way, it wouldn't hook you like the story does. The way that these stories are told, we have an understanding of how those women have been separated from things that are 'dirty' or 'messy' —  I appreciate the way that she outlined that because the fact that it's been taken away means that it belonged to us at some point.

She uses folktales to illustrate how society has systematically stripped away the feminine spirit.

"It's something to reclaim. This book sort of started my own sort of journey — with my sexuality, with my relationships with myself and others. These things about being 'clean and tidy' just weren't me. It is more of a societal and generational thing that taught us to be this way because of the benefits that it has to society.

"It is about the losses that we suffer from not being able to enjoy the gifts of life."

Inside Story by Dara Marks

A photo composite of author and book.
Inside Story is a book by Dara Marks. (Three Mountain Press, daramarks.com)

"I had been developing my CBC Gem series, The 410, and this book really helps you clarify how to build your own structure in your own characters, an inherent structure based on their inner arc. I found this fascinating because they always believed and had this image in mind that each story has a shape. Between structure and story, you have to build the right container to hold it. 

I found this fascinating because they always believed and had this image in mind that each story has a shape.

"Sometimes it's not as simple as you know the three-act structure. The next phase of my career as a writer is trying to figure out how to navigate structure or story so you can make it more your own."

1984 by George Orwell

1984 is a novel by George Orwell. (Penguin Canada)

"My mind always goes back to this book and draws comparisons between what's happening in the world, particularly in social media, and the way that we consume entertainment.

"The biggest thing that stood out to me with 1984 are the characters whose job it was to create false news — to hide what was actually happening in the world and make it hard to disseminate the truth from fiction. 

"That is exactly what is happening in our world right now."

Supinder Wraich's comments have been edited for length and clarity.

Watch | Season two of CBC's Sort Of premieres Nov. 15:

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