Books·My Life in Books

6 books that inspired Tokyo Today host Perdita Felicien

The Olympian and CBC Sports host on the books that she loved reading.

The Olympics take place July 23-Aug. 8, 2021

Perdita Felicien is the co-host of Tokyo Today. (CBC)

The 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games are on now! The Olympics are happening July 23-Aug. 8, 2021 and the Paralympic Games will take place Aug. 24-Sept. 5, 2021.

Perdita Felicien is an Olympian who is bringing you the action from Tokyo every day as the co-host of Tokyo Today. She is also now a bestselling author, her memoir My Mother's Daughter came out in 2021.

 You can see a complete schedule of events here.

In 2018, Felicien shared six books that fuelled her love of literature. See what she picked below!

The Color Purple by Alice Walker 

Alice Walker is the Pulitzer Prize winning author of The Color Purple. (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

"Is it cheating if I fell in love with the movie first? Hopefully not, because by the time I read Walker's book in high school, I loved the story even more. This was the first time I read a book and hated and loved some of the characters on the page with passion.

This was the first time I read a book and hated and loved some of the characters on the page with passion.

"The hatred I felt for the character of Mister felt real to me. (To this day I can't stand actor Danny Glover who played the role in the film.) The devotion I felt for Celie was so visceral, that even once I had put the book down, I still felt it. Also, I hadn't read anything where a character's dialect was written phonetically. That pulled me in and allowed me to know Walker's characters even more."

Charlotte's Web by E.B. White

E.B. White is the author of Charlotte's Web. (Wikimedia Commons/HarperCollins)

"I was in elementary school when I read this book. E.B. White got me deeply invested in this friendship between a spider and a pig. But what does he do? He kills one of them off. Like, dude? It was devastation to my itty bitty heart. (I cry silently inside even thinking about it today.)

That book made me feel things, and for that I simply love it.

"That book made me feel things, and for that I simply love it."

A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah

Ishmael Beah is a Sierra Leonean author and human rights activist. (Penguin/John Madere)

"The experience of being a child soldier and living in the midst of a civil war in Sierra Leone are far removed from my everyday life in North America. This true story took me to a place and through horrors I didn't know existed.

This true story took me to a place and through horrors I didn't know existed.

"I could not put down this story, in which Beah turns from tragedy into personal triumph."

Ishmael Beah

13 years ago
A child soldier tells his story of the atrocities of war. 11:01

The Color Of Water by James McBride 

James McBride is a musician and author. (Wikimedia Commons/Riverhead)

"Memoir is one of my favourite genres. McBride pulled me in with his story of being a Black man in America who was raised by a white mother.

I could not stop turning each delicious page

"Not only is his mother extremely entertaining and smart, but she is hiding a part of herself that her children know nothing about. I could not stop turning each delicious page."

The surprise winner of the 2013 American National Book Award talked to Eleanor Wachtel about his prize-winning book, "The Good Lord Bird," which centres on the abolitionist John Brown; and about the lessons he learned from his Polish Jewish mother. 52:10

The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck

Pearl Sydenstricker Buck was an American writer and novelist. (Wikimedia Commons/Simon & Schuster)

"I read this book over 10 years ago. I was pulled in by the plight of the main character Wang Lu, a poor, determined farmer. Buck won a Pulitzer Prize for it in 1932. I'll be picking it back up very soon so I can get reacquainted."  

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe is the author of Things Fall Apart. (Don Hamerman/Doubleday Canada)

"This book, set in Nigeria in the 1890s amidst pre- and post-colonial life in West Africa, is filled with adventure.

This work is a gem.

"Achebe tackles complex themes like identity, colonialism and socio-political issues through rich and multi-layered characters. This work is a gem."

Sadly, Chinua Achebe, the internationally celebrated Nigerian author, has died following a brief illness. He was 82. Eleanor Wachtel spoke with him in 1994, and we re-aired that interview when Achebe won the Man Booker Prize in 2007. 54:32

Perdita Felicen's comments have been edited for length and clarity.

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