Canada Reads·My Life in Books

5 books Canada Reads panellist Amanda Brugel loved reading

The Handmaid's Tale actor is defending We Have Always Been Here by Samra Habib on Canada Reads 2020.

The Handmaid's Tale actor is defending We Have Always Been Here by Samra Habib

Amanda Brugel is defending We Have Always Been Here by Samra Habib on Canada Reads 2020. (CBC)

Amanda Brugel is an actor who has appeared in shows like Workin' MomsKim's Convenience, Orphan Black and The Handmaid's Tale.

Books and reading played a huge part in both her personal life and her acting career, she told CBC Books. It was perhaps serendipitous that she now stars in the adaptation of her favourite Margaret Atwood book.

"This is a story I tell quite often, but The Handmaid's Tale truly was the very first book I fell in love with. It's the book that inspired my love for reading," she said. 

Brugel is defending We Have Always Been Here by Samra Habib on Canada Reads 2020.

The debates will take place March 16-19, 2020 and will be hosted by Ali Hassan. They will be broadcast on CBC Radio OneCBC TVCBC Gem and on CBC Books

Here are the five books Brugel loved reading.

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood published The Handmaid's Tale in 1985. (Aaron Vincent Elkaim/Canadian Press/Emblem Editions)

"Obviously! I first read it when I was 15. It was the first time I saw a female protagonist that was strong, three-dimensional and flawed.

It was the first time I saw a female protagonist that was strong, three-dimensional and flawed.- Amanda Brugel

"In high school, I didn't know if I wanted to be an actor or a writer. In order to get into the writing program, I wrote a thesis on The Handmaid's Tale and I got a full scholarship. It truly started my love of reading."

East of Eden by John Steinbeck

American author and Nobel laureate John Steinbeck (1902-1968) wrote many classic novels, including East of Eden, The Grapes of Wrath and Of Mice and Men. (Hulton Archive/Getty Images, Penguin Books)

"This is an epic tale of good and evil. Themes of good and evil seem to be the connecting thread through all of the books that I read. I have no idea why.

"There's a specific chapter in the book that starts with the words, 'I believe there are monsters born in the world to human parents.' I would turn passages from the book into monologues that I would then recite.

Themes of good and evil seem to be the connecting thread through all of the books that I read.- Amanda Brugel

"I love Steinbeck's sweeping narrative set in Salinas Valley, Calif. I love how it parallels the book of Genesis. It's really smart and beautifully written."

21 Lessons for the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari

21 Lessons for the 21st Century is Yuval Noah Harari's third book. (Ilya Malnikov, Penguin Random House)

"Harari is a historian and it's a collection of essays that examine the future of humanity through suggestions of a possible future. It talks about AI, democracy and technology.

"It's so fascinating. It's not necessarily where we're going to go, but he looks at history and studies our past as an indication of where we're going in the future." 

Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

Romeo and Juliet is a tragedy written by William Shakespeare about two young star-crossed lovers whose deaths ultimately reconcile their feuding families. (Pan Macmillan, AP Press)

"It's a play, but it comes in book form. It was one of the first books I read and I had a very difficult time with the language.

"As I read more and more Shakespeare, I fell in love with it and I can recite it — almost from front to back —  off the top of my head." 

A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

English writer Anthony Burgess is the author of A Clockwork Orange, first published in 1962. (Evening Standard/Getty Images, Penguin Modern Classics)

"I love dystopian books. The thing I love the most of this book is that there's an interesting twist which he does with some of the language — it's sort of a hybrid of English and Russian. 

It makes the reader feel like they're a part of the world.- Amanda Brugel

"It makes the reader feel like they're a part of the world. You have to go through the arduous task of learning a new language in order to finish the book. You feel like you are there experiencing everything firsthand."

Amanda Brugel's comments have been edited for length and clarity.

The Canada Reads 2020 contenders

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