Canada Reads·My Life In Books

6 books and authors Canada Reads panellist Tahmoh Penikett loves

The actor shares the writing that has had a lasting impact on him.
Tahmoh Penikett is defending America War by Omar El Akkad on Canada Reads 2018. (CBC)

Yukon-born actor Tahmoh Penikett, who is known for his roles in Battlestar Galactica, Supernatural and the new Netflix series Altered Carbon, is an avid reader and son of former Yukon premier Tony Penikett and Lulla Sierra Johns of the White River First Nation.  

Penikett is defending American War by Omar El Akkad on Canada Reads 2018. The debates, which will be hosted by Ali Hassan, take place March 26-29, 2018.

Below, he shares some of the books and authors that have had an impact on him throughout his life.

White Fang by Jack London

Jack London's classic novel White Fang, told from the perspective of a half-dog, half-wolf, examines the parallels between the human and animal world. (Wikimedia Commons/SeaWolf Press)

"I was always fascinated by wolves when I was quite young. This book was fascinating for me, as a kid growing up in Yukon — a story of this wild wolfdog, told from the dog's perspective. It's his view of the world and how violent it can be at times. It's his outlook and understanding of human beings and the way they treat him and react to him. There are ones who were kind, ones who are mean and ones he can't interpret."

Moby-Dick by Herman Melville

This Herman Melville classic tells the story of a giant white whale that haunts captain Ahab as he obsessively tries to get revenge on the titular whale. (Wikimedia Commons/Penguin Publishing Group)

"Moby-Dick blew my mind. Trying to imagine that world of sailors and whale hunters battling this legendary mythical whale that's so big that it can take out their boats — it was a fascinating story to me as a kid. I remember being consumed by that book." 

William Gibson

This seminal sci-fi novel predicts and explores humanity's obsession with the internet and virtual reality. (Wikimedia Commons/Penguin Publishing Group)

"I remember my dad giving me my first William Gibson novel — it was Burning Chrome or Neuromancer — and I was I was like, 'Whoa.' I thought it was incredible. This guy's writing about 50 years in the future, but this is plausible. He was talking about things that are coming to fruition now. I still think that's genius. But science fiction pushes those barriers. A lot of those writers imagine the world as more progressive and equal."

Three Day Road by Joseph Boyden

Joseph Boyden is the author of Three Day Road. (Penguin Canada)

"I'm a freckly white guy and I've been afforded certain liberties in my life because of the colour of my skin, even though culturally I was raised more in my Indigenous practices and traditional ways. Indigenous issues have always been dear to me. My mother was forced to go to residential schools. She lost a majority of her family and friends. If they didn't die during school, they died after as a result of alcoholism, violent death, suicide — anything you can imagine as a result of what they experienced in residential schools. This book re-ignited an anger and fire in me."

Margaret Atwood 

Margaret Atwood is the author of numerous works, including Cat's Eye, The Handmaid's Tale and Alias Grace. (Lucy Nicholson/Reuters)

"You want to talk about feminism? She was one of the most effective feminists out there. She's been writing for decades and is one of the world's most celebrated writers. We should embrace anything and everything she does. She's incredible." 

The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt

Patrick deWitt's The Sisters Brothers was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2011. (Danny Palmerlee, HarperCollins)

"I picked up The Sisters Brothers by chance. Was that a different book! He's so quirky. He's a different writer,but he is so, so good. I love him, that was a fantastic book." 

Tahmoh Penikett's comments have been edited and condensed.


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