Canada Reads·My Life in Books

6 books that Canada Reads panellist Christian Allaire loved reading

The Ojibway journalist and fashion editor is championing Five Little Indians by Michelle Good on Canada Reads 2022.

The Ojibway journalist and fashion editor is championing Five Little Indians by Michelle Good on Canada Reads.

Christian Allaire is championing Five Little Indians by Michelle Good. (CBC)

Christian Allaire is an Ojibway writer and journalist from Nipissing First Nation. Allaire's work can be found in publications such as Refinery29, Elle, Hazlitt and Mr. Porter. Currently, he is the fashion and style writer for Vogue.

Allaire is defending Five Little Indians by Michelle Good on Canada Reads 2022.

Canada Reads will take place March 28-31. The debates will be hosted by Ali Hassan and will be broadcast on CBC Radio One, CBC TV, CBC Gem and on CBC Books

Allaire is also an author — his book, The Power of Style, is a YA nonfiction work that highlights the need for diversity and representation in fashion. The Power of Style examines the intersection of style, culture and social justice.

Here are the books that have inspired Allaire's love of reading over the years.

The Goosebumps series by R. L. Stine

R.L. Stine is the creator of Goosebumps, a series of children's horror fiction novellas. (Getty Images, Scholastic)

"If I'm thinking of one of the earliest books I was obsessed with, it's the Goosebumps series. I don't have one particular book in mind; I think I've read them all. It's my earliest memory of really becoming obsessed with reading. I remember blowing my whole Scholastic allowance on these books.

I think I've read them all.

"I'm also a huge horror genre lover and I think it stems from those books." 

Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella

Confessions of a Shopaholic is a book by Sophie Kinsella. (John Swannell, Dial Press)

"This is my high school era. I was really obsessed with Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella. My best friend in high school, Cathy, told me to read it. She read it first and we both love fashion and we're both city people at heart.

This book got me interested in the fashion world and magazines.

"This book got me interested in the fashion world and magazines. I remember reading about New York and it all seemed so glamorous; it actually inspired me to move there. I'm obsessed with that whole series. I think there's been a few sequels too, and I've read them all. And I love the movie." 

We Tell Ourselves Stories In Order To Live by Joan Didion

We Tell Ourselves Stories In Order To Live is a book by Joan Didion. (Brigitte Lacombe, Everyman's Library)

"It's a collection of all her best nonfiction essays. I read it the year before I went away for college. It inspired me to pursue journalism. 

It inspired me to pursue journalism.

"Reading her prose, and the way she inserts herself into a topic but somehow remains objective — I was just really inspired by her way of storytelling. I remember reading that book and deciding that I wanted to become a writer. It's actually still my favourite book of all time."

Heart Berries By Terese Marie Mailhot 

Terese Marie Mailhot is a writer from Seabird Island, B.C. (Isaiah Mailhot, Penguin Random House Canada)

"More recently, one of my favourite books that I've read is Heart Berries by Terese Marie Mailhot. And that's just a prime example of a really amazing, contemporary Indigenous voice. I love that she destigmatizes mental health and documents her own struggles in a relatable way.

I love that she destigmatizes mental health and documents her own struggles in a relatable way.

"Also, she addresses the real issues and racism that Native women face today. And when I read that book, I could see her struggles that so many women in my life have struggled with. I just thought it was such an honest, raw memoir. It's really one of my favourites." 

How to Cure a Ghost by Fariha Róisín

How to Cure a Ghost is a poetry book by Fariha Róisín. (Abrams Image, The Unnamed Press)

"Another one I really love is How to Cure a Ghost by Fariha Róisín. It's a poetry book and actually, poetry is a new realm for me. I can't say that I'm a big poetry reader, but when I read her collection, I started getting interested in the art of poetry. 

Poetry is a new realm for me.

"Her work explores her identity as a queer Muslim woman, her experience with abuse, and I think she actually called it a book for survivors. And just reading her words, they kind of creep up on you; you'll read it a second time and get something totally different out of it. I'm fascinated with the world of poetry because of this. I think before I was like, 'I don't really get poetry.'

"But now, having read her work, I see the power that poetry can have." 

There There by Tommy Orange

Tommy Orange is a writer based in California. (Random House)

"Kind of like Heart Berries, I think it's a great book that shifts the narrative and gives contemporary Indigenous voices a platform. For so long, our stories have been told through a white lens, and I love how Tommy centres a story around a powwow and gives all these different characters such depth and such original storylines that, for years, we haven't been afforded. 

It's a great book that shifts the narrative and gives contemporary Indigenous voices a platform.

"So I love his grappling with the idea of history and identity, and his writing style is so easy and so delicious to read."

Christian Allaire's comments have been edited for length and clarity.

The Canada Reads 2022 contenders

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