Canada Reads 2018

How Canada Reads panellist Greg Johnson is preparing for the debates

The adventure seeker and photographer is defending Precious Cargo by Craig Davidson on CBC's battle of the books.
Greg Johnson is defending Precious Cargo by Craig Davidson on Canada Reads 2018. (CBC)

The pressure mounts as panellist Greg Johnson prepares for his appearance on Canada Reads 2018. Known for his work on Tornado Hunters, the storm chaser will be defending Craig Davidson's Precious Cargo, a memoir chronicling the author's year driving a bus for children with special needs. 

The debates take place March 26-29, 2018 and will be hosted by Ali Hassan.

Johnson discussed how he was preparing for Canada Reads with Garth Materie on CBC Regina's Afternoon Edition on Jan. 30, 2018.

Bringing his A-game

"There are big personalities on this panel and some great books, so there's a lot of competition. Going into the announcement of the panellists, my preparation was all about reading. I didn't think there was a whole lot of preparation beyond that. But after I met these panellists and I see how passionate everyone is about the book they are supporting, I've got to get out there and dog-ear a few pages in this book and pull out some quotes. I've got my boxing gloves on — I'm ready to go. I'm going to really bring my A-game."

Knowing the theme

"This is a book that's more important now than ever. We live in a time where people think they can say whatever they want to say to other people, regardless of how it makes them feel. Now, more than ever, it's important to understand how we treat each other, and treat each other better. The overarching theme in this book is about empathy... When I read this book, I laughed. There's a ton of laughter. There's funny moments, there's tears. That idea of empathy really comes through. The theme of Canada Reads this year is One Book to Open Your Eyes. This book does that. The most important thing we can do right now is show empathy toward others." 

Finding a personal angle

"I see myself in [author Craig Davidson]. He goes through a journey in life where he has a lot of failures. Then he got this job driving a school bus. This was a job he didn't intend on having and it wasn't his dream job. He thought he was just going to just drive the kids. But he spent a year with these special-needs kids and it changed his perspective on the world and changed his life. I saw a lot of that in my own personal journey — we all have things that are discouraging in life and, somehow, we have to get through it."

Greg Johnson's comments have been edited and condensed.

The Canada Reads 2018 contenders:

Mozhdah Jamalzadah, defending The Boat People by Sharon Bala
Tahmoh Penikett, defending American War by Omar El Akkad
Greg Johnson, defending Precious Cargo by Craig Davidson
Jeanne Beker, defending Forgiveness by Mark Sakamoto
Jully Black, defending The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline    

Listen to the full interview:

Storm chaser Greg Johnson talks to Garth Materie about his role as a panellist on Canada Reads 2018. 5:44

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