Canada Reads·My Life in Books

The authors and books that Canada Reads author Michelle Good loved reading

Christian Allaire is defending Five Little Indians by Michelle Good on Canada Reads 2022. Canada Reads will take place March 28-31.

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

Michelle Good is the author of Five Little Indians. (Submitted by Michelle Good, CBC)

Michelle Good is a Cree writer and lawyer, as well as a member of Red Pheasant Cree Nation in Saskatchewan. Her first book, Five Little Indians, won the 2020 Governor General's Literary Award for fiction and the 2021 Amazon Canada First Novel Award. It was also on the 2020 Writers's Trust Fiction Prize shortlist and the 2020 Scotiabank Giller Prize longlist.

In Five Little Indians, Kenny, Lucy, Clara, Howie and Maisie were taken from their families and sent to a residential school when they were very small. Barely out of childhood, they are released and left to contend with the seedy world of eastside Vancouver. Fuelled by the trauma of their childhood, the five friends cross paths over the decades and struggle with the weight of their shared past. 

Christian 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 OneCBC TVCBC Gem and on CBC Books

Good told CBC Books that she is an avid reader and that books have always been a constant in her life.

"My father was a real influence in terms of my reading. And so I read everything he was reading," Good told CBC Books. "I was about 12 years old and I was reading Cannery Row, East of Eden, Grapes of Wrath and and those very powerful narrative books"

Here are some of the books and authors Good loved reading.

Daybreak by Joan Baez

Daybreak is a book by Joan Baez. (George W. Hales/Fox Photos/Getty Images, The Dial Press Inc.)

"I remember reading Daybreak when I was 13 years old. It is an early autobiography of Joan Baez.

"It introduced me to activism and pacifism. It was very important."

Land of Opportunities: Joan Baez

4 years ago
Duration 8:17
In 1967, Joan Baez appeared on CBC's Sunday program and made statement that was both political and artistic.

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown

Dee Brown documents the history of harm done to Indigenous people in America in his bestselling book Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee. (Open Road Media, Henry Holt & Co.)

"This was a real turning point for me when this book came out.

"It is about the systematic destruction of the American Indian during the second half of the 19th century." 

Dance Me Outside by W.P. Kinsella

Dance Me Outside is a book by W.P. Kinsella. (Oberon Pr, wpkinsella.com)

"This was a very interesting book for me to read because there's been tremendous controversy about this non-Indigenous man writing as though from an Indigenous perspective. 

It was the first time I ran into the notion of cultural appropriation in literature.

"It was the first time I ran into the notion of cultural appropriation in literature. His representation of an Indigenous medicine woman as a drunk infuriated me. It also inspired me to think that there is a place that must be opened for Indigenous authors so that we can tell the stories the way we want to tell our stories."

Author W.P. Kinsella dead at 81

6 years ago
Duration 1:48
B.C.-based author of Shoeless Joe, the award-winning novel that became the film Field of Dreams, ended his own life with the assistance of a doctor

Swamp Angel by Ethel Wilson

Swamp Angel is a book by Ethel Wilson. (New Canadian Library, bcyukonbookprizes.com)

"The Swamp Angel was the first 'CanLit' book I ever read. It just hit me like a ton of bricks to see land that I'm tremendously familiar with landscapes, both geographical and emotional, that were distinctly Canadian.

"And I read everything she wrote."

In episode one of The Backlist, a series about Canadian novels that have fallen out of public memory - or never got the attention they deserved in the first place - B.C. writer Theresa Kishkan talks about Ethel Wilson's 1954 novel Swamp Angel.

Margaret Laurence & Alice Munro

Canadian writers Alice Munro, left, and Margaret Laurence have each made lasting contributions to Canadian literature. (Chris Young/Canadian Press, CBC)

"Following reading Ethel Wilson was Margaret Laurence — in particular The Diviners, The Stone Angel and  A Jest of God — also Alice Munro's Lives of Girls and Women and Something I've Been Meaning to Tell You

These are amazing women and Canadian writers that wrote with such a phenomenally unique style.

"These are amazing women and Canadian writers that wrote with such a phenomenally unique style. It just lit a fire in me that I think is still burning." 

Louise Erdrich

The Night Watchman is a novel by Louise Erdrich. (Dawn Villella, Associated Press, HarperCollins)

I read everything by Louise Erdrich. I haven't had an opportunity to read her newest book The Sentence but The Night Watchman was just phenomenal. And I'm going back again to Love Medicine as I'm really into her unique style. She's technically American, but for Indigenous people, there is no border. She is probably related to people in Ontario even though she's in Minnesota.

Eleanor spoke with Louise Erdrich, onstage, in front of a packed house at Harbourfront in Toronto.

Michelle Good's comments have been edited for length and clarity.

The Canada Reads 2022 contenders

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