Canada Reads·My Life in Books

The books that Canada Reads author Megan Gail Coles loved reading

YouTube star Alayna Fender is defending Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club by the Newfoundland writer.
Megan Gail Coles is the author of Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club. (CBC)

As a child, Megan Gail Coles grew up in a "really isolated part of Newfoundland" — Savage Cove on the Great Northern Peninsula  — that didn't have a library or a bookstore nearby.

But that didn't stop the Canada Reads author from developing a love of literature.

"Some of the books that were influential in my childhood and adolescence weren't necessarily books that would be considered parts of the Canadian canon, but more what was available to me," she told CBC Books. 

For Canada Reads 2020, YouTube star Alayna Fender is defending Coles's debut novel Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club.

The novel centres on a cast of flawed characters who are implicated in each other's hopes, dreams and pains. Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club was also on the 2019 Scotiabank Giller Prize shortlist.

The debates were scheduled to take place March 16-19, 2020. Given the ongoing developments with COVID-19 and the related travel concerns, Canada Reads has made the difficult decision to postpone next week's event until we can convene our stellar panel of advocates in front of a live audience. 

Canada Reads content will still be featured this week (March 16-20), in a series of one hour programs dedicated to this year's books and authors.

Here are the books and authors that Coles loved reading.

Nancy Drew Mystery Stories, The Baby-Sitters Club, The Hardy Boys

Newfoundland author Megan Gail Coles is a fan of these three classic children's book series: Nancy Drew, The Baby-Sitters Club and The Hardy Boys. (Grosset & Dunlap, Scholastic Inc.)

"My cousins and I read a lot of Nancy Drew, The Baby-Sitter Club and The Hardy Boys series of books. 

"My childhood, and I guess my adolescence as well, was about consuming as many different kinds of books as I could get my hands on. This is how I read for that period of my life." 

The Brontë sisters

The Brontës, sisters Charlotte, Emily, and Anne, were a 19th-century literary family whose novels have become classics. (Gibbs Smith, Vintage Classics, Penguin Classic)

 "After I moved to 'town' — that's what we call St. John's — I had a much greater access to literature because I was at university doing an English literature degree. So I spent a lot of time with the Brontës.

Wuthering Heights was influential in that it taught me all the wrong ways to be loved as a young person.- Megan Gail Coles

"Wuthering Heights was influential in that it taught me all the wrong ways to be loved as a young person. I read Jane Eyre and all those texts that are part of our shared literary heritage."

Stephen King, Kurt Vonnegut, Haruki Murakami

Canada Reads author Megan Gail Coles loved reading the works of 20th century authors Stephen King, Kurt Vonnegut and Haruki Murakami. (Joe Kohen/Getty Images, CP Press, AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

"Stephen King paperbacks were quite popular in the local pharmacy, which is where we would buy books. I would go on, later in life, to discover the works of Kurt Vonnegut and Haruki Murakami.

"I read almost everything that I could get my hands on."

A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry

Rohinton Mistry won the 1995 Giller Prize. (New Canadian Library, F. Mistry)

"A book that I return to rather regularly — and one that is a huge part of the Canadian literary canon —  is A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry. Every single time I read it, which is, on average, every two years, it's an epic.

I read almost everything that I could get my hands on.- Megan Gail Coles

"It has multiple narrators and has quite a scope when it comes to colonization and poverty, and how people form relationships with each other. I find something new in that book every single time I engage with it."

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez

Gabriel García Márquez is the author of the celebrated magic realism novel One Hundred Years of Solitude. (Harper & Row, Edgard Garrido/Reuters)

"I've read everything, from plays and poetry to nonfiction. This is another book that I revisit regularly."

Megan Gail Coles's comments have been edited for length and clarity. 

The Canada Reads 2020 contenders

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