Canada Reads

Why George Canyon chose From the Ashes by Jesse Thistle for Canada Reads 2020

The country singer says that this memoir about surviving homelessness and addiction had him crying, laughing and yelling.
George Canyon is defending From the Ashes by Jesse Thistle on Canada Reads 2020. (CBC)

Country singer George Canyon will defend the memoir From the Ashes by Jesse Thistle on Canada Reads 2020.

The Métis-Cree writer's first book describes how he transformed his life — from being homeless and struggling with addiction to winning top awards in academia. Thistle is now a professor at York University and a national bestselling author.

Canada Reads 2020 will take place July 20-23.

At a live event on Jan. 22, 2020, Canyon talked about Canada Reads and From the Ashes.

Why Canada Reads?

"Books take you somewhere nothing else can. You get to see a movie in your head that nobody gets to experience. When I was read my very first book — Mrs. Nichols read Farley Mowat's Never Cry Wolf in Grade 4 and there's a lot of adult content in that book so a lot went over our heads — what I got to see when I heard those words was beyond anything I had ever experienced, including music. I was elated to be asked to be part of this."

Never has a book had this effect on me. Ever.- George Canyon

Why From the Ashes by Jesse Thistle?

"I do a lot of reading. Never has a book had this effect on me. Ever. At some points I was laughing. At some points I was ugly crying — and trust me I'm frickin' ugly when I cry. Then at other points I was yelling at the book. I've yelled at the TV, but I've never yelled at a book. It isn't words on a page. It's an experience. Reading this book was an experience.

"It was like sitting down with your buddy and having a coffee and he's telling you the story of his life. There were points where I put the book down and felt guilty because I was interrupting him telling me this story."


George Canyon's comments were taken from a live Canada Reads event with all the panellists and authors, hosted by Here & Now's Gill Deacon.

The books and celebrity champions of Canada Reads 2020 have been revealed! This year's panellists and authors gathered for a live event hosted by Gill Deacon in Toronto to launch the new season of CBC's annual battle of the books. 56:29

The Canada Reads 2020 contenders

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