How Ali Hassan is gearing up to host Canada Reads again
From thought-provoking fiction to inspiring memoirs, this year's longlisted books speak to the theme One Book To Move You. Spanning separations and reconciliations, wars of the past and present, personal histories and imagined futures, these titles will disturb and disrupt, inspire and incite, and move readers to feel, to think and to act.
In the wake of the longlist announcement on Jan. 10, 2019, Canada Reads host Ali Hassan spoke with Tom Power on CBC Radio's q and with Dave White on Airplay about the list, this year's theme, and how he's gearing up for another round of the great Canadian book debate.
Excited to be back
"I just love being part of a national debate — a national event — that's a great feeling. But also, Canada Reads kind of restores my faith in humanity every year. You get to a point where you're like, 'Is anybody reading anything?' 'Does anybody care about literature?' And then you're reminded about how many people get engaged in this process. They're reading, they're talking, they're deliberating about intelligent, important things and it's great."
On the 2019 theme: One book to move you
"I like this theme a lot. As is often the case, it's open to some interpretation. You know, 'one book to move you' — to feel something... to think something... to act on something. In a climate where we may be seeing some increased apathy, you want to see an equal and opposite response to that and I think that's what this is. I think the way this will play out is either readers will be moved emotionally by some of these books, or these books will move people to some kind of action — either personal action or political action. And I think the way that will come out at the Canada Reads table in the form of debate will be very exciting to see."
Getting into the Canada Reads zone
"Something about the process brings out the competitive juices. As a panellist, you get to meet the author, you get to hear why the story was written, you get to hear about the people who were involved in the whole process that made this book a reality. And all of the sudden there's something on the line. You believe in this. And you [feel like you] have to win this for other people.
"You need that tension, you need that debate, you need a spark. That's what people enjoy; that's what they're listening for. And if it leads to a national debate after the fact, then Canada Reads has really done its job."
Ali Hassan's comments have been edited and condensed.