How Ali Hassan is gearing up to host Canada Reads again

The battle of the books host weighs in on the Canada Reads 2019.
Ali Hassan greets audiences and panellists as the host of Canada Reads. (Peter Power/CBC)

The Canada Reads 2019 contenders have been revealed. They are:

The debates take place March 25-28, 2019.

They will air on CBC Radio One at 11 a.m. (1 p.m. AT/1:30 p.m. NT), on CBC at 3 p.m. (3:30 NT), live streamed online at CBC Books at 11 a.m. ET and will be available on the free CBC Gem streaming service.

If you're in Toronto, you can get tickets to be part of the live studio audience.

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. 

Listen to Ali's interview on Airplay:

Canada Reads 2019 host Ali Hassan joined Dave on the program to talk about the theme of the literary debate this year, and to reveal the books that made the long list. 7:18

Listen to Ali's interview on q

Ali Hassan returns for a third year as the host of Canada Reads, CBC's annual battle of the books. Today, he joins Tom Power to discuss the books that made the longlist for 2019. 11:38

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