Books·My Life in Books

The books that 2022 Juno Award nominee Monowhales loved reading

The Toronto alt-rock band shares the books that influenced their life and career. The 2022 Juno Awards will air live from Toronto on May 15, 2022 on CBC-TV, CBC Gem, CBC Radio One, CBC Music and CBC Listen.
Jordan Circosta, left, Zach Zanardo and Sally Shaar are Monowhales, an alt-rock band based in Toronto. (Juno Awards)

The annual Juno Awards celebrate outstanding achievements in Canadian music. Hosted by Canadian actor Simu Liu, the 2022 Juno Awards will air live from Toronto on May 15, 2022 on CBC-TV, CBC GemCBC Radio OneCBC Music and CBC Listen.

CBC Books asked Juno Award nominees to share their favourite books. Monowhales are a three-piece, alt-rock band from Toronto. The band, consisting of members Sally Shaar, Jordan Circosta and Zach Zanardo, is nominated in the 2022 breakthrough group of the year category.

The band connected with CBC Books to talk about three books they loved reading: Wendy by Walter Scott, Soul Mining by Daniel Lanois and Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut.

Wendy by Walter Scott

Wendy is a graphic novel by Walter Scott. (White Pine Pictures 2019, Koyama Press)

Sally Shaar: "Recently a good friend of mine, Alyson McNamara, got heavily into graphic novels. One day she unexpectedly stopped by my place to drop off a few of her favourites that she thought I might like. To be completely frank I never dove into this genre before and little did I know that it would be right up my alley. Naively I had no idea how modern graphic novels could be. Immediately I found it very fun and addictive to read. In fact, I find that no matter the length I end up reading them in one sitting.

Naively I had no idea how modern graphic novels could be. Immediately I found it very fun and addictive to read.

"One novel Alyson dropped off really stood out to me Wendy by Walter Scott. In this novel, you follow an up-and-coming and angsty young adult named Wendy. She is highly relatable, sarcastic and can be blatantly spiteful. The novel follows Wendy on her rocky journey of starting her career as an artist. The book has sex, drugs, rock 'n' roll and most importantly unapologetic tones of vulnerability. The story hits close to a lot of my awkward and exciting experiences growing up in cities as an intense lover of art and music.


"It's really something special when you find songs, movies or in this case graphic novels that validate your nostalgic experiences growing up. If you want a quick read with some delightful snarky dark humour check it out. Hope you get hooked like I did."

Soul Mining by Daniel Lanois 

Soul Mining is a book by Daniel Lanois. (Farrar Straus & Giroux, Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press)

Jordan Circosta: "Years ago I was given the book Soul Mining by Daniel Lanois. It was gifted to me by my father, who is one of the main reasons I discovered my love of music in the first place. I read it for the first time when I was just finishing music school, and have re-read it a number of times since then.

"Lanois's journey from obscurity to world-renowned producer was very inspiring to me as I began to make my own way in the Canadian music industry. His insights into the writing process, both through his own work as a singer and songwriter, as well as his work with seminal artists such as Brian Eno, Bob Dylan, Emmylou Harris, and the Neville Brothers, expanded my understanding of the many ways a song can be written and recorded.

Lanois's journey from obscurity to world-renowned producer was very inspiring to me.

"What was once an opaque and elusive process was demystified as I realized even some of the best songwriters of our time face the same difficulties I do from time to time. If you're looking for a glimpse into a truly amazing musical journey, I would definitely recommend this book."

Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

Slaughterhouse-Five is a novel by Kurt Vonnegut. (Dial Press Trade Paperback, Rosemary Carroll)

Zack Zarnado: "Many years ago, I really took a liking to Kurt Vonnegut. My Grade 11 English teacher recommended I read Slaughterhouse-Five and it really opened my mind. In the same way I consume music, I tend to latch on to authors rather than books. So naturally, I needed to read every Vonnegut book I could get my hands on. One of his books that really struck me was Breakfast of Champions. I really connected with his sense of humour and complete absurdity and fell in love with his unique voice.

"Reading Vonnegut books changed my life because I realized I can use my own voice and be myself. I stopped trying to imitate my peers and started using my own voice. I developed a lot more confidence with public speaking and more specifically as a performer.

Reading Vonnegut books changed my life because I realized I can use my own voice and be myself.

"I came of age through the lens of Vonnegut's creativity and he really set me up for appreciating the beauty, horror, and complete absurdity of humanity."

Watch the video for CTRL^^^ by Monowhales

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