Hamilton's must-read book for 2020: Waub Rice's Moon of the Crusted Snow

Hamilton has selected Waubgeshig Rice's book about a northern Anishinaabe community as the city's must-read novel for 2020.

The book 'strangely mirrors what is happening in the world right now' 

Waubgeshig Rice, host of CBC Sudbury's afternoon show, Up North, embarked on a project to highlight Indigenous languages spoken in northern Ontario to celebrate the United Nations International Year of Indigenous Languages. (Yvon Theriault/CBC)

The city's public library has launched its annual Hamilton Reads two months early this year with a novel by Waubgeshig Rice the host of CBC Radio's Up North program in Sudbury. 

At noon on Thursday, the Hamilton Public Library announced that Rice's Moon of the Crusted Snow is their must-read book for Hamiltonians in 2020. 

"I was very flattered and over-the-top excited," Rice told CBC about being selected for the program. 

The novel is about a small, northern Anishinaabe community that is concerned about their depleting resources. As the band council and community leaders struggle to keep the community calm, an unexpected guest from a southern society arrives. 

Rice describes the book as revolving around an "apocalyptic moment," where a mysterious catastrophe has led people to panic and ransack grocery stores. 

The Hamilton Public Library's director of collections and program development, Lisa Weaver, said in a press release that the story-line "strangely mirrors what is happening in the world right now." 

Despite the book being published more than a year ago and selected for Hamilton Reads prior to the pandemic, Rice agrees that the narrative is all too familiar given our current circumstances. 

"Nobody (in the book) really knows what's going to happen at the end of it all and that's sort of what we're going through right now," Rice said. "It's a pretty intense time, where there are more questions than answers." 

He said he hopes the book will spark discussion and allow people to reflect on this time. 

"It's an opportunity, I think, to put the spotlight on what these moments can do for us as humankind and as societies and maybe the opportunity to take a look introspectively at how we do things or how we may be able to do things better."

Rice is an author and journalist from Wasauksing First Nation and Moon of the Crusted Snow is his second novel.

This year marks the city's eighth annual Hamilton Reads, which has been described as "a really big book club." 

In light of the pandemic, Hamilton Reads programs and book clubs have moved online to a virtual branch. Virtual author visits and online book talks will be featured. 

Claire Tacon's In Search of the Perfect Singing Flamingo was chosen as the must read  book in Hamilton for 2019.


Jennifer La Grassa


Jennifer La Grassa is a videojournalist at CBC Windsor. She is particularly interested in reporting on healthcare stories. Have a news tip? Email jennifer.lagrassa@cbc.ca