Ragged Company wins Waterloo Reads' book battle

Novel by Richard Wagamese takes top honours at 2017 Waterloo Reads battle of the books. The book was championed by singer/songwriter and poet Janice Jo Lee.

Lively debate of top 10 Canadian books as chosen by Waterloo residents

The defenders included: Alison De Muy, Jasmine Mangalaseril, Joe Pavia, Mandy Bujold, Janice Jo Lee, Fauzia Mazhar, Kelly McManus, Sheldon Pereira and Patti Brooks. Not pictured is defender Scott Wahl. (@WaterlooLibrary/Twitter)

Ragged Company by Richard Wagamese has been named the top book in the Waterloo Reads battle of the books.

The novel came out on top after a lively debate at the Waterloo Memorial Recreation Complex that saw 10 different members of the community champion 10 Canadian books.

The book was championed by Janice Jo Lee, a local singer-songwriter and poet, who said she liked the book because "it was about friendship and sticking together."

"Living in Kitchener-Waterloo, the story of my life is, everyone moves away," said Lee. 

 "But this book was about how if you have a solid group of people taking care of you, when the wildest things happen, like winning the lottery, or you're faced with the tragedies of your past, your friends will be solid for you."

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood came in second place. While Still Life by Louise Penny was third.

This year's edition of the annual event had a Canada 150 theme.

Sandi Hall, marketing and communications specialist with Waterloo Public Library, said they decided to focus on any Canadian novel from any time. They initially asked staff to nominate their favourite Canadian novel, then narrowed it down to the top 10 by asking the community to vote for their favourites.

"It's an awesome, awesome list," Hall said, noting more than 500 people voted for their favourite novel.

"We do have a total, book-loving community."​

Top 10 books

Here are the 10 books defended Tuesday night:

  • Ragged Company by Richard Wagamese, defended by singer/songwriter and poet Janice Jo Lee.
  • Room by Emma Donoghue, defended by Patti Brooks, executive director of UpTown Waterloo BIA.
  • Still Life by Louise Penny, defended by Waterloo Public Library board member Alison De Muy.
  • Best Laid Plans by Terry Fallis, defended by CBC K-W's Joe Pavia.
  • Bitten by Kelley Armstrong, defended by Olympic boxer Mandy Bujold.
  • The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill, defended by Fauzia Mazhar, chair of the Coalition of Muslim Women K-W.
  • Crow Lake by Mary Lawson, defended by culinary writer Jasmine Mangalaseril.
  • The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood, defended by Kelly McManus, senior director, community relations and events at the University of Waterloo.
  • Life of Pi by Yann Martel, defended by Reading the World blog creator Scott Wahl.
  • No Great Mischief by Alistair MacLeod, defended by Sheldon Pereira, director of university relations at Wilfrid Laurier University.