Nfld. & Labrador

Take a journey into our 'amazingly vibrant' local lit with inaugural NL Reads

Modelled on Canada Reads, the joint effort of CBC NL and Newfoundland and Labrador Public Libraries marks Love our Local authors month in February.

You can call the library to register to be added the Feb. 28 event at the A.C. Hunter Library

The four authors selected for NL Reads are Gary Collins, Alan Doyle, Joel Thomas Hynes and Bridget Canning. (Submitted photos)

If you're looking to read more local authors, then NL Reads is the event for you.

The Newfoundland and Labrador Public Libraries modelled the event on CBC's Canada Reads program.

NL Reads highlights four recent books from local authors — just a fraction of what the province produces each year, says librarian Jewel Cousens.

The publishing scene in Newfoundland and Labrador is amazingly vibrant.- Jewel Cousens

"It's really meant to bring attention to the sheer volume and absolutely amazing quality of our writers," said Cousens, the Newfoundland and Labrador collections librarian for Newfoundland and Labrador Public Libraries.

"You can curl up with a book that's written by someone in our province and be totally entertained, informed, and just taken to another place."

The inaugural NL Reads event will coincide with February's second annual Love our Local Author month in the province's public library system.

A diverse selection of books

Four local books are going head to head, with the ultimate winner chosen by readers themselves at a live panel discussion at the A.C. Hunter Library in St. John's on Feb. 28.

The selected books are:

  • The Greatest Hits of Wanda Jaynes by Bridget Canning (Breakwater Books).
  • The Last Beothuk by Gary Collins (Flanker Press).
  • A Newfoundlander in Canada by Alan Doyle (Doubleday).
  • We'll All Be Burnt in Our Beds Some Night by Joel Thomas Hynes (Harper Perennial).

The books, all released in 2017, were selected to represent some of the diversity among the many authors in the province, Cousens said.

The Greatest Hits of Wanda Janes is a 2017 novel set in modern-day St. John's, with a female protagonist who finds herself unexpectedly hailed by the public as a hero just as her life is coming apart both personally and professionally.

The Greatest Hits of Wanda Jaynes by Bridget Canning is set in modern-day St. John's. (Breakwater Books)

In contrast to a very modern tale that tackles online notoriety and social media, the novel The Last Beothuk builds from the research by Frank Gouldsmith Speck, an American anthropologist who in 1910 interviewed a woman who said her father was a surviving Beothuk.

The Last Beothuk by Gary Collins is one of four books selected for NL Reads. (Stephanie Tobin/CBC)

Singer-songwriter Alan Doyle's second book A Newfoundlander in Canada continues from his first memoir's stories of growing up in Petty Harbour to share observations and tales from life on the road as a musician touring Canada for the first time.

Alan Doyle's latest book is A Newfoundlander in Canada. (Penguin Random House Canada)

Hynes's We'll All Be Burnt in Our Beds Some Night is a darkly comic novel about a very different kind of cross-Canada trip — and the 2017 winner of the Governor General's Award for English-language fiction.

We'll All Be Burnt in Our Beds Some Night by Joel Thomas Hynes won the 2017 Governor General's Award for English-language fiction. (HarperCollins)

'Amazingly vibrant'

The library wants to help raise awareness of and interest in the province's many local authors through NL Reads.

"The publishing scene in Newfoundland and Labrador is amazingly vibrant," Cousens said.

In her role as the Newfoundland and Labrador collections librarian, every year she purchases 200 to 300 individual titles that are either published in Newfoundland and Labrador or focused on the province in some way.

At the AC Hunter Library in St. John's, there are sections dedicated to Newfoundland and Labrador books. (Stephanie Tobin/CBC)

The four NL Reads books are available for borrowing across the province's library system, as well as online for e-readers, and the 94 branches can request books from each other.

Also as part of Love our Local Author month, library branches in both St. John's and Corner Brook will hold self-published author fairs and local branches will host their own related efforts throughout February.

The final NL Reads faceoff, hosted by Krissy Holmes of the St. John's Morning Show, will take place at the A.C. Hunter Library on the third floor of the Arts and Culture Centre in St. John's at 6:30 p.m. on Feb. 28.

Want to attend? Give them a call

Each member of a four-person panel will defend one of the NL Reads books.

CBC's Jane Adey will defend We'll All Be Burnt in Our Beds Some Night, author Paul Rowe will defend A Newfoundlander in Canada, library assistant Daniel Murphy will defend The Last Beothuk, and library patron Cynthia Kelly will defend The Greatest Hits of Wanda Janes.

You can register to attend the NL Reads faceoff at the AC Hunter Library in St. John's on Feb. 28. (Stephanie Tobin/CBC)

"You as the audience member get the chance to vote on what's considered the best book, so that's how the winner will be decided," Cousens said.

To register to attend on Feb. 28, call the A.C. Hunter Library at (709) 737-3950. Seats may also be available at the time of the event, and there is no cost for admission. Click here for more details.

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