Canada Reads books to touch on hockey, glaciers

An astronaut will defend a book about a 19th-century man obsessed with a glacier and a hip-hop poet will vouch for a book set in the dystopian Toronto of the future in the 2008 edition of CBC Radio One's Canada Reads.

An astronaut will defend a book about a 19th-century man obsessed with a glacier and a hip-hop poet will vouch for a book set in a dystopian Toronto of the future in the 2008 edition of CBC Radio One's Canada Reads.

Steve MacLean prepares for launch of the space shuttle Atlantis in September 2006. He will defend the novel Icefields. ((Terry Renna/Associated Press))

Canada Reads is the annual on-air book discussion in which a panel tries to pick a single book that all of Canadawould enjoyreading.

Jian Ghomeshi, host of cultural affairs show Q, will host the 2008 contest, scheduled for Feb. 25-29.

This year's panellists are:

  • Zaib Shaikh, who plays the imam on Little Mosque on the Prairie, defending Not Wanted on the Voyage by Timothy Findley.
  • Hip-hop poet and broadcaster Jemeni defending Brown Girl in the Ring by Nalo Hopkinson.
  • Astronaut Steve MacLean defending Icefields by Thomas Wharton.
  • Newfoundland author Lisa Moore defending From the Fifteenth District by Mavis Gallant.
  • Musician and writer Dave Bidini, a founding member of the Rheostatics, defending King Leary by Paul Quarrington.

MacLean, the first Canadian to operate Canadarm2 in space, isto speak in favour ofIcefields, a first novel about a doctor who falls in a crevasse on the Arcturus Glacier in the Rocky Mountains in 1898 and has a vision that he pursues for the rest of his life.

Jemeni has chosen Hopkinson's first novel, about a young woman trying to a survive in a Toronto abandoned by the government after the wealthy have retreated to the suburbs.

Zaib Shaikh plays Amaar, the spiritual leader in Little Mosque on the Prairie. His book choice is Not Wanted on the Voyage. ((Sophie Giraud/CBC))

Little Mosque actor Shaikh will be backing Not Wanted on the Voyage, Findley's recounting of the Noah's Ark story.

From the Fifteenth District is the only short-story collection on the list and includes many of Gallant's most accomplished stories, including The Muslim Wife and Baum, Gabriel, 1935-().

King Leary is a novel about hockey and the quirky and tragic characters who surround early 20th-century hockey hero Patrick Leary, called "King of the Ice" in the book.

Canada Reads will air on CBC Radio One at 11:30 a.m. (12 noon NT) and be repeated at 7:30 p.m. (8 p.m. NT) throughout the week of Feb. 25-29. The winning title will be announced nationally on Feb. 29.