Hey, you hoseheads! Break out the stubbies, hold onto your touques, and turn the volume up on the ghetto blaster! January is almost here, and so is the annual Canada Reads battle of the books! The 2017 long list has just been announced, and there are some sweet looking titles on there.
Sorry for all the Canadian clichés, but we get pretty darn excited about Canada Reads. It’s pretty much the country’s coolest book club, where five national celebrities each pick a book to discuss. The picks are either fiction, poetry, or plays written by Canadian authors, and the panelists argue the merits of their choice until they get kicked out. One book is eliminated at the end of each episode, and the winner is announced during the fourth episode.
Previous book advocates include Olympian Clara Hughes, actress Megan Follows (helloooooo Anne of Green Gables!), astronaut Steve MacLean, homemaker sensation Debbie Travis, and even Prime Minister Justin Trudeau! Well, before he was PM.
And Canada loves it! The show first aired in 2002, broadcast on CBC Radio One, and is now available via podcast too. Past episodes can be viewed on the CBC website and on YouTube. Previous winners include A Complicated Kindness by Miriam Toews in 2006, The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill in 2009, The Best Laid Plans by Terry Fallis in 2011, and The Orenda by Joseph Boyden in 2014.
Last year’s winner was Lawrence Hill’s provocative and disturbingly relevant novel The Illegal. Hill is one of Canada’s favorite authors; we devour his books and sing his praises from the Maritimes to the Rockies. This winning book is a tale of refugees in a world of hatred and discrimination, and Hill describes the story as centering around “a stranger in a strange land whose only transgression was to exist in a place where his presence was illegal.”
Now, back to what’s important: the long list for 2017 was just released! The final five titles that will be fought for by celebrities (whose names have not yet been released) will be announced on January 31, 2017. The long list is looking pretty impressive, so good luck to those who have to choose the final five!
1. The Break by Katherena Vermette
The Break is a barren and isolated piece of wilderness. Did a crime occur here? Those related, directly and indirectly, to the victim tell their stories, and the secrets of many residents of northern Winnipeg are revealed.
2. Company Town by Madeline Ashby
A city’s worth of people live on an oil rig sitting in the Canadian Atlantic. Murders and other mysteries force a woman named Hwa to defend her family – the people who own the rig.
3. The Elephants in my Backyard by Rajiv Surendra
The memoir of a Canadian actor who was once given a copy of Life of Pi. Read how this book changed every aspect of his life.
4. even this page is white by Vivek Shraya
A collection of poetry to contrast all other collections. Racism, sexim, pop culture, and marginalization are all topics covered in this multifaceted work.
5. Fifteen Dogs by André Alexis
Winner of the 2015 Scotiabank Giller Prize, this story tells of 15 dogs who are given human-like consciousness. The good, the bad, and the ugly are all explored, offering insight into the deep differences between humans and animals.
6. I Am Woman by Lee Maracle
Feminism and the aspects of indigenous life are explored in this book. This could easily become the definitive book for understanding the struggles faced by Canadian First Nations women.
7. The Just City by Jo Walton
A Mediterranean island is colonized by several thousand children, a few hundred adults to teach them, and a bunch of handy robots. These citizens create a mesmerizing society of critical thinkers.
8. Knucklehead by Matt Lennox
Among his community of drug dealers and minor criminals, a club bouncer looks into the mysterious disappearance of his cousin.
9. Nostalgia by M.G. Vassanji
A futuristic society doesn’t allow themselves to retain memories. One doctor, who specializes in removing memories, finds himself drawn to an intriguing client.
10. One Hour in Paris by Karyn L. Freedman
A woman’s story of how she overcame the trauma of rape, and how her experiences have led her to help others all over the world.
11. Quantum Night by Robert J. Sawyer
A psychologist develops a way to identify and isolate psychopaths. He also finds, however, that he can’t remember a time chunk in his own past, and this could be dangerous.
12. The Right to Be Cold by Sheila Watt-Cloutier
A first-hand account of how global warming has affected those living in northern Canada. This Nobel Peace Prize nominated author and activist presents the economical, social, and environmental issues facing this region.
13. Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel
A little girl has an accident while cycling through town and uncovers an historical artifact. Yet, the origins of the artifact remain unknown for years after its discovery. If you love science fiction, keep an eye out for the sequel, Waking Gods, due to be released in 2017.
14. Today I Learned It Was You by Edward Riche
A man in St. John’s, Newfoundland, claims to be turning into a deer. Everyone has an opinion on this story, including politicians, police, and some colorful small-town characters.
15. Waiting For First Light: My Ongoing Battle With PTSD by Romeo Dallaire, with Jessica Dee Humphreys
One of Canada’s best-known former generals has penned his memoir, emphasizing the trauma of witnessing the Rwandan Genocide. His story of struggle and redemption is both heart-wrenching and inspiring.
Like the rest of the Canadian bibliophiles, I’m itching to hear which books are chosen to be debated. I’m literally itching. I’m scratching my head under the ear flap of my giant muskrat fur hat as I type. And watching through the window as a moose saunters through my backyard. My life is a cliché, but it’s pretty fun, eh?
Which books are you rooting for?
YouTube Channel: CBC
Featured image via CBC