The focus last year was stated to be to find the one book that all Canadians should read to inspire social change in this country. Social change was not defined so the possibilities were infinite. I do believe that became problematic as participants and viewers/listeners tried to keep track of the focus and simultaneously monitor the panel discussions and manoeuverings. I just thought I would have a little fun thinking about “what I would have done if I were running the world/contest” kind of thing. This year’s focus, by the way, is “one book to break barriers” which is a variation on last year’s focus it would seem.
My first suggestion would be that everyone read one of Alice Munro’s many collections this year and one of the same in each of the following years until the reader runs out of collections and must start again. If this is too difficult to do alone find someone else who is willing to join you. Don’t be one of the people who says “I’ve never read any Munro but I want to.” Just do it! Probably works out to one or two stories a month: how hard can that be?! After all, folks, it’s called Canada Reads. She did win a pretty big prize you know! Must be something to her stuff, eh?
My second suggestion is that we include a category not included at all in the 2014 Canada Reads but one that is timely given the demographics in this country:
Exit Lines by Joan Barfoot; Natural Order by Brian Francis; Ragged Islands by Don Hannah; Scar Tissue by Michael Ignatieff; The Stone Angel by Margaret Laurence; Memoir of Mourning by Heather Menzies; Making a Stone of the Heart by Cynthia Flood; Penelope’s Way by Blanche Howard; Kicking Fifty by Lisa Appignansi; The Memory Man by Lisa Appignansi. And from this year’s long list: And the Birds Rained Down by Jocelyne Saucier.
And for some of the other reading areas with the potential to break down barriers, how about the following?
Blacks in Canada: Childhood by André Alexis; Asylum by André Alexis; Whylah Falls by George Elliott Clarke; George & Rue by George Elliott Clarke; Emancipation Day by Wayne Grady; Any Known Blood by Lawrence Hill.
Canada’s Indigenous People: The Victory of Geraldine Gull by Joan Clark; The Dream Carvers by Joan Clark; The River Thieves by Michael Crummey; Flint & Feather by Charlotte Gray; Napi’s Dance by Alanda Greene; The Inconvenient Indian by Thomas King (on this year’s short list); Daughters are Forever by Lee Maracle; Seven Generations by David Robertson and Scott Henderson (Jan/Feb 2014: reviewed on this blog); Blood Sports (also Monkey Beach which is on this year’s long list) by Eden Robinson; Celia’s Song by Lee Maracle (Dec. 2014); The Back of the Turtle by Thomas King; The Diviners by Margaret Laurence.
Environment: The Once and Future World by J.B MacKinnon (Dec. 27, 2013); The Year of the Flood (the Mad Addam trilogy) by Margaret Atwood; This Changes Everything by Naomi Klein (this year’s long list); The Back of the Turtle by Thomas King (Jan. 2015); Celia’s Song by Lee Maracle (long list 2015/Dec. 2014).
Gender : Bow Grip by Ivan E. Coyote (March 12014); Annabelle by Kathleen Winter; Natural Order by Brian Francis (March 2014); Sex of the Stars by Monique Proulx; When Everything Feels Like the Movies by Raziel Reed (this year’s short list); Gender Failure by Ivan E. Coyote and Rae Spoon; (you) set me on fire by Mariko Tamaki (this year’s long list); Intolerable: a Memoir of Extremes by Kamal Al-Solaylee 2015 short list).
Immigration (or understanding the “other”): The Juggler’s Children by Carolyn Abraham (Nov. 23,2013); Jade Peony by Wayson Choy; Kicking the Sky by Anthony De Sa (Oct. 8, 2013); From Harvey River by Lorna Goodison; Watch How We Walk by Jennifer LoveGrove (Jan. 2014); A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki (Dec. 4, 2013); The Imposter Bride by Nancy Richler; Cockroach by Rawi Hage; Everything was Goodbye by Gurjinder Basran; Diamond Grill by Fred Wah; The Year of Finding Memory by Judy Fong Bates; The Russlander by Sandra Birdsell; Ru by Kim Thúy (long list 2015).
Do you have some additions and/or suggestions? Any nominations for an”urban culture” category? poetry? historical fiction? short stories?
Want to make your own list? It can be fun and also a reminder of some great rereads.
P.S. The panel for 2015 demonstrates exceptional promise for a solid balanced discussion: here’s hoping they don’t get side tracked by the possibility of “winning”.