Canada Reads will be celebrating it’s 10th anniversary in 2010/2011 and have decided to change things up a bit. Before, Canada Reads picked five Canadian public figures and had them champion books for a week-long debate in February. The books were announced in October to give everyone time to read them.

This year, Canada Reads has opened it up to the public: what book would you like to see championed during Canada Reads? There are also some more solid rules than before:

  1. It has to be written by a Canadian author
  2. It has to have been published in the past 10 years,
  3. It has to be fiction (mainly because it’s hard enough to compare novels, much less different genres)
  4. It has to be selected from a list

All the books being recommended are currently being voted on (via the Canada Reads website, Facebook and Twitter). The votes will result in the top 40 essential Canadian novels of the past decade (to be announced Tuesday, October 26). Next, it will be whittled down to the 10 Canada Reads selections on November 9th. Normally it’s 5 books, but this year it’s 10 for their 10th anniversary. I honestly don’t know how they’re going to pick the champions… or get us to.


My Recommendations:

I went through all of my recent reviews (back to 2007) and found several books that I think could be enjoyed by a wide audience. I also noticed some themes in the books I selected: they’re often about the people and their stories in a Canadian environment. I also saw that stories from Northern Canada and the Maritime provinces were much less common. I’ve read several books about the West Coast, a few books about the Prairies, and a number of stories centering around Toronto. I really enjoyed Annabel, February, and Having Faith in the Polar Girls’ Prison particularly because they explored fictional characters within unique areas in Canada.

So, without further ado, my recommendations are….

Annabel by Kathleen Winter

  • Shortlisted for the 2010 Scotiabank Giller Prize
  • Shortlisted for the 2010 Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize
  • Shortlisted for the 2010 Governor General’s Award for Fiction

I read this book fairly recently, so it is quite prominent in my mind. Winter’s prose is lyrical and lonely, yet relatable. Wayne’s story is magnetic, powerful, and has an unexplainable energy. The novel raises a lot of questions about who people are, and why you choose the paths you choose. I think Wayne’s story teaches tolerance and acceptance, both of oneself and those around you.
Read my full review for Annabel

February by Lisa Moore

  • Selected by Globe and Mail for Top 100 Books of the Year (2009)
  • Selected for Quill & Quire’s 2009 Books of the Year
  • Shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize (Canada and the Caribbean) — Best Book 2010
  • Selected as Editors’ Choice (2009) by the New York Times

The book is very striking and you really feel Helen’s pain, see her emotional distance after the disaster, and heal with her through her life. The story isn’t a particularly plot-driven or linear story, it is all about the characters and their struggle through the disaster of the Ocean Ranger and their life following it.
Read my full review for February

Having Faith in the Polar Girls’ Prison by Cathleen With

  • Winner of the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize 2010

Having Faith is quite an emotional story that sticks with you. Trista, and many of the other Polar Girls, have encountered molestation, rape, drugs, alcohol-abuse, and both physical and mental abuse in their young lives. Cathleen With worked as a teacher in Inuvik in the Northwest Territories and it was her experiences up North that inspired Having Faith.
Read my full review for Having Faith in the Polar Girls’ Prison.

The Cellist of Sarajevo by Stephen Galloway

  • Nominated for the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize 2010
  • Longlisted for the 2008 Scotiabank Giller Prize for Fiction
  • Nominated for the Canadian Booksellers Association Libris Award – Fiction Book of the Year 2009

I was alive when this occurred and I don’t remember ever hearing it in the news. I suppose I might have been too young, but it definitely pulled me back to reality regarding wars. The writing is beautiful and honest. The story itself follows several characters and really shows the breadth of human spirit and resilience.
Read my full review for The Cellist of Sarajevo.


Canada Read’s Current Recommendations:

There are quite a lot of books being recommended and many authors I really want to read. Here are some off the top of my head:

  • Margaret Atwood (particularly Oryx and Crake)
  • Camilla Gibb
  • Paul Quarrington
  • Jane Urquart
  • William Gibson
  • Through Black Spruce by Joseph Boyden