Canada Reads

Ready, Set, Read!

Canadians have until February 6-9, 2012, to work their way through five riveting true-to-life tales that begin with the sound of a pleading political prisoner in a Tehran jail, transform into a revolutionary shout of protest against Pinochet’s rule in Chile, crescendo into the scream of a thousand hockey fans, simmer down to a journey of Canadian musicians and finally descend into a silent game of cat and mouse.

The 11th season of the CBC’s Canada Reads showcases five books, their authors and the celebrities who champion and defend them. Among a shortlist of ten, the following five garnered the most votes from Canadians (a true feat since most of these recent reads are up against contemporaries and classics): Prisoner of Tehran by Marina Nemat, championed by Arlene Dickinson; Something Fierce by Carmen Aguirre, defended by Shad; The Game by Ken Dryden, championed by Alan Thicke; On a Cold Road by Dave Bidini, championed by Stacey Mckenzie and The Tiger by John Vaillant, defended by Anne-France Goldwater.

The finalists and their defenders were unveiled by the CBC in Toronto on November 23rd. The kickoff was hosted by Jian Ghomeshi who held a brief conversation with each author and champion. What is most remarkable about the litany of picks this year is the way in which the diversity of subjects – from political revolution and violations of human rights to troubadors of the Canadian landscape – still constitute the quintessential Canadian story of journey, struggle and homecoming. To paraphrase Shad, these books are a testament to the way that reels of stories play behind the eyes of people on the street and we walk by, never knowing – except when we, Canada, reads.

A video of the launch event, and further information about the competition, can be found here. For those in Toronto, don’t miss the Canada Reads showcase on January 27th, 2012 at the Toronto Reference Library. For everyone else interested in Canadian literature, be sure to check out the Canada Reads debates on CBC in February.