2011 Finalists

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2011 Finalists

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Nov 24, 2010, 12:30 pm

2011 Nominees

The Best Laid Plans
by Terry Fallis
Defended by:
Ali Velshi

The Birth House
by Ami McKay
Defended by:
Debbie Travis

The Bone Cage
by Angie Abdou
Defended by:
Georges Laraque

Essex County
by Jeff Lemire
Defended by:
Sara Quin

by Carol Shields
Defended by:
Lorne Cardinal

Nov 24, 2010, 12:33 pm

I read, and loved, Unless when it was published, and I think I have The Birth House in Mnt. TBR. I haven't even heard of the other ones.

What about you? Have you read any of these? Do you plan to read any?

Nov 24, 2010, 7:40 pm

Found a link here!

I had been slowly reading through a few of the books as they narrowed down their choices... at each stage I seemed to read the ones that were selected out :P

I think I was a few pages into The Birth House and set it aside for The Book of Negroes and The Life of Pi which grabbed my attention more at the time. perhaps when I am through one of the books I am reading now I will have to give it another try. So, sadly it seems I have not read any of the books on this list! It would also seem that The Birth House is the only one on mount TBR right now.

Editado: Nov 25, 2010, 11:06 am

The Bone Cage by Angie Abdou was very good. It is about athletes at the University of Calgary training with the hope of getting to the Olympics. A swimmer and a wrestler form a relationship. It reminds the reader not only of the sacrifices that are made to reach the elite level but the complete absence of glamour or the little luxuries we take for granted. It also describes the effect that qualifying has on individuals of the team. Interesting and realistic. The author is from the Kootenay region of B.C.

I hope Angie wins. This book seems to be getting less press than it deserves.

Nov 26, 2010, 8:08 am

I'ver read The Birth House a few years ago, but don't remember it well. I've also read Unless several years ago, loved it and remember it.

Nov 29, 2010, 5:23 pm

I just completed my kobo order for three of the books. Essex County will be my first graphic novel so I've ordered a hardcopy and I already have a hard copy of Unless, as this will be my second reading. Not sure what order I will read them in though...

Dez 8, 2010, 12:54 pm

Just read my first graphic novel, and I have to say I was really impressed. Read Essex County: Vol 1 and loved it. It's a young adult book and only takes about 15 minutes to read, but it packs a lot in. I really haven't read too many Canada Reads books through the years that I immediately took to as much as this.
I do question whether you can compare graphic novels to written novels though. The two forms take entirely different skills to tell a good story, and to read. My library only has Vol 1 and 2, so hoping they get vol 3 too as I'm looking forward to reading the rest.

Dez 17, 2010, 8:25 am

Somehow managed to get two of the Canada Reads books from the library before the list got long. First was The Birth House by Ami McKay and I really liked it. I could picture The Birth House and the characters and it all seemed so real. Then I read Carol Shield's Unless and liked it just as much. I'm going to have trouble picking my favourite book this year.
The new selection process for books to be defended seems such an improvement over past years. I hope they never go back to the old process where all the books, while well-written, seemed to be strange or dreary. This year's books have a sense of optimism which seemed to be lacking in previous choices.

Dez 30, 2010, 5:30 pm

Hurray! I got all the Canada Reads books for Christmas!!!!

Dez 30, 2010, 5:57 pm


Dez 31, 2010, 2:16 pm

What a great gift!

Jan 5, 2011, 11:47 pm


Jan 12, 2011, 1:01 pm

Just got The Bone Cage and The Best Laid Plans from the library. Both new copies ordered in to reduce the wait lists for both books. Looking forward to starting them. (Not sure if touchstones working.)

Jan 14, 2011, 8:17 am

I got Unless and The Birth House for Christmas I have read Unless already. Unless left me with many things to think about and I could relate to the main character in her helplessness with a traumatic event concerning a child. I was touched on many levels (too personal to discuss), but I was also given a few giggles as well, after reading her letters to people who pissed her off. I liked this book so much I went and ordered six other books she has written, and, I am happy to say that once I am done with them there are plenty more to read! I try not to say too much about the book I review but just enough to let people know what I thought of the book (I hate spoilers).

Jan 17, 2011, 12:46 pm

I've decided to try and read these in time for the debates. I've never actually done Canada Reads before (i.e. reading all the books and listening to the debates) though I've kept an eye on the books that were featured and read a few here and there (for example, I read Fruit by Brian Francis because of it's place in Canada Reads and really loved it (that book has stayed with me much more vividly than most books I read and more so than I would have expected it to).

I already own a copy of The Birth House so I'll be starting with that. I've placed a hold on Unless at the library and I'm quite that will be pretty quick to get based. I've ordered the other three from Chapters but The Bone Cage is out of stock. Does anyone know whether Chapters will ship those that are in stock right away (or if it will await them all to be available before it ships anything)? If they aren't going to ship the other two, I think I will cancel this order and just order the two that are available... I used a gift card I got from a neighbour for looking in on her cat over the holidays to buy the books. I rarely buy new books and it was really fun to have that extra little incentive to go ahead and buy them.

Jan 17, 2011, 12:56 pm

Based on my last order from Chapters, I think they ship separately. You might be able to see by looking at your account info. If not, contact them. I checked Book Depository and they're out of the Bone Cage too.

I completely agree with you about Fruit. If you liked that one, you might want to try Lullabies for Little Criminals, by Heather O'Neill. It won Canada Reads in 2007. I find it a little like Fruit--wonderful voice, kinda funny, but also disturbing.

Jan 18, 2011, 3:01 am

Okay, both these books are from previous years, but I just want to mention:

I just finished listening to Lullabies for Little Criminals by Heather O'Neill on my iPod. I really, really, really loved it . . . but I'm not sure about the ending. Have to think about it for awhile.

This book won Canada Reads in 2007 and it reminds me of one of the Canada Reads selections from a few years ago--Fruit, by Brian Francis. Fruit was about a teenager who everyone knew was gay except himself, and Lullabies for Little Criminals is about a 12 year old girl growing up with no adult guidance what-so-ever, but there is something about the voice that shares a similar optimism and humour. Great reads, both of them. Thanks to the Canada Reads whoevers that found them.

Jan 18, 2011, 2:22 pm

Just realized the debates are Feb 7/8/9! I need to get started reading the books!!!! I've already read The Birth House and Unless, but was planning to re-read them as it's been a while.

Jan 18, 2011, 7:12 pm

I have a copy of Lullabies for Little Criminals and I'll have to get to it sometime soon after this year's Canada Reads.

I ordered my books from Chapters yesterday and got them TODAY -- all those I ordered, including The Bone Cage, which it appeared was out of stock but apparently was available after all. Wow! To say I'm impressed would be an understatement

Essex County looks really amazing.

I am enjoying The Birth House so far.

Jan 18, 2011, 10:26 pm

I just finished The Bone Cage and although I found the first half a bit monotonous (perhaps intention by the author to mimic the long hours of the athletes' training?), the second half as the Olympics gets closer was much more interesting, especially the twist at the end.

Choosing a favourite for CR 2011 just keeps getting harder and harder. I only have The Best Laid Plans left to read, as well as the last section of Essex County and I've enjoyed all the choices so far.

Jan 19, 2011, 12:53 am

18: Thanks for the reminder!! I need to read The Birth House, will try to finish up one of the current books I am reading so I can start on it ASAP. It has been in my mind to start it soon, but I didn't realize the debates were coming up so fast (Someone be sure to post when/where to listen to them!). The Birth House seems to be the only one of the nominees I have 'on hand' so will go with that for now.

Jan 19, 2011, 5:01 pm

I've only readBirth House so far, and I read it close to a year ago and I really loved it! Recommended and highly readable!

Jan 20, 2011, 12:41 pm

Ok, this morning I started my Canada Reads marathon as I attempt to get the five books read before the debates start without playing hookey from work! I'm really having fun reading The Best Laid Plans by Terry Fallis

Jan 24, 2011, 9:59 am

I read Unless awhile ago. I remember it as a kind of quiet book, not the astonishment that The Stone Diaries and Larry's Party were.

I'm reading The Birth House now and while I had high hopes based on the description and the high rating it enjoys on LT, I am not liking it at all. It's coming across as very preachy and one-dimensional. All the good guys are perfect and overly whimsical and the bad guys are denied any redeeming characteristics. I'm hoping that things turn around soon!

Jan 24, 2011, 12:25 pm

I'm reading The Bone Cage by Angie Abdou.

Jan 24, 2011, 12:34 pm

I finished The Birth House and am now reading The Bone Cage, The Best Laid Plans and Essex County, rotating between the three chapter by chapter. I find it a very fun way to read.

Editado: Jan 24, 2011, 1:28 pm

I'm hoping to re-read The Birth House, the first volume of Essex County and Unless, and to read The Bone Cage and the latter two volumes in Essex County, before the debates air. So far I've read the Terry Fallis novel, which was great fun. It might be cutting it close, but I would like them to be fresh in my mind when the shows start too!
Edited because that much HTML is too much for me apparently.

Jan 24, 2011, 7:37 pm

Finally started reading The Birth House.. I have not gotten very far into it yet.

I bought The Last Crossing at the used bookstore because I thought I recognized the name as being on this list *facepalm* Oh well. Is it a good book? Has anybody here read it?

Jan 25, 2011, 5:52 pm

Just finished The Best Laid Plans and really enjoyed it. That's my last Canada Reads 2011 book (except for parts 2 and 3 of Essex Co. that I'm still waiting for the library to get for me). What a difficult decision this year - all well-written books and I enjoyed them all which is a Canada Reads first for me. I don't know which I liked the best as two of them are quite different - a graphic novel and a political satire. I guess I'll just have to wait and see which one wins - I don't care because I like them all. Well chosen, all you readers of Canadian lit.

Jan 26, 2011, 6:49 pm

I read Essex County -- all three volumes -- yesterday on an airplane from Halifax to Ottawa. I'm currently re-reading The Birth House because I read it in 2007 but don't remember it very well.

Jan 26, 2011, 10:12 pm

I have enjoyed reading everyone's comments so far. The only book I have managed to read for this year's Canada Reads is Unless, which I did love. Making mental notes on the other books, including The Birth House for future reading.

Jan 29, 2011, 1:21 pm

re 28, I think The Last Crossing was an excellent book. I hope you enjoy it.

Jan 31, 2011, 12:14 pm

Interesting debate on The Birth House occurring, am working on a rebuttal. All welcome ;)


Fev 1, 2011, 10:22 am

I'm reading Unless,which I first read in 2003. I've finished the other four books, so I should be ready for the debates next week!

Fev 3, 2011, 7:17 pm

You can listen to a great interview between Tom Allen (my fav!) and Anne Giardini, discussing Unless: http://www.cbc.ca/radio2/shift/2011/02/03/her-mothers-last-book-anne-giardini-on...

The link to listen to the whole interview is over half way down the page in red type.

I think I'm due for a reread of this book. When I read it all those years ago I had no idea it was a retelling of Demiter and Persiphone. Whooooosh! (That was the sound of the point flying over my head).

Editado: Fev 4, 2011, 12:47 pm

So now that the debates are getting close, and you've read more of the books, which one do you want to see triumphant?

I didn't read the books (except Unless, which I read when it was published). I think the one that interests me the most is The Bone Cage.

Fev 4, 2011, 2:35 pm

I've only read Birth house. My library does not carry Essex County and I was not about to purchase it. I suspect Unless will get the award because she passed of cancer, and because many feel that she is a wonderful Canadian author. Not having read her books, I'm not in a position to judge.

Fev 4, 2011, 2:49 pm

Unless was certainly my favourite of the five. I would, though, be tempted to vote for Essex County as I was pleasantly surprised at how much depth a graphic novel could have. I think it's a genre not many Canadians expose themselves to, so Canada Reads may give it a boost.

Fev 4, 2011, 3:03 pm

#37 - I don't know, Deb . . . historically, the panel hasn't considered those sorts of things, from what I've heard anyway. But it's another new group of pseudo-celebs, so I guess we'll have to just wait and listen.

Fev 4, 2011, 8:04 pm

It's always hard to think as the panelists do, but Unless is my first choice. However, it was so closely followed by The Birth House and The Best Laid Plans that I would be happy if any of them won. I loved the first story in Essex County more than the later stories, but it is an impressive novel and I'm glad I was introduced to graphic novels through it. Bone Cage was not as good as the others, but it was still a fairly good read which says something about the great selections this year. Now we just wait for what the panelists say.

Fev 4, 2011, 9:51 pm

My bet is on Unless with Best Laid Plans and Essex Country being close contenders. Just how soon do the debates start again?

Editado: Fev 5, 2011, 8:25 am

I'd be happy if The Birth House won, though I don't expect that it will. I enjoyed reading it, and I found that others enjoyed as well. Joyce - I think they should have a sort of " People's Choice " award besides awards given by pseudo - celebrities... shall we get that in order? And I don't mean Harlequin Romances written by Canadians - I mean - if Canada Reads - well - let's award a good writer for a book that Canada truly does read!:)

Ami McKay , the author of The Birthhouse has a second novel on the go, entitled the The Virgin Cure. It was supposed to hit the shelves in late October , but so far no book has appeared. I hope Ami McKay can write another novel, but I'm beginning to get a little worried.

Fev 5, 2011, 3:26 pm

I'm reading Unless right now. Finished The Birth House in late January. Bone Cage doesn't appeal to me, I'm not a fan of graphc novels. So as it stands, my vote/bet is for Unless. Such a fascinating story!

Fev 5, 2011, 9:50 pm

I'll be backing Essex County. I just finished it and I found it tremendously moving. The only one I haven't finished yet is The Best Laid Plans but I'm well into it and should be able to finish it just in the nick of time for the debates. I was pleased with all the selections. I think they all have their strengths. While I did pick my personal favourite front runner, I don't expect to be disappointed regardless of the outcome.