Canada Reads 2020

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Canada Reads 2020

Jan 8, 2020, 4:22 pm

The longlist has just come out on CBC. I'll post it in another message and then we can talk about the longlist and the shortlist when it comes out.

Jan 8, 2020, 4:47 pm

15 books on the longlist. The shortlist will be revealed on January 22.

NDN Coping Mechanisms by Billy-Ray Belcourt
Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club by Megan Gail Coles
Radicalized by Cory Doctorow
Sputnik's Children by Terri Favro
Amphibian by Carla Gunn
We Have Always Been Here by Samra Habib
Love Lives Here by Amanda Jette Knox
The Dishwasher by Stephane Larue
Son of a Trickster by Eden Robinson
The Youth of God by Hassan Ghedi Santur
From the Ashes Jesse Thistle by Jesse Thistle
The Lesser Blessed by Richard Van Camp
Worry Jessica Westhead by Jessica Westhead
Rage of Dragons by Evan Winter
Dear Scarlet by Teresa Wong

The only one I have read is Son of a Trickster and I liked it. I can see it making the final cut. I want to read The Lesser Blessed so I hope that makes it onto the shortlist. I can also see Small Game Hunting... making it since it was on the Giller short list last year and there was a lot of good commentary about it. The Dishwasher looks like the only work to have been translated from French so my bet is that it will make the short list. I would love to know what you have read and what you thought of it.

Jan 22, 2020, 9:43 pm

They released the short list today!

I'll let you start a thread for it, but here's a link:

I've not read any of them. I don't even decide which to read until after the competition. But, from the summaries, two, probably three, look like they might go on the tbr. I'll have to wait and hear more about the others!

Editado: Jan 22, 2020, 9:44 pm

I actually haven't even read any from the long list!

Jan 22, 2020, 9:50 pm

Son of a Trickster is on my to-read list.

Jan 23, 2020, 2:24 pm

Well 2 out of the 4 I thought would make it onto the list did so. The short list is:
Son of a Trickster by Eden Robinson
Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club by Megan Gail Coles
Radicalized by Cory Doctorow
We Have Always Been Here: A Queer Muslim Memoir by Samra Habib
From the Ashes: My Story of Being Metis, Homeless and Finding my Way by Jesse Thistle

The theme this year is "One Book to Bring Canada into Focus". That seems like a pretty big job for one book.

Jan 23, 2020, 7:14 pm

So, the two I think I'd like to add to the tbr, just based on descriptions are "Small Game Hunting" and "We Have Always Been Here". One that's likely is "From the Ashes". I'll have to see about the others.

Jan 24, 2020, 9:26 pm

>7 LibraryCin: I have put holds at the library on Small Game Hunting and Radicalized. If they come through before March I can probably get them read but trying to read all 4 that I have not read doesn't seem doable to me. Of course, there is always after the debates if something catches my eye. I didn't read Homes: A Refugee Story before last year's debate but it's defender did such a great job I suggested my book club read it and it come up next month.

Jan 24, 2020, 11:37 pm

Oh, I never make a point of reading them ahead of time. I like to listen to the debates, then decide which ones I want to read.

I hope you enjoy "Homes". I read it last year and thought it was very good!

Jan 26, 2020, 1:54 pm

So far nothing has caught my interest, but I'll listen to the debates and probably come away with a few

Jan 27, 2020, 12:44 pm

I always read all five before the debates start. I like to "armchair quarterback" during the debates. I'll be going to the bookstore tomorrow

Jan 31, 2020, 5:54 pm

>11 LynnB: I hope you will come back to report on your thoughts.

Fev 18, 2020, 9:05 am

I've started the Canada Reads books. First, I'm reading From the Ashes: My Story of Being Metis, Homeless and Finding My Way by Jesse Thistle. I'll let you know what I think after reading it.

Editado: Mar 1, 2020, 12:27 am

I just finished Son of a Trickster and about to start Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club. The rest are library holds so we will see if they arrive in time.

Editado: Fev 23, 2020, 12:54 pm

I finished From the Ashes: My Story of Being Metis, Homeless and Finding my Way a few days ago. This autobiography tells the story of Jesse Thistle, a Metis child born into a dysfunctional family -- the father is an addict and abuses the mother. The mother leaves the boys with him, but he disappears and the children are taken in by their paternal grandparents. While the two older brothers seem to adjust well, Jesse is plagued by addictions and ends up living on the streets. In his story, we see the racism implicit in so many of his interactions with officialdom and with kids at school. We get an honest, unvarnished look at life on the streets -- addictions, petty crimes, jail time -- which is probably common among so many homeless people. Jesse is able to rise above this life through determination, some helping hands and, ultimately, love. I think it's a good choice for Canada Reads.

Next up: Radicalized by Cory Doctorow.

Editado: Fev 27, 2020, 1:23 pm

I've finished Radicalized and really enjoyed the first three of these four novellas. Cory Doctorow has an amazing imagination! He brings us, I think, the best kind of speculative fiction because he uses ideas or events that are already happening, or worried about, and takes them forward to a dystopian conclusion. His stories are relevant to today's issues and his characters are well developed people I could identify with.

Alas the final story is an apocalyptic survival story, not dissimilar to the many we already have. I thought it lacked the insightfulness of the rest of the stories.

Next up: Son of a Trickster by Eden Robinson

Fev 27, 2020, 5:58 pm

>16 LynnB: I just got a notification from my library that my hold has come through for that book. However I picked up Small Game Hunting from the library and haven't yet opened it up so I'm going to put off picking it up until next week.

Editado: Mar 1, 2020, 12:26 am

Took a break from Small Game Hunting to read We Have Always Been Here by Habib. Once others have finished, I'll post my thoughts.

Mar 1, 2020, 12:32 pm

I finished Son of a Trickster yesterday. I was enjoying the story of Jared's struggles in high school; besides the usual peer pressure and daily teenage struggles, Jared is Aboriginal, an alcoholic who uses and sells drugs. His mother is, at her best, neglectful. At her worse, she is violent. Often she is actually gone. In spite of this, Jared has some strong qualities that made me root for him. He has confidence and a strong sense of himself when dealing with bullies. He is loving and forgiving of his severely flawed parents and grandmothers. He's a loyal friend who helps the elderly couple next door. Then, the magic sets in. Mom is a witch. Jared's father is a mythical trickster. Animals start talking. And more. I lost interest because, to me, this detracted from my ability to view Jared as a real person.

I always struggle with supernatural characters. Don't like sci-fi or ghost stories. Even "magical realism" is a challenge for me. So, I'm probably not a good judge of the strength of this book.

Mar 1, 2020, 3:24 pm

>19 LynnB: I think the magical realism is why I decided not to add that one to my tbr.

Mar 1, 2020, 7:37 pm

>19 LynnB: I generally like magical realism but I wasn't a huge fan of this one. With all the drug use in the book, it just came across as a series of really bad trips. I liked Jared, and even liked his mom for the most part, but the story didn't come together for me.

Mar 1, 2020, 8:51 pm

>19 LynnB: I didn't want to say anything earlier because I was also turned off by the magical realism in the book. Here is just one line from my review:
"And then there are the cannibalistic river otters. That scene pretty much did the book in for me."

I think there are probably enough people who like the magic that this book will stay in to the final rounds. I'll bet George Canyon votes against it the first day though, partially because it is another indigenous book but also because he just doesn't seem like the kind of guy that would go for magical realism.

Editado: Mar 6, 2020, 9:10 pm

Has anyone started Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club yet? I am just about half way through and I can honestly say that I hate it. I was kind of bored with it, but being the weirdo that I am, I was determined to finish before the debates started. But then the last thing I read last night was awful and I have no desire to continue. I am curious to see how this book gets defended though.

On to From the Ashes Jesse Thistle by Jesse Thistle.

Mar 6, 2020, 9:37 pm

>24 Yells: I just finished Small Game Hunting... and I would encourage you to persevere. I felt like you did at points in the book but now that I have finished it I think it is a book that deserves to be read widely so that people will understand how women get caught up in toxic and abusive relationships. In fact, I am going to be rooting for it to win.

Mar 7, 2020, 9:31 am

I've read 3.5 of them so far and am, sadly, underwhelmed.

Mar 8, 2020, 12:35 pm

I'm about to complete my Canada Reads reading with Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club by Megan Gail Coles.

Mar 8, 2020, 12:55 pm

I'm glad I read We Have Always Been Here: A Queer Muslim Memoir because it showed me a side of Islam that I was not familiar with. The author is queer (to use her own term), yet attached to her faith, and she finds that she is not alone in being both Muslim and queer. We hear so much about the violent, fanatical sides of Islam that I was happy to learn about a positive aspect of many of that faith. I think this is an important book.

That said, I found the book a little dull. The author is a trained journalist and I think she has written about her life more as an observer than as the main character in her own story. I don't feel I know her even after learning about her struggles with faith and sexuality. It wasn't a bad book....just not nearly as interesting as I'd expected.

Mar 8, 2020, 1:40 pm

>28 LynnB: I enjoyed it as well, but yes, there was something lacking. I found it a little too 'pat', like she toned it down a lot for her family. I really hope they were as accepting as she indicated, but I doubt the path was as smooth as she claims.

I am definitely underwhelmed as well. I just got Radicalized from the library and I am working on From the Ashes Jesse Thistle so we will see. I just can't continue with Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club - the part about the kitten really got to me.

Mar 9, 2020, 10:51 am

I haven't reached the kitten part yet. Finding it hard to understand what's really going on sometimes, especially re Olive.

Mar 13, 2020, 8:00 am

Are you ready for the debates? Any predictions on which book will win? Which will be first to go? Are you cheering for any one book in particular?

As for me, I'm not confident in making any predictions. I think Son of a Trickster may be the first to go since there are two Aboriginal-themed books.

My personal favourite of the five is Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club. But I don't think it'll win....even I struggled with it at times, but ended up really liking it.

My favourite would have been Radicalized if the fourth story had been eliminated. It just didn't stand up to the strong ideas in the other three tales.


Mar 13, 2020, 5:44 pm

I listened to this week's pre-debate podcasts, but haven't finished the books. I don't know if it's a reading funk or maybe I'm just tired from the craziness going on in the world lately, but I am just not feeling it this year.

Mar 13, 2020, 11:26 pm

I just scrolled past an announcement on facebook that they are postponing it. I didn't read further for additional info, though.

Mar 14, 2020, 9:46 am

yes, it has been postponed. From the web-site:

Canada Reads 2020 has been postponed. New broadcast dates will be announced at a later time.

Given the ongoing developments with COVID-19 and the related travel concerns, Canada Reads has made the difficult decision to postpone next week's event until we can convene our stellar panel of advocates in front of a live audience.

Canada Reads content will still be featured next week, in a series of one-hour programs on CBC Radio dedicated to this year's books and authors.

CBC Books has released six podcast episodes to help get you acquainted with this year's lineup. You can download the episodes through CBC, iTunes or your favourite podcast app.

Mar 14, 2020, 9:59 am

I finished Small Game Hunting at the Local Cowards Gun Club yesterday. I know opinions are divided on this one. I personally struggled with it at the start, but it ended up being my favourite of the five contenders.

This is a difficult book to read because of its brutality -- people are mistreated and not valued because they are women, non-white, or gay. But it's worth it.

The author's ability to get into the hearts and minds of her characters, especially the two main female characters (Iris and Olive) is phenomenal. The story takes place in Newfoundland during a February snow storm. The sense of place, the flavour of local expressions and characters take you right into the setting, just as the exceptional character development makes you feel these are people you know well.

This is story-telling at it's best.

Mar 14, 2020, 1:46 pm

>34 LynnB: Before they posted, I had hoped they'd just do it like they used to. They didn't even used to video it; it was just on radio. Without an audience. Oh, well. We just have to be patient.

Mar 14, 2020, 4:05 pm

>35 LynnB: I'm glad to hear that you liked it. I think it is an important book for more people to read. I sort of felt about it like I did about The Orenda; the violence was really hard to read but it was integral to the story. (And I don't think we have to worry about the author being accused of cultural appropriation.)

Mar 14, 2020, 4:06 pm

>29 Yells: When I read your post at 24 I was wondering if it was the kitten episode that had bothered you so much. I had to skim over that myself.

Mar 14, 2020, 4:30 pm

>38 gypsysmom: Yup, it just seemed so unnecessary and gross. But I am in a weird mood these days so perhaps I am just more sensitive to things. I don't generally have issues with violence in books - I read American Psycho and really liked it.

Sad that CR is postponed but understandable. Hopefully with all the closures going on, things will settle down a bit. On a positive note, I now have more time to catch up on reading.

Maio 16, 2020, 2:16 pm

I just finished From the Ashes by Thistle (way too lazy to search for the right touchstone) and really liked it. It probably would have been the one that I would be championing. It seemed the most genuine and fitting. It was neat to learn that he grew up in Brampton about the same time I did (different high schools though) and we both got a BA from York.

I wonder what will happen to the debate this year. Hopefully it will eventually go on in a much more socially distant kind of way, but who knows. I hope it's not cancelled outright.

Jun 26, 2020, 3:18 pm

CBC has rescheduled the Canada Reads broadcast to July 20 to July 23. I'm glad they have decided they can hold it finally but I am going to be away camping during that time so I doubt I'll be able to catch the broadcasts as they happen. I've still only read two from the list and not likely to get any more from the library even though they are starting to deliver holds again.

Jun 26, 2020, 4:15 pm

thanx for the info, gypsymom. I'm so happy to hear this! I've read all 5 books and have my personal favourite, Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club.

Jun 26, 2020, 4:55 pm

Awesome news!

Jun 26, 2020, 5:05 pm

>41 gypsysmom: Good to know! Thanks for the update!

Jun 26, 2020, 5:23 pm

>42 LynnB: Even though I've only read two Small Game Hunting is what I am rooting for as well.

Jun 26, 2020, 6:42 pm

gypsymom, what is the other title you've read?

Jun 27, 2020, 11:45 am

>46 LynnB: Son of a Trickster by Eden Robinson. I liked it although not as much as her Monkey Beach and the magical realism aspects of the book really were too much for me.

Jun 27, 2020, 4:20 pm

>47 gypsysmom:, yes I agree re magical realism.

Jul 16, 2020, 12:38 pm

Got a prediction? A favourite book?

My favourite is Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club. My prediction is From the Ashes: My Story of Being Metis, Homeless and Finding My Way by Jesse Thistle.

I really enjoyed the first three stories of Radicalized -- so imaginative!

Editado: Jul 16, 2020, 12:58 pm

I'm predicting From the Ashes: My Story of Being Metis as well. I enjoyed all except Small Game Hunting (still haven't finished it). I liked Radicalized but I really can't see anything particularly Canadian about it and so found it an odd choice for this kind of contest. The others were good, but I felt like I could relate to Thistle's book better (despite having nothing in common with him).

Jul 16, 2020, 1:41 pm

>50 Yells:: Hang in there....I liked Small Game Hunting more as I got deeper into it...maybe you will, too. I agree that Radicalized didn't seem very "Canadian" to me, but that's pretty subjective. I liked the first 3 stories so much, but the 4th is a theme that's been done so often....and survivalist lit isn't my thing anyway, so it left me flat.

Jul 16, 2020, 5:33 pm

Oh, this is coming up next week, isn't it!?

Jul 17, 2020, 9:14 am

>52 LibraryCin: Yes, Monday to Thursday, streaming at 11:00 Ottawa time.

Editado: Jul 17, 2020, 5:17 pm

>53 LynnB: Thank you! That's 9:00 my time, but I'll have to wait until after work. :-)

ETA: I'd love to say I could listen while I work. Normally, that would depend what I'm working on, but I know - at least early in the week - I'm really going to need to focus!

Jul 20, 2020, 4:44 pm

Haven't listened to the podcast yet, but I spoiled myself and looked to see who got the boot. It would have been my first choice to boot as well. I'm curious to hear if their reasons matched mine. What do you all think?

Jul 20, 2020, 5:06 pm

I'm not surprised, either. And while I loved the first three of the stories, I didn't see it as a book that puts Canada in focus. However, Akil made some good points to show me that it does so more than I'd thought. Very emotional debates today!

I'm predicting my personal favourite, Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club will be next to go. And that From the Ashes will win.

Jul 20, 2020, 9:51 pm

>55 Yells: I am not surprised (watching/listening right now) that it went.

>56 LynnB: I also suspect that one might be next.

Not sure yet about a winner.

Jul 21, 2020, 11:56 am

What does everyone think of the panel? I'm not sure if I like any of them. I think I said that last year too.

Jul 21, 2020, 12:25 pm

I am not a fan of Amanda's....I think she verges on passive-aggressive, especially when she talks to Akil. I don't like the way the debates often play out. They seems quick to pick on specific words rather than the ideas that are being expressed.

I was very surprised by the result today...I was sure that book was going to win. Now, I really don't know what to predict.

Jul 21, 2020, 3:15 pm

>59 LynnB: Wow, I thought that one would win as well.

Jul 21, 2020, 3:56 pm

I am not a fan of Amanda's....I think she verges on passive-aggressive, especially when she talks to Akil

Yes. I find her very dismissive.

Editado: Jul 21, 2020, 11:27 pm

I just finished listening to the first 2 The only one that I don't mind listening to is Alayna, although she was a little grating today at times. I found Akil to be a really sore loser yesterday. I think everyone was a little harsh with him about the book, but it was like he felt personally attacked and responded with a mild temper tantrum. He calmed down a little today.

With so many votes against Small Game Hunting, I wonder if it's the next to go.

Jul 21, 2020, 8:06 pm

I wonder if they voted it off because it's a strong one?

Not a fan of how Amanda is debating, nor Elena (Alayna?).

>62 Yells: You might be right for what goes tomorrow.

Jul 22, 2020, 8:48 am

Akil is making some good points. I find that Amanda and Alayna are quick to react to his words instead of listening for his ideas. He's justified, in my opinion, to be defensive.

I think Amanda and Kaniethiio seem to have a partnership going...something in the way Amanda looked at her after the voting and appeared to wink. Anyone else see this?

I also disagree with the entire panel about the quality of writing in We Have Always Been Here. I found the writing detached the author from her life...she came across more as an observer or reporter than the protagonist.

As for what happens next....who knows? George and Akil have both voted twice against Small Game Hunting, and if I'm right about Amanda and Kaniethiio, they will, too.

I can't wait!

Jul 22, 2020, 10:20 pm

>64 LynnB: I agree with your thoughts on Akil.

So... I haven't read any of the books ahead of time. I listen each year, and if I haven't already read the book or don't already have it on the tbr, it helps me decide whether or not I want to read it.

I usually have ideas ahead of time, but the debates can change my mind. So, I'd already decided I was unlikely to read "Radicalized" and "Son of a Trickster" (only due to the magical realism). I thought I'd probably read "Small Game Hunting" and "We Have Always Been Here". And I was undecided about "From the Ashes".

Due to the debates, I've added "From the Ashes", and decided against "Small Game Hunting". I am unlikely to change my mind on the other two.

Jul 23, 2020, 12:49 pm

I found yesterday's debate rather civil and I enjoyed it a lot better. People seemed to be actually listening to one another instead of just assuming they know what the person is going to say and responding to it.

I haven't been paying attention to who voted for what - did the same people consistently vote for Small Game Hunting?

Jul 23, 2020, 3:57 pm

yes, the two men voted for it every time.

Jul 23, 2020, 4:25 pm

>67 LynnB: - ah cool, thanks. I thought that was the case, but my fatigued brain didn't really want to go back and check (pure laziness on my part). I wonder if their strategy was simply vote it until it's out or did they actually listen to all the debate points and decide each day that it was the weakest link. I'd like to think that everyone came in with an open mind, but I'm thinking perhaps not.

So much for yesterday's civility. 'Well speak clearer then' - I had to listen again because I couldn't believe she said that. And, because apparently I'm just in a snarky mood this week, I gotta ask - why bother calling the winner if you are only prepared to give her 5 seconds to speak? It sounded like she wanted to say something but kept getting cut off by Amanda (or maybe it just seemed that way in the podcast).

Jul 23, 2020, 5:20 pm

Well, crap! I still haven't read your comments here.

I am currently listening/watching, and doing other things while listening. Stupidly, I opened an email from Chapters... Ugh! (I should have looked at the subject line, but didn't... honestly, I often don't.)

I'm still going to stay away from the comments here, at least, until I finish.

Jul 23, 2020, 6:07 pm

>68 Yells: Well, now that I'm done...

It sounded like she wanted to say something but kept getting cut off by Amanda (or maybe it just seemed that way in the podcast).

I thought it sounded like she didn't know what to say or how to react!

Jul 23, 2020, 6:09 pm

I feel like Aylayna (sp?) (I want to spell it Elena!) tried really hard to defend her book, but based on the discussions (of course, they've all already read the books, as well), I probably would have voted for it every time, as well.

Not accessible, hard to get into, hard to follow.

I can see that there would be people who wouldn't vote for it to win.

Jul 24, 2020, 1:48 am

>68 Yells:

So much for yesterday's civility. 'Well speak clearer then' - I had to listen again because I couldn't believe she said that.

Right? I found her so abrasive every day. I saw some online comments saying "I love how she stands up to the mansplaining," but really, she's no AOC

I did not like the panel this year.

Jul 24, 2020, 9:10 am

I didn't like the panel either. I didn't like the way Ms. Horn said her book should win because it was time that an Aboriginal author won....much stronger to make the valid case that we need to live up to the spirit of reconciliation and listen to Aboriginal voices. I didn't like the way Amanda and Ms. Horn (and to a lesser extent Alayna) jumped down Akil's throat almost every time he spoke. I didn't like the way Radicalized was dismissed as being written by an "angry white man". Just so many times that real discussion of things that Canada should focus on were dismissed.

I DID like George Canyon. He spoke well on behalf of his book, and tried to understand the viewpoints of the others. Let's find more like him or I may lose my love for Canada Reads.

Jul 24, 2020, 3:24 pm

>72 Nickelini: I gave up on the comment section after reading someone write that Canadian books are 'meh'. He seemed to base that astute observation on the fact that the last time he read a 'Canadian' novel was back in the 90s (and then realised that the author wasn't Canadian nor was the book set here).

Jul 24, 2020, 6:33 pm

>72 Nickelini: Right? I found her so abrasive every day. I saw some online comments saying "I love how she stands up to the mansplaining," but really, she's no AOC

And I agree a little bit with Akil on this. He's a man and he's trying to explain something, because it's a debate! Should that automatically make it "mansplaining"!?

Jul 24, 2020, 6:35 pm

>73 LynnB: I felt like the women were "ganging up" on the men, so to speak, at least at times.

I also liked George Canyon.

Jul 24, 2020, 10:37 pm

>73 LynnB:, >74 Yells:, >75 LibraryCin:, >76 LibraryCin:

I pretty much agree with everything you all said

Jul 25, 2020, 8:20 pm

I was off camping during the debates but I did manage to listen to three out of the four days. The day I missed was the one when they voted off Small Game Hunting and I have to say I was a little surprised that 4 out of the 5 people voted it off. I thought there was more support for it than that.

I felt that the women decided that the books written by men had to go so that a book written by a woman and defended by a woman would win. Otherwise how to explain voting off From the Ashes on the second day. I felt sure Small Game Hunting would go that day.

I have not read We Have Always Been Here; it was probably the one that I was least interested in reading from the get go. I've put a hold on it at my library now since I feel like I should read the books that win each year.

Jul 26, 2020, 9:08 am

>78 gypsysmom: I watched on live stream and twice I thought I saw signals go between Amanada and Kanathiio. Alayna wasn't physically in the room.

Jul 26, 2020, 2:38 pm

>79 LynnB: I wasn't really thinking that there was any conspiracy per se but rather that they wanted the winner to be their own book and perhaps thought they had a better chance with only other women to compete against. But you had the visual (which is how I have done Canada Reads the last few years and I do like that better than just the audio) so you are probably correct.