Canada Reads 2009 – Day 1

Today was the first day of Canada Reads 2009, is there a better day in the year?  I have my doubts.  It’s always exciting to hear what the defenders of each book has to say.  In case you don’t already know here are the books and their defender:

  1. The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill defended by Avi Lewis
  2. The Fat Woman Next Door is Pregnant by Michel Tremblay defended by Anne-Marie Withenshaw
  3. Fruit by Brian Francis defended by Jen Sookfong Lee
  4. Mercy Among the Children by David Adams Richards defended by Sarah Slean
  5. The Outlander by Gil Adamson defended by Nicholas Campbell

As seems to be the most logical question when trying to select a book a whole nation, particularly one as vast Canada, should those defending the books were ask what makes a novel great, and why you would want all Canadians to read it?  This is a great question and it has made me think about what it is that makes a book stand out for me.  I really don’t know what it is, but I think there are couple of things that definitely contribute to greatness in novels.

First I think it has be entertaining.  If the novel isn’t able to keep my attention, and this can be difficult sometimes, I cannot finish it.  So, I guess this would be the most important aspect in making a great novel.  It also has to evoke some kind of emotion.  The books that are most memorable are ones that have stirred strong emotions.  I’m sure each of you could think of at least one thing that makes for a great novel.  What would that be?

It seems from the way the discussion progressed today that The Book of Negroes may not be the hands down winner I thought it would be.  When asked which novels were the ones they liked the least all but two were mentioned by the panelist.  Right now it seems that the front runners may be The Fat Woman Next Door is Pregnant (which is one of the two books I’m really rooting for) and The Outlander.

Tomorrow the voting starts.  Each book is eliminated until the winner is named.  I’m really excited to see who will join the pantheon of past winners.  Tomorrow should be another fascinating debate, until then keep reading.


Ragtime – Review

Before I get started on the review portion of this post I need to talk a little about why this book was read. As those of you who are regular reads of this blog you’ll know that I love E.L. Doctorow’s Ragtime more than anything else. Or at least I bring it up a lot. This was my selection for the book club that got started at work with a great title To Read or Not to Read (I do work for the Stratford Shakespeare Festival so it’s quite fitting). So, we had our first meeting last night. With that being said I do need to heaps piles of shame on those that didn’t show up for the discussion. There were some with valid reasons for not being there but the majority I don’t even know why they didn’t show.

With that being said the true bibliophiles made their way to the meeting. Yvonne, Paul (who, I must note, came all the way from Cambridge for the meeting) and myself. Oh, and I should say Elisha was also there but was working (we met in a local bar).


By: E.L. Doctorow

Genre: Historical Fiction

One of the things that I like to do when holding a book club is have each person evaluate the book on a scale of 1-10. It’s often very telling. All three of us gave the book rather high marks 7,8, and 9. I was the one that gave the book a nine. I adore this book and I think I love it so much because it evokes so many emotions while reading it and because the every single character is flawed.

This book has obviously influenced a large number of people because it’s been made into a movie and a Broadway musical, despite the many differences in these three retellings of the story I have enjoyed all. The story of Coalhouse Walker Jr. is incredible and the comings and goings of some of the past centuries well know celebrates.

It’s been a while since I’ve read this book so it was great to have this opportunity to read it again. I was surprised to find this book as sexually charged as it is. I do remember the masturbation scene, but then again after reading it how could anyone forget it? This time around I was as upset with Coalhouse as I was the first time. I think this time I realized it was his only option, he did what he needed to do to help the others in his band. The first I read what happened I wanted to hurl the book, this time it was all good.

A Q&A with the author can be found here. He talks about Ragtime and why he wrote the book.

Kristin Dodge has a wonderful review of this book at (and I must say I love the title of her blog) Books for Breakfast.

Jandy’s Reading Room is wonderful and puts many of us readers to shame, last year she read 200 books – wow!

These are really the only posts I could find on fellow blogger sites. So I guess the question I need to pose is why aren’t you people reading this book? If you’ve read it and would a link here send me an email and I’ll add the link.

Weekly Review #9

I really didn’t get all the reading done this week that I really wanted to.  I don’t know why I say this as often as I do because I’m sure that’s the case with almost all of us?  But I’m diligently working on a few other books so I guess it’s all good.

I did get Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers finished.  It was a great book and now I’m really excited to read Mary Roach’s other stuff (I know of two others that exist).  I’ve also got a good chunk of Lawrence Hill’s The Book of Negroes finished.  I really hope to get that one done soon.  Along with The Book of Negroes I got a start on The Fat Woman Next Door is Pregnant.  Both of these are good but very different which is great.

As many of you already know I’m a fan of Canada Reads and well that starts TODAY!  I’m extremely excited about the week ahead.  I’m sure the winner of Canada Reads 2009 will be The Book of Negroes (remember I haven’t read all the books) but it’s got so many awards, justifiably so, but I think it would be great for Canadians and others to get acquainted with.

Yesterday I had my first book club meeting but I’m going to discuss that because I’ll be posting on that shortly, and it’ll be accompanied by a review of Ragtime by E.L. Doctorow.