I was recently asked, as a book blogger, to write a short guest post for the Canada Reads blog.
My short POV about the process appears in this post today on the CBC Books/Canada Reads website along with posts from . . .
Charlotte Ashley of Inklings
Jennifer Knoch of Keepin' It Real Book Club
Chad Pelley of Salty Ink
Steph VanderMeulen of Bella's Bookshelves
Apart from the fact that I have the least interesting named blog of the bunch (the dry and boring "Mark Leslie's Blog" as opposed to something interesting I could have named it such as "Book Nerd's Realm" or even "This Guy Who Likes To Post Stuff"), I was honoured to be asked to write something up and appear beside these fine bookish peeps.
My own blurb spoke about the "Brave New Canada" this different approach resulted in.
Unlike many literary competitions, this one, which was a result of opening it up to the general public (with a very heavy dose of active social media buzz taking place), provided not only a fantastic Top 40 and Top 10 list, but also resulted in what I think is a unique and refreshing Top 5 list all contending for the top prize.
There are 3 first novels (The Best Laid Plans, The Birth House and The Bone Cage) competing for this honour as well as one last novel (Unless from the late Carol Sheilds). One of the contenders is a graphic novel (Essex County) and another was originally self-published (The Best Laid Plans).
In my mind this makes for a great list. But let's take it a few steps back and consider the Top 40 list. In my post on the Canada Reads website I called it a good yardstick to measure the current Canadian literary landscape.
And to that end, I thought I should post a link to each of the Top 40 books listed and remind people that this competition is about discovering great books they might not have otherwise checked out. Yes, the Top 5 books are going to get a lot of airplay and a lot of exposure -- which is great and something I look forward to. But I'd like to pause throw out the Top 40 list again to offer people looking for great book gifts to give this Christmas -- because selecting from among this fantastic list of books, you really can't go wrong and chances are you'll find something for almost any reader. Just click the links below to get to the Canada Reads posting for the book to learn more about it. Then again, there's always Google, and of course there's always your friendly neighbourhood local bookseller who'll likely chat with you about the books.
A Complicated Kindness by Miriam Toews
Bottle Rocket Hearts by Zoe Whittall
Clara Callan by Richard B. Wright
Come, Thou Tortoise by Jessica Grant
Conceit by Mary Novik
Crow Lake by Mary Lawson
Drive-by Saviours by Chris Benjamin
Elle by Douglas Glover
Essex County by Jeff Lemire
Far to Go by Alison Pick
February by Lisa Moore
Galore by Michael Crummey
Heave by Christy Ann Conlin
Inside by Kenneth J. Harvey
Late Nights on Air by Elizabeth Hay
Life of Pi by Yann Martel
Lullabies for Little Criminals by Heather O'Neill
Moody Food by Ray Robertson
Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
Pattern Recognition by William Gibson
Room by Emma Donoghue
Shelf Monkey by Corey Redekop
Skim by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki
Sweetness in the Belly by Camilla Gibb
The Best Laid Plans by Terry Fallis
The Birth House by Ami McKay
The Bishop's Man by Linden MacIntyre
The Bone Cage by Angie Abdou
The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill
The Day the Falls Stood Still by Cathy Marie Buchanan
The Fallen by Stephen Finucan
The Girls Who Saw Everything by Sean Dixon
The Last Crossing by Guy Vanderhaeghe
The Stone Carvers by Jane Urquhart
The Way the Crow Flies by Ann-Marie MacDonald
The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood
Three Day Road by Joseph Boyden
Through Black Spruce by Joseph Boyden
Twenty-Six by Leo McKay Jr.
Unless by Carol Shields