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A Number of Things: Stories of Canada Told Through Fifty Objects
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SCPL (St_Catharines_Public_Library) | 333 comments Mod
Hello, everyone. My name is Holly and I will be leading our discussion this month. Thanks for joining us. Happy belated Canada Day!

To coincide with Canada’s 150th anniversary, we are reading the book “A Number of Things” by Jane Urquhart, a collection of short reflections on Canadian objects and places that represent facets of our culture. The book is available on several different formats and you can reserve your copy today by using the following link:

I hope that you enjoy our book this month. It is a lyrical and eclectic collection: Urquhart writes about the rope said to have hanged Louis Riel, bird feeders, the beaver hat, and a Saskatchewan dance hall, among other things, all in her signature expressive style. The essays are accompanied by beautiful scratchboard illustrations by artist Scott McKowen. I’m looking forward to our discussion. Please feel free to share your thoughts and respond to any question that is posted!

For those who have already read or started the book, what are your initial thoughts? In her introduction, Urquhart says, “the history of an object itself – the how and why it was fashioned; whether it is organic, or mercantile, or spiritual in nature, or a combination of the three – opens up like a fan to reveal a much, much larger picture” (XII). This made me consider the objects that are significant to me in my life, and the many layers of meaning that contribute to their worth. Some of my most prized treasures would have very little value to anyone else. Do you have a similar experience? Right off the bat, the book also has me thinking about possibilities for my list of essential Canadian objects. What would you include in your collection of 150 things to represent our nation? What criteria would you consider when compiling your list?

Heidi Madden | 83 comments This book makes me happy. Not only is it Canadian history/Canadiana which I love but it is such an easy read. The short little "chapters" make it great to grab and read one or two and not feel like I have to commit a bunch of time to it. I'm fascinated by the objects she chose. How do you narrow it down??? I don't know what I'd include but it's definitely fun to think about.

I also find it really interesting that she didn't include a table of contents. I expected to see a list of the 50 things at the beginning but as I read further I'm kind of glad she didn't. It makes it more of a surprise that way and keeps it interesting. I can't wait to read more!

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SCPL (St_Catharines_Public_Library) | 333 comments Mod
Hi Heidi - thanks so much for you comments!

You make some really excellent points - the setup of the book is fantastic for those who can't commit a lot of time to reading. Just pop in a bookmark and begin reading about the next "thing" when you have the chance! I find that the chapters read so easily too, they aren't overwhelmingly academic and read like a short story.

I really enjoy the fact that there isn't a table of contents as well. Every time I turn the page to the next chapter I think - how did she think of all these items to include? It's great - I'm always surprised!


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