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Ru and Canada Reads > Question # 7: Themes & Book Suggestions

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message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

In the first few years of Canada Reads, there were no themes - panellists simply debated about which book Canada 'should' read. In the past few years, themes have been introduced, including Turf Wars, A Novel to Change Our Nation, and this year's One Book to Break Barriers. Do you think having a theme is helpful? Do you have any ideas for future themes? Are there any Canadian books you think should be featured on Canada Reads in future years that have been missed?


message 2: by Emily (new)

Emily Burns (emilymelissabee) | 124 comments Mod
I think that All My Puny Sorrows definitely should have made it onto the Breaking Barriers list, but hopefully we will see it on another list sometime soon. I know that Lawrence Hill has already been featured with Book of Negroes, but his other books are also excellent and would make great Canada Reads titles. I don't think that there necessarily needs to be a theme, but if there is a theme, it should be adhered to in order to make the conversation strong. I would love to see some funny authors - Drew Hayden Taylor, for example - on Canada Reads.


message 3: by Maureen (new)

Maureen B. | 212 comments :-) Following Susan's suggestion that I post something here, I have first a caveat: being hearing-impaired, I've never had the opportunity to follow Canada Reads on CBC. Bearing that in mind, some of the books have found their way into my life and those I've enjoyed very much.

One thought is that themes and the available books in a given year might not be a good match. Like you mention, Emily, it would be wonderful to see some good funny writers on Canada Reads but they wouldn't likely make the cut when the theme is One Book to Break Barriers. And, come to think of it, when it comes to themes, serious is going to be more likely than not.

On the other hand, a clearly-defined theme might make the decision-making process easier when, almost always, there's a wide array of books and those submitted are all well-written.

The other lonely thought I had was that, if a reader also happens to be a gifted speaker, s/he might be able to convince people that one book meets the criteria of the theme far better than another. (For some reason, memories of being bested on a debate team come up here! :-)


message 4: by Emily (new)

Emily Burns (emilymelissabee) | 124 comments Mod
Maureen wrote: ":-) Following Susan's suggestion that I post something here, I have first a caveat: being hearing-impaired, I've never had the opportunity to follow Canada Reads on CBC. Bearing that in mind, so..."

Maureen, thank you for bringing up the accessibility issues for Canada Reads. That is a great point, and not discussed enough. You might be happy to know that if you happen to be interested in watching this year's competition, they are available in video format (which includes Closed Captioning) - if you are so inclined, you can find them here: http://www.cbc.ca/books/2015/03/canad....

I think that your point about the panelist's ability to present a strong argument for their title is so important - Cameron Bailey was such a strong, respectful participant this year and it served him (and Ru, and Thuy!) well.


message 5: by Maureen (new)

Maureen B. | 212 comments Emily wrote: "Maureen wrote: ":-) Following Susan's suggestion that I post something here, I have first a caveat: being hearing-impaired, I've never had the opportunity to follow Canada Reads on CBC. Bearing ..."

Good to know. Thank you, Emily!


message 6: by Susan (new)

Susan (susanopl) | 472 comments Mod
I could probably debate the question of whether or not there should be a theme for Canada Reads for quite some time, but I'll just make a few key points. First, if there is going to be a theme, I would like to see the defenders of the books stick to the theme more often. Side debates occur too often, and I find myself admiring the defenders who prove their books are the ones that best suit the theme. I'm thinking here of Craig Keilburger in the 2015 debate.

Second, I think it's best when the defenders feel real passion for their books, so perhaps it would be best to allow them to choose their books, rather than picking one from a list that Canadians have suggested. A discussion about the merits of a book and why Canada should read it can be just as compelling as one involving a theme.

It is hard to argue with success. Canada Reads seems to have become more popular in the last few years, since the theme approach was adopted. It must be easier to market the competition when there is a theme. I love that Canada Reads is reaching more people through radio, television and the internet. (Thank you to Maureen for making me aware of the accessibility issue). Anything that gets people reading is a great thing. I have discovered several authors through the program and come to admire their defenders - in many cases people whom I did not know before Canada Reads. I am always incredibly proud of the talent here when I watch Canada Reads.


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