Canada Reads 2017 Notes on Day 2

The Canada Reads competition for the second day is finished and another book has been voted out. Today’s competition is down to three books. The final two will end the contest tomorrow.

Just to remind you, the program is hosted by comedian Ali Hassan and the panelists are Candy Palmater, Humble the Poet, Jody Mitic, Chantal Kreviazuk, and Measha Brueggergosman.

Ali summarized Day 1 and then gave Candy a chance to talk about the book for the last time. She’s now a free agent in the debate.

We hear from each author talk about their books briefly and then the panelists are asked about their respective books, what makes it a great book?

He notes that the author started to write it before the onset of modern social media but shows how the world could evolve with the involvment of social media.

Chantal/Right to be Cold
She reckons her book is relatable to all ages, it’s autobiographical, and it’s a call to action in the midst of environmental controls and it gives hope to the future generations.

Humble/Fifteen Dogs
Humble pointed out that all of the CR books deal with issues and the root of every issue is us, and this book helps us “understand the world outside of us and the world inside of us” and by understanding and connecting both, we can understand why we are where we are now with various issues.

Measha/Company Town
Measha believes that Company Town “subverts the traditional dialogue surrounding literature to include the younger audience” Female voice in scifi. It focuses on science and technology in conjunction with a corporate involvement. There’s a diverse and multi-generational cast to match a diverse culture.

There was a lot of really great debate today, I thought. The tone was less aggressive though sometimes one or another panelist took things personally. There was a point made that it isn’t the issues that should be debated, it’s the way the books convey the issues and that’s exactly the way it should be but sometimes, it felt like the issues themselves got in the way. I noticed that Candy always seems to get a word or more in to direct or try to direct the conversation to her own issues, wanting to educate people she says, but this really isn’t the forum for that.

Now we get down to the initial debates with the question, which is,what the most inclusive book? (they can’t talk about their own book)

The Right to be Cold came into a lot of discussion here as being very inclusive since it affects absolutely everyone on the planet. It’s a marker and a call to action even though the text could be intense at times. Measha found that the autobiographical parts of the book were more accessible to her which then brings the book’s message to the forefront. I liked Humble’s description that diversity is often though of as superficial, what things look like or appear to be when he thinks it’s also about life choices and the diversity of thought. He liked Company Town’s diversity of characters, their various economic means, and the life choices of those characters.

The next question is Which book helps Canadians learn from the past?

While you might think Nostalgia would come in for a lot of debate here, it only did minimally. Fifteen Dogs started to come up more now and Measha thought a combination of Fifteen Dogs and Nostalgia would be the perfect book. Okay then. There were still lots of kudos for The Right to be Cold because our actions in the past certainly caused climate change and it will affect the future and the book is about more than just the issue, it’s about how the issue is affecting the way of life of the peoples in the North. Fifteen Dogs is mentioned as a mirror to human consciousness.

Humble was the one that made the remark about which book is the best conveyor of the issue, not about the actual issues themselves. Very true. Because he feels a good book should be accessible to readers of all levels, he believes his book, Fifteen Dogs, does that. Human experience explains why we have climate change, why there is economic differences, why our Indigenous people are struggling.

Chantal didn’t think that Fifteen Dogs isn’t as accessible to all, calling it too mature for younger people due to the language used. Humble replied that he chose the book to represent because it represents him, not as a male, or a minority but how he feels inside, how he can struggle with his own regrets, choices and decisions. Everyone has inner conflicts and thoughts and that makes Fifteen Dogs accessible. Very good rebuttal, I thought.

Ali introduced audio from people in the panelists’ families and supporters to give them encouragement.

The next point for debate was the question about which book is the *least* effective at letting us know ourselves. I didn’t think there was any definitive argument. There was a lot of discussion about the human condition and again, consciousness and Fifteen Dogs again was the focus of much of this part of the debate. Jodi didn’t think that the dogs showed much evolution with the onset of the human reasoning they were given though Humble pointed out that he went to a deeper level of connecting to the characters. Candy found the two futuristic novels more difficult to relate to though it was coloured by a negative encounter with one of the authors. She and Chantal both felt Company Town’s ending let them down.


It’s time to vote.

Company Town
The Right to be Cold
There’s one vote left….will it be a four way tie? Yes, yes it will. The last vote is against Fifteen Dogs.

Candy, as the only independent, gets the deciding vote and she voted for Nostalgia to be eliminated.

Jodi was cool with that. you win some you lose some. All the books are great and he’s been excited to meet all the contestants and participate.

I do think that there wasn’t a lot of defense to day for Nostalgia, Jodi wasn’t as passionate in his chances and Nostalgia didn’t come in for a lot of the discussion. I think Fifteen Dogs probably dominated most of the debates today with The Right To Be Cold coming in a close second, though it started off dominating the debates.

Three books left. The competition is really heating up, now! I’m still backing Company Town but I think Fifteen Dogs and The Right to be Cold are very strong, probably stronger than the one I prefer. Humble the Poet is really impressing me with his arguments and his dignified demeanor and Measha is also very engaging. Chantal is passionate but unfortunately it seems more difficult to include her in the conversation due to her being at a remote location. I hope that doesn’t hurt her book’s chances in the long run.

Links to the ways to watch or listen to today’s debates online. 

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