5 Reasons You Need to Tune into the 2014 Canada Reads Debates

Canada Reads 2013

It’s that time of year friends… No, I’m not talking about Valentine’s Day. I’m thinking along the lines of books, which of course means… CANADA READS. Each year, especially since moving to Toronto, I’ve been an avid listener/watcher of CBC’s annual Canada Reads debates, mostly because I think it’s exciting to see books celebrated in such a national way, but also because each year the books that are chosen are books that matter and strike up exciting conversation. This year will be no different. The books that have been chosen and advocated for on March 3-6, 2014 on CBC Radio and CBC-TV are,

Now because I’m a gal that really enjoys a good list, I’ve come up with five reasons on why you need to tune into this year’s debates:

1. It’s a chance to read and discover new books/authors.

I understand that many of you may have read past books by the authors included in this year’s picks. Heck, you might have already read one or two of the contending books, but who doesn’t enjoy a good reread? If you’re like me and have only read one of the books, it’s good a time as any to read some well loved books. With the amount of support and advocacy behind these books in the book community, there’s no doubt that you’re bound to discover a new favourite!

2. Listening to people debate literature is a book lovers paradise.

From one book lover to another, there is nothing better than a friendly debate when it comes to literature. I love going to book clubs for this very reason. One’s reading experience can vary from person to person and listening to this talented list of panelists advocate for why their book should be read by all of Canada is going to be something to watch. Especially since the books represent such a range of topics.

3. You can join the conversation and meet fellow book lovers.

This is actually a personal favourite reason of mine, mostly because I’m a huge advocate for excessive Twitter use (#sorrynotsorry). Leading up to and during the debates, using the hashtag #CanadaReads2014 will result in an arrangement of opinions condensed to a 140 characters. In the past, by joining the chatter online, I’ve made new friends (online and IRL), which is nothing short of amazing. I encourage each and every one of you to pop in, say hello and meet Canadians from all over our country by including #CanadaReads2014 in your tweets.

4. You can read Margaret Atwood… again.

She’s a national treasure, she orcheastrates Google+ hangouts with Alice Munro and there’s probably a good chance she’s chatted with you online. And thanks to Canada Reads 2014, we, as as a nation, get another opportunity to read  The Year of the Flood. Many of you have just finished reading the final book in the MaddAddam trilogy, aptly named MaddAddam. So this is a great opportunity to reread the second book in the trilogy or in my case, start reading the series for the first time. Whatever the case may be, it’s exciting to have Margaret Atwood included in the list and it’ll be a thrill to listen to Stephen Lewis defend the book.

5. Reading as a nation is pretty awesome.

The #1 reason why we all need to be tuning into year’s Canada Reads debates tie into the name itself, let’s get all Canadians reading! From the East to the West, it’s exciting to think that we, as a nation, can all be reading the same book. The panelists will go into these debates with a lot of passion and dedication to prove to Canada why their book should be the book every one is reading. Their arguments and points will all be valid and exciting to listen to, but whatever the outcome, we all know that getting a nation reading and chatting about Canadian books is the real winner. So join me in tuning into the debates on March 3 – 6th, hosted by Jian Ghomeshi on CBC Radio and CBC-TV.

*For lots of great coverage, be sure to check out the CBC Books Canada Reads website.

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So You’ve Googled Ramona Quimby…

RamonaSomewhere in your travels, you’ve heard of Ramona Quimby. She’s 8 and she’s a supernuisance (her words, not mine). She’s also a book character that made a permanent fixture in my childhood memories. When I was at the library recently and saw a copy of Beverly Cleary’s beloved book, Ramona Quimby, Age 8, I checked it out immediately. After rereading the book for the first time in probably 22 years, I have to say that she will forever be on my list of beloved characters. She’s quirky, unpredictable and like me, she loves the smell of erasers.

Of course, 22 years ago, the use of the internet wasn’t around so I did a little research on my old friend Ramona Quimby and was surprised to find out the following:

  • Ramona first appeared in Beverley Cleary’s book Henry Huggins, which was written in 1950. (Source)
  • The first time the author decided to write a story about Ramona was when she wrote Beezus and Ramona,  which of course tipped to the fact that sisters don’t always get along and that Ramona was a bit of a pest. This book was published in 1955. (Source)
  • Ramona’s journey started at age four (in the Henry Huggins book) and continued until she was age 10 in the last book Ramona’s World. The last book was published in 1999. (Source)
  • She finally makes amends with her arch enemy, Susan Kushner, in the final book. (Source)
  • The family cats name was Picky-Picky. (Source)
  • Beverly Cleary is 97 years of age. She was awarded the National Medal of Arts, recognition as a “Living Legend” by the Library of
    Sarah Polley as Ramona Quimby - 1988

    Sarah Polley as Ramona Quimby – 1988

    Congress, and the Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal from the children’s librarians. (Source)

  • In 1988-89 the series was adapted for Canadian television on a show aptly named, Ramona. Ramona Quimby was played by Sarah Polley. (Source)
  • It was then adapted onto the big screen in 2010 and was called Ramona and Beezus. It starred Joey King (Ramona) and Selena Gomez (Beezus).  (Source)

I started writing a paragraph that said adults who are 25+ are going to cherish the loveable and quirky Ramona Quimby for years to come. I still think that’s true, but thanks to the movie and the repackaged editions, I think she’s going to appeal to today’s generation and generations for years to come. It’s also very convenient that none of the books tip to a date or time, although, one might quickly pick up on the fact that cell phones and iPads don’t make an appearance. All that being said, Ramona Quimby will always be a cherished book character for me, but hopefully will become one for readers for many years to come.

Quick Ramona Memory: When I was a child (I think I was 8 when I started reading the books) I was excited to learn that Ramona had an aunt named, Aunt Bea (short for Beatrice). I call my Aunt Elizabeth, Aunt Bea (because none of us at an early age could pronounce Aunt Elizabeth). For probably 2+ years, I was convinced that my Aunt’s name was Beatrice until my parents promised me her real name was Elizabeth.

Share YOUR favourite Ramona Quimby memory with me below in the comments. 

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[Video] Document Your Life – January 2014

January 2014

So far, my reading goals are off to a great start. I’ve read my first Harry Potter book and I’ve completed a month end video capturing the events that occurred in January. This was a wonderful month filled with a visit to The Social to see the reveal of Elaine Lui’s upcoming memoir, Listen to the Squawking Chicken, ice fishing and a book launch to celebrate Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer’s All the Broken Things (amazing turn out by the way). Oh and of course, I read seven books, so that kept me nice and busy. Watch the video below and be sure to let me know if you’re enjoying this type of media. I’m having a lot of fun doing it, so I really hope you do!

*The concept of the Document Your Life videos was created by Lauren Hannah. Her story, videos and a description of the project can be found here.

** The music in this video is Clementine by Sarah Jaffe http://sarahjaffe.com

Why I Was Wrong and Why All of You Were Right.

I actually don’t have a hard time saying I was wrong, but when it comes to books, I feel pretty concrete about my thoughts and opinions. All that went out the window, when I was proven wrong by all you lovely people who love that boy wizard, otherwise known as Harry Potter. As you might recall, at the beginning of January, one of my goals was to start reading Harry Potter. That’s right friends, I work in publishing, read approximately 100 books a year and I’ve never read the Harry Potter series. Now, I know your face probably looks like this right now,


But let me explain, before you write me off and hit the big red button on the corner of your left screen. I consciously chose not to read the books for a number of reasons:

1. I thought it was for children
2. I don’t enjoy fantasy
3. I don’t like to be a part of book trends

Now here’s why I was wrong…

1. I thought it was for children –> This is by no means just for children. The writing is phenomenal and is beyond the scope of writing for kids.
2. I don’t enjoy fantasy –> It turns out that if you let your guard down and just turn pages visualizing outlandish and unthinkable scenarios, you can really love a novel. Go figure.
3. I don’t like to be a part of book trends –> Yes, I’ve said this. I’ve tended to use this excuse most often when people would look at me like I had three eyes when I told them I’d yet to read the series. What I’ve learned is that even though trends sometimes get a tad silly, this series is by no means a fad.

Harry-Potter-And-The-Philosophers-Stone_novelAwhile ago (like 3/4 years), I was challenged by fellow blogger Steph to read the first book in the series, which I did. Now that being said, I think that reading it was fun, but I don’t think I fully or mentally committed, because I never picked up another book in the series. When I read the book this time around, I was shocked at how little I retained from that reading experience. I vaguely remembered that there was a three headed dog, that Harry had to run through a brick wall to get the train to Hogwarts, but that was about it. So this time around, I gave myself an empty Saturday afternoon, made sure I had a pot of coffee on and started reading.

And now I can finally say…  I get it. He’s not just a wizard, this kid is brilliant and our fearless leader/author J.K. Rowling knows how to write one hell of a book (lucky for me, she’s written six more). I was captivated by this world she’s created and I found myself envisioning which house I’d make it in if I had the sorting hat on. I found myself wanting to be friends with Harry, Ron and Hermione and most importantly, I found myself eager to read the next book in the series.

A huge thanks to Michele, from Just A ‘Lil Lost who not only created the Harry Potter Reading Challenge, but has been cheering me on via text and twitter!

Now I’m off to read Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Stay tuned at the end of February for another Harry Potter reaction post.

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[Book Review] Glitter and Glue by Kelly Corrigan

If there’s one thing we all know for sure, it’s that Mother/Daughter relationships can be complex. Anyone that tells you differently is lying (Gilmore Girls). I’ve been very fortunate to have a Mother (and Father) that not only provided love and reassurance, but guidance. It somehow seemed like they were always one step ahead of me in knowing what I should and shouldn’t be doing. And even though I’m an adult now, I still find myself dialling those 10 digits and asking both parents, what do I do? Help!?

Glitter and GlueThe relationship I’ve created with my parents is why I picked up Kelly Corrigan’s memoir Glitter and Glue. I wanted to read a story about a daughter who had a Mom that stated, “Your father’s the glitter but I’m the glue.” You see, Kelly’s Mother was as tough as nails. There’s no negative connotation to that sentence, she just kept everything running smoothly by being very logical and by stating things pretty bluntly. She wasn’t 100% keen on the fact that after college Kelly decided to go on an adventure to Australia and work on becoming more interesting. But she stood by and watched as Kelly and her friend board the plane. Of course, becoming interesting has a cost and as her funds were dwindling, Kelly had to find employment quick or she’d be headed back home. So she decided to become a nanny, not knowing that meeting newly widowed John Tanner and his children would forever change the way she saw her Mother. 

Sometimes it takes travelling halfway across the world to put things into perspective. Sometimes it takes meeting a family that has been robbed of the experiences we take for granted to make you take off your rose coloured glasses and start seeing things clearly. In this heartfelt memoir, Kelly doesn’t just share her experience, but makes you, the reader, sit up a little straighter and ask yourself if you really think your parents are out to hurt you or if their intentions are an effort to make you a stronger, better person. I think that  Gretchen Rubin, New York Times bestselling author of The Happiness Project nailed it when she stated,

“In this endearing, funny, and thought-provoking memoir, Kelly Corrigan’s memories of long-ago adventures illuminate the changing relationships between mothers and children—as well as everything else that really matters.”

With writing that’s insightful and graceful, Kelly Corrigan’s memoir Glitter and Glue will make you feel like you’re having coffee with an old friend. I can almost guarantee that the second you close the book, you will pick up the phone to thank your parents for all that they’ve done to make you the person you are today.

Click here to visit Kelly Corrigan’s website where she shares pictures of her and Mother and great quotes about Glitter and Glue

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