Monday, March 29, 2010

Ode on a Used Bookstore

Anyone who knows me is fully aware of how much I love a good bookstore. Even just having a book section improves most stores in my estimation. A good used bookstore, though, is somewhere I can spend hour upon joyous hour, completely oblivious to anything but how much the growing pile of books I'm carrying is going to cost. Then, of course, comes the inevitable whittling away of my selections until I reach an affordable compromise.

Good used bookstores combine a sort of grubby natural light (filtered either through dusty windows or great window displays) with tall shelves filled to the brim with books. Really good used bookstores have multiple levels (or rooms) and categories written by hand on something resembling construction paper. In short, they are charming in a cluttered sort of way.

Because I would rather buy books than most other things (leaving aside, of course, food, tea and beer) finding used bookstores in all the places I live is pretty essential. Book-buying can become an expensive habit if you're not careful, and if you move a lot, a used bookstore can help you decrease the weight of your boxes.

Bookslut ran a great piece this month about why used books are more satisfying than new ones, and various Toronto sites have listed their top city used bookstores. I would also like to compile a list of great bookstores (both used and new, as long as they aren't chains) from cities across Canada. Feel free to leave suggestions in the comments, or e-mail me directly, and once I have ten or so suggestions, I'll start posting them.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Atwood and Brown: Together at Last

Last night, at the Toronto Reference Library, Ian Brown interviewed Margaret Atwood onstage. They are both funny people in their own right, although I'd say Atwood had the upper hand last night, and they had the audience laughing from the get-go.

On the agenda (which Brown had in front of him on several pages of folded white paper) were Atwood's numerous awards, the relationship between The Year of the Flood and Oryx and Crake, how and where she does writing, her visions of the futu
re, the role of narrative in society, and her relationship with her parents. It was a hodge-podge of an evening that somehow managed to flow together into exactly what you'd want a live interview with Atwood to be: insightful and hilarious.

Of The Year of the Flood and Oryx and Crake, Atwood described The Year of the Flood as the "meanwhile" of Oryx and Crake. Oryx and Crake ends in an ambiguous way, and Atwood said she did that because she wasn't entirely sure what happened; The Year of the Flood, which ends about eight hours after Oryx and Crake revisits the end and offers and explanation. A third novel, which will also run concurrently to the time frame of Oryx and Crake is in the works.

I took notes through the entire thing, including jotting down some of the funnier things that were said, but without Atwood's simultaneously dry and twinkling delivery, something gets lost in writing them down. I will say this, though: If you get the chance to see Atwood interviewed live, take it (especially if you have someone as skilled as Brown doing the interviewing).

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Not Wanted on the Voyage

Repurposing Biblical stories into complex and well imagined works of fiction is, I think, much harder than its sister-genre of retelling fairy tales. Harder because there are probably a lot more people who know the Bible story you're working with, and the backlash-potential is huge. But harder also because Bible stories are more about the moral than the story itself, so the characters exist simply to carry the reader (or listener) toward the moral. When scholars talk about the characters of the various Bible stories, they describe their lives through family trees, not personal details. This means that when someone, such as Timothy Findley, sets out to re-imagine a Bible story, they must remain true-ish to a story that has almost no details. Nonetheless, Not Wanted on the Voyage is a novel that speaks back to its source-material in every sentence.

And somehow, Findley does that while using a cat as his narrator. Mottyl belongs to Mrs. Noyes, wife of Dr. Noyes, who is more Biblically known as Noah. Biblical stories may not give the reteller much, but they do give them a story arc, which Findlay stays more or less true to: the is a novel about Noah, who builds the arc and then sails it for 40 days and 40 nights in the rain. Findlay cover the basic story elements - the animals going on two-by-two, Noah's family and their new role as populators of the Earth, etc. - but it's all the extra detail and background, and the world he creates that makes this book unforgettable.

Using a cat's perspective is kind of genius in this way, because a cat really can be omniscient (or close to it). Mottyl also has a life outside of the family compound, and is free to come and go as she pleases. She is also the confidant of Mrs. Noyes (it's amazing what people will tell their pets), so all the family gossip she misses is relayed to the reader that way.

Throughout the book, Findley kind of responds to pieces of the Genesis story, quoting short passages at the beginnings of chapters and then agreeing or disagreeing, based on the way his story unfolds. "Not wanted on the voyage" was a baggage label, used by the arc's human passengers (Dr. and Mrs. Noyes, their sons and their sons' wives) to indicate which articles they would like to still have after the flood. But it might just as well have been a label for all the people and animals not included on the arc's manifest. Mottyl was not wanted on the voyage (by Dr. Noyes, of course) but she slips in anyway, as cats are wont to do, so the story continues after the rain has picked up the ship.

Dr. Noyes is a tyrant - a fact that Findley reveals to the reader more and more plainly as the story progresses. He is also incredibly old, almost as old as Yaweh, and a drunk (possibly reasons for his brutishness, but not enough to excuse him of his actions). He abuses his wife (when he manages, she is quite a formidable woman) and his daughters in law. He murders his wife's singing sheep in a fit of rage and fire. He rapes his daughter in law with a foreign object in a scene I could hardly stand to read (if I'd held the book any farther away from my face, I would have dropped it). In short, Findley is not particularly kind to Noah (not that this iteration of the man deserves much kindness).

One of the most interesting details that Findley brings to the table, though, is why the flood happened at all. In a slight twist on the "real reason," Yaweh comes to visit (literally, visit) Noah and admits that he's horribly depressed. The people, he says, are not treating him well. To cheer him up, Noah shows him a magic trick: He places a penny under a bottle and fills the bottle with water; because of refraction the penny seems to have disappeared. Yaweh is delighted; all his problems can be solved with water because water makes things disappear.

It's small scenes such as this that make Not Wanted on the Voyage more than a retelling or recreation of a Bible story. Findley's attention to motives and consequences make the characters more than archetypes or simple names on the page. And even though you know the story line and how the tale will end, Findley's novel makes you doubt what you remember and forces you to re-experience the story through his, and Mottyl's, eyes.

Not Wanted on the Voyage
by Timothy Findley
First published in 1984 (cover image shown from Penguin Modern Classics edition)

Monday, March 22, 2010

March Madness

Yes, American college basketball is sweeping the continent this month (as it does every March), but that is not the madness I'm interested in. But I am closely following the literary versions of March Madness.

First, of course, were Canada Reads and Canada Also Reads. Very Exciting, to be sure, but not month-long title fights. Enter the Morning News' Tournament of Books.

The Tournament of Books actually got started on March 9 (while I was still deep in the throws of the aforementioned, panel-driven contests) and is now in the Quarterfinals. The tournament features 16 books, which were paired up in round one and then slowly but surely, as books get knocked out, the cream will rise to the top.

The great thing (I think) about The Tournament of Books is that, instead of each book having its own defender, each pairing of books is judged by someone different (meaning, for example, that their are four judges rendering four verdicts on four pairings in the Quarters). It's interesting to get different writers' opinions on the books as they rise through the ranks, and also to see how the judges compare the books they're faced with.

The winner will be announced on April 5, which means this really is about as close to a month-long event as you get in the book world.

Toronto bookstore Type Books has another take on the March Madness, book bracket idea: In their store window they have posted a roster of books (four brackets; each book paired with one of the college basketball teams) and as the basketball teams fall, so too do the books. This contest is less merit-based and luck-based, but that doesn't make it any less exciting. Type Books is documenting the drama both in their stores and on their Twitter feed.

Knowing that there are people with their nose in a book as well as those with their eye on a ball kind of balances out how I feel about March.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Birth House

I recommended The Birth House last week, as a book that would make it into my Canada Reads top-5. It's a book that pops up every now and again, certain scenes have a way of running through my head almost like songs playing on loop. Given Ami McKay's propensity for a rich and almost poetic prose style, though, it seems appropriate that the scenes in her first novel would play out like music.

The Birth House is about Dora Rare, the first daughter born to a Rare man in anyone's memory, who grows up in Scots Bay, Nova Scotia, before, during and after the First World War. As she gets older, Dora finds herself increasingly in the presence of Mrs. B, the village midwife and mystic. Although Dora repeatedly tries to distance herself from the role of midwife-in-training, she soon discovers the importance of such a woman in the community.

Scots Bay is a village on the far side of the North Mountain, and to get to Canning (the valley town with the shops and services) it takes quite some time in a horse and buggy. Soon, though, a maternity centre opens in Canning, changing the way people in the area view both pregnancy and childbirth. The centre is billed as a place where women will have all the modern conveniences of ether and forceps during childbirth. And let me say that the scenes depicting how these conveniences are applied are quite horrifying.

But the centre does more than take the mother out of the childbirth equation - ether knocks her out and the forceps negate the need to push - it also takes away her choices. Before the maternity centre opened, childbirth was one of the only things a women controlled in her life; they had a midwife and the men were left more or less out of the birthing process. But with the arrival of a male doctor who vocally derided the role of the midwife, the men in the area started to take control of childbirth, sending the women on long dangerous trips down the mountain when they were in the throws of labour. Needless to say, this is not portrayed in a positive light in McKay's novel.

But The Birth House is as much about Dora Rare's life as it is about the history of maternal health. Dora, victim to her own desires, ends up married to an abusive and often absent man. She does get the child she wants, though, as well as the friendship of many local women. Her story does have a happy ending, although it's a twist I don't want to spoil, and the book ends just at the point that you want to know more about her and how her new life progresses.

Besides her lovely prose, McKay uses newspaper clippings from the fictional Canning Gazette, advertisements, letters, journal entries and homeopathic remedies to both tell Dora's story and give the wider context for the world she's living in. Really, McKay gives a layered history in The Birth House, on the one hand, she describes the developing science of gynecology and on the other she ties Dora's life to some of the major east coast events of the time: the Halifax Explosion and the Boston Molasses Flood.

But despite all the history KcKay bases her story on, the real focus is Dora and the village of Scots Bay. McKay lives in Scots Bay and based the story on the heritage home she moved in (formerly the home of the community midwife). Her connection to the area runs pretty clearly through her descriptions and it adds an extra level of realism to a novel that seems steeped in beautifully rendered research.

The Birth House
by Ami McKay
First published in 2007 (cover image shown from RandomHouse edition)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Canada Also Reads: Come Thou Tortoise

The National Post's Canada Also Reads, a response to CBC's Canada Reads, has announced its inaugural winner: Come Thou Tortoise by Jessica Grant and defended by author Neil Smith.

The contest's winner was voted on by readers - Come Thou Tortoise won with 43 per cent of the vote - making it more interactive than the CBC contest. Canada Also Reads made a concerted effort to feature lesser-known books in an effort to promote a wide range of Canadian literature.

Congratulations to Jessica Grant and Neil Smith. And congrats also to The Afterword (the National Post's literary blog) for putting on such an engaging and successful book-battle.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Canada Reads: Epilogue

It seems the panelists figured out the answer to the question of what Canada Reads should be about: This year's winner is Nikolski by Nicholas Dickner (first published in French), which was defended by Michel Vezina.

Of the five books up for the title - a list that also included Generation X by Douglas Coupland, Fall on Your Knees, The Jade Peony by Wayson Choy and Good to a Fault by Marina Endicott - Nikolski was probably the only unknown novel. Generation X, Fall on Your Knees and The Jade Peony have spent many weeks on the bestseller list (and are sure to turn up there again), and Good to a Fault, despite being heralded as the least-known of the novels by some of the panelists, actually won the Commonwealth Writer's Prize and was short-listed for the Giller. Which brings us back to Nikolski, Dickner's first novel, and relatively unknown in English-speaking Canada (it was translated by Lazer Lederhendler).

So, will I buy this book? Most likely. I enjoyed the debate about its characters and the way it made suggestions about what a family is. I will probably try to find a copy in the original French, though, just to get the full effect.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Lullabies for Little Criminals

It's Canada Reads week on CBC, so it seems like a good time to talk about Heather O'Neill's novel Lullabies for Little Criminals, which won Canada Reads in 2007, when it was championed by John K. Sampson (lead singer of The Weakerthans and former poet laureate of Winnipeg).

Lullabies for Little Criminals follows the coming-of-age of Baby (so named because her teenage parents couldn't come up with anything better), who grows up in Montreal, surrounded by drugs and poverty. Baby lives with her father, Jules, a heroin addict of the most dangerous kind. Alternatively loving and violent, Jules' constant money problems force them to move frequently from one cheap hotel room or grungy apartment to another and his violent tendencies drive a wedge between father and daughter.

Eventually, one of Jules' drug binges leaves Baby alone for over a week. Jules is barely an adult and Baby often waffles between viewing him as her father and as a fun junkie friend. When he goes missing, though, she gets scared for him and, after wandering the streets looking for him, she gets picked up by Child Services and placed in a foster home while Jules goes to rehab.

Baby's foster home (not the last one she ends up in) is outside of Montreal, cutting her off from the rhythms and life that she knows. For the first time in her life she has actual adults in her around her, as well as pseudo-siblings. She hates it for a while and misses Jules, but it seems that just as she's getting her life together he comes back to get her, promising that everything will be better.

Of course, it isn't. Jules is an addict who is too sad when sober to ever really leave heroin behind. After noticing Alphonse, the local pimp, paying attention to Baby (who's about 13 at this point), Jules starts lashing out at her. As the violence escalates and Jules starts spying on Baby and going through her meagre belongings she runs away to the supposed safety of Alphonse. She tries to return to Jules a few days later, but when the door is locked she assumes he has abandoned her in disgust.

So Baby returns to Alphonse. But once their life together gets going, she realizes he isn't as wonderful as she thought. Eventually he convinces her to start turning tricks. Then, Alphonse convinces Baby to try heroin, at which point there's no turning back.

Baby is still going to school throughout all of this. She's a pretty good student, actually, and befriends Xavier, an odd boy who is also a bit of an outcast. As her life with Alphonse devolves into more of a pimp-trick relationship, Baby draws closer to Xavier and they start secretly dating. One day, Alphonse comes home to find Xavier and Baby together in his hotel room. Furious and high, he beats both Baby and Xavier and, after sending Xavier out, steals Baby's heroin. The next morning, she wakes up to discover Alphonse has died of an overdose.

Not knowing what else to do, she heads for a men's shelter where she has heard Jules is staying. She finds him, sober, in the dining hall and he tells her he found a job and a place for them to stay outside the city and, ready to start over, they catch the bus together.

Lullabies for Little Criminals was pretty controversial when it came out (and might still be). Reading about a 12-year-old prostitute is no easy thing, especially because O'Neill doesn't shy away from descriptions that place you in the room with Baby, making you just another adult complicit in her messed up life. But because of how fully realized Baby's voice is, O'Neill never strays outside of what you can believe might happen to her. As matter-of-fact as Baby is when she's describing Jules or Alphonse or one of the men who pay little girls for sex, she's never looking for sympathy from the reader. Rather, she's telling you her story in the kind of blunt way only a child can.

For a relatively short novel, O'Neill fits a lot in. When I saw her read from Lullabies last year I was captivated by the way she described being high: the way Baby sees things is fairly particular throughout the novel, but especially so when she's describing dead flies and window glass while stoned on heroin. And, really, I think it's those moments of clear honesty that keep the book from being totally bleak. It's a depressing subject on the surface, but once you get into Baby's life it seems full of hope, or at least beautiful insight, and that buoys the story. Baby is not just another lost kid; whatever she's going through she experiences with her eyes open, taking in the world the way she lets you take in her life. And it seems clear that anyone with that much self-awareness can never really be beyond recovery.

Lullabies for Little Criminals
by Heather O'Neill
First published in 2006 by HarperCollins (cover edition shown from that edition)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Canada Reads: Chapter 1

After two days of debating, the Canada Reads panelists voted off their first book: Generation X by Douglas Coupland (defended by Winnipeg rapper and poet laureate Roland Pemberton, aka Cadence Weapon).

Yesterday, the panelists (who also include hurdler Perdita Felicien, War Child founder Dr. Samantha Nutt, media personality Simi Sara and belletrist Michel V├ęzina) had an interesting discussion about what Canada Reads is meant to do. As host Jian Ghomeshi frequently points out, the winner of Canada Reads has always benefitted from a huge boost in sales - Lawrence Hill's The Book of Negroes has been on the Canadian bestseller list since it won last year. So, should Canada Reads serve to draw attention to books that may otherwise go unlauded or unread, or should it just be about the best book in the bunch?

I'm tempted to say it should be about recognizing previously under-appreciated works of Canadian fiction. It is, of course, wonderful to hear people discuss literature on the radio and I am for anything that promotes reading, but I like to think that Canada Reads could help wonderful books reach an audience they may not have otherwise had. The National Post's Canada Also Reads is working to do that this year (since many of the Canada Reads selections are already fairly commercially successful).

So, in the spirit of recommending great Canadian fiction, here are five novels I would love to see championed on Canada Reads (with brief explanations):
Lives of Girls and Women by Alice Munro: I have talked about this one before and I know Munro is already successful in her own right, but this is a lovely book that speaks very much about small-town life. It also offers an sideways glance at what it was like to grow up during and after the Second World War without going into the actual details of the war. Really, it is just so excellent.
Three Day Road by Joseph Boyden: Yes, yes, Boyden won the Giller last year for Through Black Spruce, the sequel to Three Day Road. But, I kind of feel as though, in the wake of that win, this book got pushed a little to the side. Of the two novela, this one floored me. Boyden's voice lifts off the page and rolls around in your head and his images are incredibly vivid without being demanding. Plus, it has a layered narrative, which I tend to love.
The Blue Castle by Lucy Maude Montgomery: This is kind of a sentimental favourite, but for me it was more quintessentially L.M. Montgomery than all the Anne books (especially the ones after she was married). Don't get me wrong, I loved Anne of Green Gables, but The Blue Castle is less sweet and actually really funny. There's also a lot of social commentary in this book, which makes me feel a little as if Montgomery is winking at her readers through Valancy's eyes.
The Birth House by Ami McKay: This is another recent-release (relatively speaking), but I was so taken by it the first time I read it that I couldn't put it down (and I was supposed to be on a ski trip). Historical gynecology may not be for everyone, but there is so much life in the characters McKay creates that it's easy to get lost in the world of pre-World War I Scots Bay, Nova Scotia. Really, I just couldn't put it down.
Who Has Seen the Wind by W.O. Mitchell: Apparently this was taught in schools, but it was never part of my high school education, so I have none of those associations with it. What I loved about Mitchell's novel was how believable the perspective was. He seems to really get kids and what their world looks like, and that is a rare gem in literature. Plus, he has great names for his characters - different without being unrealistically quirky - which I always appreciate.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Literary Cities?

In many novels (maybe even the majority of them) the setting of the story becomes almost a character, letting the author describe emotions or the passage of time through visual cues. In A Year in Provence, for example, the weather seems to get worse as the renovations on the house continue for months on end, and often the day after a good meal dawns clear. This may be the way Peter Mayle remembers things (and may well be the way things happened), but it also serves to create an over all sense of character for Provence that is widely accepted and quite similar to other literary portrayals of the region.

In Canada, though, we seem to lack that kind of agreement when it comes to our cities. As Toronto Star columnist Geoff Pevere pointed out in his piece on Sunday, Toronto, literary city that it is, doesn't have much of a literary character. Even books that are set in Toronto are all over the map in terms of how they treat the city's presence in the narrative. In Quill & Quire's Quillblog, Steven Beattie asked whether or not a literary Toronto really can exist.

I'm not sure there's any one answer to that. Canadian cities, maybe more than cities elsewhere, seem to be collections of neighbourhoods all grouped under one municipal office. Because of that, the way the city's character is portrayed depends on the neighbourhood you're looking out of. The Montreal described in Heather O'Neill's Lullabies for Little Criminals is very different than the Montreal described by Mordecai Richler. And that is how it should be.

I like that Canadians cities are undefinable in our literature. It makes them more interesting and thus makes CanLit more interesting: If you never know what you're going to get when you open a book, then there's always a reason to keep reading.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Fantastic Mr. Fox

I have written about Roald Dahl and his books before, but the Wes Anderson adaptation of Dahl's Fantastic Mr. Fox is up for a few Oscars this weekend, and I'll take any chance I get to reminisce about all the hours I spent reading Roald Dahl as a kid.

Fantastic Mr. Fox is set in the English countryside where Mr. and Mrs. Fox live in a comfortable burrow with their kits. Their comfort is, in a large way, the result of Mr. Fox's prolific thievery. Not far from the hill the Foxes live under, three farmers - Boggis, Bunce and Bean - have large, sprawling farms that provide (unintentionally) lovely meals for Mr. Fox and his family.

But, paradise can't last forever and after a foiled heist that results in Mr. Fox's tail being shot off as he dives into his burrow, the farmers decide to exact some revenge. And so they set up a siege around the Foxes' burrow, intending to starve them out. But rather than give in, Mr. Fox decides to fight back the only way he knows how: to dig deeper into the hill in the hopes of eventually finding a way out. When the farmers discover Mr. Fox's tactics, they too decide to dig, first with shovels and then with bulldozers. Predictably, it doesn't take long for the hill to be reduced to a crater.

Under the hill, the Foxes keep digging. Eventually they run into a group of other burrowing animals who have also been caught in the siege: badgers, moles, rabbits, etc. All the animals are starving and intensely unhappy with the situation Mr. Fox has forced them into. But, he isn't fantastic for nothing, and after assembling all the animals for a feast, he and his children tunnel off in the direction of the farms.

With the three farmers well occupied by their digging siege, Mr. Fox is able to tunnel right up under their storerooms and simply pick and choose: a goose here, a duck there and apple cider all around. And so it all ends well, with the animals feasting underground and the farmers fuming above.

When you read Fantastic Mr. Fox as a kid, the appeal is the borderline-rude language and Mr. Fox's hilarious antics. Even reading now, it's hard not to laugh at Dahl's descriptions of the farmers. But now (and this may be my English degree talking), a lot of this story seems to be about habitat destruction - and I don't think that's too much of a stretch. Although the animals come out alright in the end, they do nearly starve because their home is being destroyed by humans.

In his memoirs (Boy and Going Solo) Dahl seems very nostalgic for a simpler time, when farms were local and open to the public and most digging was done by hand with a shovel. And for all the lightness of Fantastic Mr. Fox, I think a lot of that nostalgia seeps in.

And really, that's what makes Dahl worth revisiting years after you've left the target audience age. He was always able to write on more than one level. He knew what kind of language would appeal to kids and how to use it weave a story that would make kids laugh and their parents think (and laugh, too). If his stories were less complex (even the apparently simple ones) they would never have been so entertaining, and if they hadn't been so memorably enjoyable we would never have returned to them the way we continue to.

Fantastic Mr. Fox
by Roald Dahl
First published in 1970 (cover image shown from Knopf Books for Young Readers edition)

For more Dahl:

Monday, March 1, 2010

Canada Also Reads

Next week, CBC's Canada Reads will kick off their annual battle of the books. This week, though, marks the start of another kind literary slugfest: the National Post's Canada Also Reads.

Started as a way to draw attention to lesser-known (and therefore lesser-read) Canadian books, Canada Also Reads features eight books (all written by Canadians) to be defended by other Canadian authors. Where Canada Reads tends toward crowd-pleasers, Canada Also Reads is definitely looking to promote less-mainstream CanLit - the contest also let their audience weigh-in on what they would like to see included, which resulted in a pretty great long-list of potential selections.

Canada Also Reads may be set up as a kind of alternative to Canada Reads, but really, both "competitions" (they're more like publicized literary discussions to my mind) achieve the same goal: They get people talking about Canadian literature. And whether that literature is already out there in the mainstream or hanging around dark corners in independent bookstores makes almost no difference, because in the long run, getting people excited about our national book scene is good for all Canadian authors, publishers and booksellers.

I listed the Canada Reads nominees in an earlier post, but here are the Canada Also Reads contenders:
My White Planet by Mark Anthony Jarman (Thomas Allen & Sons) - defended by writer and critic Stephen Beattie

The Day the Falls Stood Still by Cathy Marie Buchanan (HarperCollins Canada) - defended by author Tish Cohen

Best Laid Plans by Terry Fallis (McLelland & Stewart) - defended by singer/songwriter Andy Maize

The Last Shot by Leon Rooke (Thomas Allen & Sons) - defended by poet Jacob McArthur Mooney

Yellowknife by Stephen Zipp (Res Telluris) - defended by blogger John Mutford

You and the Pirates by Jocelyn Allen (The Workhorsery) - defended by author Lisa Pasold (get this as a free eBook)

Come Thou Tortoise by Jessica Grant (Knopf Canada) - defended by author Neil Smith

Fear of Fighting by Stacey May Fowles (Invisible Publishing) - defended by author Zoe Whittall (get this as a free eBook)
You can vote for the winner at the end of the week and write about the winner on Monday, just in time to get ready for a week of Canada Reads. November may be awards season for books in Canada, but apparently the real competition goes down in March.
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