Canada Reads is upon us. One of the things I like and hate most about Canada Reads is that you can never predict what is going to happen or who will win. We have to remember that these are not just books at play, but also the sometimes quirky and unexpected personalities that defend them. Yes, I’m thinking of you Justin Trudeau circa 2003 (was it really that long ago?)
For 2013 our books and defenders are as follows:
Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese defended by Carol Huynh,
The Age of Hope by David Bergen defended by Ron MacLean,
Away by Jane Urquhart defended by Charlotte Gray,
Two Solitudes by Hugh MacLennan defended by Jay Baruchel,
February by Lisa Moore defended by Trent McLellan.
Right now the fan favorite, hands down, seems to be Indian Horse according to this CBC poll. The one thing that could derail Indian Horse‘s success is Carol Huynh, the books defender. Huynh was a complete unknown to me before this and as it turns out she is a wrestler. I would like to think that this will give her a competitive edge somehow, but never having heard her speak I can honestly say that I have no idea how well she will do in the literary wrestling ring that is Canada Reads. The book itself, however, is breath taking. I can see other celebrity jurors who get voted off early falling hard for Indian Horse.
Speaking of getting voted off early, I think The Age of Hope should be the first to go. Of all the books, I think it was the weakest in meeting the Canada Reads criteria. I also think it will not appeal to as many of the panelists as some of the other books (ahem, Indian Horse). That being said, it is being defended by none other than Ron MacLean. Not only is he a persuasive speaker who regularly has to go up against Don Cherry, but I am also really, really interested to see why he chose The Age of Hope. Will his reasons be compelling enough to convince me, not to mention the other panelists, of its merit as a Canada Reads contender? And if all goes according to plan, he will quickly become an advocate for Indian Horse once his book gets voted off.
Initially Away was favored to win Canada Reads 2013, and with good reason. Not only is the book a well loved Canadian classic and award winner, it is also being defended by the formidable Charlotte Gray. I suspect Away still has a good chance of taking the title, though I must admit I would be a little disappointed if it did. It just seems like one of the usual suspects.
Surprisingly, to me at least, I think Two Solitudes has a very good chance at making it until the end, but not winning the title. It is a book that has certainly stood the test of time. It is as relevant to day as it was when it first came out in 1945. I think it also captures what Canada is about for a vast section of the population. Jay Baruchel is likely to give a well thought out, personal and I am expecting humorous defense of the book. But will this be enough to make it the ultimate winner?
Finally, February. I see it outlasting The Age of Hope and Away, which means that I think it will do quite well in this battle of the books. It is being defended by Trent MacLennan, a comedian who’s work I am not familiar with. The book, however, is solid and I think it will be well liked by the panelists. I can also see a panelist who gets voted off early throwing their weight behind February.
So that’s the way I see it. Away and The Age of Hope getting voted off early, the last three fighting it out in a blood bath of unprecedented proportions. I hope the winner will be Indian Horse, but who knows. By this time on Tuesday everything may have changed. I will try to post throughout the week, but my vacation may get in the way. Good luck to all!