Believe it or not this is the first year that I have listened (watched actually) the Canada Reads competition live. I have listened to all of the past years at nausea but never as they happened. A lot has happened in first two days and here are a few of my thoughts about things so far:
- Essex County, the first book voted off, was not given a fair shake whatsoever. As everyone knows, I was not a fan of a graphic novel being included in the competition, and I still haven’t warmed up to the idea, but that does not excuse how it was treated by most of the panelists. Since it was included, I would have like to seen some debate on the content of the book (themes, characters, development, quality), instead we had them jumping all over the book because of its genre. I think it was a good book, I do not think it should have won, but I feel like it was really sold short. Lorne was the only one I felt, other than Sara, who was at least somewhat fair towards the book. I was introduced to graphic novels for the first time because of its inclusion and was surprised how much I enjoyed it.
- The Bone Cage was booted off today with 3 votes. I am bitter as this was my pick to win and favorite of the five. I didn’t hear any compelling arguments as to why people voted it off, but alas, it is gone. Georges Laraque was honest and courteous in defeat (and he had an awesome shirt on too).
- Ali Velshi and Debbie Travis are really grating on my nerves. Travis admitted to not finishing (from what I understand, I was on the phone during this part) The Best Laid Plans. Neither panelist seems at all willing to point out any positive merits other contenders may have. Velshi seems arrogant and conceded in his defense of his book. While both have been focusing almost exclusively on their own books, they haven’t really been hitting on any points that would convince the casual reader to pick up their titles. We need panelists like we had in previous years, like Jim Cuddy, Steven Page, and Denise Bombardier, who strongly defend their titles but are also happy to discuss how good the other books are as well.
- Lorne Cardinal is doing a great job defending Unless, which I would have bet money on being gone the first day. He is also very generous in his comments about the other contenders, acknowledging (unlike Travis and Velshi) that all of the books are in fact great books. He also gets my vote as best dressed panelist.
- I am not sure why the format was switched this year to three 1 hour shows instead of five 30 minute shows. I much preferred the old format; I find by the end of the hour I am mentally exhausted and “booked-out”.
- I do not like the audience in the studio. I find it takes away from the intimacy of the conversations.
- I like how many of the authors have been active on social media. I have had the pleasure of speaking to a few of them quite often and this given me some great insight into their novels. I think this is a good thing for literature and a great way for writers to get more word out about their books
That’s my two cents. I am officially throwing my support being The Best Laid Plans now that my first pick has been voted off in a venerable orgy of poor judgement.