We're all about Canada Reads here at ALU, and we just can't resist the chance to take part with our own twist. Below we defend and recommend books we think all Canadians should read from poetry to memoir. And all these books are winners in our eyes, so go on and check out our picks (and keep up with us as
we discuss this year's Canada Reads).
Why do Canadians need to read The Search for Heinrich Schlogel? It checks and then busts out of all the CanLit boxes: unbelievable prose, stories within stories, gorgeous depictions of our northern geography, the dichotomous truths of nature versus city and of outsider versus resident, and a little bit of unexplainable time travel magic. The eponymous Schlogel's visions of abused children in Residential Schools while on his journey through Baffin Island will rip your heart clean out, and fill the hole with fury. And the yearning of the archivist trying to find this missing man will become yours, too.
LitDistCo General Manager Julia on why
Passage by Gwen Benaway (Kegedonce Press) is a book Canadians need to read:
Gwen Benaway's second collection of poetry, Passage, is her first since coming out as a Two-Spirit trans woman. The collection is divided into five sections named after the five Great Lakes, and draws on her experiences from remembered stories of fear and trauma to affirmations of gender, love and survival. Now, more than ever, as we work toward reconciliation and healing, we need to listen to Indigenous people telling their own stories.
Marketing Manager Mandy on why
Too Much on the Inside by Danila Botha (Quattro Books) is a book Canadians need to read:
Danila Botha's Too Much on the Inside is a debut novel that tells the story of four people whose lives connect in an eclectic Toronto neighbourhood, and a book Canadians need to read. It touches on our nation's cultural diversity, the immigrant experience, and personal histories of trauma and dislocation with sharp, compelling prose. This is a contemporary story, with multiple points of view—reflective of Toronto's multicultural community—that does its part in giving us a better understanding of the aftermath of what it's like to grow up in contexts of violence, and insight into building and belonging while navigating a new culture.
Sales Manager Tan on why
Calling Down the Sky by Rosanna Deerchild (BookLand Press) is a book Canadians need to read:
Calling Down the Sky is a poetry collection that describes deeply personal experiences and intergenerational effects of the Canadian Aboriginal Residential School program. Rosanna's mother was among thousands of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit children who were taken forcibly from their families and placed in these institutions. What the children endured during these years is only just coming to light, thanks to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Through these poems, both Rosanna and her mother are seeking to heal from the residual trauma. This is a tough read, highly emotional and evocative of one of the worst episodes from Canadian history. It should be considered critical reading for anyone wishing to understand the lasting impact of the Residential Schools program.
In Lines of Flight, Julie Salverson brings to light the connection between Canada's north and the atomic bomb that fell on Japan, taking readers through some sordid secrets of our share history. Tracing the radioactive trail from a small village outside Toronto to Great Bear Lake in the Northwest Territories and onto Hiroshima, the story is told with great care and insight.
All Lit Up is produced by the Literary Press Group and LitDistCo. LPG and LitDistCo acknowledge the financial support of the Department of Canadian Heritage, the Canada Council for the Arts, and the Ontario Arts Council.
All views expressed by bloggers and contributors to the All Lit Up blog are their own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of All Lit Up or the Literary Press Group.
All Lit Up acknowledges we are hosted on the lands of the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishinaabeg, the Haudenosaunee, and the Wendat. We also recognize the enduring presence of all First Nations, Métis and the Inuit people, and we are grateful to have the opportunity to meet and work on this territory.