Thursday, July 01, 2010

The Canadian Book Challenge 4- Sorry, Excuse me. Can we start now, please?

Happy Canada Day folks! The 4th annual Canadian Book Challenge starts TODAY!

It's time once again to explore, celebrate and promote Canadian books. You have one year to read 13 Canadian books* and review them somewhere online**, Canada Day, July 1st, 2010- Canada Day, July 1st, 2011. There will be check-ins at the beginning of each month to see how everyone is progressing and have their current status marked in the sidebar of this blog. Participants are encouraged to read each others' reviews, discuss the books, and cheer one another on.

It's the fourth year of the challenge and we've had a lot of fun. Participants are mostly Canadian but we've had participants from the U.S., the U.K., India, South Korea, Spain and more. In true Canadian fashion, all are welcome! Except Venezuela. (Just kidding Venezuelans. You can come too.)


1. How do I join?

Send me an email with the subject line "Sign Me Up!" and I'll add you to the list. At the beginning of each month, I'll send you an email telling you that a check-in point has been posted on this blog. You will then visit the post and let me know what books you read AND reviewed the previous month (with links to your reviews) and your count so far.

2. Do I need to know ahead of time which books I'll be reading?

No. But by all means, if you want to plan ahead, do so. Some people find it's more of a challenge to do it this way, and others prefer to find their next book as it comes. If you do make a list and decide to alter it along the way, that's fine.

3. Do I need to have a theme?

No. I personally like to read at least one book from each province and territory (it's the whole reason 13 has become the goal number). Over the past 3 editions of the challenge, there have been lots of different themes. Some people have chosen to read authors exclusively (Robert Munsch, Lucy Maud Montgomery, Ethel Wilson, and Brian Moore have each had a run). Others have gone for specific parts of the country (Quebec and the prairies have been chosen). There's even been a challenge themed around dogs! Certainly a theme could make it more difficult, but then again, it could also make it more fun. In any case, the majority of participants opt to have no theme at all, just pushing for 13 random Canadian books. They feel they can still read what they want, when they want and aren't too confined by restrictions. The choice is up to you.

4. What if I don't reach 13 books or if I do?

If you don't, but you've had fun, it's still good. Your reviews will still be read by other participants. And you'll have a chance again when the next edition comes around. Some people ask if it's okay to fill up the remainder with children's books since they're shorter. I, personally, think children's books (picture books) are just as valid and need to be read and discussed as much as novels. Others think that it's a challenge, and as such, shouldn't be easy. Again, this is a participant's decision to make.

If you do reach 13, you may stop, or keep going. Remember, it's 13 or more. I love to see how many I can squeeze in. And there will be a prize for the person reading the most...

5. Can my books count towards other challenges?

Of course! That's half the fun! I read some this past year that counted in the Graphic Novels Challenge and the Canadian Book Challenge.

6. I don't live in Canada and am finding it difficult to get my hands on Canadian books. Any recommendations or solutions?

It'll probably be easier to find some of our "big names" at your library (Margaret Atwood and Carol Shields, for example). Of course, you can always order online. And if you ask nicely enough, Canadian participants have been known to ship books far and wide to help out.

7. What if I read a book and don't have time to review it?

Sorry, that's one point I'm sticky on. I don't count it until it's reviewed. By all means, feel free to read 13 Canadian books, but the reviewing part is an equal component of the challenge. I want the books celebrated and promoted and talked about even if you didn't enjoy it. While I say "review" I don't mean anything necessarily lengthy and I don't mean necessarily a review as much as I mean your thoughts on the book, questions about why an author said something, memories it stirred up. Anything, just something.

8. Will there be prizes?

Yes!*** For starters there's an Uncharted Territories Prize: Two signed copies of Roderick Benn's Mystery of the Moonlight Murder given away to two lucky participants who, during the month of July, read an review a book by an author NOT read at all for the Canadian Book Challenge 3. If more than 2 people qualify, random winners will be chosen. See the final update post for a complete list of who was read.

There's also an Awards Prize Pack from Random House. By September 30th, if you've read any author that won a Canadian literary award in 2010, let me know (include the name of the author and/or book and the award won). A winner will be chosen randomly from those that qualify-- but you have to let me know that you qualify! The prize includes:
Fauna by Alissa York

The Beauty of the Humanity Movement by Camilla Gibb

Sanctuary Line by Jane Urquhart

Ape House by Sara Gruen

There will be more prizes as the challenge progresses, to be announced. Some will be new donations, others may be used books (will be indicated), all designed to merely increase the fun and add to your book collection!

9. How can I help?

By joining, reading and reviewing, obviously. And checking in once a month. I also need help with promotion. If you know someone (author, publisher, or bookseller) that can donate a prize, that would be just dandy. Also, promote the challenge on your blog. Feel free to write a post that tells your readers that your joining and why, and if you've participated before, how much fun it is. Also, use the logo above, feel free to place it permanently in your sidebar.

As you can see above, the Lawren Harris inspired logo is the official logo of this edition, by popular vote. And in keeping with a mountain theme, participant progress will be measured by peaks, the tallest peaks in each province and territory.

1 book: Glen Valley (actual peak unnamed, PEI) 142m/466ft
2 books: White Hill (Nova Scotia) 532m/1745ft
3 books: Ishpatina Ridge (Ontario) 693m/2274ft
4 books: Mount Carleton (New Brunswick) 817m/2680ft
5 books: Baldy Mountain (Manitoba) 832m/2730ft
6 books: Cypress Hills (actual peak unnamed, Saskatchewan) 1468m/4816ft
7 books: Mont D'Iberville (Quebec) 1651m/5417ft
8 books: Mount Caubvick (Newfoundland and Labrador) 1652m/5420ft
9 books: Barbeau Peak (Nunavut) 2616m/8583ft
10 books: Mount Nirvana (Northwest Territories) 2773m/9098ft
11 books: Mount Columbia (Alberta) 3747m/12,293ft
12 books: Mount Fairweather (British Columbia) 4663m/15,299ft
13 or more books: Mount Logan (Yukon) 5959m/19,591ft

But not to worry, if the mountain logo isn't your cup of tea, and since the vote was so close, I've decided to let you use the other logo, the Hudson Bay Blanket inspired logo, if you wish:

On that note, sit back in your muskoka chair with a nanaimo bar and a double double, and start your reading.

The fine print:
* Canadian books can include any genre or form (children's books, poetry, novels, non-fiction, plays, anthologies, etc), can be written by Canadian authors (by birth or immigration) or about Canadians. Ultimately, participants must decide for themselves whether or not something fits the description of Canadian.

Reviews do not have to be lengthy, but must be done online to be counted. Most participants typically review books on blogs, but others do so at, BookCrossing, and other sites. As long as other participants can have free access to the review (i.e., without signing up or requiring special passwords), the review site is up to the participant.

Prizes only available for Canadian Book Challenge 4 participants.


Barbara Bruederlin said...

Hand me a namaimo bar and a double double and I will start reading!

Lesley said...

Mmmm, Nanaimo Bars - I was just explaining those to an American friend last night!

Thanks for continuing to host such a great challenge, John. I have a couple books already in the stack that would count. Have you read Random Passage/Cape Random? That's next on my list, I think.

I will send you an email to officially sign up. :-)

Gavin said...

Yeah! Let the reading begin..

Corey said...

Already done #1! Man, at this rate, I'll have 365 by next year!

So Dark the Night by Cliff Burns

pussreboots said...

Woohoo! Happy Canada Day. I'm in. Here's my sign up post.

Suzanne said...

I live in Illinois now but originally from Winnipeg -- I make nanaimo bars for the office every Canada Day and they are a big hit!
(even made them to console my co-workers when we took the hockey gold medal!)
I would love to take on this challenge -- sending an e-mail your way.

Wanda said...

I wonder what participant progress would have been measured by if the blanket logo had come out on top?

Good luck and happy reading in the 4th everyone!

Suzanne said...

Do non-fiction books count?

John Mutford said...

Barbara: How about a virtual nanaimo bar?

Lesley: I've read Random Passage, but not its sequel Waiting For Time. It's quite good. CBC also ran it as a miniseries.

Gavin: Glad to have you on board again!

Corey: Whoa, that was fast. Way to get us all started!

Pussreboots: Super!

Suzanne: I watched A Mighty Wind again the other night and there's a scene where Catherine O'Hara mentions nanaimo bars-- I wondered how many Americans knew what the hell she was talking about. Welcome to the challenge. Oh and in regards to non-fiction, yes, it counts. See the fine print above.

Wanda: I'm not sure. Dryer lint?

Sycorax Pine said...

I'm in! I have been meaning to reading more Maritime lit since moving to Halifax, so this is perfect. Sending off the email right now.

Also: Nanaimo Bars - haven't had them yet and have been dying to make them. Would that I had one right now to toast the beginning of the challenge with!

Shan said...

I'm signing up for the first time, so excited!

I said I would read 20 Canadian books this year, I'm excited to find some good reads from everyone here.

Bluestalking said...

I'm from your neighbor to the South, but hope it counts we're huge fans of Canada in our house.

I want to know more about the land and literature of Canada, to promote and educate more readers about it.

So sign me up too, if you please!

Bluestalking said...

P.S.: Nan..... who bar?

John Mutford said...

For the uninitiated, this recipe comes from Enjoy!

The Original Nanaimo Bar


***Bottom Layer ***

* 1/2 cup unsalted butter (European style cultured)
* 1/4 cup sugar
* 5 tablespoons cocoa
* 1 egg beaten
* 1 1/4 cup graham wafer crumbs
* 1/2 cup finely chopped almonds
* 1 cup coconut

***Second Layer ****

* 1/2 cup unsalted butter
* 2 tablespoons cream PLUS
* 2 teaspoons cream
* 2 tablespoons vanilla custard powder
* 2 cups icing sugar

***Third Layer ***

* 4 squares semi-sweet chocolate (1 oz. each)
* 2 tablespoons unsalted butter


Bottom Layer

Melt first 3 ingredients in top of double boiler. Add egg and stir to cook and thicken. Remove from heat. Stir in crumbs, coconut, and nuts. Press firmly into an ungreased 8" x 8" pan.

Second Layer

Cream butter, cream, custard powder, and icing sugar together well. Beat until light. Spread over bottom layer.

Third Layer

Melt chocolate and butter overlow heat. Cool. Once cool, but still liquid, pour over second layer and chill in refrigerator.

This recipe for Nanaimo Bar (Official) serves/makes 24 bars.

Suzanne said...

Thanks for the recipe John -- my recipe up to now has been:
pick up Robin Hood Nanaimo Bar mix when visiting
follow directions on box, including lots of butter

I will be brave and try this one out next time an occasion calls for them.

Pooker said...

Nicola, if I could have snatched the victory away from you, I would have! Your win was well deserved. Congrats! (Just watch your back in #4) ;)

I am just tickled to win the Short Story prize pack. Thank you John for this and other prizes that have come my way! I feel like such a greedy pig. Thanks as well to all those who have donated the prizes.

Looking forward to #4 and reading everyone's reviews.

gypsysmom said...

I'm looking forward to this year and I'm definitely going to try for the Uncharted Territories prize because my personal challenge this year is to read 13 Canadian authors that I haven't read before.

By coincidence, I was on Manitoba's highest point, Mount Baldy, on Canada Day. I even left a Canadian book there for the BookCrossing release challenge that I host every year.

Teddy Rose said...

I just did my post for the 4th. I also posted at A Novel Challenge.

Carrie K said...

Such an unCanadian title. Not.

Darn, I should have seen this earlier! I'd have Montreal covered if Louis Penny counts.

raidergirl3 said...

Gotta love PEI's highest point!

Hey, I just finished my first book, so I am there in reading right now.

I didn't realize Nanaimo bars were a Canadian thing. mmm. I get mine at M&Ms usually.

John Mutford said...

If you're interested in joining, don't forget to email me (see my address in the post above). It makes it easier for me to add you to the Canadian Book Challenge mailing list.

Radiergirl: We cheat with the M&M ones, too. Still quite good.

Sandra said...

I've just emailed you and put up my post for the challenge 4 here:

My list of good Canadian read gets longer every year instead of shorter. Go figure, as they say.
I missed reporting several books last month but I've included links in the post if anyone is interested.
And I've just finished my third for this challenge:

Beatrice and Virgil by Yann Martel, Afterimage by Helen Humphreys, and The Ghost Brush by Katherine Govier - I enjoyed them immensely. I'm off to visit other participants, happy reading everyone.

Ordinary Reader said...

I don't drink coffee and can't eat sugar, but honestly, I am Canadian. I'll have fried clams instead!
I just sent the email to sign up for the challenge. I am so looking forward to this. Thanks for hosting it!

Luanne said...

Typical me - late posting and I'm sure the bars have all been eaten... I did email you John, but just got my post up today. And the badge is in my sidebar! First book almost done....

Shannon (Giraffe Days) said...

I only just learned about your challenge this weekend, but I'm so excited about it I had to sign up! I'm a bit late but hey, I've still got 11 months yeah? Yay!

Have sent you the official email. :)

Teddy Rose said...

I just posted a review for my first book of the challenge. I don't think anyone reviewed it in round 4, so please put me in the running for the Mystery of the Moonlight Murder given away.

Here's the link to my review:

Restitution by Kathy Kacer

gautami tripathy said...

I am late in signing up for this. However, better late than never. I read 7 books for the last one. But posted links for two. I don't know how I forgot to add.

Here goes for the 4th one!

Will send you an email. I have already read one book in July!

gautami tripathy said...

BTW, I read The Tricking of Freya by Christina Sunley and posted a review of it on my blog.

Bybee said...

I'm finally on board with my first four books:

tracey said...

I'm late to the party but can I still play? I'd love to participate!

Daph_ said...

I know I'm waaaaay late, but can I still participate? :) I don't think I've ever read a book from a Canadian author..