Tuesday, February 01, 2011

The Canadian Book Challenge 4- 7th Roundup!

We're now in the home stretch, gang. Past the halfway mark. And while January was as long and cold as ever, February is looking up. After a couple weeks of less than -30, it's supposed to be up to -3 come Wednesday. Balmy.

But cold weather just means there's more time to snuggle down and read. Right? Right? Oh wait, am I putting too much pressure on you? Over at That Shakespearean Rag earlier this month, Steven W. Beattie questioned whether or not reading challenges, with their artificial deadlines and quotas, are sucking all the fun out of reading. So, with that in mind, if you're not having fun, I apologize and suggest that you quit the challenge now. He goes on to add that challenges emphasize quantity over quality. I have a few issues with that. First, people read at different paces. Nicola has read 45 books for the Canadian Book Challenge so far, I've read 14. Does this mean I'm a better, more insightful reader than Nicola? Who's to say? It's not like we're preparing for an English final. Maybe it's that she reads more in her spare time and I'm wasting too much time watching Curb Your Enthusiasm reruns. Perhaps my goal to read more books is more about cutting back on TV. While I enjoy both, reading makes me feel more fulfilled in the end. And besides all that, we're all adults here and we all have free choice. Nobody is joining a reading challenge out of obligation. We're all doing it for fun. I assume no one here went to a doctor recently only to hear that your ignorance levels are dangerously high and that you must read 13 Canadian books by July 1st. Beattie says that he does not consider reading a competitive sport, but some people happen to like competitive sports. I don't and that's not why I've joined the Challenge. But if that's your reason, go nuts. Whatever your reason, I'm enjoying having you with us. What are your thoughts?

While I wait for you to ponder that (but don't ponder too deeply, it's a race!), let's get to last month's prize winner. I gave four quotes from participant reviews and asked to name the reviewer and the book. A big congratulations go out to Ordinary Reader for identifying all 4. Ordinary Reader you've won the following wonderful prizes from GooseLane Editions:

Darryl Whetter's The Push & The Pull
Keith Oatley's Therefore Choose

This month's prize, which includes all 5 Canada Reads contenders, might just be yours. To have your name entered into a random drawing, all you have to do is read and review any of the past or current Canada Reads contenders before February 28th. (If you want a fun way to recall the whole list, go here.) Let me know via email before March 1st and these five books could be yours:

And finally, while we're all gathered here today: the roundup. What Canadian books did you read and review in January? Let everyone know in the comments below.

- Make sure you tell me how many you've completed so far so that I can record it in the sidebar progress report
- It doesn't count as complete until the review is done!
- When people leave links, try to visit one another's blogs and read what they had to say. Comment. Encourage. The discussion of Canadian books is what this challenge is all about.


John Mutford said...

Here are my January reviews:
12. The Bishop's Man by Linden MacIntyre
13. the road to god knows... by Von Allan
14. Wild Ride by Liam O'Donnell and illustrated by Mike Deas

pussreboots said...

One for me in January: Northward to the Moon by Polly Horvath

Bernadette said...

Only one for me in January - taking my total to 11 Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood I wrote a longer review but should have stolen John's "meh"

Corey said...

Here's 3 from me:

#8 - Drive-by Saviours by Chris Benjamin

#9 - The Three Fates of Henrik Nordmark by Christopher Meades

#10 - Verbatim by Jeff Bursey

Luanne said...

Two for January...

11. Arranged by Catherine McKenzie

12. Bride of New France by Suzanne Desrochers

As for your question John - I am doing it for fun, but also to keep tabs on all the great Canadian authors we do have. For me, I want to make sure I do sample what Canadians are writing, so this is a great forum to do that in. ( Oh how bad is that sentence structure...half awake and on my way out the door to work) Anyway I'm happy to be part of this challenge!

Nikki in Niagara said...

Just a three this month bring my total to 48.

46. New Monster in School by Sean O'Reilly
47. Lola, A Ghost Story by J. Torres
48. Two Generals by Scott Chantler

I'm with you on challenges John and think Steven has it all wrong. I don't join very many challenges actually. I only join the ones that I usually read a ton on books that would fill the requirements anyway, so why not join? It's no added 'work' for me and I get to join the community and be a part of the fun. I suppose someone who writes a blog entitled "That Shakespearean Rag" could find something to say about the quality of some of what I read. But, to him I say, a "Big So What?" I like kids' books and graphic novels just as much as adult books and the literary stuff too. I don't like competitive sports. In fact I don't have a competitive bone in my body. It drives my dh crazy sometimes :-)

Kate said...

I've been in a reading slump this month - re-reading old favourites. I few more, and I should be ready to get back into the swing of discovering new favourites. I did finish one Canadian book back at the beginning of January, but have yet to post the review. So I'm still at 18 - here's hoping for a better February!

As far as reading challenges go, this is the only one that I participate in; and I participate only because I am reading and reviewing Canadian books anyways. I would rather read books that catch my fancy, rather than choosing books based on challenge requirements.

Chrisbookarama said...

Any pressure I feel about challenges is self-inflicted. I've learned to lighten up about them. I only join the ones I'm really interested in. I don't see it as competitive, who am I competing with? I do it because the topic interests me and I like finding new books. Seeing what others are reading for the challenge is often surprising. It's meant to be fun!

My books like month:

Dead Politician Society

Jane of Lantern Hill

That brings me up to 10 books.

Steve said...

Two more for me:

7. Consider Her Ways - classic SF by Frederick Philip Grove (whose life story reads like a work of genre fiction)

8. Murther & Walking Spirits by Roberston Davies

Anonymous said...

In what must be a first for the challenge, I reviewed an agenda. In my defence, it had a lot of text.

A Woman’s Agenda by Karen Helm

And one more: Jazz in Love by Neesha Meminger

My total is at 9 now.

Gavin said...

Here's my January review.

#10 Who Has Seen the Wind.

Melwyk said...

Here are January's reviews for me, new to me Canadian men:

The Dodecahedron / Paul Glennon

Soucouyant / David Chariandy

The End of the Alphabet / CS Richardson

That brings my totals up to 17 (4 male writers, 13 women)

Melwyk said...

Oh, and I agree with you John: challenges are fun because we are grown-ups and have chosen to join -- seeing what others choose to read, hearing their impressions, and having that extra incentive to pick up something new and different always make challenges enjoyable for me. I hardly think I'm going to stress out if I don't "finish" a challenge. Also, as you have mentioned, people read at different speeds and for different reasons. If I read, say, 180 books a year, it doesn't mean I am any less or more a careful, particular reader than someone who reads 30. It might just mean I read quickly naturally, or that I spend most of my leisure time reading rather than going out or joining activities. I don't see how it affects someone else, either way.

jeanne said...

Well, I read and reviewed 2 Canadian books this month which brings me to a grand total of 4!! One of them is The Bone Cage, so I hope that qualifies me for the draw, but I'm also planning to read another one in February. My other book is the latest mystery by Giles Blunt, Crime Machine. One of my favourite Canadian mystery writers.

The Book Chick said...

Okay, I was just going over my list of Canadian books read and the numbers were off somewhere. The I realized that I forgot to tell you that I read The Girls by Lori Lansens back in December. My bad!

In January I added two to my list:

Arranged by Catherine McKenzie

and Go Small or Go Home by Heather Wardell, bringing my grand total to 13. Yay!

Shan said...

I read 3 books in January bringing my total to 15.

After Tehran: A Life Reclaimed by Marina Nemat

They Fight Like Soldiers, They Die Like Children by Romeo Dallaire

The Debba by Avner Mandelman

As for your question John, I can see the potential for some people to lose the fun of the challenges, but that doesn't make them less fun for the rest of us.

I joined this challenge because I read a lot but very little of it was Canadian, and I wanted to change that. I'm so glad I did, I've found so many great Canadian books, I've read more in the past six months than I think I ever have (I fault high school for taking the fun out of Canadian literature for me.)

Lahni said...

I'm up to nine (you only have me at three though?)
9. Sunwing by Kenneth Oppel

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Essex County

I read one Canadian book in January, bringing my impressive total all the way up to 3. Obviously I am not succumbing to any pressure to produce!

Claire (The Captive Reader) said...

Only one for January:

7. The Library at Night by Alberto Manguel

Carina said...

Libertad by Alma Fullerton

Obasan by Joy Kogawa

YOU comma Idiot by Doug Harris

That brings me up to 22 books read in total. (I've done two more, but not reviewed them yet ... so they'll come next month!)

Jodie Robson said...

Two read but only one review last month: One Bloody Thing After Another makes seven in total. Must read faster!

Ordinary Reader said...

I’m so excited I won the books! Thank you so much John. This is the first time I’ve won anything blog related and I have to say that winning books is better than just about anything else (except maybe the lottery, not that I know what that’s like, but I have a vivid imagination).

My reviews for January are:
7. The Hatbox Letters by Beth Powning
8. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

I can’t agree with Steven’s suggestion that challenges are sucking all the fun out of reading. I think it’s just the opposite. Don’t people sign up because they think it will be fun and it will lead them in a direction they actually want to go? I signed up for this one because, 1. I suspected I might be missing out on a lot of great Canadian authors I’d never heard of , and 2. there were Canadian books I'd been wanting to read but never got focused enough to pick up. I am very happy with the results. I've read books I might never have found otherwise and they are some of the best books I’ve ever read. This challenge is one of the smartest reading decisions I’ve made in a long time.

Jodie Robson said...

Came back to add that 4 of the books I've read so far (includes the one I haven't reviewed yet) are by authors new to me - this challenge is pushing me to overcome the difficulties of only getting the same authors here in the UK, which is great. I recently checked off all the books on the 2010 Canada Reads top 40 to see if you could buy them here (I think just over half were available, for anyone who's interested).

Anonymous said...

Lots of books read but only one review done. The reviews are piling up. I will have to be more diligent for February.

21. I Do Not Think That I Could Love A Human Being by Johanna Skibsrud

Suzanne said...

I'm back! #3 for me is The Best Laid Plans by Terry Fallis.

Teena in Toronto said...

I read 3 Canadian books in January, bringing my total to 25.

"Rum-Running" (2010) Allison Lawlor
"Old City Hall" (2009) Robert Rotenberg
"Thrifty: Living the Frugal Life with Style" (2010) Marjorie Harris

Swordsman said...

I started off 2011 in a good way finishing two books. Rum-Running: Stories of our Past and October Crisis, 1970: An Insider's View by William Tetley.

This brings my total to 13. Hey! I made it!

gypsysmom said...

I guess I only read one in January that counts for my personal challenge i.e. to read books by Canadian authors that are new to me. That one was A Strange Manuscript Found in a Copper Cylinder by James De Mille. Once I realized that if was written before Jules Verne's books were translated into English I found it quite interesting.

Anonymous said...

The Canadian Book Challenge is the first challenge I ever joined. Why? Because I am on a mission to discover Canadian literature and would have read some of those books anyway. Benefits? It's fun, I have discovered great blogs through it, as well as books I wouldn't have been aware of, and it gives me motivation.

Hmmm... Here is the occasion for me to chance my arm so I can get to read the two contenders I haven't read yet! Reviews to come...

Again I'm behind in reviewing. Although I have read 13 books, I have only reviewed 10...
Here is the link:…llenge-2010-11/


Amy said...

Only one for me this month:
15. Tempestuous by Lesley Livingston

Lesley said...

While I agree with a lot of what Beattie said (I stopped participating in a majority of challenges this year), I do enjoy your Canadian challenge, John, and part of it is the deadline and meeting the parameters.

That said, I only read one Canadian book in January and haven't blogged about it yet, so I don't have anything to report for this roundup!

Jules said...

Read One book this month total is now at 11.

1) The Birth House - Ami McKay

Buried In Print said...

Here are my January books:
24. Sarah Selecky’s This Cake is for the Party (2010)
25. Terry Fallis’ The Best Laid Plans (2007)
26. Billeh Nickerson’s McPoems (2010)
27. Lynn Coady’s Play the Monster Blind (2000)
28. Stacey May Fowles’ Be Good (2007)
29. Mavis Gallant’s Home Truths (1981)
30. Sarah Leavitt’s Tangles (2010)