1. What is the Canadian Book Challenge?
The Canadian Book Challenge is an online reading challenge in which participants from Canada and around the world aim to read and review 13 or more Canadian books in a one year span: Canada Day to Canada Day. Reviews must be posted online and participants are asked to share links to their reviews with other participants. More on reviews below.
2. How do I join?
Send me an email (jmutford (at) hotmail [dot] com) with the subject line "Sign Me Up!" and I'll add you to the list. Consider yourself a participant even if you don't get a response from me right away. Come July 1st you can get started right away. As soon as I get your first link (see below), I'll add your name to the participant list on the sidebar of this blog.
3. Oh no, it's past July 1st, can I still join?
Of course! In the past I've had people join in the very last month. My response to latecomers is always the same. If you think you can realistically read and review 13 books in the time remaining, then why not? To join, just follow the exact same instructions as above.
4. What constitutes a Canadian book?
Canadian books can include any genre or form (picture books, poetry, novels, non-fiction, plays, anthologies, graphic novels, cookbooks, 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.
4. 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.
5. 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! One theme idea this year is the Slave Lake Library theme. More details on that theme here.
Certainly a theme could make the challenge 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.
6. 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. There are no prizes for reading the most. I want to stress that this is not a competition against other people. However, for all those that do meet the requirement of 13 or more, your names will be put in for a random draw for a prize.
7. 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.
8. 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.
9. 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 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.
10. I don't have a blog, how do I post a review online?
Most Canadian Book Challenge participants are bloggers, but not all. Book reviews can also be posted on other sites such as GoodReads, Bookcrossing, Chapters, Amazon, and more. However, I do have a few requirements:
i. Participants wishing to read your reviews should not need a membership or sign up to do so. For instance, anyone can read a review at Chapters, so it's fine. However, a review posted on Facebook would be out since not everyone has a Facebook account and would not be able to access it.
ii. When you share a link make sure it's directly to your review and participants do not have to go searching endlessly to find it. For instance, if you blog, link to your posts, not your entire blog. (For example: Review NOT Blog) If you link from Chapters, after you write and publish your review, you will be be able to click on your review title which will provide your link in the URL bar. (For example: Review NOT Book page)
Yet another option is simply writing your review in an email to me (jmutford (at) hotmail [dot] com) and I'll happily post it on The Book Mine Set.
11. How do I share links to my reviews?
Each month there will be a roundup post here at the Book Mine Set. This year I'll be trying a link sharing tool from inlinkz.com similar to the one they use at the Graphic Novels Challenge. Whenever you finish writing a review, just head to my blog and click on the "Share your link" icon. Add your name and in parentheses the title of the book you just reviewed, then provide the link. I'll also ask that in the comment section of that post that you bring us up to speed on your progress so far (ex. 6/13 read). I'll send an email reminder once a month.
12. Will there be prizes?
Yes! Canadian publishing companies and authors have been very generous in their support. Besides a prize pack for one lucky reader who has read 13 or more books, there'll be other monthly prizes as well. Sometimes these will have mini-challenges, such as "If you read a Canadian mystery this month, you will have your name put in for a prize pack donated by Mutford Publishers." The prizes are not offered in the spirit of competition but merely as a fun way to encourage participants on and to sometimes highlight different genres, publishing companies, and authors.
13. How can I help?
By joining, reading and reviewing, obviously. And sharing links to your reviews. 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.