Saturday, June 15, 2013

Are You A Well Read Canadian?

 Over at Loni's The Eye of Loni's Storm, she linked to a Book Riot post entitled "From Zero to Well-Read in 100 Books." The author acknowledges his cultural biases but I think he makes a valiant effort coming up with a varied sample of books that would make someone "well-read" as per his own definition of that term. It started me thinking of what books could be on a Canadian-only well read list. Here's what I came up with:

1. Lucy Maud Montgomery- Anne of Green Gables
2. John Vaillant- The Tiger
3. Modecai Richler- Barney's Version
4. Rohinton Mistry- A Fine Balance
5. Miriam Toews- A Complicated Kindness
7. Susanna Moodie- Roughing it in the Bush
8. Wayne Johnston- The Colony of Unrequited Dreams
9. James Houston- White Dawn
10. Michael Ondaatje- In the Skin of a Lion
11. Robert Munsch- The Paperbag Princess
12. Christian Bok- Eunoia
13. Pierre Berton- the Last Spike
14. Margaret Laurence- Stone Angel
15. Seth- It's A Good Life If You Don't Weaken
16. Ken Dryden- The Game
17. Farley Mowat- Never Cry Wolf
18. Carol Shields- The Stone Diaries
19. M. G. Vassanji- the In-Between World of Vikram Lall
20. Michel Tremblay- The Fat Woman Next Door is Pregnant
21. Elizabeth Hay- Late Nights on Air
22. Sheila Watson- the Double Hook
23. Robertson Davies- Fifth Business
24. Richard Van Camp- Lesser Blessed
25. Ann-Marie MacDonald- Fall on Your Knees
26. Kit Pearson- The Sky is Falling
27. Kenneth Oppel- Silverwing
28. Margaret Atwood- The Handmaid's Tale
29. Marshall McLuhan- Understanding Media
30. Alistair MacLeod- No Great Mischief
31. Alice Munro- The Love of a Good Woman
32. Guy Vanderhaeghe- The Last Crossing
33. Emma Donoghue- Room
34. Guy Gavriel Kay- The Summer Tree
35. Douglas Coupland- Generation X
36. Tomson Highway- The Rez Sisters
37. Leonard Cohen- Beautiful Losers
38. Phoebe Gilman- Something From Nothing
39. The Complete Poems of Robert W. Service
40. David Adams Richards- Mercy Among the Children
41. Joseph Boyden- Three Day Road
42. Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki- Skim
43. Ivan Coyote- Bow Grip
44. Naomi Klein- No Logo
45. Will Ferguson- Why I Hate Canadians
46. Lisa Moore- February
47. Mary Lawson- Crow Lake
48. Alan Bradley- The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie
49. Cory Doctorow- Little Brother
50. P.K. Page- Planet Earth: Poems selected and new
51. Lawrence Hill- The Book of Negroes
52. Timothy Findley- The Wars
53. Margaret Atwood- Alias Grace
54. Jane Urquhart- The Stone Carvers
55. Mavis Gallant- From the Fifteenth District
56. Hugh MacLennan- Barometer Rising
57. Joy Kogawa- Obasan
58. Wayson Choy- Jade Peony
59. Chester Brown- Louis Riel
60. Yann Martel- Life of Pi
61. Gabrielle Roy- The Tin Flute
62. W.P. Kinsella- Shoeless Joe
63. Elizabeth Smart- By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept
64. Thomas King- Green Grass, Running Water
65. Sara Gruen- Water for Elephants
66. William Gibson- Neuromancer
67. Margaret Laurence- The Diviners
68. Marie-Claire Blais- A Season in the Life of Emmanuel
69. Brian Moore- The Luck of Ginger Coffey
70. Ethel Wilson- Swamp Angel
71. Stephen Leacock- Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town
72. W.O. Mitchell- Who Has Seen the Wind?
73. Robert Sawyer- Flashforward
74. Roch Carrier- The Hockey Sweater
75. Eric Walters- Camp X
76. Bryan Lee O'Malley- Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life
77. Jeff Lemire- Essex County
78. Hubert Aquin- Next Episode
79. David Bergen- The Time in Between
80. George Elliott Clarke- Wylah Falls
81. Lynn Coady- Saints of Big Harbour
82. Michael Crummey- Galore
83. Esi Edugyan- Halfblood Blues
84. Rawi Hage- De Niro's Game
85. Bernice Morgan- Random Passage
86. Peter C. Newman- The Canadian Establishment
87. bpNichol- The Martyrology
88. Louise Penny- Still Life
89. Paul Quarrington- Whale Music
90. Sinclair Ross- As For Me and My House
91. Nalo Hopkinson- Brown Girl in the Ring
92. Vincent Lam- Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures
93. Dennis Lee- Alligator Pie
94. John McCrae- "In Flanders' Fields"
95. Zoe Whittal- Bottle Rocket Hearts
96. Andrew Davidson- The Gargoyle
97. Al Purdy- Rooms for Rent in the Outer Planets
98. Pierre Berton- The Arctic Grail
99. Stephen Galloway- The Cellist of Sarajevo
100. Lynn Johnston- Something Old, Something New

I tried not to just pick Canadian books that I've read, which was difficult because I've kind of made it my schtick to be a well-read Canadian. In any case, I scored 46/100 on the original Book Riot list and 58/100 on my own Canadian list, so I've still got a ways to go.

In compiling my list, I tried to pick a mixture of best-sellers and critically acclaimed, classics and contemporary, various cultural backgrounds that span the entire country, and forms and genres. I also tried to spread the love as much as possible, meaning only three authors have 2 books on the list and the rest just have one. Like all such lists, there's still bound to be subjectivity as to what should or shouldn't have made the cut. But it is what it is. Out of curiosity, how many have you read?

Feel free to meme this list if you like. And if you're so inspired, why not join the 7th annual Canadian Book Challenge to knock some of these off of your to-be-read pile?


gypsysmom said...

I think I'm at 60 and there's a few that I've got on my TBR list. It's a pretty good list I think and I like the fact that you have included some non-fiction.

Eric P said...

I've read 15 with a few more on my extended TBR pile.

I would probably have chosen a few different novels by the authors you have listed (for instance Cat's Eye instead of Alias Grace). I probably would have just listed Davies' entire Deptford Trilogy.

Definitely would have left of childrens' books in favour of adding Findley's Not Wanted on the Voyage and Robert Kroetsch's The Studhorse Man.

But certainly an intriguing list.

Loni said...

Of course you made your own list! (Certainly saved me the trouble of doing it.)
The only book I'd switch out would be Munro's The Love of a Good Woman for Lives of Girls and Women instead.

I haven't counted how many I've read yet. I feel like I'd be a bad Canadian once I new the answer.

Oh, I just realized you don't have Kit's Law on the list.

Jo said...

I've read 4 on your list.

Lucy Maud Montgomery- Anne of Green Gables
Alan Bradley- The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie
Sara Gruen- Water for Elephants
Louise Penny- Still Life

Of course, I'm not Canadian...does that excuse me? Maybe not, because I've only read 18 on the Book Riot list.

John Mutford said...

Gypsysmom: There's still a few autobiographies/memoirs that I'd have liked to have squeezed in. (Notably Shake Hands with the Devil by Romeo Dallaire).

Eric: Yeah, I went back and forth on a few. Hugh MacLennan's choice was changed 3 times! Still, I wasn't ready to sacrifice the children's lit.

Loni: I found the Newfoundland authors hard to place. As a Newfoundlander I'm clearly biased (though I think even non-Newfoundlanders would have to admit that the province produces more than a fair share of critically acclaimed writers.) Besides the Morrissey book you mentioned, I'd like to have added Kenneth J. Harvey, Kathleeen Winter, Michael Winter, Cassie Brown, Joan Clark, and Jessica Grant to name but a few. Still Wayne Johnston, Michael Crummey, Lisa Moore and Bernice Morgan made the cut.

Jo: You're excused. But then, as a Canadian, I have to say that ;)

Shonna said...

I thought that I read a lot of Canadian, but have only read 26 on this list. Some of the same authors, but different books would up me a good ways.
I do have several of the others on my shelves unread. Maybe next challenge.

Shonna said...

I thought I was reading a lot of Canadian but only have 26 on this list. Some of the ones I didn't have, I have read other titles by the same author. Some I have still on the shelf to be read. Maybe next challenge

Melwyk said...

I've read 27 on the list, and must admit, there are probably that many again that I know I will never bother reading ;)

I know that Swamp Angel is Ethel Wilson's best known novel -- but I much prefer The Innocent Traveller, or her short stories, Mrs. Golightly & Other Stories.

Melwyk said...

I've read 27 on the list, and must admit, there are probably that many again that I know I will never bother reading ;)

I know that Swamp Angel is Ethel Wilson's best known novel -- but I much prefer The Innocent Traveller, or her short stories, Mrs. Golightly & Other Stories.

Lynn said...

#47 should be Mary Lawson, not Watson.

I've read 33/100 books but 53/97 authors. Interesting list!