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CanLit 2014

O Canada, I stand on guard for thee and yet I am sadly unfamiliar with many of the wonderful authors and books produced in my own backyard. My dearest friend, @librarikat and I decided in the Fall to make it our mission to read more Canadian Literature. However, it took some time to decide what exactly to read because there is a treasure trove of books just waiting for us to discover. Finally, we picked a few must-reads and let random.org decide the rest of our fate.

Without further ado, here is our CanLit 2014 reading list in reading order!

 

lion

In the Skin of a Lion by Michael Ondaatje

Bristling with intelligence and shimmering with romance, this novel tests the boundary between history and myth. Patrick Lewis arrives in Toronto in the 1920s and earns his living searching for a vanished millionaire and tunneling beneath Lake Ontario. In the course of his adventures, Patrick’s life intersects with those of characters who reappear in Ondaatje’s Booker Prize-winning The English Patient. (Goodreads)

~ I read The English Patient shortly after seeing the movie and don’t remember much other than it was a little slow-going.

 

hadfield

An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth by Chris Hadfield

Colonel Chris Hadfield has spent decades training as an astronaut and has logged nearly 4000 hours in space. During this time he has broken into a Space Station with a Swiss army knife, disposed of a live snake while piloting a plane, and been temporarily blinded while clinging to the exterior of an orbiting spacecraft. The secret to Col. Hadfield’s success-and survival-is an unconventional philosophy he learned at NASA: prepare for the worst-and enjoy every moment of it. In An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth, Col. Hadfield takes readers deep into his years of training and space exploration to show how to make the impossible possible. (Goodreads)

~ We realize this doesn’t count as CanLit, but we really really wanted to read it …  and @librarikat got it for Christmas.

 

orenda

The Orenda by Joseph Boyden

The Orenda opens with a brutal massacre and the kidnapping of the young Iroquois Snow Falls, a spirited girl with a special gift. Her captor, Bird, is an elder and one of the Huron Nation’s great warriors and statesmen. It has been years since the murder of his family, and yet they are never far from his mind. In Snow Falls, Bird recognizes the ghost of his lost daughter and sees that the girl possesses powerful magic that will be useful to him on the troubled road ahead. Bird’s people have battled the Iroquois for as long as he can remember, but both tribes now face a new, more dangerous threat from afar. The world is in flux, and a new nation is about to emerge. (Goodreads)

~ Lots of buzz in Canada surrounding this book and many bloggers have good things to say about it.

 

duddy

The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz by Mordecai Richler

From Mordecai Richler, one of our greatest satirists, comes one of literature’s most delightful characters, Duddy Kravitz — in a novel that belongs in the pantheon of seminal twentieth century books. Duddy — the third generation of a Jewish immigrant family in Montreal — is combative, amoral, scheming, a liar, and totally hilarious. From his street days tormenting teachers at the Jewish academy to his time hustling four jobs at once in a grand plan to “be somebody,” Duddy learns about living — and the lesson is an outrageous roller-coaster ride through the human comedy. As Richler turns his blistering commentary on love, money, and politics, The Apprenticeship Of Duddy Kravitz becomes a lesson for us all…in laughter and in life. (Goodreads)

~ I’ve always wanted to read something by Mordecai Richler just because he seemed so intriguing in real life.

 

cat

Cat’s Eye by Margaret Atwood

Cat’s Eye is the story of Elaine Risley, a controversial painter who returns to Toronto, the city of her youth, for a retrospective of her art. Engulfed by vivid images of the past, she reminisces about a trio of girls who initiated her into the fierce politics of childhood and its secret world of friendship, longing, and betrayal. Elaine must come to terms with her own identity as a daughter, a lover, an artist, and a woman—but above all she must seek release from her haunting memories. Disturbing, hilarious, and compassionate, Cat’s Eye is a breathtaking novel of a woman grappling with the tangled knot of her life. (Amazon)

~ I’ve read a few of Margaret Atwood’s books and have always been fascinated by her vision.

 

stone

The Stone Carvers by Jane Urquhart

Set in the first half of the twentieth century, but reaching back to Bavaria in the late nineteenth century, The Stone Carvers weaves together the story of ordinary lives marked by obsession and transformed by art. At the centre of a large cast of characters is Klara Becker, the granddaughter of a master carver, a seamstress haunted by a love affair cut short by the First World War, and by the frequent disappearances of her brother Tilman, afflicted since childhood with wanderlust. From Ontario, they are swept into a colossal venture in Europe years later, as Toronto sculptor Walter Allward’s ambitious plans begin to take shape for a war memorial at Vimy, France. Spanning three decades, and moving from a German-settled village in Ontario to Europe after the Great War, The Stone Carvers follows the paths of immigrants, labourers, and dreamers. Vivid, dark, redemptive, this is novel of great beauty and power. (Goodreads)

~ It just sounds like a darn good story.

Have you read any of these books? I would love to hear your thoughts.

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17 comments on “CanLit 2014

  1. heavenali
    January 7, 2014

    I like Jane Urquhart I have read several of her novels.

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    • ebookclassics
      January 8, 2014

      Have you read the Stone Carvers? It sounds very romantic and tragic when I read the description. I haven’t read anything by Jane Urquhart.

      Like

      • heavenali
        January 8, 2014

        Yes, years ago. I liked it but liked The Underpainter and The Map of Glass even more.

        Like

  2. Naomi
    January 8, 2014

    Great list! I have only read The Orenda (which I loved) and Cat’s Eye (which was so long ago that I can’t even remember it – I guess I need to read it again, but I think I’ll wait to see what you’ve got to say about it). I’ve never read anything by Richler, and I’ve also been curious about the Chris Hadfield book. It’s everywhere right now. Can’t wait to hear what you’ve got to say about all of them!

    Like

    • ebookclassics
      January 8, 2014

      Yes, Chris Hadfield really is everywhere right now. I’m just waiting for him to show up and serve me breakfast! But I think his book will be a good adventurous read.

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  3. Ekaterina
    January 8, 2014

    All sound really nice! The only Canadian author I remember reading was Robertson Davies, and he was awesome! So I should probably read more Can Lit!

    Like

    • ebookclassics
      January 8, 2014

      What book did you read by Robertson Davies? I haven’t read anything by him, but I received several book recommendations. Maybe I’ll have to make sure he’s on next year’s list.

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      • Ekaterina
        January 8, 2014

        I read The Rebel Angels and the rest of the Cornish trilogy. It’s very witty and about campus life. There are some awesome characters too 🙂 I think it’s a good choice! We read it at our English classes at the the Uni as additional reading, and the discussions were great!

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  4. Heather
    January 8, 2014

    Oooo…Cat’s Eye is one of my three favorite Atwood novels. It is so good, and I love the cover.

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    • ebookclassics
      January 8, 2014

      What are your other favourite Margaret Atwood novels? i’ve read A Handmaid’s Tale and The Penelopiad. I agree the Cat’s Eye cover is pretty cool.

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      • Heather
        January 8, 2014

        The Handmaid’s Tale and The Edible Woman.

        Like

  5. Julie
    January 8, 2014

    I love Margaret Atwood…her novels, not her short stories or poetry. I am currently reading the third book of her Oryx and Crake trilogy. I have all three books, should you ever want to read the hard copies of these. Another favourite Canadian author of mine is Timothy Findley. I highly recommend Pilgrim or Not Wanted on the Voyage (an interesting take on the Noah and the ark). Also love W. O. Mitchell’s Who Has Seen the Wind. Or Lawrence Hill’s Book of Negroes.

    Like

    • ebookclassics
      January 9, 2014

      Ooh, I may have to take you up on the Oryx and Crake books. We had Book of Negroes on our list since everyone says it’s a must-read, but the random list generator didn’t pick it. You have me intrigued by Voyage since there’s so much PR right now with the movie coming out and I recently read out loud a children’s Bible version of the story.

      Like

  6. Cleo @ Classical Carousel
    January 11, 2014

    Hi, fellow Canadian! Do not feel badly. I very rarely read any Canadian literature. Honestly, I have tried but I find it often really depressing. However I do love Robertson Davies and I have realized that I need to open my wee closed mind and read some Atwood. I tried to read Cat’s Eye as a teen and swore I’d never read another Atwood novel again, yet how our perceptions change from teen to adult! I have my eye on Oryx and Crake and Handmaid’s Tale ……. too scared to try Cat’s Eye again ……

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    • ebookclassics
      January 13, 2014

      Well, hello back! I actually only have the vaguest idea of what Cat’s Eye is about, but it seems to be a favourite with many people. I haven’t read anything by Atwood for awhile so I’m looking forward to it. I’m pretty sure I haven’t read anything by Robertson Davies. Any other favourite books by Canadian authors?

      Like

      • Cleo @ Classical Carousel
        January 17, 2014

        Um, no. Actually, I’m kidding ……. kind of …… but I won’t be much help. I read all the Anne books by L.M. Montgomery last year and loved them. I had to get over Anne not being the central figure and Gilbert being a ghost through many of them (she really did not delve into his character or their relationship after they were married) but she did a great job with the series. Rilla of Ingleside is now my favourite over even Anne of Green Gables. It has a more mature plot and Montgomery developed it well.

        Other than that, I’ve heard the following are good books: A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry, any by Mordecai Richler, and I’ve heard Stephen Leacock is good as well.

        I find that many Canadian authors can be rather depressing, and often depressing with little or no life lessons to draw from the book. I hope one day I’m proven wrong and I read a book by a Canadian author where I am able to go, WOW! I need to start reading Atwood!

        Like

        • ebookclassics
          January 17, 2014

          I think I also stayed away from CanLit in the past because I was under the false impression it would be depressing and I didn’t feel like reading a sad family drama set in a remote location. I wanted to read something fun, exciting and set in exotic landscapes. Of course, I’m sure CanLit has so much more to offer and I can’t wait to prove myself wrong.

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