Today is World Read Aloud Day. I don’t know who created it but I do know it has been happening for about a dozen years. Remember being read to as a child? My grade four teacher would read us the most interesting stories including the local Mi’kmaq legends of Glooscap, which I just loved. This was a wonderful experience for me because even though I was a big reader, I wasn’t read to at home. At the time, my parents only read the newspaper before dinner.
These days parents think much more of reading aloud to their children and grandchildren and this particular day is promoted BIG by children’s publishers. However as an adult, I enjoy listening to authors read their grownup work and like to attend as many author readings as possible to hear their stories as they were imagined.
What about reading to oneself? Reading aloud requires that a person slow down and really taste the words on the page, really wrap their tongue around them. There is nothing like reading a beautifully written sentence aloud. Today is a good day to do that.
Today is also a good day for me to shamelessly promote my favourite authors. I should say my favourite Canadian authors because I am a big supporter of Canadian literature. As Canadians, we are very influenced by the culture of the United States. We watch their movies, read their books, follow their trends more so than we think we do. American written books are promoted within the American book marketing machine, with budgets that Canadian publishers could only dream of. American books are often produced for a large mass market that overflows into Canada. Canadian authors on the other hand get very little attention unless they are lucky enough to win one of the two large national prizes or get featured on the CBC. Canadian authors make very little money and often have to have a day job. Americans know very little about Canadian authors.
Yet Canadian authors have such distinct voices and tell such good stories that I feel many people are missing out on a good thing. There is so much more on the Canadian bookshelf than Margaret Atwood. So I have decided to promote some of my favourite Canadian authors and books. Hopefully some of my Canadian friends and readers will find something of interest here. For my American friends and readers, please be open minded as I also read American and have many American authors that I love. But today, for me, is about Canada.
To start with, I have to mention some Canadian Classics. Although these authors are deceased, their books are still in print and are still relevant.
Timothy Findley was the first Canadian author I actually realized was a Canadian author. I studied his classic novel The Wars while attending Ryerson, but it was his novel Not Wanted On The Voyage that made me understand the power of books. It is a book that will delight, intrigue, surprise and shock you. It is one of my favourite books and I have read it many times.
Wayson Choy‘s beautifully written novels The Jade Peony and All That Matters are about the early Chinese experience in Vancouver. The prose is lyrical. The stories are powerful. They will stay with you a long time and you will want to read them more than once.
I saw Richard Wagamese a few years before his death. He was blatantly honest about the ups and downs of his life and his struggles with PTSD. With little or no education, he went from being a homeless native man to being an award winning journalist and author, who could fall apart if triggered by a certain smell or memory. He told life stories that I will never forget. His book Indian Horse was made into a movie that didn’t get as much promotion as it deserved. My favourite book of his is Ragged Company about a group of homeless natives who find a winning lottery ticket.
Believe me there are many more deceased Canadian authors who are wonderful and I would love to tell you about them but I have to be reasonable and move to the land of the living.
The first Miriam Toews‘ book I read was A Complicated Kindness. A story of a fractured family struggling with their religion and their love for each other. Toews, who grew up in a Mennonite community has a powerful female voice. I have read most of her work. Her most recent novel Women Talking will leave you speechless.
Michael Crummey is a novelist and a poet and although I don’t read much poetry, I read and enjoy his poetry. I saw him in person several years ago. He is passionate about his work and I believe I have read every novel he has written starting with River Thieves. I would also highly recommend Sweetland and Galore
If you want to read something completely different I recommend Eden Robinson. I picked up Son Of A Trickster and was immediately hooked. I also read the sequel Trickster Drift and am looking forward to reading book 3, Return of The Trickster. These stories will pull you into a world that you could never imagine.
I am currently reading The Forgotten Daughter by Joanna Goodman. A story about the daughter of a jailed FLQ terrorist. Prior to this I had read her novel The Home For Unwanted girls about the life of a Duplessis orphan and what happened to her when the Quebec government decided to turn orphanages into mental institutions, certifying 20,000 children as mentally ill in order to get more government funding. These are based on real Canadian stories and opened my eyes to things I knew very little about.
I could go on and on about Canadian authors and books but I think I have probably gone on long enough for one sitting. So I will leave you with a list of authors that I have also read and perhaps you will look some of them up for yourself.
André Alexis Esi Edugyan Mordecai Richler Souvankham Thammavongsa Rohinton Mistry Alice Munro Michael Ondaatje Craig Davison Thomas King Michelle Good Megan Gale Coles David Bergman Sean Michaels Emily St. John Mandel David Adams Richards Carol Bruneau Austen Clark
… this list could also go on and on.
Why not try something new. Why not pick up a Canadian book and read it aloud.
Thank you for reading.