And the winner of the Scotiabank Giller Prize is … [and other Giller nominated & award books I want to read]

On Monday, the Scotiabank Giller Prize was aired on CBC. If you don’t know what this award is about, here’s the prize history from the official webpage:

The Giller Prize was founded in 1994 by Jack Rabinovitch in honour of his late wife, literary journalist Doris Giller, who passed away from cancer the year before. The award recognized excellence in Canadian fiction – long format or short stories – and endowed a cash prize annually of $25,000.00, the largest purse for literature in the country.

The launch of The Giller Prize coincided with a growing recognition of Canadian authors and literature both at home and abroad. Acclaimed writers such as Alice Munro, Margaret Atwood, Michael Ondaatje and Mordecai Richler were winning honours and accolades around the world. The time seemed ripe to celebrate the success of these and other homegrown writers within these borders, with a bold statement of support and recognition.

The Giller Prize, along with many other awards that came before and after, is in part responsible for the continued growth of Canadian literary talent. The prize has so far endowed more than three-quarters of a million dollars to Canadian writers from coast to coast.

The thing that I love about this award is that it’s awarded to Canadian authors only, which is a great way to find new authors and discover new talent in this country. The award show was great, too, because it featured so many of my favourite Canadian authors (including Lawrence Hill and Rupi Kaur), as well as other Canadian personalities who have become fixtures on our TVs.

This was the first book award show I’ve ever watched; in the past, I’ve heard of the Giller Prize winners via Twitter or other social media, but I always thought I would never be interested in watching the show. But I was so wrong because it was so much fun to watch! I watched it through the livestream on the CBC webpage (since my kids and husband had the TV) and I loved the bits of CBC radio filler during commercial breaks, which made me want to listen to more bookish radio programs. I also loved that the whole show was like the Oscars but for Canadian books!

In case you’re living under a rock, the winner of the 2017 Scotiabank Giller Prize was Bellevue Square by Michael Redhill:

I know some people were disappointed, thinking that Eden Robinson should have won for her book, Son of a Trickster, but since I hadn’t read ANY of the nominated books (from the long- or short-list), I spent a lot of the past week looking through the books that were nominated for the 2017 award, and also books that had been on the short-list in previous years. Needless to say, I’ll be picking up the winning title and the rest of the short-list – and I already have three others from the long-list on my reading list!

Here are some of the other Giller Prize awarded and short-listed books that I’ll be reading in the near future – let me know if you’ve read any of them!

 

In a related note, I used to own four of these titles but got rid of them in various book purges, back when I was reading a lot of YA, thinking that I wouldn’t be interested in them again – now I’m definitely mad at myself! Oh well, I guess another excuse to either buy or rent from the library to support the author?

I’m definitely excited to actually read the Giller Prize nominated books in the future – and I’m looking forward to CBC reads in the spring, too!

What have been your favourite Giller Prize awarded books? Do you have any recommendations? What other awards do you follow? 

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Non-Fiction November – Week Four: Non-Fiction Favourites #NonFicNov

This week’s challenge for Non-Fiction November is talking about our favourite aspects of non-fiction books and what makes a non-fiction book our favourite. It’s hosted by Katie over at Doing Dewey:

Nonfiction Favorites: We’ve talked about how you pick nonfiction books in previous years, but this week I’m excited to talk about what makes a book you’ve read one of your favorites. Is the topic pretty much all that matters? Are there particular ways a story can be told or particular writing styles that you love? Do you look for a light, humorous approach or do you prefer a more serious tone? Let us know what qualities make you add a nonfiction book to your list of favorites.

For me, I love the way a non-fiction story is told. I’m a huge lover of fiction, so I love a non-fiction book that reads like fiction. I remember in university, reading textbooks would make me sleepy so I prefer a more personal account of a story, rather than something that’s too dry and dense. I find that I can only read those kinds of non-fiction books in small doses.

I love it when an author is part of the story, one reason I love memoirs so much, and I really enjoy memoirs with themes like moving somewhere different (like from a city to a farm, or from the accessible city to homesteading) or themes of health (I really enjoy memoirs of weight, whether humorous or serious) or just stories from people I admire.

I really enjoy when humour is injected – right now I’m reading a book about Victorian times and all the “unmentionable” things that you don’t learn about reading fiction books. The author is so snarky and makes light on the topic while still being informative. It could very easily have been a story with just facts listed, but she makes it fun to read.

All in all, though, I’m not sure I’ve read enough of non-fiction to really pinpoint what I love. I definitely steer towards memoirs and fun non-fiction and I really want to try more academic non-fiction and the like, so hopefully in 2018 I can attempt that.

What makes a non-fiction book become one of your favourites?  

[Book Talk] Shrill: Notes From a Loud Woman by Lindy West

Book Details:

Format: Ebook
Source: Library
Read: November 2017

Synopsis:

Coming of age in a culture that demands women be as small, quiet, and compliant as possible–like a porcelain dove that will also have sex with you–writer and humorist Lindy West quickly discovered that she was anything but.

From a painfully shy childhood in which she tried, unsuccessfully, to hide her big body and even bigger opinions; to her public war with stand-up comedians over rape jokes; to her struggle to convince herself, and then the world, that fat people have value; to her accidental activism and never-ending battle royale with Internet trolls, Lindy narrates her life with a blend of humor and pathos that manages to make a trip to the abortion clinic funny and wring tears out of a story about diarrhea.

With inimitable good humor, vulnerability, and boundless charm, Lindy boldly shares how to survive in a world where not all stories are created equal and not all bodies are treated with equal respect, and how to weather hatred, loneliness, harassment, and loss–and walk away laughing. Shrill provocatively dissects what it means to become self-aware the hard way, to go from wanting to be silent and invisible to earning a living defending the silenced in all caps.

My Thoughts

I can’t remember why I checked this book out from the library. I think I had seen it recommended by another participant of Non-Fiction November and it sounded like it had to do with weight issues so I was interested.

Unfortunately, I feel like I read this book at the wrong time – namely, after reading Roxane Gay’s brilliant book Hunger. Gay’s book was just so beautifully written and honest, like ripping open a wound for the world to see, whereas I felt West’s book was just a bit … less. I feel like maybe I could’ve connected with it more had I not just read Gay’s book, but I still enjoyed parts of it and felt like West did have some wisdom to impart on her readers, but a lot of it was muddled under stories that were just a little too long, or her “humour” that seemed better suited to a younger audience.

I also felt like a lot of what West was going through came from deeper issues, like maybe some things that were impressed on her early in age. There’s one chapter about how she never thought she would be able to marry as a fat woman, thinking that women who got married were only thin. Was it possible to have a wedding when you were overweight? I felt like this was a strange question. Also, a lot of the book revolved around articles that she had written and the comments that followed. All of what I’ve heard of writers and putting work out there came back as saying to never read the comments and feed the trolls, but I felt like that was all West talked about – the comments following an article she had written, comments from readers on her weight and whatnot, and I’m not sure if I appreciate that or not.

However, she did have some great points of wisdom and I did really enjoy those. I just wished that she had written her story in a more poignant and thoughtful way that reached out to more readers. I felt like this book and her voice just didn’t resonate with me. However, lots of people really loved this book so don’t take my word for it – I think it just wasn’t the book for me.

Have you read Shrill? What were your thoughts?