Reading Round Up: My Thoughts on the Canada Reads 2015 Finalists and Debates

On March 16, Canada Reads 2015 kicked-off the debate of five books in search of the one book that can break down barriers. The five Canada Reads 2015 finalists and their champions are:

Intolerable Intolerable: A Memoir of Extremes by Kamal Al-Solaylee (HarperCollins Canada, 2013) championed by Kristin Kreuk, actor.

The Inconvenient Indian The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America by Thomas King (Doubleday Canada, 2013) championed by Craig Kielburger, activist and social entrepreneur.

Feels Like The Movies When Everything Feels Like The Movies by Raziel Reid (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2014) championed by Elaine “Lainey” Lui, entertainment reporter.

And The Birds Rained Down And The Birds Rained Down by Jocelyn Saucier (Coach House Books, 2012) championed by Martha Wainwright, singer-songwriter.

Ru Ru by Kim Thúy (Penguin/Random House Canada, 2012) championed by Cameron Bailey, Artistic Director of the Toronto International Film Festival.

All five books are deserving of praise and each stands on its own merit, I cannot emphasize this enough. However, as I read each book through the lens of the one book that can break down barriers – that can challenge stereotypes, illuminate issues, open minds and change perspectives – I felt not all responded in equal measure to this year’s Canada Reads challenge. Of the five, The Inconvenient Indian and When Everything Feels Like The Movies emerged as the strongest contenders for me. I felt that Intolerable by Kamal Al-Solaylee was also a strong contender, until I read When Every Thing Feels Like The Movies. I was so impacted by this book that with the exception of The Inconvenient Indian, I found myself measuring the other books against Mr. Reid’s.

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Reading Round Up: Canada Reads 2015

What is the one book that can break barriers? This is the question that will be asked of the five Canada Reads 2015 book finalists and debated by their champions, as announced on January 20, 2015. Canada Reads 2015 is all about books that can change perspectives, challenge stereotypes and illuminate issues.
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Reading Round Up: The Best in LGBTQ Literature for 2012

If I were to choose a theme to characterise my reading year in 2012 it would be the year of the debut and independent author. The majority of books I read either for my own pleasure or specifically for review were by first time and/or predominantly self-published authors. While self-publishing tends to get a bad rap in some reading circles, in general, my personal reading experience with self-published and independent press authors has been positive as I find that they are able to push creative boundaries not always readily achievable within the realm of more mainstream publishing. Works by several such authors have made the list of my reading best for 2012.

The list also features works by some of my favourite authors that have become staples in my reading life, they include Alex Jeffers, Erik Orrantia and Brandon Shire. Several new-to-me authors such as, Drake Braxton, Kergan Edwards-Stout, John Goode, Red Haircrow, Jeff Mann, Tom Schabarum, Lee Thomas and Arthur Wooten joined this list in 2012 and I look forward to reading their previously published and future books.

My reading best for 2012 includes a mix of novels, novellas, compilations and short stories across a variety of sub-genres and within the realms of LGBTQ fiction and non-fiction that were published in 2011 and 2012.

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Silence Is Multi-Colored In My World edited by Red Haircrow

“Who am I?

I am G.Y.S., a profoundly deaf man. I have blue eyes and red hair, which I wear long. I am gay and Russian, and was born in 1978 in the Ukraine, but I moved myself to Germany when I was fourteen. You’ll learn how and why later.

My words are a mélange of impressions, memories and observations for I love many things and am distressed by many things. I have wandered to a number of countries and enjoy meeting people and getting to know new ideas and perspectives. I find the world both a fascinating and terrible place.

Photography, Nature, Overcoming Disabilities, Ending Homophobia, Being Deaf and Love are some of the topics that interest, concern and keep my attention. In writing about me I wish I could have said something clever, unique or witty, but this is simply me: sometimes I’m silly, sometimes I’m angry, sometimes you may find me annoying or overly sad but I’m always honest and sincere.

Flash bits about me? I have a beautiful pink “Grecian” style nightgown I love to wear. I once blew up a vacuum cleaner (not on purpose!). I prefer to sleep during the day but I’m not a vampire. Sometimes I hate being bothered to eat because chewing is usually necessary but can be so very boring.”

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Playing By The Rules by Justin Crockett Elzie

The military has lots of rules and they are all expected to be followed. United States Marine Corps Sergeant Justin Elzie, wanting to make a difference, followed a rule of integrity and came out publicly on ABC Evening World News in January 1993. He became the first Marine discharged under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and later reinstated, becoming the first Marine to challenge Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell with a federal court case and went on to serve four years openly gay.

In Playing By The Rules retired Marine Sergeant Justin Elzie takes the reader on an autobiographical journey of self-discovery from his early years growing up on a farm in Wyoming to joining the Marine Corps and finding an underground gay subculture within the military.


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