I’ve finished reading all the Canada Reads 2021 contenders and just in time as the debates kick off today. While I haven’t finished writing up reviews for them all, I’ve got a break down of my favourites of the five as well as what I think will win the debates this year. Let’s start with my favourites.
A possible contender for one of the best books I’ll read this year. Outstanding story and writing that made for a book I couldn’t put down and that I thought about for days after. I highly recommend it.
I was expecting to hate this novel and I didn’t. It was an engaging and fun story that brings up relevant feminist issues. Think of a Jane Austen story but with a magical twist and you’ve got Midnight Bargain. It was an enjoyable read and while there isn’t anything overly literary about it definitely transported me.
I thought I’d love this novel and I really wanted to like but there were just a few too many missing aspects. Memoirs are a tough genre and this one read more like a journal making it difficult to connect with.
So this year’s theme is One Book to Transport You and based on that this is how I think the books will stack up in meeting that theme:
“The gaps that bind us span more than the distances between words.”
2/5 stars. ebook, 271 pages. Read from February 4, 2021 to February 9, 2021.
My second of five of the Canada Reads 2021 selection that will be championed by Canadian singer-songwriter Scott Helman in the debates that take place in March.
I know, I’m behind but I’ve been up to my ears in essays. I was really looking forward to reading this memoir and learning a bit more about Taiwan. I really wanted to love this book but it fell flat for me.
The author is a first-generation Canadian and after finding a partial memoir from her grandfather she decides to embark on a journey to Taiwan to explore her family connections and history. The story floats between gorgeous and descriptive nature scenes as the author hikes through different parts of Taiwan, all while intermingling the details of her family’s personal history throughout. Her grandparents were originally from China but when the cultural revolution happened they relocated to Taiwan where her grandfather took up work as a pilot. The family then moved to Canada where the author was born. After her grandfather left, in his old age and on his own, to return to Taiwan no one really knew what he did with his final years as his health failed him. The author makes efforts to reconnect with her language and Chinese heritage to get a full understanding and appreciation of her family’s past and to place her own identity.
While the writing of this book was descriptive and engaging at points, the story’s timeline was all over the place, jumping from the past to her current excursions in Taiwan. The descriptions of Taiwan were sometimes enthralling and made you feel like you were in Taiwan but I felt that they went on too long as I was more interested in the family history which, I didn’t feel had enough of a presence. The book left me feeling like I had an incomplete picture of her family and I wanted to know more. Ultimately, this story is about the author’s journey but it reads and feels more like a journal than a novel. I wanted to like this novel more but I found it a bit boring if I’m honest. It’s not a terrible read, it’s just not as engaging as I was hoping it would be.
In terms of the theme for Canada Reads this year, One Book To Transport Us, this book does seem an appropriate fit with the way it makes you feel like you’re on a hike in Taiwan as well as transporting back to a time in Chinese history. We will see what the other contenders bring to the table.
The debates will take place March 8-11, 2021. I will attempt to read and review each book prior to the debates.
The Canada Reads 2021 shortlist has arrived! While none of the books from the longlist that I wanted to read made the cut I am excited about this year’s theme: One book to transport us. With this pandemic, it’s the perfect theme and I’m hoping for some great selections of writing and escapism from the following selected books: