Grass roots reading and people’s choice for Canadian authors!

Every year, librarians across the province read like crazy (I expect they always read like crazy) and nominate their favourite 100 books by Canadian authors for that year. Those 100 books are celebrated and then by committee they’re whittled down to the best. It’s called the Evergreen Nominees.

I’ve just read one of the 10 finalist books for the Evergreen 2012 awards…The Accident, by Linwood Barclay. It was gripping and educational and I’ll say no more until I present it in September at the Evergreen Authors Night in Barrie. Suffice to say it was the kind of book I wanted to have beside me in the car so catch a line or too at a red light! Yes, that good!

The Evergreen Book Program is in its 7th year this year and it really is a celebration of Canadian literature… and we have so much great literature to celebrate!

The 2012 books were published between  Summer 2010 and November 2011 and the nominating occurred early in 2012. Ten books made the finalist list, but I’m willing to wager that all 100 nominations are worth reading.

Chantale Boileau, librarian on the Barrie staff, served on the Evergreen committee province-wide this year, joining librarians across Ontario to nominate and then passionately defend their titles.

Barrie Public Library’s Shonna Froebel and Alison Brumwell are huge Evergreen champions and they’re organizing a (free) Barrie Reads evening on September 27 at the new Painswick Branch of the library. At it you’ll experience the diversity and the excellence of these books as they are shared by local folks who’ve taken on the task (and delight) of presenting.

It’s a great two-hours of stimulating conversation, of being introduced to fabulous literature of great depth, and it’s a night worth marking on your calendar. Last year, most members of my book club attended and we were really happy we went.  It’s actually a terrific evening for a book club.  It’s a terrific evening for anyone who likes to read and who would like to be introduced to great new works.

“We look for a lot of variety, and diversity,” says Alison. “We have a couple of non fiction, contemporary life, and books that appeal to male and female readers…we think the list covers it all.”

You can check out the Evergreen list in depth at or go to the library’s facebook page under Barrie Public Library.  The 10 titles are all available in print and on the ereaders that the library lends out.  There’s one in large print and two on audio.  No excuse to miss any of them!

And here they are:

Bedtime Story by Robert J. Wiersema, Published by Vintage Canada.  Wiersema’s second book, this is an exquisite plot blending supernatural thriller and domestic drama.

The Far Side of the Sky by Daniel Kalla, published by Harper Collins. This story focusses on a short, extraordinary period of Chinese, Japanese and Jewish history during the Second World War. Cultures converge and sacrifice is part of daily survival.

Mennonites Don’t Dance by Darcie Friesen Hossack, published by Thistledown Press. A series of short stories set in the Canadian prairies, readers will be confronted by tradition and change, the struggle between complex and simple, and the generational strife between children and their parents.

Natural Order by Brian Francis, published by Doubleday.  This novel captures constricting emotions of the 1940’s, a time when public disclosure of homosexuality was taboo. Brian Francis tells the story of a mother and son divided by cultural morés.

Requiem by Frances Itani, published by Harper Collins. This is a story based on truth, a story of great loss, redemption, love. This novel is about a family torn apart in Canada by the past and one man’s search to knit it back together.

Shelter by Frances Greenslade, published by Random House. Breathtaking British Columbia landscape forms the backdrop for this spellbinding story of two young sisters in search of their mother. It’s the story about a fractured family, a quest for understanding and has a wrenching conclusion.

They Fight Like Soldiers, They Die Like Children by Roméo Dallaire, published by Random House.  This book is written in the first person by a boy soldier who has his childhood ripped away and a gun forced into his hand. Off to fight an adults’ war. Dallaire says it was his introduction to child soldiers, never discussed in Canadian military preparation, that gripped his soul.

Under an Afghan Sky, by Mellissa Fung, published by Harper Collins. CBC reporter Mellissa Fung is kidnapped near Kabul, force-hiked through the mountains where she lived in a hole in the ground. This is the gripping story of her captivity and release.

Various Positions by Martha Schabas, published by Doubleday Canada. Beauty and brutality of professional ballet forms the backdrop for this story of a teenage dancer who finds her soul in movement. Singled out for ‘attention’ this girl experiences a coming of age that challenges everything she knows.

You can read on now, if you like.  Or, you can hear these books, and one other, distilled and presented for you at Barrie Reads, Evergreen 2012, September 27 from 7 to 9 pm, Painswick Branch of Barrie Public Library.

Book 10? The Accident, by Linwood Barclay. Mesmerizing thriller stitched around real life economy.  I’ll be reading it at least a second time so I can talk about it without the breathlessness I had while devouring its pages.