Monday, May 4, 2015

Blogging in Canada with Laura from Reading in Bed

Today please welcome Laura, who blogs at Reading in Bed

The internet is supposed to erase geographic boundaries and blogs are no exception; part of the allure is that our humble little posts can be read by anyone, anywhere. Just this past month, I’ve had people from Vietnam, Ethiopia, Greece, and Bermuda land on my Canadian blog, Reading in Bed. In fact, the largest portion of my visitors are American. Book blogging is truly an international community, but there are a few things that set us Canadian book bloggers apart. Some have to do with the geography, and some have to do with reading so much CanLit.

Literary Scenes: Not Just in Toronto!

Like writing a book, you can blog about books from anywhere. As soon as I put “CanLit” in my tagline, though, and started to cover not just the books, but the “scene,” geography became much more important. Book bloggers in urban centres have a lot more to work with, sure, but don’t think you must live in Toronto to get involved. Canadians are used to being far-flung and isolated, so our regional literary scenes are quite well developed.  I live in a pretty big urban centre myself (#yeg – that’s Edmonton, Alberta to the uninitiated) and and I’m always overrun with readings and festivals. But small communities are killing it, too:
  • I missed “En Vino Novellus” in Canmore, Alberta, by just a few days. Yes, it’s a wine and literary festival. Angie Abdou read from her latest, Between (my review.)
  • I also missed Fog Lit Fest in my spiritual hometown of Saint John, New Brunswick, featuring Ian Weir and his lastest, Will Starling (haven’t reviewed yet but it’s a gooder.)
  • The Cabot Trail Writers Festival in Baddeck, Nova Scotia, is on my favourite Canadian island and featured one of my favourite Canadian authors last year – David Adams Richards.
True, when it comes to the big name authors and the big trade shows, you’re probably best off in Toronto. Hell, I’m going to New York this year for BEA. But even the small-town blogger can probably find some kind of event to cover. And if all else fails, all Canadians tune into Canada Reads, even if we think Canada Reads is kind of dumb.
Local books
#CanLit in Edmonton

What the hell is CanLit Anyway?

Even bloggers who aren’t into their local lit scene tend to promote Canadian lit. I’ve seen Canadian Book Bingo and various CanLit challenges throughout the blogosphere. Must be all those years of CanCan (enforced percentages of Canadian Content on television and radio.) But what exactly is CanLit? Who’s included, and how do we talk about it?
Canadians are known for having an inferiority complex, and it’s apparent when we’re deciding who gets to be included in CanLit. I saw some talk about Eleanor Catton being a Canadian author when she won the Man Booker and it’s like – really? She was born here, but moved to her parent’s home country, New Zealand, at age six. I’d love to claim her too, but, nah. Then there are authors like Patrick deWitt, who was just in town to pick up his Macewan Book of the Year award, who seems to be a permanent resident of the States, and writes about the States. And recently, I tweeted about a Arsenal Pulp Press title I saw on Book Riot, with a #CanLit hashtag (there’s that inferiority complex again – look! Americans are noticing us!) but then realized the author is American, so – is that CanLit? (The book was Lost Boi by Sassafras Lowery and it’s a “queer punk” retelling of Peter Pan!)
Once you decide WHO to include in CanLit (pretty much anyone!) a blogger’s got to consider WHAT it is, and what to say about it. I mean, apart from financially supporting our authors, why do we talk about CanLit as a separate thing from American Lit (or, you know, “lit”?) Is CanLit funny? Is it good, even? Is it all too grant-subsidized, too nature-y, too stuck in the past? CanLit as a culture seems to have a few issues, that’s for sure.
My take? Promoting CanLit makes Canada a better place for writers to be, which makes Canada a better place for readers and bloggers to be (see above re: literary festivals and events, also it’s fun to work with local publishers and shop in local bookstores.) So my interest is very selfish. That’s not very Canadian of me at all, is it?
(Get it, because Canadians are always apologizing?)
Thank you to Caro for the opportunity to write about blogging in Canada! I’m looking forward to reading about the book blog scene in other countries..
Thank you for joining us today, Laura ! Remember to check out Laura's blog, Reading in Bed, and leave a comment or question.


  1. Thank you Laura for participating!

  2. Here on the rural North Shore of Nova Scotia we have the annual "Read By the Sea" in River John NS. This (16th) year's authors are Linden MacIntyre, Isabel Huggan, Maureen Jennings, & Giles Blunt. Last year I enjoyed hearing readings and interviews with Guy Vanderhaeghe, Steven Galloway, Russell Wangersky, Frank MacDonald & others. There have been some pretty heavy hitters featured over the past 15 years in River John (pop. 2,399); great festivals are to be found even in the smallest places. :-)

  3. Margaret Atwood is my favorite Canadian author, though I admit I haven't read much CanLit. But still- you have Margaret Atwood in Canada! That's a pretty awesome native writer, in my opinion.
    ~Litha Nelle

  4. I know this is still terribly Ontario-centric, but IFOA (International Festival of Authors) in Toronto has started to do satellite events in small towns all over Ontario, and they always sell out. It's a great initiative, now to move it beyond Ontario.

  5. Hello, fellow Canadian book blogger! Thanks for the CB shout out.

  6. I was curious to hear your definition of CanLit, because, really, I don't know what it is beyond the fact that it's Canadian. And, like you said, the more we support, the better it will all be. I also like what Tania said in her post about the sense of belonging, which I also feel, especially when reading books from Atlantic Canada. Nice post, Laura!


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