Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Why I read Canadian literature with Shannon from Curled Up with a Good Book and a Cup of Tea.

Today please welcome Shannon, who blogs at  Curled Up with a Good Book and a Cup of Tea.

When I was in high school, most of the books we had to read in our English classes were Canadian literature.  I remember reading Margaret Atwood, Timothy Findley, Michael Ondaatje, and others, and I remember not being very impressed.  At the time I wanted to read all the classics that were typically read in high school - The Great Gatsby, To Kill a Mockingbird, etc. I’m embarrassed to admit it now, but back then, I just didn’t think Canadian books would be good.

As I got older, as I became an adult and had children I began to realize just how much I appreciate being Canadian.  As I learned about what my father and his parents went through to come to this country, as I began to see the importance of Canadian citizenship through the eyes of my immigrant husband, I decided to give Canadian literature another chance.  Knowing how important Canada is in the story of my family, I wanted to read all of the other stories Canada has to offer.

And my goodness, the stories we have to tell.  Canadian Literature (also known as CanLit) takes you on a journey throughout the world.  We have indigenous voices (Joseph Boyden and Thomas King), Caribbean voices (Austin Clarke and Nalo Hopkinson), Asian (Kim Thuy and Vincent Lam), South Asian (Michael Ondaatje and Padma Viswanathan) and more.  We tell the stories of gay youth (Raziel Reid) and the transgendered (Kim Fu.)  Our stories will make you laugh (Terry Fallis) and cry (Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer.)  We travel to the past (Lawrence Hill) and the future (Margaret Atwood.)

For me, being a Canadian reader can be summed up in one week in March.  Canada Reads is a series of televised debates about books.  Five books are chosen, each one is given a celebrity defender and by the end of the week we have the one book that all Canadians should read that year.  Books that have won have been about slavery, immigration, the First Nations, and resistance fighters.  This is definitely one the best times of year to be a Canadian book blogger and I’m fairly certain more people watch the book debates than they do political debates.

Over the years, I have fallen head over heels in love with Canadian literature.  Every time I read it, I fall in love with my country just a little bit more.  It’s not just about a book being set in Canada (a lot of great CanLit takes place outside of Canada), there is something in the writing that makes it uniquely “us.”  It pains me now, at the ripe old age of the mid-thirties, to think about how many great books I missed out on when I was younger because I didn’t think the books would be good enough.  I am doing my best to get all caught up though.

Thank you for joining us today, Shannon ! Remember to check out Shannon's blog, Curled Up with a Good Book and a Cup of Tea., and leave a comment or question.


  1. The things they had us read in high school though were kind of a bummer. I don't think it was a great intro to CanLit for me. It took me a long time to read anything Canadian because of that.

  2. Thank you Shannon for sharing with us :)


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