It was another exciting episode of Canada Reads as the debaters shared their feelings, their frustrations and exemplified dedication to their chosen books. At times, the discussions became quite personal, heated and defensive yet the conversation kept the audience engaged and interested. Today, The Right to Be Cold was voted off.
The show began with Jody reflecting on Nostalgia being voted off. He commented that this book had relevance to him since he had reinvented himself after he lost his legs to a landmine. Measha shared how much she loves reading and that she “reads for sport”. What she loves about the show “is that we are able to celebrate the joy of reading” – I can’t agree more! Chantal acknowledged that she was finding it hard to be “into this place of competitiveness” and that she was choosing to “trust the universe”. Unfortunately, whether it was the fact that she was being streamed from LA or her dogged inability to acknowledge the extraneous detail in The Right to Be Cold, she appeared defensive and had difficulty hearing any alternate view or constructive criticism about her book. The host provided a reminder that the group needed to focus on the books and not personal politics which seemed directed to Candy who is passionate about her role as a proud indigenous woman.
The participants participated in a ‘Change my Mind Round’ where Humble acknowledged that he was voting with his heart while also gauging the room. He talked about the lack of readability and stimulation in the Right to Be Cold versus the lack of substance in Company Town. Measha addressed concerns about Company Town being likened to a soap opera and drew attention to the humour in the book. Jody felt that Fifteen Dogs is a great story and admitted that he had strategically voted off The Break as it was his strongest competition. He also voted for Fifteen Dogs feeling that Humble was such a strong competitor. He also acknowledging the “crappy poetry” in the book which makes me chuckle since one of the reasons I am rereading Fifteen Dogs is to reread the poetry and find the dogs names hidden within each verse.
The second round addressed whether the defenders appreciated a challenge or a reflection of their worldview when reading. Sheila Watt-Cloutier did a voice over saying that she wants people to recognize themselves in her book. Chantal wants both challenge and reflection and felt that The Right to Be Cold reminded her of who she is as a Canadian. Andre Alexis spoke and commented on how much more violent the human world is than the dog world leading to a conversation on violence. Measha felt a bit sensitive to the violence in The Break while Jody was happy to live in a country where we use our words and not violence. Humble wondered why we are so sensitive to violence in a time of relative safety. Candy got off on a tangent related to Gord Downie’s portrayal of Wenjack garnering sympathy for a young boy that has been gone for 50 years while society does not care about homeless people who may have lived in residential schools but do care about dewy eyed dogs in Fifteen Dogs.
The final round gave each defender of a remaining book a chance to speak to social media questions or “mean tweets” which were read aloud and discussed.
Finally, the votes were tallied. The Right to Be Cold received 3 votes and is not the book that all Canadian’s need to read. At this point, Jody indicated that his hand had been shaking as he voted and in the end he chose to vote against The Right to Be Cold as he had been hoping Chantal would address the reasons her book was being criticized. I am not sorry to see this book voted off despite climate change being an important cause. I am still half way through – and determined to finish it – but will pick away at the chapters full of acronyms, details and all the people that were involved in her life.
Tomorrow is the final debate. Company Town vs. Fifteen Dogs – let the best book win!!!