Canada Reads 2020 Contenders

Canada Reads, CBC’s annual “Battle of the Books” is a literary contest with 5 celebrities championing 1 book each. Panelists then vote to eliminate books until a single title remains – a book the entire country should read. 


Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club by Megan Gail Coles

Defended by Alayna Fender

About the Book: It’s a Valentines Day celebration at the Hazel restaurant in downtown St. John’s Newfoundland.  Another blizzard is threatening outside, while the tension among people is rising inside.  The novel is direct and forthright in addressing issues of race, class, sexism, homophobia, and the stark realities of what women must sometimes do to survive a world often hostile to them. Coles powerfully examines the pandemic toxic masculinity inherent to Newfoundland and confronts these issues using her complex and secretive characters.  

About the Author: Megan Gail Coles has spent the last three years writing Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club and in that time, there have been some “very startling” news events in Newfoundland and Labrador that  have coloured her story.




Radicalized  by Cory Doctorow

Defended by Akil Augustine

About the Book: This novella is a collection of short stories that is thought provoking yet hugely entertaining. Each story is self contained, taking on a meaningful social issue and exploring the impact and influence of social media, social collapse and the long but quick fall of our society into dystopia. Doctorow’s stories tend to feel more personally connected by social, technological and economic visions of today while touching on social issues such as; refugees, terrorism, racial prejudice and police brutality.

About the AuthorCory Doctorow is a science fiction author, activist, journalist and blogger. In response to the question of why he wrote this book, he says: “I decided a few years ago to reorient the way I see the world — but not around pessimism or optimism. Instead, I like to think human beings have agency in the world and that the future changes based on what we do”.




We Have Always Been Here by Samra Habib

Defended by Amanda Brugel

About the Book: In this memoir, Samra Habib explores the struggles and challenges she went through to find a place within herself. She describes her family, and the many rules in place to police a young Pakistani woman in Pakistan. These rules become even more important to her parents when they settle in Canada.  Habib’s memoir is beautifully written, sometimes raw, and paves the way by telling how to overcome the societal restrictions to find identity and a testament of power of feminist spirit and desire.

About the AuthorSamra Habib has spent most of her life searching for the safety to be herself. As an Ahmadi Muslim growing up in Pakistan, she faced regular threats from Islamic extremists who believed the small, dynamic sect to be blasphemous. From her parents, she took the lesson that revealing her identity could put her in grave danger.




Son of the Trickster by Eden Robinson

Defended by Kaniehtiio Horn

About the Book: Jared, the main character is a high school student. On one hand, he smokes, drinks too much, and sells weed cookies. On the other hands, Jared is a kid who has an immense capacity for compassion and an impulse to watch over people more than twice his age. Jared cannot rely on anyone for consistent love and support. His mom is a mess and his grandmother tells him he is the son of a trickster.  Jared begins to discover the terrifying truth of what that really means.

About the Author: Eden Robinson, born in Kitamaat, British Columbia, is a member of the Haisla and Heiltsuk First Nations. She was educated at the University of Victoria and the University of British Colombia. The Trickster trilogy follows Jared, the son of a Trickster and also a Witch, while he tries to navigate adolescent challenges with a dash of magic, horror and comedy.





From the Ashes by Jesse Thistle

Defended by George Canyon

About the Book: In this remarkable memoir, Jesse Thistle tells his life story of hope and resilience as a Métis-Cree man who refused to give up. He briefly describes his childhood in the foster-care system, brings up memories of his drug-addicted father, and his own struggle with the self-destructive cycle of drug and alcohol addiction and petty crime, while living as a homeless man. Eventually Jesse faces the realization that  he would die unless he turned his life around.

About the Author: Jesse Thistle is Métis-Cree, from Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. He won a Governor General’s silver medal and teaches Métis Studies at York University in Toronto, where he lives. With this memoir, he fearlessly explores how his life changed and lifted through sheer perseverance and education — and newfound love —and how he found his way back into the circle of his Métis-Cree heritage culture and family.



The debates will take place on March 16-19, 2020. Follow along live on CBC, CBC Gem, CBC Radio and CBC Books.