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Leonicka Valcius

Leonicka Valcius

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Canada Reads 2013: Turf Wars

This year's edition of Canada Reads kicked off yesterday and, though I missed the live broadcast, I watched the video online and was very impressed.

For one, I found the debate to be much more intelligent and respectful than last year. All the opening statements were thoughtful and compelling and only one panelist attacked the other books right away.

Besides the perennial "Why should all Canadians read this book?" question, Jian asked the panelists to discuss the prose of each book. The overwhelming majority seemed to take issue with The Age of Hope (but mostly because of Hope's characterization which should be a separate question from prose, in my opinion) but Two Solitudes and Away also caught flack for being inaccesible.

February and Indian Horse received the least criticism and (after watching the book trailers) they are my picks to get to the finals.

All in all, the Canada Reads program has already succeeded: I bought the e-book edition of Indian Horse as soon as the video was over.

Have you read these titles? Who are you rooting for?

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Monday, January 21, 2013

The Great Wall of Lucy Wu by Wendy Wan-Long Shang

There is a magical box at my office. It’s called "the box at the end of the hall.” The box at the end of the hall is where all the books people want to get rid of end up. And it’s where I found this gem.

I get you Lucy Wu. I, too, have a long lost aunt that no one knew existed until we started filling out her immigration papers. I, too, struggled with understanding what exactly it meant to be Haitian-Canadian… -American-Quebecois-Floridian. Yep. I don’t play basketball like you but that fight your parents had with your brother Kenny about college? Yeah. I had that fight with my parents too.

All the characters, even the minor ones, are well-developed and multi-faceted. They push Lucy to evaluate her choices and be a better person. This middle-grade book was a super quick read and I recommend it to anyone (of any age) who is struggling with their heritage and identity.

Wendy Wan-Long Shang is Chinese, making this the first book that fits into my Heritage Reads challenge! Can you suggest any other East Asian writers whose work I should check out?

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Friday, January 18, 2013

Les Misérables de Victor Hugo

Last year I wished I read more books in French and Spanish so this year I challenged myself to read Les Misérables in the original French.

Les Miserables (Movie Tie-In Edition)

I started this week and have already learned a lot. For example, it is easier for me to read French out loud than to myself. I think this is because I learned as a spoken language--my parents spoke it at home, I watched French TV, and listened to French radio. So reading and writing French does not come as naturally to me even though I was born in Montreal.

I gave myself a year for this challenge and judging by the length of this book (it came as five ebooks!) I'll need it. I'll post my updates on Twitter using the hashtag #jelisLesMis. Follow along!

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