Sunday 2 March 2008

Canada Reads....or at least 5 people in Canada read at least 1 book a year

I just read on that Paul Quarrington's King Leary is the victor of this year's pitched battle to be the one book that all Canadians read. Having read neither King Leary nor the four suckers it felled, I can't comment on whether or not this is a good choice. I did, however, very much enjoy Quarrington's Whale Music; that was at least ten years ago, though, so I'm not sure I'd enjoy it now.

So, the micro-question is, do I bother reading this book or do I continue to plug away at the gigantic queue of books I already own and haven't read yet, especially considering I've recently been distracted away from my task by books borrowed from friends?

But maybe the bigger question is, does it make sense for Canadians to be reading the same book all at the same time? (It'll certainly be good for Quarrington with all the extra thousands of copies of his books public libraries will be ordering.) I think CBC's Canada Reads and Toronto's Keep Toronto Reading projects are venerable endeavours, both for trying to promote non-Atwoodian Can Lit and for trying to encourage people to read.

Yet, I wonder if these sorts of flashy campaigns successfully convince people to read only one or two books a year. If there are campaigns going on encouraging people to read all year long, I'm not aware of them. And with his Shiteousness Stephen Harper cutting funding to literacy programs, I'm not sure there's money for that on a continuing basis, regardless of either interest or need. Well, then, I guess this can be looked it in two ways: one or two books a year is better than nothing, but reading in this country is in a sad state if I can even make such a comment.

I see Stephen Harper as akin to a neglectful parent in this regard. Instead of buying his sprogs (us) books and making sure we know how to read and where the library is and how to use it, he gives us a boiled potato, a smack in the mouth, and tells us to shaddap and go play on the internets so he can do important things like sell Rona Ambrose down the river or try to bribe Chuck Cadman (R.I.P) to help him fell the Liberals.

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