Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Canada Reads 2012: true stories

For over a decade I've looked forward to the annual event that is CBC's Canada Reads. I've followed the discussions, cheered on my personal favourites, and looked forward to reading the winners. This year, there is a new twist to the event: the choices are going to be non-fiction titles.

As a reader who only occasionally dips into the real world I was a little surprised to hear this announcement. However, I gathered myself together and took a moment to reflect on some of the excellent non-fiction I had read and had a look at the Canada Reads website to see what readers were submitting as their favourite true story. Here is a small sample:

The Tiger: a true story of vengeance and survival

by John Vaillant

"It's December 1997 and a man-eating tiger is on the prowl outside a remote village in Russia's Far East. The tiger isn't just killing people, it's annihilating them, and a team of men and their dogs must hunt it on foot through the forest in the brutal cold. To their horrified astonishment it emerges that the attacks are not random: the tiger is engaged in a vendetta. Injured and starving, it must be found before it strikes again, and the story becomes a battle for survival between the two main characters: Yuri Trush, the lead tracker, and the tiger itself." ~ Publisher

By the way, this book won the CBC Bookies award for best overall book last year.

The Boy in the Moon: a father's search for his disabled son
by Ian Brown

Walker Brown was born with a genetic mutation so rare that doctors call it an orphan syndrome: perhaps 300 people around the world also live with it. Walker turns twelve in 2008, but he weighs only 54 pounds, is still in diapers, can't speak and needs to wear special cuffs on his arms so that he can't continually hit himself. "Sometimes watching him," Brown writes, "is like looking at the man in the moon - but you know there is actually no man there. But if Walker is so insubstantial, why does he feel so important? What is he trying to show me?"

This title was the winner of the Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction in 2010.

The Night Shift : real life in the heart of the ER
by Dr. Brian Goldman.

"Dr. Brian Goldman is both an emergency room physician at Mount Sinai and a prominent medical journalist. Never one to shy away from controversy, Goldman specializes in kicking open the doors to the medical establishment, revealing what really goes on behind the scenes -- and in the minds of doctors and nurses. Written with Goldman's trademark honesty and with surprising humour, The Night Shift is also a frank look at many issues facing the medical profession today, and offers a highly compelling inside view into an often shrouded world." - Publisher

A fascinating read for any fans of his CBC radio program White Coat, Black Art.

Leadership: 50 points of wisdom for today’s leaders
by General Rick Hillier

"General Rick Hillier's views on leadership evolved over his three decades as a soldier, first by watching many of his superiors make bad decisions, then by learning from the school of hard knocks as the head of emergency rescue operations in Canada and international task forces in Eastern Europe and Afghanistan. Never one to be shy with his opinions, Hillier is as frank and straightforward in Leadership Matters as he is in his #1 bestselling memoir, A Soldier First. Leadership Matters is an inspirational, easy-to-read and, in true Hillier fashion, always entertaining collection of principles that will challenge the way you run your business, start a project or take that next step in life."- Publisher.

So what is your favourite non-fiction title? Weigh in on the debate at and see what fellow readers are talking about.


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