Year 2 of Reading CanLit

It's all in here.

It’s all in here.

A couple of days ago, I was reminded by WordPress that my blog is now 2 years old. This year just flew by!

Last year, for my ‘blirthday’, I focused on the Canadian content of my blog, since challenging myself to read more CanLit was the reason I started blogging. I’m doing the same thing this year, so that I can compare the 2 years a little bit. Next month, I’ll cover everything, because I’ve read some other great books, too.

My A-Z CanLit Project: I’m embarrassed to say that I have only read 5 books for this challenge since last November. My goal this year is to finish it, so I can move on to another personal challenge I’ve been thinking about. Can I do it?

# of Canadian books read: 59, including the 8 Anne of Green Gables re-reads (last year, 49)

% books Canadian: 65.5% (last year, 61%)

# of new-to-me Canadian authors: 32 (last year, 31)

# of new-to-me Canadian authors I had never heard of before (including debut authors): 21 (last year, 18)

% female authors: 69% (last year, 57%)


Top 10: (In no particular order) I tried to do this without thinking about it too much. These are the ones that stuck out the most for me as I was reading my list.

  1. And the Birds Rained Down by Jocelyn Saucier
  2. Fifteen Dogs by Andre Alexis
  3. Do You Think This Is Strange? by Aaron Cully Drake
  4. Rilla of Ingleside by L.M. Montgomery
  5. All True Not A Lie In It by Alix Hawley
  6. Love Letters of the Angels of Death by Jennifer Quist
  7. Every Little Thing by Chad Pelley
  8. Every Blade of Grass by Thomas Wharton
  9. Martin John by Anakana Schofield
  10. The Blue Tattoo by Steven Laffoley

Honourable mention: The Stone Angel by Margaret Laurence


Most pleasant surprise:  Every Little Thing by Chad Pelley (I had no idea what this book was going to be like when I read it, but ended up loving it.)

Most disappointing: The Age by Nancy Lee

Funniest: When the Saints by Sarah Mian

Biggest Tear-jerker: Rilla of Ingleside by L.M. Montgomery (That Dog Monday.)

Most original: Fifteen Dogs by Andre Alexis (winner of the 2015 Scotiabank Giller Prize)

Scariest: Captive by Claudine Dumont

Most disturbing: Martin John by Anakana Schofield 

Most important message: Wake the Stone Man by Carol McDougall

Most inspirational: Rilla of Ingleside (I felt moved and inspired after reading this. I’m just not sure what I felt inspired to do. Maybe to pay more attention?)

Most fun: The Mountain Story by Lori Lansens (especially if you like survival stories)

Most Liked character(s): Freddy (I loved Freddy!) from Do You Think This Is Strange? (Runner up: Dog Monday from Rilla of Ingleside)

Least liked character(s): Stan from The Heart Goes Last (I really did not like that guy.)

Most memorable character(s): Hagar Shipley (The Stone Angel), Freddy (Do You Think This is Strange?, Martin John (Martin John), Mary Dyer (A Measure of Light), Naomi (Obasan), Wilona (Against A Darkening Sky), and Keita (The Illegal)

Best Short Story collection: Eating Habits of the Chronically Lonesome by Megan Gail Coles

Best Non Fiction: The Inconvenient Indian by Thomas King

Best Memoir: Drunk Mom by Jowita Bydlowska


Most memorable line(s):

“Those who have lost a little wail and cry; those who have lost everything are silent.”  –Black Snow

“The sacrifice you make here is so profound I’ve never dared to mention my own – real but lost and invisible in the face of the cataclysm of your new motherhood. But the look of sameness in the routine of my life is not real. I have laid something precious on the altar of the baby too. My own sacrifice – it was you.” – Love Letters of the Angels of Death

“The freedom to live or to die, there’s nothing like it to make you choose life.” – And the Birds Rained Down

“And how useless it is to be sorry, she thought, how utterly, unforgivably useless.” – A Beauty

“… love was the dent you’d put in someone’s life if you left them behind.”  – Every Little Thing

“I write my brother in Nigeria. I tell him that everyone has more than they need here and yet, they are starving.” – Eating Habits of the Chronically Lonesome

“I wanted them to hate me; hate was as close to love as I thought I’d ever be.” – When Everything Feels Like the Movies

“God gave us a selective memory… and an imagination, and with those gifts comes the ability to remember things any way we want… And with that comes the capacity for infinite happiness.” – The Capacity For Infinite Happiness

“… love is beautiful in the same way a lion is. Half the beauty is in the sheer power of the thing. The control it has over you. And the chance it might tear you apart.” – Away From Everywhere

“He never has to strain to see God in the deer or weasel, the stones, the trees, the stars; it’s only among humans that sometimes, sometimes, he doubts.” – Against A Darkening Sky

“… if you wait until something is a dead certainty, by that time it may just be dead.” – Every Blade of Grass

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Top 10 Posts (most visitors/comments):

Hopeful Reading List for 2015

And the Birds Rained Down by Jocelyn Saucier, translated by Rhonda Mullins

Sweetland by Michael Crummey

Fifteen Dogs by Andre Alexis

Obasan by Joy Kogawa

A Beauty by Connie Gault

An Interview with Aaron Cully Drake, author of Do You Think This Is Strange?

The Inconvenient Indian; A Curious Account of Native People in North America by Thomas King

This Godforsaken Place by Cinda Gault

Love Letters of the Angel of Death by Jennifer Quist 

Thank you to all my fellow bloggers and readers. Without you, it wouldn’t be nearly as much fun. 🙂


43 thoughts on “Year 2 of Reading CanLit

  1. Elle says:

    Congratulations! And wow, what a list of yearly superlatives–love these and getting one before the end of December is like a special treat 🙂

  2. Sarah's Book Shelves says:

    Congratulations and love your superlatives list! I did this format for last year’s Best Books of 2014 list and will probably do it again this year. I also have both Fifteen Dogs and Sweetland on my “must at least try before the end of the year” list.

  3. BuntyMcC says:

    Congratulations on your two years. What a great post this is; I think I’ll print and save it as a reference for future reading. Rilla of Ingleside for starters. How organized you are! Perhaps you could do a post on how you organize your notebook…

    • Naomi says:

      It actually took me a long time to finish this post. I get caught up on wanting to choose just the right books, so I go back over my list over and over.
      My notebook is just a running list of the books I’ve read. The rating system I use in it is the one I came up with when I started my list in grade 8, so it’s not very conventional. However, after all these years I don’t want to change it! 🙂

  4. Sarah Emsley says:

    I love following along with what you’re reading, Naomi. Congratulations on your two-year anniversary. Great line from Black Snow. Makes me think my book group should add it to our (very long) list of what to read next.

  5. TJ @ MyBookStrings says:

    Congratulations, Naomi. So many great quotes here; how do you keep track of them? It is always fun to read your posts; you have such a great taste in books. (Thanks to you, for example, I at least knew of the book that won the Giller Prize.) You are so bad for my TBR list! 🙂

    • Naomi says:

      Likewise, TJ!
      For the quotes, I just go back to my reviews where I usually include my favourite quotes from the books I read, which is one of the reasons I wanted to start writing about my books – I didn’t keep track of them very well before.

  6. River City Reading says:

    Happy two years! I’m so glad you first brought Fifteen Dogs to my attention – it’s one of my favorites this year, for sure. And I totally agree about Stan from The Heart Goes Last, he’s definitely not a favorite!

    • Naomi says:

      I am so happy for Andre for winning both the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize and the Giller.this year!
      Stan was an easy choice. As I ran through my list of books, he stuck out like a sore thumb. He wasn’t evil, just so unlikeable.

  7. JacquiWine says:

    Congratulations on your anniversary! I’m not terribly well versed when in comes to Canadian lit, but Margaret Laurence’s The Stone Angel is very firmly on my radar as a result of your review. All the best for the months and years ahead. 🙂

  8. The Paperback Princess says:

    Happy blirthday! (agreed, great new word)
    Your CanLit stats this year are so impressive (not that they weren’t last year)! I do think it’s been a really strong year for CanLit but maybe that’s because this is the first year I’ve participated on any kind of level? Rilla of Ingleside…oh man. So many tears. Dog Monday for sure and Walter. Always and forever Walter. I still really need to read The Illegal.
    I’ll always be grateful to Lainey Gossip for championing When Everything Feels Like the Movies at Canada Reads – I never would have read it (or watched the debates) if it hadn’t been for her. And I’m glad that you’re around blogging so passionately about CanLit to keep me wanting to read more.

  9. Karen says:

    I love love love this post! Congratulations on two wonderful years, Naomi! Your stats were so fun to read – and an increase in everything! That’s so great. Looking forward to year three! 🙂

    • Naomi says:

      Thanks, Karen!
      The only problem with the increase in books is that there is no way it can continue. At some point (probably this year) it will either have to stay the same or go down, which isn’t quite as much fun to document. 🙂

    • Naomi says:

      Oh, yes, I’m definitely making a lot of progress reading CanLit – just not the particular CanLit project I outlined when I first started to blog. At this point, the project doesn’t even really make any sense, because I am doing so well without it, but I still feel like I want to finish it. 🙂

  10. Cathy746books says:

    I’m sorry I’m a little late, but Happy Blirthday! This must mean that my second is coming up soon too….
    Sounds like you’ve had a great year of reading, long may it continue x

  11. Marisa@TheDailyDosage says:

    Congrats on your two years of blogging! I love this post and will be adding quite a few of the books to my TBR list. Also, thanks for stopping by. I always love seeing your comments. This is a great community!

  12. Bellezza says:

    I loved taking a peek at your journal page which records what you have read. I’ve never found a very effective system for myself, as I list the novel and author, but not anything else about it. I see you have stars by each title, which I assume are how you “score” it for yourself? I like that so much, it’s brief and effective. If I start writing all I thought about each book I read, I’d have to let go of my blog! 😉

    • Naomi says:

      I came up with my own scoring system in grade 8, and have been using it ever since. It makes it easy for me to flip through and find the books that have stood out for me. There are no other notes in this book besides a few dates, so I can remember approximately when I read certain books.

  13. buriedinprint says:

    I love this post, too: such enthusiasm! Also, I can relate to the matter of reading a great deal but not reading exactly what you’d planned to. I just checked the “progress” on some of my own projects for this year, and was disappointed to find a couple barely touched or neglected entirely, and yet, so many good books read: maybe it’s simply having a massive TBR list that makes it harder to think about all the good reading that was in those stacks! 🙂

    • Naomi says:

      Massive TBR lists can be a problem that way, but I see no way around them. When I hear about I book I might like, I have to add it. It drives me crazy not to at least note it. And, do you find that the latest one you’ve heard about is suddenly the most urgent, even though all the others had been equally urgent at the time of hearing about them?

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