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Posts Tagged ‘non-fiction’

Eva Mozes Kor was 10 years old when she arrived in Auschwitz. While her parents and two older sisters were taken to the gas chambers, she and her twin, Miriam, were herded into the care of the man known as the Angel of Death, Dr. Josef Mengele. Mengele’s twins were granted the privileges of keeping their own clothes and hair, but they were also subjected to sadistic medical experiments and forced to fight daily for their own survival, as most of the twins died as a result of the experiements or from the disease and hunger pervasive in the camp. In a narrative told with emotion and restraint, readers will learn of a child’s endurance and survival in the face of truly extraordinary evil. The book also includes an epilogue on Eva’s recovery from this experience and her remarkable decision to publicly forgive the Nazis. Through her museum and her lectures, she has dedicated her life to giving testimony on the Holocaust, providing a message of hope for people who have suffered, and working toward goals of forgiveness, peace, and the elimination of hatred and prejudice in the world.

Surviving the Angel of Death, by  Eva Mozes Kor and Lisa Rojany Buccieri, is a heart wrenching account of the atrocities inflicted on twins in the Auschwitz camps. This story was originally written as Echoes From Auschwitz: Dr. Mengele’s Twins: The Story Of Eva And Miriam Mozes. When Eva Mozes wished to adapt the novel to be more suitable for a younger audience this novel came to life.

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This year Canada Reads was, if nothing else, controversial. To start with you have five non-fiction books which were, literally, all over the map. One set in Chile, one set in Iran, another in Montreal for the most part, another in Siberia, and last, but not least, the one that travelled from one Canadian coast to the other. Reading these five books basically takes you on a world tour, with many many bumps, bruises and scrapes along the way.

Our panellists are another bunch that take you all over the map. Arlene Dickinson from Toronto, the C.E.O with a heart of gold and a very good head on her shoulders. Alan Thicke from Kirkland Lake, now living in Los Angeles, the well known dad with humour and intelligence. Shad from Vancouver, the quiet but eloquent rapper. Anne-France Goldwater from Montreal, a staunch advocate for constitutional rights and known as Quebec’s Judge Judy. And Stacey McKenzie, the super model with an abundance of passion.

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At the start of today’s debates we had three books on the table, The Game, On A Cold Road, and Something Fierce. All great books, all worth reading. Everyone was in a very up beat mood which boded well for the coming discussions. As things got started some were quite sure what the outcome would be, others had no idea and were hesitant to speculate.

After some humorous introductions the first question was posed.

“Which book — The Game or On a Cold Road — gives a better representation of Canada?”

Of course the round table was divided on this question, all quite eloquently voicing their reasons for their choices. Stacey McKenzie seems to rely on passion instead of words to get her point across, and Anne-France, reading from Something Fierce, dropped the ‘F” bomb. This is a live radio show, later shown on CBC TV, and there were no beeps to be heard. Of course she was reading from the book so I guess the bomb was allowed, that she was quoting from the book was a nice change from her typical harsh words.

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After the debates on day one of Canada Reads 2012 many were holding their breath, waiting for the other shoe to drop. Day two dawned with a new attitude, or at least a new debating style that didn’t include name calling and insults. The discussions were indeed lively, but much more respectful and book oriented. The first question of the day was:

“Which of the remaining four did you find most relatable?”

Strangely enough most of the panellists agreed that Something Fierce was the book that they related to the most. The Game won some ground on that point but Something Fierce was clearly the top dog in relate-ability. The Tiger also took a few hits in this segment due to information overload. Alan Thicke said he had learned everything he would ever need to know about cultivating pin nuts from the book, The Tiger. But, also said that he didn’t relate to the book as much as others because there were too many characters and too much unrelated information. Arlene Dickinson agreed, saying she had a hard time relating to the book and found the possibility of voicing a tiger’s thoughts almost impossible to believe.

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Before getting into the actual debates I’ll recap how the final list of books comes to be.

In September, 2011 Canadians were asked to recommend books that they thought all Canadians should read. These books have to be written by Canadian authors, and for the first time in Canada Reads history, the book had to be non-fiction. Each recommendation counted as one point for the book. Each vote in the polls counted as a point for the book. Canadians could submit one recommendation and vote once in each poll.That first list was comprised of 40 books. That list was named: Canada Reads True Stories Top 40.

From that list Canadians voted on their favourite books, up to five books per vote. The resulting list was named: Canada Reads True Stories Top 10.

A panel of five Canadian celebrities was chosen and those celebrities chose the book that they would defend in the debates. The debates air on CBC Radio One from February, 6/2012 – February, 9/2012 in front of a live audience in Toronto, Ontario.

That top 5 list is:

  • Prisoner Of Tehran by Marina Nemat – defended by Arlene Dickinson
  • The Tiger by John Vaillant – defended by Anne-France Goldwater
  • The Game by Ken Dryden – defended by Alan Thicke
  • Something Fierce by Carmen Aguirre – defended by Shad
  • On A Cold Road by Dave Bidini – defended by Stacey Stacey McKenzie

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The last couple of years I’ve been following CBC Books during all of their different programs, especially Canada Reads. Last year’s Canada Reads winner was Best Laid Plans, which I haven’t had a chance to read yet because everyone else keeps snagging it before I get a chance to read it myself. I’m starting to think I’ll have to hide it next time I see it.

Last year I didn’t get a chance to participate in the online chats with the authors, which are held prior to the debates in February, this year I’m hoping to get into most of them. Each week they feature one of the authors of the five books who are finalists in the Canada Reads contest. I did manage to log on in time for the chat with author Carmen Aguirre last week. It was interesting seeing her respond to various questions about her book, her thoughts on different subjects, and herself.

Now I’m one of those people that never win anything unless, it seems, if it has something to do with books. At the end of each weekly chat the name of a participant is drawn to win a signed set of the Canada Reads books, along with a Canada Reads tote. Guess what? Last week my name was drawn and I have to admit I squealed like a school girl, which made my hubby laugh hysterically.

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On his eighteenth birthday, Ryan Knighton was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa, a congenital disease that would eventually leave him blind. In this penetrating, nervy memoir, Knighton tells his story of going blind and growing up, while incidentally revealing the sighted world in all its peculiarity.

Knighton learns to drive while unseeing, navigates the punk rock scene (where banging into things is acceptable), and enters into his first significant relationship–with a deaf woman, naturally. While stumbling literally and emotionally into darkness, into love, and into adulthood, he enters into a truce, if not acceptance, of his identity as a blind man.

Cockeyed is not a conventional confessional. Ricocheting between meditation and black comedy, Knighton is irreverent in words and impatient with the preciousness we’ve come to expect from books on disability. Readers will find it hard to put down this wild ride around their everyday world with a wicked smart, blind guide at the wheel.

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