BY SOUTHGREY.CA STAFF — The COVID-19 pandemic has changed our lives in many ways. It has driven us to stay home more, conducting business from our kitchens, shopping online and finding solace in places like Amazon Prime and Netflix.
This year, Grey County Reads comes along at just the right time. It should remind us that books are an excellent way to escape and that reading can have a profound impact on our mental health. Reading local authors’ works is also a great way to learn about our own communities and share the stories of fellow Canadians.
Our local libraries are an extensive source of Canadian-authored literature. They also provide a wealth of services both in-person and online. Books can be found in many formats and they are readily-available at Grey County libraries.
Similarly, the importance of shopping locally has been emphasized with increasing urgency in recent months. Many organizations have brought some much-needed attention to the importance of ‘shopping local,’ which is even more crucial now as so many small businesses try to survive the pandemic.
In this edition of Grey County Reads, we hope to bring the best in our communities together for a celebration of authors, our libraries and local businesses, all of whom, are worthy of that attention right now.
Six great books have been selected for the 2021 Grey County Reads contest to begin in January. The impressive list of literary works was whittled down from a variety of fiction and non-fiction options submitted Grey County Public Libraries across seven communities. Each book is readily available at all branches, so you might want to get a head start on borrowing one of these titles over the next few months, if you want to play along. Here is the roster of titles:
Son of a Trickster by Eden Robinson
Eden Robinson is an award-winning Haisla/Heiltsuk author who grew up in British Columbia. She gained notoriety in 2000 with her classic book Monkey Beach. A television journalist for CBC Newsworld, Eden set out in 2009, to write Son of a Trickster, the first story in a trilogy. Eight years later, the coming-of-age novel was finally completed.
The story follows Jared Martin, a sixteen-year-old pot cookie dealer, smoker, drinker and son with the scariest mom ever. But Jared is the pot dealer with a heart of gold. Compassionate, caring, and nurturing by nature, Jared is determined to help hold his family together, whether that means supporting his dad's new family with the proceeds from his baking or caring for his elderly neighbours.
Jared knows he can't rely on his family to care for him. His only source of love and support was his flatulent pit bull Baby. And then there's the talking ravens, the blackouts and his grandmother's perpetual suspicion that he is not human, but rather, the son of a trickster.
Son of a Trickster will be advocated by Shawn Ankenmann, owner of Highland Grounds Fair Trade Coffee Shop in Grey Highlands.
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
Delia Owens is the co-author of three internationally bestselling non-fiction books about her life as a wildlife scientist in Africa. She holds a BS in Zoology and a PhD in Animal Behaviour. Her debut novel Where the Crawdads Sing stayed on New York Times Bestsellers lists for more than a year.
The story is set in Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. For years, rumours of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted this place. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand.
When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life, until the unthinkable happens. Through Kya’s story, Owens reminds us that we are forever shaped by the children we once were, and that we are all subject to the beautiful and violent secrets that nature keeps.
Where the Crawdads Sing will be advocated by Sydney Austin, General Manager of Staples in Owen Sound.
From the Ashes: My Story of Being Métis, Homeless, and Finding My Way by Jesse Thistle
Jesse Thistle is Métis-Cree, from Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. He is an Assistant Professor in Métis Studies at York University in Toronto, where he lives. He won a Governor General’s Academic Medal in 2016, and is a Pierre Elliot Trudeau Scholar and a Vanier Scholar.
In this extraordinary and inspiring debut memoir, the author, once a high school dropout and now a rising Indigenous scholar, chronicles his life on the streets and how he overcame trauma and addiction to discover the truth about who he is.
From the Ashes: My Story of Being Métis, Homeless, and Finding My Way will be advocated by Norma Graham, Assistant Librarian for the Hanover Public Library.
The Company We Keep by Frances Itani
Frances Itani has written eighteen books. Her novels have received many accolades, being shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller and Commonwealth Writers’ Prizes, and her #1 bestseller novel Deafening, was shortlisted for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and won a Commonwealth Writers’ Prize. A three-time winner of the CBC Literary Prize, Frances Itani is also a Member of the Order of Canada and the recipient of a 2019 Library and Archives Canada Scholars Award. She lives in Ottawa.
In The Company We Keep, six strangers learn that beginnings can be possible at any stage of life. But as they tell their stories, they must navigate what is shared and what is withheld. Which version of the truth will be revealed? Who is prepared to step up when help is needed?
This moving, funny and deeply empathic new novel from acclaimed author Frances Itani reminds us that life, with all its twists and turns, never loses its capacity to surprise.
The Company We Keep will be advocated by JD Moffat, Morning Show Announcer for Jewel 99.3 in Meaford.
The Overstory by Richard Powers
Richard Powers’ stories explore the effects of modern science and technology. His novel The Echo Maker won the 2006 National Book Award for Fiction. He has also won many other awards over the course of his career, including a MacArthur Fellowship. Powers has published twelve novels and has taught at the University of Illinois and Stanford University.
The Overstory, winner of the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction, is a sweeping, impassioned work of activism and resistance that is also a stunning evocation of — and paean to — the natural world.
From the roots to the crown and back to the seeds, Richard Powers’s twelfth novel unfolds in concentric rings of interlocking fables that range from antebellum New York to the late twentieth-century Timber Wars of the Pacific Northwest and beyond.
There is a world alongside ours which is vast, slow, interconnected, resourceful, magnificently inventive, and almost invisible to us. This is the story of a handful of people who learn how to see that world and who are drawn up into its unfolding catastrophe.
The Overstory by Richard Powers will be advocated by Kaitland Murray, Administrator for the Town of Blue Mountains Chamber of Commerce.
Women Talking by Miriam Toews
Miriam Toews is the author of five previous bestselling novels. She is a winner of the Governor General’s Award for Fiction, the Libris Award for Fiction Book of the Year, the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, and the Writers Trust Marian Engel/Timothy Findley Award. She lives in Toronto. A finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Award, Women Talking is a transformative and necessary work — as completely unexpected as it is inspired.
On a quiet June morning in 2009, August Epp sits alone in the hayloft of a barn, anxiously bent over his notebook. Soon eight women — ordinary grandmothers, mothers and teenagers — will climb the ladder into the loft, and the day's true task will begin. This task will be both simple and subversive: August, like the women, is a traditional Mennonite, and he has been asked to record a secret conversation.
Thus begins this spellbinding novel from award-winning writer Miriam Toews. Gradually, as we hear the women's vivid voices console, tease, admonish, regale and debate each other, we piece together the reason for the gathering: they have forty-eight hours to make a life-altering choice on behalf of all the women and children in the colony.
Acerbic, funny, tender, sorrowful and wise, Women Talking is composed of equal parts human love and deep anger. It explores the expansive, timeless universe of thinking and feeling about women — and men — in our contemporary world.
Women Talking by Miriam Toews will be advocated by Amanda Bible, leader of the Bible Team for Rock Capital Investments, The Mortgage Centre.
Advocates will begin their analyses on January 12. Voting will begin February 22. What will be the next great book to read in Grey County? Stay tuned for more information to come.
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