2014 Preview: Diversity, CanLit, Classics, and Second Chances

I’m still catching up on 2013 reviews, but 2014 reading is well underway. Here’s what you can expect this year on Reading in Bed.

I am pretty dismayed that off all the books I read last year, only 12% were by authors of colour. Here are some of my current and planned reads that will help tip me over 25% this year:

orendabridgeofbeyondinside outsixmetres

  • The Orenda by Joseph Boyden. It’s my current read and HOLY CRAP IS IT GOOD.
  • The Bridge of the Beyond by Simone Schwarz-Bart. nybooks.com says: “This is an intoxicating tale of love and wonder, mothers and daughters, spiritual values and the grim legacy of slavery on the French Antillean island of Guadeloupe.” Yeah. Plus, that cover.
  • Inside Out: Reflections on a Life So Far by Evelyn Lau. An excuse to write about how Lau’s first memoir, Runaway, changed my life.
  • Six Metres of Pavement by Farzana Doctor. My favourite calendar girl in Bare it for Books.

Follow book blogger Leonicka for lots of resources on diversity in Canadian literature. She’s going all out and reading 85% authors of colour this year!

Local Authors!
My next local read will likely be Come Barbarians by Todd Babiak. As for new #yegwrites stuff, so far I’m looking forward to Marina Endicott‘s fourth novel, Falling for Hugh and Laurence Miall‘s debut novel Blind Spot.

Here’s a great roundup of Edmonton books in 2014.

Apart from the Edmonton stuff, here’s my most anticipated CanLit:
frog musicthegirlwhocrimeagainstmy

  • Frog Music by Emma Donoghue. She’s got a way with titles. I loved Room and Slammerkin, so my expectations are high.
  • The Girl Who Was Saturday Night by Heather O’Neill. I’ve been waiting eight years for O’Neill to write another book. Bring it on!
  • Crime Against My Brother by David Adams Richards. Apparently brings the main character of Mercy Among the Children back – one of my favourite books of all time.

I will also solider on with the Storytellers Book Club challenge. It helps that I won a set of all five books in their contest last year!

I haven’t forgotten about The Classics Club! In fact, I’m right on pace. I chose 50 books to read over five years, and approaching the one year mark, I’ve read eleven.

I’m also contemplating Behold the Star’s Russian Literature Challenge. Krisitlyn of Reading in Winter gave me War and Peace for Christmas, plus I hear reading Chekhov can improve your life.

Back from the DNF

tristramcovertinkerThe English Patient by Michael Odaantjehouseofsandfifthbusiness

I might set this one up as a challenge hosted here on the blog. I’ve abandoned a few books over the years, and this is the year I give them another shot. I’m including books that I straight up DNF’d (did not finish) and books that I finished, but didn’t really appreciate, often because I read them too young. Here is a sampling, with my excuses for not finishing in the first place. Watch for an introductory post soon (and if anyone wants to help me design a button, that would be cool…)

  • Tristram Shandy by Laurence Sterne: Pregnancy brain
  • Tinker Tailor Solider Spy by John LeCarre: Baby brain
  • The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje: Too young. Attempted at 22 or so and got really lost.
  • The House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubuois III: Too young. Read at age 20.
  • Fifth Business by Robertson Davies: Too young. Forced to read in high school, I hated it. Read a description of it recently and it sounds AMAZING.

This sounds like a lot of books, but I’m leaving room for random books, recommendations, read-alongs, and review books; you know, the four Rs. 

Obligatory end-of-post question: what are YOU planning to read this year?




  1. yvonneb1412

    This is really inspiring me to make some reading commitments myself instead of just buying books and letting them pile up (in digital and physical form)! Time to sort that bookshelf!

    • lauratfrey

      I’m not even considering them commitments (because, yeah, that pile…) just… considerations. I’m sure most years I read more male than female written books, but last year I just decided to try and read more female authors, with no set goal, and read 66%.

  2. Naomi

    I’m happy to hear you’re loving The Orenda. I can’t wait to hear what you have to say about it! I’m not great at looking too far ahead with my reading, but generally I’m planning to continue with lots of CanLit. I’m hoping to finally read both Room and Lullabies For Little Criminals, so I can get to Frog Music and The Girl Who was Saturday Night. And Fifth Business has come up many times as a book I should read. Thanks for the link to Leonicka’s blog!

  3. Carolyn O

    I just got the US publisher to send me an advance copy of The Orenda — I can’t wait! I had the opposite experience with Fifth Business in high school — I read it and fell in love. That class was pretty much a dud, reading-wise, except for Fifth Business and one other book. Pretty sure it was the first bit of CanLit I ever read, actually. I ended up writing about it (and about 12 other books — my advisors must have hated me) for my undergrad thesis.

    • lauratfrey

      Oo lucky you! Have to say I prefer the Canadian cover. It’s so exciting when we have something first, heh.

      Yeah I really must revisit. I must have been extra sullen that semester or something, probably wouldn’t have liked anything.

  4. Kristilyn

    Come Barbarians is definitely on my list for this year! I’m trying to go kind of in order of when I received them … I’m not sure where it falls on the list!

    On my spreadsheet I didn’t note if the author is of colour, but I am trying to venture outside of the U.S. since a LOT of authors I read are from there … though, when I’m trying to tackle only the books I own (well, mostly) it’s tough to have diversity in that area. We shall see.

    I have a copy of The English Patient I need to read, as well as a copy of Coming Through Slaughter. The only Michael Ondaatje I have read is The Cat’s Table and I liked it, but didn’t totally love it. I’ve heard VERY good things about Coming Through Slaughter, though …

    Yay for 2014 reading!!! And hopefully you can get through War and Peace! I started at the beginning of the year and … haven’t continued. #warandpeacefail

  5. writereads

    Late to the party, as usual, but Fifth Business also changed my world (I read absolutely everything by Davies after that).
    And I think you should totally create a challenge! Having started to read If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler after having meant to finish it for eons, I’d like to do that with many more of my DNFs!

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