2016 Alberta Readers Choice Award: Real Talk

ARCA 2016

The above image (used with permission) is pretty optimistic. Does anyone read all five books before voting? Don’t people just vote for the author they know, or the book that looks to be up their alley?

I love the Alberta Readers’ Choice Award in spite of my belief that it’s basically a popularity contest. Some great books have won (The Shore Girl by Fran Kimmel in particular).

I wrote about the Edmonton-heavy shortlist for Vue Weekly. For that article, I had to keep things pretty neutral. Here are my real opinions, for those who care. Voting is open till 11:59pm on Wednesday August 31.

The 2016 Shortlist

The Battle of Alberta by Mark Spector (haven’t read): I have a complicated relationship with hockey. Actually, it’s not complicated anymore: I don’t watch it. My Canucks fandom was fractured during the Bertuzzi incident, and cracked irreparably after the Vancouver riot (the 2011 one.) I still read a little sports writing. I’ll read a Wayne Gretz rant on OilersNation any day. But a whole book on the Oilers/Flames rivalry? Not for me. Perhaps for you?

Birdie by Tracey Lindberg (read): I chose Birdie for my most recent guest hosting gig at Write Reads, due to my Canada Reads outrage. I wrote about it here. This book deserves more.

Road Trip Rwanda by Will Ferguson (haven’t read): Ferguson was so delightful at the authors panel earlier this month. He’s a natural storyteller. I liked his Giller Prize winning novel 419. His humour books look a little cheesy, in a dad-joke way, and I’m a little dubious about the whole “white guy goes to Africa and has feelings about it” thing… so I’m torn. He also doesn’t “need” this award (see: Giller Prize) so yeah.

Rumi and the Red Handbag by Shawna Lemay (read):  I intended to review this book, but it didn’t work for me, and I wasn’t sure why. Months later, I’m pretty sure it was bad timing. I’d read a string of books with a particular theme, which is too spoilery to mention, but when it was revealed in Rumi, I was just like, again with this? Which isn’t a fault of the book at all. I’m reading Good Morning, Midnight by Jean Rhys and seeing shades of it in Rumi. That’s a very good thing.

A Wake for the Dreamland by Laurel Deedrick-Mayne (haven’t read): I’m wary of self-published books (said the blogger who’s been self-publishing reviews for five years.) I’ve heard good things, though, and I love an epistolary novel (and the chance to let people know that I know what epistolary means!) On the fence.

Have you guessed who I’m voting for? Go vote yourself till Wednesday midnight.

ARCA 2016 birdie.png





  1. Roxanne Felix-Mah

    Well, I actually DID follow-up on my comment on your original posting about Birdie, and I was one of those 700 people on the waiting list on EPL and I read it. I loved it .. I loved the humor and yes, I *liked* the non-linear timeline. I think I know what they mean by “colonized” timelines, and I can share my opinion on what that might mean for another conversation sometime. I didn’t read 3 of the others … and I read Will Ferguson’s book. As for Road Trip to Rwanda … I was sooo very cautious. Having worked in the settlement sector, I have heard many of these stories … the mix of hope, tragedy, resilience and although I wanted to give voice to their stories, I never ventured to write them … or about how those stories have changed me. I didn’t think I could do it justice. I wondered if *anyone* could do justice to the stories of refugees, unless the writer was a refugee himself/herself. And stories are so important in their lives … when new Canadians arrive here, all we talk about is “next steps”, “moving on” …”settling in” … we forget how much their past influences so much of who they are in the present. Most important lesson I learned working in that field – learn about who the person is and how they got there. Funnily enough – Birdie has a similar message too, I think. In the end, I was thankful that Will ferguson wrote the book and he did it right. It’s probably my bias from working in the field, but I think you know who I voted for!

  2. Naomi

    I agree – I hope Birdie wins! Not that I’ve read any of the others…
    I feel the same way as you about the hockey book. And, Will Ferguson can actually make me laugh, which is hard to do, but I agree with you there, too – he doesn’t need to win this. As for the other 2, maybe I would like them, but I haven’t read them yet so… Birdie!!

  3. Pingback: 2016 Year in Review #2: Best books, worst books, and my book of the year | Reading in Bed

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