Canada Reads 2023 Longlist Part 1

It’s the most wonderful time of the year… It’s time for Canada Reads!

The longlist for Canada Reads 2023 came out at the end of last week and I had to share my thoughts on all 15 books, and maybe even predict which books might make the shortlist.

Because there are 15 books, I’ll be posting about three of the books at a time, otherwise, this will go on forever! I was surprised at the variety of books on the list this year, it’s an improvement from the past few years, but I’m still not seeing as many small/independent publishers on this list.

So let’s look at the first three books on the longlist…

Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands by Kate Beaton

Beaton’s natural cartooning prowess is on full display as she draws colossal machinery and mammoth vehicles set against a sublime Albertan backdrop of wildlife, Northern Lights, and Rocky Mountains. Her first full-length graphic narrative, Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands is an untold story of Canada: a country that prides itself on its egalitarian ethos and natural beauty while simultaneously exploiting both the riches of its land and the humanity of its people.

There’s a graphic novel on Canada Reads… There’s. A. Graphic. Novel. On. Canada. Reads. 

I absolutely love this and I am here for it! Having a graphic novel on Canada Reads is not very common. I’m glad that there are now new forms of literature making their way into this competition. Maybe we can get some poetry in the mix next year? Please?

I saw this graphic novel buzzing around on my Instagram earlier this fall, and I was intrigued –  I don’t normally read graphic novels, but I’ll be giving this one a shot… by getting it from my local library. I think this will be a good read and will offer a good perspective on the oil sands in Alberta. 

I’m glad to see this book is from a lesser-known publisher – Drawn and Quarterly. A more conscious decision to include smaller independent Canadian presses seems to have been made this year. 

Revery: A Year of Bees by Jenna Butler

After five years of working with bees on her farm in northern Alberta, Jenna Butler shares with the reader the rich experience of keeping hives. Starting with a rare bright day in late November as the bees are settling in for winter she takes us through a year in beekeeping on her small piece of the boreal forest. Weaving together her personal story with the practical aspects of running a farm she takes us into the worlds of honeybees and wild bees. She considers the twinned development of the canola and honey industries in Alberta and the impact of crop sprays, debates the impact of introduced flowers versus native flowers, the effect of colony collapse disorder and the protection of natural environments for wild bees. But this is also the story of women and bees and how beekeeping became Jenna Butler’s personal survival story.

I truly love Canada Reads as it introduces readers to books by Canadians they may have never heard of. I haven’t heard of this book until now, and it sounds like an interesting read. I’ll be interested to see how Butler can connect her personal story to that of beekeeping. Side note: I absolutely love bees, we have so many in our garden and they are just adorable. 

I’m not a huge fan of non-fiction, but I’m willing to give this one a shot… From my library. This book was on the Governor General’s shortlist for fiction in 2021, and from a small publisher, which always makes me happy! I love seeing more recognition for the smaller presses as part of Canada Reads.

Half-Bads in White Regalia by Cody Caetano

A family tries to learn from the mistakes of past generations in this whirlwind memoir from a wholly original new voice.

The Caetanos move into a doomed house in the highway village of Happyland before an inevitable divorce pulls Cody’s parents in separate directions. His mom, Mindimooye, having discovered her Anishinaabe birth family and Sixties Scoop origin story, embarks on a series of fraught relationships and fresh starts. His dad, O Touro, a Portuguese immigrant and drifter, falls back into “big do, little think” behaviour, despite his best intentions.

Left alone at the house in Happyland, Cody and his siblings must fend for themselves, even as the pipes burst and the lights go out. His protective big sister, Kris, finds inventive ways to put food on the table, and his stoic big brother, Julian, facilitates his regular escapes into the world of video games. As life yanks them from one temporary solution to the next, they steal moments of joy and resist buckling under “baddie” temptations aplenty.

2 thoughts on “Canada Reads 2023 Longlist Part 1

  1. Pingback: January 2023 Wrap-Up – Meghan's Whimsical Explorations & Reviews

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