My wife’s favourite time of the year, the CBC’s Canada Reads debates is happening earlier than normal in 2024, from March 4-7. And as usual, you’ll be able to listen to the debates live on CBC Radio One or stream later via CBC Listen. Additionally, you can watch the televised debates live on CBC Television or stream later on CBC Gem.
And if you happen to be outside of Canada while the Canada Reads 2024 debates air, you should be able to stream the debates on the CBC Youtube channel.
As since 2017, Ali Hassan will host the debates.
The theme this year is “one book to carry us forward” - with the idea that if all of Canada reads this book, Canadians will find the resilience and the hope needed to carry on and keep moving forward. Which one of these will win? And will it be a good read for your vacation?
The following books will be debated this year. These are our predictions regarding the order in which the books will be eliminated, weighted by: Goodreads Rating, the debate experience of the Book’s Champion, and perceived adherence to the theme based on information contained within online reviews.
Without further ado, the contenders for 2024 Canada Reads are (in order of predicted elimination):
Goodreads rating (as of 1/22/2024): 3.71 - 170484 Ratings
This romance novel has by far the greatest number of ratings on Goodreads and its popularity has transcended well beyond Canada. It’s likely a great pick to bring with you to the beach. Many reviews on indigo.ca indicate that it’s a difficult book to put down, but that it’s kind of cheesy.
There are many questions involving this book and its candidacy. Will this cheese convince the Canada Reads debaters that it’s the book to help Canadians find resilience? And while Njoh has amassed a substantial social media following, it’s tough to know the strength of her literary debate chops. And compared to the other books in the competition, how can this one, a second chance romance novel, carry Canada forward.
Goodreads rating (as of 1/22/2024): 3.78 - 1576 Ratings
A collection of 18 short stories that amasses into a fragmented bildungsroman, Shut Up You’re Pretty traces the journey of a young woman as she grows up in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and immigrates to Canada. And she goes through a lot of stuff, which dovetails well with the theme. Reviews have described the work as “raw” and “powerful.”
The debate talents of its champion are tough to know, due to her youth and relatively limited public profile. While it has been called “funny,” reviews indicate it may not have the literary heft to carry Canada forward.
Goodreads rating (as of 1/22/2024): 3.59 - 309 Ratings
While this has the lowest Goodreads rating of the Canada Reads finalists, it has arguably the most credible champion in former Canada Reads winner Heather O’Neill, who won in 2007 for her novel, Lullabies for Little Criminals.
The novel takes place in a dystopic Detroit located in an alternate reality where everybody speaks French and burned houses regenerate themselves. The central theme of the novel is one of persistence and resilience in the face of future uncertainty. And many reviews highlight the hope and optimism described in the book.
Because the novel was initially issued in 2020 and only in French, its Goodreads ratings cannot accurately indicate the power of the English language translation. This could be a dark horse, especially in the hands of a novelist like O’Neill.
Goodreads rating (as of 1/22/2024): 4.28 - 139 Ratings
A sterling Goodreads rating of 4.28 indicates that the few people who have read this graphic novel have immensely enjoyed it. And with a skilled politician in Nenshi as champion, Denison Avenue is a strong contender to win Canada Reads.
This graphic novel follows Wong Cho Sum, a widow in her 70s, as she explores her gentrifying neighbourhood following the death of her husband. It’s a story of grief, loss, change and ultimately carrying forward.
The book aligns well with the three things that make a Canada Reads winner, which makes this a strong contender to win.
Goodreads rating (as of 1/22/2024): 3.95 - 7890 Ratings
With nearly 8000 ratings and a score just under 4 just over a year after its release, Bad Cree appears to be a solid contender to win this year’s Canada Reads. Many reviews have described it as a “page turner.” Former Canada Reads winning writer Michelle Good has described it as “a captivating tale of love, loss, the violence of greed and the healing power of family.”
The combination of heart, alignment with the theme, support of literary heavyweights, and mass appeal make “Bad Cree” the book to beat.
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