Book Beat: Canada Reads Winner, Reading Without Walls, and Young Black Female Poets

Hi, book lovers! It’s me, Ashley! My friend Stephanie took over for a while, because my life was consumed with stress and grief over the loss of someone in my field of work. I am back though, still a bit stressed, still grieving a bit, but feeling better. I am reading all my favourite, weepy books, like A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara, when I am not reading scholarly articles. A lot has happened in the book world, so let’s catch up together!

One of the things I loved most about reading when I was growing up was that it transported me to different worlds. A new challenge has come up by the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, Gene Luen Yang, to Read Without Walls. This initiative challenges readers to explore characters and books that are outside your norm or normal format. It aims to increase diversity in a time of great division. Books are special in that they can bring people together, can teach us how to relate to one another by sharing stories that we may not hear otherwise.

In literary awards, the 2017 Bailey Women’s Prize for Fiction ShortListshortlist was announced. The award-winning book will be announced in June. Amongst the list is Madeleine Thien’s already critically acclaimed Do Not Say We Have Nothing.

This year’s winner for Canada Reads is Fifteen Dogs by André Alexis. The book was defended by writer/rapper Humble the Poet who spoke about how the book uses canines to examine human nature. Fifteen Dogs has already been critically acclaimed, winning the Writers Trust of Canada’s Fiction Prize and the Windham-Campbell Prize, as well as selling out in most bookstores in Toronto during it’s first few months.

Canada Reads 2017 winner Andre Alexis and defender of the book Humble the Poet standing side by side
Canada Reads 2017 winner Andre Alexis and defender Humble the Poet

The debate for Canada Reads this year was focused on “What book does Canada need to read now?” Humble the Poet, throughout his defense, outlined that the book teaches hard lessons, can be light, can be loving and harsh all at once. This is the type of book Canada, a diverse country with diverse citizens, needs right now. You can check out more about Alexis’ win and Humble the Poet’s defence here.

Speaking of Humble the Poet, April is poetry month! I know I dreaded this part of English class when I was in elementary school, but now that I’ve studied literature more, I see the beauty in it. While I love Rupi Kaur, she’s not the only women of colour breaking ground in the poetry world. Check out these lines of poetry by black young women to start of this poetry month.

Happy Thursday, and happy start to April!



Ashley Ash

Ashley Ash

Ashley is a proud Torontonian, third year social worker student, full time child advocate and national award winning writer. She will defend Anakin Skywalker and Jon Snow till she dies.