Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Canada Reads

This week I've been listening in to the radio program "Canada Reads" on CBC radio.  (I love CBC.  I definitely consider our public broadcaster a national treasure.)  For five days, five panelists debate the merits of five Canadian books, and eliminate one each day until only one remains as "the book that Canadians should read this year."

Particularly interesting is this year's theme: one book to break barriers.  Books this year are all dealing with fringe themes, like immigration, religious extremism, a gay teen, aging, and racism towards First Nations people.  So thematically the debates are interesting on their own. I also like that they touch on the art and craft of writing itself, examining the merits of the book as a work of art.

But more than all this, however, I am enjoying the art of debate.  The debaters are understand the form of a debate, directly answering questions posed, and waiting patiently to rebut.  The moderator is respected and keeps the conversation on point.  Debaters are defending their own book choice, but also are able to graciously concede the strengths of books other than their own.  When negative points must be made, they are made with tact and from a well-thought out standpoint, without any feeling of attack.

I have a deep love of good conversation and a well-constructed debate.  So few people understand the different between debate and argument.  Too often I think I'm in a debate, then the other person seems to either a) feel personally attacked by a point against their position or b) continuously return back to points already made.  It's frustrating to listen, watch, or participate in a debate when the other person doesn't understand the art form.  Which is why I'm so enjoying the Canada Reads debates this year.  Plus, I've been introduced to a handful of new books and authors I'm excited to delve into (Canadian authors are among my favourite in the world.  Our library tags the spines of books with common genres like mystery, religious, and Canadian, and I will often simply choose books from the shelf because of that little red maple leaf.)

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