In celebration of the 150th anniversary of Canadian confederation, the Vancouver Public Library revealed Vancouver’s top 10 most-borrowed Canadian books, based on 15 years of circulation data. Out of curiosity, I decided to take a look at how many of these heavy-hitting Canadian books I’d read. The results are…mixed, to say the least.
Top 10 adult books borrowed:
- The Corporation by Joel Bakan – Nope.
- Obasan by Joy Kogawa – Not only have I read this one, I’ve written about it here on the blog.
- Room by Emma Donoghue – Nope. Haven’t seen the film, either.
- The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle – Again, nope.
- Life of Pi by Yann Martel – I’ve neither seen the film nor read the book.
- When the Body Says No by Gabor Maté – Oh dear, I don’t seem to be doing well wth the “adult” category, as I haven’t read this one either.
- A Complicated Kindness by Miriam Toews – Perhaps unsurprisingly, given my track record so far, I have not read this title.
- The Five Books of Moses Lapinsky by Karen X. Tulchinsky – Alas and alack, not only have I not read this book, I haven’t even heard of it.
- The Cat’s Table by Michael Ondaatje – Nope. I did read The English Patient, though, for what that’s worth.
- My Year of Meats by Ruth Ozeki – No.
Top 10 young adult books borrowed:
- Airborn by Kenneth Oppel – Yes! I’ve read this one! It was fantastic!
- Skybreaker by Kenneth Oppel – Aha! Now we’re getting somewhere! Another title I’ve read!
- Starclimber by Kenneth Oppel – Yup.
- Acceleration by Graham McNamee – Rats, my winning streak has been snapped. I haven’t read this.
- Son of the Mob by Gordon Korman – No, but I’ve read more Gordon Korman novels than I can shake a stick at. His “Bruno and Boots” series was a childhood reading staple.
- The Reckoning by Kelley Armstrong – Nope.
- Alice, I Think by Susan Juby – Yes!
- The Gathering by Kelley Armstrong – Nope.
- Miss Smithers by Susan Juby – Yes!
- The Awakening by Kelley Armstrong – Nope.
RESULT: 5 / 10
Top 10 kids books borrowed:
- The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch – Yes, and I’ve written about it on the blog, too!
- And Then It Happened by Michael Wade and Laura Wade – No.
- The Medusa Plot by Gordon Korman – Nope.
- An Ocean Apart by Gillian Chan – Nope.
- The Emperor’s Code by Gordon Korman – Nope.
- Mud City by Deborah Ellis – Yes.
- Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery – Several times, in fact.
- One False Note by Gordon Korman – Nope.
- The Breadwinner by Deborah Ellis – Yes.
- Firewing by Kenneth Oppel – Yes.
RESULT: 5 / 10
I can’t say I was particularly surprised by the results of my highly unscientific survey. I don’t typically read a lot of contemporary adult fiction in general, regardless of its country of origin, so it was unlikely that I would’ve scored highly on the list of adult titles. I was a bit surprised not to see any Margaret Atwood titles on the list, particularly as I read two of her books in high school English classes. I do have to wonder if The Handmaid’s Tale might work its way higher up future lists.
Nor was I surprised by my performance on the list of young adult titles, as I rarely read teen fiction even when I was a teen, and do so even more rarely now that I’m an adult.
The category that did surprise me, thought, was Canadian kids book. I do pride myself on the breadth of Canadian kidslit I consume on a regular basis, and some of my favourite authors and illustrators are Canadian. But so many of these authors were absent from this list, including such heavy-hitters as Melanie Watt, Ashley Spires, Marie Louise Gay, Paul Yee, and even Paulette Bourgeois, creator of Franklin the Turtle! There are a number of more recent kids Canlit authors who will hopefully show up on similar lists in the future, too, like Sara O’Leary, Jeremy Tankard, Kyo Maclear and Cale Atkinson.
And so, while I will readily admit that my knowledge of Canadian literature for adults and teens is woefully underwhelming, I am still proud of my consumption of Canadian literature for children. I might not read the most popular titles, but then I never was one for following the trends!
If you’re looking to infuse some Canadian children’s literature into your reading life, Canadian book blogger Michelle shared a great list of resources to get you started on your maple-flavoured journey!
I’d be interested to know how other people perform against this list of popular titles – how many of these Canadian books have you read? Are any of your favourites on the list? Let me know in the comments below!