Usually, I take the piecemeal approach, going from book to book on whims and flights of fancy with no though really given to common themes or ideas. Canadian literature is such a varied beast that I could take this approach again without fear of overlap or repetition.
This time, though, I want to take at least a little bit more disciplined approach. Nothing too rigid - I'm still not up to doing one from each province and territory as a number of people have done - but I do want to give my attempt at the challenge a little more shape and substance.
I'd originally thought of doing a short story collection theme. I love short stories. Canadians tend to write great short stories. It almost seemed like a perfect plan until I remembered one small detail - I have a hard time reading a story collection cover to cover. I find it easier to do than reading a poetry collection but it's still not something I look forward to. Sure, sometimes a collection will strike me the right way and I will tear through it (Alissa York's Any Given Power and David Bezmosgis' Natasha and Other Stories are two books that I raced through) but they are the rare exceptions. Right now, for instance, I've been rotating through short story collections by Alice Munro, Annie Proulx and Flannery O'Connor.
Instead, I've come up with a better plan, one that expands my horizons in an entirely different way. I'm going reread 13 of my favourite Canuck books.
I know what you're thinking - how does rereading books expand my horizons? Isn't that kind of a cop out? Well, no. You see, I almost never reread books. I have this compulsion that I must always search out something new. I just don't have time to go back over books I've already read. So I fill my shelves with new conquests while my old favourites sit around neglected.
Going back to 13 of my favourites should be eye opening. Will I like The Watch That Ends the Night as much as I did in university? Do Russell Smith's novels hold up over time? Will I fall in love again with Alayna Munce's When I Was Young and In My Prime?
I'm actually quite excited about this. I keep thinking of books I need to add to the list. So many possible books are out there - Clara Callan, A Fine Balance, The Edible Woman, Turvey. I could go on and on if it weren't so late and I weren't so tired.
First up is Douglas Coupland's Generation X. Oddly enough, this isn't a book I remember falling in love with. I liked it, sure, but it certainly didn't knock my socks off. That said, it is a book that intrigues me greatly. I'm curious to see how it holds up nearly two decades later.
(I came close enough to doing the short story thing, that I even started making a stack of books for the challenge.)