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Pickle Me This

October 24, 2010

My Secret Summer Reading Project (which is no longer a secret)

It’s all out in the open now, what I spent my summer reading (in addition to everything I’ve already told you about). This summer my own rereading project was waylaid because at the beginning of June, I began my duties as one of three jurors for the Quebec Writer’s Federation First Book Prize. I had twenty-five books to get through, a stack that did seem quite daunting, but also exciting to consider– some of the books were so incredibly beautiful, others looked fun, and others fascinating.

And their diversity is the first thing I want to talk about– what it was like to evaluate novels, short story collections, memoirs, current-event nonfiction, history books and poetry against one another. Every book had been written with its own singular intention, and it was my place to deem how successfully these intentions had been realized. It had me considering the works far more broadly than I would have otherwise. And what joy it was to read so many of these, breaking me out of my own stiff reading habits. A pleasure indeed (and an honour too).

What was even more  a pleasure, however, was to spend my summer visiting Montreal. Which, of course, I only did through the books I encountered, but it was enough. Amazing. I’ve actually spent very little time in Montreal myself, and have always known it best through books (like I do most places), but these books had me so steeped this summer in the city’s culture, history, and geography that I feel I know it almost well now. And from where I sit, it’s one of the most vibrant, beautiful cities in the world, and I do look forward to visiting again.

Anyway, I had a marvelous time. Too bad you weren’t there! And congratulations to the stellar shortlist.

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