It’s hard to be a reader AND a knitter. You can’t do them at the same time. And once you really get into a knitting project – or a book – you just can’t put it down. On the other hand, knitting is social, so you can knit when visiting with people and it’s not seen as rude. Reading is very solitary.
And so my reading has fallen by the wayside.
As I said in an earlier post, I’ve decided to take on a reading challenge for 2017. I’m doing it on Goodreads so that I can keep track of the books I’ve read so far this year, and also cue up books that I’m interested in reading. After some pondering I’ve decided to use the framework mentioned in Hannah’s blog – the 26 book challenge, that is.
I can place my first read of the year as “a book published in the last year” or “a book you can read in a day”. It was short but excellent: Joseph Boyden’s Wenjack.
It’s particularly interesting right now due to the controversy surrounding Boyden’s questionable claim to be First Nations. Today I listened to an interview on CBC radio’s The Current with Wab Kinew, Lee Maracle and Kim TallBear. There was good discussion about identity and what it means to be ‘of a Nation’. It was impressed upon listeners the importance of being ‘invited in’ to a community and not assuming that if you want to be a member you are automatically a member.
At some point in the interview Wab Kinew suggested that a reader would not have the same experience with Wenjack had they known that it was written by a person who is not First Nations.
I think that they are relevant because I think that the way a reader approaches a Joseph Boyden novel is influenced by how they understand his identity. Like, I think they would probably pick up a copy of Wenjack and look at it differently if they think that he’s non-Native versus when they assume that he was Indigenous.
Now that’s interesting! I wonder if the same scrutiny is given to all writers when they are writing about cultures or events that they did not experience first hand. Do readers approach Anil’s Ghost differently than The English Patient because Michael Ondaatje is Sri Lankan and Anil’s Ghost was set in Sri Lanka? I don’t think so. I believe that writers who do their research are able to shine a light on various cultures with remarkable accuracy. I think that Wab Kinew and other First Nations are pissed off that Boyden appropriated the voice of a culture for his own gain. But I don’t think that makes him a bad writer.
My second book of the year will likely fall into the category of “a book with someone’s name in the title”. It’s Mary Coin, by Marisa Silver – given to me almost 3 years ago for my birthday. I’ve just cracked it, but it’s an excellent read so far.
Any suggestions for my book challenge? Some categories are tricky … such as ‘a book translated from another language’, ‘a self published book’. EGADS.