Thursday, May 30, 2013

Armchair BEA: Literary Fiction

Design credit: Sarah of Puss Reboots
When I’m searching for books to read, I don’t normally turn to literary fiction. The silly thing is that I do enjoy the odd literary novel. I just don’t give enough of them a chance. As I mentioned yesterday, I love chick lit and women’s fiction so those are the books I turn to because I know I’ll enjoy them. I want to focus on one particular part of literary fiction: Canadian fiction. (In case you didn’t know, I live in Ontario.)

Confession: I never used to read much Canadian fiction. Why? In part it’s because I like my chick lit and there aren’t many Canadian chick lit authors out there. Happily, since I’ve started blogging and reading self published works, I’ve come across more chick lit authors (Heather Wardell, Kathleen Kole, and Samantha Stroh Bailey are just a few amazing Canadian chick lit authors).

Another reason is that I had a stereotype in my head that I’m sure is shared by many others: that Canadian fiction is boring. I had kind of bad experiences in English classes in high school and read two really uninteresting Canadian novels (Shhhh…don’t tell anyone but one was a Margaret Atwood novel!)

Now, you’re probably wondering what I’m getting at with this post. I’m here to tell you that I was wrong about Canadian fiction. I will also say that I would not have come to this conclusion had it not been for my current internship. Right now I’m working for a non-profit called ProjectBookmark Canada and this is what they’re all about:
Project Bookmark Canada is a national, charitable organization that places text from stories and poems in the exact, physical locations where literary scenes are set. We’ve established 12 Bookmarks (poster-sized ceramic plaques bearing up to 500 words of text) since 2009, with installations in Ontario, Newfoundland and British Columbia.
Our vision is a network of hundreds of Bookmarks around the country, so that Canadians and visitors can read their way across Canada. Our mandate is to establish a permanent and prominent presence for literature set in Canada—enhancing Canada’s reputation as a nation of storytellers; expanding the readership for fiction and poetry set in Canada; and encouraging residents and visitors to see our literary landscapes, adding to local and national tourism.
Pretty cool, eh? (I figured I may as well play up the whole Canadian thing.) Part of my job right now is to read up on Canadian books – specifically ones set in Calgary, Alberta. I’ve also read two of the books that have already been Bookmarked – one in Ottawa and one in my small hometown. Even though some of them have confused the hell out of me, a lot of them have been really enjoyable. I’m so glad that I’ve gotten the chance to be exposed to so many great Canadian reads and authors through this internship. And, hey, if you’re feeling particularly charitable and think Project Bookmark Canada is a good cause, we’d love donations. (If I can’t use my blog for good, what’s the point? Hehe) I’ll even make things easy…all you have to do is click right HERE to be taken to the donation page. 

Because we all love book recommendations, I’m going to give you a little list of books that I’ve read recently for Bookmark. I realized after I'd posted this that I definitely listed a couple of books than aren't technically literary fiction. Silly me. I've left them in because I think they're good reads!

The Bone Cage – Angie Abdou. Do you love the Olympics and sports? Read this one. It’s about a swimmer and a wrestler who are off to the Sydney Olympic Games. (,

Swallow – Theanna Bischoff. Darcy has to deal with the aftereffects of her younger sister’s suicide. It’s not what you’d call a light and fun read but it’s a really good story. (,

The Enchantment Emporium – Tanya Huff. This book is for the fantasy fans. Alysha inherits a junk shop from her grandmother but there’s a whole lot more going on than meets the eye. (,

The Space Between Us – Jessica Martinez. YA fans, this one’s for you! Amelia is always covering for her younger sister Charley. Those antics go a little too far and the girls are forced to move from sunny Florida to wintery Banff, Alberta. (,

The Queen of Unforgetting – Sylvia Maultash Warsh. This is the one that’s set in my hometown and was really great. I had no idea how it was going to end and I loved the little history lessons throughout (the main character is researching a Jesuit priest who tried to convert the natives in the area.) (

Of course, I’m also a huge fan of Anne of Green Gables and I’ve loved all of Catherine McKenzie’s novels. I also cannot wait to read The Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan and Studio Saint-Ex by Ania Szado – two books that have been on my shelf for far too long.

What are your thoughts on literary fiction? How about Canadian fiction? Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go check on my igloo and pet moose and have some maple syrup :)


  1. Most excellent post, eh? I am actually reading it whilst dipping my bacon in maple syrup! That is a seriously cool project you are working on. Love literary fiction and am a huge fan of Stone Angel. Loved it when I read it when I was 18. Cannot say the same about, cough, Surfacing, cough. Odd that I actually liked Stone Angel...I think for me it was the voice. After all these years, though, I am curious to re-read the Atwood novel, wonder if it would resonate with me more. One of my favorite YA authors (and a good friend to boot) lives in Calgary-Janet Gurtler!

    Nice to have met you via ArmchairBea! Enjoy the rest of the week.

  2. My favorite Canadian author would be Sylvain Reynard. When I was in TO i enjoyed maple in many ways, but saw no igloos or moose, darn it ;)

  3. thanks for sharing about Project Bookmark Canada and your titles.
    I loved a lot The Painted Girls, and am scheduled to review Studio St-Ex for a tour. come and see my post, I have a few of odd literary titles there:

  4. Wow, thank you, Kaley. I cannot wait to read The Painted Girls, and I loved Stone Angel. Sarah Mlynowski is a great Canadian chick lit author. I think she now lives in NYC but she was at McGill at the same time as me. Makes me feel important. :)


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