Canadian Books and Music for the Road

I know my previous post provided a suggested reading list for your travels, but I decided to make my own for my upcoming trip. Seeing how I dubbed this adventure “my epic Canadian journey” I thought it would only be appropriate for me to read Canadian literature while I’m away. I’m also going to up the ante a bit and only listen to Canadian music during this time. I’m probably going to be so hopped up on all things Canada by the end of this trip that I’ll come home in lumberjack plaid and a maple leaf tattoo on my backside. Wait, I already own the lumberjack plaid…nevermind…

For my reading pleasure I’m going to partake in a little Mordecai Richler. I absolutely loved Jacob Two-Two growing up, but in my adult years Mordecai has unfortunately been absent from my life. Barney’s Version will be my book of choice from Mr. Richler. It deals with Alzheimer’s (a disease that has scarred my family), was the last novel he wrote before his passing, and was recently turned into a movie starring Paul Giamatti, whom I adore.

I’ll be gone for a total of sixteen days, three of which will be on the train without internet, so I’m going to bring along two more books, just in case (not only do I overpack on clothing, I also extend this bad habit to the books I bring).

Over the past few months Margaret Laurence has come up many times in conversations I’ve had with my friends. Turns out she was close with my friend Devon’s grandfather back in the day when they were both big wigs in Toronto’s arts scene (apparently grandpa has her old typewriter in his possession somewhere…must explore further…). Years ago I read Laurence’s The Stone Angel as it’s a staple of Canadian high school curriculum. Apart from this, I haven’t read much of Margaret’s work either. I did some reading up on her other novels and decided on The Diviners. It’s set in the same fictional town as The Stone Angel (Manawaka, Manitoba), won a Governor General’s Award for Fiction, and has been described as “epic” and a “powerful story of an independent woman who refuses to abandon her search for love”. Hmmm. Fitting.

Last but not least, my third book to accompany me on my trip will be Michael Ondaatje’s In the Skin of a Lion. This is yet another Canadian author who I haven’t read much of. Actually, in Ondaatje’s case, I haven’t read any of his work (and I call myself an English Lit student…shame on me…). This particular book caught my eye mainly because it’s set in Toronto in the 20s and 30s. I love my city and its history, so needless to say all I had to do was read the first line of the book’s description to immediately decide it was a good choice. It’s also the prequel to his award-winning novel The English Patient. I’m quite excited about this one. I might have to read it first.

Now that I’ve chosen what I’ll be reading on my journey, I need to put together a playlist of what I’ll be listening to while I’m away…

Anyone who knows me well knows that I refer to Neil Young as “my Grandpa” because my father raised me on his music. So, Neil will most definitely be on my playlist. Grandpa will also be accompanied by the following Canadian musicians (I know there’s a lot more that should be on this list but I’m only pulling from the music I already own because, well, I’m broke.):

Matthew Good, The Tragically Hip, Bedouin Soundclash, Jay Malinowski, Carlo Meriano, Bahamas, Big Wreck, City and Colour, Classified, Kardinal Offishall, The Rascals, Our Lady Peace, I Mother Earth, Broken Social Scene (and various other members of Arts & Crafts), Arcade Fire, Jarvis Church, and Sam Roberts.

I leave in five days so I’m going to have to dedicate one of my remaining evenings at home to putting this all together. Having music and books on the road is just as important to me as having clean underwear (i.e. a necessity), so I will most definitely be spending some time on this. Yikes! Five more days!


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