They Never Said it Had to Be a Book Award: 2019 Reading Challenge

July 4, 2019 | M. Elwood

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I hate following instructions. When given an assignment to do, I usually find a way to do it that fulfills the spirit of the request but not the letter*. The 2019 Reading Challenge is a great opportunity to be a little rebellious and think about the categories in a creative way. 

I am certain for "A book from a Canadian award-winning author", we are expected to read a book by an author who has won literary awards. There are lots of these to choose from but the other day in the stacks I saw a graphic novel by Neil Peart who has won awards and written books but has not yet won an award for one of his books. He is still a Canadian award-winning author, right? 

It got me thinking about other non-book Canadian award-winners you can use to fulfill this challenge:

Jann Arden

Feeding my mother

Feeding My Mother: Comfort and Laughter in the Kitchen as my Mom Deals with Memory Loss by Jann Arden

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Calgary-born Jann Arden's life sounds exhausting. She has won many awards for her music including 8 Juno awards. She stars in the TV show Jann that is a fictionalized version of her life, co-hosts a lifestyle podcast with Arlene Dickinson and has written 4 memoirs including Feeding My Mother about coping with her mother's dementia.


Measha Brueggergosman

Something is always on fire

Something is Always on Fire: My Life so Far by Measha Brueggergosman

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Canadian soprano Measha Brueggergosman was born in Fredericton, New Brunswick. She has performed in operas and in concerts throughout the world and has won several international music prizes including the Queen Sonja International Music Competition in Oslo and the International Vocal Competition's-Hertogenbosch in the Netherlands. 


Tommy Chong

Cheech and chong the unauthorized autobio

Cheech & Chong: The Unauthorized Autobiography by Tommy Chong

With his partner Cheech Marin, Tommy Chong won a Grammy Award in 1974 for the comedy album Los Cochinos. In Cheech and Chong: the Unauthorized Autobiography, Chong takes a nostalgic look at the comedy duo's career. 



K'naan when i get older

When I Get Older: The Story Behind "Wavin' Flag" by K'Naan

K'Naan was born in Somalia and moved to Toronto with his family as a teenager. He has received the 2011 SOCAN International Achievement, MOBO Award for African Artist of the Year and numerous Juno Awards including Performer of the Year and Songwriter of the Year. In this book, he tells the story of his international hit song Wavin' Flag, originally inspired by K'Naan's birthplace in Mogadishu and by challenges of refugees who are driven out of their homes by war. The song, rewritten with more uplifting lyrics was used in the FIFA 2010 World Cup. 


Silken Laumann


Unsinkable: My Untold Story by Silken Laumann

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Many of us are old enough to remember watching Silken Laumann winning a bronze medal in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, just 10 weeks after a potentially career-ending leg injury. In addition to Olympic, World Cup and Pan American Games medals, she has received numerous awards including the Harry Jerome Comeback Award, the Wilma Rudolph Courage Award and FISA's Thomas Keller Award. 


Neil Peart

Far and wide

Far and Wide: Bring that Horizon to Me! by Neil Peart

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Neil Peart has won Drum Magazine's Drummer of the Year Award multiple times, and with his band Rush, was inducted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame in 2013. He has written 7 books documenting his travels by car and motorcycle. In Far and Wide, Peart writes about his experiences exploring North America by motorcycle during Rush's 40th anniversary tour. He has also collaborated with Kevin J. Anderson on two steampunk novels, Clockwork Angels and Clockwork Lives. Clockwork Angels was also released as a graphic novel. 


Oscar Peterson

Jazz odyssey

A Jazz Odyssey: The Life of Oscar Peterson by Oscar Peterson

Born in Montreal, Oscar Peterson begin playing the trumpet at 5 but when he contracted tuberculosis 2 years later, he switched to the piano and the rest is history. After winning a national music competition at 14, Peterson dropped out of school and became a professional musician; he continued to play professionally until his death in 2007 at 82. He won 8 Grammy awards including the Lifetime Achievement Award. Other awards include the Glenn Gould Prize, Governor General's Performing Arts Award and Toronto Arts Award for Lifetime Achievement. 


Christopher Plummer 

In spite of myself christopher plummer

In Spite of Myself by Christopher Plummer

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Christopher Plummer was born in Toronto in 1929. He has won numerous awards for acting on stage and in film, including 30 for the 2010 film Beginners alone. 

List of awards and nominations


Lilly Singh

How to be a bawse

How to Be a Bawse: A Guide to Conquering Life by Lilly Singh

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Scarborough-born Lilly Singh has said that she began creating YouTube videos to cope with depression. She has become one of social media's top influencers and has also acted in films and television. In Fall 2019, she will star in a late night talk show on NBC called A Little Late with Lilly Singh. Among the awards she has won are the MTV Fandom Award for Social Superstar of the Year, People's Choice Award for Favorite YouTube Star and several Streamy Awards.


Tanya Tagaq

Split tooth

Split Tooth by Tanya Tagaq

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Inuk throat singer Tanya Tagaq has won a number of awards for her music including the Polaris Music Prize and Juno award for Animism. Her live performances are incredible and I urge everyone to see her in concert. When I began writing this post, Split Tooth had not yet won any awards, however on June 5, 2019, it received the Indigenous Voices Award in the English Prose category. 


Scott Thompson

Hollow planet

Husk: The Hollow Planet story and script, Scott Thompson; illustration, Kyle Morton; story adaptation, Stephan Nilson; letters, Charles Pritchett, colors, Ron Reilly

Scott Thompson was born in North Bay and spent his childhood in Brampton. In 1985, he joined the comedy troupe The Kids in the Hall. The group won Gemini awards for writing and performing on their television show. Thompson has also won a Canadian Comedy Award for Best Male Performance in a Web Series.  

This graphic novel for mature audiences is based on Thompson's character Danny Husk who accidentally stumbles into another world where he is considered appealing and exotic. 


Mary Walsh

Crying for the moon

Crying for the Moon: A Novel by Mary Walsh

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Actress, comedian, writer and director Mary Walsh is known for her work on CODCO and This Hour has 22 Minutes. Among the honours she has received are 18 Gemini awards and Governor General's Performing Arts Award.


*Please note that this creative interpretation of assignments absolutely does not work for classes taught by Professor Juris Dilevko at U of T's Faculty of Information (iSchool). I tried.