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The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Reader

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When I left Canada in 2000, I had to make hard choices about the books I took with me. It wasn’t only the stories contained within the covers that impacted my choice, but the circumstances surrounding their reading—the memories associated with the books or the emotions they conjured. Two years into my new life in England I was chatting about books with a woman I met at a baby group. She mentioned short stories, I mentioned Alice Munro and the next week I loaned her my three Munro hardbacks. I never saw my books again. I was bereft, as though a piece of me was lost.

The longer I’m gone, the more I cherish Canadian literature, perhaps even more so during this pandemic. I can’t travel back home, but I can revisit my past in the company of a good book. I have many favourite Canadian books; here are just a few pieces of me. And while I absolutely recommend them, I’m no longer sure I would ever lend them…

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Le chandail de hockey, by Roch …

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