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CBC Canada Reads
Five books, five champions, one winner: CBC’s annual Battle of the Books has been getting people listening, watching and, of course, reading, for the past 18 years.
Canada Reads is a “literary Survivor,” with celebrities championing books. Each day, panellists vote to eliminate one book, until a single title is chosen as the title the whole country should read this year.
In 2001, CBC producers noticed the popularity of One Book One Community programs, where everyone in a city or town is invited to read and talk about one book. It was also the early days of reality TV shows. The producers thought it would be cool to get a whole country to read together. And to make it interesting, the focus would be about choosing the one book very publicly, in an on-air debate.
The final ingredient was inviting celebrities who were avid readers but not the “usual suspects” when it came to talking about books on the CBC. Athletes and musicians, humanitarians and comedians, a hip hop artist and an astronaut have defended books in the Canada Reads no-holds-barred debates.