5 Libraries. 5 Books. 1 Winner.

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Five Simcoe County libraries are squaring off against each other in a cover-to-cover competition this summer: Barrie, Bradford West Gwillimbury, Essa, Innisfil, and Midland. Based on Canada Reads, each library has selected a Canadian book and a local champion. Read all five books this summer, pick your favourite and then enjoy a live debate in September 2020 to see which book is crowned the winner.

It's easy to join Simcoe Reads:

  • Visit the App Store or Google Play and download the FREE Beanstack Tracker app to get started earning virtual prizes
  • Join our Champion, Noora Akhavan, in the challenge and read all five Canadian titles (or as many as you want)
  • Play along at home on the Beanstack Tracker app and complete badges - every badge you collect earns a ballot for our grand prizes
  • Prizes will include gift cards to local businesses
  • Tune in this fall to see who wins when our champions defend their book in a live debate

Stay tuned for upcoming announcements, activities and events!

BWG Library Champion: Noora Akhavan

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Born in Iran and living in India and England before moving to Canada, Noora fell in love with reading at boarding school – reading Enid Blyton, National Geographic magazines and comic book retellings of Indian and Hindu mythology. A graduate of the University of Toronto and the University of Western Ontario, Noora is a lawyer currently practicing criminal and family law. She is a longtime activist for women's and human rights and has volunteered/served on numerous advocacy committees and organizations. She is currently an executive of the BWG Diversity Action Group, a member of the BWG Library Board and vice-chair of the Local Spiritual Assembly of the Bradford Baha’I Community. Books have always been a comfort to Noora, who reads every day and enjoys British murder mysteries or spiritual books, often with a cup of tea. A resident for 25 years, Noora loves Bradford West Gwillimbury and is thrilled to represent the BWG community in Simcoe Reads.

BWG Library Book: Empire of Wild

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Encompassing themes of colonialism, love and family, resource development and community, this novel, inspired by the traditional Métis story of the Rogarou – a werewolf-like creature that haunts the roads and woods of Métis communities – is an inventive, engrossing and thrilling read.

 

Broken-hearted Joan has been searching for her husband, Victor, for almost a year--ever since he went missing on the night they had their first serious argument. One hung-over morning in a Walmart parking lot in a little town near Georgian Bay, she is drawn to a revival tent where the local Métis have been flocking to hear a charismatic preacher. By the time she staggers into the tent the service is over, but as she is about to leave, she hears an unmistakable voice.

She turns, and there is Victor. Only he insists he is not Victor, but the Reverend Eugene Wolff, on a mission to bring his people to Jesus. And he doesn't seem to be faking: there isn't even a flicker of recognition in his eyes.

With only two allies--her odd, Johnny-Cash-loving, 12-year-old nephew Zeus, and Ajean, a foul-mouthed euchre shark with deep knowledge of the old ways--Joan sets out to remind the Reverend Wolff of who he really is. If he really is Victor, his life, and the life of everyone she loves, depends upon her success.

Why Noora Akhavan recommends reading Empire of Wild

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Empire of Wild is a mystery, a love story, a horror story featuring the Rougarou, a mythical beast, part man and part wolf, part of indigenous lore. The story is set in central Ontario, with Orillia, Barrie and Honey Harbour as a few of the locales mentioned. That alone makes you feel connected, makes you feel that this book is for you.

 

It is the story of a woman’s love for a beloved husband and her longing to be reunited with him; it's her search that is the central theme of this novel. If you have ever been in love, when everything about that person brings joy to your heart, then this is the book for you.

 

If you have never given up, against all odds, even gone against the advice of your family, with little resources and with tragedy already in your life, then this book is for you.

 

If you love poetry and great prose, scenes filled with imagery and quirky sentences that make you have “aha” moments, then this book is for you.

 

If you love to read words such as ”Memories live not just in the brain but also in the muscle and tissue where they are created. They sleep curled in cells and platelets, until the right touch wakes them”, then this book is for you.

 

If you like folklore and learning about the old ways and indigenous traditions; if you would like to have moments of discomfort when you gain some insight into our collective past actions, then this book is for you.

 

You won't be able to put it down. I guarantee it!

 

 

Barrie Public Library Champion: Lisa Morgan

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Lisa Morgan has been the Midday Host at 107.5 KOOLFM in Barrie for 13 years. She holds a BA from The University of Ottawa but got into radio at age 17 and it sort of stuck! 

 

Some of her earliest memories are of being read to, at home and at school.  She spent her summers as a child biking to the little blue library in Beeton and checking out stacks of mystery novels like the Bobsey Twins and Nancy Drew. Her tastes have expanded since then and she has a long list of favourites that she will gladly share if you want a book recommendation.

 

Lisa lives with her husband and two children.  Her 7-year-old daughter is a bookworm. She says "Books are precious! To me, books are like jewels!"

Essa Public Library Champion: Emily Wood

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For Emily Wood, words are inherently an inextricably a part of her life.

 

An avid reader from a young age, her love of books quickly developed into a love of writing stories, a passion she continues to pursue in hopes of becoming an author herself. She studied Communications at the University of Ottawa and later earned a diploma in Print & Broadcast Journalism at Durham College, and currently works as a Marketing & Communications professional for a charitable foundation.

 

Though she’ll read just about anything you put in front of her, her favourite books include edge-of-your-seat thrillers, dystopian novels, a good whodunnit and, of course, anything set in a creepy old house.

Innisfil ideaLab and Library Champion: Lynn Dollin

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Lynn was elected Mayor for the Town of Innisfil in 2018 and has represented the Town since 1994, first as Councillor for twenty years, and as Deputy Mayor from 2014 to 2018. She has been the Town’s representative on many boards, including the Lake Simcoe and Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authorities.

 

Lynn has a diverse background in representing municipal interests, including being one of only 19 people throughout Ontario to receive an appointment by the Ontario Minister of the Environment to serve as chairperson of the South Georgian Bay Lake Simcoe Source Protection Committee, where she is working on a plan to protect municipal drinking water from overuse and contamination.

Midland Public Library Champion: Kristi Presse

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A University of Toronto and Trent University grad, Kristi has been teaching English at the local high school for the past 13 years. She fell in love with reading at a young age through Archie Comics and hasn’t stopped expanding her preferred novel styles and choices since. 

 

Kristi loves finding new books to read, especially ones she can incorporate into her classes, exposing her students to Canadian and minority voices as much as possible. Kristi fills her free time with friends and family, creating and getting outdoors with her dog Zoé, and spending time on Georgian Bay. Born and raised in Midland

 

Kristi is so excited to be representing her hometown in this county book showdown.

Barrie Public Library Book: An Ocean of Minutes

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America is in the grip of a deadly pandemic. When Frank catches the virus, his girlfriend Polly finds out there’s a company that has invented time travel and agrees to a radical contract: sign up for a one-way-trip into the future to work as a labourer in exchange for the life-saving treatment Frank needs. Polly promises to meet Frank again in twelve years.

 

But when Polly is re-routed an extra five years into the future, Frank is nowhere to be found. Alone in a transformed and divided America, Polly must find a way to locate Frank, if he is alive. An Ocean of Minutes is a heartbreaking story that paints an intimate portrait of endurance and complexity of human relationships.

Essa Public Library Book: The Saturday Night Ghost Club

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Growing up in 1980s Niagara Falls--a seedy but magical, haunted place--Jake spends most of his time with his uncle Calvin, a kind but eccentric enthusiast of occult artifacts and conspiracy theories.

 

The summer Jake turns 12, he befriends a pair of siblings new to town and so Calvin decides to initiate them into the "Saturday Night Ghost Club."  As the summer goes on, what begins as a lighthearted project may ultimately uncover more than any of its members had imagined. With the alternating warmth and sadness of the best coming-of-age stories, 

 

The Saturday Night Ghost Club examines the haunting mutability of memory, as well as the experiences that form the people we become.

Innisfil ideaLab and Library Book: Moon of the Crusted Snow

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With winter looming, a small northern Anishinaabe community goes dark. Panic builds as the food supply dwindles. While the band council struggles to maintain order, an unexpected visitor arrives, escaping the crumbling society to the south. Soon after, others follow.

The community leadership loses its grip on power as the visitors manipulate the tired and hungry to take control of the reserve. Tensions rise and so does the death toll. Frustrated by the chaos, a group of friends and families turn to tradition to help their community thrive. 


Moon of the Crusted Snow upends our expectations. Out of catastrophe comes resilience. As one society collapses, another is reborn. 

Midland Public Library Book: From the Ashes

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In this extraordinary and inspiring debut memoir, Jesse Thistle, once a high school dropout and now a rising Indigenous scholar, chronicles his life on the streets and how he overcame trauma and addiction to discover the truth about who he is.

 

Jesse’s heart wrenching memoir of homelessness and coming to understand his Metis identity is a disquieting but essential read. Following his footsteps through loving and traumatic childhood homes, and then a spiral of addiction, incarceration, and homelessness, we finally see that Jesse’s story is one of utter truthfulness, courage, and resilience.

 

From the Ashes shares how love and support can help us find happiness despite the odds.