Each year David Mitchell President of Public Policy Forum asks a number of Canadians what they will be reading over the holidays.  This year the results were published in the Books section of the Globe and Mail (Saturday December 17). They are also featured on PPF’s website.

Here are my five choices (the Globe chose three):

Barb Goode’s The Goode Life: Memoirs of a Disability Rights Activist.  Barb Goode deserves a seat right beside Rick Hansen,Terry Fox and Chantal Petitclerc. Within the hierarchy of disability, she is dealing with the least understood and the most under appreciated – developmental disability. In 1992 she became the first Canadian with a disability to address the UN General Assembly. She sums up her career as “Doing things people didn’t think I could.” True courage is moral courage.  That’s why Barb is one of the foremost builders of the modern day disability movement.

Gayla Reid’s Come From Afar.  I can read anything by Gayla. You can imagine living then, being there, feeling that.  This story is set during the Spanish Civil War and as with her other 3 novels mixes Australian and Canadian characters, settings, colours and sensibilities. Gayla watches the little things and mixes them with secret yearnings much like another treasured west coast writer Ethel Wilson. Despite her numerous awards she is not yet a national figure.  This book should change that. In her other life Gayla works as a plain language editor and writer.  Thankfully she applies those skills as the original editor of my two books.

Madeleine Thien’s Dogs at the Perimeter.  Thien explores the repercussions of being the sole family survivor of the Khymr Rouge ‘killing fields.’  A meditation on the dreadful truth about evil, which is not just the exclusive reserve of mad men.  The personal and societal wounds rebound for generations. Her assured and elegant writing should win her every literary award in the country.

Shari Graydon’s I Feel Great about My Hands. Delightful, funny, saucy, poignant. Assembled and edited by award winning writer Shari Graydon the 41 essays reveal that lines, folds and creases are wise, entrancing and beautiful. The pilgrim souls of Shari’s collaborators will enjoy meeting yours.

Tim Brodhead’s  What Canada Needs Most – Resilience.  After fifteen years as head of the McConnell Foundation Tim has learned how to fund, when to fund and what not to fund. This treatise of practical insight and intellectual vigour should be mandatory reading for politicians, public servants, funders, donors and anyone charged with or wondering what can be done about our most vexing social challenges.

To learn what Jim Flaherty, Nycole Turmel, John Furlong, Heather Reisman and other business, political, foundation and university leaders will be reading click here or Download Holiday-reading-2011-eng.

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