But then things got weird. Not only were the five panelists not bookish types, they weren’t even great readers, at least of novels (which is what they were discussing). Wab Kinew got the ball rolling in the prelims by announcing that while he reads “a lot” it was “mainly nonfiction.” I wonder if he was counting the internet. Then Stephen Lewis offered up his own mea culpa: “I don’t read, it’s the scourge of my life, I don’t read. I read reports from morning to night, I’m a philistine around literature.” Despite this confession of ignorance, however, Lewis still admitted to being in “awe” of Margaret Atwood, whose book, The Year of the Flood, he was promoting. Samantha Bee was next to chime in: “Let me tell you something, I’m a mother of three children and I don’t get to read.” No time, I guess. Moms have it tough. Then Olympic sprinter Donovan Bailey let us know something that we had, by now, probably already guessed: “I don’t read, or I don’t read a lot.”
By this point host Jian Ghomeshi was driven to make a joke about the situation: “I’m glad we populated the panel for Canada Reads with a bunch of people who don’t read.” What sorts of arguments, he wondered, would the panelists be making in defense of their picks? “I don’t read, ever, but just let me say this is a good book”?