What really goes on under the covers, in the dark?
If you’re a kid, it might be reading by flashlight. I didn’t mind bedtime, but I did mind being told to turn off the light. There were plots thickening without me! I had no choice.
There was always a shivery thrill when the flashlight first illuminated the words on the page, and the books I read that way have stayed with me, heightened by risk, perhaps, spotlighted in more ways than one. King of the Wind, Nancy Drew, Mrs. Mike, and others snuggled with me under the covers.
Although my flashlight habits are long gone, I’ll still tell my partner that I’m off to bed with Timothy Taylor or Kathleen Winter, but he just casts an indulgent eye my way with nary a raised eyebrow. He’s familiar with my evening rituals, and used to the stack of books on the bedside table. Sometimes, it’s hard to know what to read next.
As adults, we get to keep the light on, but we have different rules that have to do with available time, challenging when it comes to choosing bedtime reading. A spotlight is still a welcome thing.
One Book, One Kootenay is that kind of spotlight. It joins literary highlighters such as CBC Canada Reads to shine a light on the book that could be your next bedfellow. This year, the OBOK shortlisted three were Far From Botany Bay by Rossland’s Rosa Jordan, The Glass Seed by Nelson’s Eileen Delehanty Pearkes, and Living in the Shadow of Fisher Peak by Cranbrook’s Keith Powell.
Far from Botany Bay and Living in the Shadow of Fisher Peak are both historical fiction. Jordan’s novel is set in the Australian penal colony of Botany Bay, the high seas, and 18th century England. In Living in the Shadow of Fisher Peak Powell delves into the Kootenay gold rush, with all of its characters and colour. In The Glass Seed a woman comes to terms with her mother’s Alzheimer’s disease. Pearkes’s poetic, insightful approach results in a surprisingly uplifting book.
They’re all good, and the nice thing about OBOK is that the light shone equally on all three throughout the summer, prompting Kootenay readers to take some of our own writers — their books, that is — to bed. Through the summer, readers could go to obok.ca to get insight into the writers and their craft, so we didn’t have to take strangers to bed.
Readers voted, and the winner is Rosa Jordan’s Far from Botany Bay. The author reads Tuesday, October 11 at 7:30 p.m. at the Nelson Library. Flashlights not required.
There’s more to Rosa Jordan than her winning novel, as you’ll find out. She’s written several books for children and young adults, and won Ontario’s Silver Birch Award for her 2004 novel for middle readers, Lost Goat Lane, as well as being shortlisted for a handful of others. Among other publications, she co-wrote Rossland: the First 100 Years, as well as a Lonely Planet travel guide on Cuba.
In a Q & A with the author on the Fitzhenry and Whiteside website, Rosa says: “Writing is what I do. Publishing is what other people do. Publishing is like somebody else putting icing on a cake I baked. I like the sweet taste of getting a book published, but I enjoy more the part I get to do. I used to think I wasn’t a ‘real writer’ if I hadn’t been published. Then I realized that a ‘real writer’ is somebody who writes, just like a real skier is somebody who skis.”
And a real reader? Someone who loves books and will read them — wherever, whatever it takes.
Anne DeGrace’s column is featured every second week in the Nelson Star