More Canada Firsts

by Duff Conacher
192 pages,
ISBN: 0771022441

The Top Ten Of Everything 2000

by Russell Ash
288 pages,
ISBN: 0888506805

The Great Canadian Book Of Lists

by Mark Kearny And Randy Ray
324 pages,
ISBN: 0888822138

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List Books
by Tripp Belm

Iinvite you to think about something for a moment. How would Readers Digest handle condensing a list of the “Top Ten” of anything? Well, ten is ten, even for Readers Digest. Readers Digest, however, has shifted the model. The venerable publishing company that brought you the fifty-page condensed version of War and Peace has outdone itself by condensing 1,000 years of human development into The Top Ten of Everything 2000 (Russell Ash, The Readers Digest Association [Canada] Ltd., 288 pages, $29.95 paper, ISBN: 0888506805). Wrapped in a holographic tartan of a clan yet to be named, it shouldn’t be used as a crib for a history exam. Still, interesting facts abound. Did you know that Yukoners drink an average of 110 litres of beer annually? That’s like twelve ounces of “Blue” per day for every man, woman, and child. Like many other “list” books, The Top Ten of Everything 2000 provides page after page of the fastest, the tallest, the meanest, the sexiest, etcetera. Although neatly organized, I found the effect of lists applied over a montage of photographs and graphics a little distracting. In an effort not nearly as ambitious as Readers Digest, Mark Kearny and Randy Ray, in The Great Canadian Book of Lists (Dundurn Group, 324 pages, $19.99 paper, ISBN: 0888822138), looked only to the last hundred years in Canada. It is grand, indeed, to proclaim that a compendium of various lists compiled by judges and DJs, writers and labour leaders, holds the answers to the great question, “how (has) the country... been shaped as Canada heads into the new millennium”? I can’t comment on how this book of lists has “shaped” Canada, but the book taught me how Canada has been painted. The paint roller, invented in Canada by Norman Breakley in 1940, revolutionized home decorating worldwide. By Mark Kearny’s own admission on a recent radio interview, The Great Canadian Book of Lists makes great reading on the proverbial “throne”. Having gone through it, I wholeheartedly agree. A fun read, with many interesting facts, I could easily see being parked on the throne with it at the expense of the other great Canadian lists. You know the ones...the to do list, the grocery list, the kids’ activity list.... Pulling on the heart strings of Canadian nationalism, Duff Conacher’s More Canada Firsts (McClelland & Stewart, 192 pages, $19.99 paper, ISBN: 0771022441) calls for Canadians to shed their inferiority complex and be proud of our numerous world-class innovations. In an ironic twist, it was American consumer activist Ralph Nader who inspired the book’s forerunner. Aside from this crushing blow, More Canadian Firsts provides a broad view of our contribution to a better world. Canada’s The Crew Cuts, for example, recorded “Sh-Boom” in the early 1950s, predating Bill Haley et al. as the first certified rock-and-roll hit. Canada even boasts the world’s first female military jet pilot. And we should all stand tall in the knowledge that we Canadians export more lentils than any other country in the world.

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