Briana Ehnes

Red Deer Reads offers a selection of good conversation starters

Red Deer Reads is back with a shortlist of five books for Red Deerians to select the city book club’s next book.

Red Deer Reads is back with a shortlist of five books for Red Deerians to select the city book club’s next book.

The finalists are biography Open Mind, Open Heart, by Clara Hughes; graphic novel The Outside Circle, by Patti LaBoucane-Benso; thriller The Masked Truth, by Kelley Armstrong; adventure Mountain Story, by Lori Lansens; and reality bender Fifteen Dogs, by Andre Alexis.

All five books were released in 2015.

Red Deer Reads chair Briana Ehnes said the book club was looking for something with “wow factor.”

“Our guideline for that was basically a book that is a good conversation starter. Either it has a unique perspective or it tells an exciting story or something that really gets people engaged and talking. And that it appeals to a wide audience,” said Ehnes, who is also manager of adult services at the downtown branch of Red Deer Public Library.

Authors also had to be living Canadians for the chance to invite the winning writer to Red Deer for a public event in the fall with local readers.

People have until May 31 to cast their vote for their favourite book at boxes set up at all Red Deer Public Library branches and Red Deer College Library, or online at

She said over 70 Canadian titles were nominated so interest in the club was growing since it was introduced last year featuring Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel.

“Word is certainly getting out there. People are starting to know about the program,” Ehnes said on Tuesday.

She said four of the books set up in a library display on Monday were scooped up by readers in just 20 minutes.

Additional copies of the books have been ordered, as well as being available as e-books from the library’s website.

An express collection will be created for the titles so more people can access the five top finalists. It means books can only be on loan for two weeks and readers can’t place holds on them.

“It’s basically first come, first serve.”

Ehnes said since some of the books are shorter it will give people more chance to read the top five before they vote. The winning book will be announced in June.

Finalists include:

l Fifteen Dogs, by Andre Alexis — A bet between two gods leads them to grant human consciousness and language to a group of dogs overnighting at a Toronto veterinary clinic.

l The Masked Truth, by Kelley Armstrong — In this gripping thriller, mental illness takes center stage while two young adults deal with a terrifying hostage situation.

l Mountain Story, by Lori Lansens — Five days. Four hikers. Three survivors. The Mountain Story tells a gripping tale of adventure, sacrifice and survival in the unforgiving wilderness of a legendary mountain.

l Open Heart, Open Mind, by Clara Hughes — The long awaited memoir by Canada’s most celebrated Olympian and advocate for mental health, this book depicts Clara’s personal journey through physical and mental pain to a life where love and understanding can thrive.

l The Outside Circle, by Patti LaBoucane-Benson — In this graphic novel, two Aboriginal brothers surrounded by poverty, drug abuse, and gang violence try to overcome centuries of historic trauma in very different ways to bring about positive change in their lives.

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