Exploring The Orenda by Joseph Boyden
Picking up the book:
Confession: I am not drawn to books I “should” read — although, to contradict myself, the book Echo by Pam Nunoz Ryan was recommended as a “should” read, which I read and loved.
Reflection: Perhaps placing obstacles or challenges in front of my thinking, hurdles for my brain to jump over, is good — provided they are appropriate challenges. A medical textbook, while obviously a challenge, would be far too difficult for.
The cover of The Orenda is, to be frank, not inviting to me. The art seems a bit abstract and unhelpful.
The stickers on the cover that say that is was considered for prizes such as The Giller and The Canada Council for the Arts are, for me, intimidating. The CBC Canada Reads program says that this book is a winner, an important FNMI book by an important FNMI author — what if I don’t feel the same way? What if I don’t think it is “good”? (What is “good” anyway?)
Worse, what if I don’t get it? (Perhaps I should heed Abe Lincoln’s advice and should not be admitting this.)
So, I will attempt to go back to basics, to walk the walk of a proficient reader:
What does a proficient reader do when faced with potentially challenging text? How do they ‘attack the text’?
Activates and Provides Background Knowledge: What do I already know before I start reading this book? What do I need to know before I start reading? (See below.)
Asks Questions: What questions do I have before I start reading? (See below.)
Set a Purpose for Reading: Why am I reading this book? (Still stuck on the “I should read this because it is an important book by an important author” — as opposed to “This book really touched my heart / soul / life and, knowing you, I think you would really like it.” Perhaps only semantics, but it would seem separated by a chasm. And I can feel the difference.)
How can I activate and provide background knowledge for myself? What questions do I have before reading?
- What is the book about? What is the basic story?
- Why is it so “award-winning“?
- Have I attempted challenging reads before? Have I overcome any?
- What predictions are bubbling to the surface before I start reading?
- Re: Predictions: Being that this is not a Middle Grades book or a Young Adult book, what challenging narrative devices can I predict that author will employ?
- What are professional reviewers saying about this book?
I think I will start with #6…