County Reads debate takes place April 21

Picton Branch of the Prince Edward County Public Library. (Desirée Decoste/Gazette Staff)

County Reads is a debate asking brave local residents to champion a recent Canadian book.

This year’s participants are Ryan Aldred, Michelle Murray, Thomas Harrison and Penny Morris, and the event will be moderated by Ken Murray. This year it will be held on Thursday, April 21 at 7 p.m. Attend in person at St. Mary Magdalene church in Picton or view the livestream on Youtube. $5 tickets must be purchased in advance at or in person at any library branch to attend in person. Masks are required and physical distancing will be enforced. This means spaces ARE limited so please get your ticket early!

If you prefer to watch online but aren’t sure how, please ask us in advance – call (613) 476-5962.

To give you a head start on the debate, here’s an overview of the selected books from their publishers:

Ryan Aldred will defend The Naked Don’t Fear the Water by Matthieu Akins. In 2016, a young Afghan driver and translator named Omar makes the heart-wrenching choice to flee his war-torn country, saying goodbye to Laila, the love of his life, without knowing when they might be reunited again. He is one of millions of refugees who leave their homes that year.

Michelle Murray will defend The Golden Tresses of the Dead by Alan Bradley, starring Flavia de Luce. Flavia is not your normal 12 year old. An expert in the chemical nature of poisons, she has solved many mysteries, sharpening her considerable detection skills to the point where she had little choice but to turn professional.

Thomas Harrison will champion On Foot to Canterbury by Ken Haigh. Setting off on foot from Winchester, Ken Haigh hikes across southern England, retracing one of the traditional routes that medieval pilgrims followed to the shrine of Saint Thomas Becket at Canterbury Cathedral. Walking in honour of his father, a staunch Anglican who passed away before they could begin their trip together, Haigh wonders: Is there a place in the modern secular world for pilgrimage?

Penny Morris has chosen to defend Blaze Island by Catherine Bush. This book is set now or an alternate near now, the world close to our own. A mammoth hurricane sweeps up the eastern seaboard of North America, leaving devastation in its wake, its outer wings brushing over tiny Blaze Island in the North Atlantic. Just as the storm disrupts the present, it stirs up the past. In the aftermath of the storm, she finds herself in a world altered so quickly and so radically that she hardly knows what has happened.

-Liz Zylstra