After its hiatus in 2013, Rossland Reads is back for 2014. Debaters Aerin Guy, Mark Jeffery, Kate Harrison-Whiteside, and Liz Anderson duke it out to have their chosen book crowned Rossland Reads 2014 Champion. Week one’s debate was held on October 22 at the Rossland Art Gallery.
The night began with a brief introduction of each book — The Alchemist by Paolo Coelho and defended by Guy, Endurance by Alfred Lansing and defended by Jeffrey, Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen and defended by Harrison-Whiteside, and Riding the Bus with my Sister by Rachel Simon and defended by Anderson — followed by the panelists being put on the spot immediately with a general question. For Jeffery the question was, “What will be your strategy?” His strategy for winning will be quite simple. “Rossland attracts unique people and (Endurance) will appeal to people’s sense of adventure.”
Moderator Jen Ellis kept the conversation flowing, encouraging rebuttals throughout, and came up with some interesting and intriguing questions about this year’s theme of travel, both literal and metaphorical, noting how none of them are your usual travel memoir. Her introductions of each panelist also revealed some intriguing talents. Liz Anderson claims the title of “all around recommender of great books”; Mark Jeffery has a book published, in Dutch; Aerin Guy owns a fart gun; and Kate’s passion for boots, rubber and others, inspired the door-prize question (the number of pairs that can be found in her closet is, apparently, 20).
Each panelist was then allowed a maximum of two minutes — with Rossland Public Library Director, Beverly Rintoul, holding the traditional popcorn shaker timer on the sidelines. Aside from Guy, panelists were able to provide a quick, enticing argument of why their book should win. Harrison-Whiteside appealed to Rosslanders’ choice of living here and embracing life in Rossland. Jeffery spoke about the themes of learning about life and self when under traumatic or bad circumstances for Endurance. Anderson noted how often she recommends Riding the Bus with my Sister due to its appeal to a broad amount of people. Guy, as noted, was given the shaker for going over her allotted time but did note how blown away she was by how much the book affected her and called The Alchemist the “patron book of travel.”
It was then time to move into the 10-minute debate rounds where Jen posed the hard-hitting questions to the panelists. Being a civilized group this year, panelists were respectful of each other and minimal one-liners and criticisms were thrown about. In fact, each of the four debate-round questions only brought out the strength of each of the books; no book appeared to be a clear winner or loser.
Kudos to Kate Harrison-Whiteside; she performed well but it was Out of Africa that was voted off by one measly vote. It came down to each of the panelists’ votes, which are given double weight since they all read each book.
With two weeks left, the contenders for Rossland Reads 2014 will likely be heating things up a bit with talks of alliances that may be in place for week two. The winner will be crowned on Wednesday, November 12 at the Rossland Art Gallery. The debate begins at 7 p.m..