Amanda Parris: 8 books that changed my life


CBC Books presents the 8 books that changed Amanda Parris’s life. Among the eight classics, which include Toni Morrison’s Beloved and Lee Maracle’s I Am Woman, there are several Caribbean-themed/based/related selections such as Audre Lorde’s Sister Outsider; Makeda Silvera’s Silenced; Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude; and Edwidge Danticat’s The Farming of Bones.

About Parris: Amanda Parris is an artist, educator, scholar and producer, as well as an accomplished actor and playwright. Descended from Grenadian and Venezuelan ancestry, Parris was born in London, England and raised on the south side of Jane Street in Toronto. Her plays have been staged at numerous theatre festivals in Canada and internationally. Her 2014 one-woman show, 32C a bus journey through Toronto tells the stories of three women and the baggage they carry.

Here are excerpts from the CBC Books article:

It’s unclear when Amanda Parris finds time to sleep. On top of hosting two CBC shows –Exhibitionists on CBC-TV and the newly launched music program Marvin’s Room on CBC Radio 2, she’s also an actor, playwright, producer and – most importantly – an avid reader. In her own words, the multi-talented artist reflects on the eight books that have changed her life, from the magic realist tale she cancelled meetings to read to the classic she couldn’t stand.

Marvin’s Room, CBC’s new show on the world of R&B, airs Friday at 8pm on CBC Radio 2. Catch Exhibitionists on Sundays at 4:30pm (5pm NT) on CBC-TV.

Audre Lorde’s Sister Outsider [. . .] The book that feeds her spirit

The cover is tattered, the pages are dog-eared and the margins have notes aplenty. Audre Lorde’s collection of essays provided me with a philosophy for life and a platform for imagination. Her words helped me to understand the nuanced complexity of this thing we call love. She made me reconsider the critical necessity of poetry. She helped me to realize the importance of exercising one’s voice and provided me with strategies for resistance against oppression. For a number of years this book lived on my bedside table. It has since made its way to my bookshelf and has been able to collect some dust. But every few years I return to the well-worn pages and marvel at its continued relevance. Sister Outsider is always timely and consistently insightful.

Makeda Silvera’s Silenced [. . .] The book that all Canadians should read: Part 2

Makeda Silvera’s Silenced is a collection of interviews with women from the Caribbean who arrived in Canada as domestic workers. It is a difficult read that challenges many of the myths of opportunity and multiculturalism this country holds dear. However, it is an important documentation of what occurred behind closed doors for these women who worked 18-hour days, seven days a week for as little as $200 a month. These women represent the first wave of Caribbean immigrants to this country and their testimonies are a critical addition to our nation’s story.

Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude [. . .] The book she stayed up all night reading

I didn’t go out. I only slept when necessary. I only ate what was readily available. I may have even cancelled meetings. For three days I did nothing productive with my life beyond turning the page and losing myself in the mythical world of Macondo. This novel is a labyrinth of epic proportions and within these larger-than-life overtures are moments of poetry and wisdom that are deeply moving. Now I’m getting the urge to read it again…

Edwidge Danticat’s The Farming of Bones [. . .] The book that makes her cry

I didn’t know the history that inspired this novel, so when I began reading, I was completely unprepared for the tragedy that inevitably follows. Edwidge Danticat wrote this novel after realizing that so many had forgotten or did not know this history. In 1937, the president of the Dominican Republic Rafael Trujillo ordered the massacre of all Haitians living in the borderlands. Not knowing about any of this, I began reading with little to no defences. I invested fully in the journey of the main character, Amabelle Desir, and was utterly devastated by what transpired. The deep investment and emotional reaction has meant that I have never forgotten this history and probably never will. [. . .]

For full article, see

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One thought on “Amanda Parris: 8 books that changed my life

  1. Seems we have quite a bit of the same sensibilities as a reader. (Lorde, Danticat, Marquez, and Morrison) Glad to have found these literary reminders of what life and love truly require if we are to engage authentically with one another.

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