The Cord’s guide to summer reading

Summer is a time of relaxation and contemplation, but it is also a time to rediscover reading for pleasure – to read those books that you don’t get the chance to while scouring your textbooks and cramming for exams.

To help you compile your summer reading list, The Cord has brought together a group of diverse individuals from the WLU and KW community who have each recommended one book for your enjoyment.

Michael Loubert
Co-owner of Old Goat Books
Title: Apocryphal Tales
Author: Karel Capek
Published: 1945

Loubert describes Apocryphal Tales as “light and amusing with an underlying seriousness.”

The novel features “humour and ironic stories” about famous historical figures, explains Loubert.

One such narrative tells the story of the Danish Prince Hamlet – the subject of William Shakespeare’s famous play Hamlet – attempting to become an actor and playwright.

Loubert lauds Czech writer Karel Capek’s ironic tales as entertaining but possessing tremendous gravity and importance.

Bronwyn Addico
Event Planner at Wordsworth Books
Title: The Book of Negroes
Author: Lawrence Hill
Published: January 2007

Chosen for the 2009 Waterloo Region annual “One Book, One Community” event intended to promote reading in the region’s population, Addico recommends The Book of Negroes because of its compelling storyline.

Following the tale of an 11-year-old African girl who is swept into slavery in South Carolina, the novel tells the story of the “Book of Negroes”, a list of freed Loyalist slaves during the Revolutionary War who sought to leave the United States.

“It’s just one of those books that takes a hold of you and you can’t put down,” says Addico, stating that the novel’s female lead character Aminata is one of the most “dynamic” personas she’s ever encountered.

Gary Foster
WLU philosophy professor
Title: The Castle
Author: Franz Kafka
Published: 1949

Foster recommends The Castle because of its strong themes, which are common to all people, even today.

The classic novel follows the tale of K, a land surveyor trying to get to a castle in search of his new job.

“It’s this constant sense of having hope in spite of the fact that he never seems to achieve whatever it is he wants to achieve,” explains Foster.

“I think a big part of what Kafka communicates is the human attempt to understand the world … and that there’s sometimes no answers for understanding it.”

Foster recommends the novel for summer reading, stating that it’s enjoyable but has deep concepts one pulls away after reading it.

Laura Sheridan
WLUSU President
Title: Basic Black: The Essential Guide for Getting Ahead at Work (and in Life)
Author: Cathy Black
Published: October 2007

Written by Cathy Black, the president of the Hearst corporation (a conglomerate housing such big name publications such as Cosmopolitan and Oprah’s O magazine), Basic Black is an autobiographical novel with advice geared towards women in the workforce.

However, Sheridan believes that the book contains a lot of ideas that are simple and easy to relate to, making the novel pertinent to readers of any gender.

For Sheridan, the book is perfect for students because it focuses on being successful at work and being successful in one’s personal life.

“She really focuses on what she calls the 360 degree life, talking about how to balance a personal life, with a professional life and I think that’s something that students experience all the time.”

Max Blouw
President of WLU
The Bible

“A common saying is that you are what you eat, but I strongly believe you are what you read. It is vitally important to think about how you are stimulating your brain,” says Blouw.

For him, the Bible is one of the most overlooked yet essential pieces of literature; regardless of one’s personal religious beliefs, he believes the Bible should be read for its historical and cultural significance.

“So much of literary work throughout the ages has been influenced by the writings and teachings of the Bible; it is interesting to read and see that various interpretations formed in past and present day.”

Laura Allan
WLU business and economics professor
Title: The Associate
Author: John Grisham
Published: 2009

“After a heavy semester of teaching and learning, most of us opt for some lighter reading. Focusing so heavily on your specific subjects, it’s good to go for something unrelated and drastically different from what you know,” says Allan.

This is why she opts for lighter reads, like The Associate, which follows the story of a graduating law student who, after taking a job at a large law firm, finds himself entangled in illegal practices.

Allan recommends this suspenseful read as a summer escape because of its compelling storyline and dramatic twists and turns Grisham is known for.

Don Morgenson
WLU psychology professor
Title: The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet
Author: Reif Larsen
Published: 2009

This unusual tale follows the story of a 12-year-old genius cartographer who wins a prestigious award in New York.

The individuals at the Smithsonian handing out the award have no idea that he is only a child, and he makes the epic trek across the United States to claim the award, hopping trains and meticulously mapping his trip.

“Paradoxically however, the further he travels from home the closer he comes to learning more about his family,” Morgenson explains.

“I believe students are on a journey too. The further they get from home I think the greater their understanding of their family they get.”

What attracted Morgenson most to this tale is that no matter how perfectly the main character T.S. Spivet tries to map out the world, he increasingly finds that the world is really a mystery.

“I think one of the things lost in student lives these days is a sense of mystery.”

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