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What to Read for Reading Week

| Chantelle Spicer | Spring Break within popular culture has often come to mean parties in the sun, probably too much drinking, and exotic locales, but the reality for many college and university students is a week of time dedicated to study, write papers, and get caught up on reading. This has become so much the trend that many institutions (Selkirk included) now call the week off “Reading Week.”

Hopefully, especially given the rise on awareness of student mental health, students are taking time away from their studies to do something they really enjoy.

For some, this may mean reading for the simple pleasure of story rather than the obligation of a syllabus. For others, it may be part of a New Years resolution to spend more time reading rather than scrolling social media. Regardless, studies show that reading improves one’s ability to empathize, writing skills, and reduces stress.

As we settle into reading week, here are five books that have delighted me over the past year

A Tale for the Time Being, Ruth Ozeki

I first listened to this as an audiobook while doing housework, but often found myself stopping to listen to the subtle magic that is this story. After two chapters, I had to go out and get this book so I could curl up on the couch and dedicate myself to the story. This book weaves together relationships between author and reader (breaking the 4th wall is so fashionable now!), past and present, humour and sadness, fact and fiction, history and myth. It would be impossible to sum up a narrative that covers everything from Zen Buddhism to feminism in a way that would do justice to the intricacies of Ozeki’s storytelling. Lets just say, if you want reminders of the magic that exist in everyday life, go out and find this book (if you are into audiobooks, the author reads all her own work)! I just finished this book in November and I already can’t wait to sink into it again.

21 Things You May Not Know About the Indian Act, Bob Joesph

Following a viral article for the CBC in 2016, this book explores the relationship that Indigenous peoples across Canada have with their land, governments, and the economy as defined by legislation. In an age of “reconciliation” (whatever that means to you), this is an important read for anyone seeking to know why and how social inequalities persist for Indigenous communities. Not only identifying problems with the Act, Joseph also explains why Indigenous self-determination would result in a better country for every Canadian. He dissects the complex issues around truth and reconciliation, and clearly demonstrates why learning about the Indian Act’s cruel, enduring legacy is essential for the country to move toward true reconciliation. Though it may seem a heavy topic, it is divided into sections that allow you to easily pick up and put down the book whenever you need to.

WishTree, Katherine Applegate

This is one of those books that is probably for kids, but appeals to adults who are still in touch with a solid sense of childlike wonderment. For those who are interested in a quick (you can probably finish this book in one bath or relaxing afternoon) , but impactful read, this one is for you. The story is based on the cultural phenomenon or understanding of “Wishing Trees,” which are individual trees that are used as places or objects of wishes or offerings depending on the local tradition. The story is narrated by the Tree itself, who observes its neighbourhood goings on, including a Muslim family moving in. This story has a marvellous animal and human cast. Helping Red in the quest for neighbourhood peace is a menagerie of animals that call the tree home and whose interactions add another layer to this story about the pleasures and difficulties of overcoming differences. The book is beautifully illustrated and sure to be enjoyed by almost any audience.

Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls, David Sedaris

The only author who can make me laugh more than Sedaris is Douglas Adams – I mean laughing out loud on the bus with people looking at me askance. Similar to Ozeki, I highly suggest checking out his audiobooks as he reads all of them, sometimes recorded live on an authors tour, giving real depth and life to each story…which it should as each story is a sarcastically funny, brutally honest, and touching reflection of his life with his family, partner, the art of writing, or medical procedures (these come up quite a bit in his books!). With 26 stories to chose from, this book is great for a quick mental break when you need to gain some perspective and not take things so seriously. Luckily, he is a pretty prolific writer, so if you like this one there is plenty more to indulge in

The Sun and Her Flowers, Rupi Kaur

Poetry is pretty amazing – you don’t have to get invested in a whole story and yet it can still deeply impact you. There are so many poets out there, particularly female poets, who are subverting ideas of poetry imposed on us from high school English – Rupi Kaur is absolutely one of those folks. Following on the heels of her first collection, milk and honey, this book is a celebration of love and healing in all its forms. It is divided into five chapters: wilting, falling, rooting, rising, and blooming.  Each poem is illustrated by the author and is rarely more than 10 lines long, meaning I spend most of my time savouring each line to keep myself from rushing through in my hunger for the next one. Highly suggested for anyone who thinks poetry is too daunting or unrelatable. (also highly suggested is watching her spoken word on youtube – poetry really comes alive when you give it a voice!)

Fifteen Dogs, Andre Alexis

You will never look at dogs the same way again! This is a humorous, elegantly written, and profound novel that explores the “gift” of human reasoning and language when they are bequeathed to a 15 dogs in a veterinary clinic by two Greek Gods in a wager. Sound ridiculous? It absolutely is, but in the best ways. This is a short read (only 160 pages), but very effectively examines what we see as universal truths about human nature by transferring consciousness and conscience to animals. Alexis masterfully dissects the discrepancies in the way humans think and feel, by posing large questions, such as: What is happiness? And what makes a life truly fulfilled? What is the role of love in a good life?

Happy Reading! Have suggestions for books or responses to these? Lets us know at sentineleditor@selkirkstudents.ca