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Summer book list: 14 great reads

Check out these deck-chair favourites from Concordia students, staff, faculty and alumni
June 8, 2018
By Tom Peacock

Summer is finally here! What’s better than finding a quiet spot on a sun-soaked day and diving into a great book?

We asked a selection of Concordia students, staff and faculty to tell us about the best books they read recently. From an epic tale that spans three centuries to a comprehensive investigation of habit formation, there’s something for everyone in this edition of our bi-annual book list.

Happy reading!

Meaghen Buckley

Master’s student
Department of Creative Arts Therapies

Penguin Random House, 2016
By Yaa Gyasi

Homegoing follows two half-sisters and their descendants over 300 years in Ghana and the United States — epic, tragic, hopeful, beautiful.

It made history so real for me, showing the overarching patterns while revealing the complex individual at the centre of each narrative segment.

Reena Atanasiadis

MBA in Investment Management

Adaptive Markets: Financial Evolution at the Speed of Thought

Princeton University Press, 2017
By Andrew Lo

Are investors and markets rational and efficient, or irrational and inefficient? Behavioural economists believe the latter, but Andrew W. Lo suggests that rationality and irrationality co-exist.

In this book, Lo presents his new framework for understanding the forces behind financial bubbles and stockmarket crashes: the Adaptive Markets Hypothesis. I teach behavioural finance and this is one of the best books on the subject, by far.

Eric Powell

PhD candidate
Department of Communication Studies

The New York Trilogy
Faber & Faber, 1987
By Paul Auster

This set of short stories features enigmatic authorship and classic noir-style detective work to trouble through our relationship with the city, how we define the truth (always important in the era of 'fake news'), and even our own sense of self.

Auster's stories quickly draw the reader into a vivid world, only to upend it — through a small coincidence, an unexpected phone call, or a lingering sense of self doubt — leaving the reader (and the protagonist) wondering what the facts are in each case.

It makes for great summer reading. Each story is self-contained (ideal for an afternoon in the park), but each part of the trilogy informs the next, making for a fascinating longer-term investment.

Francis Carter

Undergraduate student
Department of Psychology

Lab member
Center for Studies in Behavioral Neurobiology

Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid
Basic Books, 1979
By Douglas Hofstadter

Although this is not the lightest read, it is certainly among the most rewarding.

The author weaves a humorous dialogue between Achilles and the turtle with a non-fictive discussion of art, mathematics, and science. The result is a meshwork that attempts to capture the essence of the mind.

Younes Medkour

PhD candidate and Public scholar
Department of Biology

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business
Random House, 2012
By Charles Duhigg

Duhigg examines habits from a brilliant angle using plenty of scientific data to bolster his claims. He makes us realize that habits play a pivotal role in our lives. He even goes as far as to argue that our life is the sum of our habits and to change it we must rectify said habits.

By reading his book, you’ll never look at yourself the same way! It’s a pleasant read written in a lively style with just the right amount of intellectual seriousness. You’ll also enjoy the fascinating anecdotes Duhigg uses to support his new analysis of habit formation and change.

Benjamin Brunen

Master’s student
Department of Geography, Planning and Environment

Robot Dreams
Berkley Books, 1986
By Isaac Asimov

This is a collection of Asimov's short stories spanning his decades-long career. I find it incredible that this man was able to vividly describe autonomous cars, interplanetary travel and space walks many years before technology actually allowed humans to venture this far down the techie rabbit hole. Going into this collection, I think it would be helpful to think of Asimov as Elon Musk trapped in a novelist's body. Is it just a coincidence that both men are very skeptical of artificial intelligence?

Abigail Candelora

Undergraduate student
Department of English

Welcome Crew mentor
Student Success Centre

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay
Random House, 2000
By Michael Chabon

This book follows two Jewish cousins in New York City, Joe Kavalier and Sammy Clay, creators of The Escapist comic book series, before, during, and after World War II as they face (or escape) the terrible realities of their lives and time. Not only is the narrative incredible, but Chabon’s way with words is its own masterpiece. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay is an incredibly visceral read that is gut-wrenching, uplifting, and altogether a beautiful exploration of humanity.

Nura Jabagi

PhD candidate and Public scholar
Department of Supply Chain and Business Technology Management

The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains
W. W. Norton & Company, 2010
By Nicholas Carr

Ever wondered if having 24/7 access to Google’s wealth of information was actually making you smarter? Well, that’s what prompted Nicolas Carr to write this thought-provoking book on our deep dependence on the internet.

A mix of intellectual history and popular science, Carr’s central argument is that the internet is limiting our capacity for deep thought, concentration and the retention of information. You don’t have to be a techie to appreciate this 2011 Pulitzer Prize finalist as Carr breaks down complex subject matter for the general audience to create this provocative (and controversial) cultural critique.

Rune Carlson

Undergraduate student
Department of Building and Civil Engineering

Pillars of the Earth
MacMillan, 1989
By Ken Follett

Ken Follett’s writing pulls you into a wonderfully rich world of medieval Europe where you’ll find yourself rooting for the characters and their families as if they were your own. Set in the 12th century, Follett's historical novel maintains accuracy while weaving love, war, and drama into the lives of lords and peasants.

Sarah Faber

Alumna (BA 05, MA 10)

The Secret History
Knopf, 1992
By Donna Tartt

I found this book to be that rare hybrid — a well-written page-turner. There's something almost anachronistic about the characters and the tone of the book; it's set in the 1990s but feels like the 1950s, except for the odd reference to rap or aerobics.

The characters inhabit a rarified world of studying classics and speaking ancient Greek at an Ivy League school in Vermont, but it is also a kind of mystery — a 'whydunit' rather than a 'whodunit'. At first I found the narrator's voice a bit cool and austere compared to the kind of prose I usually enjoy, but it really grew on me over the course of the novel. It's carefully constructed and seamless but also quite beautiful at times.

Marie-Claude Lavoie

Associate vice-president
Facilities Management

Reinventing Organizations: A Guide to Creating Organizations Inspired by the Next Stage in Human Consciousness
Nelson Parker, 2014
By Frederic Laloux

The way we manage organizations seems increasingly out of date. Survey after survey shows that a majority of employees feel disengaged from their companies.

In this book, the author shows that every time humanity has shifted to a new stage of consciousness in the past, it has invented a whole new way to structure and run organizations, each time bringing extraordinary breakthroughs in collaboration. A new shift in consciousness is currently underway. The pioneering organizations researched for this book have already "cracked the code." Their founders have fundamentally questioned every aspect of management and have come up with entirely new organizational methods.

Zoé Pelchat-Ouellet

Alumna (BA 13)
Filmmaker, winner of the CANNESERIES Digital Competition

Half of a Yellow Sun
Knopf, 2007
By Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

This book tells the story of the Nigerian Civil War happening at the end of the 1960's through the perspectives of several very endearing characters, revolving around twins Olanna and Kainene.

What strikes me in that book is the finesse with which the author depicts human psychology. The characters, their thoughts and behaviours are so relatable and feel so true... which makes the war and violence depicted so palpable and terrifying. Adichie's writing and sensitivity are stunning! I'm not done yet with the book but it's so special.

Jennifer Dorner

Director, FOFA Gallery

Polyamorous Love Song
BookThug, 2014
Jacob Wren

This book is funny, engaging and beautifully illustrates the human need to create, dream and imagine.

The story moves from blissful ideas of desire and passion to unsettling and bizarre scenarios, all staged within the current political landscape.

Jacob Wren compels the reader to think about art, life and society and does so with enthralling dreamlike visuals and lyrical truths. 


Bonus Pick!

All Is Beauty Now
Emblem Editions, 2017
By Sarah Faber

In her debut novel, All Is Beauty Now, Sarah Faber (BA 05, MA 10) explores the lives of a family moving to Canada from Brazil after their eldest daughter has gone missing.

Winner of the Margaret and John Savage First Book Award for Fiction, All Is Beauty Now is, according to The Globe and Mail, a “powerful family novel exploring the twin dangers of romanticism and nostalgia.”

Support students by donating your lightly used books or volunteering for the Concordia Used Book Fair.



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