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Summer book list: 19 great reads

Dive into these poolside picks from Concordia students, staff, faculty and alumni
June 7, 2019
By Daniel Bartlett

Summer book list: 19 great reads

It’s hard to believe, but summer has finally arrived. Whether you’re sitting on a dock, a patio or a park bench, enjoy the warm weather with a great story in hand.

We asked these Concordia students, staff, faculty and alumni to share the best books they’ve come across recently. From the original road trip classic to a cruise ship thriller, enjoy this edition of our bi-annual book list.

Lost Children Archive

Ariela Freedman

Associate professor
Liberal Arts College

Lost Children Archive
Penguin Random House, 2019
By Valeria Luiselli

If you're going on a road trip this summer, you might want to take Luiselli’s masterful and heartbreaking meditation on borders, families and the fractured past and present of America. It’s an original and timely book.

The Book of Night Women

Sharon Nelson

Assistant director
John Molson Executive MBA

The Book of Night Women
Riverhead Books, 2009
By Marlon James

This is a fascinating read into Jamaica in the late 1800s. It is a riveting novel that speaks to the reality of the time and places each reader in the middle of the action watching the story unfold.

Querelle de Roberval

Eric Côté

Records management analyst
Records Management and Archives

Querelle de Roberval
Héliotrope, 2018
By Kevin Lambert

This book takes place in the declining city of Roberval, located in Lac-Saint-Jean, where the employees of a sawmill have gone on strike. It is a surreal depiction of how far both parties (union and employer) are willing to go to win a desperate conflict, when ugliness and violence reach Greek tragedy proportions. 

Recommended for fans of Dennis Hopper, Lambert’s book was also a finalist for the Prix des libraires 2019.

The Terranauts

Ursula Eicker

Canada Excellence Research Chair in Smart, Sustainable and Resilient Communities and Cities
Gina Cody School of Engineering and Computer Science

The Terranauts
Ecco Press, 2016
By T.C. Boyle

If you ever dream of escaping earth and setting up your own ecosystem on a different planet, this is the novel to read. It’s based on a real experiment carried out in the Arizona desert in 1990.

Eight people try to live for two years in a hermetically sealed environment under glass in the remote Arizona desert, which contains several artificial biomes, including savanna, a rainforest and a sea with its own coral reef.

It's a good read with many psycho-stories featuring a mixed-member cast — four male and four female scientists who often feel more like boys and girls coming of age. But how would you react if you were enclosed in a small space with people watching from the outside? The income from the “tourists” funds the experiment.

In the end, you’re left knowing you would pay to avoid living in an Elon Musk-financed habitat on Mars.

21 Lessons for the 21st Century

Michel Magnan

John Molson School of Business

21 Lessons for the 21st Century
Spiegel & Grau, 2018
By Yuval Noah Harari

Historian Harari puts forward several issues and themes that characterize our era and provides a personal, yet informed and documented perspective on them. For Quebeckers, his views on secularism and religion should be of interest.

On the Road

William Lindsay

Senior director
Indigenous Directions

On the Road
Viking Press, 1957
By Jack Kerouac

This is the seminal novel of the Beat Generation. Read it and see why so many of us “hit the road” ourselves while young, exploring life’s craziness to the fullest on the highways of Canada.

The Absent One

Stéphanie de Celles

University registrar
Enrolment Services

The Absent One
Penguin Random House, 2008
By Jussi Adler-Olsen

This is the second novel from a series of crime fiction from the Danish author. All the stories take place in Département V, the cold cases unit in Copenhagen’s police department. The characters are very interesting and the story was as good as the first one. There is a great suspense built up at the end and the author is a master at making it almost unbearable.

If you like the Nordic noir genre, this is a must. And since it’s a seven-book series, plan on hours and hours of good reading ahead!

My Conversations With Canadians

Zinnia Naqvi

Master’s student, Department of Studio Arts
Winner of a 2019 New Generation Photography Award

My Conversations with Canadians
Book*hug Press, 2017
By Lee Maracle

Lee Maracle is an Indigenous writer and speaker. In this book she reflects on questions she has been asked repeatedly throughout her career, often during readings or book signing events. The questions are often posed by settlers who are looking for guidance on reconciliation.

She uses her sense of humour and quick wit to point out that there is no clear path toward reconciliation. She often takes these moments to push back and allow the audience to re-examine their own thinking. The responsibility to find the solutions to Canada's problems should not fall on the backs of Indigenous people, as we are all responsible for a better future.

Capital in the Twenty-First Century

Éric Martel

2019 Concordia honorary doctorate

Capital in the Twenty-First Century
Harvard University Press, 2014
By Thomas Piketty

Piketty gives us an in-depth analysis of growing class inequality. Everyone must become aware of these international trends, which are reshaping democracy and society.

The Life of Lines

Sherif Goubran

PhD candidate and Public Scholar
Individualized Program

The Life of Lines
Routledge, 2015
By Tim Ingold

The book merges anthropology with philosophy, arts, architecture and geography to deliver a new perspective on life itself. I found the book, and the metaphor of lines, useful in untangling the complexity of human interactions. It is divided into a number of short essays making it a very easy read.

The Woman in Cabin 10

Cynthia Raso

Graduate Awards and Postdoctoral Studies

The Woman in Cabin 10
Simon & Schuster, 2017
By Ruth Ware

This is a good read with several unexpected twists and turns. The plot keeps you guessing right until the end. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes mysteries and suspense, and who likes to take vacations on cruise ships.

The Alchemist

Milad Ashouri

PhD student
Department of Building, Civil and Environmental Engineering

The Alchemist
Harper Torch, 1993
By Paulo Coelho

This is a story of a guy going on a journey to Egyptian pyramids trying to find a treasure. Instead he ends up demonstrating his true oneness with "the soul of the world." When the alchemist and others come into his life, he is inspired to be open to new friends and to believe in the true love that will allow him to follow his dreams.

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail

Alice Isac

Experiential learning lead
Office of the Provost and Vice-President, Academic Affairs

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail
Knopf, 2012
By Cheryl Strayed

This book is funny, heartbreaking and just beautifully written. Her descriptions are so palpable that you feel like you’re there hiking the Pacific Crest Trail with her. Her sore feet felt like my sore feet, and I laughed out loud because of her raw and relatable internal monologue.

I also loved how she weaved memories of the past seamlessly and simply into the present, like the scent of a sage bush found along the trail that takes her back to her childhood and her mother. It’s an inspiring and uplifting read.

Thug Kitchen: The Official Cookbook

Bruna Guarino Moraes

President of the Concordia Garnet Key Society
Undergraduate student, civil engineering

Thug Kitchen: The Official Cookbook
House of Anansi Press
By Thug Kitchen

Considering the environmental crisis and how we can diminish it through better eating habits, I believe this cookbook is essential. It introduces delicious plant-based recipes in a very interesting way. The use of foul language is not for everyone, but it makes it different from other cookbooks and allows people to build a vegan kitchen in an approachable and entertaining manner.


Prem Sooriyakumar

Knowledge broker
Office of Research

Arsenal Pulp Press, 2017
By Catherine Hernandez

Summer is always a time for travel, and for some of us it’s about travelling to our place of childhood.

This book is extraordinary as it tells some of the difficult narratives that I have witnessed in my hometown of Scarborough, Ontario.

Hernandez creates an emphatic interwoven story filled with diverse characters that allows the reader to feel, connect and learn about community and resilience.

CivilWarLand in Bad Decline

Aimee Mullins

2019 Concordia honorary doctorate

CivilWarLand in Bad Decline
Random House, 1996
By George Saunders

I always have a collection of short stories on the go, which I take turns reading aloud with my husband. Unless reading a bedtime story to a child, most adults don’t ever read aloud anymore. But it really changes the experience. The stories become more visceral, and you find yourself surprised by emotion that changes how you vocalize certain passages.

Saunders is a master of the form and this classic is his first collection of short stories.

Why Not Me?

Rima Oassey

Welcome Crew mentor, Student Success Centre
Undergraduate student, psychology

Why Not Me?
Crown Archetype, 2015
By Mindy Kaling

For anyone interested in a light-hearted read with plenty of laughs along the way, look no further! In this book of short essays, Mindy Kaling describes the many adventures and mishaps she's experienced as a young Hollywood star on the rise.

Not only are Kaling's stories extremely entertaining, but her down-to-earth approach to fame (and life in general) is truly inspiring.


Bonus pick!

Metonymy Press, 2018
By Lindsay Nixon (MA 18)

nîtisânak is a memoir spanning nations, prairie punk scenes and queer love stories. Drawing on Cree, Saulteaux and Métis ancestral teachings, this work offers a compelling perspective on the connections that must be broken and the ones that heal.

The book was nominated for a Lambda Literary Award and an Indigenous Voices Award. Nixon also recently won the Writers' Trust of Canada Dayne Ogilvie Prize for LGBTQ Emerging Writers.

A Joy to be Hidden

Bonus pick 2!

A Joy To Be Hidden
Linda Leith Publishing, 2019
By Ariela Freedman

In her third novel, A Joy To Be Hidden, Ariela Freedman, associate professor with Concordia’s Liberal Arts College, tells the story of a young graduate student living in the East Village in the late 1990s. Freedman uses the coming-of-age format to examine hidden pasts, as well as the legacy of trauma and displacement.

Danielle Barkley writes in the Montreal Review of Books: "What gives Freedman’s novel such a haunting power is the willingness to withhold a fixed and complete narrative, and allow finding to exist as an imperfect triumph."

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


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