Usask reads: Students talk about their favourite summer novels

By in Culture

Summer break is a great time to catch up on the books you’ve been meaning to get to but haven’t had the time to read during the school year. The Sheaf caught up with some known Usask bookworms who dished the dirt on their favourite novels of summer 2017.

David D’Eon, USSU president
The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K. Le Guin

Give a description in ten words.
“A man’s dreams have the power to reshape reality.”

What’s your favourite thing about the novel?
“There is a lawyer character who plays a prominent role in the book, and seeing how her character is altered by the changes that take place is an excellent commentary on how our identities shape us in ways we don’t always recognize.”

Why should people read it?
“The book uses a campy premise to talk about complex social and philosophical questions, such as what your obligations to people are if you have the power to change their lives without their knowledge… I think we all have ideas of how to make the world a better place, but the price — both on ourselves and other people — is not always obvious. For a book so short and concise to ask these questions and still be funny and adventurous is an achievement.”

Mitch Cassidy, fifth-year engineering
For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway

Give a description in ten words.
“Humanity, brutality and the Spanish Civil War. Only one explosion.”

What’s your favourite thing about the novel?
“I found the writing style captivatingly unique. [Hemingway] clearly conceived the story’s dialogue in Spanish, and then translated it directly in a way that preserves a lot of the flavour and peculiarities of the original language. He also delivers some long, free-flowing, poetic passages about love and war.”

Why should people read it?
“It’s a personal and intense look at the realities of war on the scale of human relationships, written by a man with a first-hand perspective on the conflict. It’s also a decent love story.”

Rafaele Rigolo, fourth-year music education
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

Give a description in ten words.
“The story of two half-sisters’ families through eight generations.”

What’s your favourite thing about the novel?
“The many characters and family ties are worthy of a high fantasy novel, and Gyasi does an amazing job of linking every relative together while not being overly confusing.”

Why should people read it?
“The book examines racism and class differences by following the mesmerizing drama of two families, all the way from slavery in Ghana through to the present day in the U.S. The book does a great job of showing the injustices that befall people simply because of their place of birth, and how that misfortune can radiate through generation after generation.”

Liam Delparte, third-year political studies
Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace

Give a description in ten words.
“Tennis, drugs, the pursuit of happiness. It predicts Netflix, Trump.”

What’s your favourite thing about the novel?
“Part of the novel sees a comical band of wheelchair- bound Québécois assassins, who are the most feared terrorists in America, kidnapping a pimply audio engineer for an elaborate downhill shovelling manoeuvre. All this in the periphery of a meeting on which the fate of a newly unified North America hangs in the balance.”

Why should people read it?
“It’s famous because it’s long — 1079 pages — and difficult. I read it with a dictionary on my lap, but it’s also hilarious and entertaining. The novel’s main thrust is questioning the purposeless pursuit of happiness and challenging the North American status quo. There are hundreds of characters, and all of them feel very real. For all its complexity, Infinite Jest is still deeply felt, and while it expands your mind, your heart will grow at least three sizes as well.”

 

Novels are often portrayals of the societies they are written in. They provide opportunities to learn about worlds near and far, conflicts within and without. If you are looking for a good book to enjoy and learn from, one of these great choices might be for you.

Photo: Jiem Carlo Narag / Photo Editor