Out with the old, in with the new: The Ubyssey’s non-required summer reading list

Congratulations! You made it to the end of the school year. Now that summer is in flow, hopefully these months can bring some rest and relaxation. At The Ubyssey, the end of the year also brings a new batch of editors.

To introduce ourselves, we’re recommending some summer reading — from the outgoing editors, books they’ve already read and loved, and from the incoming editors, books we’re looking forward to digging into.

Check out our recommendations if you have some free time, or don’t — summer is all about not letting anybody tell you what to read.

Outgoing: Books we’ve loved

Wicked Goodreads

Coordinating: Lua Presidio

Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire

So here's the thing: in trying to figure out what to recommend, I realized that I haven’t read a book for myself in years because of uni. Well, that is not exactly true. There was Wicked, which took me a year and a half to finish because I would only read 20 pages at a time with months in between. Wicked (the book) is the inspiration for "Wicked" (the musical). They share a general plot, but the musical Wicked is much lighter, while the book is an intense narrative that tracks the socio-political and economic situation of Oz over 60-something years with a focus on the rise and fall of the Witch. It is not an easy read, but it's definitely a fascinating one. If you liked the political aspect of Game of Thrones, Wicked is a book for you.

Kafka on the Shore
Kafka on the Shore Goodreads

Culture: Tianne Jensen-DesJardins

Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami

In my first year of university, I began the tradition of reading one Murakami book every summer. I’d limit myself to one novel per summer because my mind would slowly tease out more meaning from each work the longer I lingered on the stories after I finished reading them. Kafka on the Shore was recommended to me by my favourite professor — “Contemplating the subconscious and talking cats, what more could you ask for?” It’s been two years since I read this book and I’m still puzzling over aspects of it (dream logic simultaneously makes sense and does not make sense at the same time). With fish raining from the sky, an Oedipal curse and a mysterious painting, Kafka on the Shore is a treat that will keep your brain busy for months

The Importance of Being Earnest
The Importance of Being Earnest Goodreads

Science: Sophia Russo

The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde

The wit of this Victorian classic is clever enough to stand the test of time — and hopefully leave modern readers entertained! This aptly titled “trivial comedy for serious people” follows the antics of Algernon and Jack, who each take advantage of a fictitious alter ego by the name of Ernest to escape the obligations of mundane life. Chaos soon ensues as both men fall in love with women who passionately and irrefutably have always dreamed of marrying someone named Ernest. The story is light and fun, with plenty of “bunburying” happening along the way.

Fugitive Pieces
Fugitive Pieces RandomHouse

Visuals: Mahin E Alam

Fugitive Pieces by Anne Michaels

A book that I have read and learned something from this past year is Fugitive Pieces by Anne Michaels. While the story itself deals with certain serious themes and historical events, this book helped me understand my outlook on life from a different perspective. It allowed me to appreciate my life better and be grateful for all that I have learned and cherish.

Two Trees Make a Forest
Two Trees Make a Forest Goodreads

Photos: Isabella Falsetti

Two Trees Make a Forest by Jessica J. Lee

They say not to judge a book by its cover, but that’s exactly what drew me to this book while browsing the shelves of Munro’s in Victoria. The book’s beauty goes far deeper than the surface though. It’s a perfect bridge between my two areas of study: geography and Chinese language and culture. Lee reckons with the disconnect between herself and her family’s Taiwanese history, and her search to find a sense of place and identity resonates with me strongly; even my limited knowledge of simplified Chinese has allowed me to understand her explanations of the traditional characters that comprise the different names of Taiwan’s geographical features (林 lín, the character for forest, is made up of two 木 mù’s, the character for tree). I, admittedly, am not all the way through, but I still recommend it for anyone who appreciates geography, language and a lush travel narrative.

The Way of the House Husband
The Way of the House Husband Goodreads

Sports + Rec: Diana Hong

The Way of the House Husband by Kousuke Oono

I came across this manga in one of my classes this year. It is about an ex-yakuza, Japanese gangster boss becoming a house-husband after his retirement from committing crimes. It's a comedy so this manga was a delight to read during such “unprecedented” times (I am so done using that word!) Moving forward, I cannot wait to see what non-unprecedented times have in store for me! A delightful house husband would be nice ;)

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay Goodreads

Blog + Opinion: Thomas McLeod

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay is a great summer read and a beautiful fictionalized account of the advent of the comic book superhero in 1940s New York. The two protagonists, cousins Joe Kavalier and Sammy Clay, are wonderfully wrought characters twisted by war and tragedy, leveraging the comic book medium into an artistic outlet and cultural phenomenon at the height of the Second World War. The characters, narrative and prose are deeply memorable — it’s a book that stays with you well after you put it down, and is one of the few genuinely funny pieces of literature that I’ve run into in university.

The Night Circus
The Night Circus Penguin Random House

Features: Paloma Green

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

It’s been a long time since I hid under my blankets with a flashlight and book, secretly staying up all night to my parent's disdain. I (like most) had my childhood love of novels destroyed by the dreaded assigned readings in high school, so this is the first novel I’ve read for just me in longer than I’d like to admit — or for my teachers and professors to know. It is an engaging fantasy book set up like a mystery that is so craftily constructed that you simultaneously don’t know what is happening but are not confused. The Night Circus truly reminded me of why I once loved reading so much.

Braiding Sweetgrass
Braiding Sweetgrass Goodreads

Web News: Nathan Bawaan

Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer

Reading this book made me want to quit my political science degree and become an ecologist. I learned so much from this book about plants, traditional Indigenous knowledge and the importance of nature on human wellbeing. If you’re looking for to learn something new (but in a fun way), I recommend this book.

Irving vs. Irving
Irving vs. Irving Penguin Random House

Print News: Charlotte Alden

Irving vs. Irving by Jacques Poitras

This is a super compelling read about one of Canada’s most powerful families. Up until this year, the Irvings had a monopoly on New Brunswick’s english-language print media, and this book outlines how that monopoly and all of the Irvings’ connections impacted the reporting being done in New Brunswick. I’m fascinated by media ownership and monopolies, so if you are too, this is a great read.

The Essential Rumi
The Essential Rumi Goodreads

Video: Josh McKenna

The Essential Rumi by Rumi with translations by Coleman Barks

The Essential Rumi is a large collection of poetry by Rumi, a 13th century Persian poet. Rumi was a Sufi Mystic and packs some really interesting ideas into his poems that break down the walls between various religions and cultures and point to the interconnectedness of all things. I slowly worked through this book reading one poem every night until I had made my way through the entire collection. Reading Rumi’s works really helped to reshape how I view the world, inspired me creatively and, despite sounding cliché, brought me a lot of inner peace.

Incoming: Books we want to read

Etta and Otto and Russell and James
Etta and Otto and Russell and James Penguin Random House

Coordinating: Charlotte Alden

Etta and Otto and Russell and James by Emma Hooper

I read Hooper’s book Our Homesick Songs this year and it reminded me why I should read more fiction. I loved the writing style and the fact that it took place in Canada — I don’t know why, but I love reading books that take place somewhere I’ve been. I’m really eager to read Hooper’s debut novel, Etta and Otto and Russell and James, about an 82-year-old woman from Saskatchewan who longs to see the sea.

The Memory Librarian
The Memory Librarian Goodreads

Culture: Tova Gaster

The Memory Librarian by Janelle Monáe

You might know Janelle Monáe from her roles in films like Hidden Figures and Moonlight. But before she was an actress, Monáe was also a musician, storyteller and Queer afrofuturist visionary. One of my favourite albums is her 2010 release, The ArchAndroid — a genre-defying epic about a rogue cyborg liberating her communities from a dystopian state. Now she’s releasing a book set in the same world. I can't wait to check it out from my local library this summer.

Memory Man
Memory Man Goodreads

Science: Sophia Russo

Memory man by David Baldacci

As a big fan of thrillers, I am incredibly excited to give this book a read. Haunted by the grisly details of his family’s murder, detective-turned-private investigator Amos Decker sets out on a path of vengeance and closure. Having been recommended to me by The Ubyssey’s own Mahin E Alam — and thus being officially Mahin-approved — I am confident that this novel will be an exciting and suspenseful page-turner.

Quichotte Goodreads

Visuals: Mahin E Alam

Quichotte by Salman Rushdie

I came across a quote from this book that intrigued me: “For we migrants have become like seed-spores, carried through the air, and lo, the breeze blows us where it will, until we lodge in alien soil, where very often … we are made to feel unwelcome, no matter how beautiful the fruit hanging from the branches of the orchards of fruit trees that we grow into and become.” It made me think about my place in Canada as an international student studying so far away from home. I look forward to reading this book and learning whatever it has to offer.

Crying in H Mart
Crying in H Mart Penguin Random House

Photos: Isabella Falsetti

Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner

After reading Zauner’s original article in The New Yorker, I’m curious to learn more about her experience as another Asian trying to reconnect with her heritage. Now finishing my fourth year at UBC, I only started going to the H Mart on campus this spring. I’m Chinese, not Korean, but the few trips I’ve made have brought me a sense of comfort — seeing ingredients to make authentic Asian meals that Save-On-Foods doesn’t offer. It’s also validating to shop at an Asian grocery store alongside other Asians. Of course, Zauner’s memoir is about more than just her visits to the namesake store, but about the grief she feels having lost her mother to cancer, as well as the cultural loss that came alongside it. I can’t relate to this same type of loss, but it does still hold some relevance for me and I’m eager to see how Zauner further articulates her experience. I am also a fan of Japanese Breakfast, so that’s another motive in and of itself.

Corelli's Mandoline
Corelli's Mandoline Goodreads

Sports + Rec: Miriam Celebiler

Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernières

Set on the Greek island of Cephalonia, I hope reading this book will send me back to summers spent on the Mediterranean coast. The novel is set during the early days of the Second World War, and I am intrigued to see how the fictional story unfolds within this historical context.

Girl, Woman, Other
Girl, Woman, Other Goodreads

Blog + Opinion: Iman Janmohammed

Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo

Now that exams are out of the way, I can do what an English major does best — read. Last summer, incoming culture editor Tova and I wrote a piece about a podcast where they talked about Bernadine Evaristo's Girl, Woman, Other. The novel follows 12 characters (who are mostly Black, British women) and how they navigate society. I’ve been itching to pick up the 2019 Booker Prize winner for some time now and hopefully this summer I'll be able to.

This is How You Lose the Time War
This is How You Lose the Time War Goodreads

Features: Paloma Green

This is How You Lose a Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone

I am hoping to read more for leisure this summer, and this book is at the top of my list mostly because the rest of my family has read it and is obsessed with it (to the point where they would be upset if I didn’t choose this book as my want to read for this article). According to my dad, it has everything: “It’s like they put every genre in a blender.” He did actually send me about 20 one-word texts of every genre he thinks the book contains which I will spare you from, but apparently, it is a sci-fi-time-traveling-romance novel with many plot twists. Sounds interesting!

Beautiful World, Where Are You
Beautiful World, Where Are You Goodreads

News: Nathan Bawaan

Beautiful world, Where Are You? by Sally Rooney

I read Sally Rooney’s other two books recently and I’m obsessed. My goal for the summer is to read all of her books (and watch all the associated TV shows).

The Way of Kings
The Way of Kings Brian Sanderson

Anabella McElroy

The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson.

Like a lot of people, my reading time has fallen off for shorter attention span entertainment, but a friend recommended Sanderson’s Mistborn trilogy to me and they got me hooked! The Way of Kings seems like the logical next step — it’s a longer book, higher fantasy and set in the same universe. Sanderson’s world building is fantastic — the political and magic systems feel so fleshed out when you are dropped in. I enjoy having the fantasy setting to dive into and forget about my day-to-day stress.

Otapawy! Gabriel Dumont Institute

Video: Josh McKenna

Howard Adams: Otapawy! by various authors, compiled by the Gabriel Dumont Institute

One of my favourite books of all time is Howard Adam’s Prison of Grass: Canada from a Native Point of View. When I found out the Gabriel Dumont Institute had put out a book on him, I knew I had to read it. As a fellow Métis person, Howard Adams has been a huge inspiration to me: His work appeals to me both emotionally and politically. This book collects Adams’ writings on his own life, his fictional works and writings about Howard Adams by others, including Maria Campbell and my aunt (who I did not know had contributed to this book until I got a copy and looked at the table of contents!). Howard Adams is one of the most important Métis figures of all time — I was lucky to meet him once but was far too young to remember. I’m really looking forward to learning more from him through this book!