2016 Summertime Reads from the LEARN Team
In the summer when the days are hot,
I like to find a shady spot,
And hardly move a single bit
And sit, and sit, and sit, and sit.
As exam centres close, white boards scrubbed, classroom floors polished, art projects taken down, and cafeteria trays returned, our mindset begins to shift. Ever so slowly, the 2015-2016 school year fades away, as we dream of cottage lake docks, summer cocktails, BBQ festivities, and family vacations. Inevitably, time follows… time to invest in ourselves. Again this year, the LEARN team wants to support you in this endeavour with its summertime reading list.
Our criteria is simple: recommend a book you’ve enjoyed or one that is on your summer must-read list. We’d love to hear your book recommendations, please share in the comments below.
the life changing magic of tidying up
by Marie Kondo
This is a non judgmental space right? My name is Ben and I will admit that sometimes I am not tidy. This summer I will be reading the life changing magic of tidying up by Japanese organizing guru Marie Kondo. You might notice that I took the book out from my local library, therefore, I won’t even have to stress about where to put it once I’m done. Full disclosure, I have already started the book and learned a few things. Firstly, ask yourself why you want to be tidier. Once you answer that question, ask yourself why. Once you have that answer, ask why again, and so on. Eventually, you will come to the root of the matter. Is that what they mean by self-help? I’ve also flipped through the later chapters, so I know that at some point I will take all my clothes and put them in a pile on the ground. I will touch each one and ask myself if it brings me joy. If not, I will thank the item for its service and donate it.
Sounds goofy. But so am I.
-Ben Loomer, Pedagogical Consultant & Provincial Resource Team (Community Learning Centre Initiative)
La princesse des glaces
par Camilla Läckberg
Vous avez envie de vous évader, de lire un bon roman policier et de vous dépayser. Je vous suggère le premier roman d’une série de 9 de l’auteur suédoise Camilla Läckberg.
Rejoignez, dans la petite ville balnéaire de Fjällbacka, la romancière Erica Falck et l’enquêteur Patrick Hedström afin de résoudre l’énigme: suicide ou meurtre ? Bonne enquête !
-Julie Paré, conseillère pédagogique
Vanessa and Her Sister
by Priya Parmar
This is a fictionalized account of the lives of the Stephenson family from 1905 to 1912, focussing particularly on Vanessa Bell, the artist, and her relationship with her sister, Virginia Woolf, the writer. I like books that make me want to learn more and this one sent me scrambling to the internet – fact-checking, looking for paintings mentioned, investigating places they lived and visited, etc. Although it is fiction, the gist is true to what we know about their lives. I enjoyed learning more about the many famous people in their circle (the Bloomsbury group) and seeing how their lives intersected. A well-written book and a good read.
-Susan van Gelder, Pedagogical Consultant
Prince Edward Island: Red Soil, Blue Sea, Green Fields
by Wayne Barrett and Anne MacKay
All the Light We Cannot See
by Anthony Doerr
This is a historical novel about a German boy and blind French girl leading up to and surviving through World War II. The author goes back and forth between characters and time. It is a deeply moving and compelling story that builds with every page. The story is not easily forgotten.
-Cheryl Pratt, Adult Education & Vocational Training Initiatives (CORAL)
The Night Manager
by John Le Carré
I was inspired to pull John Le Carré’s The Night Manager from my bookcase while I watched the TV adaptation. John Le Carré is far and away my favourite novelist, and I was surprised to discover that I had never finished this one (but I fully intend to). In fact, the bookmark that I found mid-book was a Club Soda ticket stub from sometime in 1993! Le Carré has a beautiful writing style, and his characters are always richly drawn. “The Night Manager” is the gripping story of a British expat hotel night manager in Cairo who is drawn into the dark world of spy craft in an effort to bring down a wealthy British philanthropist and business magnate involved in shady arms deals.
Up, Up, & Away
by Jonah Keri
My non-fiction recommendation is a book I received last Christmas. This book chronicles the history of the Montréal Expos baseball team from their arrival in 1968 to their sad departure in 2004. It is filled with wonderful anecdotes and makes a great breezy summer read.
-Rob Costain, Pedagogical Consultant
by Mordecai Richler
Well, I figured it was about time I read a book by one of Québec’s most famous authors. And then I found out he shared one of my passions, and tells the story in an “outrageously funny” style. But more than that, I can totally relate when he says in it, “Like a religion, a game seeks to codify and lighten life. Played earnestly enough, a game can gather to itself awesome dimensions of subtlety and transcendental significance.”
-Paul Rombough, Pedagogical Consultant
How We Learn
by Benedict Carey
Interesting book… not really sure it is summer reading but certainly worth taking the time to explore. Heavy neuroscience made easy enough for me to understand.
-Michael Canuel, Chief Executive Officer
Unstoppable: Harnessing Science to Change the World
by Bill Nye
As a child of the 90’s, the chant “BILL! BILL! BILL! BILL!” marked the beginning of a scientific adventure. Bill Nye (the Science Guy) was, and still is, a man who could bring the wonders of the natural world into focus, helping me and countless others to develop a greater understanding and appreciation for STEM. In more recent years, Nye has become a staunch advocate for the fight against climate change. I recently picked up his latest book called Unstoppable, where he re-frames the daunting reality of climate change as an opportunity for the greatest scientific advancements of our time. While I have only just begun to read this book myself, I suspect Nye will do what he’s always done – inspire us to meet the challenges and opportunities of our time head-on.
-Emma Legault, Provincial Resource Team (Community Learning Centre Initiative)
Black Hole Blues and Other Songs From Outer Space
by Janna Levin
After my first experiences of Maker Spaces, this book came as the ultimate validation of making and tinkering. Imagine wanting to make a device to record the sound of spacetime ringing, an instrument both scientific and musical, which could record the Lilliputian gravitational waves that would reach us only when great astrophysical masses such as black holes collide. This is a book about the journey of building a monumental measuring tool, from a brilliantly simple concept, to a 4 kilometre monster of precision, over a period of 50 years. I like it most of all because it conveys the struggles, the spirit and the ethos of all those who worked together to problem solve and tinker it into near perfection. Oh, and it works! The very year of its completion in 2015, a gravitational wave was detected and measured.
-Christiane Dufour, Pedagogical Consultant
50 Dangerous Things (you should let your children do)
by Gever Tulley
This is an innovative, challenge-based book for children and adults alike! The challenges range from licking a 9 volt battery, to making a slingshot, to sleeping in the wild, stand (sit) on the roof. Each challenge comes with How-To, requirements, materials, duration, difficulty levels, safety tips, warnings and a whole page for field notes. Pack as much outdoor playtime and curious exploration into those summer months as possible. Gever reminds us all how to be kids again in 50 really imaginative ways.
-Chris Colley, Pedagogical Consultant
by Kathleen Winter
I’m reading this book for a second time, which speaks volumes about how very good it is. Kathleen Winter’s lyrical, rich narrative, and honest characters make it oh so worthwhile! The topic (which I will not discuss here for fear of spoiling it for you) is timeless, and will resonate with anyone dealing with issues of familial diversity and personal challenge.
Hey, and why not read about winter in coastal Labrador while you laze on your deck in the heat of summer? The snowy landscapes may cool you down, but this beautiful coming- of-age story will warm your heart.
-Kristine Thibeault, Pedagogical Consultant
Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less
by Greg McKeown
This booked is a planned re-read this summer… I need a refresher!
Essentialism, sort of like Ben’s pick of the life changing magic of tidying up, is about being disciplined. It’s about figuring out what you care about most so that you can release some of the things that make you busy… but aren’t really that important at all. Reading in my hammock, being by the water, and spending relaxed time with my family are all essential for me to have a great vacation. Tidying up? Not so much! Happy summer!
-Dianne Conrod, Principal – Online Learning
by Andy Weir
As a self-proclaimed science geek, I can’t wait to read this fictional account of astronaut Mark Watney as he struggles to survive after a dust storm that leads to him being stranded on Mars. Apparently, Weir did exhaustive research to make his story as scientifically sound as possible. After I read the book, I may just check out the movie (starring Matt Damon, need I say more?).
-Kerry Cule, Online teacher & Pedagogical Consultant
by Colm Tóibín
I am a simple Irish girl at heart. I loved this story about Eilis Lacey, whose heart is with her family in Ireland, but is looking for a better life in Brooklyn. Eilis and I could be very good friends. Easy summer reading for all. Enjoy!
-Peggy Drolet, Online teacher & Pedagogical Consultant
The Sisters Brothers
by Patrick Dewitt
Sometimes I read a book because of the first line on the first page, but this one had me at the title. I have a lot of brothers and sisters and so does my husband, from whom I stole this. Ssshhhh.
-Audrey McLaren, Online teacher & Pedagogical Consultant
Nothing: A Very Short Introduction
by Frank close
This summer, I’m reading nothing.
After a fun discussion with my son about emptiness and void in space, I’ve decided to re-read Nothing – A Very Short Introduction from Frank Close. It’s a small but fascinating book that explores the concept of nothing, all the way back to Aristotle. 150 pages of pure delight. Really.
-Louise-Gilles Lalonde, Senior Programmer
by Janet Evanovich
I started reading the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich a couple of years ago. I was introduced to the series by a library friend of mine. It is an easy read with action, romance and a lot of LOL’s. The series consists of 22 books so far. I am in the middle of reading Tricky Twenty-Two and hope the series continues.
-Christy Schwartz, Administrative Support – Online Learning
The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage
* The (Mostly) True Story of the First Computer
by Sydney Padua
I’ve been immersed in STEAM education this year, so a graphic novel about the first computer that never was… the steam-powered Difference Engine designed by inventor Babbage and conceptualized by mathematician Lovelace seems a fitting summer read. The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage * The (Mostly) True Story of the First Computer is described by the author Sydney Padua herself as “an imaginary comic about an imaginary computer.”
-Christine Truesdale, Director of Pedagogical Services and Educational Technology
And the Mountains Echoed
by Khaled Hosseini
Khaled Hosseini also wrote The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns. All three of these books give a view of life in Afghanistan through the lives of different families, at different times in the last 100 years. And the Mountains Echoed is probably the most powerful, telling connected stories through the voices of several different characters whose lives intersect over time. This is not a light read, but if you are looking for a grounding story about life in another part of the world that is emotional, thought provoking but still leaves you with hope, this book exemplifies the art of good story telling.
-Thomas Stenzel, Pedagogical Consultant
by Ingrid Falaise
This is the personal story of Ingrid, a Québec born actress who has written this very poignant first book. It is a story that involves the crossing of two very different cultures that are trying to come together under the false premise of love. It happened to Ingrid when she was 18, but it could happen to our daughters, sisters and even us. When they say love is blind, it can really be blinding. I chose this book for a quick summer read and I read it in a flash! It is well written, interesting, and will even get you to cultivate your French language.
-Natalie Dahlstedt, Online Teacher
My Life on the Road
I have started to read a lot of Gloria Steinem’s work. I was really young when I first heard her name. Since then I have learned a lot about her work, but until recently, had never read any of her own writing in great depth. Her newest book, My Life on the Road explores her feminist work through the lens of her very intentionally nomadic life. Among many other things, I was impressed with how lighthearted and fun she is, while still focussing on such important issues.
-Mary Stewart, Managing Editor – LEARNing Landscapes
From everyone at LEARN, enjoy a relaxed and greatly deserved break… and happy reading!
For more great book recommendations:
50 books to read in 2016: TED-ED Educators and TED Speakers share their picks