Making a list,checking it twice: My Holiday Reading

I can’t stop thinking about Doris Lessing’s acceptance speech for the Nobel Prize in Literature. I’ve always prided myself on being a bookworm, but her words made me realise that recently I haven’t been reading very much aside from what I’ve needed to read for class. What’s more, since much of what I do involves being on the computer, my lack of reading has been replaced with far too much time with what Lessing calls, “the inanities of the internet”.

So in an effort to rectify my reading/internet balance, I’m making a list of holiday reading. During the Christmas break every time I feel tempted to turn on the computer, I shall read!

Here are the top five books on my list.

1) Acts of Faith: The Story of an American Muslim, the Struggle for a Soul of a Generation by Eboo Patel: I’ve heard excellent things about this book and just find Eboo Patel’s work intriguing in general. He is the director of the Interfaith Youth Core, (an international organization that builds respect among youth from different faith traditions by empowering them to work together to serve others) and a Rhodes Scholar.

2) Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert: I saw this book recently when browsing for good books, and loved its dedication page and introduction. Both very very funny. And anything that has Malcolm Gladwell on the cover gets my vote.

3) The Dark Materials Trilogy by Philip Pullman: Because I read The Subtle Knife (Book Two) in my children’s literature class this term, and I really want to know how the trilogy starts and ends.

4) Forces for Good: The Six Practices of High-Impact Nonprofits:
I’m intensely interested right now in what makes an organization extremely effective, and what sorts of factors create work environments where people feel happy and that their contributions are valued.

5) The Elements of Style: Because a prof this term said anyone who wishes to be a serious writer must read this book, apply its principles and refer to it frequently.

I’m extremely interested to hear from terry readers: what have you been reading lately/hope to read soon that you’d recommend? I’d love to add to my list.

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Shagufta is a UBC Political Science graduate with a passion for interdisciplinary thinking, writing, travel, reading, tea, and interesting conversations. She hopes to combine all of these things in her life work someday. For now though, she studies social policy and planning at the University of Toronto and shares her adventures in and out of the classroom at

12 Responses to “Making a list,checking it twice: My Holiday Reading”

  1. Dave Semeniuk

    Over 2 months of in-transit reading during the summer, I finished nearly half of the 1000 pages of Peter Watson’s Ideas. Highly detailed, highly educational, and highly recommended.

  2. richard

    OK, read Elements of Style, but only for background, and don’t accept the advice without lots of criticism: read Language Log regularly for (among other things) the reasons that Frankenstrunk can’t be trusted!

    Personally, over Christmas I’ll be reading my favourite living Terry, Terry Glavin, whose Death Feast in Dimlahamid has been on my shelf for too long; Nancy Turner’s The Earth’s Blanket; and maybe even The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, by Junot Diaz.

  3. richard

    (Oops. There was one hyperlink meant for “Language Log” and one for “reasons” — they’re there, but there’s an unpleasant and unintended overlap, and there seems to be no edit function on your site for comments….

  4. Joanne Fox

    Hey Richard, the links on your first comment should be fixed now. Thanks for the heads up. Cheers, Joanne.

  5. Nick

    I’ve got Wolfram’s A New Kind of Science sitting on my bedside table, daring me to give it another go (and also threatening to capsize the table).

  6. Florin

    Very engaging books, kept me on the edge of my.. grassy knoll blanket.

    Confessions of an Economic Hitman – John Perkins
    Banker to the Poor – Muhammad Yunus
    Making Globalization Work – Joseph Stiglitz (harder read but good if that’s what you’re into)
    Fair Trade for All – Joseph Stiglitz (not yet read but looking forward to it)
    Three Cups of Tea – Greg Mortenson
    How to Change the World – David Bornstein (on social entrepreneurship)

    So by those titles I must seem like a pretty big idealist, but that’s just how I roll!

  7. David Ng

    I’d also highly recommend the following:

    The graphic novel, Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi (sometimes the comic book form just works, you know?)

    Anything by Edward Tufte (beautiful books – I often look through his books just for visual ideas)

    “The Educated Imagination” by Northrop Frye (interesting discussion on the value of creative literature, and whether there are empirical guidelines for it to fit into)

    “Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, A Man Who Would Cure the World” – This book is really great. This was the one book that Stephen Lewis recommended we should read. Really gets into the mindset of Dr. Farmer, and really any individual driven to social action.

  8. Kerrie

    I second the Persepolis recommendation, as well as Persepolis II. (My Iranian boss also loved this comic, and she was living in Iran during that period).

    I am in the middle of Adam Hochschild’s “Bury the Chains”, which is a history of the anti-slavery movement in Britain. It’s written in the same style as King Leopold’s Ghost: detailed, but easy to absorb.

    Oh, and if you haven’t read Thomas King’s Green Grass, Running Water yet, get yerself to the liberry!!

  9. Leigh-Anne

    Over the break, I’m finally going to read Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead by Stoppard, and possibly reread Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita and Nabokov’s Lolita.

  10. Kerrie

    Holiday hint: Fanon’s “Wretched of the Earth” is NOT festive reading! I discovered that the hard way so that you don’t have to!

  11. Joel

    The Golden Spruce. BC, history, true-crime, mystery, geography, biodiversity, cultural interaction, intrigue.

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