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Reading a book. Trees in the background. // Image from Pixabay

10 inspiring books to read this summer

May 7, 2019 — 

So many books, and so little summer to read them all. How do you choose? We asked our alumni and UM community to tell us about the most inspiring books they’ve ever read and they answered with an eclectic list that’s sure to complement your summer adventures.

If you’re looking for your next great read, consider adding these favourites to your list:


THE HIDDEN LIFE OF TREES: WHAT THEY FEEL, HOW THEY COMMUNICATE—DISCOVERIES FROM A SECRET WORLD
by Peter Wohlleben
Recommended by: @shalynfalloon on Instagram

“The Hidden Life of Trees is a feel-good, easy to read book that is based on science and observation. It reminds us that we need to be more mindful of our relationships with the members of the plant kingdom.”


THE RISE AND FALL OF THE THIRD REICH
by William L. Shirer
Recommended by: Toivo Kulpa [BSc(ME)/65]

“I read Shirer’s book during my 4th year in engineering at U of M. As an Estonian who was a victim of the Third Reich and the Soviet Union I found the details in this book very significant and continued to read about the two world wars and all other conflicts in Europe from the Romans to the present. Being an engineer, I also analyzed much of this history from event sequence, national resources and logistics aspects. This made me realize how incorrect, incomplete and biased ‘popular’ history is.”


SHŌGUN
by James Clavell
Recommended by: Susan Rocan [CertEd/82]

“Shōgun impressed me so much, when I read it in my late teens, that I wrote a paper on it for my university English course. I wanted to learn about the book’s premise – the first Englishman in Japan. I researched books on feudal Japan, looking for real people on which Clavell based his characters. His writing made me feel as though I was right beside those characters, experiencing life in that time period. He inspired me to do the extensive research I needed when it came time to write my own historical fiction, Withershins and Spirit Quest.”


MEDICINE UNBUNDLED: A JOURNEY THROUGH THE MINEFIELDS OF INDIGENOUS HEALTH CARE
by Gary Geddes
Recommended by: @spiritoftreaty1 on Instagram

Medicine Unbundled is a bone-shaking, nerve-touching dissection into the roots of modern day healthcare industries. Geddes lays fact after fact with citations, a design that inspired me to read further.”


PETER AND WENDY
(a.k.a. Peter Pan) by J.M. Barrie
Recommended by: Frances Koncan [BA/10]

“I’m a Taurus, so much like Peter himself, I am terrified of change and transitions. I am not graceful in growing up, moving on, or letting go. So when those difficult moments arise, I always revisit this story, and go home to my own cozy Neverland to rest so I can return to the real world and do proper adult things, like pay taxes and collect plastic bags inside of other plastic bags.”


NEVER CRY WOLF
by Farley Mowat
Recommended by: Jennifer Doering [BSc(Hons)/14, MSc/17]

Never Cry Wolf started my dream of becoming a biologist. In the book, the main character goes out to the field to study wolves. Growing up, I thought that scientists only worked in the lab and Farley’s book showed me that you can take science outside and study things in their natural habitats. Not only that, but you don’t have to be a professional or have university degrees to study something. By taking detailed notes and caring about your research, you can accomplish great things regardless of social, academic, and cultural standing. For a grade 9 student, these lessons helped shape who I am today.”


ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT
by Erich Maria Remarque
Recommended by: Matthew Renaud [BA(Hons)/10, MA/11]

“This was the first overtly “grown-up” book that I ever read. I was 12 or 13 at the time and remember being significantly influenced by its overtly anti-war message. That message would help shape my worldview during those formative years, and I began to think critically about the institutions and policies that govern our daily lives. I also credit All Quiet on the Western Front with helping me fall in love with history, an academic discipline I would pursue years later during my time as a U of M student.”


THE HANDMAID’S TALE
by Margaret Atwood
Recommended by: Suzanne Therrien-Richards [BSc/80, MID/18]

“When I read this book, it is a reminder that being passive politically can result in devastating consequences for some. When a political party is leaning towards misogyny, racism, repudiation of rights, suddenly The Handmaid’s Tale becomes a distinct and frightening possibility.”


LATE NIGHTS ON AIR
by Elizabeth Hay
Recommended by: @heatheroh on Instagram

“Everything about this book is endearingly Canadian, but especially the romanticizing of our wilderness and radio’s unique ability to unite communities (and people) who are otherwise isolated. It inspired me to take up canoeing again, and seriously consider exploring more of Canada’s North.”


PRIDE AND PREJUDICE
by Jane Austen
Recommended by: Wendy Bumsted [BEd/79, MA/86]

“When I was 13, my family moved from a tiny village to a town. One of the features of town was the public library. I had always been a good reader, but reading material was limited. Once we moved, going to the library became a regular Saturday afternoon event. I cannot remember why I picked up the nondescript brown covered book with no dust jacket or plot synopsis, but I did and was enthralled. The book was Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. It is a book I still re-read. I am not sure why I have such a clear memory of that time, but it underscores my belief in the importance of public libraries and their role in creating life-long readers.”

 

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Alumni Answers is our way of building community with alumni and UM friends by sharing memories, ideas, and opinions with one another. Every month, we pose a new question to make us ponder, laugh, or learn together and share the responses in an upcoming UM Today story. Sign up here to get next month’s question sent straight to your inbox.

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