Summer Reading – AU Style

It’s always a thrill to open an AU box full of course materials. For a book nut like me the excitement of receiving pristine books is beyond compare. Even textbooks make me giddy with anticipation. The AU box is like a cornucopia of books.

Books for English courses are the best. There’s a textbook or two, of course, but usually of manageable size. Then there’s the hoard of “real” books. Novels, short stories, poetry, plays. They call it “literature” but I call it fun. I know it will be work to read them closely, analyze them, then write essays about them. But still?books!

My next English course, ENGL 302 An Introduction to Canadian Literature, doesn’t officially begin until September 1. But, acting on a tip from another AU student, I registered for the course several months early. A week later, a heavy box arrived in the mail from AU.

Book haul: eleven books of fun reading?oh, I mean literature?one textbook, and a course study guide. My course doesn’t begin for a couple months yet, but I can plunge in any time. Summer reading time!

English course readings usually have to be read several times. Often, students are recommended to read each book, story, poem, or play once before reviewing any critical analysis of it. Then the work can be given a close second reading. In the study guide for ENGL 302, for example, it states, “Ideally, you should read each assigned text through at least twice: once without regard for the Study Guide suggestions, and a second time, paying close attention to them.”

So, the way I see it, I can?and should?pre-read these books over the summer.
Now, chances are I won’t be able to read them all before September 1. Especially since one of them is a 1000+ page anthology, only some of which will be assigned reading (I assume and hope.)

With my cache of course books, lounging around reading this summer will be both fun and productive. I can relax with W.O. Mitchell’s Who Has Seen the Wind on the front porch, take Margaret Atwood’s The Fire-Dwellers camping, and picnic with Gabrielle Roy’s Where Nests the Water Hen. For days when my attention span is shorter, I can dip into the anthology and read short pieces from Stephen Leacock, Carol Shields, and Susanna Moodie.

Registering for this course early means my summer reading is planned for me. The only downside of early registration is that you have to pay early, too. However, having the books in advance so I can read at leisure (and make sure I like the course) makes it worthwhile for me.

“The first reading is for pleasure,” says my course study guide. This summer, it sure will be.

Barbara Lehtiniemi is a writer, photographer, and AU student. She lives on a windswept rural road in Eastern Ontario. Follow Barbara on twitter @ThereGoesBarb.

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