This week, we welcome our new intern Kate Broadley, who is working with us as part of her Victoria University arts degree. Kate writes for us about her own and her friends' summer reading lists.
University students have been one of the many groups this year who have had to adapt to multiple ‘rug pulled from underfoot’ changes in our educational endeavours. Being a university student comes with the guarantee that you’ll probably always be struggling through something or other, whether it be an overdue assignment, vengeful recurring mould on the ceiling, or wondering if eating pasta for dinner five nights a week can actually kill you.
So, what are university students reading during their free time this summer, you ask? I asked a few of my friends what was at the top of their To Be Read (TBR) pile and have listed them below with a little blurb for your perusal. As a university student myself, I thought I would be an ideal first interview subject, so I’ll start us off. My list is so long it would be intimidating if it wasn’t about books, but I’ll just stick to the one for now:
(PS Make sure you click the book titles and add them to your own summer reading list if they strike your fancy!)
(PPS I have yet to read any of the books in this list, so my descriptions of the storylines are only an interpretation of the synopses)
1 The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
The story is set in Ancient Greece and Troy, and follows the love story of Patroclus and Achilles (yes, that one). If you know the mythology surrounding Achilles and the Battle of Troy, we both kind of know what we’re getting into here. But if you’re feeling brave, I’ve heard that TSoA is definitely worth it. There’s no reward without risk, right?
This book has been on my TBR list for a solid two years. As both a lover of books and Classical Studies, The Song of Achilles appears to be right up my alley. I’ve always been one to read the reviews and weigh up whether or not a book is worth my attention (although I never completely rely on them because, on some occasions, I’ve read a harshly rated book and absolutely loved it). TSoA has a 4.35/5 star average according to 231,570 ratings, so I’m feeling cautiously optimistic that this book will be a successful summer read.
My next survey subject was my lovely flatmate. She’s a fellow avid reader but we have very different taste in books. She went sifting through her own TBR pile and produced this one below for me to share with you:
2 And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini
If the name Khaled Hosseini rings a bell, it is likely because he is the author of the best-selling novels The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns. Published in 2013, And the Mountains Echoed has been another great success for Hosseini.
The synopsis states the novel begins in 1952, Afghanistan, and takes the reader on a journey all around the world. It centres around the adoration the main character, Abdullah, has for his sister, and shows the lengths he will go to and distance he will travel for her.
The blurb on goodreads mentions the “Crossing [of] generations and continents, moving from Kabul to Paris, to San Francisco, to the Greek Island of Tinos…”. Seeing as we’re all indefinitely grounded in New Zealand for the time being, I think my flatmate definitely has the right idea in reading this book as a way to travel all over the world from her bedroom this summer.
I then asked my classmate and friend. She told me she’s not a big reader, but she is a huge rugby fan, so I’m not at all surprised by the TBR book she gave me to write about:
3 Beaudy by Beauden Barrett and Rikki Swannell
When I think about biographies, I instinctively picture an eighty-something-year-old writing about the long life they have lived and reminiscing, but Beauden Barrett is only 29 so there goes that stereotype. Right out the window. Beaudy is about Beauden’s upbringing and details his ongoing rugby career from the beginning to the present day, playing for the Hurricanes and the All Blacks and then back again. If you’re a sports lover like my rugby-mad friend, this book could definitely be one to add to your TBR or Christmas list!
Finally, another classmate (who is a sucker for romance) has this one on their list:
4 The Chaos of Standing Still by Jessica Brody
After reading the synopsis for this novel, The Chaos of Standing Still appears to centre around the protagonist finding understanding and solace during a long process of grieving. The blurb provides a whiff of possible romance, and a possible lesson in how love can help us cope with many a difficult situation. This book is definitely making its way onto my summer reading list.
There you have it! The books above are a little glimpse into what university students are planning to read this summer. If they seem like a bit of you, why not add them to your own TBR? Happy reading! <3
- Kate Broadley, VUW intern.