That’s a page-turner!

Upper-year students at Mount Allison reflect on the most impactful literature they have engaged with

Madeleine Hansen/Argosy

There’s nothing like that feeling you get when you finish a book, close it, and are overcome with a burning desire for more. Literature moves us in different ways, and some books speak to us more than others. Unfortunately, the heavy reading load that comes with university can sometimes be exhausting, especially considering the fact that course materials are not tailored to suit the preferences of each student. It is easy to lose sight of why we read and how rewarding it can be.

But come on, Sparknotes can’t cover it all, right? There must be a book or author that you have engaged with during your degree that left a lasting impression on you. If not, you’re in luck! Some of Mount Allison’s upper-year students have some great additions for your summer reading list.

Abigail Spicer, a third-year English student, has had a new text speak to her each semester. “Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic is the most recent text to have impacted me as a student at Mt. A,” she said. Fun Home was the third graphic novel that Spicer read at Mt. A, and she has “increasingly become a fan of them.”

“Bechdel’s autobiography appeals to me because of how authentic and frank she is when describing her life from childhood to adulthood,” Spicer said. “She beautifully mingles memories from every point in her life until she has completed the narrative, leaving her reader with an open ending and hope for tomorrow.” If you are shopping for a new graphic novel, Spicer makes a good case for why Bechdel’s should be added to your cart!

An author that came to mind for sixth-year honours English and biology student James Willis was Toni Morrison. “Apart from having an intriguing background, I liked how she weaves tradition and modernist issues into works like Jazz or Beloved,” he said. “Her books feel timeless because of how they blend past history with present problems.”

Margaret Atwood’s short work “Women’s Novels” was the most impactful piece of writing for Annelie Thurler, a fourth-year English and psychology student. “This piece looked at the stereotypes which separate women’s and men’s literature in a feminist view, but also brought in the contrasting argument of sometimes wanting to read something light and easy,” Thurler said. “In university you are constantly reading challenging works, which are often very rewarding, but sometimes you just want to read a dumb book.”

Annelie has a point with this one. Show of hands for those who have willingly dipped their toes into the Twilight Saga? Don’t worry, it’s still better than 50 Shades of… Dare I say its name?

Whatever the case, the transformative possibilities of reading a good book is undeniable, and university is like having an accountability coach for reading. It introduces us to new kinds of reading materials, tells us to read them and silently judges us if we don’t. But one thing is for certain: not every book we read is going to inspire and impact us. How else are we supposed to differentiate the good ones from the duds? That being said, I hope that this article has given you a few ideas for your next read.

Jane Rempel
Jane Rempel is a fourth-year English major and drama minor from the Vancouver, BC area. She has three friends and one cat.