University of Guelph Announces Inaugural Gryphons Read Program
The University of Guelph has launched its inaugural Gryphons Read common reading project featuring U of G alumna Zoe Whittall’s novel, The Best Kind of People, published by the House of Anansi Press.
Gryphons Read will encourage first-year students and other members of the University community to connect and engage in meaningful conversations across campus by reading and discussing the same book. Whittall will visit the University of Guelph on Sept. 25 and 26 to meet with groups of students and to give a public talk and a reading as the first featured writer for Gryphons Read. "I can't think of a better novel than The Best Kind of People by Zoe Whittall to kick off the inaugural Gryphons Read program. Enjoy the novel, the conversations and the visits," says Prof. Lawrence Hill, School of English and Theatre Studies, and chair of the Gryphons Read organizing committee.
The Best Kind of People examines what happens to a family – specifically a mother, a son and a daughter – when the husband and father is accused of sexually assaulting students in the high school where he teaches. The novel examines the lives of people caught up in a domestic crisis that was not of their own making.
This story about a family in difficult straits can help bring the University together by fostering dialogue through a common reading program.
“I’m proud to see this innovative and engaging initiative roll out to first-year students and the University community,” says Charlotte Yates, provost and vice-president (academic). “Books bring us together in ways that no other media can. I look forward to having important conversations as we read the same novel by a renowned Canadian author.”
The U of G Library is also taking part in the program.
“We are thrilled about the launch of a common reading program at the University,” says Rebecca Graham, chief information officer and chief librarian at U of G. “The Library is pleased to be able to contribute to the development of Gryphons Read and believes it will be a beneficial addition to campus programming for years to come.”
Jack Fisher, president of the College of Arts Student Union, praised the program for promoting Canadian literature to students. “The Gryphons Read program is so cool,” he says. “This is such a great opportunity for students to get exposed to current Canadian literature outside of class.”
Engaging students through a common reading program will also give them the opportunity to develop their leadership and communication skills. “Student Life staff have been busy recruiting trainers, facilitators and participants, planning the training, developing resource materials, and overseeing program implementation and evaluation,” says Laurie Schnarr, director of Student Life.
The Best Kind of People, a national bestseller, was a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and was selected by Indigo as the Book of the Year in 2016. Whittall’s debut novel, Bottle Rocket Hearts (2007), made the Globe and Mail’s Top 100 Books of the Year and CBC Canada Reads’ Top 10 Essential Novels of the Decade.
Born in the Eastern Townships of Quebec, Whittall has an MFA from the University of Guelph and lives in Toronto.
The common reading program is funded by the Offices of the Provost, the Dean of Arts and the Chief Librarian. , For more information, contact Sandra Sabatini, Gryphons Read committee co-ordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 519-824-4120, Ext. 53869; or Cindy Ma, senior publicist
at House of Anansi Press, at email@example.com, or416-363-4343, Ext. 250.