Campus News

Published by Communications and Public Affairs 519 824-4120, Ext. 56982 or 53338

News Release

March 29, 2006

Guelph Reads! Promotes Reading, Discussion, Action

Engaging the community in thought-provoking and insightful discussions about books is the goal of Guelph Reads!, a free event organized by students at the University of Guelph. The second annual event runs April 8 at 7 p.m. at Norfolk United Church, with a reception to follow.

“This is a time for people to get together and celebrate reading while hearing from members of our community who are creating positive change,” said event organizer Ben Walsh, a fourth-year English student. "The works that have been selected have been created by writers who tell their stories not just to entertain but also to witness, to outrage and to inspire people, and we hope these responses will act to support positive social change."

Four community leaders have each been asked to choose a book that, in their opinion, has created great or subtle change in the past or has the potential to invoke future social progress. Panellists Dave Hudson, Mira Clarke, Jan Sherman and Sky Gilbert have selected books and will argue why their selection should be read by everyone in Guelph.

Hudson, a spoken-word artist and U of G graduate, will discuss Fledgling by Octavia E. Butler. It’s the story of a seemingly young amnesiac girl who is led to the startling conclusion that she is actually a genetically modified 53-year-old vampire. The book tests the limits of “otherness” and questions what it truly means to be human.

Clarke is executive director of Action Read, a local community literacy centre that offers training for adults who want to improve their reading, writing and numeracy skills and family literacy programs, selected The Red Tent by Anita Diamant, which retells the story of Dinah, a Biblical passage commonly referred to as the “Rape of Dinah” in the book of Genesis.

Sherman is a professional native storyteller and day-camp facilitator who runs workshops for women, schools and agencies and co-ordinates and leads family literacy programs. Her selection, for Joshua by Richard Wagamese, chronicles a personal search for self-knowledge and self-respect told in a manner that shares Ojibwa traditions and teachings.

Gilbert is a playwright and U of G drama and co-founder and former artistic director of Toronto’s Buddies in Bad Times Theatre. His selection is Joseph Sobran’s Alias Shakespeare, which proposes that Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford, was the secret author of the works of William Shakespeare.

Guelph Reads! will be hosted by T. Sher Singh, a writer, broadcaster, journalist and litigation lawyer who was a panellist at the inaugural Guelph Reads last year. His book choice, Ishmael by Daniel Quinn, was named the winning selection. Singh is a member of the Order of Canada and a founding member of the Centennial Foundation, an organization that showcases the achievements of Sikh-Canadians.

People attending the event will have the opportunity to vote for their favourite book at the end of the debates. There will also be voting via e-mail and the web. The debates will be broadcast in three parts on CFRU 93.3 FM starting April16. The winning book will be announced May.

For more information, visit or send e-mail to

For media questions, call Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, (519) 824-4120, Ext. 53338, or Rebecca Kendall, Ext. 56982.

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