Campus News

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

News Release

April 11, 2005

Students Hope to Get Guelph Reading

University of Guelph students and their professor hope to engage the community in thought-provoking and insightful discussions about books through Guelph Reads!, a new event being held April 15.

“Everyone has a book that has changed their life or a book that they really think can change how people relate to one another,” said Ben Walsh, who helped organize Guelph Reads! along with six other students enrolled in a course on “Literature and Social Change” offered through the first-year learning seminar program and taught by English professor Ajay Heble.

The students selected four prominent community leaders and asked them to each choose a book that has created great or subtle change in the past or has the potential to invoke future social progress. They will read excerpts from their selection at 7 p.m. at Chalmers United Church. Participants were asked to select books that would get people thinking about their community and their world in new ways or would get them to refine old ways of thinking. Each of the four will argue why their selection should be read by everyone in Guelph.

The panellists include Dionne Brand, a Governor General’s Award-winning author, the director of four documentaries for the National Film Board of Canada and a professor of English literature and creative writing at U of G. She will debate the merits of The Journey of Ibn Fattouma, a story of a young man’s journey in search of wisdom, written by Naguib Mahfouz.

Daniel Quinn’s Ishmael: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit, to be defended by Guelph litigation lawyer, broadcaster and journalist T. Sher Singh, is a story about the search for truth.

Marva Wisdom, national policy chair for the Liberal Party of Canada and 2002 winner of the Voluntary Community Humanitarian Service Award, has chosen The Truth About Stories by Guelph English professor Thomas King, which illustrates the power of native storytelling in shaping society and understanding others.

Karen Farbridge, former Guelph mayor and U of G political science instructor, will argue on behalf of her pick, The Great Work: Our Way Into the Future by Thomas Berry, which offers insight into balancing humanity and the environment in terms of ethics, politics, economics and education.

“I agreed to participate because I like to encourage student projects that link academic pursuits with the community,” said Farbridge. “The event provides an opportunity for the community to benefit from the enthusiasm, creativity and thoughtfulness of the students.”

The event will be hosted by Heble, and everyone attending will have the opportunity to vote at the end of the debates. There will also be online voting and voting by e-mail. The debates will be broadcast in three parts on CFRU 93.3 starting April 17. The winning book will be announced May 10 on CFRU, and the organizers hope people will feel compelled to read it. For more information, visit or send e-mail to

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

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