The end of the semester is approaching, and there’s only a few short weeks and a couple pesky exams between us and the freedom of summer break. Many of us will soon begin to think about the forgotten concept of reading for fun or for personal development, a pursuit which often gets buried under the piles of textbook reading we do during the school year. To celebrate this, we are partnering with Redeemer’s bookstore to produce a list of excellent summer reads recommended by Redeemer faculty. These are the books your professors are reading and thinking about and want you to read and think about too. All of these are available at 21Five, and, for the next month, will be offered at a discount of 15% off! Head over there and pick one (or all five) up, and save it for your first summer road trip, beach day or a mid-exam break.
We will also be doing a giveaway for five Redeemer students to win a book off the list of their choice. Check out @ru_crown and @21fivebookstore on Instagram for details! As well, keep an eye out for a longer summer reading list coming from 21Five later this spring.
Dr. Ben Faber, Associate Professor of English
Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro
Nobel Prize laureate Kazuo Ishiguro’s latest novel is the surprisingly moving story of Klara, an artificial intelligence robot who develops a complicated relationship with her human companion. Because the story is told from Klara’s perspective, the reader comes to understand Klara’s world in sync with her growing awareness of herself. The effect of being in the world inside the consciousness of an entirely credible AI is uncanny. Not only does the novel invite us to think of the possibility of artificial consciousness, it challenges us to reappraise our relationship with technology. The most remarkable feature of this novel, however, besides Ishiguro’s exquisitely clear prose, is the tantalizing possibility of transcendence in the faith that Klara develops. This is science fiction with a difference.
Dr. Lisa Devall-Martin, Assistant Professor of Education
The Freedom Writers Diary: How a Teacher and 150 Teens Used Writing to Change Themselves and the World Around Them by Erin Gruwell
If you were to ask a Redeemer teacher candidate in the School of Education, “What made you decide to be a teacher?”, many of them would identify a teacher who had made a difference in their lives, who had connected with them and inspired them to be the “best version of themselves”–who saw them! That is exactly what newly contracted teacher Erin Gruwell desired to do when confronted with a classroom of “unteachable, at-risk students” in 1994 Long Beach, California. With determination to “see” her students, she revamped the entire curriculum to address the intolerance and misconceptions of “seeing the other” in the classroom and beyond. By using the story of Anne Frank and her diary, she inspired her students to write their thoughts and feelings in their own diaries, and the students’ nickname “Freedom Writers” was born. This nonfiction narrative captures students’ diary entries and Erin’s professional and personal reflections, resulting in an unforgettable true story of human courage and hard work, which changed the lives of the students and the teacher. As the New York Times wrote, “The Freedom Writers Diary remains a vital read for anyone who believes in second chances.”
Dr. Amber Bowen, Assistant Professor of Core Studies and Philosophy
You Are Not Your Own: Belonging to God in an Inhuman World by Alan Noble
The modern world, fashioned by individualism, technology, and consumerism, is making us mentally, spiritually, and even physically ill. We want to self-author—to fashion our own identities and choose our own journeys—free from any restraints or givens. “I am my own” is the mantra of our era. Technology is increasingly isolating us from each other, and consumerism coaxes us into objectifying one as well as ourselves. Noble argues that self-ownership and self-definition are not only lies but the source of our anxiety, our confusion, our insecurity, and our exhaustion. The first question of the Heidelberg Catechism reads, “What is your only comfort in life and death?” The answer: “That I am not my own, but belong with body and soul, both in life and in death, to my faithful Saviour, Jesus Christ.” Noble re-contextualizes this theological concept in the 21st century to help us find true freedom—and our true selves—in belonging to Christ. This is not merely a doctrinal concept to learn, it is an existential orientation that, as Kierkegaard says, allows us to rest transparently in the Power that establishes us.
Dr. Vahagn Asatryan, Associate Professor of Business
Honorable Influence: A Christian’s Guide to Faithful Marketing by David Hagenbuch
This is a good one because it offers a systematic reflection on detractive and destructive marketing practices—the two of the four quadrants of the Christian Marketing Typology model I discuss in my classes—and proposes a “balanced perspective” on Christitan ethics in a secular workplace.
Dr. Marie Good, Assistant Professor of Psychology
Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell
Talking to Strangers is a fantastic read for anyone who is interested in social psychology or forensic psychology. Basically, it’s about why humans are generally pretty bad at understanding/predicting/knowing the true thoughts and deeds of others (especially strangers). It uses famous case studies (such as Amanda Knox, Hitler, and Bernie Madoff) to illustrate this basic idea and supplements them with psychological research on the topic. I like how Gladwell goes into the psychological studies on a deeper level, but how he describes them is still really accessible. This book made me rethink my views about all kinds of issues! In particular, the main thesis of the book (that we nearly always assume that others are telling us the truth), forced me to consider how that plays out in my own life—in good ways and bad. It made me realize that people lie to me more than I assume they do and caused me to reflect on whether there is anything I could (or should!) do about that. A fantastic read for the beach or cottage!