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Queen’s Reads book for 2018-19 unveiled

This year’s Queen’s Reads book will take the university community on a trip down the 401. 

[Queen's Reads University book Catherine Hernandez Scarborough]
Volunteers prepare copies of Scarborough for distribution during the Queen's Reads campaign. (University Communications)

This year’s Queen’s Reads book will take the university community to a place that may be familiar for some, and may challenge students, faculty, and staff to look at it through different eyes.

Scarborough by Catherine Hernandez tells the interconnected stories of members of a culturally diverse Scarborough neighbourhood, including recent immigrants, Indigenous Peoples, single parents, and children.

Queen’s Reads is an annual common reading program which seeks to engage the university community in dialogue. Every year, a selection committee comprising students, staff, and faculty members aims to choose a book by a Canadian author which covers themes that are part of ongoing conversations on campus, will engage students, and are topical in the broader Canadian context. Last year, the committee chose The Break by Indigenous author Katherena Vermette.

After evaluating a number of options, Scarborough was chosen as this year’s book. With the selection made, the Student Experience Office in the Division of Student Affairs coordinates the year-long programming. And Woo Kim, Manager of the Student Experience Office, says they have a lot planned.

“We encourage everyone to take advantage of these opportunities, even if you've only read a page - part of the campaign is about reading the book, and part of it is engaging on the topics and themes,” says Ms. Kim.

The Student Experience Office will be giving away 5,000 copies of the book to students, faculty, and staff, with the majority of copies being distributed in the first weeks of the fall term.

In addition, the team has plenty of activities planned throughout the year. There is a documentary screening and panel discussion planned for the fall, an author event with Ms. Hernandez in November, and discussion groups taking place throughout the fall and winter.

There will also be designated ‘Reading Nooks’ – physical locations across campus where the university community will be encouraged to read together – and regular blog posts on the Student Experience Office website from members of the Queen’s community writing about the book, the topics and themes, and their love of reading.

And if you cannot make it to the groups or events, you can always organize your own – like one group of staff did as part of last year’s program.

In addition to her book’s selection for this year’s edition of the Queen’s Reads program, Ms. Hernandez will also be the Writer-in-Residence for the Department of English for the fall term, focusing on creative writing. The residency is funded through the Queen’s Research Opportunities Funds - Arts Fund – Visiting Artist in Residence, as well as the Canada Council for the Arts.

[Catherine Hernandez]
Catherine Hernandez, author of Scarborough, will be the Writer-in-Residence for the Department of English this fall. (Supplied Photo) 

As part of this residency, she will be working on her next novel, Crosshairs, and organizing workshops and healing circles around LGBTQ2s and racialized communities at Queen's University, and within the larger Kingston community.

"Crosshairs is a difficult novel to write because it means engaging in difficult discussions around race, religion, and identity,” she says. “With the support of Queen's, I look forward to digging deeper into the questions, 'What price do we pay by being passive in the face of white supremacy? And what price do we pay for fighting back?'"

There will be a welcome event for Ms. Hernandez on September 21 at 2:30 pm in Watson Hall Room 517, which the Queen’s community and general public are welcome to attend.

Those seeking a copy of Scarborough should keep an eye out for the Queen’s Reads booth at the ASUS Sidewalk Sale, Queen’s in the Park, and pop-up shops at Union and University (U&U) events during Orientation Week.

The book will also be available to students at the AMS offices and the Student Experience Office in the John Deutsch University Centre, Stauffer Library, Duncan McArthur Hall, residences, and the Four Directions Aboriginal Student Centre. In addition, distance education advisors will be mailing free copies of the book to their students.

Some advanced copies have been distributed to offices on campus; staff and faculty are encouraged to share these copies within their offices.

Anyone requiring an accessible format copy of the book is asked to contact the Adaptive Technology Centre at adaptive.technology.centre@queensu.ca.

Learn more about Queen’s Reads on the Student Experience Office website.