The University of Guelph Announces the Inaugural Gryphons Read Program

The University of Guelph announces the inaugural Gryphons Read common reading project, which will encourage first-year students and other members of the university community to connect with each other and to enter into meaningful conversations all across campus by reading and discussing the same book.

This year, that book is Zoe Whittall’s The Best Kind of People by the House of Anansi Press. On September 25 and 26, 2017, Whittall will visit the University of Guelph to meet with groups of students, and give a public talk and reading as the first featured writer for Gryphons Read.

Lawrence Hill, Professor, School of English and Theatre Studies and chair of the Gryphons Read organizing committee is thrilled that Grypons Read is launching with this book. "I can't think of a better novel to kick off the first Gryphons Read 2017. Enjoy the novel, the conversations, and the visits!" he said. Gryphons Read will engage students at multiple levels - as trainers, as facilitators of small group discussions, and as participants. Student life staff have been recruiting trainers, facilitators and participants, planning the training, developing resource materials, and overseeing program implementation and evaluation. Laurie Schnarr, Director of Student Life says students will strengthen their communication skills, their leadership capacity and they will have opportunities to meet other new students and to build important networks.”

Provost and Vice President, Charlotte Yates says she is “delighted to see this innovative and engaging initiative roll out to first year students and the university community getting us all involved in important conversations while we are all reading the same novel by a Canadian woman author.”

Jack Fisher, president of the College of Arts Student Union says students are looking forward to opportunities the program will offer. “The Gryphons Read program is so cool. As an English major, I think something like this could have really helped me jump right into the fun part of school. Such a great opportunity for students to start exposing themselves to current Canadian literature outside of the class,” he said.

Gryphons Read is a collaboration between the College of Arts, the Office of the Provost, and the Library. Rebecca Graham, University of Guelph Chief Information Officer and Chief Librarian says the library is pleased to be able to contribute to the development of Gryphons Read. "We are thrilled at the launch of a Common Reading Project at the University and believe it will be a beneficial addition to campus programming for years to come," she said.

Whittall’s novel, The Best Kind of People (2016), a national bestseller was a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and selected as Indigo’s Number One Book of the Year. She is also the author of The Best Ten Minutes of Your Life (2001), The Emily Valentine Poems (2006), and Precordial Thump (2008), and the editor of Geeks, Misfits, & Outlaws (2003). Her debut novel Bottle Rocket Hearts (2007) made the Globe and Mail Top 100 Books of the Year and CBC Canada Reads’ Top Ten Essential Novels of the Decade. Her second novel Holding Still for as Long as Possible (2009) won a Lambda Literary Award and was an American Library Association Stonewall Honor Book. She was awarded the K.M. Hunter Artist Award for Literature in 2016. She has also worked as a writer and story editor on the TV shows DegrassiSchitt’s Creek, and the Baroness Von Sketch Show. Born in the Eastern Townships of Quebec, she has an MFA from the University of Guelph and lives in Toronto.

The Best Kind of People examines what happens to a family – especially a mother, a son and a daughter – when the husband/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. Powerful, haunting, and told from the compelling perspectives of the mother, son and daughter, The Best Kind of People encourages readers to consider issues of sexual assault and criminal allegations while following and learning to care about a family at risk of being split at the seams.

“We are delighted to be taking part in the inaugural Gryphons Read program, and we are so proud to be the publisher of Zoe Whittall’s The Best Kind of People,” says Cindy Ma, Senior Publicist at the House of Anansi Press.

Committee members hope to see the Gryphons Read project continue annually.

Gryphons Read is funded courtesy of the Office of the Provost, the Dean of Arts and the Office of the Chief Librarian.

For more information, please contact:

Sandra Sabatini,
University of Guelph Gryphons Read committee co-ordinator
519-824-4120 x53869

Cindy Ma, Senior Publicist
House of Anansi & Groundwood Books
(416) 363-4343 x 250