In the University of Limerick, the Centre for Teaching & Learning runs a one-of-a-kind advanced orientation service, the First Seven Weeks Programme. Aimed at new students but providing help to the entire campus population, First Seven Weeks provides guides for the first week of college to help students find their classrooms, runs a drop-in centre (the HUB) and online support service for the first seven weeks of the winter semester to answer student queries and provide new students with a social hub, and runs multiple workshops and events designed to help newcomers to UL settle in both academically and socially.
Every year, the Centre for Teaching & Learning compiles a general reading list for students as a way of encouraging their reading habit and helping them to draw from a range of resources as they embark on their studies here at UL. Drawn from a longlist suggested by UL staff members, and spanning all genres, styles and eras, the list is intended to offer students an entertaining selection of books that encourages them to read for pleasure and to engage with UL’s literary resources. It is not designed to be compulsory reading or an additional burden on students’ time. It’s simply a way of championing an orientation towards reading and encouraging students to focus on becoming generally better read and informed. The books are supplied to students through a free lending library system in the First Seven Weeks HUB, alongside competitions based around reading and reviewing the books.
This year saw over sixty books being suggested by everyone from senior professors to support staff. This longlist was then whittled down to seven titles by the Centre for Teaching & Learning’s Manager Maura Murphy. The number of people from across various UL departments and divisions involved in the process is just one demonstration of how engrained in UL’s culture the Seven Recommended Reads initiative has become.
The 2018 Seven Recommended Reads
– By Mark Maguire
The Uninhabitable Earth
Renowned for its ability to rid it’s a reader of any environmental apathy, David Wallace-Wells’ book offers a harsh outlook on the future of our planet as a result of global warming. Based on his New York Magazine article of the same name, Wells expands on his initial thoughts depicted in his essay and strives to nudge readers to take action against our contribution to the destruction of our Earth, with fascinatingly impressive results.
Turtles All The Way Down
The most recent addition to prolific YA author John Green’s works, Turtles All the Way Down follows the story of a troubled sixteen-year-old girl named Aza who pursues the mysterious disappearance of a billionaire with her best friend, Daisy. Green’s novel has been applauded for its authentic representation of mental illness, namely OCD and anxiety, and its extensive use of an inner-monologue and intelligent writing style. Green’s work is perfect for someone looking for a light-hearted, yet emotionally gripping insight into personal self-reflection and understanding.
Being Various is an anthology of 24 Irish short stories, all written by different Irish authors and all focused on the lives and stories of various Irish characters. In a style reminiscent of James Joyce’s Dubliners, Being Various offers an in-depth look at the lives of a wide spectrum of Irish people. Delightfully various in its depictions, as the name may suggest, Caldwell’s collection is the perfect read for one wanting to explore and understand just how vast the spectrum of Irish life truly is.
The Great Unexpected
Written by a local Limerick author, The Great Unexpected is a fantastically depressing depiction of what might happen to us if we stop enjoying life. Employing a classically Irish black-comedy style, Mooney is able to examine the issues of the elderly, mental health, family, loneliness, and loss sincerely and humorously. Perfect for any young person on the cusp of starting a new chapter in their lives, or anyone at any stage in their lives, The Great Unexpected is a must-read.
What is the What
What is the What is a thought-provoking true story of Valentino Achak Deng – a child refugee from Sudan who immigrates to America after being forced from his village. Written on behalf of Deng by an American author and confidant, Dave Eggers, Deng’s story is an eye-opening tale that sheds light on our privilege of living in a Western society, and the struggles that young people are facing throughout the third-world.
Shadow of the Wind
Set in Barcelona, and arguably one of the most gripping thrillers of the 2000s, Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s novel is the embodiment of language-control. Beautifully written, Shadow of the Wind is practically a movie on paper, keeping readers gripped with its lush use of vocabulary and impressive descriptions.
Pride and Prejudice
What more can be said? It’s a classic. A fantastic insight into wealth and class of the 19th Century, and a wonderful study on the art of self-reflection, Jane Austen’s novel will forever remain among the top ranks of literature.