Acadia Reads 2020

Acadia Reads encourages the Acadia community to share their love of books by reading the selected book and participating in programming (in 2020-21) surrounding the book.

How do we decide whose story to tell? Between April 1 and April 16, 2020, the Campus Community voted for the book that Acadia Reads from a shortlist of four titles below.

This year's winner is Shut Up, You're Pretty by Téa Mutonji.


The Shortlist

The Red Word

A smart, dark, and take-no-prisoners look at rape culture and the extremes to which ideology can go The Red Word is a campus novel like no other. As her sophomore year begins, Karen enters into the back-to-school revelry - particularly at Gamma Beta Chi. When she wakes up one morning on the lawn of Raghurst, a house of radical feminists, she gets a crash course in the state of feminist activism on campus. The frat known as GBC is notorious, she learns, nicknamed "Gang Bang Central" and a prominent contributor to a list of rapists compiled by female students. Despite continuing to party there and dating one of the brothers, Karen is equally seduced by the intellectual stimulation and indomitable spirit of the Raghurst women, who surprise her by wanting her as a housemate and recruiting her into the upper-level class of a charismatic feminist mythology scholar they all adore. As Karen finds herself caught between two increasingly polarized camps, ringleader housemate Dyann believes she has hit on the perfect way to expose and bring down the fraternity as a symbol of rape culture - but the war between the houses will exact a terrible price.

About the author: Sarah Henstra

Shut Up, You're Pretty

Acadia Reads 2020 Winner!

In this story collection, a woman contemplates her Congolese traditions during a family wedding, a teenage girl looks for happiness inside a pack of cigarettes, a mother reconnects with her daughter through their shared interest in fish, and a young woman decides to shave her head in the waiting room of an abortion clinic. These punchy, sharply observed stories blur the lines between longing and choosing, exploring the narrator's experience as an involuntary one. Tinged with pathos and humour, they interrogate the moments in which femininity, womanness, and identity are not only questioned but also imposed.

About the author: Téa Mutonji

Little Fish

It's the dead of winter in Winnipeg and Wendy Reimer, a thirty-year-old trans woman, feels like her life is frozen in place. When her Oma passes away Wendy receives an unexpected phone call from a distant family friend with a startling secret: Wendy's Opa (grandfather) -- a devout Mennonite farmer -- might have been transgender himself. At first she dismisses this revelation, but as Wendy's life grows increasingly volatile, she finds herself aching for the lost pieces of her Opa's truth. Can Wendy unravel the mystery of her grandfather's world and reckon with the culture that both shaped and rejected her? She's determined to try.

About the author: Casey Plett

Jonny Appleseed

Off the reserve and trying to find ways to live and love in the big city, Jonny becomes a cybersex worker who fetishizes himself in order to make a living. Self-ordained as an NDN glitter princess, Jonny has one week before he must return to the "rez"--and his former life--to attend the funeral of his stepfather. The seven days that follow are like a fevered dream: stories of love, trauma, sex, kinship, ambition, and the heartbreaking recollection of his beloved kokum (grandmother). Jonny's life is a series of breakages, appendages, and linkages--and as he goes through the motions of preparing to return home, he learns how to put together the pieces of his life.

About the author: Joshua Whitehead

Selection Criteria

The committee produced a long-list of ten titles. These books were read and voted on to produce a short-list of four titles.

  • A Canadian author writes the 2020 book.
  • The book must be capable of generating discussion and an exchange of ideas.
  • The book must be appealing to students with a focus on first-year undergraduates.

Selection Committee

  • Suzie Currie – Dean of Pure and Applied Sciences
  • Agnieszka Hayes – Librarian in Faculty of Pure and Applied Sciences
  • Anthony Pash – Librarian in Professional Studies and Faculty of Theology
  • Danielle Pierce – Instructional Designer, Learning Technology and Instructional Design
  • J. Coplen Rose – Professor of English Literature
  • Ann Smith (Chair) – Librarian in Faculty of Pure and Applied Sciences
  • Britanie Wentzell – Librarian in Faculty of Arts and Faculty of Professional Studies

Contest Winner

Aboyowa Emiko was the winner of the Amazon gift card and a book of his choice from the 2020 shortlist. Aboyowa selected Little Fish by Casey Plett. Aboyowa let us know that, “I’m a second-year international student from Nigeria with a major in Biology.”

2019 Shortlist and Winner

The campus community selected The Rest is Silence by Scott Fotheringham as its Acadia Reads 2019 book.