What they should read

Canadian authors recommend books for inclusion on high-school curricula across the nation


Andrew Pyper, Weekend Post

Published: Saturday, September 19, 2009


As September rolls in and class is back in session, The Afterword has asked several Canadian authors to answer this question: If you could add one book to the high school curriculum-- a book that students couldn't graduate without having read -- what would it be, and why?





[Henry] Thoreau's classic has become a sort of eco-warrior's handbook, but as a small-town, suburban youth turned young adult set loose in the city, Walden was, for me, a liberating blast of uncommon common sense about such sundry non-natural matters as work, fashion, education, solitude and friendship. In a world where we're increasingly encouraged to be little more than perpetually diverted, always-obedient consumers, Thoreau's uncompromising individualism should be made a part of every student's developing consciousness. Thoreau wrote: "Men labour under a mistake. The better part of the man is soon ploughed into the soil for compost. It is a fool's life, as they will find when they get to the end of it, if not before." Every student should be compelled to recite these three lines from memory before being granted their diploma. - Ray Robertson's new novel, David (Thomas Allen Publishers, 2009), will be available later this month.