Reading "Summer Tales" is your opportunity to explore virtual communities with a fun summer program. Join us to take short mental breaks from your heavy coursework through a fool-proof method of distraction: reading short stories and discussing related issues with fellow students. No background in literature is required!
First, why read over the summer? If you're already someone who reads for pleasure, you know what that pleasure is like; if you're not, then you'll have to trust us that it's a lot of fun to read when you don't have to worry about a quiz or a paper.
If picking up a work of literature can feel like wandering into a gym full of body builders, think of this as a judgment-free, no-pressure fitness program.
Some practical benefits:
We've chosen short stories in part because they're short: easy to finish no matter your reading pace and easy to hold in your mind all at once when discussing so that we can all be on the same page, literally and figuratively. As they say about classic games like chess and poker, these stories take "minutes to learn and a lifetime to master." Come read with us!
When people think about discussing literature, often they'll revert back to the way they were taught to read in high school: that every story has a "point" or a "message" that you must identify, and every point has to be connected to a larger argument about What This Story Means. In order to be a good discussion participant, you'll have to "unlearn" this way of reading!
Instead, imagine the discussion like you're walking out of a theater with your friends or family who just watched the same movie. You might ask a question about a part that confused you, to see if everyone else was just as confused. You might talk about a favorite scene, or a character whose motivations seemed interesting (or unconvincing). You might just talk about how the movie made you feel, and see if it made other people feel the same way.
It's a conversation without a particular goal in mind; you just respond to other people's experience while sharing your own and see where it takes you!
A discussion starts with noticing: “I found it hard to be sure why X acts this way.” “This story jumps around in time a lot.” “Y seems like a really important moment here.” Each of these is an implicit opportunity for a further question: how does the text do this, or why? In fact, articulating a question can be just as valuable to a discussion as providing an answer.
The program "Summer Tales" is sponsored by the New Brunswick Libraries and the Division of Continuing Studies at Rutgers University. All students enrolled in summer courses are welcome to join any of the available sessions.
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