All too often in a university setting, reading is considered a chore. When asked about their workloads, many students will shake their heads and groan, "Ugh. I have so much reading." Even when a reading is absolutely fascinating, it still counts as work. Abu Dhabi Reads, however, aims to change that. The project sprang from a desire to reclaim reading as something enjoyable, accessible, and collective.
The idea is simple: to come together as a community to read, enjoy, and discuss a book. During last spring and over the summer, Electra Street — NYUAD's Arts and Humanities journal — listened to book suggestions from readers, shortlisted three, and asked the community to pick a winner by popular vote.
For the inaugural program, readers chose Life of Pi by Yann Martel. This novel tells the story of Piscine Molitor Patel — Pi, for short — who is shipwrecked in the Indian Ocean with only a Bengal tiger for company. It's a compelling read, and members of the community who stopped by Electra Street's first promotional event on October 11, when scores of students painted their faces in tiger print, expressed enthusiasm for Martel's Booker Prize–winning novel. Among them was NYUAD Dean of Science David Scicchitano, who professed to Electra Street's members that Life of Pi is his "favorite book."
Throughout the month of October, Electra Street asked members of the Abu Dhabi community to read, and invites them to participate in a pre-event online forum: "Life of Pi: Food for Thought." The hope is that this will be a source of conversation not only among students, but also among members of the wider Abu Dhabi community before, during, and after the event. The first Abu Dhabi Reads event will be a free public discussion tomorrow, November 1, from 5-7pm at the NYUAD Downtown Campus.
So grab a copy, tell a friend, and join Electra Street for what promises to be a lively conversation about the novel.