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On a Deserted Island with AU Press

Panorama of tropical island view from the sandy beach with rocks

Musings from the Desk of the Intern

My supervisor suggested I rifle through the AU Press archives and pick three books I’d like to read, then write about them for the blog. Choosing between more than 120 titles covering a range of subject matter took some time, so I thought I’d simplify the task by using the old “stranded on a deserted island” scenario. I ended up choosing books on topics I’m interested in but don’t know a lot about (I do love learning new stuff). And because I could only choose three books, I wanted to make sure I’d get good mileage from each. Below are my selections.

Imagining Head-Smashed-In: Aboriginal Buffalo Hunting on the Northern Plains by Jack W. Brink

The oldest book I chose dates back almost a decade to 2008. Reviews of Brink’s book praise its storytelling and the depth of information it conveys – about buffalo, about food systems, about life and Indigenous culture on the prairies centuries ago. These claims are backed by awards the book received from both archeological and literary organizations. I’ve never visited the iconic location in southern Alberta, but it is on my bucket list, and I’m hoping this book will make my first visit to the UNESCO World Heritage site all the more meaningful.

I’d take this one with me as inspiration for gathering food, and as food for thought: if I died on this island, how would archeologists make sense of my remains?

The dust of just beginning by Don Kerr

This is the second oldest book I chose. As I scrolled through the list of possibilities, the aphoristic title of this 2010 publication drew me in. The sections I read felt to me like memoir in poem form, a narrative strand flowing like current through a wire. The language and linear structure of the poems made them easier for a beginning poetry reader like me to understand, and coupled with the content, still featured enough twists and turns to keep me engaged. I found myself pausing to think or to appreciate a subtle play on words.

I’d take this book to help me pretend my feelings of desperation were merely homesickness for the prairies.

Imperfection by Patrick Grant

I chose Imperfection because of Patrick Grant’s almost conversational writing style, and because the book provides entry into several thinkers who fascinate me (Plato, Buddha, Jung) yet whom I have a difficult time digging into without appropriate context. As a perfectionist who is obsessed with self-reflection and the reach of my own agency, the book’s themes (imperfection, the self, and freedom) resonate with me. The context Grant provides is religion. He draws connections between Christianity and Buddhism, social constructs that might be considered by some as disparate and at odds. I’m looking forward to reading Grant’s take on these underlying connections.

I would use this book as company when considering my mortality and the patterns of thought that led me to my current predicament.


Honourable mentions (or books I’d read from the safety of my own home) include My Decade at Old Sun, My Lifetime of Hell by Arthur Bear Chief, and Xweliqwiya: The Life of a Stó:lō Matriarch, a collaboration between Rena Point Bolton and Richard Daly. On those days when I have a bit more mental bandwidth, I’d also dig into Interrogating Motherhood by Lynda R. Ross, and Mind, Body, World by Michael R. W. Dawson.

Which three AU Press books would you choose if you were to be stranded on a deserted island?

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