Author Yiyun Li to visit Villanova

Mike Starosciak

Summer break is almost here. In a few weeks, there will be no more readings to catch up on, and no more last-minute cramming for exams.  

Once the spring semester has come to a close, Villanova students will be more than eager to give their brain a much-needed rest. However, after a glorious week of comatose incapacitation, it will be time to start giving your mind some exercise again.

Many students relish summer reading because there are no mandatory assignments. Write your own syllabus and enjoy the books stress-free. If you decide half-way through that you don’t enjoy the book, who’s to stop you from throwing it away? Nobody will be testing you on how well you understood the material.

Finding books that fit your personality and preferences can be frustrating, however.

John Zoltowski, a junior history major, says, “There are so many great books out there, but finding them can be difficult.” 

One solution is, an innovative online social network Web site. The site allows you to build a virtual bookshelf to display the books you’ve read, want to read or are reading now. Once you have rated those books you can find other users with similar preferences and explore their shelves.

If Shelfari sounds a bit too intense, check out of (Barnes & Noble). Go to these booksellers’ sites and search for one of your favorite books.

Both sites then give you recommendations for other books based on other customers’ purchase history. Amazon also includes Listmania, which allows customers to create lists based on a central theme/preference, i.e. “Ten books for the indie-music loving college student.”

Still struggling to find new books? Take technology out of the picture and kick it old school by attending an author’s reading. After a book is published, many writers schedule events at book stores or colleges where they read selections from their new work and conclude with book signings.  

Villanova provides many opportunities to meet talented writers through its annual Literary Festival. The event, in its 11th year, saw four novelists, short story writers and poets (Ethan Canin, Natasha Trethewey, Nick Laird and Adam Zagajewski) make the pilgrimage to Villanova’s campus this semester.

The Literary Festival still has one final event, which is considered the most anticipated literary event Villanova has seen all year.

Yiyun Li, novelist and short story writer, will conclude the Literary Festival with a reading on Thursday, April 30 at 7 p.m. in the Devon Room of Connelly Center. The reading will be followed by a reception and book signing.

Yiyun Li was recently called by the San Francisco Chronicle “one of the most-talked about fiction writers in America.” She was selected by Granta as one of the Best Young American Novelists.

Her debut collection of stories, “A Thousand Years of Good Prayers,” won the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award for first fiction.

These stories, set in China and among Chinese immigrants and travelers to the United States, are written in a way that is fascinatingly heartbroken.  

Success has continued for Li with her most recent work, “The Vagrants.” In March, the novel graced the cover of the New York Times Book Review and was handed high praise.

“The Vagrants” is set in 1979, a time when China was struggling to establish itself in the aftermath of the Cultural Revolution.

In the last weeks of school your eyes will tear up at the thought of staring any longer at a computer screen. Your hand will have carpal tunnel from filling up a dozen blue books. And then the thought of reading for fun will probably seem like a cruel joke.

But once you’ve had some time to give your cognitive faculties a prolonged rest, it’s time to take a break from becoming the American stereotype that involves sweatpants, a couch, television, and potato chips.

Take a trip to the beach and enjoy the sound of the crashing tides while you lose yourself in a good book.