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From the OJEN Blog

OJEN staff summer reading list 2023

In a few short days, the last bell of the day will ring and classes will end for the school year. It’s been another challenging year for teachers and students, as the pandemic eases and in person activities resume. We were delighted to see so many students back in courthouses arguing their cases in mock trial tournaments. We look forward to seeing many of you in August at our first in-person Summer Law Institute since 2019. In the meantime, everyone at OJEN wishes you a well deserved break! We asked staff to suggest some summer reading to help you unwind and recharge your batteries. Here are some of their suggestions for a chill day at the beach or in your backyard. 


Central Park West by James Comey

“Controversial former FBI director, James Comey, has reinvented himself as a crime fiction writer. In his first novel, he draws on his decades of experience in federal law enforcement, including his years in Manhattan as a mob prosecutor and later the chief federal prosecutor. Central Park West is a fast-paced legal thriller with an intriguing plot enriched by real-life details and experiences.”


Christodora by Tim Murphy

This book draws you into the lives of a diverse cast of characters all linked to the Christodora building in the East Village in NYC. It’s about a lot of things (AIDS, drugs, gentrification, art), but at its core it is a moving illustration of how we take care of each other in the face of extreme hardships and almost insurmountable circumstances. Christadora is a vibrant, ambitious, funny, gorgeously written epic that captures New York in all its glory and despair.


Denial by Beverley McLauchlin

“Former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, Beverley McLauchlin, returns vicariously to the courtroom as a writer of legal fiction. Her first novel, 2018’s Full Disclosure, introduced readers to Vancouver defense attorney Jilly Truitt, a tough-as-nails lawyer willing to take risks in the courtroom. In Denial, Jilly is back, this time defending the wife of a high-powered “lawyer’s lawyer,” on a murder charge. If you are a fan of legal procedurals, this is well worth adding to your reading list!”


Hello Beautiful by Ann Napolitano

“Hello Beautiful was an instant New York Times bestseller and was selected as an Oprah’s Book Club Pick. It tells a sprawling family saga that explores the power of love and forgiveness over the passage of time. The book is an exquisite homage to Louisa May Alcott’s timeless classic, Little Women. This month, Amazon editors voted Hello Beautiful 2023’s Best Books of the Year So Far, calling it “big-hearted and addicting.”


Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

“In the early 1900s, teenaged Sunja, the adored daughter of a crippled fisherman, falls for a wealthy stranger at the seashore near her home in Korea. He promises her the world, but when she discovers she is pregnant — and that her lover is married — she refuses to be bought. Instead, she accepts an offer of marriage from a gentle, sickly minister passing through on his way to Japan. But her decision to abandon her home, and to reject her son’s powerful father, sets off a dramatic saga that will echo down through the generations. Pachinko is a National Book Award finalist.”


While Justice Sleeps by Stacey Abrams

“Best known for her efforts to promote voting rights in the state of Georgia, Stacey Abrams is also an author, entrepreneur, nonprofit CEO, and political leader. While Justice Sleeps is a legal thriller set within the halls of the U.S. Supreme Court. It is a cunningly crafted, sophisticated novel, layered with myriad twists and a vibrant cast of characters. Drawing on her astute inside knowledge of the court and political landscape, Stacey Abrams shows herself to be not only a force for good in politics and voter fairness but also a major new talent in suspense fiction.”



Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner

“In this exquisite story of family, food, grief, and endurance, Michelle Zauner proves herself far more than a dazzling singer, songwriter, and guitarist. With humor and heart, she tells of growing up one of the few Asian American kids at her school in Eugene, Oregon; of struggling with her mother’s particular, high expectations of her; of a painful adolescence; of treasured months spent in her grandmother’s tiny apartment in Seoul, where she and her mother would bond, late at night, over heaping plates of food.”


Generation Dread: Finding Purpose in an Age of Climate Crisis by Britt Wray

“Britt Wray is a science writer and scholar specializing in the mental health impacts of the ecological crisis. She is a postdoctoral fellow in human and planetary health at Stanford University and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Her new book, Generation Dread, lays out a strategy for turning difficult emotions about climate change into “a tool, not a dead end.” It shares productive ways to cope, think, and act while facing an anxious ecological present and uncertain future. Generation Dread was a finalist for the 2022 Governor General’s Literary Award for nonfiction.”


Nothing but the Truth: A Memoir by Marie Henein

“Arguably the most sought-after criminal lawyer in the country, Marie Henein’s most successful cases made her a “lightning rod” in some circles. Her experience confirms her belief that much of the public’s understanding of the justice system is based on popular culture, and social media, and not the rule of law. Nothing But the Truth weaves her personal story with her strongly held views on society’s most pressing issues, legal and otherwise. Her memoir is at once raw, beautiful, and altogether unforgettable.”


Truth Telling by Michelle Good

“Michelle Good is a Cree writer and retired lawyer, and a member of Red Pheasant Cree Nation in Saskatchewan. Her debut novel, Five Little Indians, won the 2020 Governor General’s Literary Award for fiction and the 2021 Amazon Canada First Novel Award as well as CBC’s Canada Reads in 2022. Good’s latest book, Truth Telling, is a collection of seven personal essays that explore a wide range of issues affecting Indigenous people in Canada today, including reconciliation, the rise of Indigenous literature in the 1970s and the impact it has to this day, the emergence of “pretendians” and more.”


What Happened to You? by Oprah Winfrey and Bruce D. Perry M.D. PhD

“Through deeply personal conversations, Oprah Winfrey and renowned brain and trauma expert Dr. Bruce Perry offer a groundbreaking and profound shift from asking “What’s wrong with you?” to “What happened to you?” Here, Winfrey shares stories from her own past, understanding through experience the vulnerability that comes from facing trauma and adversity at a young age. In conversation throughout the book, she and Dr. Perry focus on understanding people, behavior, and ourselves. It’s a subtle but profound shift in our approach to trauma, and it’s one that allows us to understand our pasts in order to clear a path to our future—opening the door to resilience and healing in a proven, powerful way.”


White Tears/Brown Scars: How White Feminism Betrays Women of Color by Ruby Hamad

“Called  “powerful and provocative” by Dr. Ibram X. Kendi, author of the New York Times bestselling How to be an Antiracist, this explosive book of history and cultural criticism reveals how white feminism has been used as a weapon of white supremacy and patriarchy deployed against Black and Indigenous women, and women of color.”


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