A love for reading that started early

By Bhavana Gopinath – 

Dr. Dan Hwang of Westboro Station Dental has happy childhood memories of spending Saturday mornings at the library, immersed in its treasures.  He remembers enjoying Gordon Korman and Roald Dahl, and trying out several Young Adult authors.  Browsing the library was an adventure in itself, because as avid readers know, one might meet The One: a book which simply cannot be put down.

“So much to read, so little time,” says Dr. Dan Hwang. Photo by Andrea Tomkins
“So much to read, so little time,” says Dr. Dan Hwang. Photo by Andrea Tomkins

That love for books and reading is deeply embedded in his busy adult life. His responsibilities are many: he runs a dental practice, he is the Chair of the Westboro BIA, and volunteers for the Ottawa Dental Society. In addition, he donates his bike-fixing skills for re-Cycles, a not-for-profit bicycle recycling shop in Ottawa; a dedicated biker himself, he wants to help re-Cycles promote the sport of cycling in his beloved Ottawa.

With time being at such a premium, “I’d like to be efficient with my reading” he says. So for the summer, he has been following the New York Times bestseller list and Pulitzer Prize winners for critically acclaimed works.

His first choice for this summer’s reading is When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi. Dr. Kalanithi was a neurosurgeon who was diagnosed with stage IV metastatic lung cancer. His book, published posthumously by his wife, spent weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. Dr. Hwang admits that this isn’t the stereotypical light summer fare, but he is interested in how people react when they are close to death. “I’m looking for insight,” he says.

Next on Dr. Hwang’s list is Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth. This bestseller explores the role of grit and its related traits in success. Dr. Hwang has two children aged 4 and 6, and he’s hoping to instill these qualities in them to help them succeed in life.

Dr. Hwang is also hoping to read Pulitzer Prize winner Richard Russo’s latest, Everybody’s Fool, the sequel to Nobody’s Fool, which he enjoyed.

“So much to read, so little time,” he says. There is a stack of books in his home library that he plans to read whenever time pressures ease a little. These include several classics like Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita, and Miguel de Cervantes’s Don Quixote. Then there are other books like Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See, Zadie Smith’s acclaimed first novel, White Teeth, Gil Courtemanche’s A Sunday at the Pool in Kigali (in the original French, ideally), and Carole Shields’s Stone Diaries.

Dr. Hwang plans to travel to Quebec in the summer, but for the most part, he plans to remain home – “Ottawa has such glorious summers,” he says. He will take time off from work and other responsibilities and is looking forward to going through his list. His two children are just exploring the joys of reading, so perhaps they will also lay down memories of happy childhoods immersed in books, just like Dr. Hwang did.

This post is part of our KT summer reads issue. Read all of our other profiles right here.

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