Top Books I’ve Studied at University – Graduation Edition

Guess who graduated last month? This girl! After three years of hard-work, thousands of cups of tea and a few too many mental breakdowns, I made it. I am beyond proud of all of my achievements and those of my fellow peers and friends, so a huge congrats to them. Getting all dressed up in my cap, gown and colours was also a fabulous experience and I would happily wear them every day! Whilst studying English Literature I’ve had the perfect opportunity to read a range of texts and discover new life long favourites, so I thought why not share them with the world! Hope you enjoy!

  1. The Pursuit of Love/Love in a Cold Climate by Nancy Mitford – Mitford has a gift for creating light-hearted and joyful books that you can’t help but love and savour. She easily steals my heart with her wonderfully awkward characters and storylines that centre around love, class and relationships. I flew through both of these books and the TV adaptation which is equally as fabulous.
  2. The Ladies Paradise by Emilie Zola – I think this has to be one of my favourite books I’ve read during my entire degree, everything about it was wonderful and they’ve even adapted it into a TV show which is an added bonus! I read this book for my Fashioning Fiction Module which explores the different clothing and accessories in novels. In the words of Virginia Woolf, ‘Clothes are but a symbol of something hid deep beneath’. The story itself is set in and around a department store in Paris and follows the journey of Denise who must adapt to the inner workings of such a new and influential model of retail.
  3. Atonement by Ian McEwan – My entire dissertation was centred around Ian McEwan so be prepared for a couple of his books to appear on this list. Many of you have probably watched the film adaptation which beautifully portrays McEwan’s incredibly heartbreaking storyline but you also need to read the book, because it too is amazing. McEwan has carefully crafted a beautiful novel that explores the themes of love, war, guilt and forgiveness through its brilliant narrative, prose and characters. My love for this book will never cease and I will continue to rave about it till I’m old and grey!
  4. Ethan Froome by Edith Wharton – Again another book from my American Literature module that I utterly fell in love with. As someone who loved studying and analysing the ever-changing landscape of the American pastoral, this book was perfect and an ideal wintery read.
  5. Game of Thrones by George R.R.Martin – I had so much fun analysing one of my favourite fantasy series and spending my seminars discussing female empowerment and all of the other different elements of Martin’s incredibly detailed series.
  6. Flash Fiction by Various Authors – I discovered Flash Fiction during my first year and its a style of writing which has heavily inspired my creative outlets and pushed me to start writing pieces of my own. Flash fiction for those who don’t know is a piece of fiction characterised as being only a couple of hundred words, that sometimes centres around a snap-shot filled with open-ended questions and a shroud of mystery.
  7. On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan – I told you there’d be some more McEwan on this list! This one is a little different from Atonement but it is still such a great read with loads of little hidden details that are perfect for analysing.
  8. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald – A classic among all literature students and a book that I’ll never not enjoy reading and analysing. I adore all the descriptions about parties, clothing and of course the landscape!
  9. The Handmaids Tale by Margret Attwood – I was a little worried that this book wouldn’t live up to all the hype it was receiving, but I’m very pleased to say it did! Again from an English students perspective this book was a gold mine of symbolism and metaphors as well as a powerful storyline that will stay with you.

What I’ve Been Reading At University #5 – 12 Days of Blogmas

WRAU

What scares me the most about this post is that this series is ending soon, and it only feels like yesterday when I was sharing the books I was reading in my first term of university! I’m now scarily enough in my final year of university and I’ve loved every second of it. This year so far is probably one of my favourites in terms of modules and reading lists and I’m looking forward to sharing more of my TBR shelf! Anyway, I hope you enjoy the fifth installment of what I’ve been reading at university!

The Ladies Paradise by Emile Zola – I think this has to be one of my favourite books I’ve read during my entire degree, everything about it was wonderful and they’ve even adapted it into a TV show which is an added bonus! I read this book for my Fashioning Fiction Module which explores the different clothing and accessories in novels as in the words of Virginia Woolf, ‘Clothes are but a symbol of something hid deep beneath. The story itself is set in and around a department store in Paris and follows the journey of Denise who must adapt to the inner workings of such a new and influential model of retail.

Orlando by Virginia Woolf – I’m ashamed to admit that before this I had never read any of Virginia Woolf’s novels but you’ll be pleased to know that I really enjoyed Orlando! To make things even better this is another book of my Fashioning Fiction module so I get to study all the wonderful outfits, movements and gender performativity throughout the novel, its a literature students dream!

Gigi by Colette – After watching the trailer for the new biographical drama on Collette, (played by the wonderful Kiera Knightley), I knew that I wanted to look into more of her work and literary influence, so it was ideal when I saw one of her books on my reading list! Gigi is one of her shorter stories and if like me you’ve seen the trailer and actually want to read some of her books, then this is a fun place to start!

The Good Soldier by Ford Maddox Ford – Probably one of the most unexpected enjoyments of my course this year as I went into this book with the sole aim of finishing it as soon as I could (I was an idiot and left it till the night before to read, whoops!), however, I was really surprised and ended up finding it a fun and enjoyable read!

Uylesses by James Joyce – A beast of a book, not only in size but in the concentration you need to tackle such a unique and challenging novel. The 700+ page book is set over the span of one day and focuses on the lives of two individuals that eventually meet. Joyce’s stream of consciousness technique, rich characterization, and experimental prose have let it be regarded as one of the greatest literary works in history. At the moment I’m currently having a love/hate relationship with this book because it is just so difficult to grasp but when I finally do I can appreciate why it is so widely appreciated.

Cry, The Beloved Country by Alan Paton – Another one of my unexpected favourites this year and is a book that I’m studying on my South African Literature module. World literature has always been one of my favourites to explore and I think the whole history behind South Africa and its political situation is again a really interesting topic to explore. The book is centered around a black pastor who travels to Johannesburg in search for his sister and only son but things take a turn for the worse when his son is found guilty of murdering the son of a local white farmer. What seems like a very simplistic story is actually one of understanding and is one of South Africa’s most powerful novels.

What I’ve Been Reading At University #4

I wrote a few posts like this during my first year of University and I got some great feedback and response from all of them, so I thought I’d keep you all updated with what I’m reading in my second year! This year I was not only able to choose my own modules but more of them too, which means more books to read and study!

Frankenstein by Mary Shelly – Hollywood has sadly butchered this book and this is a clear a case where the book is far better than the film. The concept, the characters, and the prose all come together to make this classic tale a masterpiece and it was so interesting when it came to analyzing it!

The Word for World is Forest by Ursula Le Guin – Fans of Avatar will love this book because both have a very similar plot and message in regards to consumerism and deforestation. I’d never heard of Ursula Le Guin, however, I’m looking forward to reading more of her novels later in the year as her writing is so detailed and complex and it just makes you think.

Avatar (2009) dir. James Cameron – Avatar is one of my all-time favourites films because of the thought and craft that went into creating such a masterpiece and if it wasn’t three hours long then I’d watch it a lot more. However being able to study and analyse it, is a dream come true and as sad as it sounds I’m actually enjoying reading lengthy essays about the science, creation and meaning behind the film.

The Scarlet Letter by Nathan Hawthorn – The first book of the year that I hated. For me, there was nothing good about this book, and I understand that it is a celebrated American Classic so my apologies if my thoughts offend you. It took a lot of effort read and I hated pretty much all the characters especially Dimsdale!

The Riders of the Purple Sage by Zane Grey – I’m a sucker for a good Western novel or film, so when I saw my lecturer getting very excited about the prospect of sharing her thoughts and starting lengthy discussions, I knew it was going to be a good read! Thankfully I loved it and my American Literature module has redeemed itself, the characters, storyline and open landscape all came together to create this brilliant story that is far more than just a western adventure!

The Poetry of William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge – Two of my all-time favourite poets due to their beautiful and magical representations and relationship with nature. Both poets mastered the ability to transport their readers to faraway places and breathtaking scenes through the power of the imagination and it’s been a real joy to study and appreciate some of their finest work!

Modules I’m Taking in My Second Year at University

I can’t believe how quickly a year has gone and how I’m already about to start my second year at University. For those who don’t know, I’m currently studying English Literature at the University of Chester and for my second year, I was able to choose all of my modules! There were so many to choose from and I was only able to choose five, however, I’m really happy and excited with all of my choices. If you’re also studying English Literature then I’d love to know what modules you’re taking this year, so please leave a comment below!

  1. Romantic Literature – I’m a sucker for Romantic Literature so there was no way I wasn’t taking this module. I love all the novels and poetry as they are all just so beautiful and a treat to study! I’ll be studying works of Blake, Wordsworth, Byron, Shelley, Keats and one of my favorites Austen.
  2. The Gothic – After reading Northanger Abbey in my first year, I began to fall in love with Gothic Literature and I can’t wait to read and study more short stories, poetry, and film from the late-eighteenth century to the present day.
  3. American Literature – I’ve always loved American Literature especially anything to do with the roaring 20’s *cough* The Great Gatsby *cough*! The module will concentrate on a variety of important American writing, considering both the context of its production and the influence it has had on American life and thought.  As well as this the module will offer me the opportunity to explore the themes and preoccupations of American literature, and will also place them in specifically American historical, social, and ideological contexts.
  4. Alternative Worlds –  This is the module that I’m most excited for as it’s everything I love and the books I get to read are some that I’ve been dying to read for ages or are among some of my favorites! The module is designed to develop my understanding of fictions that explore alternative universes and to provoke a response to the challenges such fiction pose and I’m hoping that it’s also going to help me develop the skills to creating a successful fictional world. Some of the texts and film/tv adaptations I will be studying include Game of Thrones, Cloud Atlas and The Man in the High Castle, are you jealous yet?
  5. Varieties of Writing – Sadly I won’t be studying this module till April next year but I am so excited for it as I really want to develop my skills by writing and experimenting in different forms. Typically, students will study and try their hands at writing: magazine adverts; newspaper reviews of books, plays, TV, films, and albums; book blurbs; autobiographical and travel pieces; plays for the stage; poetry; and short-short stories. Hopefully, by the end of this module, I will be more confident with my writing and that I’ll also have a successful portfolio which will aid my efforts into finding work experience.

What I’ve Been Reading At University #2

After the success of my first post, I thought I’d share what other books I’ve had to read in my second term of University. For those who don’t know I’m currently studying English Literature at the University of Chester and being an English student means lots and lots of reading but I don’t mind because I’m a bit of a bookworm. I will link my previous post here if you wish to see what I read in my first term! Anyway, let’s begin…

  1. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austin – I’ve always been a fan of Jane Austin with ‘Pride and Prejudice’ being one of my all-time favourite novels but I’d never read ‘Northanger Abbey’ until now; I loved it. I enjoyed the combination and satire of the Gothic novel and how active and crazy Catherine’s imagination was.
  2. On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan – Most Ian McEwan books, are slightly weird and obscure and this wasn’t an exception. I enjoyed it but it’s certainly not something I would recommend to my mum! If you’re looking for something short, funny (in an odd kind of way) and a little different then I recommend you pick some of his early works up including ‘On Chesil Beach’.
  3. The Road by Cormac McCarthy – Another book I had to read for my contemporary module and I absolutely loved it. It’s unique writing style and the post-apocalyptic world had me hooked from the very first page and I easily finished it on the train back to Uni.
  4. The Worlds Wife by Carol Ann Duffy – We’re changing things up here as this is a collection of poetry rather than a novel. If you don’t know, Carol Ann Duffy is the UK’s poet laureate and many students in the UK study her poetry at high school. This collection, however, focuses on the fictional wive’s of many male historical and mythical figures and are just quite nice to read now and then.
  5. The poetry of Franchesca Haig – I’d be impressed if anyone knew who Francesca Haig is as she used to be a lecturer at the University of Chester until she wrote her first young adult novel ‘The Fire Sermon’ which was quite successful and has now been picked up by Dreamworks to be made into a film. Anyway, her poetry is some of my favourite and today I’ve been lucky enough to be chosen to interview her so keep your eyes peeled on a blog post on that!

I hope you enjoyed the second instalment of what I’ve read at university and that you’ve found it interesting and if you’re are currently studying at University too, I’d love to know what books you’ve been reading.

What I’ve Been Reading At University

For those who don’t know both myself and Eleanor are now in our first year of University, Eleanor is studying Midwifery at the University of West England and I’m studying English Literature at Chester. To be honest it’s been really difficult to read whilst at University thanks to our workload, long hours and reading lists. However being an English student I have been able to read some really interesting and enjoyable books so I’d thought I would share what I’ve read so far!

  1. The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde – I’d heard a lot about this play before studying it and I was really looking forward to it. I wasn’t expecting it to be so funny!
  2. First Love Last Rites by Ian McEwan – Pre-warning this book is very weird, I mean seriously weird. But after re-reading it, I am beginning to enjoy it and understand it more.
  3. The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes – This was a hidden treasure on my reading list and I’m glad that I was able to read it. It was a very short story filled with drama and twists…
  4. Hard Times by Charles Dickens – Probably one of my least favourite reads just because it was so complicated and detailed but nevertheless I’m glad that I’m finally being able to read so of Dickens work.
  5. Atonement by Ian McEwan – I loved this book!! It was heartbreakingly beautiful, and if I have to recommend any book on this list it would have to be this one.
  6. Harry Potter by J.K.Rowling – Who would have thought that I would be studying Harry Potter at degree level? Certainly not me! But I’m loving it and it’s even better that my lecturer is a massive fan like me.
  7. Hunger Games by Suzanne Colins – I am meant to be writing an essay of the Hunger Games now but instead, I’m writing this blog post and procrastinating. I love discussing all the different themes and discovering more about the book!

Please let me know if you’ve found this interesting and enjoyable because if so, then I’ll do another post later in the year with an update of the books I’ve read and studied.