Hi guys and a happy Wednesday to you! We are having quiet a warm February here in California and I am already observing blooms on trees. It’s pretty, but I am really praying for some more showers before another hot, hot California summer begins. I slept in today thus the lag by a couple of hours in posting today’s blog post. I thought of the topic last month and am so excited to finally write it.
College was one of the loveliest and the toughest times of my life. While I have lovely memories of my first taste of independence like going out with friends in their cars or drinking coffee like water for the first time without someone reminding me it is unhealthy, it also involved having to wait hours for the Comcast guy to hook our cable and paying bills (and getting sick and having no parent to baby you).
For those of you are new to the blog, you may or may not know that I attended the prestigious University of California Berkeley in the city of Berkeley, California (See HERE and HERE) for two years. I lived on the second floor of an apartment building on Telegraph Avenue with a lovely Afghani girl who mA is a Dermatologist now (we reconnected through Facebook, which is ironic because in 2004 when we are in college, we didn’t think it would amount to anything since there were so many things wrong with it…thanks Facebook!). Lol. Anyways, it is 2018 and I know many soon-to-be high school grads have completed the application process and are waiting anxiously for their acceptance letters in a couple of months or so. If you are hoping to get into UC Berkeley, then God speed and know you won’t regret the decision.
I dedicate today’s post to you high school-ers!
Today, I will write down (from memory and from my library collection) the books I loved reading in college. If there is one piece of advice I would give you high school-ers is to read during the transitional summer. Sure, you can work or travel, but focusing on an activity like reading (or writing) can really improve your concentration with academic work once school begins. So here goes (in no particular order):
- The Complete Poetry and Essential Prose of John Milton (See HERE): I read Milton for one of my most toughest classes in college. My professor was English and was a tad possessive of Milton’s work. Whenever a student commented on Milton’s poem or prose, his reply would be just short of saying, “you are wrong”. He wasn’t charming the least, but he loved Milton so I thought my learning was in good hands. This complete anthology of John Milton’s work is an assembled book that provides new modern-spelling versions of Milton’s texts. You will love it!
- European Novels (Anna Karenina (See HERE), Madam Bovary (See HERE), Don Quixote (See HERE), Tess of the d’Urbervilles (See HERE), Emma (See HERE)): I don’t know about you guys, but I have a certain affinity with European literature. Maybe it is the dark everything the setting, the humor, or the characterization of certain characters, whatever it is everything is reflective and focused on the character’s self-discovery. American literature, on the other hand, is seeped with characters tied to their class, culture, and history. The above novels are what I recommend, although there are many classics out there that I read in college. Whether it a social commentary or a personal journey, you can expect plenty of character growth in European novels.
- American Novels (Jane Eyre (See HERE), Frankenstein (See HERE), The Sun Also Rises (See HERE), The Grapes of Wrath (See HERE) The Old Man and the Sea (See HERE), Their Eyes Were Watching God (See HERE), Leaves of Grass (See HERE), Mistress of Spices (See HERE), The House on Mango Street (See HERE), The Great Gatsby (See HERE): I honestly did not read a lot of modern American novels in college. However, I do remember reading the ones above. You can judge by the list, how diverse American classical novelists really were compared to their European counterparts. I loved how each of the novel’s plots are interwoven with their author’s ethnic background. They included details such as food, names, religion, physical characteristics, even group behavior to highlight the character’s attributes. I made sure in college to expose myself to a variety of authors from different backgrounds and I don’t regret my decision. If American Classics is your thing, then do check out the titles above.
- Norton Anthologies (The Norton Anthology of Modern Poetry, The Norton Anthology of American Literature, The Norton Anthology of English Literature (See HERE and HERE): The first two titles are not available on Amazon, but the most recent editions of Norton’s English literature is available on Amazon. If you want an introduction to English or American literature, then these anthologies are worth the investment. They are quite hefty and take up space, but you can explore a variety of authors and literature confined in the pages of one anthology.
- Virginia Woolf: I could have put Virginia Woolf under the American novels category, but I chose to have her in a separate category because she along with Sylvia Plath hold a special place in my English literature-loving heart. During my senior year in Berkeley, I thought long and hard about who and what I want to write my undergraduate thesis on. There were various classes taught by professors waiting to be mentors, but I chose to focus on the class primarily covering Virginia Woolf’s work. You will notice that in the last century not many authors, especially female authors dared to cover topics like mental illness. And standing in that hallway of the Wheeler Building, I felt akin to Virginia Woolf’s pain and wanted to explore more of it. What I discovered was that Virginia Woolf was not a depressed, oppressed, lonely, sad, quiet woman like I believed. Instead, she was witty, angry (albeit guarded), and choose topics that were pertinent to both genders if one choose to open their heart and eyes and read the symbolism in her writing. If I were to read Virginia Woolf, I would start with A Room’s Of One’s Own (See HERE), The Waves (See HERE), To the Light House (See HERE), Moments of Being (See HERE), The Years (See HERE), The Death of the Moth and Other Essay (See HERE), The Voyage Out (See HERE), Mrs. Dalloway (See HERE).
- Shakespeare: I know people think you cannot be an English Lit major if you do not read Shakespeare and that is true, but know you do not need to like his work (ok, rotten tomatoes thrown). For some reason I never got Shakespeare. I left the loving obsession of Shakespeare to my friend and fellow classmate, Gillian. Shakespeare uses a lot of made-up words, funny-sounding insults, and original poetic meters that left me confused and her in uncontrollable pangs of laughter. Sure, the sonnets were beautiful, but I never liked Shakespeare’s plays that much. Yes, I know, I will have many surprised readers here…or not. The plays I did enjoy were Hamlet (See HERE) and Othello (See HERE). For the complete works of Shakespeare, check this anthology (See HERE) out. Some of my “favorite” memories related to Shakespeare were watching the 20th Century Fox version of Romeo And Juliet (See HERE) and listening to my Foothill College (a transfer college) professor discuss Desdemona’s white handkerchief for an hour and half. Still, I will consider Shakespeare memorable only because of my time with my friend. We share many inside jokes because of those moments in college.
Well, guys, I hope I have given you ideas for your summer reading list. Let me know if you have any questions, and I would be happy to answer them. If I were you, I would create a reading bucket list on Goodreads (See HERE) or List Challenges (See HERE). Happy Reading!!