This month I graduated with my Masters in English. I have been doing this for the past two years, studying part-time while working full-time. Even when I was tired from studying after work, I never complained because I knew I was lucky to be able to study what I love. However, it was not an easy path to get here. I dropped out of law school years before and felt like a total failure – even though I knew I was making the right choice. After years of work and life experience, I surprised myself by doing this program but I am glad I did.
Here are a few topics I loved exploring:
What makes classic literature so classic? There is a lot of literary theory and we can mainly boil it down to there being a certain type of “taste” that society looks towards. In the end though, there are many books that are not “classics” but very well could have been. We may also be surprised by the classics of tomorrow.
There are many voices missing from literature. Namely, there is a lack of Black people and other races in literature. However, technology is leading the shift in addressing this. For instance, anyone can blog or tweet. However, so much more needs to be done to promote writing by people who do not fit a stereotypical profile.
Massachusetts is a literary hub. I’m from MA and I have gone to school in MA but do you know what I have failed to appreciate all my life? Most of the famous writers in U.S. history are from here. I never appreciated this as much as I do now. You can complete any M.A. English program across the world and I guarantee you will be offered one American Literature class focused on our writers.
There is an intersection between literature and coding. Yes, coding. As mentioned above, technology is taking the literary world by storm. Many scholars are using the online world to create digital spaces where scholarship on lesser known topics can exist, such as research on African American migration over the centuries. It has never been easier to share this type of research and due to the increased demand, many scholars adapt by learning code.
Of course, there is plenty more that was covered in my classes and these descriptions are barely the tip of the iceberg. Still, they were the topics that made me think the longest. By being engaged with these topics, I think it inspired me to think more creatively. It gave me more confidence while copywriting at work. Whether or not you have the opportunity to get a degree, I think working hard and always learning will help you get to where you want to be.
A few months ago, I began reading and reviewing advanced reader copies of books prior to their publication. In addition to library volunteering, this has been an excellent way for me to stay abreast the publishing industry. For instance, right now historical dramas set around WWII are HOT. I would have never been able to make such a connection had I not been familiar with upcoming titles, and seeing what books keep making it into the library.
This past week, I attended my library’s “Book Buzz” event which, as always, does not disappoint. You get to learn about 25-30 upcoming books but in addition, you get to go home with an advanced reader copy of a book! Before mentioning what I got, I want to share seven books that I found the most interesting, all from different categories. There’s. a little something for everyone (and the titles are linked to where you can learn more).
As for the book I got, I picked one under the Nonfiction category that came out on January 15 called The Enchanted Hour by Meghan Cox Gurdon.
From HarperCollins Publishers, The Enchanted Hour is “A Wall Street Journal writer’s conversation-changing look at how reading aloud makes adults and children smarter, happier, healthier, more successful and more closely attached, even as technology pulls in the other direction.”
You have no idea how hard I am going to nerd out on this book.
At the beginning of the year, I began volunteering on Saturday mornings at my local library. Since it is close to home and doesn’t require a large time commitment, I figured that some volunteering was better than no volunteering. Being in graduate school on top of full-time work, library volunteering is both convenient and therapeutic.
Though library volunteering may not sound exotic, I feel like I get to step into a magical place on the weekends and to actually make a difference. My library has a “Used Book Store” that consists of books donations. My job is to re-stock, alphabetize stacks, and to create displays of books based on inventory and demand. For instance, with back-to-school approaching, I recently created a display of books that was more academic: the history of England. We had many books on this in stock and it seemed great for history lovers!
This fall was busy since there was a parade in town and we held our Annual Book Fair to coincide with that date. Hundreds came into the library to get their hands on used books (all of our inventory from storage had to be pulled for it), and I assisted people in the children’s book section.
The next day, I went back to the library but this time, solely as a buyer. I was told that on the second day, people could fill a grocery bag with books and only pay $5! I decided to fill a bag with kids books for my niece and nephew, a bag for me, and oh wait – it was later declared in the day that “all paperbacks were now free” and everyone could take home a single filled bag of them. Of course, this encouraged me to get even more. In total, I brought home three bags of loot and only paid $10 (since one one bag was free). I think I took home about 30 books! Yes, this is excessive but many will go to family and friends, and the ones that don’t may find themselves donated back to the library.
What a year 2018 has been! Though my blog has taken a backseat role in my life this year, it has allowed me to share the most important parts of my life. This year has been tremendous. This has been the year that I: 1) Was diagnosed with depression; 2) Felt like myself for the first time in a very long time; and 3) Re-sparked my love of books. Even with a nearly-complete Masters degree in English, my ability to read had been severely hampered by this mental illness. Since addressing my depression through medication and therapy in the summer, I have been reading a book for pleasure nearly every week!
Now that it is end of year and I have a week away from the office, I am focused on reading more books than usual and am excited to share my reading list!
Dutch Girl: Audrey Hepburn and World War II by Robert Matzen. With a forward by Audrey Hepburn’s son, Luca Dutti, this book captures the true-life historical events that shaped Audrey Hepburn’s rise as a ballerina and then one of the most famous movie stars of all time. The book is now available for pre-order and will be released on April 15, 2019. I was lucky to get my hands on a copy early and will be providing a review in the coming weeks!
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. A timeless classic first published in 1967 and a Nobel Prize Winner, I have been wanting to read this book for a long time. This summer I had spent time in Colombia and learned all about the author and his writing process and knew that out of all the classics that I could read, this would have to be at the top of my list! Since I personally love Latin American literature, it makes sense that this is my must-read.
the princess saves herself in this one by Amanda Lovelace. I bought this poetry book at the famous indie bookstore, Strand, this summer in NYC. I LOVE poetry and especially ones that have an empowered female perspective. Also, I have great news if you are an Amazon Prime member with a Kindle: you can now read this for free. I could have saved myself some money…
With that said, who else is feeling inspired to read this holiday season? Do you have a 2019 reading resolution?