Bookish, College

Books I Wished I Had Been Assigned to Read as an English Major

In less than a week I graduate with a bachelor’s degree in English, and it’s a very bittersweet moment for me. Although I am very excited to move onto another chapter of my life, I’m also sad to leave my amazing friends and the lovely Wheaton community behind. However, the end of undergrad also marks the end of studying English for me, which is bittersweet in itself. Today I’m going to share some of the books I wish I had been assigned to read as an English major. Imagine the class discussions we could have had! Imagine how much better I would have understood these books! Maybe someday…

Moby Dick by Herman Melville

Have I already read Moby Dick? Yes. However, I read it on a family road trip a few summers back and remember skimming through most of it. Let me tell you, it’s a good thing I was in a car for hours with nothing else to do because otherwise I probably would have stopped reading altogether. Yet I’ve never been able to shake this feeling that I’ve missed something fundamentally fascinating about this novel, like I just haven’t been able to crack its code. Something tells me that I would have appreciated this novel much more if I had read it in a classroom setting and really dove into some of its nuances and complexities. But alas! it remains a dull, dragging enigma.

Ulysses by James Joyce

Do I just want someone to explain big books to me? Maybe. While studying abroad at Oxford I actually attended nearly an entire James Joyce lecture series in which I learned all about A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and Ulysses, neither of which I have read. But I was so fascinated by the charts and webs the professor drew regarding all the mythological allusions in these texts, especially in Ulysses, that I couldn’t help but return to that lecture hall week after week to listen to someone talk about novels that I had never read. I know that some colleges offer classes solely on Ulysses, and I think it would have been fascinating to take one of these at some point in my college career.

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

This is another novel that I read a few summers ago but wish I had gotten the opportunity to read it alongside a class. Brave New World is often lumped together with unsettling novels like 1984 by George Orwell. While Huxley’s novel is certainly unsettling at times, I was pleasantly surprised by its humor and wit. There’s a lighter tone here, a parodying of sorts perhaps, that makes me want to know more about what exactly this book is trying to say. Does the novel take itself seriously? Are we meant to take the novel seriously? These are the kinds of questions I would have loved to explore in a classroom setting.

Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys

I read this novel this past summer thinking that it might be helpful for writing my honors thesis. While I didn’t end up using it in my thesis, I’m still glad I read it because it offers a fascinating perspective that challenges one of my favorite novels, Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre. Many of the parallels and oppositions are fairly easy and quick to spot, but I would have loved to learn more about the historical context in which this novel is set in order to better understand the significance of many of power dynamics, hierarchies, and systems that it draws on. Perhaps this would also make me think a bit more critically about Jane Eyre, despite my love for it.

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë

Continuing on with this Brontë theme, I wish I had been assigned this seldom discussed novel. Anne is the only Brontë sister I have never read anything by, as I feel is the case for most people who dabble in Victorian literature. It would have been interesting to read this novel alongside other people who are also missing a text by this third sister. If her writing is anything like that of Emily or Charlotte, it would also be helpful to have some guidance through its density of details and language.

Have you read any of these books or been assigned to read them for a class? What are your thoughts on them? Do you think reading them with a class made a difference? What are some books you wish you had been assigned to read? Let me know in the comments section below!



College, Discussion

How I Came to Study English in College (and why I stayed that way)

A few months ago someone commented on one of my blog posts asking if I could write about how I came to study English literature in college. Since my second to last semester of college begins in just two days, I thought now would be a good time to finally answer this question.

Growing up, English was always my favorite subject in school. I hesitate to say that it was my favorite class; unfortunately, English class was often viewed as a bit of a joke, particularly in high school. It wasn’t viewed as a “real” subject worth studying; instead, English class was merely another requirement, an easy class used to boost people’s GPAs. I hated this negative, deceiving, false stigma associated with studying English. This stigma is partly why I started blogging in high school in the first place. I wanted an outlet where I could discuss books without being viewed as strange or being told that I was wasting my time on something that didn’t matter.

You can imagine what people thought when I told them that I wanted to major in English literature in college. This pill was made a bit easier to swallow by the fact that I later wanted to go to law school (phew! people undoubtedly thought. Some practical light at the end of the liberal arts tunnel!) The puzzled glances I received astounded me. What was so bad about studying English?

Then came the inevitable question: Did I want to be a teacher? While there is nothing wrong with being a teacher–it’s one of the most important jobs, in my opinion–it frustrated me that people could only see one path for my future. When I told them I wanted to pursue a career in law, their eyes grew even wider. Most of them said they couldn’t picture me as an attorney–that I wasn’t cutthroat enough, competitive enough, or loud enough. (I don’t know when they started measuring one’s volume on the LSAT, but apparently these people were privy to secret information that I wasn’t). One day while I was checking an old man’s book out at the local library where I worked, he helpfully reminded me that “You have to be smart to be a lawyer, you know.” Fortunately, one of my coworkers stood up for me, chiming in with a generous “Oh, Holly doesn’t have to worry about that.”

But his comment bothered me, and in some way still does. Why did studying English automatically categorize me as a particular kind of person in the eyes of so many people? What gave people the impression that teaching was not only the sole profession that English majors could choose, but that it was also the sole profession that we should choose? What was it about this specific subject that closed its students off from all other occupational pursuits?

However, my time in college as well as my experience holding various job positions has taught me that those people in my high school who held these negative opinions lack any understanding of what it is actually like to study English literature. I like to split my degree into two parts: content and skills. When people look down upon English majors, they often do so by emphasizing the content aspect of the degree. What use is knowledge of obscure books that only other English majors ever read? Who cares what Jane Austen or William Faulkner had to say in their novels? While this view is inherently false in its own right for reasons I’m sure most bookworms understand, it also completely disregards the other half of English degrees.

My favorite aspect of my English degree (and the part that I value most) is that it teaches me how to think critically, work with large amounts of information at once, organize my thoughts, form and defend evidence-based arguments, and write. These are valuable, practical, marketable skills that have served me well in nearly all courses, internships, and jobs I’ve experienced. Although these skills happen to be applied to English literature while earning the degree, they can be applied to any and all contexts: historical texts, financial grant applications, social media pages, etc. I truly believe that the ability to write well is a priceless skill—just ask all of the friends, coworkers, and family members who ask me to edit their writing on a regular basis.

To answer the reader’s initial question, I chose to study English literature in college because reading and writing have always been passions of mine. However, I think a more interesting and important question is why I’ve continued to be an English major after so many people have advised me otherwise. The answer: because I believe the degree offers valuable skills that are essential for my professional success.

What are your thoughts on studying English literature in college? Let me know in the comments section below!



College, Life

I’m studying at OXFORD?!?! | Study Abroad

I’ll be spending the entirety of my junior year of college studying abroad at Oxford University in England.

There. I said it.

I was accepted to study English literature at Mansfield College (one of the many colleges within the Oxford University system) back in late February of this year, yet I’ve put off actually talking about it on this blog until now. Why? There are a few reasons, the first of which being that part of me is afraid that it is too good to be true. What if something happened and I ended up not being able to go after I announced it to everyone? (In reality: nothing would happen. I would just have to explain to everyone that I wouldn’t be going abroad after all). Another part of me recognizes the stigma that can sometimes be associated with Oxford due to its academic and social status as a prestigious English university. But I can’t hold in my excitement any longer: I’ll be studying at OXFORD!!!

To be honest, when I first entered college I highly doubted that I would ever actually study abroad. I’ve always been sort of a home-body, preferring to hang out with friends and family in familiar locations rather than go out exploring and adventuring all of the time. There’s also the added wrinkle of being severely allergic to nuts, since airlines and international programs are sometimes not the most allergy aware organizations. Food allergies complicate everything, and travel is definitely no exception. I also worried about the financial expenses of studying abroad– how on earth would I pay for such an adventure? However, deep down I knew that the biggest thing holding me back was my fear of living on my own for an extended period of time. Living on the Wheaton campus an hour and a half from my childhood home was one thing, but living an entire ocean away?! I wasn’t sure if I could handle that much change all at once.

Then one day during my spring semester of freshman year my English major adviser suggested I think about applying to the Oxford program the following spring. He explained that several of the students he’s advised in the past spent their junior years there and absolutely loved the experience. Still skeptical that I would actually take the leap and apply, I thanked him for the suggestion and then proceeded to tuck it in the back of my mind.

I felt my feelings towards studying abroad slowly change as sophomore year progressed. The more I learned about the Mansfield College program, the more interested I became in the prospects of actually going. To think that I could also study at Oxford!! The idea seemed crazy to me, and in many ways it still feels surreal. As the application date neared I told myself that I would at the very least apply and see what happened– given the high GPA requirement and competitive application process, I highly doubted that I would even be accepted in the first place.

And then I received the acceptance email, and everything changed.

Suddenly it was happening– suddenly it is happening. I’m actually going to study abroad in Oxford, England for an entire academic year!! I cannot even begin to describe how excited (and nervous) I am, especially considering that I’ve never even traveled outside of the United States before. I can’t wait to walk through those Hogwarts-esque halls and visit all of the independent bookshops and drink tea in cute little cafes. Most importantly, though, I am beyond ecstatic to be able to spend an entire year focused solely on studying English literature.

I feel so lucky to have this opportunity and so indebted to everyone who has helped me along the way. This is by far the biggest leap I have ever taken in my twenty years of existence– fingers crossed that it’s the experience of a lifetime!

I wanted to bring this up on this blog because up until this point I’ve felt like I keep avoiding mentioning it, even though it’s constantly on my mind. Get ready for a lot more Oxford/England discussions coming your way!

Have you ever studied abroad or traveled to Oxford or England in general? Have any tips or advice? Let me know in the comments section below!



Bookish, College, Discussion

How to Read Sexist Texts When You’re a Feminist English Major | Discussion

Recently I had the displeasure of taking a course dedicated to Renaissance poetry, and MY OH MY were those old white men a bunch of misogynistic poets. While there were a few glimmers of hope amidst the nearly translucent pages of my weathered Norton Anthology of Poetry (as shown by my previous discussion of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 2), the vast majority of the poems I read for this class made me wonder why they were even regarded as important and “great” pieces of writing in the first place, never mind why we continue to include them in poetry collections like this one. It’s safe to say that after reading dozens of these poems over the course of the semester, my patience was worn down to a precariously thin layer of frustration.

It was necessary for me to think of concrete ways of addressing this problem while still being able to do well in the class. Refusing to read the poems was obviously not an option for me, meaning that I had to get a bit creative with my reading strategy.

I must say up front that the following advice is purely based on my own personal experiences reading these works. These steps may not work for everyone and that is perfectly okay. We all have our own tips and tricks to help us confront, interpret, and challenge views that challenge our own– the following pieces of advice happen to be my own personal strategy. At any rate, I hope you find this discussion at least a bit helpful or thought-provoking in some way.

1. Actually read it.

Yes, actually read the incredibly sexist poem or story or novel that you’d desperately like to avoid at all costs (unless, of course, it contains something personally triggering– then do whatever you need to in order to practice self-care). The reason I urge you to read it is that it’s difficult (nigh impossible) to make an educated argument against something if you do not have relevant textual evidence with which to back up your claim.

2. Maintain your distance.

I’m sure there’s a better, clearer, more accurate and succinct way of saying this, but I’ll try my best.  I think it’s important to recognize that someone can acknowledge and understand another person’s opinions without believing in or agreeing with them. For instance, in my poetry class I was required to read, understand, and explicate these poems in order to receive a good grade. However, this did not stop me from challenging the ideas that these poems presented. It was vital that I read these poems with from a certain intellectual and ideological distance that allowed me to understand them without having to agree with their meaning.

3. Allow feminism to fuel your analysis.

While it’s important to understand and think about the poems according to the context in which they were written, it’s also valuable to read them through a feminist lens. Feminist literary theory exists for a reason: to be utilized. Moreover, this class forced me to become comfortable with directly pointing out the sexism in writing that is considered to be canonically “great.” I was not going to sit there and tell my professor that I support the inclusion of Robert Herrick’s “Upon Julia’s Breasts” in the Norton Anthology of Poetry over providing ample space for one of Lady Mary Wroth’s entire crown of sonnets. (Honestly, are those four lines of pure female objectification really a necessary component of this collection?) Just because something has been deemed a “classic” work of literature does not mean that it is without flaws.

4. Think about your own beliefs and values.

At the end of the day, I used this class as an opportunity to assess and spend time thinking about my own core beliefs. What about these poems did I find offensive and uncomfortable to read? Why did I feel this way about what I was reading in the first place? By using this as an opportunity for individual reflection I was able to better understand my own personal values.

Again, I hope this discussion is thought-provoking or beneficial in some way, whether that be in an academic setting or simply while reading in your daily life.

Have you ever read something that challenged your beliefs? How did you handle the situation? What do you think about the advice that I’ve offered? Do you have any advice for confronting issues like this? I would absolutely love to discuss these topics in greater detail, so please let me know what you think in the comments section down below!



Books, College, Short Stories

BAYOU FOLK by Kate Chopin | Review

First published in 1894, Bayou Folk is Kate Chopin’s first collection of short stories bundled together in one volume. After reading this collection for one of my classes, I decided to do a bit more research about its initial critical reception. Fortunately, I stumbled upon a review published in the April 1894 edition of the Atlantic Monthly that succinctly and accurately captures several of my thoughts about this collection.

Almost celebratory in tone, this review highlights the great impact Chopin’s writing had on the reader despite her apparent newness as an emerging author in the literary scene. However, the reviewer also takes care to point out that this is not Chopin’s first outbreak into the limelight, as many of her stories had been previously published in periodicals. Where I think this reviewer hits the proverbial nail on the head is when he comments on the moving force behind the entire collection, remarking:

“It sometimes happens, however, that a distinctive power is not fully recognized until scattered illustrations of it are brought into a collective whole” (558). 

Each story on its own is like a snapshot, providing the reader with a glimpse into Chopin’s world but unable to show us the larger picture. Bound together in Bayou Folk, these stories weave themselves on a loom of class, race, gender, and identity. These common themes sharpen with the clarity offered by repetition as they are reflected and refracted in an immense cast of diverse characters. One character that stands out to me is the former slave after whom the story “Old Aunt Peggy” is named. In just over a single page to text, Chopin manages to transform Aunt Peggy from a woman into a representation of the peculiar institution itself, a one hundred and twenty-five year old system of labor whose legacy lingers on long after the war has been fought. Characters like Aunt Peggy breathe life and power into Chopin’s stories, giving them the force to resonate with readers long after the pages have been turned.

Another great point that the reviewer makes is the skillful way she wields the usage of various forms of dialect throughout these stories. Because location and culture are integral components of her writing, it only makes sense that she would endeavor to capture the sounds of local speech as well. This incorporation works to Chopin’s advantage, as the reviewer remarks:

“Her reproduction of their speech is not too elaborate, and the reader who at once shuts up a book in which he discovers broken or otherwise damaged English would do well to open this again” (559). 

Although the variations in language may seem a bit confusing at first, the reader quickly becomes acquainted with the dialects used. Not only do they contribute to creating depth in characters, but they also help build the setting and make it come to life.

The end of the glowing review reads:

It is something that she comes from the South. It is a good deal more that she is not confined to locality. Art makes her free of literature” (559). 

This passage stumped me at first. What could the reviewer mean by that final sentence? Does he mean that literature in general is usually restricted by locality, but in these stories she somehow liberates herself from those boundaries? I can’t be absolutely certain, but I’m choosing to interpret this statement as a celebration of Chopin’s writing ability. Her writing brings a warm feeling of culture and energy and life to literature, one that readers of all backgrounds can surely connect with in some way.

I highly recommend the short stories of Kate Chopin’s Bayou Folk, whether you read them separately or bound together in this fantastic collection. Chopin is a writer that is often forgotten in the midst of the male-dominated Western Canon, but these stories prove that her position in the literary world is undoubtedly well-deserved.

Have you read any of Kate Chopin’s stories or other works? Do you have any favorites? Any other short story collections that you would recommend? Let me know in the comments section below!



Blogging, College, Discussion

People IRL Read This Blog?!?! | Discussion

Today I’m here to discuss a dilemma that nearly every blogger must confront at one point or another: the collision between “real life” and the blogging world.

In high school I was very secretive about my book blogging escapades. I never told anyone at school about it and no one ever randomly asked, “Hey, you wouldn’t happen to run a book blog by any chance, would you?” so I never had to actually say, “Why yes, I’ve run a book blog for years that no one knows about except people online and my parents. And my dogs.” I was perfectly content with the fact that no one else knew, happy to keep clacking away at my keyboard with my nerdy little secret tucked safely between the pages of whatever I happened to be reading that day.

And then I went to college.

Here’s the thing about college: it’s a lot more difficult to hide things from people when you basically live with them 24/7. It’s not like blogging is anything that I had to hide in a bad way– I’m proud of my blog and the hard work I put into it– but I’ve always had mixed feelings about telling people about it. Part of my hesitancy is that I don’t feel like many of the people I know personally would necessarily enjoy reading a blog dedicated to overly enthusiastic ramblings about books and bookish things. I’ve come to terms with the fact that this is a relatively niche subject area, or at least it seems to be when the majority of my college-age peers are more concerned with partying and watching Netflix than anything else. (Shout out to my nerdy friends, though– you’re all gems! <3)

I quickly realized that it would be nearly impossible to keep my blog a complete secret from my friends, especially if I wanted to keep updating it and replying to comments throughout the semester. Gradually I plucked up the courage to gradually mention it to more and more of my small circle of friends. I was taken aback by their genuine enthusiasm, interest, and support. People I knew IRL being interested in my quirky little blog about books? This was a feeling I had never felt before– to be honest, it was a huge relief. 

Then I started a bookstagram account last summer.

Here’s the thing about Instagram: it shows you what other people have recently “liked.” So when my close friends from college started “liking” my bookish photos, more and more people from school began to see my account pop up on their screens. Little by little I watched in simultaneous horror and bewilderment as people I had never intended to know about my blog suddenly began to know about my blog. (I had foolishly put a link to my actual book blog in my Instagram bio.) When I got back to campus in the fall and continued to post photos on my bookstagram, I was shocked to find that so many people actually enjoyed scrolling through my carefully posed pictures of books that I had taken in my front yard and stockpiled on my phone like some sort of weird preparation ritual for an illiterate apocalypse. It was strange to talk about my book blog to peers in person. Suddenly it was no longer a platform leading directly into the Internet void; rather, my voice was being heard by people I came into contact with every day. 

I don’t mean to make it sound like my book blog is some popular site visited by the majority of my college campus. In the grand scheme of things, relatively few people even know about my blog to begin with. What I do mean to emphasis is how my attitude towards people know about my blog has changed. In high school I likely would have cowered away from the mere thought of people from school reading Nut Free Nerd; now, I almost welcome it. I still get flutters of nervous butterflies whenever someone mentions it to me in person, but I’m getting there.

To those of you reading this who I actually do know in person: Thank you bunches!!! *hugs*

If you’re a blogger, how do you deal with the crossover between “real life” and the blogging world? Do you actively spread the word about your blog or do you sit back and wait for people to find out about it naturally? Any advice? Let me know in the comments section below!



Bookish, College, Read for English Class

Hey Hemingway, What’s With the Bulls? | THE SUN ALSO RISES


While rereading Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises for a literature class last semester, I kept coming back to a puzzling question: What is so important about bulls? Bullfighting seems to be the focal point of the characters’ time in Pamplona, Spain, which makes sense considering the culture and setting of the time. The unusual part is the great importance and emphasis they all place on this dangerous sport, as though it is so much more than entertainment or a way to make a living. For these characters, bullfighting seems to be a lifestyle, a persona, an image.

The significance of bulls and bullfighting came up in our class discussion of The Sun Also Rises, and fortunately some light was shed on this fascinating topic. Contrary to my prior belief, these bulls aren’t solely representative of male dominance; rather, the characters compare themselves to bulls in order to assess their own masculinity and sexual identities. 

That’s a lot of meaning behind a simple bull!

For the sake of keeping this discussion focused, I’m going to concentrate on Jake Barnes, the main protagonist. While fighting in World War I, Jake was wounded in an unfortunate way: to be frank, he was castrated. We know this from closely reading the scene when Jake looks at himself in the mirror of a hotel room. He alludes to his injury almost nonchalantly, slipping in some telling remarks amidst thoughts of French furniture. Jake says:

“Undressing, I looked at myself in the mirror of the big armoire beside the bed. That was a typically French way to furnish a room. Practical, too, I suppose. Of all of the ways to be wounded. I suppose it was funny.” (p. 38)

The fact that Jake is looking at his naked body in the mirror certainly hints at the nature of his injury. The mixture of comments about both furniture and his wound suggests that he is attempting to fill the apparent absence of a phallus with something else– in this case, descriptions of furniture. (A bit strange, but I won’t judge.) Jake is insecure about his masculinity because he no longer possesses a physical representation of it.

The Sun Also Rises by Ernest HemingwaySo where do the bulls come into play? Why, I’m glad you asked.

The bulls used for bullfighting are physically aggressive, harming others by penetrating them with their horns Yes, you read that implication correctly: the horns of a bull are representative of a phallus. Likewise, a bull’s less masculine counterpart is a steer (literally a bull who has been castrated). Steers are not associated with the intense passion, excitement, and danger of bullfighting, thus suggesting that castrated men cannot participate in masculine or sexual acts.

This is the part that clearly bothers Jake, the question he struggles to answer: Has the war made him a bull or a steer? 

Physically, Jake is a steer– but what about his personal identity? Such an internal conflict is one of the driving forces of the narrative as Jake endeavors to understand his own masculinity.

It’s the link between bulls and Jake’s specific injury that I did not recognize until discussing it in class. Connections, interpretations, and revelations like this one are one of the many reasons why I love studying literature. Even though I didn’t enjoy The Sun Also Rises as much as I had initially hoped to, I can’t deny that this novel makes for some fascinating close reading.

What are your thoughts on this discussion or about The Sun Also Rises in general? Let me know in the comments section below!




Sophomore Status Achieved | College


It’s official: I’m now a sophomore in college!

As you read this, I am moving into my new dorm room and bracing myself for my first semester of sophomore year to begin. Currently I’m an English major (and potential Hispanic Studies double major) at Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts. 

The thought of starting a new year and semester of college is both incredibly exciting at a bit nerve-racking. Leaving freshman year behind means that I will have more independence, opportunities, and responsibilities than ever before. It’s all a little daunting, to say the least!


Nevertheless, I’m ecstatic to be able to see my college friends again and get back into a routine of classes, clubs, and countless campus events. I love steady routines and schedules, so this aspect of college is actually really comforting to me.

As per usual I’m taking four classes this semester, which are:

  • Evolution of English
  • Contemporary Women Writers {Spanish}
  • Modern Spanish America {History}
  • Introductory Physics {to fulfill my science requirement}

I’m definitely the most nervous about the physics class because science isn’t really my forte. However, I’m looking forward to the Spanish literature class because we’ll be reading several interesting novels over the course of the semester. Hopefully everything goes well!

It’s so strange to think that this new school year is finally here. my first year of college certainly had its ups and downs, but all in all I couldn’t have asked for a better freshman year at Wheaton. I can’t wait to see what exciting adventures this year will bring!

Wish me luck!



Books, College, Drama, Read for English Class

HAMLET by William Shakespeare

Hamlet coverTo like Hamlet or not like Hamlet, that is the question…

I have a confession to make: I’m not really a big fan of Shakespeare. Ever since first reading one of his works as a freshman in high school (Romeo and Juliet, naturally) I’ve had mixed feelings about the Bard. To be quite honest, none of the works I’ve read by him have really stuck with me in any meaningful way, probably because I haven’t felt a strong connection with any of the characters. There’s a part of me, though– that often annoying, pesky little voice that we all hear at one point or another– that insists that I should like Shakespeare. Some consider him the greatest playwright to have ever lived, and his works continue to entertain both readers and viewers and to influence our culture today.

Does my aversion to Shakespeare say something negative about my reading tastes? Does it somehow suggest that I’m unable to comprehend the brilliance of the Bard? What kind of uncultured swine am I?

In all seriousness, I feel as though sometimes people do judge me for my lack of interest in Shakespeare. I’ve learned to ignore it, though– he’s simply a writer, and as a reader I have the right to my own opinion about his work, whatever that opinion may be.

With all of that being said, let’s get down to the Hamlet business you came here for. I do understand the significance of this play, the reasons why it is so beloved and a popular favorite. Despite his apparent madness, Hamlet is undoubtedly a character to whom we can all relate with, at least to a certain extent. He’s indecisive and uncertain, thoughtful yet impulsive. Haven’t we all felt like Hamlet before, as if there are numerous paths we could take but they’re all shrouded in an opaque fog? I feel as though a flawed character is often easier to root for and connect with than a seemingly perfect one due to the obvious fact that none of us are without faults. 

The story itself was interesting at some points and rather slow during others. My favorite parts were those involving supernatural elements, such as the apparition of Hamlet’s father. The rest of the play was entertaining enough to keep me reading, but it didn’t blow me away at all. I think my problem with Shakespeare is that the language doesn’t really click with me, and it takes me  a while to figure out what he’s even trying to say. Perhaps I would enjoy his works more if I saw them performed rather than simply reading them on a page.

Overall, it’s clear that Hamlet is surely one of Shakespeare’s best works. Out of the few plays I have read by the Bard, it is one of my favorites. In the realm of my general bookish tastes, however, it’s not something that really appeals to me. I think it might warrant a reread in the future, but for now an ambiguous “see you later” will have to be enough.

My Rating: :0) :0) :0) 3 out of 5 smileys

Would I recommend it to a friend?: Yes. Apart from my own opinion of Shakespeare, I think Hamlet is still a worthwhile and valuable play to read. There are so many references to it in other works and even in our own modern culture (The Lion King, anyone?) that reading it is beneficial, at the very least.

What are your thoughts on Hamlet? Does anyone else share my lukewarm attitude toward Shakespeare? Let me know in the comments section below!




On Reading in College and Being Home

On Reading in Collegeand Being HomeWhat’s that distant cheering I hear? Oh, it must be the sound of my bookshelves rejoicing over the fact that I’m finally on winter break.

I’ve been home twice since move-in day in August– for Columbus Day weekend and Thanksgiving– but both of my stays have been really more like visits. Four or five days is not nearly enough time to truly unwind and recharge at home, especially when a mountain of homework is calling your name, midterms and finals loom in the near future, and the holidays are blissfully distracting you from getting any real work done. As such, I am ecstatic to finally be home for a solid month before going back for the next semester. I love school at Wheaton (MA, not IL) but those oldies Christmas tunes are right: there really is no place like home for the holidays.

Being home in between semesters is the strangest feeling. Due to the fact that my classes just ended I have no homework to do, no essays to write, no articles to read and no exams to study for. I don’t even know what textbooks I need for next semester, so it’s not as if I can get a head start in that regard. In January I’ll be busy with another internship, but for these next few weeks of the holiday season I am positively, absolutely free. I can read as much as I want, watch as much Netflix as I want, sit around in my pajamas well into the afternoon, and hang out with the friends that I haven’t seen in what feels like forever. My schedule is more clear than it has been in years– in fact, go look at a dish you recently cleaned. See how spotless that is? That, my good friends, is my current schedule.

And I love it.

What a difference from a mere week ago when finals were quite possibly driving me insane! Since Thanksgiving I had exclusively done homework with very little time for much of anything else. If I wasn’t attending class, in a meeting, tapping (I’m in Wheaton’s tap dancing group!), eating, or sleeping, then there’s about a 99.995% chance that I was doing homework. By the time I handed in my last final paper and took my Spanish final exam I was basically the definition of burnt out. 

Even before finals week I didn’t really have a lot of free time to do the amount of reading that I have done in the past. My wonderful friends occupied most of my free time, for which I am incredibly happy and grateful. As a consequence, my reading definitely fell to the wayside. Sure, I read quite a lot for my Introduction to Literature class (which was amazing, by the way– maybe I’ll write a post about it in the near future?) but very little of anything else. Looking back, I like to laugh about the large stack of books that I foolishly brought with me to college. How in the world did I think I would be able to read all of them? Instead of bringing five or six books with me like I did this past semester I’ll probably only bring one or two. Realistically, that’s probably all I’ll have time to read. (Plus, there’s a gigantic library on campus to fuel my bookish needs.)

What I’m trying to say is that college has definitely changed both my reading habits and the amount that I read. Not only does my busy schedule mean that I have less time to read, but the analytical way I’ve been “trained” to read for my literature classes means that now I often take my time when reading something to better understand it. I can shut that mindset off, of course, but I’m not all that sure that I want to. I feel as though I get so much more from books by reading them this way that I necessarily view as a disadvantage.

Moral of the story? I am looking forward to a solid month of doing absolutely whatever I want during this glorious winter break. And you know what that means: SO. MUCH. READING. I’ll be doing other things as well, but at least for a few days I feel as though I need to simply curl up with a good book (or two or three) and just relax. 

*sigh of relief* Now, bring on the Christmas spirit!

For those of you also on winter break, do you experience these feelings as well? How do you like to spend your winter breaks? Got any bookish recommendations for me? Let me know in the comments section below!