first term of university reading


Recently I received a question on here about my thoughts on Beowulf and it got me thinking… for a book blog, I haven’t really been talking much about the books I’m reading for my degree. Which is odd. This is perhaps because I don’t strictly enjoy reading literary fiction – in fact, I often detest it. It’s almost not fair for me to talk about my thoughts on the books I’ve read so far purely because of my bias. I’m really not a fan of classics and whilst I appreciate them for their literary merit I think, all in all, I’ve read more enjoyable and nourishing things in contemporary young adult.

First off, for those who aren’t aware, my degree is in ‘English with Creative Writing’. This means that I actually do a lot less reading than the people who are only doing English because I have two English modules and one Creative Writing module as opposed to four English modules. They’re probably about the same amount of contact time but all in all, yes, I don’t have to read an overwhelming amount.

Here’s what I’ve read so far on the course:

  1. Beowulf. We’re reading on a timeline in my Foundations of Literary Studies module so of course Beowulf (in its translated form) was the first text we had to read. It’s an epic poem that spans about 100 pages and wow, let me tell you, whilst I was already sort of familiar to this tale I didn’t realise how utterly boring reading the thing would be. The plot and themes aren’t so bad but it took me so long to get through those 100 pages wow. It’s okay. I mean, it’s one of the first documented fictional pieces ever so you have to give it some credit where credit is due, but I wasn’t particularly enthralled by it.
  2. The Norton Anthology of Poetry. I’m not going to list all the poets I’ve read in this so far since there’s been quite a few. The focuses have been on haikus, limericks, and sonnets, although I’ll be reading T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land this week too. By far my favourite were the sonnets – Shakespeare’s in particular. I think Shakespeare’s sonnets are one of my favourite texts I’ve ever studied. Perhaps because I’m a romantic at heart? That might tie in to why I enjoyed reading poetry from the era of Romanticism too hah. I would highly recommend any of Shakespeare’s sonnets and also ‘We Are Seven’ by Wordsworth is quite cute and simple to understand.
  3. Waiting for Godot. Wow okay this was one of the first novels I have ever actually fully enjoyed reading in all my study of literature thus far. Many people in my seminar group thought it was boring and utterly pointless but I thought it was incredibly cleverly done. Even though not a lot actually happens in the play plot-wise I think its a very introspective look at human behaviour. It’s also quite short and will only take you about 2hrs to read if you fancy it.
  4. Silas Marner. We had one lecture and seminar on this text this week but we’re getting a rare double week to look at it (gasp, it must be that good!). I’m a bit neither here or there with this one: while I didn’t dislike it I didn’t fully enjoy it either. The second part of the novel is beautiful, I love the parallels of Silas from before and after finding Eppie. If there had been more of this style of writing and less background build up from the first part I would have liked it a whole lot better. Very mush happy-ever-after at the end though, in case you’re not into that.
  5. Hamlet. I haven’t actually read this recently because I also studied it at A-Level and decided not to waste time rereading it. At first I thought it was difficult to understand but when we analysed it in college I found I liked it more and more as time went on. I look back on it fondly now, even if I didn’t want to reread it just yet. Also, David Tennant plays an excellent Hamlet.

What posts would you like to see on this blog in the near future? Leave a comment or send a tweet to @paperutopia_



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