Books I Read for School and Actually Enjoyed

I finished my Master’s in English this past May, and it’s surprising to some who know me, but it is most surprising to me. I have always hated school. From kindergarten, I would try and get out of school as much as humanly possible, and that didn’t stop until my last two years of undergrad. I’m talking I almost failed my senior year of high school because of absences. I just couldn’t be bothered to do anything more than the bare minimum the entire time. Yes, even for my English classes where I had to read. 

It wasn’t until I switched to being an English major and depression and anxiety diagnoses in my last two years of undergrad that I started caring about school. This new excitement for school and English carried me through my MA degree. During that time, I got the chance to read some really cool books, and I thought it would be fun to share six of these books with you in no particular order.

The first book I have on this list is Sula by Toni Morrison. This book follows childhood friends Nel and Sula. As they grew up, the women took vastly different paths in life, and when they reunite, they can see the consequences of their choices. Of course, Morrison’s writing is fantastic, but what really makes this book stand out is that it is centered around the two women. The men in their lives aren’t as much the focus as their friendship is, which is refreshing to see. It doesn’t often seem that we see women and how they are outside of their relationships with men. I know I’ve seen quite a few people picking up Beloved and The Bluest Eye lately, but if you haven’t considered Sula, please do!

Second, I want to talk about Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work by Edwidge Danticat. This is a non-fiction collection of essays about immigrant artists continuing to create even when their worlds are in crisis. Danticat is Haitian-American and writes about other Haitian artists and writers. She discusses the importance of continuing to create for those who might need art from their specific point of view. Since this is a collection of essays and they all deal with different topics, I just want to leave you with a quote and hope it’s enough to get you to pick up this beautiful work. 

“Create dangerously, for people who read dangerously. This is what I’ve always thought it meant to be a writer. Writing, knowing in part that no matter how trivial your words may seem, someday, somewhere, someone may risk his or her life to read them.”

Edwidge Danticat

You might know Sandra Cisneros from The House on Mango Street, but I beg you to pick up Caramelo if you get the chance. This is the story of “Lala” Reyes and her summer trips to visit her Awful Grandmother in Mexico City. Lala then begins to tell her grandmother’s story and thus begins a story that goes back generations. This book is on the longer side, but it’s definitely worth it. I’ve talked about my love for unique story structure, and in Caramelo, Cisneros gives us the story in an almost circuitous way that is tied to culture and asks readers who aren’t used to this style of storytelling to pay attention and come along. I also really enjoy books that follow someone’s entire life or multiple generations, and Caramelo definitely delivers.

Emma, The Dog

There’s one classic on this list and, of course, it’s Emma. I’ve read this book a few times, and I just love Emma. I named my dog after her because, like Emma Woodhouse, Emma the Dog is obnoxious and hilarious. This story follows Emma Woodhouse, who thinks she’s really great at matchmaking. She is not. I love watching all of the drama and hilarity unfold. It’s one of the original rom-coms, and I’m here for it. I totally suggest watching Clueless after finishing the book. 

I don’t think I’ve shut up about Fun Home by Alison Bechdel since I read it, and I’m not even a little sorry. This is a graphic memoir that details Bechdel’s childhood and the less-than-perfect relationship she has with her father. I know some people think graphic novels go by too fast, and there’s not much to them, but that’s definitely not true for Fun Home. There is just as much to analyze in the artwork as there is in the actual text. There are also literary references throughout which add to the story. Still, you can definitely get a lot from Bechdel without knowing every single reference. The professor that taught Fun Home also had us listen to several songs from the musical. “Ring of Keys” and “Telephone Wire” get me every time. I’m not going to stop talking about and thinking about Fun Home for a really long time.

The last book I want to talk about is Queer: A Graphic History. This graphic novel is not the only and final word when it comes to queer theory, but it is a place to start. It covers a variety of topics, including sexuality as a spectrum and identity politics. The images are really helpful when it comes to recalling different concepts and making connections to other texts and media we were looking at. I think it is an interesting way to deliver complex information. I appreciated having it as a supplement while just starting to learn about different theorists. 

There are definitely other books I enjoyed reading while I was in school, but I thought I’d start with a selection from my last two years of school. Hopefully, this was enjoyable, and I’d appreciate talking with you guys in the comments. What books did you read in school that you really enjoyed?


Stuck at Home Book Tag

Many of us have been at home for a few months and some people are going back to work (or have been working the whole time) but I’m going to be home for the foreseeable future since I won’t be teaching until August (knock on wood). I’m a bit late to the game but I’m going to do the Stay at Home Book tag!

I’ve seen a few other bloggers do this tag but it was originally created by Ellyn and you can see the original post here. I wasn’t specifically nominated but I most recently saw Tiffany over at My Bookish Fantasy do this and I wanted to give it a try. Hope you enjoy!

What are you currently reading?

I am currently listening to The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins. I keep putting this book down and picking it back up; it’s been an interesting reading experience to say the least. I also just finished Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld. It’s a modern Pride and Prejudice retelling and I thought it was pretty good. That being said, I’m about to pick up another book to read physically and I randomized by TBR so it looks like I’m picking up The Happy Prince and Other Stories by Oscar Wilde.

What’s your favorite “can’t-leave-the-house” activity?

Of course, I’ve been playing a ton of Animal Crossing. My island isn’t the cutest yet but I’m slowly working on it. I made a little park and my next project is to make a boardwalk.

I have also been watching more shows than I normally would. I am currently watching Avatar: The Last Airbender, Bob’s Burgers, and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia again. I might also start using this time to watch some more anime – One Piece and Blue Exorcist are both some favorites.

A book you’ve been meaning to read forever:

I have been meaning to get into Shirley Jackson in general for quite a while. I have a few of her books so I am going to try to work them into my TBRs over the summer if I can. I am also trying to get into Junji Ito’s work for a bit. Clearly, I am in the mood for all things spooky.

An intimidating book on your TBR:

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. She’s giant, she’s old, she goes on tangents at length. I am interested in the plot but everytime I look at the book, I am unsure of how I’ll ever be able to tackle it. I fear the day that I randomize my TBR and that book comes up. 

Top three priority books on your TBR:

I am really looking forward to reading Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo with some friends in June. I don’t read a ton of fantasy and definitely haven’t read anything by Bardugo so I’m excited to give it a try. I mentioned Junji Ito before but I am really prioritizing Gyo because the synopsis is super intriguing to me. Lastly, I am looking to start the Percy Jackson series for the first time really soon. I’m picking up the books tonight so I want to put those high on my list.

Recommend a short book:

I keep talking about this book but I read it for a class this past semester and LOVED it. It’s a graphic novel called Fun Home by Alison Bechdel. It’s described as a tragicomic and talks about the author’s life and relationship with her father. She is coming to terms with her own sexuality and her family dynamic. I highly recommend it.

Recommend a long book:

I don’t exactly read a ton of really long books but I did really enjoy The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne. This book follows one man throughout his entire life. He is on a journey to learn about himself and who he is after he learns that he is adopted. I really enjoyed following him on this lifelong journey of self-discovery.

Something you’d love to do while stuck at home:

Since starting this blog and my bookstagram account, I have been playing with the idea of starting a YouTube channel. I have plans to film this week but I’m not yet sure if the footage will ever see the light of day. I am just really nervous and self-conscious about trying a new medium where people can see and hear me. But who knows?

What do you plan on reading next?

I am picking up The Happy Prince and Other Stories by Oscar Wilde. After that, I might have time to read one more book before I start Ninth House and my June readathon books and I think that will be the first book in the Percy Jackson series.

If you’ve made it this far, I tag you in the Stuck at Home Book Tag! I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this and learning a little more about books I’ve read and enjoyed or books I’m planning to read. ❤