Recently Read Vol. 6

RecentlyReadVol6

 Books are meant to be shared. And I promise, no spoilers!

I’m back for volume six of Recently Read. Sharing my thoughts and reviews on the books I’ve read in the past few weeks. You can read volume 1  and volume 2 and volume 3 and volume 4 and volume 5 here. 

I was reading a bit slow these past two weeks. I couldn’t get my brain to focus, it was too occupied with all things baby. I was also diving into a couple of pregnancy and parenthood books as well. But here I finally am:

Have you read any of these books?

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What She Left Behind by Ellen Marie Wiseman

Four out of Five Stars

““What would have happened if the patients had been asked what had happened to them instead of what was wrong with them?”

This book examines the shocking world of mental hospitals during the 1920’s and 1930’s, a time when women could be committed for the simplest of reasons like angry outbursts, widowhood, depression, anxiety, poverty, and developmental disabilities. 

Told from two point of views, that of the 1920’s era patient Clara and the 1990’s student Izzy who’s foster parents work for a museum uncovering found suitcases at a local mental institution.

Clara comes from an upper crust NYC family. She defies her emotionally distant parents and falls in love (and become impregnated) with an Italian immigrant while embracing the flapper lifestyle. Her parents try to force her to marry “one of her own kind” and while discussing this arranged marriage, Clara, gasp, shows her true emotions. Her father decides to send her away to a top rate mental hospital to think about her future and calm her nerves. But after the stock market crashes and her family loses their fortune, Clara is sent to a government funded mental institution.

Izzy discovers Clara’s discarded suitcase and journal and sets off to learn more about this woman and how she ended up at the institution.

Clara’s story was intriguing and horrifying while Izzy’s story read like a YA novel. I would have preferred to only have the novel told from Clara’s perspective.

Clara is treated like a prisoner. She arrives at the institution completely sane but after being stripped of all her rights, force fed medication, and nearly starved to death she begins to lose her mind. Her treatment sent me on a Wikipedia dark hole search where I tried to learn as much about institutional treatment during this time. I was pleased to discover that the institution she was held at is a real place and the exhibit featuring the lost suitcases was a real exhibit.

If you have any interest in mental health history and development, especially treatment of women, then I recommend this easy to read novel.  

smartwomenjudyblume

Smart Women by Judy Blume

2 out of 5 stars

 So I decided to read this because I thought I needed something light to read while my sore hips and back were waking me up at 2 AM every night. This book fit that bill, it was an easy fluffy read that required little thought or reflection. Not one aspect of this book stuck with me after reading it. I thought I would like it because I really enjoyed reading Blume’s “Summer Sisters” last year during vacation.

Smart Women is about two divorced women, Margo and B.B., living in Colorado in the 80’s, trying to find their footing and reignite their love life. We also hear the point of views of their two teenage daughters. Teenage thoughts is where Blume excels and diving into the minds of the two younger girls were the best part of this book.

Eh. That’s all I have to say. 

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Carthage by Joyce Carol Oates

4 out of 5 stars

“She had no existence, in herself. From earliest childhood she had believed this. Rather she was a reflecting surface, reflecting others’ perception of her, and love of her.”

 Oates is one of my top 5 favorite authors and her latest novel did not disappoint. I love her take on modern American Gothic and how her descriptive narratives drip with a raw realism.

Carthage begins in 2005, in a small town in upstate NY. A teenage girl has gone missing and her family is falling to pieces. At the center of the crime is a tormented war vet, accused of being part of her killing, although no true evidence is found. Oates follows the story of the girl’s family and the vet, jumping back and forth between the past and history as she makes question how can life go on after death? In Catharage’s case, how can life go on after the sudden and mysterious death of a child and after an American boy returns from Iraq with no sense of his former self.

On another layer, Carthage digs into our countries twisted legal system and death penalty. Who really is to blame for tragedy and for death? How easily does the line between victim and criminal get blurred?

What have you been reading?

Recently Read: Vol. 5

recentlyreadvol5

 Books are meant to be shared. And I promise, no spoilers!

I’m back for volume three of Recently Read. Sharing my thoughts and reviews on the books I’ve read in the past few weeks. You can read volume 1  and volume 2 and volume 3 and volume 4 here. Have you read any of these books?

  all-the-light-we-cannot-see-9781476746586_hr

All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Five out of Five Stars

“Open your eyes and see what you can with them before they close forever.”

“So how, children, does the brain, which lives without a spark of light, build for us a world full of light?”

Best book I’ve read in a long time. Breathtaking, lyrical, and beautiful.

This books takes place in Germany and France during World War 2. Marie Laure is a blind girl living with her nurturing father in Paris. After the occupation, Marie Laure and her father escape to the seaside village of Saint-Malo where they attempt to live out the brutality of the war. Werner is a German orphan whose gift for working on radios lands him a place in a heartless Nazi training camp. 

I hate to give too much else away, because no summary of this book will give it justice. This is a book that I wanted to stay up all night to finish but also one that I wanted to never end so I could relish it forever. 

Doerr reminds us that there are multitudes of signals out in the world, ways for us to connect to each other, to remind us we are all similar beings, living out a short life here on earth. We need to remember, to take the time, open my ears and listen. To try to see all we can. To believe. That good CAN win. 

The central theme in this book is power. The whole world tries to spin on the notion of power, when we should really be choosing love, traditional, raw sacrificial love. Somehow this book takes a similar story line and makes it feel new. 

I couldn’t recommend it enough!

China Dolls Cover

 China Dolls by Lisa See

2 out of 5 stars

“When fortune comes, do not enjoy all of it; when advantage comes, do not take all of it.”

 

I’m not sure if it’s because I started this right after I finished the amazing “All The Light We Cannot See” but this book felt so shallow and boring.

I was surprised at my reaction because I have thoroughly enjoyed Lisa See’s other books, “Snow Flower and the Secret Fan” and “Joy’s Dream” (among others) and thought this would be the same. 

China Dolls is written in the perspective of three women narratives all living in Chinatown in San Francisco leading up to and during World War 2. Life was certainly not easy for these women, who were all escaping from their own pasts. But, I feel like this book didn’t really dig deep enough into the pain and the emotion. It read more like a young adult novel, interesting but light and easy.

There is darkness here, and I didn’t like how See alluded to it but then was too afraid to dig deep into it. 

spectacularnow

The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp

4 out of 5 stars

“They’ve drummed the miraculous out of you, but you don’t want it to be like that. You want the miraculous. You want everything to still be new.”

This book was nothing like I thought it was going to be, a light and fun coming of age young adult novel. (and no I haven’t seen the movie yet). But for a YA book this is a very dark and depressing novel with believable and gripping characters that reminded me a lot of “The Catcher in the Rye”.

Sutter is a boy we all knew growing up. The arrogant, charming, class clown and party guy that is in reality suffering deeply. Sutter is a barely functioning alcoholic and Tharp shows teen alcoholism in such an honest and raw way. This teenager is a character that is so set on saving others, so preoccupied with seeing himself as a savior because he is terrified to save himself. 

At times you’ll hate Sutter’s voice but he is also undeniably lovable to the point where he just keep breaking your heart, all the way to the end of the novel. 

Although this was a quick read, Sutter’s story will stick with me. 

What have you been reading?

Recently Read: Vol. 3

RecentlyReadvol3
Books are meant to be shared. And I promise, no spoilers!

I’m back for volume three of Recently Read. Sharing my thoughts and reviews on the books I’ve read in the past few weeks. You can read volume 1  and volume 2 here. Have you read any of these books?

devilinthewhitecity

Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

Three out of Five Stars

“Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men’s blood.

Larson tells two stories happening side by side during the late 1800’s in Chicago. One is the massive planning, development, and execution of the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. The other is the true story of the serial killer that rampantly murdered hundreds of innocent victims while the city (and world) was blinded by the Fair’s brightness.

This book has been on my “to read” list since I lived in Chicago in 2009…and I think I had too high of expectations. Don’t get me wrong, this book is an incredible piece of work. I learned so many facts about the building of the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago. The amount of passion and work put into the fair was amazing and it makes me sad that we no longer have similar expeditions. However, I was expecting the account of Dr. H. H. Holmes to be a little more…eh..graphic? (I don’t mean to sound overly morbid either) and more character development. 

Overall, the facts and the history were very interesting, but I wanted a more personal connection with the historical characters. I wanted Larson to dive a little bit deeper into the psyche of the killer and relate it more to those of the architects in charge of the fair. To me, it read more like a historical biography rather than historical fiction. 


 

thevalleyofamazement

The Valley of Amazement by Amy Tan

Five out of Five Stars

“Those were the reasons we both knew how deep love was, the shared pain that would outlast any pain we caused each other.”

“Teddy once told me that it’s natural that we feel alone, and that’s because our hearts are different from others and we don’t even know how. When we’re in love, as if by magic, our different hearts come together perfectly toward the same desire. Eventually, the differences return, and then comes heartache and mending, and, in between, much loneliness and fear. If love remains despite the pain of those differences, it must be guarded as rare.” 

I truly loved this book and couldn’t put it down. Tan is known for her simple, yet magical, prose, and in Valley of Amazement she once again laces together a beautiful and heart wrenching narrative about mothers and daughters and surviving as a woman during the turn of the century in Shanghai. 

The novel spans 80 years and two continents and weaves together the lives of three generations of women. The main character, Violet, the daughter of an American woman who manages a courtesan house, is kidnapped and sold as a virgin courtesan at a young age. As Violet endures every tragedy possible we stand beside her as she tries mercifully to hold onto hope, self-affirmation, love, and forgiveness. 

This book was a treasure and I enjoyed soaking up the words and history and the overpowering feelings of hope and love that surround mothers, daughter, and female friendships.


 

whataliceforgot

What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriaty

Four out of Five Stars

“Each memory, good and bad, was another invisible thread that bound them together…It was as simple and complicated as that. Love after children, after you’ve hurt each other and forgiven each other, bored each other and surprised each other, after you’ve seen the worst and the best…-well, that sort of love is ineffable. It deserves its own word.”

“I’ve come to think that’s what heaven is- a place in the memory of others where our best selves live on.”

On a little bit of a lighter note, compared to the above Valley of Amazement, What Alice Forgot was a fun read that was equally has hard to put down. What I liked most about this book was Moriaty’s way of expressing heartbreaking life moments like infertility, divorce, and loss of self in such a refreshing, and yes, fun way.

If you woke up and couldn’t remember the last 10 years of your life, what would you wish you did different? This book is about Alice, a fun and vibrant 28 year old who is madly in love with her husband and is pregnant with her first child. She then wakes up, after a fall off a bike at the gym, to realize that she is now 38, mother of three children and currently divorcing her husband. She doesn’t recognize herself, her friends, or her family. So much has changed and she does her best to put together the missing pieces. 

A great reminder to hold on to what is important to you, no matter what life throws your way. 


 

What have you been reading?

Favorite Books: From The Tween Years

blastfromthepast

Ready for a trip down memory lane? 

It’s been awhile since I did a segment of “Blast from the Past” so this week I decided to share the books that defined my tween years. The books that entertained me when I was SO BORED at home. The books that kept me up at night and taught me that books are “cool” and powerful. The books that helped me during my awkward and formative years where I was trying to figure out how to transition into a teen. 

Years later, most of these books stick with me. They were read over and over again and were very well-loved. 

babysittersclub
What girl from the 90’s DIDN’T have a collection of The Babysitter’s Club books? Stacey was my favorite, she was so glamorous. In fact, my relationship with Kristy and the gang started back a few years earlier, when one of my first couple “real” Chapter Book was the “Babysitters Little Sister” books that chronicled the adventures of Karen, Kristy’s little sister. 

littlehouseinthebigwoods
Oh the joys of reading about a little girl’s hard life as a pioneer. This would be around the same time I kept trying to forge rivers and dying of dysentery on the Oregon Trail. This book encouraged a lot of “I’m barely surviving off of a few acorns and woodchips and the snow is 10 feet deep” dramatic imaginary play for me. 

matilda
I loved all of Dahl’s books but who didn’t love little spirited Matilda? She taught me that it’s okay to be different and that reading can change your life. Most importantly, that you have the power to change your life, if you just try to believe in yourself. 

tuckeverlasting
I was enchanted about this fantastical story about immortality and exploring what the risks are involved in living forever. This was a “big concept” book for a tween, allowing all those new emotions I was feeling to get out and explore a little bit. Later, as an adult, I bought the 2002 movie version starring Sissy Spacek, Alexis Bledel and Joshua Jonathan and still love watching it. 

sidewaysstories
On the other end of the spectrum was this gem of a comedy book. I can’t count how many times I laughed my way through this book series about the crazy kids, families and teachers at Wayside School. So fun! I’d sneak this into bed at night when I couldn’t sleep. 

thesecretgarden
Such a beautiful book. I loved The Secret Garden and The Little Princess equally, but The Secret Garden gets top billing because I also designed the theme of my wedding off of it. I fell in love with the richness of this book and its story of redemption, love and rebirth, no matter the circumstances. 

justaslongasweretogether
Does anyone do YA coming of age better than Judy Blume? This book about three best friends navigating the first year of junior high together hit close to home. I remember laughing and I remember crying, knowing I wasn’t alone in all the changes I was going through. 

anneofgreengables
Oh sweet Anne! I loved the 12 books in the series about plucky Anne. I still would love to plan a vacation to Prince Edward Island, just because of these books. Anne taught me how to deal with your disappointments, loneliness, and faults while also never letting go of dreams. A woman led series  that teaches us that we don’t have to be “empowered” to be leaders, we merely have to believe in ourselves and follow our hearts.

thoroughbred
What little girl doesn’t love horses? I was hooked on this series chronicling the journey of Ashleigh as she nurses the weak filly, Wonder, back to life and transforms him into an award-winning thoroughbred. Story may sound trite, but I was wrapped up int he drama of life on a horse farm and racing and showing horses. 

thegiver
This book blew my 12-year old self away. It’s a haunting tale of a society that gives up all emotions, feelings, memories, and depends on a monotonous “sameness”. There is no love, no hate, no warmth, no loneliness, no passion, and no color. Everyone has a role they must play and no one knows any better. Except for the Giver, the man “assigned” to hold on to all the memories and feelings of the past. That is until it is his time to pass on his “assignment” to the next generation. Love this book.

Who has seen the movie that came out this summer? I’m scared to be disappointed, it looks to science fiction (even though the book is a dystopian fantasy I never pictured it so science fiction in my young mind).


 

There you have it!

Do you share some of my favorite tween books? What were yours?

Other Blast from the Past posts: Favorite TV Shows from my Teen Years    |    Passing Notes     |    Back in MY Day

My Love for Real Books (over E-Books) is Now Backed by Science!

books
I’m back talking about books again. Did you catch my recently read reviews earlier this week?

Fact: I always prefer to read real books, you know, the kind printed on paper that you hold in your hand. I’m really against e-readers and I’m not budging. Go ahead, call me a Grandma. I get all the perks and bonuses of reading on a Kindle or a Nook like the books costs less money, you can often find the books for free, they don’t take up space in your home, and they are lighter to carry and travel with. 

But to me, nothing can replace the feel of holding that book in your hand, smelling the book, and turning those crisp pages. It’s an intimate experience and my thoughts begin to live within those words in their own little world in that book. 

I also don’t like the idea of relying on technology to read. If your e-reader breaks or your run out of batteries while traveling somewhere you cannot recharge, you are out of luck. 

I own hundreds of books, and yes, they are a pain to pack and move, and yes they take up a lot of space. But I love glancing over at the familiar titles and spines in my living room. You can’t replace picking up a copy of a well-loved book and flipping to one of your favorite paragraphs and reliving that experience over again. I look at my books as artwork or a collection, something to display. 

My family and my friends have tried to sway me to the dark side. My mom and I used to regularly swap books back and forth and now we can’t because she has a kindle. Friends who know I’m on a budget don’t understand why I’d want to pay MORE for books and others can’t see the need for owning so many physical books that “may” never be read again.

Finally I have a scientific reason to back up my love for reading and owning actual books as opposed to e-readers! 

This article states facts from studies and research that show that real books are better for us than e-books, and not just for the sentimental reasons most of us value. 

A brief summary:

Researchers are learning that real books help readers in many ways that the modern technology of e-readers simply cannot. 

Real books help us with:

Comprehension: A lead researcher at Norway’s Stavanger University has concluded “the haptic and tactile feedback of a Kindle does not provide the same support for mental reconstruction of a story as a print pocket-book does.” With less of a sensory relationship, readers brains aren’t fully “committed” to the digital words on the screen like they would to printed words as well as reducing their long-term memory of the words. 

Focus: When we read on a screen we are more apt to skim the words. Admit it, you do it. You probably did it with this blog post. I do it too. When reading a printed book, we read in a linear fashion. On screen, researchers are learning that we read in a F pattern. We start out reading it all but then skim more and more the further down the page we go. Even if you don’t plan on skimming a book, your mind is so used to doing so on screens all day that when you sit down to read at night you find it hard to become engaged in a novel

Less Stress: Studies show that reading for just 6 minutes a day is enough to reduce your stress level. However, our addiction to screens and the need to be plugged in 24/7 make it hard to drop everything and truly immerse yourself to book. Reading on an e-reader that is also connected to modern technology makes it harder to simply only thinking about the book you are reading. It’s easy to be distracted. 

Empathy: We all know that reader makes us emphatic to others. Common sense right? Now studies are showing that readers who read an upsetting story on an e-reader are less emphatic than those who read a book. Can’t help but see how all the above is related to that test. 

More Sleep: You should not be viewing your phone, iPad, or TV for at least 30 minutes before you go to sleep. The lights affect your brain and sleeping pattern. Same goes for reading on an e-reader right before bed. Reading right before sleep is one of the only ways I can fall asleep easily, not about to give that up!

What do you think? Do you think e-readers are changing the way we interpret the written word? Are you a lover of books like me? Are you a die-hard e-reader? 

 

 

 

Recently Read Vol 1

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I’m most content when cuddled up somewhere quiet with a good book.

As a previous English Major I still find myself overly enthusiastic over beautiful prose and character development. But, it’s not all about literary accolades. Believe me, I can get equally lost in a Tolstoy novel as a melodramatic beach read. I pass no judgements with books. They are my way of not only escaping but also learning about myself and the world we live in by posing questions and making me adjust my perspective.

Books are such a major part of my life, it may seem odd that I have yet to include book discussions or reviews in my blog.

But I know exactly why. And it’s incredibly selfish. Some things I like to keep private. Reading a book can be such an intimate event. I selfishly want to believe that my experience, or you may say relationship, with my cherished characters and author is one only I endure. In a way it is true, no one else will feel the same exact way as you do about say Jane Eyre or Holden Caulfield. 

Yet, another side of me loves hearing what your experiences with shared books are like. I also like getting book recommendations. (On the other hand, there is nothing worse than recommending a book that you love to a friend that ends up hating it.)

But in the end, ideas are meant to be shared. And I want to share my ideas and books and my beloved characters with you. 

After asking last week if you agreed, and many of you did, I’ve decided to start a “Recently Read” post every few books or so. Please share your thoughts and any books that you’ve recently read as well! You can also follow me on Goodreads.

Here the books I’ve read the second half of this summer:

secret_history

The Secret History by Donna Tartt

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

“It’s a very Greek idea, and a very profound one. Beauty is terror. Whatever we call beautiful, we quiver before it. And what could be more terrifying and beautiful, to souls like the Greeks or our own, than to lose control completely? To throw off the chains of being for an instant, to shatter the accident of our mortal selves?”

Held at the enchanting Hampden College in Vermont in the 1980’s, reminiscent Brett Easton Ellis’s work (he and Tartt were classmates at Bennington College), The Secret History unravels a “why done it” (rather than “who done it”) murder mystery with a cast of 6 rich, privileged, and eccentric  youths obsessed with the classics and their equally eccentric teacher.

Tartt’s storytelling transforms this implausible story of murder and evil into a tale that you could imagine being told in hushed whisper among freshman classmates at any liberal arts college. I stayed up far too late many nights, enchanted by the characters, the scenery, and the gothic romanticism of Tartt’s debut novel.

I’ve heard mixed reviews about Goldfinch? Would I like it?

me before you

Me Before You by Jo Jo Moyes

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

“I thought, briefly, that I would never feel as intensely connected to the world, to another human being, as I did at that moment.” 

A heartbreaking and uplifting story about finding love in the most unexpected places. Lou is a small town girl who has lived a small life, one filled with routines and no risks. All of that changes when a quadriplegic enters her life and she begins to question everything about herself.

A spirit lifting page turner that will make you laugh and cry. I was warned before reading this book that I would be bawling my eyes out. I’m generally a big crier, but this book entertained and made me feel that “good sadness” I did not bawl my eyes out though.

A book to make you feel warm and cozy but to also question, “Am I living the life I am meant to live? Am I pushing myself to be the best me?”

east-of-the-sun

East of the Sun by Julia Gregson

My rating: 2 out of 5 stars

“If you were lucky, very lucky indeed, there were one or two people in your life who you could tell the unvarnished truth too, shell and egg. And that these people held the essence of you inside them. The rest would be conversations that ended when night fell, or the dinner part ended.” 

I purchased this book on the clearance rack at Barnes and Noble. It looked like a book I’d enjoy – a historical fiction with different female character narrators taken place during a setting that I knew little about: colonial India in the 1920’s.

It’s about 3 females who depart England in route to India in hopes of getting married or figuring out who they are (or something…_) Parts were good…I learned a lot…but parts were also hokey,melodramatic, and boring. The ending was tied up all pretty with a bow – if you like that! It was still an interesting read, I don’t know if I would have bought it if it wasn’t $4.99.  

transatlantic  

TransAtlantic by Colum McCann

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

“The tunnels of our lives connect, coming to daylight at the oddest moments, and then plunge us into the dark again. We return to the lives of those who have gone before us, a perplexing möbius strip until we come home, eventually, to ourselves.” 

Colum McCann’s one of my favorite authors (This Side of Brightness, Let The Great World Spin, Fishing the Sloe-Black River are other favorites) so I knew I was in for a treat.

TransAtlantic is a multi generational story telling various tales of people’s, you guessed it, trans atlantic voyages and new world experiences, closing the gap between Ireland and America. At first I couldn’t see how everyone was mended together but then it shown to me in all it’s beauty. I read this book, ironically, on flight.

It held me entranced with its beauty and grace. 

 

Summer_Sisters

Summer Sisters by Judy Blume

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

“What’s the point of thinking about how it’s going to end when it’s just the beginning?”

The perfect beach read. Judy Blume’s relatable (adult) characters lifted right of the pages. I got lost in the world of Martha’s Vineyard and the friendship between two best friends over 20 years while lounging on the beach in Jamaica.

Blume gets female friendships. She demonstrates how they can be complex, simple, beautiful, obsessive, trite, and disastrous all at once. Funny, addicting, and heart breaking. I could not put it down. It caused me to buy another of her adult fiction books. 

WeWereLiars

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

“Be sad, be sorry-but don’t shoulder it.” 

YA literature at its best. Loved, loved, loved this little coming of age book. 

I gobbled up this book in one setting, it was so good. It’s about 3 cousins and one friend who spend their summers together off the coast of Massachusetts. I can’t say much else without giving it away, but simply a short, must read.  A great mystery with a shocking twist.

I guessed the ending – let me know if you do too! 

 

Have you read any of the above? What are you reading right now? Let’s talk books!

 

 

In Defense of the English Major

  in defense of the english major, Katie a beautiful little adventure

I was an English major in college. No, I was never a teacher, nor did I have any great works published. I simply love to read, analyze, think about, discuss, and write about literature. Being an English major forced me to think critically and abstractly on a daily basis – uncovering themes and tropes as well as applying these thought processes to myself and the world around me.

We English majors get a lot of flak. During college the first response when I informed people what I was majoring in was, “What are going to do with that?” or “That sounds like a  waste of money.” Now, 9 years later, people still ask, “Are you actually using your English degree?”, “Was your degree a waste?”, or “You’re writing, but are you getting paid?”. It’s very rude!

I chose to study literature and still love it today because literature is a study of life in all its greatest forms. You get to experience life through the eyes of the greats from all time periods and doing so heightened my awareness of the human experience.

Additionally, it has broadened my perspective and has helped me become self-aware. I know I drive Ryan and my friends crazy by over analyzing every word, every moment, and every episode of Mad Men (or even  things like pop song lyrics and The Walking Dead). I can’t shake it, it’s part of who I am.

Being an English Major not only primed me to think differently about the world – it has also provided me with valuable tools to use in the workforce. Yes, it took a couple of years to figure out how to hone these skills and use them to my advantage. I couldn’t tell you how many interviews I went to where people stared dumbly at my resume, “so…English major eh?”.

Yet, I feel the my major has allowed me to possess and master certain skills sets that make me a desirable employee in many fields.  Skills like critical thinking, analytical thinking, writing skills, interpersonal skills, synthetic thinking, lateral thinking, creativity and most importantly communication skills. If you can communicate with varying audiences effectively, you can do pretty much anything.

But my choice to be an English major had nothing to do with the skills it would equip me with for the post-graduate job force. As a bright-eyed 18-year-old, I didn’t even consider those skills. I decided to be an English major because I loved to read. Reading allowed me to become other people, to see the world through the eyes of Bronte, Hemingway, Yeats, Milton, and Joyce. It wasn’t a form of escape, it was a way to live a life outside of my own. To experience the world and meet new people outside of my small college campus.

With each piece of literature I was invited to question our society, examine our culture, and analyze the world we occupy. I learned to step behind the lens of varying perspectives and to stretch my mind while nurturing my own opinions and spirit. By doing so I became more part of the world; more human.

People may ask, “So? Why would you become an English major? Why is that so important? How does that make you valuable to the future and the workforce?”

My reply?

Can you imagine a world without literature?A world without stories, letters, poems, plays, movies, song lyrics?

What would be the purpose to life? To simply work, produce products, sell, consume, and die? That would be proposing a life without art, a life without symbolism, a life without humanity.

Civilization is built upon stories and texts and analysis of history. We learn from the past and history is written and told; why else is it called history? From these stories we learn to endure and to grow and to live.

Our existence is meant for more than simply working and producing in order to survive. We are born to create and to enjoy and to share.

I believe all students can mutually agree that they learned more about life than about earning a living during their four years at college. I am fully in support of English Majors.  I can’t think of any better major to personally equip me both mentally and spiritually for my tenure as a human on earth.
xoxo Katie