Crooked Reads: First year as an English major

Since I’ve been an English major, I’ve read (and skimmed and pretended to read) too many books to count. I keep track of the ones I finish on GoodReads, but I never really talk about them otherwise, since we move on so quickly. So here, and at the end of every semester, I’m going to post a list of the Top 10 Books I Read This Semester.

For my first post, though, I’m going to combine two semesters and showcase my mystical, magical First Semester as an English Major.

1. Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe — This was the first time I’d read about African culture. I wrote a monstrous research paper about missionaries in Africa and learned so much I’d never really thought of before. When I looked back on everything I’d read, this one stuck out the most — and not just because the cover is so colorful.

2. Oedipus Rex, Sophocles — Come on, who doesn’t love Oedipus?

3. The Turn of the Screw, Henry James — The creepiest ghost-ish-I-don’t-even-really-know-what-happened-here story. Pro tip: Don’t read this all in one late October night, because you will have slightly terrifying dreams.

4. The Odyssey, Homer — I’ve had to read this for so many classes, it’s like Telemachus and I are bros.

5. Metamorphoses, Ovid — Oh, Ovid. You beautiful, beautiful soul. I wrote a research paper on this and fell deeply in love with Ovid. It’s one of those books I think everyone should read. Maybe not the whole thing, but at least excerpts from the most famous tales. They’re so great.

6. Lysistrata, Aristophanes — There is absolutely nothing wrong with this play. Unless you don’t like boobs on your book covers.

7. Ligeia, Edgar Allan Poe — When I first read this, I thought, “Wow, what a cute love story!” And then things started to get weird.

8. Doctor Faustus, Christopher Marlowe — Makin’ deals with the devil is just the way it goes, I guess.

9. The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne — I loved this in high school, and loved it even more in college. That’s all I have to say about that.

10. Rip Van Winkle, Washington Irving — I was forced to read this in junior high and only remembered the part about his dog. When I read it again, it made me feel strangely warm and fuzzy inside.

* * *

So, what are books you never would have read without being assigned to, but ended up loving?

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