On Finishing My First Semester in Grad School.

coffee and writing

It happens one night. You realize that you’ve been neglecting a large part of what makes you who you are; for you, that is the study of English literature. Reading and writing have always been your biggest combined passions. You went to college to get a degree in English. Almost ten years later, you finally decided to stop wasting time and go for your Masters in the same subject.

But there comes a time in the semester when everything sort of starts to weigh in on you. Deadlines loom. You’ve lost track of days and dates, and suddenly you have two days to turn in your annotated bibliography that you haven’t even started yet, and less than 10 days to finish two papers. One of which has three pages written to it and the other has one paragraph. There are eight years between your bachelor’s degree and the start of your master’s degree and while it starts out all fun and games, eventually, only three months later, you start to wonder if you should really be doing this……

But then you remember how much you love this studying English thing.

You remember the joy you gain from research and study and writing about everything you’ve learned.

You remember that you get to express and live your passion every day doing this Grad school thing.

Then all of a sudden your papers are turned in, your course surveys are done, and you’re off for over a month between semesters.

Is it all worth it?

Fuck yes.

Top 10 Classic Novels You Must Read Before You Die.

Want to read the classics but don’t know where to start? Or feel lost at the bookstore in the vast sea of classic novels to choose from?

Here is a list of the Top 10 Classics You Must Read Before You Die to help get you started! (in no particular order)


1.) Dracula – Bram Stoker

A great gothic read for Halloween! Count Dracula attempts to move from Transylvania to England but Jonathan Harkness and Van Helsing stand in his way.

dracula

2.) Frankenstein – Mary Shelley

Another great read for Halloween! Frankenstein depicts the story of Dr. Frakenstein’s monster and his coming to terms with life after being reanimated. It is also the study of the potential of science in the time period (about 1818).

frankenstein

3.) Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen

For the romantics out there! Perhaps you have seen the many movie adaptations and want to read the original novel. Pride and Prejudice tells the story of Elizabeth Bennet and her sisters as they each get married off, particularly focusing on Lizzie and Mr. Darcy – her “arch nemesis” so to speak. Don’t worry, it has a happy ending. πŸ˜‰

P+P

4.) The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald

Ahhh the Great Gatsby. One of my all time personal favorites! This 1920s novel is a story told by Nick Carraway about his friend Jay Gatsby and his love affair with the beautiful and rich Daisy Buchanan. If you can’t live in the jazz age at least you can read about it!

gatsby

5.) Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte

This is story of a girl named Jane Eyre who grows up poor, mentally and emotionally abused, and then goes off to boarding school and later becomes a teacher and a governess. When she becomes a governess she moves to Thornfield where she meets the mysterious Mr. Rochester. The whole east wing of the house is closed off, and Jane can hear eery laughter coming from the attic. A gothic tale that only a Bronte could write, this is a classic you can’t pass up!

janeeyre

6.) The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath

Moving from 19th century English literature to American 1960s novels we come to Sylvia Plath and her heart wrenching novel The Bell Jar. It is a semi-autobiographical novel of Sylvia’s own struggles with depression and her time in mental hospitals (including electroshock therapy) – you could think of The Bell Jar as the pre-cursor to Girl, Interrupted.

thebelljar

7.) David Copperfield – Charles Dickens

Aaaaand back to our Victorian literature (because so many great novels were written during that period!) we come to Mr. Charles Dickens – the king of Victorian literature. David Copperfield literally tells the life story of a boy named (ehem) David Copperfield – we start with his birth and the novel depicts his entire life. It is a tome and not a fast read but one of the best books you’ll ever read. It is peopled with many interesting and unforgettable characters and events.

davidcopperfield

8.) The Age of Innocence – Edith Wharton

In The Age of Innocence wealthy lawyer Newland Archer is recently engaged (and pleased as punch about it) to the sweet, but slightly vacant May Welland in 1870s New York. This picture perfect life is shaken up with the arrival of May’s bohemian (and much more interesting) cousin Ellen Olenska.

ageofinnocence

9.) Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte

Wuthering Heights is one of those classic novels whose reputation rather preceeds itself. It’s the torrid, gothic story of the romance between Heathcliff and Catherine, from childhood into adult hood. But it’s not all rainbows and glitter – the relationship is strife with drama nearly from the beginning. Read on a snowy night bundled up with tea!

wutheringheights

10.) Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen

Sense and Sensibility is my favorite of Jane Austen’s novels. The story revolves around the lives of two sisters Elinor and Marianne Dashwood in early 19th century England (otherwise known as the Regency era). Elinor and Marianne can not be any more different from each other – Elinor is very reserved (the “sense”) and Marianne very emotional (the “sensibility” – and want to express those emotions which was seen as unlady like at the time) – each falls in love (Marianne more then once) and we follow the sisters on their journeys through these relationships and their relationship with each other.

S+S

Which of these classic novels will you be adding to your amazon cart?!

(this post contains affiliate links – if you click then purchase I will be monetarily compenstated. But I promise to only share things with you that I genuinely love myself!)

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

I read this novel for the 2011 Classics challenge at Stiletto Storytime.

I have wanted to read this classic novel for years now, and this classics challenge was the perfect excuse to do so.

I thoroughly enjoyed it, from start to finish. It was not exactly what I had always thought it to be, but still, I was not let down.

Lets start with Miss Eyre herself. What can be said about her? In very un-Victorian language: She is a badass! Standing up to Mrs. Reed as a scared little girl, survivingΒ destitutionΒ on will alone, turning down St. John Rivers every single time he proposed to her, even though she was almost convinced by way of her faith. She made the right decision in the end which I feel is probably the more honest, Christian thing she could have done. She is a strong, opinionated, honest, intelligent heroine. She was honestly the only character I liked consistently.

Now for Mr. Rochester. I expected to swoon, but didn’t really. I think he is one of those literary heroes whose reputation proceeds him, so I had high expectations (unknowingly). Perhaps it is because of this that he did not entirely live up to what I thought him to be. I didn’t dislike him, don’t misunderstand me; I loved it when he said to Jane “my very soul demands yours,” Now that is romantic! And despite his attempt at bigamy (which actually was kind of understandable; he just should have been much more honest about it), and in comparison with St. John (who if I have to be truly honest, was rather annoying to me), was the romantic hero – or perhaps he is more of an anti-hero.

Bronte’s prose is just simply beautiful. Landscape descriptions seem to be her forte, actually, and I could see very clearly in my mind the picture she was painting; just breathtaking views! I equally enjoyed her more Gothic descriptions (the orchard in mist, the lunatic Mrs. Rochester’s antics/suicide, the laughter Jane would hear upon her arrival at Thornfield etc), though I still think her sister Emily edges her out just a bit in this respect (though it’s been years since I’ve read Wuthering Heights). On that note, I could see similarities between the two sisters; very passionate writing and story telling.

I plan to read this novel again in the future, and I very much look forward to seeing the new film next month!

Also: I found these illustrations on GoodReads.com and thought they would be a great visual aid/addition to my review, so please enjoy. πŸ™‚

Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell


Read for the Gaskell Reading Challenge over on GaskellBlog.com.Β 

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel! Elizabeth Gaskell’s writing is so charming that she reels you right in and doesn’t let go until the very end. Reading about the lives of old Victorian women was so fascinating to me, for some reason. They were such lovely ladies – I almost hated to bid them goodbye at the last words, especially dear Miss Matty. It had romance and comedy and drama and interesting people that you want to read about, and end up feeling very close to.Β  The Victorian era is one I am particularly fond of so I loved reading a first hand account of Victorian life, especially from a female perspective.

I fully intend to visit Cranford again in the future, and to continue reading Mrs. Gaskell’s other works, including North & South and her short stories. (I am also very much looking forward to seeing the film!)