This term I have found myself doing what I always do in an English Masters program. Namely, reading a whole lot. But something feels different about this term. Maybe it is the apple cider I bought yesterday that’s making me loopy but I have been massively enjoying all the reading I have been assigned so far. Which, even though it is not yet October, is about seven books and a whole lot of critical articles. So just in case you are interested in picking up some amazing and edifying books, here has been my reading list so far, which I have helpfully ranked for you.
To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf: This book is a great introduction to Woolf if you’ve never read her and contains some of the most beautiful and calming prose I have ever read. It is also a very quick read that will make you feel contemplative and healthy, like you’ve just taken a literary vitamin.
Degas in New Orleans by Christopher Benfey: This book is a nonfictional exploration of Edgar Degas’ visit to New Orleans in the years after the Civil War. In looking at Degas and his family, Benfey is able to give an really interesting portrait of postbellum New Orleans that was full of weird stories and windows into the city.
Three Lives by Gertrude Stein: Also a great introduction to an occasionally difficult writer, Three Lives is Stein’s portrait of three separate working women, The Good Anna, Melanctha, and The Gentle Lena. The prose is weird and beautiful and the read also goes pretty quickly.
Independence Day by Richard Ford: This is the second book in a trilogy, so this recommendation is really for any of those three. The narrator in this book is often hard to take because he is kind of an ass. But he is also one of the most fully realized characters I’ve ever kept company with. I felt like I could reach through the page and slap him, and that made it massively worth reading.
A Farewell to Arms by Earnest Hemingway: Ah Hemingway. What can we say about him? I had never read this particular Hemingway novel and I came away very glad that I was finally familiar with it. It isn’t a happy read by any means but the terse prose (which I read in my head in Corey Stoll’s voice) blooms with sentiment at unexpected moments and yet never runs away from its writer. I also just realized Hemingway from Midnight in Paris and Peter Russo from House of Cards are the same person. Mind blown. Having hair makes a big difference in me being able to recognize people apparently.