Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers. – Charles W. Eliot
Even with a long list of digital books to borrow from the library and an overflowing bookcase of To Read paperbacks and hard covers, I still bought nine books at the bi-annual library book sale this past weekend. I might have a problem. The good news is, I think I can solve it by getting a larger bookcase for my To Read books.
One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
I read this during my longest Russian Literature phase (it’s something I always come back to but since Russian Lit can be remarkably albeit poetically depressing, I take frequent breaks). This isn’t necessarily one of my favorites as far as plot is concerned (I mean, there’s nothing wrong with it; I like that it is so simple). I generally prefer the brief glimpse of Raskolnikov’s incarceration at the end of Crime and Punishment, but Denisovich definitely has my favorite Russian names. They’re just so much fun to say.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
I had to read this book for my AP psychology class in high school and loved it. There are moments when, for no reason whatsoever, I will get the little rhyme from it stuck in my head: one flew east, one flew west, one flew over the cuckoo’s nest. It’s also the reason I made the mistake of taking a literature and psychology class in college. Of course, then I found out that the most psychologically interesting thing about the class is the fact that the professor is kind of crazy. I spent a semester frustrated because it wasn’t even close to what I expected (there was very little literature or psychology unless you count a few excerpts from Freud). I thought we’d read novels that featured characters with psychological disorders or that were contemporary to developing psychology theories to see the impact they had. Not even close. At least the class fulfilled one of the requirements I needed for graduation.
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez
I loved this book when I had to read it in high school. I had no problem with keeping the characters straight (in spite of their repetitious and shared names). I loved the imaginative and fantastic aspects of magical realism. And I’m pretty sure those are the reasons most of my classmates hated me while we were reading it. The simple family tree at the beginning of the book was enough for me. I kept trying to discuss the themes while everyone around me struggled just to understand what was happening and to whom. The worst part was that there was no one who found it as compelling as I did. I was alone in my admiration. I’m still looking for someone to whom this book spoke the way it did to me. I’m still looking for someone I can geek out with over it.
Oroonoko by Aphra Behn
This was for my Brit Lit class in college and I don’t really remember a whole lot about it (to be honest, I’ve blocked out most of the content we had to read for that class; half-way through Beowulf it all becomes a blur and that was probably the second or third week of class). Honestly, I find Aphra Behn much more interesting as a pioneer for women writers than I find this piece of her work.
Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens
This was probably my favorite of the novels we read for my Dickens seminar senior year of college. It may be long. Really, really long. But it has one of my favorite endings in Dickens. I just love the way that the final chapter switches and gives a brief glimpse of what will happen, before it reminds the reader that it hasn’t happened yet. I designed my final paper for the class around my desire to discuss this last chapter and Dickens’ use of a social chorus in his novels.