Summer Reading: From the Shelves of the English Major’s Counselors
With Summer approaching, there are some of us - particularly Literature Majors - who schedule our summers with a dose of literary fare. Here at the English Major’s office, we sit down with one another and discuss what we are reading on a daily basis. Personally, I am often in awe whenever I hear each others experiences with books I have read - especially when they differ from mine. Sharing our personal experiences with common literature is not only a pre-requisite for being a Literature major (I say Literature major as an umbrella term here for majors that require heavy literary reading - say English, Comparative Literature, Creative Writing, etc.), but also a spiritual experience. Over the weekend, I discussed The Odyssey with my friend Sarah, which led to a discussion as to whether we preferred The Iliad over it. My response was visceral and preachy. Long story short, I take literature seriously. It’s a resource that fills a spiritual void in my life, and it gets me through life. Sometimes I feel I take it a bit too seriously, and it is great to see eyebrows raise from my fellow colleagues in the office whenever I hear any deficiencies in their literary repertoire; however, they have all read things and experienced things that I have not and I am forever grateful whenever I can discuss literature with them and others who are willing to talk books.
With that, I leave you with The English Major’s Counseling Office’s Summer Reading List and their quips, wherever available:
- The Collected Works of Carl Jüng
- Anna Akhmatova’s Requiem and other poetry
- Joseph Brodsky
- In the Break by Fred Moten: its an amazing book about the relationship that Black people have to the musical tradition, he argues that Black people don't create music, but that the music is literally an extension of us, embedded in and reflects the complex experiences of a group of people connecting through rhythm #Diaspora #TheLanguageInThisBookisHardAsHell
- The Signifying Monkey by Henry Louis Gates Jr.: it's all about the importance of Black Vernacular and the culture embedded in it.
- Scenes of Subjection by Saidiya Hartman: this summer I will be working as her research assistant at Columbia University.
- Lastly I will be reading and re-reading my thesis "The Power and Strength of the Story Teller: Reproductions and Repetitions of Trauma in The Works of Patrick Chamoiseau." I am presenting my thesis at my first profession research conference as a graduate student in Haiti at the renowned CSA (Caribbean Studies Association). Some Brooklyn College professors are also presenting there this summer so I will try my best to steal all the ideas I can from my senior scholars.
- The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan: I'm currently in the process of writing a post apocalyptic Young Adult novel, but I haven't read YA in a while (let alone post-apocalyptic/dystopian) so I want to read this book to see what it has in common with my vision, and what I can do to stay original.
- Howl’s Moving Castle by Diane Wynne Jones: I heard from somewhere that it's nice. I don't quite recall where. I've been told it's different from the film. Also, it's nice to read a children's book after a semester full of large texts. :)
- 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami: I got a copy of it for Christmas and have been meaning to start it since. I last read the Wind-Up Bird Chronicle and fully enjoyed it and have planned on reading more Murakami.
- I also picked up Ramsey Scott's The Narco-Imaginary and plan on thumbing through it throughout the summer and I've also been meaning to read through some of Lovecraft's stuff and maybe reread Harry Potter.
Samguk Yusa by Il-yeon: It's a super old Korean text that is a compilation of stories of "Old Korea." It contains several of Korea's foundation myths, as well as historical accounts of events dating as far back as the 1200's.
- Silence by Shūsaku Endō: Soon to be a motion picture directed my Martin Scorsese, it tells the story of Portuguese Jesuit Priests in seventeenth century Japan enduring a period of the persecution of Japanese Christians. I have a fascination with the Kakure Kirishitan, as it is such a private, hidden culture in Japanese society. This book gives a glimpse of what led to the group’s inception.
- Horses, Horses, in the End the Light Remains Pure: A Tale That Begins with Fukushima by Hideo Furukawa: 3/11 is a date that will forever be imprinted into contemporary Japanese history. Its affects on its nuclear culture has yet to be seen and studied. What we have here is a panorama of sorts inspired by the Fukushima disaster, and it’s something that I continue to closely follow.
- God in Pink by Hasan Namir: This was a recommendation by my friend Nabil, who is Lebanese and, recently, out of the closet. I think it is incredibly brave to be out as a gay Muslim nowadays, having to bare the labels of two repressed and clashing minorities. It’s even braver to be gay and in the Middle East, especially in Iraq circa 2003, the setting of God and Pink.
- I will also be cramming for the upcoming JLPT exams in the fall. I am taking the N1 exam, in hopes of becoming officially certified as fully proficient in Japanese. So, I guess, we can add the tons of JLPT-N1 textbooks I currently have stacked beside my bed.
My summer reading will contain at least these 3 authors and these books: