I read all the things! Again!: MA Winter Term Recap

youdidit

The card is right – I did do it. Shortly after submitting the last paper of my winter term, and therefore completing all assignments for the coursework portion of my MA, my partner surprised me with this card (which preceded an excessively extravagant gift) and made me cry, which was nice. That’s how you know you’ve got a good one – when they keep secrets and make you cry for good things.

Other things that are amazing: doing an MA in a discipline you’re passionate about. Term 2 was amazing, just as this entire experience has been. I read 6,970 pages, made up by twenty-one books, two plays, two books of poetry, and a stack of theory & criticism and wrote submitted 32,552 words (about 108 pages by my calculation). Those numbers seem low to me, though. While this term seemed (to me) to have a heavier workload than the fall term, the numbers are, in actuality, near identical (6,923 pages and 30,584 in the fall). Weird.

Now, what you’ve all been waiting for: here is what I read in the Winter term:

Here is a list-version, in the approximate order they were read. Favourites indicated by an asterisk(*):

  1. Oedipus the King, Sophocles
  2. The Father and Daughter, Amelia Opie
  3. Canadian Crusoes, Catharine Parr Traill
  4. i is a long memoried woman, Grace Nichols*
  5. Anne of Green Gables, LMM
  6. The Polished Hoe, Austin Clarke
  7. Unity (1918), Kevin Kerr
  8. Emma, Jane Austen
  9. Hold Fast, Kevin Major
  10. Autobiography of My Mother, Jamaica Kincaid*
  11. Heave, Christy Ann Conlin
  12. The Pagoda, Patricia Powell
  13. Kiss of the Fur Queen, Tomson Highway*
  14. A Small Gathering of Bones, Patricia Powell
  15. Hiroshima, John Hersey
  16. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Anne Brontë*
  17. Return to Arcadia, H. Nigel Thomas*
  18. Lives of Girls and Women, Alice Munro
  19. Cereus Blooms at Night, Shani Mootoo
  20. The Children of Men, P.D. James
  21. land without chocolate, Faizal Deen
  22. Olive, Dinah Mulock Craik
  23. What We All Long For, Dionne Brand
  24. Tongues on Fire, Rosamund Elwin
  25. North and South, Elizabeth Gaskell

Fun observations about the list above: (1) Anne is a (way) better author than Charlotte. Sorry, Charlotte, you can’t win ’em all. I haven’t read any of Emily’s stuff yet, though, so she’s still in the running to be Literature’s Top Brontë; (2) Elizabeth Gaskell was both the first and the last author I read for my MA – happy coincidence since I had never heard of Gaskell before and it would appear that she is a big deal; (3) The Tempest is the most alluded-to text in literature and therefore should be prerequisite reading for any English or Lit program; (4) The Taming of the Shrew is one of the most adapted plays of all time – I’m pretty sure both Emma and Tenant are adaptations/retellings.

I also read a heap of poetry as part of the assigned reading for the first-year course I TA’d:

  • “On an Occasion of National Mourning,” Howard Nemerov
  • “History Lesson,” Jeannette Armstrong
  • “The Convergence of the Twain,” Thomas Hardy
  • “The Iceberg,” Charles G.D. Roberts
  • “The Lost Worker,” Billeh Nickerson
  • “Erosion,” E.J. Pratt
  • “In Time of ‘The Breaking of Nations’,” Thomas Hardy
  • “Dulce et Decorum Est,” Wilfrid Owen
  • “Munition Wages,” Madeline Ida Bedford
  • “The Second Coming,” W.B. Yeats*
  • “The Hollow Men,” T.S. Eliot
  • “Höfn,” Seamus Heaney
  • “Darkness,” Lord Byron

And a couple of short stories:

  • “Jesus out to sea: a Louisiana lament,” James Lee Burke
  •  “Diary of an Interesting Year,” Helen Simpson

So, that’s it, I’m done now. Well, the coursework portion, anyway. I begin my professional placement next week, which gives me the opportunity to work for a literary magazine publication for six weeks as part of my program. Amongst other things (showering, dressing like a real person every day), this means that for the first time in nearly ten years, I will have regular work hours. Wish me luck!

 

 

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March Madness is real, it just has nothing to do with football.

UPDATE: My husband informs me that March Madness has nothing to do with football, ever. Apparently, it’s a basketball thing. So, shows what I know. Sports, Go Sports!

It’s been a busy month since I last posted…11 1/2 books busy, and I’m behind in my reading. Add to that two weeks of almost zero progress because I was sick, which is just coming to an end now (thank god) and you can see why I’ve been absent (I hope, please don’t leave me, I love you all)

Here’s what I’ve read since we last spoke a month ago:

Sadly, none of the above are on The List. Happily, many of them were awesome. Highlights in this batch included Autobiography of My Mother by Jamaica Kincaid, who is a treasure, and Olive by Dinah Craik, which I had never heard of before but which was surprisingly easy and quick to read for a 19c novel. A little too pious for my personal predilections, but if you read past the “God will save you” and “The only thing standing in the way of our love and happiness is your lack of faith – Convert! Repent! Then all will right with the world” narrative, then I think you’ll enjoy it.

So that was a pretty busy kick, and it’s not slowing down anytime soon. If anything, it’s ramping up.

March Madness is going to be a real thing in my house this year, but for grad student reasons, not football reasons. Because I don’t watch football. I’m talking about book things.

March Madness = two seminars, two proposals, three papers, five books, one micro-teaching session, one mini-lecture, one guest lecture, and essay marking.

It’s okay, I’m not scared. Let’s do this, Lemon.

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source: https://naiomiblogs.files.wordpress.com/2016/01/resolutions.gif?w=676

 

 

Consolation Post: I’m still here, just busy being a grad student…

I haven’t posted in a while — as it turns out, being a grad student is a lot of work. Who knew?

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As a result, updating my blog hasn’t been my top priority (sorry!) even though I’ve been reading a lot of amazing books and thinking amazing things about them. I’ve also read some not-so-amazing things and thought not-so-amazing things about them. It’s a mixed bag, really.

I’ve just finished my last novel for this term. It was Villette by Charlotte Bronte and I did not like it. I found the novel’s ambiguity frustrating, and the plot lacked…well..many things.  Lucy ends up marrying  the man who scolded her for looking at Cleopatra and for wearing pink (the audacity!). At least I’m pretty sure they get married — like I said, this book is ambiguous AF. Why does she marry this guy? Because she loves him. Why does she love him? Because…umm…well he rented a school house for her, which she seemed to like. He also…umm…bought her books?

Okay, who am I kidding? The man filled her desk with books – nobody can say no to that.

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#truth

Speaking of books, I still have some course readings to get through, but otherwise I am DONE (reading novels) for this term (for my classes). Highlights have included Can You Hear the Nightbird Call?, TellTale of Two Cities  and (surprisingly) Bleak House

A quick note on Tell – this is a book of poetry by Soraya Peerbaye about the murder of Reena Virk. Reena, a young teen in BC, was murdered by her classmates, a bunch of inhuman, vicious, violent people with hearts and heads filled with hate and prejudice. This book is absolutely chilling and sheds light on a devastating and dark mark in Canadian history. There’s been a lot of talk recently about how wonderful Canadians are, and it is true, Canadians rock and I love being one, but it is important to remember that ugliness exists here too, and we need to fight it at home just as much as we do abroad.

On that little reflective note, I’m off to continue my path towards super-smarted-ness. NEW WORD! COINED IT!

Only 3 presentations, 1 proposal, 3 papers, and a stack of exam marking to go!

I’m pulling in Tiny Potato to help motivate me to get through the rest of the term! 🙂

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Thanks, Tiny Potato. You always have my back.

image credit:
Pheobe: http://www.reactiongifs.com/r/2013/12/friends004.gif
Buying me books: https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/564x/a2/1b/e1/a21be1d68486d66723846739861478a4.jpg
Tiny Potato: http://www.lovethispic.com/uploaded_images/156255-I-Am-A-Tiny-Potato-And-I-Believe-In-You-You-Can-Do-The-Thing.jpg

 

Sorry, Lamb, but I want to read other books.

I tried, Christopher Moore, I really did. Unfortunately, Lamb just wasn’t doing it for me. I had to put it down and move on to something else.

And isn’t that just the hardest thing to do?

But sometimes reading a book can feel like this:

I find the world of readers is pretty split on the “when do you give up on a book (if ever)?” question. It’s pretty divisive, actually. Some people are fine with putting down a book they are not enjoying – there are so many books out there, why waste time on one that’s not giving you what you want out of it? Right? Others disagree – you started it, you made a commitment. Suck it up and finish that thing! Maybe it gets good at the end!

I seldom give up on a book. Even when the plot plateaus, the characters all begin to irritate me, and I have almost entirely disconnected from the narrative, I’m usually still able to push through it and get the job done. Primarily because I’m stubborn AF. Case and point: Lord of the Rings.

Then, sometimes, I say, life is short and I have a list to read so I don’t have time for you, Mr. Bad Book. Or, I lie to myself and say, “You can go back on the bookshelf for now, I will try again later. Maybe I’m just not in the right place/state of mind/environment/mood to appreciate you right now.” This is also because I’m stubborn. I’m also in denial about my addiction to books.

I can list on one hand the number of times I’ve given up on a book: (1) The Shadow Boxer (a bargain book I picked up because I fell in love with the font and paper), (2) Watership Down (which I will eventually have to read as its on the list), (3) Interview with a Vampire (this one is definitely getting a revisit, I refuse to believe this book is not for me), and now, (4) Lamb.

BUT THAT’S OKAY, wanna know why? Because soon I won’t have time to spend on any of these books anyway.

Wanna know why?

Okay, I’ll tell you why.

It is because as of this fall I will be starting my English Masters program! SQUEEEEEE! This means my days of self-directed reading are behind me for the next little while. I have reading lists upon beautiful reading lists on my horizon, and I cannot wait to tear through them all.

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Unfortunately, this means I also need to press pause on Middlemarch – though that decision is not a reflection of my enjoyment of the book. It is a treasure and I am looking forward to picking it back up.

So, over the next week I’ll be re-reading Tale of Two Cities, which as it turns out is even better the second time around, as well as a number of course readings in preparation for my first term as a graduate student. Oh, I will also be finishing up Clockwork Princess because that will take me all of one day to do. I’m so close to completing that series, I just want to finish it while I still can, okay?

What will happen to this blog while I’m focusing on fancy book learning? Don’t worry, kids, you’re all coming along for the ride 🙂

read all the books: https://lezbrarian.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/40fe7-readallthebooks.jpg

Dune: a ride down memory lane in a big yellow bus

When I went to the library to pick up a hard copy of Dune to read whilst my partner used my Kindle to read the e-copy, I actually had to ask the librarian for help finding the book. I am fairly certain that qualifies as the very first time I’ve ever needed help finding anything in a library. It was a very embarrassing moment for me. You see, as a child I used to go to the library ALL THE DAMN TIME. Now I can’t even find my way around my local branch. It’s sad, really.

That reminded me of how much I used to love reading, and how little I do of it now. Even with this blog, which I hoped would revitalize my reading efforts, I’m still not even close to reading as much as I used to. Man – I used to just tear through books. I would take out 3 or 4 at a time, and finish them all within a few weeks. Then my mom would take me back to the library and I would pick up 3 or 4 more and so on and so forth. I read Les Mis before I was thirteen! Pre-teen me would be unimpressed.

In earlier posts on this blog, I’ve bemoaned the fact that I find that I have lost much of my creativity. If I was a betting woman, I would wager that the decrease in creativity I’ve experienced is 100% tied to the equally decreasing amount of reading I do.

Wow…the last two paragraphs were a tangent. Back to the point. I was at the library picking up a copy of Dune

The librarian who was kind enough to help me asked how I had come to know of Dune. It was then that I told her about Patrick.

Patrick was one of the smart kids. He was in my grade, quiet, kept to himself mostly, and sat across from me on the school bus. This is significant as we spent a lot of time on the bus as kids. Patrick and I went to French Catholic school which meant that we spent 45 minutes on the bus, one way, to get to and from school. This was because one school served our whole region (approximately 8 or 9 cities). One of my clearest memories of Patrick is of him sitting in his big grey plastic bus seat, reading Dune. Those books looked massive to me at the time. I was so impressed by him, that he was reading such an intimidatingly large book. But of course he was reading a huge book! He was Patrick, after all. He was super smart. I kept to my Archie comics and pre-teen fantasy novels.

Now, a very long time later (more than one decade, less than two), in reading Dune I am reminded of Patrick. Talk about a ride down memory lane!