Recently I finished my first year at university studying English Literature and Publishing. Whilst sometimes it does have me questioning every choice I’ve ever made up until this moment, I do love it. As you can imagine, it involves a lot of reading (like a lot a lot) and some of them are great and some of them are not so great. I haven’t included all of the books I’ve read because this post would be as long as the Bible so I’ve included the standout hits and misses of this year.
I’m gonna start out with the misses so we can end on a high note.
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
In my Popular Fiction module, one of the strands we studied was coming of age stories and this was the first book that we read for this strand. I hated this book. I hated it so much that I didn’t even finish it, I just googled how it ended and it got worse. I know that this book is a classic and so beloved by so many people, just not me. Frankly, it was boring, nothing happened, all the characters were whiny and awful. Big NOPE from me.
The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler
This is another on that I did not finish. This was in the detective fiction strand described to us as the ‘hard-boiled’ detective. God, was this boring. Every single thing that happened was so lengthy, it was torturous reading this book. I got about a quarter of the way through when the main plot had only just started. I couldn’t deal with it so I never finished it.
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
I know lots of people study this one at school but I never did and I never got round to reading it until this year. I believe when you’re studying English Literature that there are two types of “good books”. The first type of “good books” are the ones that you actually enjoy reading and talking about. The second type are the ones that you don’t like but have really good scope for analysis and you can ‘say a lot about it’. The Catcher in the Rye falls in to the latter. Holden Caulfield was so annoying, I just wanted to hit him around the head with that stupid red hat.
On the other hand, I read some books that I really really loved and so glad that I got introduced to them this academic year.
The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
Again, this is one that a lot of people study at school but I never did. This was probably my favourite out of all the books I read for uni this year. I just loved the story and Ponyboy as the narrator and really just the whole concept of the book, I really loved it. I actually read this one on a train and I won’t say any spoilers but it got to the part where they say the iconic line “Stay gold, Ponyboy” and I just wept. Right there on the train as the guy was checking tickets.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larsson
This was definitely my favourite from the detective fiction strand. I know this series is hugely popular and there have been two film adaptations of it, I haven’t seen either. But this book was so good. I hate to use the word edgy but, yeah, it was edgy. The story was really intense and dark and twisted. The whole mystery and crime was absolutely wild, this book had my heart racing, it was amazing. And the discussion we had about it in my seminar group afterwards, incredible.
The Wardrobe by Danielle Wood
The first strand that we studied I haven’t actually talked about yet and that was fairy-tales. Pretty much all the material we read for this strand were short stories but I loved this one so much so I’m gonna count it because it’s my post. This is actually a contemporary retelling of the classic Bluebeard story, it was probably my favourite that we read from this strand. It really raised questions of the feminism behind fairytales as well as other debates like beauty, femininity and body image. I really enjoyed reading it and I had a lot of fun writing about it in my essays.