Discussion

What I Read In University

Today I thought it’d be interesting to have a look back and discuss everything I read in university. I’m not entirely sure if I’ve mentioned it before, but I graduated in English Studies. This, at my university, entitled language (since English is not the first language here), culture, linguistics, and of course literature. I must admit that the literature courses weren’t normally my favourites—I was definitely a linguistics nerd—and I even found them sometimes lacking—I touched on this slightly on my “on reading classics” post. However, we did read some books I ended up liking quite a bit.

I always enjoy seeing what other English literature students read at other universities so this is perhaps a bit of a self-indulgent post. Nevertheless, I hope this will be interesting to you whether you’re a student yourself or you’re just interested to see what is read in such a degree. Obviously, I will only be mentioning works we read in their entirety, because if I had to mention all the fragments we read I might go crazy. I’ll break it down by years and courses so it is easier to structure, and I will also provide my star rating and some thoughts I had as well as a short summary—in case you don’t know what some of these are about.

Table of contents

Year 1

The first year of this degree at my university is mostly introductory, so we don’t take any English literature specific courses. However, I took one literature course and one English language course where we had assigned reading.

Literary Studies

An introductory course to—mainly 20th century western—literature. This course was taught in Catalan so I read these books in either Catalan or Spanish. Here’s what they are:

Uncle Vanya by Anton Chekhov

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Thoughts: This was a very quick read but not one that particularly caught my attention. It wasn’t terribly bad but it also didn’t offer anything particularly interesting.

Summary: Set on an estate in nineteenth-century Russia, this deeply emotional tale of misplaced idealism and unrequited love concerns the complex interrelationships between a retired professor, his second wife, and his brother-in-law and daughter from a previous marriage. In deceptively mundane dialogue, the characters reveal their private tragedies — weakness and inability to communicate — the failures that lead them to lives of frustration and despair.

Les poesies de C.P. Cavafis by Joan Ferraté

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Thoughts: Here is my turn to confess that I didn’t pay much attention to this because I wasn’t a big fan of poetry—I’m not the biggest poetry reader out there now, but I’m certainly less intimidated by it so I’ll eventually read some. However, some of these poems I really enjoyed.

Summary: This is essentially a collection of C.F. Cavafy’s poetry.

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

Rating: ★★★★☆

Thoughts: I’ve talked about this book before in my dark reads post, but this is a book I thoroughly enjoyed. I do have to say that some of the conversations we had in class were slightly worrying some people were too comfortable blaming Dolores instead of Humbert. Regardless, this was my favourite book I read that first year! If you read it, definitely beware of the trigger warnings (pedophilia, grooming, manipulation).

Summary: Humbert Humbert—scholar, aesthete and romantic—has fallen completely and utterly in love with Dolores Haze, his landlady’s gum-snapping, silky skinned twelve-year-old daughter. Reluctantly agreeing to marry Mrs Haze just to be close to Lolita, Humbert suffers greatly in the pursuit of romance; but when Lo herself starts looking for attention elsewhere, he will carry her off on a desperate cross-country misadventure, all in the name of Love.

English Language

High Fidelity by Nick Hornby

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

Thoughts: I don’t think, scratch that, I know I’ve never read a book that has angered me quite as much as this one did. This is the only book I’ve written an entirely negative review for (you can read it here if for some reason you’re curious). I would’ve DNFed this so fast if it hadn’t been a compulsory read and needless to say, I won’t be recommending it anytime soon.

Summary: Do you know your desert-island, all-time, top five most memorable split-ups? Rob does. He keeps a list, in fact. But Laura isn’t on it – even though she’s just become his latest ex. He’s got his life back, you see. He can just do what he wants when he wants: like listen to whatever music he likes, look up the girls that are on his list, and generally behaves as if Laura never mattered. But Rob finds he can’t move on. He’s stuck in a really deep groove – and it’s called Laura. Soon, Rob’s asking himself some big questions: about love, about life – and about why we choose to share ours with the people we do.

The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Thoughts: I didn’t really enjoy this. I didn’t necessarily have any problems with it and the premise was interesting enough, but this just wasn’t for me.

Summary: Precious Ramotswe has only just set up shop as Botswana’s No.1 (and only) lady detective when she is hired to track down a missing husband, uncover a con man, and follow a wayward daughter. However, the case that tugs at her heart, and lands her in danger, is a missing eleven-year-old boy, who may have been snatched by witch doctors.

Year 2

The second year was when we actually started taking courses specific to our degree, which was a relief.

20th Century Literature

Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

Thoughts: This was just very confusing at the time, and I read all of it in some sort of daze. However, despite the low rating, I’m actually curious to see what I’d think of it if I reread it now—with a few more years of reading classics under my belt.

Summary: The story revolves around two seemingly homeless men simply waiting for someone—or something—named Godot. Vladimir and Estragon wait near a tree, inhabiting a drama spun of their own consciousness. The result is a comical wordplay of poetry, dreamscapes, and nonsense, which has been interpreted as mankind’s inexhaustible search for meaning.

Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson

Rating: ★★★★☆

Thoughts: I talked about this in my “8 sapphic adult book recommendations” post so you already know I liked this. Although I don’t remember the specific details, I was very excited to be reading a sapphic story at university because it felt more like voluntary reading than compulsory.

Summary: This is the story of Jeanette, adopted and brought up by her mother as one of God’s elect. Zealous and passionate, she seems destined for life as a missionary, but then she falls for one of her converts. At sixteen, Jeanette decides to leave the church, her home and her family, for the young woman she loves. This is a few days ride into the bizarre outposts of religious excess and human obsession.

Postcolonial Literature

Blonde Roots by Bernardine Evaristo

Rating: ★★★★☆

Thoughts: This was one book I truly enjoyed. It gripped me instantly and I thought the concept was original and very well executed. I really liked the satirical tone and criticism this delivered. Also beware of trigger warnings (slavery).

Summary: Welcome to a world turned upside down. One minute, Doris, from England, is playing hide-and-seek with her sisters in the fields behind their cottage. The next, someone puts a bag over her head and she ends up in the hold of a slave-ship sailing to the New World. In this fantastically imaginative inversion of the transatlantic slave trade—in which ‘whytes’ are enslaved by black people—Bernardine Evaristo has created a thought-provoking satire that is as accessible and readable as it is intelligent and insightful.

Potiki by Patricia Grace

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Thoughts: Although I thought this story was a truly interesting and important one to tell, I didn’t enjoy it as much as I hoped to. For some reason I couldn’t get into it. However, I would still recommend this since it might’ve not been for me, but I’m sure others will love it.

Summary: On the remote coast of New Zealand, at the curve that binds land and sea, a small Maori community live, work, fish, play and tell stories of their ancestors. But something is changing. The prophet child Toko can sense it. Men are coming, with dollars and big plans to develop the area for tourism. As their ancestral land comes under threat, the people must unite in a battle for survival.

German Language

The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Thoughts: This wasn’t mandatory, but since we had to translate a fragment of it in an exam, I thought I’d get better acquainted with the story—which I had been wanting to read for a few years. I ended up enjoying this but it didn’t exactly blow me away. It was more harrowing to read than I had anticipated and it left me feeling quite uncomfortable.

Summary: It is the story of a young man who, transformed overnight into a giant beetlelike insect, becomes an object of disgrace to his family, an outsider in his own home, a quintessentially alienated man. A harrowing—though absurdly comic—meditation on human feelings of inadequacy, guilt, and isolation, this has taken its place as one of the most widely read and influential works of twentieth-century fiction.

Year 3

The third year was, hands down, the year I read the most. I spent a semester abroad and I took more literature courses—I took a fourth year literature course since I could transfer those credits. That semester abroad was when I read to the degree I had been expecting to when I started university and, although it was quite stressful at times, it was the most enjoyment I got out of any literature courses. So strap in, because this section is about to be pretty long.

Victorian Literature

Goblin Market and other poems by Christina Rossetti

Rating: ★★★★☆

Thoughts: At the time I didn’t think much of this—like I said, not a fan of poetry—but I read both Goblin Market and some other of her poems again last year and thoroughly enjoyed them.

Summary: A collection Christina Rossetti’s poetry, including Goblin Market.

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

Rating: ★★★★☆

Thoughts: I was super excited when we were told we had to read this since I was anticipating loving it, but it exceeded my expectations. I loved this a whole lot and I had way too much fun writing my essay on it. Definitely one of my favourites I read during my entire degree.

Summary: Lockwood, the new tenant of Thrushcross Grange, situated on the bleak Yorkshire moors, is forced to seek shelter one night at Wuthering Heights, the home of his landlord. There he discovers the history of the tempestuous events that took place years before; of the intense relationship between the gypsy foundling Heathcliff and Catherine Earnshaw; and how Catherine, forced to choose between passionate, tortured Heathcliff and gentle, well-bred Edgar Linton, surrendered to the expectations of her class. As Heathcliff’s bitterness and vengeance at his betrayal is visited upon the next generation, their innocent heirs must struggle to escape the legacy of the past.

Basil by Wilkie Collins

Rating: ★★★★☆

Thoughts: This is one I actually finished after graduating—I didn’t manage to finish it in time at the time and since we had to get so much reading done it didn’t make sense to dwell on it, so I moved on. I finished it just last year and I loved it way more than I expected!

Summary: Basil, son of a father who values the family pedigree and who would not let him marry below his station, falls in love at first sight with a girl he sees on a bus. He follows her and discovers she is Margaret Sherwin, only daughter of a linen draper. Basil and Margaret enter a secret and unconsummated marriage. Intrigue, shocking betrayal, insanity, and death follow. In this novel Wilkie Collins reveals the bustling, commercial London of the 19th century wreaking its vengeance on a still powerful aristocratic world.

The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde

Rating: ★★★★☆

Thoughts: I vividly remember reading the entirety of this on a train ride to London—something that now seems slightly unreal to me—and chuckling the whole way. This was very fun and funny and, so far, my favourite Wilde read.

Summary: Cecily Cardew and Gwendolen Fairfax are both in love with the same mythical suitor. Jack Worthing has wooed Gwendolen as Ernest while Algernon has also posed as Ernest to win the heart of Jack’s ward, Cecily. When all four arrive at Jack’s country home on the same weekend the “rivals” to fight for Ernest’s undivided attention and the “Ernests” to claim their beloveds pandemonium breaks loose. Only a senile nursemaid and an old, discarded hand-bag can save the day!

Gothic Fiction

A Sicilian Romance by Ann Radcliffe

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Thoughts: This book was all right, not bad but also nothing to write home about. The constant fainting of the protagonist was slightly annoying but it did allow for many in-class discussions which were quite fun.

Summary: On the rocky northern shores of Sicily stands a lonely castle, the home of the aristocratic Mazzini family. The marquis of Mazzini has remarried and gone away to live with his new wife, abandoning his two daughters—sweet-natured Emilia and lively, imaginative Julia—to wander the labyrinthine corridors alone. His only involvement with their lives is to arrange a marriage between Julia and the cruel Duke de Luovo, even though she loves another. But that is not the end of Julia’s troubles. Strange lights and unearthly groaning noises are coming from parts of the castle that have been locked up for years.

Frankenstein (The 1818 Text) by Mary Shelley

Rating: ★★★★☆

Thoughts: Alongside Lolita and Wuthering Heights this is my favourite work that I read during my degree, and alongside Dracula, my favourite classic ever. This was a beautiful story, much more sad than I expected. One that deserves the recognition it’s had.

Summary: Obsessed with creating life itself, Victor Frankenstein plunders graveyards for the material to fashion a new being, which he shocks into life with electricity. But his botched creature, rejected by Frankenstein and denied human companionship, sets out to destroy his maker and all that he holds dear.

And now, three short ghost stories I remember absolutely nothing about but which I apparently thought were okay because I gave them all 3 stars (★★★☆☆)!

Carmilla by J. Sheridan Le Fanu

Rating: ★★★★★

Thoughts: I thoroughly enjoyed this. I had been wanting to read it for years and I was super glad we got to it in this course. Honestly, what’s not to like about a sapphic vampire story?

Summary: When a mysterious carriage crashes outside their castle home in Styria, Austria, Laura and her father agree to take in its injured passenger, a young woman named Carmilla. Delighted to have some company of her own age, Laura is instantly drawn to Carmilla. But as their friendship grows, Carmilla’s countenance changes and she becomes increasingly secretive and volatile. As Carmilla’s moods shift and change, Laura starts to become ill, experiencing fiendish nightmares, her health deteriorating night after night. It is not until she and her father, increasingly concerned for Laura’s well-being, set out on a trip to discover more about the mysterious Carmilla that the terrifying truth reveals itself.

Good Lady Ducayne by Mary Elizabeth Braddon

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Thoughts: This was an interesting take on your typical vampire story. I had no expectations for it but I actually quite liked it!

Summary: A sensational tale of a young woman, Bella Rolleston, who secures a job as a paid companion to a very elderly and wealthy aristocratic lady who offers her a handsome salary, a winter travelling on the Italian Riviera and the Italian Lakes and very little to do. It all seems too good to be true. And when Bella learns that the old lady’s previous two companions died under mysterious circumstances and she herself is becoming paler and sicker… it does seem as though something sinister is afoot.

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Thoughts: I believe this is the only book on this list that I had read prior to studying in class. Funnily enough, the first time around I didn’t like it at all, but upon rereading it I found it much more enjoyable. In the end, it was actually quite a good time.

Summary: Dr. Henry Jekyll, fascinated by the dichotomy of good and evil, no longer wants to inhibit his dark side. He concocts a potion to create the alter ego of Mr. Edward Hyde. With the burden of evil placed on Hyde, Jekyll can now take pleasure in his immoral, nefarious fantasies – free of conscience and guilt. It’s when Hyde turns to murder that Jekyll realizes how monstrous his impulses are and how hard they are to suppress.

The Turn of the Screw by Henry James

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Thoughts: This one I actually finished reading after the end of the semester—much like with Basil I hadn’t had enough time during it. I thought it was okay, but I mainly remember the spooky vibes and not that much of the plot.

Summary: A very young woman’s first job: governess for two weirdly beautiful, strangely distant, oddly silent children, Miles and Flora, at a forlorn estate… An estate haunted by a beckoning evil. Half-seen figures who glare from dark towers and dusty windows- silent, foul phantoms who, day by day, night by night, come closer, ever closer. With growing horror, the helpless governess realizes the fiendish creatures want the children, seeking to corrupt their bodies, possess their minds, own their souls… But worse-much worse- the governess discovers that Miles and Flora have no terror of the lurking evil. For they want the walking dead as badly as the dead want them.

American Literature

In this course we also read some of Emily Dickinson’s poetry which I have not included below. The reason is that that particular class was a disaster and I cannot remember a single thing from what we read. Honestly, the Apple TV+ show Dickinson has taught me more about her and her poetry than this course ever did. So yeah, we read some poems but no, I do not recall which ones at all.

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Thoughts: I had high expectations for this but it turned out to be something quite different from what I expected. As you can see from my rating I didn’t really enjoy it much.

Summary: Ichabod Crane, a schoolteacher, came to Tarry Town in the glen of Sleepy Hollow to ply his trade in educating young minds. He was a gullible and excitable fellow, often so terrified by locals’ stories of ghosts that he would hurry through the woods on his way home, singing to keep from hysterics. Until late one night, he finds that maybe they’re not just stories. What is that dark, menacing figure riding behind him on a horse? And what does it have in its hands? And why wasn’t schoolteacher Crane ever seen in Sleepy Hollow again?

The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allan Poe

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Thoughts: This was the first Poe story I read, and like every single one I’ve read since it left me a bit disappointed. I can never truly get into his stories, and I believe it’s that I’m too detached from the writing. I enjoy them, but I never love them. However, I still would recommend them because they’re short and fun—for lack of a better word—reads.

Summary: The tale opens with the unnamed narrator arriving at the house of his boyhood friend, Roderick Usher, having received a letter from him in a distant part of the country complaining of an illness and asking for his help.

The Open Boat by Stephen Crane

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Thoughts: An interesting story. I liked it well enough, but like many of the ones from this course, it didn’t blow me away.

Summary: Following a shipwreck, four survivors are adrift in a leaking dinghy. The captain is hurt but still able to lead, the cook keeps the boat afloat by bailing, and the correspondent and the oiler—a man whose job it is to oil machinery—take turns rowing. At first, angry at their situation and inclined to bicker, the men ultimately form bonds of empathy and, united, struggle to survive.

The Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin

Rating: ★★★★☆

Thoughts: I loved this. It’s just 3-4 pages but it was super enjoyable, my favourite read from this course for sure.

Summary: Mrs. Louise Mallard, afflicted with a heart condition, reflects on the death of her husband from the safety of her locked room.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Thoughts: This was an okay read, but I was a bit disappointed because I expected to like it more than I did.

Summary: Jay Gatsby is the man who has everything. But one thing will always be out of his reach. Everybody who is anybody is seen at his glittering parties. Day and night his Long Island mansion buzzes with bright young things drinking, dancing, and debating his mysterious character. For Gatsby—young, handsome, and fabulously rich—always seems alone in the crowd, watching and waiting, though no one knows what for. Beneath the shimmering surface of his life he is hiding a secret: a silent longing that can never be fulfilled. And soon this destructive obsession will force his world to unravel. 

Barn Burning by William Faulkner

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Thoughts: I must admit I’m slightly confused as to why I gave it three stars considering how much I suffered because of this. I think I had to read it more than three times because I just had to keep re-writing an essay for my professor because nothing was making sense. The story per se was okay, but definitely not a favourite.

Summary: Abner Snopes is accused of burning Mr. Harris’s barn, and his son, Colonel Sartoris Snopes (Sarty) is convinced that the people of the court are his family’s enemies. Sarty fiercely aligns himself with his father, placing his loyalty to blood and kin above his faith in the justice system. 

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof by Tennessee Williams

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Thoughts: This mainly annoyed me. The drama was way too much and way too irrelevant for me. It’s a fast read and thus easy to get through, but still, not for me.

Summary: ‘Big Daddy’ Pollitt, the richest cotton planter in the Mississippi Delta, is about to celebrate his sixty-fifth birthday. His two sons have returned home for the occasion: Gooper, his wife and children, Brick, an ageing football hero who has turned to drink, and his feisty wife Maggie. As the hot summer evening unfolds, the veneer of happy family life and Southern gentility gradually slips away as unpleasant truths emerge and greed, lies, jealousy and suppressed sexuality threaten to reach boiling point.

Year 4

During my fourth and final year I only took one literature course since the year before I’d taken extra ones, which was a good move because that course was the hardest one. This was also the year I started giving half-star ratings.

From the Origins to Shakespeare

Twelfth Night, or What You Will by William Shakespeare

Rating: ★★.5

Thoughts: I would be lying if I said reading this wasn’t a struggle. This was my first Shakespeare work I read in its entirety and on my own, and for a good portion I was thoroughly confused—the fact that this is a comedy of errors didn’t help my case. Eventually I got the hang of it and I ended up enjoying it more than I originally anticipated.

Summary: The Countess Olivia, a woman with her own household, attracts Duke (or Count) Orsino. Two other would-be suitors are her pretentious steward, Malvolio, and Sir Andrew Aguecheek. Onto this scene arrive the twins Viola and Sebastian; caught in a shipwreck, each thinks the other has drowned. Viola disguises herself as a male page and enters Orsino’s service. Orsino sends her as his envoy to Olivia—only to have Olivia fall in love with the messenger. The play complicates, then wonderfully untangles, these relationships.

Macbeth by William Shakespeare

Rating: ★★★.5

Thoughts: Having previously read Twelfth Night definitely helped ease into this. I truly liked this and analysing it in class helped so much with understanding all its nuance.

Summary: One night on the heath, the brave and respected general Macbeth encounters three witches who foretell that he will become king of Scotland. At first sceptical, he’s urged on by the ruthless, single-minded ambitions of Lady Macbeth, who suffers none of her husband’s doubt. But seeing the prophecy through to the bloody end leads them both spiralling into paranoia, tyranny, madness, and murder.

Mythology

Metamorphoses by Ovid

Rating: ★★★.5

Thoughts: This was an elective course and we had to read only four books from Metamorphoses. Since I enjoyed those I decided to finish the entire thing after graduation. This was quite a dense read and I’ll admit I got lost at times because it’s told in some sort of stream of consciousness way that I found hard to follow. Definitely one you need to be focused for. However, I really liked learning more about these myths.

Summary: It weaves together every major mythological story to display a dazzling array of miraculous metamorphoses, from the time chaos is transformed into order at the moment of creation, to the time when the soul of Julius Caesar is turned into a star and set in the heavens. 

I am aware that this was a very long, very self-indulgent post, but I hope you have found it somewhat interesting.

If you’re an English student yourself, I would really like to hear how our reading differs. If you aren’t, please let me know if you’ve read any of the books I mentioned and what you thought of them. In any case, thank you for reading!

21 thoughts on “What I Read In University

  1. I don’t think this post is self-indulgent; it was really interesting to read especially as a prospective college student! I’m a STEM kid myself, but who knows, I’ve always kind of like the idea of minoring in English lit. I’ve only read two of these books (The Great Gatsby and Macbeth) and I actually haven’t heard of a lot of them which is cool

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    1. I’m glad you found it interesting. I always like learning about what other people are studying so I hope there are others like me 😊 Honestly, many of these titles I hadn’t heard of prior to studying them, so I totally get you!

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  2. This was super interesting to read! I’ve read/heard of most of these, and have been trying to get more into classics so I really enjoyed reading your thoughts. I love the gothic literature section because I love being spooked, so I’ll definitely be checking some of those out.

    Also, I have to say, I just cannot imagine studying Lolita. It took me so long to process that book after reading it because I was reeling from it, I can’t imagine what it was like having discussions about it in class!

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    1. Gothic literature was so much fun to read! The reason there’s so many short stories is because we read a bunch of them for Halloween! I’d definitely check them out (especially Good Lady Ducayne)

      I actually really loved Lolita (I tend to enjoy dark reads like I mentioned in a previous post). But yeah, the discussions were slightly worrying at times…

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  3. This was fascinating! I also love seeing how getting an English degree differs from country to country and university to university 😊 Although I think I’d be here forever if I tried to write a post like this – I had to read quite a bit over the years 😅

    Still, it looks like the organization of my study program (English minor in a five-year program geared towards teaching English at a German gymnasium, which is basically a college track high school…) isn’t all that different from yours. I also had literature, linguistics, and culture classes, plus some additional ones on teaching English. Although we didn’t have the world literature thing at the beginning – they made us read that kind of stuff in school, so we started with something called “Introduction to British and American Literary Studies” instead 😂 That course was split into five sections, one on drama, one on poetry, one on novels, one on short fiction, and one on film, and basically, we had to read a whole bunch of stuff from all kinds of different time periods, as well as supplementary texts on different literary theories.

    After that, since I was too dumb to realize that I could have picked between focusing on British or American Literature and simply did what the sample timetable said, I specialized in British literature. It feels like I took about a million courses in that, so I’ve actually read quite a few of the British classics on your list 😊 (Twelfth Night is one of my absolute favorites!! How can you rank that lower than Faulkner? 😭🤣 But seriously, I highly recommend seeing Shakespeare on stage – it helps so much and you never know, you might end up becoming obsessed, like me 😄)
    And then we also had some extra classes we could take that focused on other topics – like “Introduction to Australian Literature”, which I loved 🥰 And like you, I did the bulk of my reading when I studied abroad in Virginia, which added a bunch of North and Latin American literature to the list…

    However, what really pushed me to read the classics is this thing called the “Staatsexamen” (state exam). This is a ginormous battery of test that you have to pass if you want to teach here, and, I kid you not, the required reading list encompasses about 10,000 books 😅 Obviously, I did not make it through all of those, but I think I gave 17th &18th century British drama and 18th & 19th century fiction a passable try 🤣 My wrap-ups basically consisted of nothing but classics all throughout 2019 and the first half of 2020…

    Anyway, sorry for the monster comment 😅 But since you asked and your post wasn’t exactly short either, I thought I’d go ahead and ramble a bit 😁

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    1. First of all, thanks so much for this comment!! I love comparing experiences a lot, so I’m grateful you took the time to write it.

      I do wish we had got some more reading done but hey, at least we read some fragments from many other works (which I obviously didn’t mention heh). I liked Macbeth a lot, and I just recently borrowed Romeo and Juliet (which I’m super excited to read) from a friend, so it’s not that I don’t like Shakespeare. I think the problem was that Twelfth Night was the first of his plays that I tried reading, and it was pretty challenging in the beginning so I just couldn’t enjoy it as much. We actually went to London because of this Shakespeare course and we saw Richard II, but let me tell you it wasn’t for me. I thought the performance was great and the concept—it was an all-female production—very interesting, but the political plays apparently aren’t for me.

      It’s interesting how both of us got more reading done abroad!

      That exam sounds slightly crazy, not gonna lie. I never heard of such a thing but it seems truly daunting. I hope that you at least enjoyed all that reading because otherwise… ☠

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      1. Oh yes, we read a lot of fragments as well, even though they were usually accompanied by the professors saying that we should definitely read the whole thing at some point… Which means I basically have a recommendation list that should last me until I die! But I guess that’s not a bad problem to have 🤣

        And I see where you’re coming from with Shakespeare. The first play of his that I read was A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and I found the language horribly difficult at first. Thankfully, though, I’d already seen the play on stage at that point, which helped a lot with understanding! And we also had a great English teacher at the time – her enthusiasm for Shakespeare was kind of catching! 😄 I actually really like Shakespeare’s more political plays, though (except Henry VIII, which was remarkably boring considering the guy’s history… 🙄). I’m not sure how I feel about Richard II being a woman – one of the more interesting things about him is that he’s a man who doesn’t really fit the masculine ideals of the time – and haven’t seen the play performed, but I did like it when I read it!

        And ah, yes, that exam was… something 😅 I was close to succumbing to despair on several occasions, but I did discover a lot of books I probably never would have tried otherwise and love how it gave me a better overview of those time periods! So, in retrospect, I guess it was kind of worth it? 😂

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        1. Yep yep, same thing about the endless recommendations list 😂

          A good teacher is always the best. Mine was really great explaining everything but she was very strict and distant, so that made for less than comfortable classes unfortunately. Maybe one day I’ll read Richard II and see what I think of it now I’ve detached myself from that environment.

          Sure, some positive must have come out of it, but damn, it is intimidating as hell!

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  4. I really enjoyed reading this!! I’m not an English student, though I’d love to study it without having to write another thesis!! It would be so interesting to discuss books.

    I hated The Turn of the Screw so much, and I also didn’t like Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde but I really liked Wuthering Heights! Though I wouldn’t want to reread it, I think it’s an amazing classic.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I actually wrote my dissertation on linguistics hahaha. Despite my love of rambling over books I don’t think I would’ve made it through if I had written it on literature 😂

      Rereading Jekyll and Hyde was interesting, because my view of it truly changed. Wuthering Heights was so much fun, I’m glad you also enjoyed it!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. This is a super interesting list! It doesn’t feature the books I might expect, or the books I studied for English Lit in the UK. We did all the kind of basic classics (Gatsby etc.) but this seems a lot more varied which is cool.

    I somehow made it through my German degree without having to touch The Metamorphosis, or any Kafka at all for that matter. I read some of his short stories when I was in school and wasn’t a great fan, so I’m glad I never had to study him properly.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Most of the basic classics I read my semester abroad in the UK! But at my home university we did significantly less reading and discussing and more seminar-like sessions. That was a shame because, in my opinion, you get much more out of literature when discussing it. I derived much more enjoyment out of my literature classes abroad, that’s for sure!

      The Metamorphosis was… interesting. Thankfully it’s quite a short read because otherwise I’m not sure how I would’ve felt about it.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Oh wow this was such a fun post to read! I was not an English major, but I will definitely be coming back to this post for ideas of books to read. I have been wanting to read Carmilla and Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, good to know that you enjoyed them!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I never read novels until 2016 when I was. It was a recent hobby and I loved losing myself in stories, to go back in time and read about these stories that have been read by millions, who have seen the same words but experienced a different story.
    So many books here have opened my mind to view literature differently. When I picked Lolita for the first time, I thought it was about pedophilia and other stuff. But my teacher encouraged me to read it and also explained that it was a parody and had many allusions to American art. I actually realized this point only when I reached the end. Gatsby is one of fav piece of American Lit. Fitzgerald’s metaphors and writing is lyrical. I never knew it was a tragedy and was narrated by Nick until I read it. Frankenstein was way ahead of it’s time and the epistolary form made me like it more. It was a good fit for the ending. Many might argue on that but this is just my opinion. This honestly brought so many memories. It was great to know what you read in uni. Thanks for sharing it with us.

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