Thursday, 12 October 2017

THE READING LIST: Year 1, Semester 1

It's been a while, but I've finally started university! Every day nearly a month in I am still baffled that I managed to make it to the place I wanted to be, and every day I dive deeper into my Semester One reading list. Compared to my other reading list posts, this is considerably longer, so sit tight!

Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe (Children's Fiction)
At the time of writing this, I've already read Robinson Crusoe as my first text, and as much as I'd hoped to love it that wasn't the case. But hopefully, this will change with further analysis of the novel as "the first children's novel". 

Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll (Children's Fiction)
SO excited to read this and finally get into the original text. I never grew up reading Alice in Wonderland as so many children did; and whilst I've seen plenty of adaptations for the screen and read several retellings, this is my first time giving Carroll's original work a go, and I'm certain it'll be fascinating, especially given the controversy surrounding the author. 

Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie (Children's Fiction)
I haven't read Peter Pan since I was maybe five or six and even then it was read to me. Since then, like with Alice, I've dipped into multiple retellings, including John Logan's play Peter and Alice, and Jodi Lynn Anderson's Tiger Lily, but now feels about bloody time that I read the original text, which I've always found so interesting, for myself. 

Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe (Children's Fiction)
I'm especially interested to see how this text pans out because not only is it a book about the abolition of slavery in America at the time of its peak, but furthermore it's a novel about abolition explicitly and openly written by a woman at the time. As far as I'm aware, Beecher Stowe never used a male pen name, which is interesting for the context of the time and how successful this book was. This is coupled with Junk in my third week of studies, so it'll certainly be perplexing to read and study these together. 

Junk by Melvin Burgess (Children's Fiction)
Honestly, I'm surprised I've never read this before, given how it's set in Manchester - my home city - but I haven't. It's going to be dark, intense and murky, but I'm looking forward to reading a book based in a location I'm so familiar with. 

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis (Children's Fiction)
The Chronicles of Narnia have always been very hit and miss for me personally. I loved the films and remember watching them all, most often the first one, as a young child, but the books to me are far from the same. Probably my main struggle is the intense religious subtext, as whilst I can immerse myself in this wonderful fantasy side, I seriously struggle to separate the religious propaganda and cynicism from the rest of the children's novel. 

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J.K. Rowling (Children's Fiction)
I won't lie. One of the main reasons I signed up for this module over "Literature of Laughter" which I was so close to taking was because it meant I'd get to study Harry Potter. I GET TO STUDY HARRY POTTER, A SERIES I AM OBSESSED WITH. How could I pass up that opportunity? 

Northern Lights by Philip Pullman (Children's Fiction)
Another one of the strongest reasons I chose "Children's Fiction" as a module was because of the fact that Pullman is an honorary professor at my university, and as part of studying Northern Lights he'll be giving one of my lectures in December! I've been dying to read His Dark Materials for years, and have been gradually accumulating the books, so maybe once I've studied this I can give them a marathon over Christmas...

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl (Children's Fiction)
As a child, I read or had read to me every book of Roald Dahl's... yes, even Boy and Going Solo. I love Dahl's work and always will, and whilst Charlie and the Chocolate Factory isn't my favourite Dahl novel (it's Matilda) it's certainly a close one entering the top 3. To study this and look at the book from an analytical view is so exciting!

The Magic Toyshop by Angela Carter (Reading, Writing, Thinking)
This, like Heart of Darkness, is for my "Reading, Thinking, Writing" module, which is mandatory for first years. Though we don't read these until later on in the semester I'm definitely anticipating the moment we do. About a year ago I read Carter's The Bloody Chamber, some of which I loved, some of which I hated, but all in all was a wonderful read. In one of our first lectures, we looked at an essay a former student had written during the module on The Magic Toyshop. Seeing someone else, having myself not read the novel yet, tear the book apart and analyse it with a keen eye resting on gender politics and feminism, I can't help but be intrigued for what may come out of what sounds like such a refreshing read. 

Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad (Reading, Writing, Thinking)

I am dreading reading Heart of Darkness. My parents said that every English Literature student studies Heart of Darkness at some point, and the university has also said that they're putting it in this module to help get it out of the way for us, but honestly I'm just dreading reading this. It sounds like far from what I would typically read but at the same time that's one of the things I adore about my degree: I'm reading so many books I would have perhaps never picked up on my own, and thus broadening my horizons, ideas, and travelling into further realms of fiction.

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