Saturday, December 29, 2012

My Glorious Return!

Okay, it may not be that glorious for you, but it's glorious for me. I haven't blogged in a few weeks, but I have no shame in this since I was pretty busy with getting married. (I know, it's just terrible that I could allow such a little thing as my own wedding to interfere with my blogging!) But now the honeymoon is over and my husband and I are well on our way to being well settled in our new apartment, and I can relax and start blogging again.

Probably needless to say, I've done little-to-no reading in the time I've been gone...I wanted to finish Little Women, but unfortunately that did not happen. However, I still have some small hope that I might, just might, finish before the end of the year! I made pretty good progress on it, and I'm enjoying it immensely.

One of the first things I wanted to get organized in the apartment was, of course, my books! Here's a picture of my bookshelves:

Yes, I know, my collection is painfully small. I do, however, have one other shelf of books in another room that were either too big to fit on these shelves, or I wasn't interested in displaying.

Can I draw your attention to the upper left corner of this shelf? These are gorgeous copies of classic books I got for Christmas from my big sister! There's Little Women (yippee!), War and Peace, Gulliver's Travels, Moby Dick, Great Expectations, and Ivanhoe. There's also a brand-new paperback of A Tale of Two Cities from my mom to replace the copy next to it, which is completely falling apart (not to mention the cover is quite ugly). I'm very excited to own these great classics, all of which I have yet to read! (Except for A Tale of Two Cities.)

The top shelf, as you can probably see, holds classics (and a book on the Tudors which was too big for the shelf below it). The second shelf holds my loosely organized non-fiction (with the exception of The Elegance of the Hedgehog, a novel. How did that get there?). Books on government/American history on the left, then travel books, then books on writing, then some random non-fiction, then religious books. What do you think? I'll be happy when I have enough books to fill my bookshelves (I have two and a half more that are built into the wall). But for now, I'm a bit too broke to do anything more than read my new classics and check out books from the library. That's okay, though--we should all support local libraries, right?

Anyway, as far as reading goes, I'm still really excited to get started on my challenges for next year. I wanted to go to the library today, but had no practical way to get I guess I'll just wait until the year starts. I can start reading one of my new classics!

See you again soon!


  1. Congrats! Worry not, your bookshelves will fill up faster than you can make room. Ask me how I know...

  2. Hey, wait--you're an English major at BYU, right? This article just came into my feed this evening, it's a blog I read a lot. So depressing. Have you any thoughts as to the state of humanities at BYU?

    1. Thanks for sharing the article. Very interesting. Here are my thoughts about humanities at BYU, although keep in mind I haven't gotten very deep into my major yet:

      I certainly wouldn't say that lit studies at BYU have gone so far downhill as other colleges described in the article. However, English professors at BYU don't ignore what's happening in the world of modern literature. The professors I've had like to force students to question their own traditional ideas about literature. They like to teach us to think in new ways. The reason they want to do this is that we all spent our high school years (and some of us, earlier) thinking in very traditional, rather conservative ways (considering most of us are LDS). They introduce to us new ways of thinking about literature.

      My opinion is that sticking completely to traditional views of literature in our modern age would mean ignoring what's happening in the world currently. New thoughts and new views of literature are not necessarily bad. Questioning why we read classics is not necessarily bad (as long as we come up with an answer one way or the other). And this is coming from a staunch advocate of the classics, by the way. And I don't think the professor's opinion (ahem, opinion that I don't share) is necessarily bad.

      Yes, I think we should already know how to talk about literature in a polite way. But I think we should also be able to think of literature in a polite way. If that makes sense. So often we hold so firmly to our own ideas because we feel like everyone is fighting against us, and we're afraid to venture into different ideas. I really like studying English at BYU because the professors share my ideas for the most part, so I don't feel like they're fighting me, they're just trying to help me think differently.

      I'm not sure if this is anything along the lines of what you were looking for, but anyway, I really like the way literature is taught at BYU, and I don't think it's a waste to study literature in a traditional way. There are lots of different ways to look at literature, and asking different kinds of questions about it isn't a bad thing.

    2. Thanks for your thoughts. It's a very short post, and it's probably a bit difficult to tell where she's coming from--having read her blog for a long time, I can easily tell, but I think she was talking in a shorthand kind of way, so it's nice of you to respond. :)

      What I'm concerned about is whether professors (or programs or whole universities) are helping students learn to think deeply and engage with texts, or teaching students to go along with a party line--of any kind. Then we should of course also be learning about the history and social context involved--that's very important IMO. By all means, there should be different opinions, that's part of the deal when you're really thinking about something. Of course we should be learning to think and approach literature in new ways; the question is, are we? Or are we sticking with a script that only pretends to do all that stuff?

      Learning to get along with other people and have civil discourse with them is obviously a good thing to do, but to my mind it's the first step, not the point of a college education. (And the fact that a familiarity with the book of Genesis is something that has to be justified at all is just awful. I mean, it's only necessary if you want to understand Western literature at all, no big deal right? I actually have a whole story about that from college, but my post is getting quite long enough.)

      Grammar is a whole other rant that I can get into. :D

      I ask partly because I'm sort of aiming my own girls at BYU. The oldest is 12--we took a trip out to Utah this summer and visited the campus (among many other good things). I did not go there myself--I went to Berkeley--and encouraging them to do so is a bit of a wrench for me, as I would so love to have a 4th generation Cal student in the family. Sigh. But it's harder than ever to get in, it costs a *ridiculous* amount now, and I'm pretty sure that BYU can offer an education that is at least equally as good.

    3. Thanks for clarifying. I admit I was pretty sure I wasn't addressing the right question because I had a hard time getting the blog author's point.

      I certainly agree with you. Civil discourse is definitely not the point of a college education. And I don't feel that any of my professors have attempted to make it the point. And I certainly don't think any of my classmates have had any trouble with that, so I don't know why it would need to be taught in college. Like I said, I'm not very far in my major yet so I can't make any real judgment, but if it helps, I really love my English lit classes. Not because of the writing or even the reading assignments; because of the class discussions. I have never been able to see literature in so many different ways. I have been very impressed with my professors' abilities to break away from the general agenda of BYU, which is to keep everyone there as starkly Mormon as possible (this coming from a person who has no problem being starkly Mormon--but I still respect people who like to throw in curveballs to the stark Mormon-ness of BYU). In my opinion, there are two good things to study at BYU if you want to avoid the Mormon agenda: English and theater. (English if you like to talk about your weird opinions, theater if you like to wear your weird opinions. If that makes sense.)

      Anyway, I know I've probably veered once again away from the question, but I think humanities at BYU (the English department, anyway) are in pretty good shape as far as actually thinking deeply about texts and not trying to steer students toward a certain party line, as you say. (Or worldview, I would say.) Grammar is a whole other rant for me as well, so I'll stay away from that and simply say that the English Language department at BYU, from what I've seen (as a prospective editing minor), teaches traditional grammar/usage quite well. Whether it teaches worship of traditional grammar, different story. (And different rant.)

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