Wednesday, March 11, 2015

T5W: Books That Made You Think

Oh man, I studied English in university, so choosing books for this week’s topic was both incredibly easy but also insanely hard. Thinking about books is kind of what I do. A lot of these are repeats, from my last Top 5 Wednesday post actually, so sorry about that, but these books have really made me think about literature in a way I hadn’t beforehand.

  1. Theory of the Novel: A Historical Approach edited by Michael McKeon.  I really loved this book, because it has so many excerpts from all kinds of literary theorists. It’s the text that really introduced me to literary theory as a whole and that, in itself, completely changed the way how I thought about and interacted with other books. This anthology contained some of the most complex things I’ve ever read and it really helped me step up my pretentious English major game.
  2. Critical Theory Today: A User-Friendly Guide by Lois Tyson. Okay, fine. This is another theory book, but unlike Theory of the Novel, this one was more of a Sparknotes primer on theory, rather than a collection of actual theatrical works. It was a really nice breakdown and foundation for a lot of theatrical schools of thought like Marxism and structuralism and deconstructionism and feminist theory and LGBTQ theory, and while the ideas behind the words were complex and thought-provoking, the words themselves were actually incredibly easy to understand.
  3. The Good Solider by Ford Madox Ford. I also talked about this in my last post, but oh goodness, The Good Soldier is such a short book, but it really packed a punch for me. I’m super drawn in my Ford’s style, and the multiple perspectives and the the unreliability of narration were absolutely my favorite focal aspects when writing papers. I did an insane amount of research for my paper on this book, and still think about it a whole bunch.
  4. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger. I actually didn’t read The Catcher in the Rye until pretty late (my last semester at university), but I really wished I had read it earlier (or, at least, taken the class I read it for earlier). I read it alongside Critical Theory Today and other theoretical texts and was instructed to analyze it through various ideological lenses. Doing so many close readings of the same text was something I had never done before then, and it really helped me really puzzle things together and think about them more fully.
  5. Sandman by Neil Gaiman. Even though I had taken a comics class at university and was pushed super hard to think about them (theory was a big component in that class too), Sandman was one of the first comic series that I read outside of that academic setting (aka, it was one of the first comics I read that I wasn’t assigned). We had read some pretty out there stuff for my comics class (a lot of that reading list could also be included here easily), but Sandman was the series that really cemented my love for comics and how I wanted to continue reading and thinking about them outside of a class setting.
I feel like this is a list where I can go on and on forever about basically every book I’ve ever read, and I definitely don’t think I’m the only one. What are some of the books that really stuck with you and made you think?

The Goodreads group for T5W (as well as the topics and the book bloggers and booktubers who participate) can be found here.

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