I know it’s a little after the start of the semester, but I thought it would be cool to show you the books that I bought for my classes this semester—and also the books that I didn’t buy, but will be reading for my classes. It took me a while to figure out the best way to organize these, but I think the best way to do it is by course. I’ll also quickly tell you a little about the point/purpose of each class is before getting into the books, in case you’re intersted. So let’s get into it, shall we?
English 435W – Editing the Nineteenth Century Classics
I thought this course sounded really interesting, but also kinda scary when I was picking my classes, considering it isn’t your average English class where you read the books, talk about the books, and write a few essays. Instead, along with looking at the actual works that these books contain, we are looking at the specific editions, the ways that they are put together, and the decisions that go into producing an individual edition of a text. Also, instead of a final essay, the ending project for this class is to make our own editions of a chapter of section of one of the books we’re reading.
1. The Annotated Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley:
This book is massive, and pretty expensive, considering that you could get a paperback pocketbook version for maybe $10 new. However, considering the idea of the class, the edition was very specific and important. I wish I liked Frankenstein—which i don’t—but it’s really cool all the extra stuff that’s in here, including a lot of information in the side annotations, as well as tons of pictures of things like first editions, portraits, and other relevant images. It’s really pretty, as you can see in the two images below:
So yeah, while I hate Frankenstein as a novel, this book is gorgeous, and I doubt I’d sell it or get rid of it.
2. Moths by Ouida:
I know little to nothing about this novel, aside from what the blurb on the back says, and that it is a Victorian novel, which is published in three volumes. It sounds a bit like Vanity Fair, which I haven’t read, but I have seen the movie adaptation with Reese Witherspoon. I hope it’s easy to read, because it’s really long, and the general concept sounds pretty interesting and promising.
Also, as you can see from the library barcode, I did not buy this book, because it was available in the university library, which allows semester-long loans, and also as a free e-book through the library. So I have no reason to buy this ugly edition of this book.
3. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad:
I know almost as little about this novel as I do about Moths, except that I know lots of people don’t like it. So I’m not really excited to read it, but it has been on my GoodReads to-read list for a long time. Also, I hate that it has that ugly circle of sticker left on it, but it’s better than the giant ugly sticker that the University bookstore put on the front! Ugh! *stickers on books is a bit of a pet peeve of mine…*
4. The History of Mary Prince by Mary Prince:
This is probably the book from this class that I am looking forward to the least. From what I can tell, this is a slave narrative, more like a memoir than a novel. But at least it will be really short, and maybe the history around this book’s publication has been really interesting.
5. The Picture of Dorian Grey by Oscar Wilde:
I’m actually really excited to read this book, and I’ve already started it, because I’ve pretty much already decided that it’s the book that I’m going to do my presentation and final project on. My best friend read this ages ago, and it sounded really interesting, but I hadn’t got around to reading it yet, but I have now! Also, less than 30 pages in, and I’m already in love with Wilde’s writing style, so that’s a plus. Oh, and can I just mention how much I like the style of the Oxford World's Classics book collection? Yeah.
English 404W – Constructing Urban Identity in Late Medieval Literature and Art
This was another course that seemed scary when I was doing my selecting, but unlike the editing one, this one still does scare me a little, because analyzing art is just not my forte… At any rate, the material is still pretty interesting, partly just because I really like Medieval literature, though my favourite stuff is a bit older than Chaucer, and this is late middle ages, but that’s alright. I do like Chaucer, and I’ve read a lot, and I get it. But yes the idea of the course is to get a better understanding of how Medieval art and literature interact with each other and what they can tell us about the period. It almost sounds more like a Humanities class than an English class, but it’s still interesting.
1. York Mystery Plays: A Selection in Modern Spelling
These are a mix of boring and interesting, though the historical info in the introduction has been pretty interesting. The York Mystery Plays are not actually mysteries, but they are called that because the Guilds that put on the plays—which enact different scenes/stories out of the Bible and other apocryphal Christian texts—were sometimes called Mysteries. I don’t know why, just roll with it. But some of the plays are quite interesting, specifically when they deal with apocryphal material which would not be accepted today as Biblical, since it kinda lets you look at how the people of the time understood and questioned their religion.
2. Picture Theory by W. J. T. Mitchell:
This might be literally the most boring book I had to buy for this semester. I don’t even want to talk about it; each of the chapters is like reading a long, boring academic journal article. At least I didn’t buy it.
3. Painting & Experience in Fifteenth-Century Italy by Michael Baxandall
This one isn’t enjoyable for me, but it is fairly readable. Also, much shorter, and it has tons of (black and white) pictures.
4. The Canterbury Tales: Fifteen Tales and the General Prologue by Geoffrey Chaucer
I didn’t have to buy this one, because my mom owns it. Also, if you don’t know what the Canterbury Tales are, you should probably look it up, because it’s pretty important. It’s tough to read, because it’s written in a very old, non-standardized version of English, so the spellings change, but everything is spelled how it sounds, and if you read it out loud it can make a lot more sense if you just can’t figure it out.
Humanities 303 – Rome: Cyberspace 1.0
This class is looking at Rome starting around the time of Augustus Caesar and analyzing the various networks that were in place from previous empires, and those that were put in place as Rome expanded to rule so much of Europe. The prof is connecting those trade/government/communication/transportation/etc. networks to cyberspace because their main function is to connect people and facilitate the spread of information and goods, much like the internet in some ways. So far the title doesn’t seem to have too much to do with the course, but Rome is interesting all the same.
1. The Sixteen Satires by Juvenal:
If you ignore the slightly questionable painting pictured here, I also really like the cover design of these Penguin Classics. Anyways, I don’t know what this one is about, or who Juvenal is, though I’m guessing there’s something satirical about this book… Just a guess.
2. The Poems of Exile by Ovid:
This is basically a book of poems in which Ovid whines about being exiled from Rome by Augustus for writing a book he didn’t like. Though technically it’s a satire, and he basically calls Augustus a hypocrite and stuff like that. I’m honestly bored out of my mind about it, but luckily this is another book I got out of the library, but just from the actual public library, so it’ll be due soon, which isn’t great.
3. The Annals of Imperial Rome by Tacitus:
Yet another book that I got out of the SFU library. I almost wish this copy was mine, not because I like the book, but because it looks so old and wrecked, and I love books that look like this. Anyways, this book is basically a history book written in Rome about Rome, which is kinda cool. The translation actually isn’t that bad, and it’s fairly readable, except that the prof assigned an insane number of pages for our first go at it, so it’s a little daunting picking up the book knowing you need to get through 200 pages before class.
4. The Aeneid by Virgil:
Oh my god, a book I actually paid for?! I’m actually a bit interested to read this one, since it’s an ancient classic, and also a massive piece of Roman propaganda. I just hope that I don’t go into it hoping for too much so that it just feels boring.
5. Fasti by Ovid:
I’ve heard that it’s less whiney than the Poems of Exile, which should be a bit of a nice change. If I remember correctly, this is the book about Roman religious and the gods and such that Ovid wrote, so that could actually be fairly interesting, since I love Greek mythology. Though I have much less experience with Roman mythology, so I don’t know if I like it as much, since I know that some of the characters/gods end up coming off a bit differently in the Roman context.
6. The Complete Odes and Epodes by Horace:
And finally, the first textbook that I no longer need. If I’d been thinkging a little faster, I could have been really nice to this bok and then returned it to the bookstore for my refund, because we only used it for the first week of the semester, and then we were done. It was really boring, in my opinion; it’s a collection of long and short poems by Horace that really have nothing to do with each other. Also, Horace has some weird love of referencing/name-dropping tons of mythological characters, famous people, places, and stuff like that. It was quite weird.
So that’s all the books I bought/borrowed for the semester! Unlike last semester, I didn’t buy myself a new notebook or any cool pens or anything, since I have tons of good pens, and last semester’s notebook has more than enough empty pages to work for the three classes I’m in this semester. So that will be good.
But yes, you might be able to tell that I’m looking forward most to the books in my English classes, and specifically my editing class, but at least this semester doesn’t seem to have turned out as badly as I was expecting.
Anyways, I hope you found this post interesting in some way. Thanks for reading! <3
Let me know in comments if you’ve read any of these books, and what you thought of them!