So today marks three (yes THREE!) years since I graduated from Manchester Metropolitan University with a Combined Honours Degree in English Literature and History. During the past three years, I can’t say I’ve really seen the benefit of my degree but I guess that is how it goes most of the time.
These past three years have taught me so much though and as I come to celebrate being quarter of a century old (oh god!), it is easier than ever to compare where I am in life to those of others. I’ve had a number of sleepless nights where my thoughts have run away with themselves and I’ve compared my life to those of a similar age who seem to have their life together. But I’m a strong believer in everything always happening for a reason, and I’m hoping I’m destined for bigger and better things some day!
Anyway, enough with the sob story…to celebrate my graduation date, I thought I would introduce ten books that since reading them during university, have played on my mind ever since. There may be some here that you’ve read and there may some that you’ve never heard of, but I hope I can give you a taste of the type of books I studied during my degree!
The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini (A-Level)
OK not off to a great start as I didn’t technically read this book during university, but I read it in college and from that day, I fell in love with the way Khaled Hosseini writes. His novels are some of my favourite reads of all time and The Kite Runner is definitely one of the most moving and heartbreaking stories I’ve ever read.
Jane Eyre – Charlotte Brontë (First Year)
Jane Eyre was the first classic I read during my degree and it was the first time reading a Brontë novel too! I loved the character of Jane and I was completely hooked on her story, especially the part with the ‘mad’ woman in the attic…
Turn of The Screw – Henry James (First Year)
If you haven’t guessed by now, Gothic literature is my all-time favourite genre because I love how the authors play upon social norms and anxieties to create a story that very much sits on the verge of being possible. With Turn of The Screw, I loved the horror and supernatural elements and it well and truly terrified me.
The Eyre Affair – Jasper Fforde (Second Year)
I read this during my second year and I absolutely loved it. I liked Fforde’s play on Jane Eyre and I was a huge fan of being able to take yourself into a book and to live in that world. I mean, isn’t that every bookworm’s dream?
The Driver’s Seat – Muriel Spark (Second Year)
The Driver’s Seat is one of those books that’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but I purchased a second hand copy of the book which had come all the way from Menasha Public Library in Wisconsin. Pretty special right? Well the story is one of those modern classics where the story makes you think more than read and I devoured it in one sitting.
Goodbye To Berlin – Christopher Isherwood (Second Year)
OK so when I was reading Goodbye To Berlin in my modernism course, I didn’t initially like it. Yet, after my lecture and my seminar on it, my opinion completely changed and I realised the power this book has. It gives a nod to how ahead of its time Berlin, as a city, is and I loved being able to pick out the secrets that Isherwood hid in the text.
Mrs Dalloway – Virginia Woolf (Second Year)
I had to fit a Virginia Woolf book in here somewhere didn’t I and Mrs Dalloway for me is my favourite. My passion for all things history (as well as obviously studying it alongside English Lit) ultimately made me fall in love with Woolf and her post-war fiction and the way she depicts the uncertainty of life.
A Clockwork Orange – Anthony Burgess (Second Year)
Being from Manchester and also studying in Manchester, I fell very honoured that my city has an Anthony Burgess Foundation Centre just around the corner from my campus. Whilst I was studying the madness of this book, I was able to attend a lecture held at the centre itself and this is where my fascination for both the book and its author began.
Coraline – Neil Gaiman (Third Year)
In my third year, I studied children’s literature and out of all my modules, I think this was my favourite as I got to re-read the books I had enjoyed as a child. Yet one of them which we read was Coraline and it is safe to say, I never want my children to ever read this truly horrific book. It’s wonderfully weird storyline and horrifying characters make me question why this is classed as a children’s book at all?
Noughts & Crosses – Malorie Blackman (Third Year)
Noughts and Crosses was a book I read for the first time during university and it has played on my mind ever since. I absolutely loved Blackman’s writing and her reversal of social norms and expectations. It has recently been adapted into a TV series and the imagery is as beautiful as I imagined it to be. A truly inspiring read and one that made me question the society of which we live in.
So there we have it, a list of all the books I read during university that will probably continue to stick in my mind until the end of time. And I hope they do, as some of them on here are truly inspiring and influential novels and are written by incredibly talented authors who have used their writing skills and creativity to create books that make you question everything you know.