Summer Reading 2017

I had forgotten that this used to be at thing: reading for fun, ya know? And that I used to document it (somewhat haphazardly). But now that my (first) thesis is done along with my (first) master’s degree, it might be tenable for me to pick up the habit again.

So, welcome to this year’s summer reading scheme!

After two years of graduate school including one year consumed by a thesis on publishing practices in late 19th century American, my goal for reading this summer is to HAVE SOME FREAKING FUN. I mean, school and research has been fun but I different type–you know what I mean.

If I happen to pick up some classics or whatnot, great. Maybe after a month of just-for-fun reading I will get the urge to expand my knowledge of modern plays (which I desperately need to do) or delve into resources for my next thesis (which I also should do), but to begin I am just reading whatever strikes my fancy.

I will post a my reflections on each book after finishing it. However, if you are looking for a list of reading recommendations I suggest you read this post or just check out the “books” tag.

Beginning the (Re)search

I find the term “research” odd. I’m not doing something a second time, so why the “re” prefix? I’m searching for the first time. I know full well the OED has a perfectly adequate etymological explanation, but I question the term not only for its surface inaccuracy, but also because I find the term “search” more exciting. It lets me feel like Indiana Jones.

Not only does conceptualizing this as a search allow me more agency, the title alludes to my mildly alarming lack of direction. In the three months I have been working on this thesis–working be a very generous term for my accomplishments last month–I have developed three different abstracts, not merely in form but in content. And I highly doubt that I have settled on to the content that will remain constant through the year.

Despite that uncertainty, the past week of delving into my topic–the form of early paperback printings of Shakespeare’s individual plays in America–has been positively electrifying. I’ve chased many rabbits, most of them resulting only in metaphorical dirty boots and literal wasted time, but I’ve found a few gems along the way.

I’ve looked through dozens of articles, checked out books from three libraries, and given the poor people at the ILL offices their fair share of work for the week. I’ve even bought myself some copies of a 1911 paperback printing of Shakespeare’s plays.

I’ve learned more about paperback printing and cover design in the early 20th century than I ever thought I would know, and it is simultaneously thrilling and terrifying to think that I have just scratched the surface.

Basically, it’s going to be a wild ride and I cannot wait to see where it takes me.

Summer Reading: This Book is Over Due

Confession time: I’m terribly tempted not to return the book, have it become over due, just so I can have this conversation with the workers at the library:

Me: Can you tell me what books I still have out?

Worker: “This Book is Over Due”

Me: I know, but can you tell me which one?

It’d be a riot. Anyways, about the content of the book…

Continue reading Summer Reading: This Book is Over Due

Summer Reading: All’s Well That Ends Well

If this play’s title had a subtitle, it would be “…But Does It Really?” After my first reading, I remember being thoroughly confused, frustrated, and disgusted at the trite simplistic ending, where perfect Helena ends up with the seemingly unrepentant scumbucket Bertram.

However, coming back to it several years later (and I’d like to think moderately wiser, at least in terms of Shakespeare), this play intrigued me. It really is such a bizarre little thing, that I don’t know how to articulate what it is or exactly how I feel about it, aside from perplexed. Continue reading Summer Reading: All’s Well That Ends Well

Summer Reading: Searching for Sunday

Reading the introduction, this book scared me. Within the opening pages, Rachel Held Evans captured my doubts, fears, and hurts regarding church and God more succinctly and confidently than I ever could.

Reading this book has held a mirror up to my own life (spiritual and secular), and while I have not always liked or understood what it has shown me, it is a reflection I need to examine.

Continue reading Summer Reading: Searching for Sunday

Summer Reading: Two Gentlemen of Verona by Shakespeare

Despite popular belief, there are a handful of Shakespeare plays that I have neither read nor seen–that is changing this summer in preparation for my upcoming adventure at Mary Baldwin College.

First on that list is Two Gentlemen of Verona. Coming into the play, I had some minor knowledge about the plot–something about love and betrayal–and had used one of Speed’s monologues as an audition piece (I know, bad form to take a monologue out of context and fail to get the whole story, oh well).

Continue reading Summer Reading: Two Gentlemen of Verona by Shakespeare

Summer Reading: Contested Will by James Shapiro

First book of the summer down! And what a lovely, gripping book it was!

Ever since my first introduction to Shakespeare in middle school, I have been aware of the authorship question. However, the topic never intrigued me quite enough to do significant research. I knew who the big contenders were–Earl of Oxford, Marlowe, Bacon–and why they were candidates–educated, intriguing, established. I could have a superficial conversation, but not much else.

Continue reading Summer Reading: Contested Will by James Shapiro

Books: Shakespeare on Toast by Ben Crystal

This little gem has been on my To-Read list for far too long, but the good news is that today I get to check it off, and it was well worth the wait.

I’ve studied Shakespeare as Literature, and I’ve watched loads of performances (I was even in one myself), but I must honestly admit that studying Shakespeare as a performance text has not been my strong point. For all the experience I have with the Bard, and all the love I bear towards him, I still find him quite daunting and difficult.

Continue reading Books: Shakespeare on Toast by Ben Crystal