Reading List: Literary Classics

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Literature can be a broad genre, full of well-written tomes of years past and present. We’ve made a reading list of popular and diverse literary classics that are available at the library. For more books like these, search the subject tag “fiction” on our library catalog, or browse shelves PN-PS on the library’s second floor.

*book descriptions are from the library website and/or the publishers.

For classics in eBook form, click here.

 

Love In The Time Of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez

Set on the Caribbean coast of South America, this love story brings together Fermina Daza, her distinguished husband, and a man who has secretly loved her for more than fifty years.

 

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Jay Gatsby had once loved beautiful, spoiled Daisy Buchanan, then lost her to a rich boy. Now, mysteriously wealthy, he is ready to risk everything to woo her back.

 

To The Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf

Psychological description of the Ramsay family at their summer home on the Scottish coast.

 

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

Two overlapping, intertwining stories, both of which center around Okonkwo, a “strong man” of an Ibo village in Nigeria.

 

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

Discovered on the streets of Liverpool, Heathcliff is rescued by Mr. Earnshaw and taken to the remote Yorkshire farmhouse of Wuthering Heights. Earnshaw’s daughter Catherine rapidly forms an attachment to him, but when Catherine’s brother takes over the Heights, Heathcliff is lowered to the position of a barely-tolerated farmhand.

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The Color Purple by Alice Walker

The lives of two sisters–Nettie, a missionary in Africa, and Celie, a southern woman married to a man she hates–are revealed in a series of letters exchanged over thirty years.

 

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

A young girl growing up in an Alabama town in the 1930s learns of injustice and violence when her father, a lawyer, defends a black man accused of raping a white girl.

 

The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway

The story of flamboyant Lady Brett Ashely and the hapless Jake Barnes in an age of moral bankruptcy, spiritual dissolution, unrealized love, and vanishing illusions.

 

Beloved by Toni Morrison

Part ghost story, part history lesson, part folk tale, Beloved finds beauty in the unbearable and lets us all see the enduring promise of hope that lies in anyone’s future.

 

Crime And Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky

Determined to overreach his humanity and assert his untrammeled individual will, Raskolnikov, an impoverished student living in the St. Petersburg of the Tsars, commits an act of murder and theft and sets a story into motion.

 

5 Tips For Proofreading

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A majority of our time in college is spent writing. We write essays, responses, critiques, and many other forms of writing throughout a given semester. With all of this writing, sometimes an important step can be left out: proofreading. So in the spirit of National Proofreading Day (March 8th), here are some tips for proofreading.

 

  1. Take A Break: After you have finished writing a draft of a paper, take a break. Leave the assignment, and if possible, give yourself around 24 hours to think about the topic you’re writing about. This method is most helpful for longer papers but requires you to get started early. If you have spent hours writing, you will lose some objectivity while looking over the paper. You will be too familiar with it and this will make finding mistakes more difficult. So get started early and allow yourself time to think about the paper before returning to proofread it.

  2. Read It Out Loud: Another great way of finding mistakes in your writing is to read it out loud. Sometimes when typing, we think something sounds correct in our heads. However, many times when we read our writing out loud we can see where an argument or sentence doesn’t make sense. This is a great way to see if your sentences are run-ons, if you repeat yourself too much, and if the paragraph or page flows well.

  3. Pay Attention To Wordiness: We all have word counts we need to meet with every paper, but many times better writing is concise writing. Sentences with too many words can be difficult to read, and you can lose your audience’s attention. Instead of adding extra words to try to finish the paper, take the time and energy to carefully choose your words. This will make your paper stronger and can lead to a better grade.

  4. Write Actively: Verbs drive language. When proofreading, look for how many times you use a “to be” verb, such as “is,” “are,” and “were.” These passive verbs make sentences weaker and can bring down an entire paper. Try to reorder the sentence so that you can remove the linking passive verbs and insert stronger, more powerful ones. To check, press “ctrl” and “f” on your keyboard and then search for those words. It may shock you to see how many times you use passive voice.

  5. Ask Someone Else To Read Your Paper: One of the best ways to proofread is to allow someone else to do it for you! Finding other students in a specific class and exchanging papers can be a great way to find mistakes in each other’s writing and make new friends! Have you ever lost something, spent minutes looking for it, and then someone else comes in the room and finds it almost immediately? As frustrating as that can be, writing is the same way. Sometimes one glance from someone who is not familiar with the writing can be all you need to improve your paper.

 

Writing is a challenge and after completing a difficult assignment, proofreading may seem like a useless check. However, if you dedicate yourself to editing and rereading your paper, you will see an improvement in your writing, and perhaps also in your grades.

*written by Brennan Kress

 

Book Review: “Empires Of The Word: A Language History Of The World” by Nicholas Ostler

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Empires Of The Word: A Language History Of The World is a fascinating book about the historical evolution of the world’s major languages. This book describes how and why certain languages persisted and became dominantly used in the world and why others fell out of use. This is as much a cultural anthropological history book as it is a dynamic linguistics book.

Empires Of The Word spans the historical antiquity of the first dominant languages, including Greek, Latin, and Ancient Chinese. As time goes on and empires collapse and expand, the book shows how different cultures begin to adopt or dominate different linguistic groups.

Author Nicholas Ostler describes what he calls the “Death of Latin” and the eventual emergence of the Romance languages from Germanic invaders. I found the development and spreading of Spanish and English to be particularly interesting. The section of the book dedicated to the evolution of the Semitic language groups of Hebrew, Arabic, and Aramaic are equally insightful.

Lastly, the book deals with the current top 20 languages of the earth and what the future may hold for them. Ostler then gives his hypothesis of which will become dominant and which will recede from use based on population trends and common usage.

Empires Of The Word is such a joy to read because it offers great insight into history from both social and cultural sources. It is remarkably in-depth and dense, but I found it to be an easy read for a layman with passing curiosity on the subject.  I can wholeheartedly recommend this book for anyone who has ever wondered how and why we came to speak the wide variety of languages that we do. It’s a fun travel through time and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

 

*written by Matthew Beyer

Tell A Story Day (April 27th)

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“Tell A Story Day” is upon us. The purpose of this fun holiday is to offer a special day to read and tell stories of all kinds. Libraries across the country will have unique readings to children and famous authors will gather to share ideas. It is a day to remember one of the oldest practices humanity still continues to today. So, if you’re interested in ever writing a story, or just making your friends laugh, here are some tips on how to tell an effective story. (These tips apply to both written and spoken stories.)

 

1. Know Where You’re Going

Going on a trip is always fun. Most people plan out a trip by finding hotels, checking airline prices, finding tourist attractions, and planning for transportation. Rarely would you go on a trip without planning any of this, or without packing. When it comes to telling a story, planning is key. Determine the point or destination of your story. If your story does not have a point or end idea, then maybe save it, or reframe it. The worst feeling is to get to the end of your story and your audience not understand why you told it in the first place. Know where you’re going and lead your audience there- which brings me to my second point.

 

2. Lead Your Audience

Stories are about guidance. Think of yourself as a tour guide as you take your audience through the story. You know the twists and the turns. You know the places where suspense will be key, but remember that your audience does not know these things. You must bring them there. Do not give away too much at the beginning or save everything for the end. Remember how long you have to tell the story (page count or time limit) and pull the story along that time. Your words (written or spoken) are like a rope that the audience follows to the destination you have determined. As you tell your story, focus only on the details that matter along the road you are bringing them down. Do not allow them (or yourself) to become too distracted. You will lose them quickly if you don’t lead well.

 

3. Stay Focused

It is very easy (especially when talking) to begin to wander around in your storytelling. Perhaps you think of another story while telling one. Your brain has made the connection so you jump to the next thing, leaving your audience confused on where you’ve taken them. Be careful when following rabbit trails. Your audience may begin to believe that there is no destination and that you are just meandering with your words. Once they become directionless, your audience will stop caring about the story. If a tangent is important to the destination, help the audience to understand why it is important.

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4. Don’t Laugh Before the Punchline

I often find myself, usually when telling jokes I find particularly funny, laughing before I’ve delivered the punchline. The problem is, I’ve not helped my audience appreciate the joke more, I’ve only aggravated them. I’ve done so simply by knowing something they don’t. I’m the one telling the joke, I shouldn’t laugh until everyone else does. In storytelling, this can happen as well. If you show emotions out of place with the current moment in the story, you will confuse your audience. If you know something about a character the audience doesn’t, don’t make comments about it until the time when the audience understands. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t foreshadow, but only that you don’t give everything away before the proper time.

 

5. Have a Moral (but not a moral-of-the-story)

We have all heard the line “the moral of the story is…” Since you have undoubtedly heard this before, you understand it is a cliche. Try to avoid cliches as much as possible, including this one. If you tell your story well, there is no need for this tagline at the end. Your audience will have grasped the moral without realizing it. That is the point of the path you are taking them on. By the end they hardly remember every step, but they can look back and see how far they’ve come along.

 

Storytelling is an amazing practice. So take these tips and write and tell away! Take your audience along for the ride, but pay attention: you never know what a story might teach you.

 

*written by Brennan Kress

Featured Book: “Everybody Writes”

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Because the written word is so ubiquitous in the social media age, good writing is hard to find and yet more important than ever. It’s easy to lose someone’s attention in all of the noise- but you don’t want to do that when you’re writing for your job! In Everybody Writes, content creator and marketer Ann Handley advises readers on how to make their writing simpler and smarter. Generally, Handley focuses on shorter pieces- articles, Tweets, etc.- but her suggestions can also be applied to other kinds of writing. This book encourages you to approach writing as a work out, something you do each day to make you better at it overall.

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Handley starts out by defining what “content” means and how we can publish better content. She then goes on to provide general writing tips, ideas for better productivity, and how to make a great “lead” in to your story. While the book is divided into 6 parts, it’s short and direct with its message.

For Handley, “show, don’t tell” is a major part of good content:

Good content- and good writing- doesn’t preach or hard sell. Instead, it shows how your product or service lives in the world, explaining in human terms how it adds value to people’s lives, eases troubles, shoulders burdens, and meets needs.

By thinking about your audience and writing for their needs, you can create worthy content for your job, business, or blog.

Everybody Writes is available in the library. If you’d like to check out other books on writing, try these: