What I'm Reading Spring Semester 2015

Welcome to the semi-annual school book list extravaganza! Okay, so it's not that exciting. But I'm proud to say that this semester I have the extremely reasonable number of 11 books for the next three and a half months. MUCH better than 31. It helps that I only have three courses this semester (I'm trying to make my blog like a fourth class, but so far I'm rather failing at that...) and that only one is an English class.

Liberal arts for the win my friend.

What I'm Reading Spring Semester 2015 | Scribbling in the Margins blog

So, let's get started:

New Testament

This was a last-minute addition to my class schedule after Modern Latin American almost put me to sleep...on the first day. Having made the mistake of staying in a class I hated last semester, I escaped immediately. Sadly, I couldn't pick up another history class, but I'll make up for it next year.

BUT ANYWAY. New Testament books:

  • New Oxford Annotated Bible: NRSV. Because it wouldn't be a Christianity class without it.
  • Parallel Gospels: A Synopsis of Early Christian Writing, by Zeba Crook. So how similar are the gospels after all?
  • A Brief Introduction to the New Testament, by Bart D. Ehrman. Just your classic 100-level textbook.

Gender Across Cultures

I return to the anthropology world to learn about gender, one of my favorite subjects (if you get the chance, PLEASE take a women's studies class. It's such an important learning experience). Since this class discusses all types of gender, I look forward to learning more about societal influences on people's everyday lives.

  • Gender in Cross-Cultural Perspective, by Caroline B. Brettel and Carolyn F. Sargent. Just the one textbook...what is this department??


I branch out of my writing comfort-zone into playwriting, where apparently acting is required. I'm nervous, but I think it will be good for me to put myself out there and do more public speaking. Since this is an English class, the book list is more extensive than the others:

  • The Clean House & Other Plays, by Sarah Ruhl. I read this for a class two years ago (I'm SO OLD) and really enjoyed it. I'm sure I'll enjoy it again!
  • Topdog/Underdog, by Suzan-Lori Parks. Apparently it's quite a big deal--lots of people in the class have read it before.
  • 4000 Miles, by Amy Herzog. But I would walk 4000 miles, and I would walk 4000 more...
  • Water by the Spoonful, by Quiara Alegria Hudes. A play that introduces the Internet to the real world. Say no more--I'm intrigued.
  • An Almost Holy Picture, by Heather McDonald. One-man show with lots to say.
  • The Pillowman, by Martin McDonagh. Judging from the back of the book, this does not include a pillow fight.
  • Take Ten II: More Ten-Minute Plays, edited by Eric Lane and Nina Shengold. To inspire me to write my future ten-minute play.

I think all the plays sound interesting; I don't know much about them yet but since Topdog/Underdog comes recommended, I think I'll put it at the top of my list. Which book sounds the most exciting to you?


Below the Line:

  • Recruitment starts today. You know what that means...sleepless nights and lots of food. And that's just for the sorority women.
  • Since this week has been so Greek focused, it's hard to believe I'm back in the school groove. I have to admit, I miss my internship. I loved the work I was doing, plus coming home and not having to worry about anything was a good life!

What I Read: Ishmael | My Triumphant Return!

Welcome back to posts with Leeann! You might have forgotten about me, but I'm the junior who foolishly thought majoring in two reading-heavy departments wouldn't kill me. Needless to say, I was wrong. Anyway, this triumphant return is not a permanent return :(. Promising I'm back to my regular posting would just be a lie. I have large assignments due at least once a week until the end of this semester, and I know they're going to be taking a bunch of my time. But I will do my best.

BUT! Do not be grieved! In light of my busy schedule, I'm going to ask some of my friends to write some posts for you all. Coming next week: a post from future-librarian and book-reading fiend Amanda.

Now, let's get into Ishmael, or the book that will change your worldview life.

5/5 Pineapples

What I Read: Ishmael | Scribbling in the Margins blog

Ishmael: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit by Daniel Quinn is a dialogue between a teacher and his student. Only the twist is--the teacher is a gorilla. Together the narrator and the gorilla talk through humanity's history, break down Genesis, and result in a "program" that can save humanity from certain extinction.

First of all, disclaimer: I read this for my Environmental Crisis Literature class, so a lot of how I understand this book comes from class discussion. If I start getting into any theory that doesn't make sense, just skip it. I barely understand it myself :)

It's hard to explain just what I loved about this book. It's not your typical novel and what I love about it is the course of the entire conversation (or, you know, the whole book). You have to move from start to finish in order to understand what Quinn is saying. Plus, with the promise of learning how the save the world, you must be patient and read until the very end of the novel.

Ishmael is also a very deep read, one it took class discussions and writing a paper on it for me to fully understand. You have to sit down for a period of time to read it. While it doesn't have to be read all at once, chapter by chapter is really helpful to understanding and staying on track with the conversation.

But the main reason this book is amazing is because it makes you think about how we treat nature. Yes, climate change is a current threat, and we can no longer continue to act the way we do and expect to survive. Change has to happen if the world can make it the next 100, 50, 20 years. Ishmael explains how we've reached this point and what we can do to remove ourselves from the doomed trajectory we're on.

Basically, I highly recommend anyone and everyone to read this book. Then will you definitely understand what I am talking about, and I think you'll find it well worth your time.

What books have made you think before? Any that had an impact on your actions?


Below the Line:

  • Two weeks until Fall Break!
  • I've been eating popcorn like nobody's business. Just take one look at the popcorn carcasses under my desk and you'll understand just how intense this snack love has become.
  • My Rho Gamma (Recruitment Guide) life has fully kicked in. If anyone wants me to do a post on Greek life or being a Rho Gamma, just let me know. I wasn't planning on doing anything until I can reveal my affiliation but I'd be happy to do a generic post now!
  • This is the first time I've been caught up on my schoolwork in two (three?) weeks. Hopefully I'll hang on to it, but with the two papers, discussion leader assignment, and test I have coming up, it seems unlikely.
  • Don't forget, guest post next week! Get excited!

What I'm Reading Fall Semester 2014

Remember back when I said my course load included 30 books this semester? I'm going to regale you with a list of all of them.

When I thought of this post, I was super excited about telling you all about the books I get to read this semester. Now that I'm thinking about it, this could be really boring to anyone not related to me. So I'm going to excite you all with awesome pictures, witty writing, and the promise of an update of school so far in this issue of "Below the Line."

(Also, disclaimer: classes are still subject to change. One stack of these might be replaced with another.)

So now that you're hooked...

What I'm Reading Fall Semester | Scribbling in the Margins blog

Let's begin:

Nature Writing

What I'm Reading Fall Semester | Scribbling in the Margins blog

Only a shocking two books for this class:

  • Wildbranch, edited by  Florence Caplow and  Susan A.Cohen. A collection of nature writings. Hopefully they'll inspire my own :)
  • The Book of Yaak, by Rick Bass. Any idea how to pronounce Yaak? I've been going with "yak," like the big, wooly animal.

Environmental Crisis Lit

What I'm Reading Fall Semester | Scribbling in the Margins blogNow that I've eased you in with my Nature Writing class load...

  • Silent Spring, by Rachel Carson. A classic I "read" last semester and that I'm going to try to "skim in-depth" this semester.
  • Odds Against Tomorrow, by Nathaniel Rich. The odds against this book are low- it looks interesting.
  • Flight Behavior, by Barbara Kingsolver. I am SO PUMPED for this book. It had me at "Kingsolver."
  • The Windup Girl, by Paolo Bacigalupi. Wind 'er up and watch 'er go!
  • Ishmael: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit, by Daniel Quinn. Ooooo, an adventure!
  • Ecology of a Cracker Childhood, by Janisse Ray. I read her essay collection Wild Card Quilt last semester and really enjoyed it. I have high hopes for her first book.
  • Body Toxic, by Susanne Antonetta. Judging from the summary on the back, it sounds like one depressing book. Then again, I am in a class about environmental crises.
  • Parable of the Sower, by Octavia Butler. I read this last semester and wasn't the biggest fan. I'm not really into apocalyptic literature, and this didn't do anything to change my mind.
  • The Future of Life, by Edward Wilson. The future of life is about doom and destruction. (Or at least, that's what most books seem to say.)
  • Gain, by Richard Powers. I have a feeling Gain is really about losing.

U.S. Women's History: 1700-1900 (the potential change)

What I'm Reading Fall Semester | Scribbling in the Margins blog

And we move into our history half of this post:

  • Elizabeth Cady Stanton: An American Life, by Lori D. Ginzberg. Something tells me this is a biography... (Title: D).
  • Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, by Harriet Jacobs. A primary document- historians love that stuff.
  • Women's Rights Emerges within Antislavery Movement, by Kathryn Kish Sklar. Really a bunch more documents, in disguise. Don't get me wrong, I love reading this stuff. There's just not much to say about them before reading :)
  • Out of the Shadow: A Russian Jewish Girlhood on the Lower East Side, by Rose Cohen. Out of the shadows of this book list comes a really intriguing autobiography!
  • A Midwife's Tale, by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich. There are babies, and blood, and a heck of a lot of screaming.
  • Mollie: The Journal of Mollie Dorsey Sanford, by (you got it) Mollie herself. She went to the West and lived to write about it.
  • To 'Joy My Freedom: Southern Black Women's Lives and Labors after the Civil War, by Tera Hunter. I'm pretty sure this will rile up the feminist in me. Oh joy.

Civil War/Reconstruction

What I'm Reading Fall Semester | Scribbling in the Margins blog

With such a clever class name, surely the book list will be awesome:

  • For Cause and Comrades: Why Men Fought in the Civil War, by James M. McPherson. Famous author, known for analysis- not for titles.
  • Great Speeches, by THE Abraham Lincoln. He said a lot of good stuff, so someone wrote it down.
  • The Last Best Hope of Earth, by Mark Neely, Jr. Spoiler alert: it's Lincoln.
  • A Short History of Reconstruction, by Eric Foner. Another famous historian, this time we turn to the one with the Reconstruction obsession.
  • This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War, by Drew Gilpin Faust. Oh. A cherry fellow, Faust.
  • The Confederate War, by Gary W. Gallagher. The Southern perspective, something this Northerner doesn't get much of.
  • The Fate of Their Country, by Michael F. Holt. The U.S. was fated...but for what? (ooo intrigue).
  • Civil War Stories, by Ambrose Bierce. So what was it really like at the front, Bierce?
  • The South vs. The South, by William W. Freehling. An interesting argument about how the South was its own undoing.
  • Half Slave and Half Free, by Bruce Levine. But neither fully one or the other.
  • Our Lincoln: New Perspectives on Lincoln and His World, ed. by Eric Foner. A collection of documents to motivate me to see "a new perspective!"

So that's it for this semester! It's quite a load, but I only have a few more books this semester than I did last semester, so I think I can keep up (fingers crossed!)

What books are you reading for school? Do any of these books look interesting to you?


Below the Line:

  •  Classes are getting under my skin already (stress levels are high). Welcome back to college!
  • On that note, I'm going to do my best to keep up the twice a week schedule. But bare with me if posts don't go up every Tuesday and Friday morning. I'll keep you updated.
  • After attending each of my classes, I'm really excited for the Civil War course. The professor is really passionate about the material and has structured the class in a way that fits my learning style. The rest of them... well, I just need to get adjusted to being back at school. :)