Every August for the past six years I have received a reading list for the next module of my English Literature degree. Every year for six years I have eagerly ordered the books and started the reading to get ahead before the start of the academic year.
This year is different. There is no reading list because I have completed my Open University studies. I am free to read whatever I want. After so long of having my reading dictated by set texts, this is amazing. I am free to pick up any book I like the look of, without having the guilty feeling that I should be reading something on my nineteenth or twentieth century reading list.
For the blog, this means I can start to write regular reviews, which has always been my intention but with all the set text reading, it never quite came to fruition. Hopefully now it will.
For a long time I have been buying books to read when the degree finished. This pile has been getting bigger and bigger, becoming two piles, then three, and now it has its own room. I have a lot of reading to catch up on. I am hoping to combine new releases with the older ones, the ones I missed because I had my head in Jane Eyre or Middlemarch.
In a way it’s like rediscovering reading, finding out what authors and books I love, and finding out what influences my own writing. I’m looking forward to discovering new authors, reading the books nominated for prizes, and reading more short stories.
I enjoyed every minute of my English Literature degree. I read some amazing books and achieved my dream of a first class degree, but it was difficult. Most weekends and many evenings after work were spent studying. There were times when it was incredibly stressful, but I always enjoyed it.
I’m going to miss it.
Of course, I still have my master’s degree in writing to complete, so I’m still studying, still trying to learn and better myself. But while the English Literature degree dictated my reading, the master’s doesn’t. Here I have the freedom to widen my reading.
So, this August, instead of going into my local bookshop with a list as long as my arm, I went in empty-handed. I spent ages, wandering around, browsing the shelves, before finally selecting books for no other reason than I liked the look of them.