With graduation just around the corner for many UP senior English majors, the question of how to stay engaged with literature after college is becoming more pertinent. While the freedom to read whatever strikes your fancy may sound appealing now, once jobs, family, and other responsibilities kick in analytical reading might drop on your list of priorities. One way to remain an English major at heart even when your traditional education has ceased, is to create and maintain an analytically-minded book club. Four recent grads decided to delve into Shakespeare’s plays for their “Bard’s Book Club.” Living in different cities they hold “virtual” book club to scratch their “English itch.” Here are founder and participant Whitney Simpson’s insights on how it’s worked so far:
I never doubted that I would continue reading after finishing school. Reading for class, with few exceptions, had been mere extra reading for me since my fourth-grade days spending recess with a book. During college, I had to go as far as prohibiting myself from fun reading in order to complete my required coursework, even though my history and English majors occasionally doled out the chapters on medieval village life and E. M. Forster novels that I consider fun. Graduation therefore presented a return to the freedom to read whatever I wanted whenever I wanted: no more papers on books I hated from the first page, no more agonizing discussions with strongly-opinionated classmates, no more pacing back and forth in my room reading Hegel out loud simply in order to understand the assigned ten pages—just books. Despite all of the aspects of school I expected to miss, I did not question once if I would continue my eighteen-year-long relationship with language and literature.
This assumption incorporated one small but not insignificant flaw: I failed to take into account how much less I get out of reading when I do it alone. To this day, I can still recall a particularly meaningful scene or line from almost every book I studied in twelfth-grade AP English, while I could not but be silent if questioned about a single work I read on my own two summers ago. If I was going to keep learning from my reading and not just pass the time idly, I needed to devise a way to keep the interactive, communal aspect of it as well.
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