“In a very real sense, people who have read good literature have lived more than people who cannot or will not read . . . it is not true that we have only one life to live; if we can read, we can live as many more lives and as many kinds of lives as we wish.” S. I. Hayakawa

I was one of those kids, especially when I was younger. I swear I was paying attention, that book in my lap just happened to be open while you were talking, Teacher. I love to read – and I don’t mean I love to plough through textbooks with abandon; I mean real reading.

Plays, poems, novels, and epics are my sanctuary – I’ve always preferred literature and fiction to dry exposition and argument; the latter are always trying to win you over to some idea by clean proofs and evidence. Fiction smiles at you through a paperback cover, seduces you with metaphor and metonymy and even rhyme – it may have an agenda, it is asking you to experience the argument rather than evaluate and ascribe to it. It’s the difference between a sermon and a lifetime of conversations with a friend.

And if you’re not an English Lit major, you may end up just being facebook friends for your college years – and that’s a sad thing. It happened to me because (due to academic necessity) I had to reconcile with nonfiction for my classes. And I’m glad I did, because it’s important to appreciate the huge variety of writing and what the different genres can teach us.

But fiction and I are reconnecting this semester! Through the Honors’ College Informal Reading Groups (hey, David Ray, give these a less formal name, will ya? =P ). Essentially, they are book clubs of 10-20 students that get together weekly or bi-weekly to discuss the chosen book. There are no grades, tuition, or fees – the Honors’ College professor is simply a moderator. The topics are numerous – a book about the Irish potato famine, Monkey Girl by Edward Hume, and probably a dozen others. I chose The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison reading group moderated by Dr. Julia Ehrhardt.

She is one of my favourite professors, though I’ve never taken a formal class with her. And because she’s an overachiever, our group has decided to read one book per meeting (we meet bi-weekly, so the load isn’t that heavy), starting with Morrison’s book about a poor, young Black girl who believes that if she had blue eyes she would be beautiful. All the books we chose focus on gender, race and culture – among them: Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi (a graphic novel about a young woman during Iran’s cultural revolution), Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri (nine short stories about Indian Americans), and Crick Crack, Monkey by Merle Hodge, which has become popular in the aftermath of Haiti’s earthquake.

I’m excited to lose myself in a story once again – and I encourage you to apply for the Honors’ College when you’re admitted to OU, not just because of the academic prestige but also for engaging and unique opportunities like the reading groups and classes that give you a refreshing chance to work outside your chosen academic field.

Speaking of which, here some rare Oklahoma snow pictures!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


4 Responses to “A Good Book”

  1. jane Talkington on February 5th, 2010 1:50 pm

    I love to ask speakers what book they consider to be pivotal in their career choice, personality development, etc. Yours??

  2. ElizabethR on February 5th, 2010 9:50 pm

    The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings – I say this because this book reflects a lot of what I believe in (symbolically, of course), and I fell so deeply in love with that world. But a more accurate answer is that it’s my lifetime of reading that has made me who I am: everything from the Bible to zen guitar to Stranger in a Strange Land to Dr. Seuss to Les Misérables to Peak Everything to the Dresden Files.

  3. MinhN on February 8th, 2010 1:15 am

    Wow, it’s great to know that there is someone out there who loves reading as much as I do. I read a lot of fiction books and feel quite empty if I am not currently finishing a novel. I admire your love of literature. Do you have any information about future Informal Reading Groups from the Honors College? Like for next semester?

  4. ElizabethR on February 8th, 2010 5:44 pm


    I don’t have any of that info for next semester, but some of the reading groups start after spring break. I’ll forward you the email 🙂

Leave a Reply

Skip to toolbar