Tuesday, March 01, 2005
Favorite Books and Authors: College

Freshman Year 1987-1988
This was a good year (all my years at BYU were). I spent the first semester getting caught up in a boy and most of the second getting over the fact that he was no longer caught up in me. I bought my first CD player. My first cds were Peter Gabriel So and Laurie Anderson Big Science. I was listening to Sinead O'Connor, The Smiths, The Talking Heads, Erasure, Kathleen Battle (an opera singer), and Terence Trent D'Arby (I'm not proud, I'm honest).

I read Sylvia Plath's journal and The Bell Jar. I also read her poetry. At the time her poetry meant the most to me, but what sticks with me is her journal. She had a way of describing ordinary things that was so right on - not pretentious, not reaching, not too poetic - as they are, but infused with her reality.

I read nearly all of Kurt Vonnegut's books. I started with Bluebeard and worked my way back. Slaughterhouse Five, Breakfast of Champions, and God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater stand out. Vonnegut was quirky, funny, sad, and ironic.

I read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and Jack Kerouac. On the Road and Dharma Bums were great books that I read a couple times in college. Kerouac was loose, free, smart. I was surprised to read about this underbelly of society who were born before my parents.

I read The Unbearable Lightness of Being (I liked the way he threw around Nietzsche and ideas, I disliked the intense sexualization of the book).

The summer of 1988 I read through F. Scott Fitzgerald. I loved everything he wrote, but Tender is the Night, This Side of Paradise, and The Beautiful and The Damned are my favorites. Fitzgerald's characters were golden and deeply flawed, but you still wanted to live in their world.


Sophomore Year 1988-1989
I had a rough start this year. It was strange to be back at BYU without my friends. The girls I was supposed to live with had all got married, the boys (and my sister) were on missions. Things turned around quickly as I made great friends in French class. When I could get my brother's car, we would go to SLC and shop at Trolley Square or go thrifting. Sometimes, we'd just go shopping at Smiths. I discovered Van Morrison and Elvis Costello. I was also listening to U2, Peter Murphy, Tracy Chapman, Simon and Garfunkel, Fine Young Cannibals, Hothouse Flowers, Michelle Shocked, and Edie Brickell.

I started working my way through the all of John Steinbeck's novels. East of Eden and Grapes of Wrath were my favorite novels and still are. I didn't finish the last novel until after college - I wish I had more books of his to discover.

I loved Pearl Buck's The Good Earth. I started Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man many times but didn't get through it until last year.

I read Ernest Hemingway. He had spare and direct prose. I remember Farewell to Arms, For Whom the Bell Tolls and The Sun Also Rises the most clearly. Farewell to Arms was worth reading just for the description of the rain. I read a number of Walker Percy books.

I read Le Sang des Autres (The Blood of Others) by Simone de Beauvoir many times. The writing was fragile and light while the ideas explored were heavy and complicated. I also read Woman Destroyed, A Very Easy Death, All Men Are Mortal, and She Came to Stay. I read The Second Sex, but I preferred her stories. Because of Simone de Beauvoir, I tried to read Jean-Paul Sartre (I know I read Words and I think I started Being and Nothingness) but it didn't light a spark.


Junior Year 1989-1990
This year was all about the fun. All of my roommates were my friends and we had a great time. I had my own car. We hung out at the Cougar Eat, went dancing, wasted time at Denny's. I met my husband. I was listening to Indigo Girls, Bob Dylan, Yaz, Cocteau Twins, This Mortal Coil, Cat Stevens, Morrissey, and more Indigo Girls.

I read Saul Bellows Henderson the Rain King. I remember thinking I want I want I want was a smart take, but the main character was so brutish and unlikable, I couldn't care about the book. I tried to read Humboldt's Gift or The Adventures of Augie March and decided it wasn't worth it.

I read Catcher in the Rye again and read the rest of Salinger's books: Franny and Zooey, Nine Stories, Raise High the Roof Beams and Seymour. I liked The World According to Garp by John Irving, The Naked and The Dead by Norman Mailer, and The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera. I don't remember much about them, but there are so many books I read that I don't even remember the titles. I remember laughing at Mailer's dark humor.

I read the poems of Anne Sexton, e.e. cummings, and Alice Walker's Revolutionary Petunias. Walker's poems were accessible, clear and right there.

I read The Dubliners by Joyce. The Dead was the gem of those stories, just for it's ending: "It had begun to snow again... It lay thickly drifted on the crooked crosses and headstones, on the spears of the little gate, on the barren thorns. His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead."


Senior Year 1990-1991
This year I was more focused on my relationship. It was a great time, but things were more intense. We broke up off and on, but didn't spend very much time apart. We went to a lot of dollar movies and just hung out watching the Gulf War on CNN, the Rodney King video, Seinfeld, and SNL. I was listening to The Sundays, R.E.M., John Denver, James Taylor, Neil Young, Aztec Camera.

I loved the precise and careful language of E.M. Forster's A Room With a View and A Passage to India. Franz Kafka's The Trial was good but it didn't matter to me as much as I thought it would. I read Kierkegaard's Fear and Trembling and Either/Or: A Fragment of Life. I read Nietzsche's The Will to Power and a few things by Hegel, but really must have read them just because I thought I should because I don't remember much.

I read Steppenwolf and Siddhartha. I started Mann's Death in Venice and Proust's Remembrance of Things Past but couldn't slug my way through them. I should probably try them again. A friend recommended The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers and I tried to read it, but it just made me too uncomfortable. I read it two years ago and loved it. I discovered Henry James a few years ago, and while he is an incredible writer, I don't think I would have appreciated him when I was younger.

I read Crime and Punishment. I expected it to be dark, heavy and hard to get through. It was dark and heavy, but such an easy, interesting read. I discovered Anne Tyler (who I still read): Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant, Breathing Lessons, The Accidental Tourist.


I spent hours in the BYU library, wandering through the art books, the philosophy section, and the fiction. I enjoyed my classes, but the best part of my eduction were the books I found randomly on my own.
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Name: Laura

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June

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May

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Housekeeping
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April

These Is My Words
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The Myth of You and Me
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March

Inconceivable
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Songbook
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Follies
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Hungry Planet

February

About a Boy
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High Fidelity
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Stargirl
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January

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Morality for Beautiful Girls
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A Long Way Down
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How to be Good
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Mere Christianity
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December
Click here for a free Book of Mormon
The Book of Mormon

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November
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September

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The Good Earth
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August

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Pride and Prejudice
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July

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Peace Like A River
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June
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A Prayer for Owen Meany
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All New People
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May
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Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters
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Good Faith
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April
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Blue Shoe
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Emma
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Operation Shylock
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March
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To See and See Again
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February
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Still Alive
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Persuasion
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January
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With the Old Breed
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All But My Life
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