You start the year full of energy, expecting to read and enjoy a wide variety of texts in the coming months. As the first weeks begin, you get to work like any other university student. But soon enough, a few things become apparent…
1. Some people seem to think your life is like this:
Comments you hear upon the utterance of the words “English literature” are:
“What exactly do you do in your course?”
“So you just read books in your course?”
“I wish I could sit around and read all the time!”
Well, make sure to put aside your books on mythology, history, psychoanalysis and philosophy before you try and make them understand that no, you don’t sit around reading Harry Potter all day.
2. In fact, some books are far less fun than Harry Potter. This occasionally results in the abandonment of skim reading and a whole lot of re-reading.
3. Other times, there’s so much substance but such little time. You end up analysing little details and soon, every other word is highlighted, circled and underlined.
4. But people don’t understand that your life is more than this:
It often looks like this but all that information you’re reading is also being processed, scrutinised, and challenged until new ideas emerge. And that takes hard work.
5. You know that reading in a literature course is not like reading for pleasure. But when you try and explain that you work just as much as any other student, they give you a look that says…
“Sure you do.”
And then you feel like a fool for trying to simplify the work you do into chronological steps. Because it just doesn’t work that way.
6. If you’re slow at reading, finishing multiple books for a deadline becomes a frantic race. Do you read to understand or to just get to the last page?
7. And you get to refine your poker face from the times your classmates find the reading enjoyable whilst you struggled from sentence to sentence.
8. It gets worse when a seminar discussion digresses to a timeless classic that everyone else (except you) seems to have read.
9. In fact, tell people that your favourite author isn’t a writer of classics and watch them judge you.
10. Worst of all, people worry about your future prospects for you because guess what? You’re 100% less employable than students taking any other subject out there! Congratulations!
Soon enough, you’re tired of justifying your subject choice to people. You’ve gotten your fair share of paper cuts and now have more books than you have room to store them. Mostly, you’ve realised that you won’t always like or easily engage with everything you read.
But nothing compares to the feeling of exploring so many issues and subject areas through literature. When you think about how much you’ve learnt through books (no matter how much you complain about the amount of reading), you know that you would never change to another course.
All images are from Giphy.