While abroad I have had the pleasure of reading some amazing books. As I’ve written about before, University of Copenhagen takes a very hands-off approach to learning. You’re assigned your readings, invited to show up for class, and your whole grade is based on a paper that you write for the end of each course. I do all the readings, go to all the classes, have started planning for the papers (due June 12), and still have ample free time.
This is the only semester I’ve ever had where I have time to read for pleasure while also reading for school, and it has been a wonderful experience. I’ve always enjoyed reading, but my time at college has challenged reading as a top priority when I have so many other tasks and assignments that need to get done. Reading books that I enjoy outside of my academic discipline has been rewarding in ways that I didn’t expect. Of course I love throwing myself into reading, getting so engrossed in a story that I forget where I am at the time. However, I have noticed that even just the act of reading has profoundly affected the way I think.
What I mean by this is that my mind has started to narrate my daily life. When I’m going through mundane activities like biking or doing dishes I find myself curating book-like sentences to describe what I’m doing. When I see an interesting person on the street I hear myself describing their details like they’re a character in my story. It’s comical, most of the time, but can also be embarrassing when I narrate something that I wouldn’t want to be included in the book of my life (ie: falling asleep without brushing my teeth).
Nevertheless, I wanted to comment on the power of books. I’d forgotten how impactful books can be, and how they can totally shape a day or the way I think about the world around me. I’m currently flashing back to the excitement I felt when the Scholastic Book Fair used to visit my elementary school – I looooove books! Anyways, here are some of my recommendations/books that I’ve enjoyed while abroad (including Christmas vacation just before getting to Copenhagen, because I read a lot of good books then):
- Everything I Never Told You – Celeste Ng
- Descent – Tim Johnston
A Little Life – Hanya Yanagihara
- The New Jim Crow – Michelle Alexander
- Not That Kind of Girl – Lena Dunham
- Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls – David Sedaris
- Between The World and Me – Ta-Nehisi Coates
- The Fire This Time – Jesmyn Ward
- Still Here – Lara Vapnyar
- The Girls – Emma Cline
- Before the Fall – Noah Hawley
- I Am Malala – Malala Yousafzai
- The Girl With The Lower Back Tattoo – Amy Schumer