Friday, 24 July 2015

how majoring in english has changed the way i read

Every time I mention to someone new that I'm an English major, I get the same reaction. Their faces contort into something like this: 

And then, of course, the dreaded question that literally everyone asks. 

So, are you going to be a teacher? 

Don't get me wrong. Obviously, there's nothing wrong with being a teacher. I wouldn't know how to read or write without teachers. Without teachers, this whole blog wouldn't exist. I'm just saying, I'm not a teacher-y person. Simple as that. And it's honestly quite comical how people seem to think that the only thing you can do with an English degree is teach English. 

I'm getting away from the point. 

Since I started this wondrous journey of literary endeavours (read: my degree), I've noticed a big change in the way I approach books and react to them. Here are some of the big ones. 

I sticky-note everything. 
Even books I'm just reading for fun end up with flags and post-its all over them. When I'm feeling really intense, I'll colour-code my notes depending on theme, character, setting, get the picture. What if I need to remember that tiny detail for my dissertation one day?! 

It's physically impossible to read without analyzing. 
They weren't kidding when they said that Intro to Lit Theory & Criticism would ruin my life. I should have believed them. I can't pick up a book and not notice how it perfectly follows the theory of Panopticism. It just doesn't happen. 

I have a favourite literary theorist, and I thoroughly enjoy talking about his theories. 
For reference, it's Michel Foucault.

I have editor brain. 
If I'm reading a book and I see a typo or some incorrect use of grammar, I get cringe-y. Sometimes it's enough to make me put down the book, or even worse, email the publisher. Even random little things like food labels and visitor guides are subject to my relentless proofreading.

I love picking out references and allusions and researching them. 
We're not just talking the obviously marketed retellings here. There's basically no such thing as a fully original work at this point, so I'm a huge fan of trying to pick out references to old stories and myths, and seeing how far the author takes them.

If possible, I love books even more now. 
Overall, my appreciation for the written word has increased substantially throughout my three years of studying English. Even the simplest stories have so much work put into them. Just think: when you go into a bookstore, you're immediately surrounded by thousands of people's life work; the products of their blood, sweat, and tears.

Majoring in English has made me a better reader in every possible way. I'm more active in my reading style, more attentive, and more willing to put the work in to figuring out exactly what a writer is trying to tell me. Maybe it's not the most practical of majors, but I don't regret a thing. 
3 comments on "how majoring in english has changed the way i read "
  1. That's a great gif to use, haha. I shudder when I come across a typo, too, especially when it's not from an indie publisher!

  2. I'm also an English major and so yeah I can definitely relate. I even do that with songs. For example the popular song "Jar of Hearts." My first thought, "I wonder if that's alluding to a myth or something like that."

    I get the whole "Do you want to teach thing" too. Great post.

    How far are you into the English major program?

  3. P.S. I have found being an English major to be very practical. I've never had a problem getting a job. If you'd like to talk about this more, contact me on my blog. I'd love to hear from you.