Set texts from my degree at Swansea

Some say that your essays, or your certificate, or your experiences are the accumulation of your time at university. For me however, I would say my bursting bookshelves are the product of my degree (and demise of my student loan). This blog is a list of the 59 books from my reading lists over four years at university. To clarify these are the set texts I have studied and my dissertation texts, god knows how many other books I’ve read for fun, recommended and secondary reading, or those I read during my year abroad.

Some are in French, most are in English, some are translations of other European languages. Some poems have probably been left off but chances are they can be found in the Norton Anthology. Some books, like Jane Eyre, reoccured throughout my degree haunting me like bloody Bertha. Others I would never have picked up if it hadn’t of been for a module I reluctantly took and I’m so grateful that university led me to them.

They’re roughly in a chronological order, mostly by module, over the last four years. I can’t comment on every single book, that would make this a never ending blog. There’s also a long list of films I’ve studied but again, this blog will need to end at some point.

I’m half way through the final book Neuromancer, and as much as I’m enjoying it, and have enjoyed this entire reading list, a little part of me is giddy with excitement over the fact that once I finish this last book, I am free to read whatever I want whenever I want, as quickly or as slowly as I like for the first time since I was 14! Eek! That’s such an exciting prospect! So without further ado, here’s my reading list from a degree in English Literature and French at Swansea University, and what a reading list it’s been.

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  1. La femme rompue – Simone de Beauvoir
  2. Entretien d’un philosophe avec la Maréchale de *** – Denis Diderot My first philosophical text and I got an awful grade for the essay I wrote on it too… though I was also given kudos for attempting a harder text. Because kudos are exactly what every first year student wants.
  3. Against Nature – Joris-Karl Huysmans
  4. Tonio Kröger – Thomas Mann
  5. Metamorphosis – Franz Kafka This was the point in my degree when I became convinced I was living my dream of becoming Rory Gilmore. 
  6. The Cloven Viscount – Italo Calvino
  7. Cat and Mouse – Günter Grass
  8. Cleaned Out – Annie Ernaux This started a love affair with Ernaux. Absolutely love her and have continued to read her books in French but still need to read Cleaned Out in the original French. 
  9. The Garden of Secrets – Juan Goytisolo
  10. Norton Anthology of Poetry (Fifth Edition) I don’t want to talk about it… 
  11.  Lady Oracle Margaret Atwood Is any reading list complete without Atwood? 
  12. The Yellow Wallpaper – Charlotte Perkins Gilman
  13. Trumpet – Jackie Kay READ IT. READ IT NOW. 
  14. A Room of One’s Own – Virginia Woolf Woolf cropped up many times throughout my degree, in fact we recently translated part of A Room in our French grammar class which was a total joy. This speech was hugely influential on the world, but also on me. IMG_6994
  15. Daughters of Decadence: Women Writers of the Fin de Siècle – ed. Elaine Showalter
  16. Frankenstein – Mary Shelley
  17. Dracula – Bram Stoker
  18. Jane Eyre – Charlotte Brontë I REALLY don’t want to talk about it. 
  19. Wide Sargasso Sea – Jean Rhys
  20. Le Coq et l’Arlequin – Jean Cocteau
  21. Rue Ordener, Rue Labat – Sarah Kofman
  22. Les Petits Enfants du siècle – Christiane Rochefort Know those books you mostly like simply because of how passionate your lecturer was about the course material? No? Just me then. This was one of those… I can’t even read the title or hear Christiane Rochefort without reminiscing to that fortnight of second year classes.
  23. La Seine était rouge – Leila Sebbar I’d never heard of the Algerian massacre in Paris on May 8th 1945 until I studied this book. It opened up a whole part of history to me, it’s cool when a book can do that. 
  24. The Taming of the Shrew – William Shakespeare
  25. As You Like It -William Shakespeare
  26. Richard III -William Shakespeare These five were, clearly, part of a Shakespeare module. Since I studied Romeo and Juliet every year from year 6 to year 11, it was so refreshing to mix it up in the Shakespeare department. A lecture on Richard III actually led me to watching House of Cards so that was cool. 
  27. Hamlet -William Shakespeare
  28. The Tempest -William Shakespeare
  29. Charles Perrault’s Fairy Tales
  30. The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories – Angela Carter
  31. The Golden Legend – Jacobus de Voragine Maybe it’s the former Catholic School Girl in me but I really enjoyed studying some of these stories. 
  32. The Lais of Marie de France Cropped up many, many times in English and French modules alike. 
  33. Chaucer’s Clerk’s Tale
  34. The Duchess of Malfi – John Webster
  35. Rebecca – Daphne du Maurier
  36. Impossible Saints – Michèle Roberts Ditto to The Golden Legend but perhaps because I am a former Catholic School Girl… 
  37. Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad Let’s not… 
  38. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man – James Joyce The books around this part of the list come from a Modernist module, a module which came from Hell. Portrait was the solace in the storm though as I enjoyed it more than anything else in the module even more than To The Lighthouse! 
  39. To the Lighthouse – Virginia Woolf
  40. Le Jeu d’Adam 
  41. L’école des femmes – Jean Baptiste Molière
  42. Phèdre – Jean Racine I just really enjoyed revising this for the exam… is that weird? 
  43. Le Mariage de Figaro – Beaumarcharais
  44. Les Liaisons Dangereuses – Pierre Choderlos de Laclos Love, love, love. 
  45. The Magic Toyshop – Angela Carter
  46. The Little Stranger – Sarah Waters Was so excited when I saw Waters on the reading list for this module. I had tried and failed to get her into my dissertation so jumped at the chance to write about her. 
  47. The Moth Diaries – Rachel Klein
  48. The Female Man – Joanna Russ
  49. vN – Madeleine Ashby Rekindled a love for Sci-Fi that I forgot I had! 
  50. Neuromancer – William Gibson
  51. Cyrano de Bergerac – Edmond Rostand
  52. Venus in Furs – Leopold Sacher-Masoch When it comes to S&M everyone seems to focus on de Sade, so it was really interesting the learn and understand the origin of Masochism. 
  53. Venus in Fur – David Ives
  54. The Leopard – Guisspe Tomasi di Lampedusa
  55. The Piano Teacher – Elfriede Jelinek Disturbing but really damn enjoyable. 
  56. Blood Wedding – Frederico Garcia Lorca
  57. Lady Chatterley’s Lover – D. H. Lawrence
  58. Written on the Body – Jeanette Winterson
  59. Fear of Flying – Erica Jong These final three texts are my core dissertation books… so while they weren’t set by the university they’ve been a huge part, if not the biggest part, of my final year at Swansea. I now have a total love-hate relationship with Lady Chatterley’s Lover but I am more in love with Fear of Flying than I think is healthy… 

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