In the style of my seminar final project (a sneak peek of which is up on my blog), I’ve decided to title this one “not-discussed-in-class” post The Art of Words.” Can you guess what it’s gonna be about? Can you?

Although we briefly discussed poetry in class months ago, the one thing I felt we didn’t talk about enough was literature. Writing is one of my absolute favorite things in the world, and studying literature is the other half to the equation of my happiness. After all, reading makes a person a better writer, and I’ve learned a lot of skills and lessons from my favorite books. Even more, I think literature is something incredibly important, and something more people should start actively exploring. A humanities degree is often looked down upon, and while I’ll confess I’m double majoring with my second major in something more “profitable,” I don’t regret for one bit having invested so much of my time into English.

As a matter of fact, it’s proved more worthwhile than a ton of the other things I’ve learned over the years, although that’s understandably a matter of taste. I can’t remember a single formula from chemistry in sophomore year, bit I still remember many intricacies from reading Shakespeare’s Macbeth in my European literature class.

In my junior and senior years, I took AP English classes that ended up being some of the best experiences of my life. In junior year I read, among others, The Great Gatsby, and Fitzgerald’s effortless way of describing love, loss, and the sparkle of the 1920s is still something I hold in high regard. My senior year, however, was arguably the year I developed my writing the most. All our assignments were far more creative, and the final project was a “senior portrait” that answered the question: What have you learned in all your 18 years of living? It was one of the hardest things to write, but the introspection was something I desperately needed to learn how to convey into words.

I’m sidetracking a little.

Anyways, the realm of literature is something spectacular because the best writers find ways to transport you to faraway worlds and still keep you grounded in reliability. Take Shakespeare for example again; his plays are nearly 400 years old, but they still depict universal themes. We’ve seen a hundred different takes on Romeo and Juliet that still tell the same story: boy meets girl, they fall in love, a horrible misunderstanding happens, and they both die. Most recently, I read Juliet Immortal, a version of the story in which neither Romeo nor Juliet actually died; instead, their spirits lived on after Romeo killed Juliet for immortality. It was definitely an original take that I enjoyed reading. I’ve yet to buy the sequel; should probably get on that…

To end this post, which I know has gone on for a little too long, I want to recommend some of my favorite books for the rest of you. (List below, taken from my blog.) They range from the classics to mainstream favorites; from teen paranormal romances to the first year assigned reading. I hope you read at least one of them and get back to me, because I’d love to hear what any of you think.

Stay golden.

A Tale for the Time Being: This brilliant novel by Ruth Ozeki intertwines two relatable worlds to tell a story of relationships, compassion, family, and culture. (Formal review on the site.)

Deception (The Haunting Emma series): The one thing I loved about this book (and the whole series, really) is the casual way in which it was written. Writers nowadays don’t use much flowery language anymore but still manage to be effective. In this supernatural novel about ghosts and ancestral relations, Lee Nichols tells the tale of a girl named Emma who discovers more and more about a past she thought she’d left behind.

Dead Beautiful (The Dead Beautiful series): After he parents die under mysterious circumstances, teenager Renee is sent off to Gottfried Academy by her stick-in-his-ass grandfather as a safety precaution. There, she meets the elusive Dante Berlin and learns she’s not so safe after all.

Evermore (The Immortal series): What would life be like if you could never die? That’s what this series explores through the eyes of Ever Bloom, a sixteen year-old who’s own life takes a crazy turn after an accident claims the lives of her parents. Throw in Damen Auguste and things just got a lot more complicated.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (The Harry Potter series): Do I even have to talk about this? I read the Harry Potter books when I was in the fourth grade and haven’t forgotten about them since.

Her Fearful Symmetry: In her fifth novel, the writer famous for The Time Traveler’s Wife delves into the world of spirits in a London setting, detailing the story of twins Julia and Valentina. The girls, who’ve inherited their dead aunt’s flat, meet a number of eccentric characters while settling in, ultimately discovering that maybe their aunt hasn’t left after all.

Sophie’s Choice: In this book about a cynical writer from New York who stumbles upon a Holocaust survivor and her abusive boyfriend, William Styron tells the tale of a powerful love that hurts more than it strengthens—and the man who remembers all of it.

The Lightning Thief (The Percy Jackson & the Olympians series): Greek mythology is pretty cool on its own, but Rick Riordan makes it even better when he introduces Percy Jackson, a demigod who learns about his lineage when his mother is captured by a centaur. Then he’s brought to Camp Half-Blood, faces the wrath of the gods, and goes on the adventure of a lifetime to find Zeus’ legendary lightning bolt. What a guy.

The Great Gatsby: There’s a reason The Great Gatsby is a classic. Liquor pours and love blossoms in East Egg as Nick Carraway gets roped into the convoluted love story of Jay Gatsby and Daisy Buchanan. Let’s just say all doesn’t end well.