World Book Day

by Marissa Matton

In honor of yesterday being World Book Day, I thought I would share some of my favorite books.

The other week in one of my classes, we talked about the low expectations we have of assigned reading. Typically if we’re “forced” to read something, we’ve already made up our minds about it not being enjoyable before we even get past the title page. I’ll admit to having fallen victim to this logic quite a few times over the years. That negative train of thought has also been proven wrong, however.

I first read my favorite book, Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, in high school as assigned summer reading before my senior year. I wasn’t expecting to enjoy the book, but I was nearly immediately taken with the tale of mortality and ethics. As part of that assigned reading, I also read The Awakening by Kate Chopin. I’ve had to read the novel in two courses since then, and each time I was drawn into Edna’s search for independence.

While I haven’t always been as lucky with my assigned reading, these two books have stayed with me as favorites years later, despite the fact that neither fall under my favorite genre of literature. From the moment I finished reading my first Nancy Drew novel, I devoured any mysteries I could come across. I came across And Then There Were None in middle school and immediately fell in love with Agatha Christie’s writing. The classic whodunnit helped fuel my passion for solving fictional crimes. I learned to pick apart scenes, searching for clues and piecing them together to deduct who committed the crimes.

Some people don’t enjoy rereading books, but I find comfort in picking up something familiar. If I were in a novel, my great character flaw would be my faulty memory. When I’m enjoying a book, I hate to have to put it down–partly because of the fact that I’m enjoying it, but mostly because of how probable it is I’ll have forgotten something important before picking it back up.

With the end of the semester approaching, I’m eager to tackle my ‘to-read’ list. After getting through the piles–yes piles–of books I’ve been pushing aside over the past few months, one of my goals is to finish reading Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina. I started the novel a couple of years ago, and while I enjoyed it, I wasn’t able to devote enough time to it.

I’m eager to hear some of your favorite books. What is it about them that stuck with you? Alternately, which books are on your to-read list?

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My Moment with Chopin

Lance Eaton  is a college instructor at several colleges in the greater Boston area, teaching courses on literature, world history, comics, and even monsters.  He writes for several magazies and websites. His areas of research include comics, popular culture, audiobooks, and film.  His musings can be found at http://hitchhikingadjunct.blogspot.com.


I got hooked on reading because Kate Chopin turned me on in a way that I’m still not sure I can talk about in public, not without my cheeks going red.  Keep in mind, Chopin, having been born in 1850, is about 110 years older than me, but she still knows how to press my buttons.


Stories have always been seductive to me.  I hate giving up on a story for fear that I will miss the opportunity for it to redeem itself in the last chapter, leaving me smiling, triumphant and looking for more.  This has of course led me to enjoy some rather questionable stories, graphic novels and TV series, as well as to feel abysmal for sticking to the end of some stories.  But the sinister moment that I knew I was forever fixed on stories—and books in particular—came at the end of Chapter 9 in Kate Chopin’s “The Awakening.”


I was reading the book because someone recommended I incorporate it into my American Literature course.  Now, at face value (actually on pretty much every level), it would seem unlikely for me to fully appreciate it or to have such a deep intimate moment. The book is written by a woman over a hundred years ago about a class of people that are well-enough distant from my own experiences.  Chopin wasn’t writing for me or maybe, if she was, it was to say, “stupid privileged man; this is what your presumptions about the opposite sex lead to.”


It’s hard to say or fully know.  But needless to say, the idea that I would be moved so deeply by a passage from a text about a woman trapped in an unhappy marriage seemed unlikely.  Going into it, I figured this was the 19th century’s “chicklit” and I would appreciate it for its relevance to women’s literature, but not actually be moved by the story.  That dirty woman proved me wrong.

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