I’m starting a full-time Ph.D. program in the fall. For the first time since I took the GRE, began the application process, and completed other typical tasks associated with pursuing doctoral work, I feel a bit excited. I think I feel this way because I have begun reading again. I read many books as a child; I even reread my favorites somewhere between 10 and 20 times because I loved them so much: Walk Two Moons, The Giver, Number the Stars, and the first four chapters of the Book of Job. But, I read less as high school ended, during college, and once I started working. I had other things to do.
The COVID lockdown afforded me a lot of time to read books, which is something I did not realize I missed. I am reminded of my undergraduate class discussions and papers, and I am excited to engage in these academic pursuits again. So far, I’ve read the following books during COVID. Some are ones I’ve always wanted to read, others are recommendations from friends, and some are books I loved as a child and wanted to experience again. They are listed in no particular order:
- Fever 1793. Childhood favorite. Historical fiction about the yellow fever epidemic in Philadelphia. I did not like it as much as an adult, but it is still a good book.
- Where the Crawdads Sing. A mystery novel. I read it for a book club. It’s probably one of the worst books I’ve read. If someone tells you it’s a good book, don’t believe him.
- All the Light We Cannot See. I also read this historical-fiction book for a book club. I didn’t hate it, but I don’t recommend it.
- The Old Man and the Sea. I always wanted to read this, and I enjoyed it a lot.
- Educated. My friend recommended Educated; I didn’t expect to like it, but I did. It was intense.
- The Book Thief. This book was very popular about 10 years ago, and there was also a movie adaptation. I think 15-year-old Rachel would have liked it, but present-day Rachel thought it was too long and couldn’t wait for the story to end.
- The Peacemaker. A recommendation from a friend. I enjoyed it so much I bought two additional copies and gave them to friends.
- Walk Two Moons. A favorite from my childhood. I first read this book in the third grade, and I reread it many times afterwards. It has been years since I picked it up, but I still learned something from it this time.
- The Autobiography of Malcolm X. I’ve wanted to read this for years and finally got around to it. Very fascinating. I’m glad I decided to read it as an adult.
- Bridge to Terabithia. A childhood favorite. It’s still sad. I realized that it really isn’t a children’s book.
- The Tattooist of Auschwitz. This was an audiobook. I have read a fair amount of Holocaust literature, and this is probably the worst book from that genre I’ve read. It is based on a true story, but the writing quality and flat characters nearly made me give up several times. If the writing style was better, it could have been a great book; it’s not the story’s fault that the writers and editors lacked skill.
- Fahrenheit 451. I’ve heard a lot about this classic, but I never read it. It was a strange mix between The Giver and 1984. Unlike 1984, 451 ends with a bit of hope, which I appreciate.
There are some more books I want to read before I start school. I doubt I will complete them all, but I can try. I also want to read War and Peace and Crime and Punishment, but maybe I can try to finish those by the end of 2021. The pre-Ph.D. book list:
- The Diary of a Young Girl. I started this in my youth, but I never finished it.
- Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl
- Two Books about Reformed Theology by RC Sproul
- Invisible Man
- A Little Princess
- A Tree Grows in Brooklyn