What I’m Reading Fall Semester 2014

Remember back when I said my course load included 30 books this semester?

I’m going to regale you with a list of all of them.

When I thought of this post, I was super excited about telling you all about the books I get to read this semester. Now that I’m thinking about it, this could be really boring to anyone not related to me. So I’m going to excite you all with awesome pictures, witty writing, and the promise of an update of school so far in this issue of “Below the Line.”

(Also, disclaimer: classes are still subject to change. One stack of these might be replaced with another.)

So now that you’re hooked…

What I'm Reading Fall Semester | Scribbling in the Margins blog

Let’s begin:

Nature Writing

What I'm Reading Fall Semester | Scribbling in the Margins blog

Only a shocking two books for this class:

  • Wildbranch, edited by  Florence Caplow and  Susan A.Cohen. A collection of nature writings. Hopefully they’ll inspire my own :)
  • The Book of Yaak, by Rick Bass. Any idea how to pronounce Yaak? I’ve been going with “yak,” like the big, wooly animal.

Environmental Crisis Lit

What I'm Reading Fall Semester | Scribbling in the Margins blogNow that I’ve eased you in with my Nature Writing class load…

  • Silent Spring, by Rachel Carson. A classic I “read” last semester and that I’m going to try to “skim in-depth” this semester.
  • Odds Against Tomorrow, by Nathaniel Rich. The odds against this book are low- it looks interesting.
  • Flight Behavior, by Barbara Kingsolver. I am SO PUMPED for this book. It had me at “Kingsolver.”
  • The Windup Girl, by Paolo Bacigalupi. Wind ‘er up and watch ‘er go!
  • Ishmael: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit, by Daniel Quinn. Ooooo, an adventure!
  • Ecology of a Cracker Childhood, by Janisse Ray. I read her essay collection Wild Card Quilt last semester and really enjoyed it. I have high hopes for her first book.
  • Body Toxic, by Susanne Antonetta. Judging from the summary on the back, it sounds like one depressing book. Then again, I am in a class about environmental crises.
  • Parable of the Sower, by Octavia Butler. I read this last semester and wasn’t the biggest fan. I’m not really into apocalyptic literature, and this didn’t do anything to change my mind.
  • The Future of Life, by Edward Wilson. The future of life is about doom and destruction. (Or at least, that’s what most books seem to say.)
  • Gain, by Richard Powers. I have a feeling Gain is really about losing.

U.S. Women’s History: 1700-1900 (the potential change)

What I'm Reading Fall Semester | Scribbling in the Margins blog

Plus “To ‘Joy My Freedom.” I accidentally put that in the next picture.

And we move into our history half of this post:

  • Elizabeth Cady Stanton: An American Life, by Lori D. Ginzberg. Something tells me this is a biography… (Title: D).
  • Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, by Harriet Jacobs. A primary document- historians love that stuff.
  • Women’s Rights Emerges within Antislavery Movement, by Kathryn Kish Sklar. Really a bunch more documents, in disguise. Don’t get me wrong, I love reading this stuff. There’s just not much to say about them before reading :)
  • Out of the Shadow: A Russian Jewish Girlhood on the Lower East Side, by Rose Cohen. Out of the shadows of this book list comes a really intriguing autobiography!
  • A Midwife’s Tale, by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich. There are babies, and blood, and a heck of a lot of screaming.
  • Mollie: The Journal of Mollie Dorsey Sanford, by (you got it) Mollie herself. She went to the West and lived to write about it.
  • To ‘Joy My Freedom: Southern Black Women’s Lives and Labors after the Civil War, by Tera Hunter. I’m pretty sure this will rile up the feminist in me. Oh joy.

Civil War/Reconstruction

What I'm Reading Fall Semester | Scribbling in the Margins blog

With such a clever class name, surely the book list will be awesome:

  • For Cause and Comrades: Why Men Fought in the Civil War, by James M. McPherson. Famous author, known for analysis- not for titles.
  • Great Speeches, by THE Abraham Lincoln. He said a lot of good stuff, so someone wrote it down.
  • The Last Best Hope of Earth, by Mark Neely, Jr. Spoiler alert: it’s Lincoln.
  • A Short History of Reconstruction, by Eric Foner. Another famous historian, this time we turn to the one with the Reconstruction obsession.
  • This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War, by Drew Gilpin Faust. Oh. A cherry fellow, Faust.
  • The Confederate War, by Gary W. Gallagher. The Southern perspective, something this Northerner doesn’t get much of.
  • The Fate of Their Country, by Michael F. Holt. The U.S. was fated…but for what? (ooo intrigue).
  • Civil War Stories, by Ambrose Bierce. So what was it really like at the front, Bierce?
  • The South vs. The South, by William W. Freehling. An interesting argument about how the South was its own undoing.
  • Half Slave and Half Free, by Bruce Levine. But neither fully one or the other.
  • Our Lincoln: New Perspectives on Lincoln and His World, ed. by Eric Foner. A collection of documents to motivate me to see “a new perspective!”

So that’s it for this semester! It’s quite a load, but I only have a few more books this semester than I did last semester, so I think I can keep up (fingers crossed!)

What books are you reading for school? Do any of these books look interesting to you?


Below the Line:

  •  Classes are getting under my skin already (stress levels are high). Welcome back to college!
  • On that note, I’m going to do my best to keep up the twice a week schedule. But bare with me if posts don’t go up every Tuesday and Friday morning. I’ll keep you updated.
  • After attending each of my classes, I’m really excited for the Civil War course. The professor is really passionate about the material and has structured the class in a way that fits my learning style. The rest of them… well, I just need to get adjusted to being back at school. :)

12 thoughts on “What I’m Reading Fall Semester 2014

  1. Pingback: What I’m Reading Spring Semester 2015 | Scribbling in the Margins

      • I’m just kind of weak on American lit/history in general, but I really enjoyed Incidents (well, if “enjoyed” is the right word for something about slavery). I actually did my required seminar presentation on it; I was counting on it being of particular interest because of the way it handles the intersections of race and gender, and it didn’t disappoint in that respect. There are some really twisted but fascinating dynamics going on between Harriet, her master, and her mistress.


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