I am slowly allowing myself to become human again. I have definitely been living in an artificial environment for the past six weeks and it is not easy to mainstream into the real world. In this six week time period I have focused almost exclusively on two summer classes. This required reading hundreds of pages, taking copious notes, and writing several thought-provoking analytical papers. This program is geared towards teachers, so we do the work of one semester in the span of just 12 class sessions. It is intense.
I also had to couple the stress of academic rigor with the adjustment of living the college dormitory lifestyle after nearly three decades of living on my own. My roommate had to cancel at the last minute due to emergency surgery, so I had an entire suite of rooms to myself. It is a good thing that I am an introvert by nature, because anyone who craves human contact on a regular basis would have gone stark, raving mad. Not only did I have a single room, but I was the only one living in the suite of three rooms. I had my own private bath (not a bad fringe benefit), but I also had no one with whom I could just shoot the breeze. It was a rather lonely existence, even for a loner like myself.
I will not go into detail about the quality of cafeteria food (or lack thereof). Suffice it to say that I had to learn to eat at certain times of the day (my schedule was NOT my own) and I am very weary of powdered eggs in the morning and salad bar for lunch and dinner.
I did not allow myself any outside life exposure: I did not log onto blogger; I did not watch the news; I did not tweet; I did not read a newspaper or magazine; I did not go to the store --- not even a bookstore! Yesterday was the first time I entered the "normal" world and a friend and I went to see the Pixar movie, UP. What a great experience! It felt so good to laugh again and to realize that there is more to life that 17th Century Renaissance drama! So as you can tell, I am a little shell-shocked and in desperate need of learning to reconnect with the world.
So, I am desperate to fill my mind with fun, engaging novels that have absolutely nothing to do with British literature. I have about three weeks before I need to start focusing on teaching duties, and I want to clear my head for a portion of that time. I am in need of your assistance to help me select some great books, and my question for you is this: What book have you read over the past six weeks that you would classify a "must read" book? What book was your favorite? What book could you simply not put down? What book made you laugh out loud (or cry out loud)? Please comment below and help a fellow booklover find her way back into reality.
Perhaps I can compose a list of all the suggested books and write a summary post next week. I thank you in advance for you willingness to share.