ROFL: Erin Watkins
ROFL (Reviewing Our Favourite Literature) is a blog series intended to help you get to know the mysterious faces behind the UBC English Students’ Association. All the execs will share their favourite book or author and this week we are introducing Erin. She is a fourth-year undergraduate student pursuing a double major in English Literature and Art History. In addition to being the ESA’s Vice-President, Erin is also an assistant at the AMS Art Gallery and a self-proclaimed tea addict.
Over the course of the past three years I’ve been introduced to many of the most important, or influential, books in the Western Hemisphere as a part of my education in English Literature. These books, as many of you reading this will know, vary greatly in genre, style, and era, but are all great works of literature—hence why every English major reads them. It would, then, make sense for me to select one of these amazing works to write my short review on; perhaps I would select the book which spoke the most to me personally, which caused a shift in my perception of the world, or which sparked the most ideas. I will not be doing that. I will instead choose the book that started it all for me. The book which is now lying in worn tatters on my bookshelf because of all the nights I spent awake reading it. This is the book which sparked my interest in reading, which taught me about the power words can hold—the way they can create another world or take hold of your emotions. What can I say? I’m a hopeless romantic.
Let me be clear though: I make no claim that this is the best book ever; it is in fact a children’s story. Each one of us, the people who truly love books, has a book like this. The one on your shelf which you’ve read a thousand times but will still pick up and read again. It was the first book you ever fell in love with. And this is what I would like to recommend to you. Not a great work of fiction which scholars will be studying for years, but instead, those well used and loved books, those first books you ever fell in love with. For me, that book is Katherine Paterson’s Bridge to Terabithia written in 1977. This book made me smile, laugh, and cry like a baby, and could probably still do so. This book was about hard life issues and the magic of imagination, the two most powerful things imbued in good literature: the ability to speak about the hard truths of life, and the ability to create, with nothing but imagination and words. I would hide this story next to me in my bed, or bring it with me on family road trips. Because of this book I began to read more and more, waiting for more books which could captivate my emotions and my imagination like this one. More books to fall in love with.
Of course, as I grew up and read more and more, I found many books to fall in love with. Cormac McCarthy’s The Road wove a web of beautiful minimalism around me. Philip Meyer’s The Son told a story as vast and sprawling as the Texan landscape it was set in. Katherine Mansfield’s short stories crackled with colour and modernist fragmentation. I could have written on any of these books, the ones which came after the first, but in all honesty, all I would really be writing about was the phenomena of of falling in love with a book, something which I think we can all understand.