- Sophocles’ Oedipus the King
- Honoré de Balzac’s Père Goriot
- Anton Chekhov’s The Three Sisters
- William Shakespeare’s Hamlet
- Selected poetry of John Keats, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and Samuel Taylor Coleridge
- Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter
- Selected short stories of Nathaniel Hawthorne
- Thomas Hardy’s The Return of the Native
- F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby
- George Orwell’s 1984
- Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude
- William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream
- William Shakespeare’s Macbeth
- Selected poetry of William Butler Yeats
- Yasunari Kawabata’s Thousand Cranes
These were the literary texts I read for my English class in senior year high school. I later got credit in the university for work in this advanced class taught by Mrs. Marilyn Velasquez. Looking back, that was a year in my life when I read lots of literature (I also read many of the “great books” in junior high and undergrad Humanities I). Whereas in Humanities I, my brilliant professor Carolyn Hau taught me how to deconstruct texts, Mrs. Velasquez helped build the foundation for such critical analysis by introducing me to the traditional or formal methods of studying “the canon.”
Just two weeks ago, I watched the film Macbeth starring Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard. This was my favorite Shakespeare play in high school, so it was great to watch its film adaptation at a time in my life when I’ve already seen the effect of power and ambition- the play’s themes- in real people and societies. I probably would not have watched the movie had I not been introduced to Shakespeare before.
My favorite novels in the list were García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude and Yasunari Kawabata’s Thousand Cranes. They opened my eyes to the possibilities of language- that it could be florid, lush and maximalist as in One Hundred Years of Solitude or restrained, full of silences and minimalist as in Thousand Cranes. Through the years, I’ve experimented with both kinds of writing styles.
I feel lucky to have had great teachers who gave me various tools for the lifelong study of literature.