Exploring the Literary World Through Four Student Perspectives

“What’s weird to me is that a lot of genres are taken off reading lists as an option, because it’s one thing to say, ‘oh, writing this, you’d probably fail. Writing science fiction short fiction is hard.’ Okay, fair. But am I going to do bad reading it?”

No matter their major, every student has an opinion on how their classes should be run. From humanities to STEM and everything in between, we’ve developed ideas on the best texts to read, the most useful assignments, and even the most ideal class section to sign up for. Each opinion is unique and even sometimes at odds with those of our friends, classmates, and professors. One thing all undergraduate University of Michigan students have in common, though, is that we have to take writing classes. Some degrees require more English classes than others, but there’s always at least a couple thrown in the mix.

As a creative writing major, I think a lot about the texts I study for classes, the various types of writing I’m both encouraged to try and discouraged from exploring, and what kinds of books to read to enrich my free time. Since everyone I know has some degree of experience with the literary world, I thought it would be interesting to find out if the opinions of my fellow Michigan students align or conflict with my own. I sat down with three of my friends – Noah, Dhanuj, and Taylor – and we discussed all of our experiences with the world of English. In particular, we talked about what we took away from our high school English classes, our takes on “non-literary” genres (fantasy, horror, romance, etc.), and, to close it all out, the books we read in our free time. Tune in below.

Most popular genres by consumption in 2017. From publishedtodeath.com

List of most common high school English books as listed on Google, excluding works by Shakespeare:

To Kill a Mockingbird

The Great Gatsby

The Catcher in the Rye

Lord of the Flies


Animal Farm

Of Mice and Men

Brave New World

The Scarlet Letter

Fahrenheit 451

The Grapes of Wrath

Their Eyes Were Watching God

Great Expectations

Heart of Darkness

A Separate Peace

Death of a Salesman

The Crucible

Things Fall Apart

A Tale of Two Cities

The Outsiders

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings


The House on Mango Street

The Things They Carried

The Joy Luck Club

The Kite Runner

Invisible Man

The Awakening

The Canterbury Tales

Ethan Frome

The Perks of Being a Wallflower


A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

The Good Earth

As I Lay Dying

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian


The Jungle

The Glass Menagerie

The Pearl

The Chosen

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest




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