Summer Academia (What I Read for Class Last Year)

I really haven’t done any actual literary posts yet so I thought, as an English student, I should probably get right on that! This summer, I am taking a break from the the really tough academic reading and focusing on some fun stuff… like reading the Harry Potter series for the FIRST TIME EVER. Yes, I know this is long past due but I am in it for the long haul… or at least until class begins again on August 20th.

But since many of you are NOT academics, or at least not professionally, you may be interested in what I am reading during the school year. I will periodically post on what I am reading through the school year and what I have already begun reading.

Dreams of Interpretation was taught by our English department head, Dr. Angela Hunter. It was a challenging honors course focusing on psychological narrative themes. Much of the literature that was assigned surrounded topics on prophetic dreams, visions, and even drug-induced hallucinations. 41vFaFBXl1L._SX327_BO1,204,203,200_Interpretation of Dreams by Sigmund Freud- Although this book is often studied in psychology departments for the purpose of learning psycho-analysis, it was fascinating to read it from a literary perspective. I suggest reading small sections at a time. It can be a little overwhelming. 41gyTOy2sjL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_Stigmata by Phyllis Perry- Not to be confused with the major motion picture, Stigmata is written by an African American author. By far my favorite read of the academic season, Stigmata follows a woman haunted by her enslaved ancestry as she experiences supernatural phenomenon. My final paper for the class was written on this novel and the research behind it was captivating. 51Cw7IxxhxL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_Confessions of an English Opium Eater by Thomas De Quincy was a complex look into the life of an opium addict in the nineteenth century. De Quincy experiences visions/hallucintations due to his drug involvement and we are able to peer into his thought process in real time  as he experiences various memory recalls and large lapses in time and space.
51vVrWChriL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Kubla Khan and Christabel by Samuel Coleridge are dream-vision poems written by one of the greatest romantic period British poets. Some say these are prophetic, others say Coleridge was simply another opium addict. You decide.



 Trip to River Market Books in Little Rock

I love indie bookstores. Love them. So it still surprises me that I haven’t yet been on the hunt for some good ones here in Little Rock. I think I love used books the most. They have been passed from hand to hand and loved well. The edges of the pages are browning with the oil from fingertips (and maybe spit) and every magical once-in-awhile there is a little notation scribbled on a page from someone who thought long and hard about what the author had to say. So since I’ve had a bit of a slow week, I decided to head downtown and visit River Market Books in downtown Little Rock.

But let me say first… I picked a bad day to go downtown because I discovered, once I landed upon Rivermarket Drive, that tomorrow would be the beginning of River Fest. The roads were crammed with cars and traffic was miserable. It was also a ponytail day. I wasn’t expecting that heat. Stupid weather app.

I drove through several free public parking lots, not able to find a single place to park my car and finally found a parking meter spot a few blocks away from the River.


It was relatively calm where I parked. Most of the riffraff was concentrated closer to the River Market. So I enjoyed the beautiful walk and discovered some cute places on the way that I didn’t know existed, like Strattor’s Market.


This quaint little place has some fun European delicacies, cheeses, and pastries as well as a small selection of local produce and a huge collection of fine wines. Unfortunately, they were re-doing something in the deli so the meal and coffee portion of the store was temporarily closed.


Strattor’s Market in Little Rock houses European foods, local produce and a great collection of wines and cheese.

Of course, it wouldn’t be the Rivermarket District if there wasn’t a cute yellow trolley to greet you as you patiently wait for it to turn so you could cross the street.


But let’s talk books now. Afterall, this is a Lifestyle and Literature blog. River Market Books ,which is a part of the Central Arkansas Library System , smells like all used bookstores should. Like ancient paper, dust, and the roaming eyes of a thousand men and women. Or something like that. It just smells old but not in a bad way. And that is totally what you should expect from a used bookstore.


Charming, isn’t it? So charming!! It seems like every bookstore I enter has a shelf with employee book suggestions and cleverly handwritten cards in front of each one. At River Market Books, however, the “staff picks” shelf had a more rustic appeal. This little cart graced the front entrance and added to the ambiance of the place.


I have to say, though, as cute as this place was, I didn’t find much of a selection there, though I did almost swipe Annie Dillard’s For the Time BeingI read one of Dillard’s essays last semester. That woman sure can write a beautiful sentence. I could learn something from her. And oh yeah, I did. Annie won the Pulitzer Prize for Pilgrim at Tinker Creek and her book, The Writing Life  is a must-have for any fiction or non-fiction writers. Oh. And there were comic books. One of them was titled Lois Lane. If I were ever going to read a comic book, which I never have, it would be that one.


On the second floor was a meeting room for book clubs and knitting clubs and whatever else might go on in a bookstore owned by a library.


I think it’s places like this that remind me that bookstores are still important. Yes, we’re going to still buy online. Small businesses are also found online. That is how people are making a living, now. But independent bookstores still serve a purpose. They are a place for community, a place to learn something new, a place to find pathways to escape and adventure. Find your nearest used bookstore and go support them, as well.