Book Club Week 2


Last week we read You Can Do Anything by George Anders. ​I’m en route back to the University of Oxford as I write this, so it is only fitting that I highlight a few of the takeaways from Anders’ book. First of all, there is no shame in being a humanities major. I know that many people out there are humanities majors (myself included), but I always feel like I have to defend myself at Stanford (a hub for techies and a university populated largely with engineering, computer science, and social sciences majors). However, being a minority at Stanford as an English major, I get dug in. I get defensive. I feel a rebel with a cause. I feel it is my duty to argue for the value of a liberal arts education. And while Anders validates and explicates the importance of a liberal arts degree, he also breaks down the so-called barrier between the arts and sciences and encourages his readers to look at where their humanities degrees and the tech sector intersect. He called me out for my stubborn, dead-set ways and inspired me to begin looking for opportunities where my critical thinking skills, eagerness to learn, versatility and adaptability, and story-telling skills might be in needed in fields other than publishing and entertainment. He encourages humanities majors to tell their stories. I giggled when I read that and thought to myself, “Hm, I can do that. It’s sorta what I do.” I made a note in the margins at one point. The note read: “Be an intellectual, and be an opportunity-seeking dare-devil.” I like that. What are we waiting for? Let’s go for it this year. Dream big, fail hard, and never give up. We are the humanists, the people that thrive “where feelings matter” (p. 5). [A nice follow-up read might be anything by Brene Brown, a fabulous author, researcher, and champion of doing hard things and supporting the importance of feelings.]

Landskipping by Anna Pavord

Week 2: Jan. 8-14th

Over the summer, I had the opportunity to study for three weeks in the UK through a Stanford-sponsored study-abroad seminar. The course topic was Anglo-Saxon language, landscape, and identity. Our three weeks consisted of visits to see Magna Carta, medieval manuscripts, walking the terms of Anglo-Saxon land clauses, and studying British place names. If all of that sounds like gibberish, it sort of was. The point is, we traipsed through sheep fields and the British and Welsh countrysides wandering like the Anglo-Saxons would have. It gave me a great appreciation for the role land plays in society and sparked in me a deep love for sheep. Landskipping caught my eye in the British Library book shop. In Landskipping, Pavord explores the relationship between humans and the land, articulating the land's usefulness as well as its beauty. I'm looking forward to reading this one and hope that you join me in doing so. 


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