A Perpetual English Major

As a lot of you know, I majored in English in college.

I feel like it has served me well in ministry and I’m glad that my daughter is doing a double major in History and English while she is at Vanderbilt.

One reason I like being an English major is that it never really stops. I am almost always reading one novel or another. Maybe not quite on the order of James Joyce’s Ulysses like I read in college (or tried to read), but some pretty good ones nonetheless. Here are some of the most influential novels of my post-college years as a perpetual English major:

  • A Man In Full by Tom Wolfe. Epic, hilarious, sad, Southern, and brilliantly written.
  • Cry The Beloved Country by Alan Paton. How did I not read this earlier?
  • Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns. Think Flannery O’Connor without all the weird stuff.
  • She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb. Picking my favorite Wally Lamb book is like picking your favorite kind of pie: whichever one you are eating. He has the gift of turning ordinary and extraordinary events into occasions for my tear ducts to go into overdrive.
  • The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. See above.
  • Straight Man by Richard Russo. Having grown up in a professor’s house, I love books in which the protagonist is a professor. Russo seems to write effortlessly . . . . which lets you know he works really hard at his craft.

This list is by no means comprehensive but those are the books that dominate my memory today. Perhaps I’ll add new ones shortly — I’ve got three novels waiting for my next vacation.

That way, the best parts of college never end . . .