National Book Month: Writing Arts & Journalism Students, Faculty Share Favorite Reads

A female student browses a bookshelf at the bookstore.

The month of October is known as a time centered around witches, pumpkins, and candy of course. However, as werewolves howl at the moon and that first October moon rises, National Book Month also begins! With only 31 days to celebrate Rowan students and faculty weigh on their favorite current and past reads on their bookshelves that they adore!!

Cecilia Combs, from Mullica Hill, NJ (Gloucester County) is a junior Writing Arts major with a creative writing concentration and an English minor. Her top read is Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery. It’s the first book in a series, which she tries to reread every fall as the leaves begin to trickle down. A brief synopsis of the story according to Cecilia, “Anne of Green Gables follows Anne Shirley, an imaginative orphan, as she’s adopted by Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert. The novel follows her as she adapts to her new life, makes new friends, and gets into lots of ‘scrapes’ along the way! Her friendliness, overactive imagination, absent-mindedness, and ambition make for a fascinating combination as she goes through life. During the first novel, she grows from a child to a young adult. She deals with school, friendships, loss, and other universal aspects of growing up.”

Cecilia went on to give a heartfelt ode to the tale, gushing, “I love this book because of Anne. Growing up, I always related to her passion and personality. She loved many of the same things I loved and aspired to the same goals I had. Reading about how she grew up helped me to grow up. I also love the language; it’s written with incredible descriptions of nature. Reading it feels like looking at a painting, and I always loved the beauty of it. I also loved how vibrant all the characters in the book are, and how they felt like funny, flawed, real people.“

Cecilia holding Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery,

Katelyn Warren, from Woodstown, NJ (Salem County), is a senior writing arts major who prepares to say farewell to Rowan as she gets ready to graduate this semester. Katelyn’s favorite book is Quo Vadis, written by Henryk Sienkiewicz and adapted by C.Y. Stark. It was published in 1896 and takes place in ancient Rome during the era of Nero. The story retells the historical persecution of the Christians and the infamous burning of Rome. It revolves around a fictional romance between a brutal Roman soldier, Vinicius, and a gentle Christian hostage, Lygia. As Nero’s insanity grows, Vinicius finds himself turning from a violent Roman tribune to the peaceful defender of Lygia and the Christians.

Katelyn describes Quo Vadis as, “not a story for the faint of heart. I first read Quo Vadis and then watched both film adaptations when I was 13 years old and instantly loved it, inspiring me in one of my novels.”

Katelyn holds an adaptation of Quo Vadis in front of her face covering the lower half.

Journalism Professor Nicolas Diulio also shares his current favorites, shining a light on The Passenger and Stella Maris, both by Cormac McCarthy. Diulio says “McCarthy is one of my favorite novelists of all time. He can just write in a way that cannot be mistaken for anyone else.” The two novels are McCarthy’s last works before his recent passing. The Passenger is about a salvage diver living in New Orleans who dives through the wreckage and his journey along with his sister who suffers from schizophrenia, as she has conversations with imaginary beings, and throughout the novel, it shifts between the siblings’ perspectives. As for Stella Maris, it takes place in a mental institution called Stella Maris and depicts conversations between the sister (from The Passenger) and her psychiatrist. Diulio does note that both the stories are heavier reads so beware of triggering material. Nonetheless, he exclaims, “If you like literary fiction and more challenging fiction read Cormac McCarthy.”

Professor Diulio holds a book in each hand.
Professor Diulio

Hannah Tran, of East Windsor, NJ (Mercer County) is also pursuing her degree in Writing Arts and names her favorite pick from her bookshelf right now to be Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer. Hannah shares that Braiding Sweetgrass has taught her so much about the relationships between people, plants, and the rest of the natural world. She describes the novel as, “the kind of book that can change the way you see the world and your place in it. I also just love how poignantly Robin Wall Kimmerer writes—her images and stories stay with you. She seamlessly weaves together science, indigenous wisdom, and her own experiences.”

Hannah holds her book directly in front of her, with a smile on her face.

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