Exams just don’t seem to be ending if the library is anything to go by. Let some of our Exeposé writers (and fellow exam takers) tell you what books help them switch off from their degrees for a few moments…
KNOWLEDGE IS BEAUTIFUL- David McAndless
It’s important to remember to maintain perspective when stressing about exams. I look to one of my few favourite non-fiction books Knowledge is Beautiful, a book which presents information and statistics in pretty, coloured diagrams. Do you want to know the most common journalist clichés or see a graph rating a female singer’s vocal range against her level of diva-ness? While you dream of your summer travels you can learn the correct etiquette for different countries; apparently it’s rude to refuse a sauna in Finland. The page that keeps me sane however, predicts the far future of our planet, reminding us that nothing lasts forever. According to this, in 1000 years from now, language will have evolved and changed so far that no one will be able to understand anything I write in my exam about the romantic poets anyway. In 100,000 years, the titanium in your MacBook or iPhone will start to corrode; goodbye lecture notes, and in 5 million years the Y
chromosome will have weakened, making men impossible and my reading on feminism irrelevant. If I’m honest, just contemplating the concept of thousands of years puts all my worry back in perspective.
THE AGE OF COLLAGE- Silke Khron
Revision usually takes its toll on my ability to process words, so my relaxing read is The Age of Collage. It sits patiently on my bookshelf for those evenings when I need a break. It’s essentially an anthology of collage – a great, big, beautiful coffee-table book filled with elaborate artworks. I like to pore over the pages with a mug of hot tea.
The artist profiles are ever interesting. Each artist has their own kaleidoscopic style, taking images out of their original context to produce new and contradictory creations. You’ll find very familiar cultural references staring back at you from back copies of Better Homes,
Time, Life and National Geographic. Fractured faces, a botanical behemoth, cut-and-paste chimeras. Some artists incorporate illustration and painting. Others toy with photography and embroidery. They play with influences from constructivism, surrealism, and the dada movement. For me, a flick through The Age of Collage is a great way to switch off from coursework and computer screens. A dose of escapism.
THE HOBBIT- J.R.R Tolkien
My go-to novel whenever I need familiarity or comfort is The Hobbit, by J.R.R Tolkien. I first read The Hobbit when I was around six years old, and I still have that very same tattered copy sitting on my shelf, now containing loose pages and poor crayon drawings from my past self. This charming, quaint little story was my introduction into a world of Hobbits and Wizards, Dwarves and Dragons, and an entire life of magical adventures that was, and still is, just a page-flip away.
As an English student I often find myself tasked with sitting at my desk, reading a novel under time constraints and attempting to find post-modern interpretations of a particular character’s actions, so I am repeatedly drawn back to Tolkien’s classic, as I can sit and engage with Bilbo’s adventure at my own pace; free to reinsert myself into a now familiar landscape without having to question whether Gandalf’s mimicry of the three trolls might be considered problematic to the race relations of the story. To me, The Hobbit is about more than a dwarven quest to regain lost gold; it is about finding myself once again in the position of a young boy, tucked up in bed, promising to read ‘just one more page’ to myself as I stare wide-eyed at the wonderful world of Middle-Earth.