The Book That Changed My Life: Featuring Aubrey Foust
English majors share a lot of common interests; one of these interests, naturally, is books. Yes, it is true– English majors live and breathe literature, and it is rare to find an English major that isn’t reading at least four books at one time. For the majority of us, reading is second nature. We love to curl up in a cozy spot and immerse ourselves completely in a great novel. As English majors, we believe that books have the ability to change our lives and perspectives of our world. Of course, some books are more life-changing than others.
Aubrey Foust, a fellow English major at WIU, loves to talk about her favorite books: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and Alice Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll.
Aubrey, if you had to pick a book that you think has changed you, or really stood out to you, what book would you choose?
Aubrey: I think that would have to be Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. Both of those books… I just fell in love with them. I can’t exactly say what it was about them that drew me to them first—it was all a blur–I just remember reading them and thinking, “Wow, there is something special here.” I feel connected to it for some reason.
What do you think is special about them? Is it how they make you feel, or the ideas they represent?
Aubrey: I think it is how they make me feel. They made me want more. I delved into
them—I even did self-research about Lewis Carroll because I was interested in who he was as a person. I found out about his history and his friendship with a mathematician who had a daughter named Alice. People suspect that was how he got inspiration for the Alice in the story. I mean, I know the darker stuff too…I know about Carroll’s suspected self-repressed pedophilia. I just wanted to know more about all that I could. I loved the books so much that I got them tattooed
permanently on my body. My tattoo on my right calf is a huge Alice in Wonderland cameo, and its got literary elements throughout the whole thing! Its got elements from both Wonderland and Looking Glass. I’ve got a knight chess piece, which is supposed to represent the white knight. I have a queen of hearts playing card, which is supposed to represent the queen of hearts. I’ve got the Cheshire cat smile and the mushroom. It is just filled with things!
So you really enjoyed the book because of how it made you feel, and the fact that it had so much history in it. It was something you could keep coming back to.
Aubrey: Yes, I really think it draws back to my analytical side. That’s my favorite part of English, the analytical aspect of it. I love more than anything to analyze and overanalyze something. Alice in Wonderland is HUGE for that. It is almost as “big” as Tolkien. So much of it is metaphorical, and it can be analyzed and taken so many different ways. And you can read Alice in Wonderland through any lens. Any lens! You can read it through feminist theory, you can read it through queer theory—anything. And I think that is why I really like it!
Thank you Aubrey for sharing your favorite books with us!