ETSU’S Virtual Milton Marathon (Nov. 19) | experience Paradise Lost all in one day

My dear friends, my amazing and incredible alumni is hosting the Milton Marathon, an all-day reading of John Milton’s Paradise Lost, tomorrow (Nov. 19) from 8am – 8pm! (Or whenever they finish reading the entirety of the poem).

And the best part? You don’t need a Facebook account to watch!

Join ETSU’s 2020 Milton class, as well as myself and others, to chat and experience the Fall like never before!


I know what you’re thinking, “Zoe, that’s a lot of exclamation points.” I understand. I’ll try and tone down my excitement.

In 2018, I took part in the Milton class, as well as organizing our own Milton Marathon, and it was the most rewarding, as well as the most challenging, class of my college career.

One of my favorite professors teaches this course, and both he and his students always put a ton of effort into making the Milton Marathon happen every 2 years (since that’s the only time the class is offered).

From my own experience, I know how rewarding it felt to interact with fellow literature lovers, and the satisfaction of seeing everyone’s hardworking come together and pay off. Also, it’s just nice to be read to. When’s that last time someone read a story aloud to you? (That’s what I thought).

I’m sure the pandemic has made it even more difficult, especially advertising and getting everything organized, so I wanted to share a unique opportunity for all of you lovely readers to enjoy!

I’m going to pop in periodically throughout the day, and I hope to see and chat with some of you all there! ❤

Why I Love Reading Classics | Words and Time Travel

Classic literature is something that I hold near and dear to my heart. Whenever I peruse the shelves for something to read or buy, I always end up grabbing a Jane Austen novel or a Shakespeare play over a newer contemporary or thriller.

Don’t get me wrong, I do read modern books, but there’s something enchanting about classics that I just can’t resist.

I often feel left out since most enjoy reading more popular books, but then again, I may just not have found my people yet!

In the wise words of Mark Twain, “‘Classic.’ A book which people praise and don’t read.”

I often find myself feeling uncomfortable expressing my love for Plato and Dante to the average human, as well as bringing up John Milton’s Paradise Lost as a book recommendation. Their responses are typically confused looks and some small words of encouragement.

Nevertheless, I will continue to spread my love for dense, thematic literature until my face turns blue, even despite the painful interactions.

Perhaps one of my favorite things about classics is you know it’ll be an enjoyable and enriching read (for the most part).

I mean, it’s well-known for a reason, right?

Of course, not everyone is going to like reading a classic if that’s not the type of writing style you enjoy, but this is just my reading experience.

Also, when I read a classic, I feel like I’ve been teleported back to that time period.

How were women viewed in Ancient Greek? What did people think of England and its government during the Renaissance? How do people view the world? What do people think about the Bible? All of these questions, and countless more, can be answered through reading literature.

Even with their fictitious elements, classics are encapsilated by their author’s language. As an avid studier of language and how it evolves, I love exploring previous cultures and how they utilized their word choice, structure, etc. The author’s language shapes the world that they are living in through their own perspective.

I don’t really know where I was going with that. I just love how writers have the ability to create a world that readers feel like they have truly explored and experienced.

Lastly, I love how much classics teach you about yourself.

Take Dante’s Divine Comedy, for instance. By following Dante along side his own journey of self-actualization, the reader is able to reflect on their own person and assess things about themself.

As a real life scenario, I have a friend that took a Dante class with me, and he explained that following Dante’s journey through depression helped him out of his own depression. Now he’s completing a thesis all about bibliotherapy (therapy through books) and the power of bibliotherapy for mental health.

If that isn’t the most impactful example of classics and how they shape you, then I don’t know what to tell you.

At the end of the day, everyone has their own reading taste, and mine just happens to be classics!

Maybe one day I’ll explore a wider variety of more modern novels, but I think I’m comfortable in my cozy classics for now.

What kind of books do you like and why? I’d love to hear some recommendations!

Stay safe. Stay home. Stay stuck in a book.

Rediscovering My Love of Reading | A Lesson in Patience

Ah. Reading. The word itself is like a breath of fresh air.

A lot of my recent posts have been very “book” heavy. Whether it’s gushing about my favorite author, binging Booktube videos (mainly Ariel Bissett, if I’m being honest), or scrolling endlessly through Barnes and Noble, I feel like I’m constantly surrounding myself with books or book-related things every day.

You would think as someone who studied English literature that I would be doing this all of the time, but oh no.

As much as I love reading and discovering stories, both old and new, my time at college REALLY burnt me out. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed all of my classes, but the overwhelming workload and constant anxiety to finish each book for each class was not the best for my mental health.

Now, I could go on about the faults in my academic experience, but that’s for another time.

In short, I associated reading with a chore and work rather than a luxurious past time. Because of this, I would typically end up falling asleep while reading or just not picking up a book up in general.

However, rather than consistently forcing myself to try and read again and again, I decided to save myself from the headache and take a break. I took a few months to destress, play some video games, and just be kinder to myself because I was beating myself up over not reading (of all things) so badly.

Dumb, I know.

But, alas! My itch to grab a book off of my shelves has finally resurrected!

Now, I can’t keep my nose out of the pages, and I’m actually enjoying myself in the process! Who knew time and patience was all I needed?

Currently, I’m in the middle of Dante’s Inferno, and I just started Stephen King’s 11/22/63 (which I am already loving).

I use to put a lot of pressure on myself to finish a lot of books, but sometimes that’s just unrealistic for me. I don’t know exactly where this panic of having to read a lot came from, but no matter where it developed (probably college), I’m ready to break that habit because, honestly, it’s stupid.

Why am I rushing to get all of these books read when I have an entire lifetime to do so?

In that moment, when I asked myself this question, a very important lesson about patience and time seemed to hit me in the face. I realized that I had developed a false sense of “time” and how much we truly have in a lifetime.

(Well, technically “time” is a social construct, but we’ll keep up the positive vibes for now.)

Perhaps it’s my persistent anxiety, but I always seem to feel as if I don’t have enough time to do anything, whether that’s reading a book or cleaning the house. I always seem to avoid activities that require quite a bit of time (commitment issues much?), but that ends today!

From now on, I’m going to try my best and not think about time so much. Of course, it’s pretty difficult to do that with the continuous reminder of death during this pandemic in the US, but, at the end of the day, all you can do is try.

So, with my rekindled love of reading, I’m ready to escape from the crumbling country around us into an infinite amount of worlds locked away on my bookshelves.

It’s time to stop hassling myself over not finishing unrealistic expectations and freaking out about the limit of time, and to start having some damn patience!

I hope everyone is doing well in these tough times, and remember: STAY HOME

Finding Good Things In Bad Times and Gushing Over Dante Alighieri

I don’t know if it’s the abundance of Vitamin D, the depletion of my seasonal depression, or my inner introvert thriving during this self-isolation, but I have been feeling pretty damn good lately.

Minus the constant anxiety of a rapidly growing pandemic, of course.

Since this time can be very stressful and panic-inducing, I’ve been trying hard to stay physically and mentally busy.

Physically, I’ve been cleaning and rearranging the hell out of my apartment.

After working 48 hours a week while having a major depressive episode, it was safe to say that my apartment was absolutely disgusting. The dishes piled in the sink looked like a picture out of Dr. Seuss’ The Cat in the Hat, and there was enough dog hair to make at least one wig. And don’t even get me started on the amount of dirty laundry scattered in every nook and cranny.

In short, it was horrible.

So, I took all of this new free time to finally finish chores, as well as move around some furniture and organize a bunch of clutter that I’ve been putting off since we moved in at the end of November.

Nothing feels better than a clean house.

Well, it’s next to taking your socks off at the end of the day. That shit hits hard.

But I digress.

Mentally, I’m happy to say that I am ridden of both my reading and writing blocks!

It all began when I picked up Dante’s Inferno to reread for the third time, and now I can’t get enough of it. I’m currently reading the Robert Durling translation that I used for my Dante class a year ago, and I’m completely enveloped in Dante’s fictitious world.

I find myself incessantly highlighting and making notes on every page. While I was taking the course, I never really dedicated the time to fully analyze everything this divine epic has to offer because I was trying to also get assignments and readings done for my other classes. But even when speed reading it, I still loved it, and it became one of my all time favorites.

Now that I have the chance to interact with Dante’s Inferno intimately, it’s almost become a part of me, as cheesy as that is to write out (it physically pains me to, tbh).

By following Dante along his journey of self-loss, as well as literally facing his demons and enemies in Hell, he invokes the reader to follow and learn from his metaphorical journey.

And trust me, there is PLENTY to learn from Dante Alighieri. Rereading wise, I’m only on Canto 9 (and I’m already gushing about it this much), but the amount of wisdom within each canto is abundant, for sure.

This poem sparked a new found inspiration that was apparently buried deep down. Now, all I want to do is write, read, and ponder these philosophical questions of morality and humanism. Hopefully I’ll be able to practice my essay writing skills and bust out a few discussions on Dante’s truly divine epic.

Even though I have to go back to work in a week, (apparently liquor stores are essential in a pandemic?), I’m going to try and enjoy my small amount of free time as much as I can.

Much like every other person online, I’m going to try and make more content for everyone to enjoy during these isolating and scary times. I hope you all are staying safe, staying hopeful and staying home!

Thank you for coming to my Dante TedTalk and allowing me to gush about literature. It makes my bookworm heart very happy!