Literary Inspirations

by Noemi Arellano-Summer

Photograph courtesy of Ashley Griffin

Boston University students get a lot of reading done over the course of a year, even if they just read their textbooks or supplemental readings.

Novels from class, along with reading for pleasure, can be incredibly thought-provoking. The messages stay with readers for weeks, months and—sometimes—years, and throughout their college careers.

Kurt Vonnegut’s novel The Sirens of Titan inspires Lauren Higgins (SAR ’20) because the story is “so unique and beautiful, and it centered a lot on free will and what it means to be alive.” The story centers around Malachi Constant, the richest man in a future version of America. He is offered the chance to take a trip to Mars with a beautiful woman. With these characters and setting, Vonnegut begins a tale that delves deeply into the meaning of human life.

Higgins also admires James Baldwin’s novel Giovanni’s Room, as it “was incredibly heartbreaking, and it was really interesting to read the story, which is about a homosexual affair, knowing that Baldwin himself was openly gay.”

Other novels that provide inspiring or motivational characters and events include Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita. This novel showcases the absurdities of life that can happen to anyone, yet happen for a reason—although the novel has a dark side as it takes place in the Moscow in the 1930s when Satan wrecked havoc.

Another eloquent and moving compilation is Elisabeth Hewer’s poetry collection, Wishing for Birds. Poem number 22, “Girls in the Twenty First Century,” cover mythology and history, yet also encompass what it means to be human and to be alive today.

Fiction and poetry can provide a respite from dense, impersonal textbooks. But more than that, some students feel they can even provide inspiration to become better within their inky pages.