Thesis Reading List

As part of my master’s thesis, I had to turn in a list of four books – three fiction and one nonfiction – that I will be reading while I write my first draft. Since I’m getting my MA in English and Creative Writing with a concentration in fiction, my thesis is actually part of a novel (as opposed to the traditional research paper thesis). This prospect is actually terrifying, but I conquered the rest of grad school, so I can do this! (Right?)

You may have caught my post a few weeks ago in which I asked for your help deciding which of my ideas to use for my thesis. Thanks to a lovely reader, I realized that I neglected to read the requirements for said thesis before compiling my ideas (clearly, I’m on top of things – how I have a 3.9 GPA is a mystery). After reading the requirements and the assignments that go along with writing my thesis, I’ve decided to go with idea number one! I know a lot of you preferred the other two ideas (and I’m still planning on using them eventually), but my decision came down to the fact that I had to turn in a full outline this past Sunday and I hadn’t exactly planned out the conflicts or endings or really anything much of the other two ideas. So I decided to play it safe and go with the idea that’s a bit more fleshed out in my mind.

You can head on over to my thesis ideas post for more details, but basically the idea I chose is a novel about a dystopian future society that’s ruled by a new, genetically engineered race of “gods” inspired by the Greek pantheon. Basically, technology + mythology + greed = bad.

Today, I thought I’d share the four books (plus a few extra) that I am planning on reading for my thesis.

  1. Red Rising by Pierce Brown. This is probably the book that inspired my idea the most, so I think its worth rereading so I can renew that inspiration and make sure my novel isn’t too similar. If I have time, I would also like to reread the second two books in the trilogy, particularly Golden Son, because it’s most similar to what I’m trying to do.
  2. 1984 by George Orwell. I threw this in for the sake of diversity, because I wanted a classic to influence my style a little bit. I’ve been meaning to reread this one, and this seems like the perfect opportunity. Plus, it’s the original dystopian, and I think it might help me gear my book more towards an adult (rather than young adult) audience.
  3. Vicious by V. E. Schwab. I decided to read this one because I love the subtle style, and I think my style is somewhere between Schawb and Brown, so this book will kind of help me find a happy medium of my own. I also thought the superhuman aspect was well-done and somewhat similar to the “gods” in my story, so perhaps it will be a positive influence there as well.
  4. On Writing by Stephen King. For our non-fiction book, we had to choose a book on writing, so I thought this was the perfect choice. I have actually read it before, but I’ve been meaning to reread it anyway because I remember it being really inspiring and helpful in understanding my own writing process.

Those are the books I turned in to my professor as my official reading list. I thought it would be safest to choose books I already read and know I love, because I didn’t want to be stuck working with books I didn’t like, or that don’t really help me figure out my own writing style. However, there are a few other books I am going to try to read over the next few months that I think might be helpful. A kind of supplemental/tentative list. So I thought I’d share those as well, even though I’m not committed:

  1. Mythology by Edith Hamilton. I bought this book as reference, because it is really detailed about all the Greek gods. I don’t think I’m going to sit down and read the whole thing, but I will most likely be using sections I find useful.
  2. Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller. I strongly considered adding this to my original list, and when I didn’t, a classmate actually suggested it, which made me want to read it more. Because I haven’t read it, I wasn’t sure how helpful it will be, but I’ve still heard great things, so I might just take this opportunity to read it anyway.
  3. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. When I was trying to figure out where my initial idea came from, I realized that my antagonist is kind of an amalgamation of President Snow and Donald Trump (which is weird, because in my head, he looks like Idris Elba). Anyway, I do really admire The Hunger Games and think a reread might be helpful as I write my own dystopian novel.
  4. Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel. I adored the mythological element in this novel! I particularly love that it blended mythology and technology, which is what I’m attempting to do, so this might be a great additional read (even though the story itself is very different).

Let me know if you have any other reading suggestions! I’m sure there are a lot of great books I could add to my list, but I am also writing part of a novel, so I still need time for that.

Thanks for reading! If you’d like to see more about my thesis writing journey, let me know in the comments!

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12 thoughts on “Thesis Reading List

  1. Oo it sounds exciting! I’m reading The Hunger Games again for my dissertation which I was planning on doing the presentation of female heroines in young adult dystopian literature but I think I need to make it more concise so I might just keep it wholly focused on Hunger Games entirely. The book I am currently reading mentions A Brave New World by Aldous Huxley a lot so that might be one to check out?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the suggestion! I keep forgetting about Brave New World, but it’s definitely on my TBR. Sounds like an interesting dissertation! I kind of wish I was doing something similar rather than having to write fiction, because I honestly enjoy writing research papers more. THG is a great source!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Yay I’m so excited you went with option one! I’d definitely like to read more about your thesis progress – assuming you have time to write about it. Good luck with it – I’m sure it’ll be great 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hey Stephanie! I stumbled upon your post about your choosing your thesis idea. I’m so glad to see that you decided on the futuristic, Greek pantheon à la societal critique idea. That’s such a creative idea. Will this thesis eventually turn into a book? How will we be able to read it once it’s finished?

    Though I run a personal development blog here on WordPress, I’m always looking for new bloggers pushing limits and searching for answers to life’s biggest questions. Isn’t that one of the functions of literature after all? For the moment, my blog is centered on writing my undergraduate thesis. I’m looking to get the word out on it. Here’s the link if you’re interested: https://elinamcgill.wordpress.com/2016/11/02/ultraepic-project-30-days-to-thesis/. I would appreciate any mention you can make, either on your blog or elsewhere. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! As my masters thesis, I have to write a 30,000-word novel/novella. There is definitely a big push to publish, so (depending on how I end up feeling about it) I’m considering expanding it into a full novel and attempting to publish it. I’m wary of publishing it online prior to completing my masters for plagiarism reasons. I’m guessing it’ll be at least another year or so to get it finished, edited, and somehow published.

      Good luck on your undergrad thesis! I know that’s a big project. I may be doing some sort of blogger feature post(s) soon.

      Thanks for commenting!

      Liked by 1 person

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