My college alumnae association recently started an online book club.

My friend M and I were probably the first ones to sign up.

We attended a small, women’s, Catholic liberal arts college, located in a suburb of a major city.

From what you just read about my college, can you make any assumptions about me?

Can you determine what my likes and dislikes are?

Does my choice in college say anything about me as a person?

At our first book club meeting a few months ago, we read a book called “Parakeet”. This book would definitely be considered literary fiction, as it was very stylized. It didn’t straight out tell a story, but used various tropes and devices to get it’s point across.

While I didn’t suggest it as a book club choice, when I got the list of choices I realized that it was on my TBR, so I put my vote in for it.

Personally I didn’t like the book: it was too “literary” for my taste. But I did think it was well written, and understood what the author was going for.

But when we had the discussion, I did find one thing very interesting- one woman stated:

“I’m really surprised that someone from our college would choose this book.”

When the woman, who is quite well read and makes very astute comments said this, I sat back and thought.

This statement was clearly the most interesting thing said at book club.

Just because I went to a certain type of school, am I expected to read a certain type of literature?

Does what we do or where we go determine who we are?

I don’t need to tell you that I didn’t graduate yesterday…

Wouldn’t you hope that I’d grown and changed over the years?

Expanded my horizons?

Opened up doors that might have previously thought locked?

Do we change as we mature?

Or are we the same people we’ve always been?

For fun, think about my choice of college: small, liberal arts, Catholic, all women, suburban.

Name one characteristic that you think I am based on my college, and then think if I am really like that.

What book do you think I would like based on my college choice?

What book do you think I would read based upon what you know about me?

Then think about your own occupational or educational choices: do they line up with your reading choices?

Does where you’re from really dictate who you are?

73 thoughts on “But You Weren’t Supposed to do That…

    1. That’s what I think too, which is why her comment stuck out for me. Are we supposed to be pigeon holed for life? Isn’t that a tragedy, being the same at 58 that you were at 18?

      Liked by 2 people

  1. Perhaps, and sadly I believe, some are unable or maybe unwilling to evolve in their viewpoints. I had a husband who held on fiercely to specific times and ideals. My views grew and changed. You know the ending…and yes he still is living in his very closed off world.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. My mom is like that. She’ll make a point and say “so and so did this” and I’ll say “that was 30 years ago. Things are different now. “ I notice it a lot with book choice. People get ingrained in a genre and won’t ever change. I get that. You like what you like. But how do you know you don’t like something else?

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Well…perhaps your person was trying to forestall her own insecurities by commenting on another’s choice. Maybe her genre of choice lies in deeply erotic fiction or kink or bondage. I will freely admit that if I was to give a stereotypical label to a Catholic women’s college alum I would not necessarily expect those genres to be top of the list! 🙂

        Liked by 3 people

      2. Good point! What’s funny is this particular women is quite well read, so she appears to stretch a little…but perhaps you’re on to something…😉

        Liked by 1 person

  2. “We attended a small, women’s, Catholic liberal arts college, located in a suburb of a major city.
    From what you just read about my college, can you make any assumptions about me?”

    Are you a small Catholic woman?

    I went to Agricultural College. Two hundred and fifty men, three women. The library was contained in one large bookcase and I’m trained in Poultry Keeping with a bit of building and tractor driving thrown in. People who know this aren’t surprised by my choice of books, they are just surprised that I can read.

    I have always found it hard to predict what sort of book people will read unless I know their reading habits and even then it’s not easy. I’m fairly sure our reading habits are fixed long before we get to college.

    My last seven – a book on Bomb Disposal, a book of essays by a Scottish writer’s group in lockdown, one of self-education, two crime novels (one Golden Age, one modern) a book of haiku and Laurie Graves’s new Maya book.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Well, I am a small catholic women….but I digress…😉I just like to read good books. I don’t care what the topic is, I just want them not too wordy, not too descriptive , humor helps. I just finished a satire called Black Buck that I thought was amazing. It was about a young black guy trying to teach people of color how to sell. The other book I really like is called the Push and it’s quite a dark novel about a mother and her children. Both are excellent but quite different

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I will check it out. I can usually tell by the first chapter if I’ll like something. My hope is something about it caught my eye enough for me to read that much of it

        Liked by 1 person

  3. It has been more obvious of late that where you are from dictates how people think of you. My reading habits are varied but I think it tells you more about my adult life rather than where I grew up. I grew up in a town with 4 different high schools and one of them was a catholic school and I knew quite a few Jewish kids who were enrolled there, what did that say. It said that their parents wanted them to have a private education.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. “Does where you’re from really dictate who you are?”

    Nope. There’s this little thing called free will. You probably learned about it in your Catholic university experience. I know I did. 😉

    Liked by 2 people

  5. When I left my hometown for the city of Seattle and the University of Washington, I felt free. Im my town of 5,000 people we had three elementary schools, one junior high and one high school. We were all categorized and put in a box for life. That comment from “the astute woman” reminds me of my grade school.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Any type of higher education worth its salt (public, private or parochial) would encourage students to read and review a variety of genres and viewpoints. Sadly, this seems to be going by the wayside in some universities. To be exposed to topics outside of one’s comfort zone is the only way people stretch their minds. I would not pass judgment on you simply because of your college choice. It may have laid a foundation for your worldview, but reading a variety of genres only expands your understanding and either reinforces that worldview or encourages you to evaluate that choice. We all have experiences that shape who we are today. My reading choices range from apologetics to fiction novels to science fiction to high fantasy to history and even science. I need all of them to challenge myself. 💙

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I’d like to think that my ‘choice’ of reading material isn’t judged. Period. In fact, until I bring home that stack of books from the public library, I can be just as surprised with my choices! Reading & books are for exploring vistas beyond our current circumstances IMHO. Trying on other realities, if you will. That often leads to ditching a novel mid-sentence on the third page or plowing through a 300 pager because I just want to see if the story ‘redeems’ itself and my time investment in reading it.
    And I do like my non-fic books about anything and everything!
    In these days of the Pandemic – why be so selective in our choices anyway?
    BTW: as to your question about your 18yr old choice of a college…seriously? I mean in my mind it means (vaguely) that you were bright enough to possibly get in on an academic scholarship!!! And why would that be a bad thing?!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I don’t like assumptions. Period. So, I would not hazard a guess to the “type” of books you would read based on the information you’ve given. People surprise me all the time – which goes to show I do make assumptions. But, what I’ve learned is: I’m pretty much always wrong. LOL

    Based on your blog posts I do assume you read a very wide variety of books – it’s what makes you so interesting!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. My first thoughts would be she made some assumptions based on the religious nature of your combined backgrounds and that something in the book went against what she believed should be common ground/belief from that perspective. It is very easy to assume that because you all attended a Catholic school, that your views should be in align with each other. I do think that most people will tend to make assumptions based on certain information about a person, usually because of stereotypes or even personal experience with other people. Even those of us that do try not to make assumptions get surprised when they realize that a person they viewed a certain way really wasn’t. There are stereotypes for a reason, but people don’t always fit those stereotypes. Probably a lot more don’t fit than some would expect.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We do live in a world where stereotypes are key…you see something, someone, you make an assumption. People forget that we are multi faceted. Or we should be anyway

      Liked by 1 person

  10. LA,
    Some, not all, but some people rely on stereotypes and shoulds as a way of protecting themselves. They want to surround themselves with what’s familiar and known. It makes them feel safer in a world that is unpredictable. When you try and make your world as small, known and predictable as possible, you often succeed in only making yourself small-minded and predictable. To each their own, I suppose. The solution? Become as curious and open-minded as possible. 🙂 Mona

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I’d never presume to know what type of books appeal to people based on where they attended school. That being said, I know anything about politics will appeal to my political economics major spouse. That’s just how he rolls.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Knowing this info, I’d say socially conservative view point.

    I’m not even the person I was yesterday, so things like this really bug me. I think we stifle one another in so many ways…this type of comment is one. If you’re still reading the EXACT same types of books you were in undergrad, that’s problematic…I think.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It’s fine if you’re still reading certain things…the problem is if you’ve never read anything else. It’s like the toddler who eats on,y chicken fingers…you can be 35 and still like chicken fingers, but I hope you’ve introduced other foods into your diet. I am vastly different than I was at 18. My mother was very controlling and I have absolutely no sense of self or confidence.

      Liked by 2 people

  13. I’m just surprised any educated person in middle age would have said something like that. My taste in movies and books when I was younger has changed considerably. I don’t think I would make any assumptions about you based on the college you went to, except that maybe when you were that age religion or being at an all female school were important to you. Or perhaps it was just the most affordable option.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was really surprised by the statement. And the whole college thing is funny…because when I was talking about my daughter choosing a college, like 90% of the people said that college choice didn’t matter…so yeah…

      Liked by 1 person

  14. As a girl that graduated from a very small town Catholic High School I can make no assumptions. I have very different tastes and likes from then, and I should since it has been 35+ years ago. I do not read the same type of books, have the same interests or even do the same things. I would expect that whether or not my school was small town or Catholic or both I would say the same thing. The old saying, you can’t judge a book by the cover, maybe comes to mind.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. All too often people try to predict based upon labeling. They form expectations. When I was in the working world, I applied for a particular position where I went through 6 interviews. A personnel group, and each of five politically appointed commissioners. One group of commissioners were wary because I had worked for a judge appointed by a democrat. The remaining commissioners were wary because I had worked for a law firm that was led by republican partners. I ultimately got the job. At various times, they were all mad at me, because I always explained what the law allowed them to do – LOL.


  16. Alright, LA, here we go. No, where we are from and how we are raised, even, does not dictate who we are today, the choices we make, the people we love, the work we do, etfc. And, it does. A paradox. It depends on if a human being is open to change, development, doing more, being more, getting outside of one’s comfort zone, being vulnerable, taking risks, you get me. If yes, then nope, we are iterating all the time, developing into the human being we want to become. If no, then we are possibly a mirror image of who we were 10, 15, and, yes, even 30 years ago. A GREAT post, as always! Thanks, LA.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Nope. Broaden your horizons with a graphic novel and read the horrific Maus by Art Spiegelman. A memoir about the artist’s relationship with his father and his father’s survival of the Halocaust. Where I went to school or how I grew shouldn’t dictate what I should read.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. I think we all need to grow and change as we live our lives. Our experiences enrich us, teach us, and give us wisdom. Hopefully, they expand our views as we age. However, I also think we are still drawn to what we like. I don’t think that really changes. For instance, I’ve ALWAYS been drawn to literature with strong female protagonists. Whether it was Little Women that I read as a child, Or something more current. I prefer female heroines who have an independent, intelligent mind. I still love Jane Austen and consider Pride and Prejudice my favorite book of all time. I fell in love with Shakespeare in high school and college and still quote the Bard. So yes, I take those literary pieces of myself with me wherever I go. Perhaps because they are classics.
    I went to University of Miami which was considered a party school ( with a great science dept and medical school) at the time, but they also had an excellent school of education and a wonderful drama dept. and I had some fabulous English professors.
    But, while I am still drawn to classic literature, my university would not be representative of what I read. I took classes that focused Dante, Camus, Chekhov, Shakespeare etc.
    on my own bookshelves I’ll have Everything Shakespeare, I’ll also have another shelf filled with the paranormal. I love ghosts, vampires and all that goes bump in the night. Im also a nut for mysteries and science fiction so I can’t be lumped into one particular category and I sense you can’t either. I love that about you!
    What’s the fun in never venturing out into a new genre? A well written story is always going to be worth reading.

    My favorite escape? Give me a time travel romance with a hint of paranormal and some mystery and intrigue and I’m in heaven.
    Then again, I’ll even read a western if it’s well written. (But only if I’m forced to lol).
    I don’t think there’s any accounting for taste. We cannot judge others.
    Plus, as a teacher I constantly taught The Classics so therefore, I’m most comfortable in that universe. But that doesn’t mean I want to stay there every minute of the day.
    We all grow , hopefully as we live our lives. If not, I think we miss out on so much. High brow or low brow who cares?

    I like that your literary pursuits are diversified. I think it gives you perspective on the human condition. I also think you are much more diversified than I. Especially in the last year. While fighting cancer I stayed away from anything too Heavy. I needed to escape. Mysteries helped keep my mind alert and the paranormal took me out of the real world where political nonsense was out of control. Sometimes we just need to escape and the content of books can at least help us control what we cannot in the real world. I don’t think it reflects our education or our social standing necessarily.
    Just my take, ❤️✌️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. In the last year, didn’t we all stay away from heavy stuff? I think we judge too much on what people do and don’t like. If you tell certain people you like light stuff, they think you’re dumb. If you tell people you like psychological thrillers, they think you’re a psychopath. Reading is so many things combined…education, escape, relaxing, etc. I hate when we are typecast. It’s my problem with algorithms….they don’t necessarily tell the whole picture

      Liked by 1 person

  19. LA , I think you’re very smart. People who ask genuine questions usually are. It has nothing to do with where you went to college or your religion. It’s who you are as a person. It will be expressed differently over the years and in different situations. Glad to “know” you !

    Liked by 1 person

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