English teachers are known for their love of all things book-related, particularly those who teach one kind of literature or another.

While writing teachers are less associated with the bookworm label than literature teachers are, anyone who is passionate about writing will say reading is the key to becoming a better writer.

Erin Lebacqz, a composition instructor in the Department of English, said reading is important for her as a writer because she likes to see examples of people capturing reality through words.



“The writer only does part of the job. The reader does the other part of the job, and together the two create a reality that differs according to each writer and reader,” Lebacqz said.

From the mouth of an avid reader and writer, here are Lebacqz’s five favorite books:

1.“Siddhartha” by Hermann Hesse

“I like (Siddhartha) because it briefly summarizes the ways in which someone tries to figure the ‘right way’ to live and rejects all the extreme versions, and has compassion for the ways in which life is not black and white. It also talks about the connection that one might feel to the universe in general.”

2.“This is Your Brain on Music” by Daniel Levitin

“It’s a cog-sci (cognitive-science) book. I have a couple books in that area because I like brain science. It’s got two of my favorite topics: how thought works and how music works, and how music reflects the mathematical laws of the universe and beauty of the universe. (It talks about) how your brain makes sense of it and why you love certain songs and things like that.”

3.“A Beautiful Question” by Frank Wilczek

“That’s similar in that (the author) is looking for ‘does nature follow some sort of beautiful mathematical system that’s in music and sound and light and the way nature is constructed. So those are the ‘science-y’ books I like to read.”

4.“Notes From Underground” by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

“It’s hilarious and it’s existential. He uses himself as a subject for trying to experiment with whether free will is a real thing. He uses kind of an anti-hero, which is himself, as the protagonist. There’s a lot of self-disparaging comments, but it’s all toward this idea of trying to see if freedom really exists or not. The style is really good in that way, too.”

5.“Native Son” by Richard Wright

“I think it tries to help readers get into the internal experience of some of the things that are wrong with our country. If people can’t imagine that from outside, they can go into the book and figure out a little bit of what’s wrong with the way we do things in this country from that type of a protagonist’s experience.”

Lebacqz said her favorite kinds of books are philosophical because they allow readers to interact with the words through their thoughts and allow them to experience foreign concepts via the text. She said that in this way, they present a window into ways of thinking that are otherwise hard to articulate.

“Reading and playing music are the things that I do when I would like to remember that more interesting parts of me and the world exist than the ones I see every day,” Lebacqz said.

Skylar Griego is a culture reporter for the Daily Lobo. She can be reached at culture
@dailylobo.com or on Twitter 
@TDLBooks