Posted in Books & Film News, Student Spotlight

Student Spotlight: Jenessa McElfresh


Jenessa McElfresh ’13

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Major: History

Minor: English

Do you have any special areas of interest, academic or otherwise?

I’m very interested in women’s history at the turn of the 20th century and children’s literacy activism.

What are your favorite resources at McCain Library?

Is there anything more fun than going on Academic Search Complete, choosing all of the databases, and seeing what obscure journals might be writing on your topic? I don’t think so, either. Also, I seem to get a lot of my books from Stack 1 so it is a place with good vibes for me.

Do you enjoy reading? How would you describe yourself as a reader?

I do enjoy reading very much. I would describe my reading style as that of a hoarder. I have books everywhere – in bins, stacked up on things, on bookshelves, tucked into corners – and that’s just here at Agnes. I have a tendency to buy a slew of books, read the most interesting one, prop the rest up as display pieces, and then go buy more. It’s a problem and TLC should give me a show.

What kind of books to you like to read outside of your classwork?

I like a good eclectic mix. I have an odd love for romance novels and trashy celebrity memoirs (though Dolly Parton’s was a gem), but I also enjoy short story collections and poetry and non-trashy memoirs, as well as any of the just on the verge of tear-jerker books from the “Top 100 Books of the Year” lists.

What books do you recommend as must-reads?

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith – It’s charming and whimsical and not that hard to imagine yourself as a teenage living in a decrepit British castle with your eccentric yet genius family.

The Collected Stories of Amy Hempel – I find her writing to be subtle and nuanced and able to sort of shake you awake after just a few pages. The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova – Just for fun, and I felt a little bit smarter after reading it.

What kind of movies do you enjoy watching?

Basically, sappy girl movies. I find no shame in my collection of Nicholas Sparks movies and only a little bit of shame for my array of Twilight movies. I also end up watching a lot of my old favorite WB shows on dvd, so Dawson’s Creek and Everwood will never ever end for me. And movies like Anchorman and Zoolander that I quote like a 12 year old boy.

Are there any movies you recommend?

If you haven’t seen Bridesmaids, go watch it right now.

Do you have any memorable stories about reading that you can share?

My grandfather never graduated from high school and had difficulties learning to read as a child with dyslexia in the 1950s in rural Pennsylvania. Because of his experiences and struggles, he always made sure that I understood how important learning to read was as a young child and always ensured that I had enough reading material to keep my curiosity going. So, some of my best memories as a child involve me sitting on his knee, listening or reading a story with him…even when I had chicken pox.

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