February 14, 2014 Update: Hello! I passed my English qualifying exam on this date and am no longer updating the productibaking page (but feel free to read on if you’d like to see the incomplete project I started as study motivation last year!).


For those of you who are just joining in here (welcome!) and for those of you returning folks (welcome back!), you should know that I am an avid literary gal. My appetite for books and brownies is voracious. If it ever boiled down to choosing between (Lewis) Carroll and chocolate chip cookies, we would have a dilemma on our hands, and we’re not talking the insignificant moment of panic you experienced in high school when you saw that huge zit pop up on your nose five hours before senior ball.

The problem is that sometimes, reading for my program (I’m a second-year grad student, en longgg route to an English Literature Ph.D) can sometimes be a drag. Trying to sludge through hundreds or even thousands of pages a week, in addition to grading Mt. Everest stacks of student papers, evokes horrors unrivaled by even the most chilling Gothic novels.

The solution is, of course, procrastibaking. It’s just what it sounds like–procrastinating through baking.

This coming Fall quarter, I will be taking my qualifying exam to receive my Master’s and (hopefully) move onto writing a dissertation prospectus. Big, big stuff. As incentive to get me through reading lists of over 140 literary and scholarly works before November, I’ve come up with what will hopefully be an effective counter to the problem of procrastibaking.


So here’s the idea:

I have approximately 140 works of literature to wade through between now and November. Rather than using my baking as a way to procrastinate from working, I’m reappropriating it as an incentive for productivity.

For every book, volume of stories, or other text I finish this year for my qualifying exams, I will bake something and do a photoshoot that includes the book in some way.

To browse my productibaking gallery and see how my Part I’s progress is coming along, simply scroll below! You can find a list of the recipes and unphotographed works below as well.

Thanks for stopping by–wish me luck!


1. Mansfield Park by Jane Austen

omfg (Oreos meant for gods) Bars 23--060113

Reading List: Romanticism

Original date of publication: 1814

Featured dessert: o.m.f.g. bars (Get the recipe)

Did You Know?: In this problematic narrative, the heroine Fanny Price is encouraged by her lover (and cousin!) Edmund Bertram to marry one Henry Crawford. In an ironic act of incest, she ends up marrying Edmund anyway, which is exactly what Sir Bertram (Edmund’s father and Fanny’s uncle) hoped to avoid. Guess Austen novels are not always as lovey-dovey and problem-free as they seem!

2. Sense and Sensibility, Jane Austen

Best Biscoff Chocolate Chip Cookies 3--061913

Reading List: Romanticism

Original Date of Publication: 1811

Featured Dessert: Best Biscoff Chocolate Chip Cookies (Get the recipe)

Did You Know?: Sense and Sensibility was originally (reportedly) written as an epistolary novel with the rather drab title Elinor and Marianne. Fortunately, Austen recast it in the early 1800’s as a third-person narrative, dropped the names from the title, and forever revolutionized free indirect discourse and narration in the English novel.

3. Frankenstein, Mary Shelley

Mocha Cookie Cheesecake Bars 4--070613

Reading List: Romanticism

Original date of publication: 1818

Featured dessert: Mocha cookie cheesecake bars (get the recipe)

Did You Know?: Scholar Anne Mellor argues that Frankenstein is a novel essentially about Mary Shelley’s fears about “monstrous” childbearing–Shelley (who became a mother at an early age) had a child who died, and Shelley’s own mother Mary Wollstonecraft died giving birth to Shelley. The novel is also, according to Mellor, about the monstrous and unnatural things that happen when a man tries to reproduce without a female. Pretty compelling stuff!

4. The Italian, Ann Radcliffe

Reading List: Romanticism

Original date of publication: 1797

Featured dessert: Extra-Fudgy Kahlua Bars (get the recipe)

Did You Know?: Radcliffe, along with Matthew Lewis (who published another Gothic novel, The Monk, in 1796), is considered the forerunner of the modern Gothic novel. Unlike Lewis, her plots are much more resolved and the supernatural is explained in reassuring ways. The Gothic novel is traditionally characterized by elements of the supernatural, danger (especially to females by males), and a keen sense of possible horrors (or terrors) lurking around every corner.

5. The Adventures of Caleb Williams, or Things as They Are, by William Godwin

Cookie Butter Snickerdoodle Thumbprints 1--080213

Reading List: Romanticism

Original date of publication: 1794

Featured dessert: Cookie Butter Snickerdoodle Thumbprints (get the recipe)

Did You Know?: William Godwin also wrote his famous Enquiry Concerning Political Justice, where he advocated for the idea of unions (rather than marriages) based on pure, mutual love. Even so, he ended up marrying Mary Wollstonecraft (probably for practical reasons) and eventually became the father of Mary Shelley, the famous author of Frankenstein (1818).

6. Adeline Mowbray, Amelia Opie

Graham Cracker Chocolate Chip Cookies 5--082013

Reading List: Romanticism

Original date of publication: 1804

Featured dessert: Soft, chewy graham cracker chocolate chip cookies (get the recipe)

Did You Know?: The story behind Adeline Mowbray is most likely based on William Godwin’s principals concerning the silliness of marriage as an institution (when compared to mutual, pure love). There has been considerable scholarly debate about whether Opie’s novel ultimately subjugates Adeline to patriarchal, domesticized norms or opens the possibility of future hope for change.)

What Else Have I Read?

With the extraordinary costs of buying books, many of the versions I use are available for free online using resources such as Gutenberg, Archive , and HathiTrust. If you’re interested in reading timeless classics, you might want to check these out–or send me a message to ask about more resources!

Works I have read online for my Part I’s include:


  • 1796: Lewis, Matthew Gregory. The Monk.
  • 1798: Wollstonecraft, Mary. The Wrongs of Woman, or Maria.
  • 1801: Edgeworth, Maria. Belinda.
  • 1812: Edgeworth, Maria. The Absentee.
  • 1814: Scott, Sir Walter. Waverley.
  • 1824: Hogg, James. The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner.


  • Aiken, Anna Letitia (Mrs. Barbauld)
  • Smith, Charlotte
  • Blake, William
  • Wordsworth, William
  • Coleridge, Samuel Taylor


  • 1757: Burke, Edmund. A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of our Ideas on the Sublime and Beautiful.
  • 1790: Burke, Edmund. Reflections on the Revolution in France.
  • 1791: Paine, Thomas. The Rights of Man.
  • 1792: Wollstonecraft, Mary. Vindication of the Rights of Woman.
  • 1793: More, Hannah. Village Politics.
  • 1798: Edgeworth, Maria. Practical Education.
  • 1800-3: Wordsworth, Dorothy. Selections from the Grasmere Journals.
  • 1804: Edgeworth, Maria. The Grateful Negro.
  • 1821: DeQuincey, Thomas. Confessions of an English Opium-Eater.


  • 1973: Abrams, M.H. Natural Supernaturalism: Tradition and Revolution in Romantic Literature. New York: W.W. Norton & Company,
  • 1982     Butler, Marilyn. Romantics, Rebels, and Reactionaries: English Literature and Its Background, 1760-1830. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1982.

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