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’Cat in the Stacks: A Little Creative Inspiration, Courtesy of Ariel Levy

CAT-STAX4I’m William Repetto, a second-year graduate student at Villanova University. This is the “‘Cat in the Stacks” column. I’m your ‘cat. I’ll be posting about college life, about learning and growing here at Villanova, and, of course, about the Falvey Memorial Library’s role.


Yesterday evening, Ariel Levy visited Falvey’s Speaker’s Corner. She talked at length about her new book The Rules Do Not Apply and her writing process generally. I myself had just read The Rules Do Not Apply in preparation for her visit and have one selection that I’d like to focus on for this week’s ’Cat in the Stacks.

Levy speaks in front of a jam-packed Speakers’ Corner.

Early on in the memoir, before describing her rise to prominence as an author, her miscarriage, and her difficult marriage, Levy posits, “Daring to think that the rules do not apply is the mark of a visionary. It’s also a symptom of narcissism.” I wanted to take some time to dwell on this quote because of it’s powerful message for me as a graduating student, for undergraduates, and for Falvey Memorial Library.

I’ve always seen myself as transgressing the normal “rules” laid down for our generation of college students; instead of majoring in business or communication as an undergrad, I chose to study history, English and French – they seem so “antiestablishment” somehow. I decided early on that I’d study what I really enjoy, not what might have the best material payoff. Overlaying Levy’s quote on my own life, I’ve come to realize in the last year or two that coloring outside the lines requires knowing how to color first.

Allow me to explain in terms of the undergraduate experience. Whether you major in marketing, religious studies, English or engineering, you have probably thought of how to make it on your own, to discard the rules and live on your own terms. Well, Levy’s quote – and indeed her career – shows us that this lifestyle is possible, BUT, if we come at it from the wrong angle, we may seem to all the world like narcissists. We have to learn the foundation of our field before we can construct something entirely new, something visionary.

Levy was even nice enough to leave some writerly advice in my copy of her book!

So, Villanova has become one step in your journey toward “daring to think outside of the rules.” With your liberal arts education, you’ve become prepared to tackle some of the biggest challenges of our time – where do you go next? Enter Falvey Memorial Library. Within the databases and stacks, you’ll find the mastery you’re looking for; in the Idea Accelerator, you’ll find a staff of thinkers ready to help you shape your thoughts. Here, we will all team together not to make you rich but to enrich your humanistic ideas.


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Article by William Repetto, a graduate assistant in the Communication and Marketing Dept. at the Falvey Memorial Library. He is currently pursuing an MA in English at Villanova University.


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Last Modified: April 26, 2018