Would You Rather? | Book Tag

It’s time for another tag! I always loved playing would you rather as a kid, so I was super excited when I discovered that the Would You Rather Book Tag actually exists. Thanks so much to Bridget @ Bridget & Books for tagging me!!

Rather read only a series or stand-alone books?

When I was younger my answer to this question definitely would have been series, but nowadays I find that the majority of the books I read are stand-alones. (Probably because I read many more classics now, which tend to not be series.)

Rather read a book whose main character is male or female?

To be honest, the gender of the character doesn’t really matter to me so long as the character is well-developed, interesting, and has depth. But for the sake of this question I’ll go with a female main character because I can relate with them more easily.

Rather shop only at Barnes & Noble (or other actual bookstores) or Amazon?

I definitely prefer shopping at physical bookstores than online (although usually online prices are cheaper). You just can’t replicate the experience of leisurely strolling through towering shelves and being able to pick up books and check them out before actually purchasing them.

A rare photo of my brother in front of my favorite local independent bookshop.

Rather all books become movies or TV shows?

Movies! If all books became TV shows I would never have time to watch all of them… I’m so bad with keep up with series like that!

Rather read 5 pages per day or read 5 books per week?

5 books per week, so long as I could find the time to do so. Think of how many books I could read in a year!!

Rather be a professional book reviewer or author?

Oooh, interesting question!! I would rather be a professional author because it has always been my dream to write and publish a book. It would feel absolutely amazing to finally achieve that goal!

Rather only read the same 20 books over and over or get to read a new book every 6 months?

Okay, I think I found a loophole to this question. I would rather read a new book every six months if it meant that I could only reread books in between… that’s allowed, right?!

Rather be a librarian or own a bookstore?

Probably own a bookstore because I think it would be really fun to pick out gorgeous editions of books.

Rather only read your favorite genre or your favorite author?

Favorite genre because that would probably also include my favorite author (in my case, the genre would likely be classic literature)

Rather only read physical books or ebooks?

PHYSICAL!!! I can’t even remember the last time I read an ebook.

What are your answers to these questions? What do you think of mine? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

TO THE LIGHTHOUSE by Virginia Woolf | Review

Months ago when I was choosing what tutorials I’d like to take at Oxford I asked my roommate if she knew anything about Virginia Woolf. She said that she had a really interesting life, particularly the circumstances of her death (she committed suicide and left a note). Based on my roommate’s vague interest alone I decided to take an entire term on Woolf and her writing… without having read anything by her myself. (Look at me being academically spontaneous.) Of course, I had heard mountains of praise about her famous works such as A Room of One’s Own and Mrs. Dalloway, but I knew nothing about her writing style at all.

Eager to brush up on Woolf before heading to Oxford, I decided that she would be one of my priority authors to read this summer. I arbitrarily started with To the Lighthouse solely because it was the only Woolf novel in my local public library. (A discovery that made me stare at the shelf angrily and promise that if I ever win the lottery I will most definitely donate money to this bookish abode.)

+ Stream of consciousness writing style. The first thing that struck me while reading this novel was the stream of consciousness style used. Little introduction is given of the characters, setting, or general premise of the story in the beginning; rather, the reader is thrown head first into a sea of thoughts and worries and hopes that one must wade through in order to understand the story as a whole. Woolf also writes via a variety of perspectives, each one focusing on the inner workings of a specific character. A major strength of this novel is the way Woolf uses this stream of consciousness style to seamlessly flow from one focal point to the next. The transitions are nearly imperceptible in the sense that you don’t even realize they have occurred until you’re already reading in the perspective of a different character.

+ Lily Briscoe. I knew that Lily would become my favorite character from the first time she was mentioned. Her position outside of the Ramsay family makes her perspective one of the most interesting and important views in the novel. I couldn’t help feeling an emotional connection with Lily as she yearns for the support and love of others. She views the Ramsay family as an idealized symbol of love and perfect unity; however, the other perspectives reveal a very different reality. Lily is a constant throughout the entire novel, much like the lighthouse itself. Even when time passes and certain characters come and go, Lily is always there with her painting, optimism, and fascinating introspection. She is both feminine and independent, a contrasting figure to Mrs. Ramsay.

+ The lighthouse. Ah, the lighthouse. It’s the common thread running through the entire novel, that elusive destination so greatly desired by Mrs. Ramsays’s children and so persistently avoided by Mr. Ramsay. The continual emphasis on visiting the lighthouse reminds me of Jay Gatsby looking out across the sound in The Great Gatsby, reaching towards that green light that embodied everything he had been working towards his entire life. Like the romanticized idea of the “American Dream” that Gatsby desires, the lighthouse represents a sort of unattainable end goal. When James finally reaches the lighthouse after years of wanting to visit it, he realizes that it cannot compare to the lighthouse he envisioned as a child. It is interesting to see everyone’s relationship to the lighthouse as the novel progresses, especially in the final section of the novel.

Overall, To the Lighthouse randomly happened to be a great introduction to Virginia Woolf’s writing. This is a captivating, fascinating, thought-provoking novel that sparks endless discussion points with its many intriguing themes. I’m so glad I took my roommate’s advice and chose to study Woolf for a term in Oxford. Hopefully I can read more of her work this summer!

Would I recommend it to a friend?: Yes! I think this is a great Woolf novel to pick up even if you’ve never read anything written by her before.

What are your thoughts on To the Lighthouse? What Woolf novel should I read next? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Top Ten Tuesday: How to Read More

Happy Tuesday!! The bloggers behind The Broke and the Bookish are taking a quick break from hosting Top Ten Tuesdays this summer, so I thought I would continue on in the meantime with some topics of my own. Recently someone asked me a question I’ve been asked a million times: How do you read so much? Usually my response is something along the lines of: “…I just do?” However, today I’m going to actually answer this question by sharing my Top Ten Ways to Read More. (Spoiler alert: the last reason is the most important!!)

1 || Carry a book with you. This is one of the most important and effective ways to read more because you simply can’t read if you don’t have a book with you. There are so many hidden pockets of reading time throughout the day, from sitting in waiting rooms and taking public transportation to lunch breaks and random bits of downtime between appointments or meetings.

2 || Listen to audio books. Though I would much rather read a paper book than listen to a recording, I must admit that audio books are a golden key to optimizing reading time. I know people who drive, cook, clean, and exercise all while listening to audio books. Just think of how many books they must go through in an average week!

3 || Designate reading time. If you’re anything like me, you thrive on structure, routines, and schedules. I find it helpful to set aside certain times for reading, such as before going to sleep or when I have a free Sunday afternoon. This doesn’t have to be a daily occurrence; rather, it could be as simple as deciding to read for an hour instead of watching Netflix on a Wednesday night after dinner.

4 || Set realistic, achievable goals. Telling yourself you’ll be able to finish the entirety of Tolstoy’s War and Peace in one night and still have time to paint your nails before bed is probably not the most realistic goal to set. (Unless you can actually do this, then by all means LET ME KNOW YOUR SECRETS.) Instead, set yourself small goals that can be achieved fairly quickly and easily. I usually like to do this by focusing on chapters or page numbers.

5 || Find a reading buddy. For those of you who work best alongside others, find someone or a group of people to read with. Book clubs are great for helping you read more: not only do they hold you accountable for reading on a regular basis, but they also spread enthusiasm and a contagious bookish excitement. A reading buddy could also just be someone you talk to about books occasionally or even a fellow blogger

6 || Take breaks. This might sound counterintuitive, but hear me out. As with any activity, it’s possible to feel burnt out after reading so much. When you feel a reading slump coming on, do yourself a favor and set the books aside for a while. Sometimes all you need is some time away from the page to recharge your bookworm batteries. Then you’ll be ready to read even more!

7 || Be aware of time and space. Where do you feel the most comfortable reading? Are you an early bird or night owl? Knowing when and where you prefer to read will only better the chances that you’ll be focused and engaged in what you’re reading when you finally curl up with a book. For instance, my favorite reading spot is outside on a sunny day or in this particular cozy chair in my living room on a cold night.

8 || Read in bed… at your own risk. I’ve always loved reading before bed, but I do admit that it’s not always the most productive reading time ever. Sometimes I fall asleep, sometimes I get tired and head to bed early after reading only a chapter or two, sometimes I’m sitting in a position that makes taking notes awkward… This is really up to personal preference, but I’ve found that if I solely rely on time before bed to read I usually get very little reading time during the week.

9 || Get rid of distractions. I’m sure we’ve all experienced the temptation to sneak a peek at your phone, check your inbox, or even take a scroll through Tumblr in the midst of reading. There’s nothing wrong with taking breaks to do these things… unless your goal is to get more reading done! To prevent being distracted, try putting your phone on silent or at least shutting off most notifications if you’re sitting down to read for a bit.

10 || Make reading a priority. To be honest, I think this is the single most important and effective rule on this list. If reading is a priority in your life as a hobby you’re bound to do it more often. The real reason I’m able to read so much is because I want to, so I do. Some people spend their free time binge-watching Orange is the New Black on Netflix or watch streams of hilarious cat videos on Youtube, other people enjoy painting or running or dancing or playing soccer—I choose to spend the majority of my free time reading.

What are your tips for reading more? What do you think of the advice I’ve given here? Have you ever been asked how you read so much? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Booktube-A-Thon 2017 TBR

HAPPY BOOKTUBE-A-THON TIME! The Booktube-a-thon is an annual event hosted by Ariel Bissett that encourages people to read as much as they can in seven days. Packed with challenges, giveaways, and fun videos, the Booktubeathon is guaranteed to be a blast! This year the Booktube-a-thon is taking place from July 24th to July 30th. (That’s right: it officially starts TODAY!) If you haven’t heard of the Booktube-a-thon before or you want to learn more about it, you can check out the official Youtube channel, Twitter account, or this new website.

Copy of June

Each year there are challenges you can choose to participate in that will help guide your TBR for the week. This year the challenges are:

1 || Read a book with a person on the cover.
2 || Read a hyped book.
3 || Finish a book in one day.
4 || Read about a character that is very different from you.
5 || Finish a book completely outdoors.
6 || Read a book you bought because of the cover.
7 || Read seven books.

I can say with certainty that I won’t be reading seven books this week, but I’m going to do my best to complete as many of the other challenges as possible.

Copy of June-2

Because I have SO MUCH reading to do this summer for my courses in the fall, my TBR will be mostly assigned reading. However, I think I might have a little wiggle room to squeeze in some extra ones!

The Women in White by Wilkie Collins

{Read about a character that is very different from you}

This is the book I’m currently reading for my upcoming tutorial on British Literature from 1830-1910. I’ve already started reading it and I’m really liking it so far. It’s sensation fiction, which preceded what is now the mystery or detective novel. I’m definitely not from nineteenth century England, so this classic is perfect for this challenge.

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

{Read a hyped book}

War and Peace is one of the most hyped classics I’ve ever heard of (the length! the huge cast of characters! the complicated story!). This summer I’m reading it for a War and Peace Newbie Read-along, which means that I have to keep up with our weekly reading amounts. I definitely won’t be finishing this tome during the Booktube-A-Thon, but I’ll be happy if I can get through this week’s reading amount.

Echo by Nadette Rae Rodgers

{Read a book with a person on the cover.}

Recently I received a copy of this sequel to Nadette Rae Rodgers’ novel Illusion in the mail and I can’t wait to read it! Thanks again to Nadette for sending me this ARC!

George’s Marvelous Medicine by Roald Dahl

{Finish a book in one day, finish a book completely outdoors, read a book you bought because of the cover}

Roald Dahl’s books are perfect for when you need a break from assigned reading (or when you have to complete reading challenges like these!). This summer I’m trying to read the Roald Dahl books I never read as a kid and this one is next on my list. Everything he writes is brilliant so I’m really looking forward to reading about George’s adventures!

I’ll be posting a wrap-up of my Booktube-a-thon experience at the end of the week, so be sure to stay tuned! Also, if you want to stay up to date more regularly with my progress you can follow me on Twitter (@peanutfreeismeand Instagram (nutfreenerd).

Are you participating in the Booktube-a-thon? What are you planning to read this week? Let me know in the comments section below!

Whether or not you’re participating in the Booktube-a-thon, I hope you have a lovely week! Happy reading! ❤

Yours,

HOLLY

I Visited Willa Cather’s Grave

One day while reading a short bio of Willa Cather I stumbled upon the fact that she’s buried in Jaffrey, New Hampshire, only an hour and a half from where I live.

As you can imagine, I was ecstatic.

I was shocked when I learned she’s buried in NH because I knew she was born in Virginia and raised in Nebraska. Though she died in Manhattan, she asked to be buried in Jeffrey because apparently it was where she wrote a lot of her novels. She’s buried there with Edith Lewis, the woman she lived with for decades.

The sign on the Meeting House in Jaffrey, NH.

Recently my mom and I made the trek to Jaffrey to see the grave in person. She’s buried in the Old Burial Ground behind the Meeting House, which is a really beautiful old building in and of itself. When we pulled into the dirt parking lot on that rainy Friday morning we weren’t quite sure where we were headed, but fortunately we easily found her grave site because it’s in a corner near a stone wall (which we had to hop). The burial ground itself was actually kind of beautiful, even though that might sound weird. There were so many old, weathered headstones in all kinds of shapes and sizes. Part of me wanted to just stroll through it row by row and take it all in, but the rain encouraged us to be quick to avoid getting completely soaked. I was almost glad it was raining because it made the day feel cozy, peaceful, and even sort of eerie.

When we finally arrived at her headstone I couldn’t help but gasp. There she was. There’s a great quote from My Ántonia on Cather’s headstone, which made me so happy because I love that book immensely. There were also a bunch of rocks and pennies on her grave, most likely from others who admire her work as well.

I was definitely the happiest person in this burial graveyard (and the only person besides my mom).

Standing in front of Willa Cather’s grave was surreal. Too often it can feel as though authors are these untouchable, legendary figures who live on forever through the pages of their work. While visiting a grave like this it’s impossible to not feel a wave of realization wash over you: this woman was human, with hopes and dreams and flaws and desires just like the rest of us. Though I sometimes like to believe that the books I love hold a sort of elevated notion of truth and meaning that emanates from their spines, it’s important to remember that these texts were written by people just like us. Writers exist beyond their work, which is easy to forget when you’re engrossed in their stories and captivated by their words. Visiting Cather’s grave made everything feel much more real, tangible, and within reach.

Needless to say, I want to read everything that Willa Cather has ever written now, even more so than I did before. I’m so happy I had the opportunity to visit such an interesting piece of literary history— it’s definitely a place I would visit again in the future!

Have you ever visited the grave sites of your favorite authors? (Also, how weird is that question out of context?!) Do you have a favorite novel or short story by Willa Cather? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Rapid Fire Book Tag

Got some tea and a snack or two? Buckle up, because this Rapid Fire Book Tag is a long one! Thanks so much to Heather @ Book and Words for tagging me!!

Question 1 : E-Book or Physical Book?

Physical book!! I can’t even remember the last time I read an ebook.

Question 2 : Paperback or Hardback?

Paperback!! They’re easier to hold, lighter to carry, fit easily on bookshelves, and you don’t have to worry about pesky dust jackets.

Question 3 : Online or In-Store Book Shopping?

Online shopping for the cheaper prices, but in-store book shopping for the overall experiences and lovely bookish smells.

Question 4 : Trilogies or Series?

Hmm…. this is a tough one! I think I’ll go with series to avoid the second-book slump that a lot of trilogies tend to have. (Except for Lord of the Rings because I absolutely love The Two Towers!)

Question 5 : Heroes or Villains?

Heroes!! I’m a sucker for an underdog story, though I do enjoy books with anti-heroes. My favorite anti-hero to mention is Victor from Vicious by V.E. Schwab. He’s such a complex, interesting character to read about because you never know what he’s going to do next.

Question 6 : A book you want everyone to read?

If you branch out and read one book you wouldn’t normally read this summer, definitely read Sartoris by William Faulkner. This is possibly my favorite Faulkner book I’ve read so far, which surprised me because it isn’t one that’s usually discussed or read in English classes. It might not be as popular as The Sound and the Fury or As I Lay Dying, but in my opinion it is just as fascinating, poignant, well-written, and brilliant!

Question 7 : Recommend an underrated book?

If you’re a fan of historical fiction, look no further than Life After Life by Kate Atkinson. This story about a woman who relives parts of her life over and over again in different ways is sure to have you on the edge of your seat!

Question 8 : The last book you finished?

Just this morning I finished reading The Road by Cormac McCarthy. It was SO SAD, but I enjoyed it much more than I initially thought I would.

Question 9 :The Last Book(s) You Bought?

The Road by Cormac McCarthy.

Question 10 : Weirdest Thing You’ve Used as a Bookmark?

Usually I’m pretty good about using actual bookmarks, but occasionally I do use receipts, sticky notes, and even string (!!) as placeholders.

Question 11 : Used Books: Yes or No?

YES!! I love used books because a) they’re cheap and b) sometimes they have fun notes and annotations from previous owners in them. Also, who can resist than old book smell?

Question 12 : Top Three Favourite Genres?

Right now my top three favorite genres are classic literature, fantasy, and science fiction.

Question 13 : Borrow or Buy?

Buy!! (As long as my wallet is able.)

Question 14 : Characters or Plot?

Characters!! In general I tend to find character-driven novels a lot more interesting and captivating than novels mostly motivated by plot. Part of me thinks this is because it can be really difficult to write a plot without holes and with a satisfying ending. William Faulkner, Willa Cather, Virginia Woolf, and Melina Marchetta are some writers who write excellent character-driven novels. 

Question 15 : Long or Short Books?

Long books!! There’s nothing like the feeling of finally finishing a tome after hours upon hours dedicated to reading. It’s so satisfying!

Question 16 : Long or Short Chapters?

Short!! I tend to read books with short chapters so much more quickly than books with long chapters because it’s easy to say, “Oh, just one more quick chapter before I go to bed…”

Question 17 : Name The First Three Books You Think Of…

Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley, and The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky.

Question 18 : Books That Makes You Laugh or Cry?

Laugh!! I usually try to avoid sad books (and movies!) at all costs. Who wants to be sad when they can read something that will make their day brighter?

Question 19 : Our World or Fictional Worlds?

Oooh, this is tough! Though I love reading books about fictional worlds (Harry Potter, LOTR, etc.), lately I’ve been reading many more books set in our world. I think some of the most interesting and captivating stories mix the two. For instance, One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez takes place in our world but adds in magical elements from legends and myths that make it fantastical. 

Question 20 : Audiobooks: Yes or No?

Yes!! I love how much you can get done while listening to audio books– exercising, doing laundry, washing dishes, knitting, etc. My favorite audio books are ones narrated by the authors who wrote the books themselves, such as Neil Gaiman.

Question 21 : Do You Ever Judge a Book by its Cover?

Yes, though I certainly won’t hold an ugly cover against a book if the content inside is amazing ❤

Question 22 : Book to Movie or Book to TV Adaptations?

Book to movie adaptations! I’m the worst with staying up to date with TV series, so I would much rather watch a single movie and be in the know already.

Question 23 : A Movie or TV-Show You Preferred to its Book?

The Shining by Stephen King. I watched the movie before reading the book and was so disappointed to find that some of my favorite scenes aren’t even in the novel!

Question 24 : Series or Standalone’s?

Stand-alones!! I love reading classic literature, and most of the books in this genre are standalone.

Thanks again to Heather for tagging me!!

What are your answers to these questions? What do you think of mine? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

EMMA by Jane Austen | Review

Last year I saw the movie Clueless, a comedy based on Jane Austen’s classic novel Emma, for the first time. My immediate reaction was: I need to read this book.

Set in Austen’s Victorian England, this novel follows Emma as she attempts to set her new friend Harriet up with a suitable man to marry. Caught up in the strict social conventions of the time, Emma goes through all the hoops necessary in order to make the perfect match… or so she believes. As each potential match flickers out before her eyes, she comes to realize that perhaps she’s been looking the wrong place all along.

It’s clear that Emma has the potential to possess all of the qualities that Austenites admire Jane’s books for having: humor, wit, charm, and a swoon-worthy romance. Unfortunately, I feel as though this novel misses the mark on these characteristics. Had the story been written with a slightly more agreeable protagonist, romantic interest, or ending, it would have made for a much more pleasurable read.

I guess my main problem with this novel is that I just couldn’t get past Emma’s annoying, oblivious, uppity personality. I’m sure this is the point of her character—we’re probably not supposed to like her—but where’s the enjoyment in that? Annoying protagonists are one of my biggest pet peeves, especially when there isn’t much going on besides their inner thoughts. Emma does undergo some character development towards the end of the story and begins to acknowledge that perhaps social classes aren’t as important in marriages as she once believed; however, this slight change was not enough to justify putting the reader through hundreds of pages to get to that point. I know this is a personal preference and is therefore really subjective, but my inability to relate with Emma ended up being a huge reason why this novel didn’t really click with me.

Harriet, on the other hand, was a character I connected with quickly and easily; it’s a shame that she doesn’t play a greater role overall. I’ve also been the girl who looks to others for relationship advice, the girl who feels heartbroken and a bit manipulated by others as they play their own twisted games. I think we can all relate with Harriet in some sense or at the very least feel sympathy for her as she is lead astray by Emma time and time and time again. Poor Harriet!

Overall, I have very mixed feelings about Emma. While I understand the point Austen is trying to make (social classes shouldn’t matter in marriages, the social conventions of the time period were ridiculous, etc.), I couldn’t get past Emma’s irritating, know-it-all personality. There were certainly moments when I laughed and admired Austen’s wit and charm, but it’s safe to say that this definitely isn’t my favorite Austen novel.

What are your thoughts on Emma? Which Jane Austen novel is your favorite? Which one should I read next? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Top Ten Tuesday: Reasons to Love Your Library

Happy Tuesday! Since the lovely bloggers behind The Broke and the Bookish are taking a summer hiatus from creating TTT topics, I’ve decided to come up with some of my own for the next few weeks. This week I’ll be sharing my Top Ten Reasons to Love Your Library. As someone who worked at a library throughout my high school years I always look forward to visiting my local one on a regular basis during the summertime. I know everyone has their own personal preferences when it comes to the formats of books they like to read (new, used, borrowed, digital, etc.) but I really think that libraries deserve more credit than they often receive! Here are ten reasons to give your local library a little more love:

1. Borrowing books = FREE. This is an obvious reason, but for many people I think it’s the most important one. I could never afford to buy all of the books I read because that number is just way too high.

2. Variety. Borrowing books from libraries allows me to read as much as I like without having to worrying about wasting money on a book that I might end up not enjoying. You can also check out audio books, DVDs, etc.

3. Convenience. I don’t know about you all, but the nearest bookstore is about half an hour away from the tiny town I live in. That’s the great thing about local libraries—mine is literally three minutes from my house!

4. Cuteness. Who doesn’t love seeing a bunch of adorable kiddos running around the kids’ room all excited about books?

5. Programming. Most libraries have some sort of programming going on, especially during summer when kids are out of school. Even though my local library is super tiny they still hold a lot of fun events like ice cream socials, book clubs, presentations from cool speakers, craft projects, etc.

6. That old book smell. Okay, I know this is a weird reason but just hear me out. You know sort of musty smell that books get with age? I love that smell, and my local library is full of it.

7. Spontaneous reading. Some of the best books I’ve ever read have been ones that I’ve randomly plucked from the shelves of the library. One example of this is Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta, which I picked up on a whim one day in middle school because it seemed interesting. It is now one of my all-time favorite books and I definitely wouldn’t have read it without seeing it on a library shelf!

8. Librarians. Librarians are the best. Not only are they super helpful when you need to find a book, but they also give the best recommendations. (Shout out to my high school librarian!!)

9. Finding things in books! This is another weird reason, but I’ve found so many cool things in books I’ve borrowed from the library. My favorites have been stickers, random notes, and those due date cards that we don’t use anymore.

10. Community. One of my favorite things about going to my local library is catching up with my former coworkers. Even if you haven’t worked at your local library there is nearly always a vibrant, friendly community of book lovers to be found there! Between book clubs, events, and general discussion at the circulation desk, there are plenty of opportunities to socialize with other bookworms.

Do you use libraries a lot? Why or why not? What are your favorite things about libraries? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

MATILDA as a Feminist Text | Discussion

While reading Matilda for the first time ever recently (gasp!), I loved how Roald Dahl places such an emphasis on gender equality in the story. If we consider feminism to be defined as equality between all genders, I would argue that this lovely children’s book is a strong example of a feminist text. Here are 5 quotes that help illustrate this point:

“Matilda said, “Never do anything by halves if you want to get away with it. Be outrageous. Go the whole hog. Make sure everything you do is so completely crazy it’s unbelievable…”

This quote depicts girls as active agents in their own lives rather than the passive, conforming subjects that they are often portrayed as in literature.

“A girl should think about making herself look attractive so she can get a good husband later on. Looks is more important than books, Miss Hunky…”
“The name is Honey,” Miss Honey said.
“Now look at me,” Mrs Wormwood said. “Then look at you. You chose books. I chose looks.”

Here Roald Dahl takes a feminist stance by making Matilda’s awful mother possess a misogynistic mindset. This obviously shines a negative light on such prejudice against women by showing how ridiculous it sounds, especially coming from Mrs. Wormwood. By this point in the story, the reader knows that Miss Honey is a kind, smart, lovely individual who is both beautiful and intelligent. In other words, there’s no such thing as having to choose between “looks” and “books”!!

“I’m afraid men are not always quite as clever as they think they are. You will learn that when you get a bit older, my girl.”

I think the message is pretty clear with this one: men are not the only clever ones!

“Being very small and very young, the only power Matilda had over anyone in her family was brain-power.”

Probably my favorite thing about Matilda as a character is that she is a role model for everyone who feels ostracized by a desire to learn and be smart. Here Roald Dahl asserts that intelligence is power– just because one is disadvantaged in other ways doesn’t mean you can’t fight back with words and ideas and wit. Taken even further, one could argue that this also applies to feminism: just because someone is viewed as inferior for being a woman doesn’t mean they can’t challenge this adversity with brain-power. 

“All the reading she had done had given her a view of life they had never seen.”

This might be my favorite quote of the entire book. When I came across it while reading I literally stopped and reread the same line five or six times because I think it perfectly encapsulates one of the most important values of reading. Reading teaches us empathy, something imperative to understanding and accepting everyone around us. If more people read and had empathy, then perhaps feminism would be embodied by everyone.

The fact that this children’s book has such a strong, smart, independent female protagonist is so important for all readers, but especially younger ones. Characters like bookish Hermione Granger and clever Nancy Drew had such a huge impact on me when I was younger and I know that Matilda would have done the same if I had read this book as child. This is just one of the many reasons why Matilda is truly an incredible book!

Would you consider Matilda to be a feminist text? What are your thoughts on what constitutes a “feminist text” in general? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag | 2017

Can you believe that 2017 is already half way over??? I’m still not used to how far along we are in the twenty-first century. Every time someone mentions the 90s my first thought is “Ah, yes, that decade ten years ago.” But that is NOT THE CASE and it’s kind of scary… Anyways, thanks so much to Inside My Library Mind for tagging me in this Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag!!

1. Best book you’ve read so far in 2017?

Must we start with the most difficult question ever??? I’ve read so many great books this year that choosing just one is really hard, so I’m going to go with two: How to Ruin Everything by George Watsky and Sartoris by William Faulkner. (Could you get two more opposite books??)

2. Best sequel you’ve read so far in 2017?

I actually don’t think I’ve read any sequels this year!

3. New release you haven’t read yet, but want to.

When I heard that John Green was releasing a new book this fall I literally squealed in delight, surprise, and excitement. ANOTHER JOHN GREEN BOOK, PEOPLE. From what he’s shared about the basic premise of Turtles All the Way Down it promises to be an entertaining, thought-provoking, and story about adolescence, mental illness, and life. October can’t come soon enough!!!

4. Most anticipated release for the second half of the year.

I’m honestly not very up to date with new releases for the second half of 2017, so I don’t think I have an answer to this question.

5. Biggest disappointment.

How To Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran. This was the first book I read (listened to, actually) in 2017 and I was so disappointed by it. I disagreed with many of her points and was frustrated by her tendency to focus on problems that were fairly tedious and insignificant compared with the more serious issues that some women have to deal with on a regular basis. The potential was there for this to be a great book, but in the end I just don’t think it was executed as well as it could have been.

6. Biggest surprise.

Sartoris by William Faulkner. Unexpectedly, this may be my favorite Faulkner novel that I’ve read thus far. I had never heard of it before taking a closer look at the Faulkner section of my local library because usually people stick with his most well-known texts (The Sound and the Fury, As I Lay Dying, etc.). Sartoris is under-rated, under-appreciated, and certainly deserves to be read by a wider audience!

7. Favorite new author. (Debut or new to you)

E.M. Forster. I read his novel A Room with a View earlier this year and was absolutely enthralled by it. Not only is his writing beautiful, but the novel was incredibly thought-provoking and captivating. I look forward to reading more of his writing!

8. Newest fictional crush.

Vincent from On the Other Side by Carrie Hope Fletcher. Not only is Vincent incredibly musically gifted, but he’s also sweet, thoughtful, loyal, caring… what more could you want? This entire book is adorable and romantic in general– I definitely recommend it if you’re in the mood for something really sweet, captivating, and heartwarming .

9. Newest favorite character.

Matilda from Matilda by Roald Dahl. I really wish I had read this book when I was younger because I think Matilda’s character would have really resonated with me. Younger Holly would have been thrilled to read about a bookworm like myself who triumphed over obstacles against all odds. Matilda is such an important character for children to read about, both as a bookish hero as well as a strong, clever, independent female character.

10. Book that made you cry.

Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur. Though I didn’t physically cry while reading this poetry collection, I did feel emotional and sense tears welling up in my eyes at times. Rupi Kaur’s poetry is raw, honest, and beautiful. I highly recommend this collection!

11. Book that made you happy.

Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl. I never read this book when I was a kid (are we sensing a trend here?) but I definitely wish I had because it’s SO FUN. I couldn’t help but smile all the way through this creative, hilarious, adorable book. Roald Dahl is the best! Also, now I really want to watch the movie adaptation directed by Wes Anderson. I’ve heard really great things about it!

12. Most beautiful book you’ve bought so far this year (or received)

How to Ruin Everything by George Watsky. I love everything about this cover design– the color, the simple design of handwriting on a solid background, and the way it’s messy but not overwhelmingly so. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve photographed this book (although looking at my bookstagram will give you a pretty good idea). This is one of my favorite books that I’ve read so far this year, so I would highly recommend it!!

13. What books do you need to read by the end of the year?

SO MANY. A novel I’m hoping to read by the end of the summer is Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe. I’ve been meaning to read this book for ages but for some reason I just haven’t gotten around to it.

14. Favorite Book Community Member (Blogger, Booktuber and Bookstagrammer)

Ahhh, there are so many!!! I love each and every one of you from the bottom of my heart ❤ For the sake of this tag, I’m going to give a shoutout to:

  • Shar & Shanti @ Virtually Read. Not only do Shar and Shanti post thought-provoking, creative content on they’re blog, but they’re also both incredibly kind individuals. They leave the most thoughtful comments that always make me happy. If you haven’t checked out their blog, definitely do so!! ❤
  • Ariel Bissett. Ariel has been my favorite booktuber for YEARS. A smile immediately lights up my face every time I see that she has posted a new video because they always manage to brighten my day. I love her bubbly, enthusiastic personality and knack for creating content that’s simultaneously thought-provoking, creative, and entertaining.
  • Resh Susan (@thebooksatchel). I love her book blog, but I especially look forward to the photos she posts on bookstagram. They’re beautifully shot and always contain the most gorgeous editions of books. ❤

How was your reading in the month of #may? Time for a #wrapup. – – 5⭐️ : The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy (love the lyrical prose and choice of words) 5⭐️ : Anna Karenina by Tolstoy (loved minute observations of life in Russia & character sketches) 4.5⭐️ : The Dark Circle by Linda Grant (made me feel fortunate for medical advancements. Written in a stream of consciousness style) 4⭐️ : First Love by Gwendine Riley (imperfect lives and flawed characters told in minimal words) 4⭐️ : Lord Edgware dies by Agatha Christie (kept me on toes guessing the killer) 4⭐️ : The Muse by Jessie Burton ( moderate pace, predictable but enjoyable) 3.5⭐️ : Effi Briest by Theodor Fontane (beautifully written story of a marriage between a young wife and older husband) 3.5⭐️ : Mr Tibbit's Catholic school (charming boarding school stories and nuances of headmasters) : : What was your favourite book of the month? : : #bookworm#maywrapup #thebooksatchelwrapup #coffee #booksbooksbooks #books

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I hope you’ve had a great first half of 2017 and that the second half is even better! ❤

What are your answers to these questions? What do you think of mine? How has your 2017 been so far? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY