Sherlock Holmes Museum | Holly Goes Abroad

My mother and I have been fans of Sherlock Holmes–both in book and BBC form–for years, so visiting the Sherlock Holmes Museum was high on our list of priorities for our trip to London. Located at the actual address of 221B Baker Street, the Sherlock Holmes Museum was founded in 1990 as an homage to the famous fictional detective created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The museum is currently run by a non-profit organization called the Sherlock Holmes Society of England and is located in an actual Georgian town house.

The Sherlock Holmes Museum may be small, but it is packed with objects dating back to the time when Sherlock Holmes and John Watson would have been alive. There are several rooms to explore, including the iconic living room, Holmes’s bedroom, and various other spaces filled with knickknacks and unexpected artifacts. One floor of the museum is nearly entirely dedicated to wax figures of characters from the Sherlock Holmes stories, as shown by the photo below of Holmes and Watson. (As someone who is not a fan of wax figures–they’re so creepy!–it’s safe to say that I didn’t spend much time on that floor.) The tour of the museum is a mix of guided time with speakers that tell you about the artifacts as well as time for you to explore on your own.

After exploring this museum, it’s easy to forget that Sherlock Holmes wasn’t actually a real person. The tour guides are careful to explain that while the objects are from the time that Sherlock Holmes would have been doing detective work in London, they obviously were not owned by Sherlock Holmes himself. However, it’s hilarious and so much fun to walk through this museum as though Sherlock and Watson did actually exist. The attention to detail is impressive, as is the effort to incorporate as many references to the Sherlock Holmes stories in these rooms as possible. It makes me want to finish reading all of the stories, which is something I’ve been promising myself for years that I would complete.

While my mom and I had a blast at this museum, I would add in a disclaimer that the rather costly price (fifteen pounds per adult) is only really worth it for avid Sherlock Holmes fans. Without a passion for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s fiction, I can imagine that this museum would appear rather boring and uninteresting to the average person.

All in all, I would highly recommend the Sherlock Holmes Museum to anyone who loves the Sherlock Holmes stories, modern adaptations of the texts, or detective fiction in general. Besides, it’s worth it for a trip to the iconic Baker Street itself! To learn more about the museum, check out their website here. 

Click here to check out other posts in my Holly Goes Abroad series!

Have you ever visited the Sherlock Holmes Museum? Are you a fan of the stories or any modern adaptations of them? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

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Feminist Fridays: Postcolonial Literature, Feminism, and Unexpected Enthusiasm

As of this week I am halfway through my third and final term at Oxford, meaning that by this point I’ve done enough work to form a solid opinion about my Trinity tutorials. Today I’d like to talk about my unexpected enthusiasm for postcolonial literature and how feminist perspectives play a role in reading and discussing this relatively recent field of study.

First, let’s talk about what I mean by postcolonial literature. This is actually a really difficult category to define, largely because it is commonly used to encompass a variety of different writers, texts, and ideas that don’t necessarily belong together. As Paul Brians explains in his article for Washington State University, “Taken literally, the term “postcolonial literature” would seem to label literature written by people living in countries formerly colonized by other nations.” However, he further argues that there are numerous problems with this definition because it can be homogenizing, generalizing, and therefore does not lead to productive and effective discussion of such texts or ideas:

“The more it is examined, the more the postcolonial sphere crumbles. Though Jamaican, Nigerian, and Indian writers have much to say to each other; it is not clear that they should be lumped together. We continue to use the term “postcolonial” as a pis aller, and to argue about it until something better comes along.”

As a relatively new field in academia (it only really started to develop in the US in the 1980s), postcolonial studies is a subject we are still grappling with today. Although it is much more commonly studied at universities now than in the past, it still isn’t as popular or frequently studied as other time periods or kinds of literature. Before coming to Oxford I had never studied this specific area of literature before and had little to no prior knowledge of the history of any of the nations I would be focusing on. When my tutor emailed me during spring break asking what texts I would like to read in the upcoming term, I remember worriedly replying: “I don’t even know where to begin.” Needless to say, I was intimidated, concerned, and convinced that I would be too stressed to even enjoy this tutorial.

As per usual with these kinds of situations, I needn’t have worried at all. 

First of all, I can’t tell you how refreshing it is to study something I have absolutely no experience with. Rather than feeling overwhelmed and bogged down with all of the new information I need to know, I can’t help feel excited and curious to learn even more. As a student who has mainly studied the same time periods and writers over and over and over again (I like modernism, what can I say?), it’s actually exhilarating to be tackling something completely new. There’s only so much T.S. Eliot and Virginia Woolf I can read before I start to ask: “Okay, but what else is out there?” {The answer? SO MUCH.}

Most importantly, the aspect of studying postcolonial literature that I’ve enjoyed the most is analyzing it from a feminist perspective. How does gender play a role in this genre of literature? How does taking gender into consideration change how we think about classic postcolonial texts like Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart? Not only are these questions complicated by differences in languages and time periods, but they are also made more complex by differences in cultures. In her excellent book Feminism Without Borders: Decolonizing Theory, Practicing Solidarity, Chandra Talpade Mohanty denounces Western feminism for characterizing women outside of the Western world as inherently inferior:

“This average Third World woman leads an essentially truncated life based on her feminine gender (read: sexually constrained) and her being ‘Third World’ (read ignorant, poor, uneducated, tradition-bound, domestic, family-orientated, victimized, etc.). This, I suggest, is in contrast to the (implicit) self-representation of Western women as educated, as modern, as having control over their own bodies and sexualities and the freedom to make their own decisions” (Mohanty 22).

These are the kinds of challenging, eye-opening, fascinating questions that studying gender in postcolonial literature forces you to think about in each and every text. The answers are never simple or easy to reach, yet the process of coming to some sort of conclusion in each essay is a mode of learning in itself. There is nothing quite as rewarding as peeling back yet another layer of ignorance or homogeneity in a text to reveal the nuance, specificity, and purpose with which women writers write texts about women, for women. There are so many more voices out there that need to be heard, but we’ll never make any progress if we don’t first start listening to the ones that are slowly but surely trying to break through the masculine cacophony of the literary sphere.

Deciding to take this tutorial on a whim when I first applied to study at Oxford for a year was one of the best decisions I’ve made regarding my tutorial schedule. I can’t wait to see what new ideas the last few weeks of tutorial bring!

Click here to see other Feminist Friday posts!

Is feminism in postcolonial literature a topic you would like me to write more about in the future? Are you interested in hearing more about what I’ve been reading in this tutorial? Have you ever taken a course on postcolonial literature? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

11 Reasons to Read STATION ELEVEN by Emily St. John Mandel

One snowy night a famous Hollywood actor slumps over and dies onstage during a production of King Lear. Hours later, the world as we know it begins to dissolve. Moving back and forth in time-from the actor’s early days as a film star to fifteen years in the future, when a theater troupe known as the Traveling Symphony roams the wasteland of what remains – this suspenseful, elegiac, spellbinding novel charts the strange twists of fate that connect five people: the actor, the man who tried to save him, the actor’s first wife, his oldest friend, and a young actress with the Traveling Symphony, caught in the crosshairs of a dangerous self-proclaimed prophet. {Goodreads}

Station Eleven popped onto my reading radar in 2014 when it was first published, intriguing me with its blend of post-apocalyptic plot, Shakespearian elements, and gorgeous cover design. Years passed and I never got around to reading it–that is, until recently when one of my friends mentioned that it’s one of her favorite books ever… and she had a copy of it with her in Oxford! How could I say no to this golden opportunity? I’m so glad I finally read Station Eleven, and here are 11 reasons why you should, too:

1. A creative twist on a popular genre. It’s no secret that post-apocalypse fiction and storytelling in both books and movies has become much more popular in the last decade or so. However, Mandel has breathed fresh air into this genre by adding a unique, creative twist on what you would usually expect. It doesn’t feel stale at all, which is greatly appreciated.

2. So. Many. Characters. There are so many characters in this book that sometimes it’s hard to keep track; however, I think Mandel does a great job of balancing their perspectives and stories within the context of the rest of the novel. Hearing from so many points of view also keeps the plot moving quickly.

3. Incorporation of different text formats. I love books that include emails, letters, texts, etc. between characters, and Station Eleven is no exception. Not only do they help keep things interesting by switching up the writing style, but they also make the characters seem more realistic.

4. Creepy, eerie, and suspenseful atmosphere. Reading this novel alone in your bedroom at night is sure to make you check under your bed twice before turning off the lights. Even so, I couldn’t put this book down because I was so invested in knowing what would happen next.

5. A gorgeous cover. How could I not give this amazing cover design some time in the spotlight?

6. Shakespearian elements. If you’ve been following my blog for a while (or have seen this post or this post) then you’re probably aware of my love-hate relationship with the Bard. I was worried that you would need actual knowledge of Shakespeare in order to enjoy this story, but fortunately that’s not the case. Still, I did enjoy the whole premise of keeping arts and literature alive in times of utter struggle.

7. Orchestra banter. I played in my school’s orchestra for about ten years growing up (go second violins!) so I really enjoyed the simultaneously witty and cheesy orchestra banter that went on between the members of the Traveling Symphony. Makes me miss my orchestra days!

8. Unsettlingly believable. Some books in this end-of-the-world genre tend to be a little far-fetched and unrealistic; however, I completely believe that some sort of flu like the one in Station Eleven could wipe out the planet some day. Scary!

9. Past, present, and future. Instead of focusing solely on what happens after society has collapsed, a significant portion of this novel takes place in these characters’ pasts, exploring how they got to where they are in the present time of the story. I love this narrative decision because it adds depth to the novel and makes the reader more invested in the characters by learning how far they’ve come up until this point.

10. Character-driven story. Unlike many novels in this genre, Station Eleven is largely driven by characters rather than plot, most likely due in part to the point previously mentioned. This was such a nice surprise!

11. The ending. Since this novel is focused more on characters than plot, the ending tied up many personal loose ends while leaving the plot or the future of the characters rather ambiguous. I thought it perfectly reflected the tone of the rest of the novel.

Have I convinced you to read Station Eleven? Have you already read this novel? What are your thoughts on it? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

A Year of Oxford Reading Lists | Holly Goes Abroad

What do we have here? A Holly Goes Abroad post on a Wednesday?! Indeed. A few weeks ago someone commented asking if I could share all of my required reading lists from my year studying at Oxford, so that’s what I’m going to do today. I’m posting this in the middle of the week because it’s more about books than the traveling aspect itself… besides, I have so many of these abroad posts that I want to write and not enough Sundays to post them on!

Here’s how my required reading works: about a month before each term begins I get reading lists for the primary and secondary tutorials I’ll be taking next (primary meets every week, secondary meets every other). I usually try to read all of those books during my five-week breaks between term because once term begins I’m inundated with mountains of secondary sources (mostly literary criticism articles from JSTOR) which I use to write my weekly essays. Doing so much prep reading is arduous to say the least, but it definitely pays off in the long run because it eases some of the pressure of term-time. To be honest, I don’t know how people survive without doing any prep work at all– especially English lit students!

The following lists are all of the primary texts (mostly novels, but also some essays and poems) I’ve had to read for my tutorials–and yes, I’ve read every. single. one. of. them. (If you’ve wondering how I’ve managed to double my Goodreads reading goal already, this is why.)

Primary: Victorian Literature

  1. Hard Times by Charles Dickens
  2. North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
  3. Alfred Tennyson, Ulysses’
  4. Elizabeth Barrett Browning, ‘The Runaway Slave at Pilgrim’s Point’
  5. Robert Browning ‘Porphyria’s Lover’; ‘Fra Lippo Lippi’
  6. Matthew Arnold, ‘Dover Beach’
  7. Middlemarch by George Eliot
  8. The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
  9. Christina Rossetti, ‘Goblin Market’
  10. DG Rossetti, ‘Jenny’
  11. Augusta Webster ‘A Castaway’
  12. Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights
  13. Henry James, The Turn of the Screw
  14. Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray
  15. Bram Stoker, Dracula
  16. Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness
  17. E.M. Forster, Where Angels Fear to Tread

Secondary: William Faulkner

  1. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
  2. Light in August by William Faulkner
  3. Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner
  4. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
  5. Intruder in the Dust by William Faulkner

Primary: English Literature 1910-Present

  1. Ann Veronica by H.G. Wells
  2. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
  3. Not So Quiet: Stepdaughters of War by Helen Zenna Smith
  4. “Peace” by Rupert Brooke
  5. “Glory to Women” by Siegfried Sassoon
  6. “Anthem for Doomed Youth” by Wilfred Owen
  7. “Dulce et decorum est” by Wilfred Owen
  8. Nightwood by Djuna Barnes
  9. Night by Eli Wiesel
  10. Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin
  11. On Beauty by Zadie Smith
  12. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Secondary: Writing Feminisms

  1. A Vindication of the Rights of Woman by Mary Wollstonecraft
  2. Woman and Labour by Olive Schreiner
  3. “This Sex Which Is Not One” by Luce Irigaray
  4. “Fin de Siecle, Fin de Sexe: transsexuality and the death of history” in Doing Time by Rita Felski
  5. Many, many, many poems by Emily Dickinson
  6. Memorial: An Excavation of the Iliad by Alice Oswald
  7. White Teeth by Zadie Smith
  8. Playing in the Dark by Toni Morrison

Primary: Postcolonial Literature

  1. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
  2. The Bacchae of Euripides by Wole Soyinka
  3. Death and the King’s Horseman by Wole Soyinka
  4. Butterfly Burning by Yvonne Vera
  5. Changes by Ama Ata Aidoo
  6. The Autobiography of My Mother by Jamaica Kincaid
  7. Lucy by Jamaica Kincaid
  8. Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri
  9. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  10. The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundati Roy

Secondary: Virginia Woolf in Modernist Contexts

  1. The Waste Land by T.S. Eliot
  2. To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
  3. Ulysses by James Joyce (only the first few sections)
  4. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
  5. Orlando by Virginia Woolf
  6. How to be Both by Ali Smith
  7. A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf
  8. Between the Acts by Virginia Woolf

I hope you’ve enjoyed this look into what I’ve been reading for the past year… it’s a lot! I don’t know how I managed to read all of these AND sneak in some books for fun along the way… SO. MUCH. READING.

Click here to check out other posts in my Holly Goes Abroad series!

Have you read any of these books before. What did you think of them? Have you taken courses like this before? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Top Ten Tuesday: Appreciated, Not Enjoyed

Happy Tuesday!! As per usual, I’ve decided to switch up this week’s Top Ten Tuesday theme a bit (hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl). The theme is supposed to be Books I Disliked/Hated but Am Really Glad I Read; however, I often find it hard to list many books that I really dislike because I tend to like most of the books I read. I say this all the time, but it might be more accurate to say that I end up either enjoying or appreciating most of the books I read. For me, there’s a big difference between genuinely finding pleasure in reading a book and appreciating it for various historical/cultural/textual reasons. I might appreciate a book’s writing style or historical significance, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that I had a great time reading it. Today I’m going to share ten books that I appreciated but didn’t enjoy reading. 

The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway

This novel is always a go-to answer for me when it comes to this dichotomy. I’ve read this book twice (once on my own, once for a college course) and I just really can’t get past Hemingway’s choppy, dull writing style. However, I do appreciate this novel for being interesting to study (what would we do without all of that bull symbolism?!).

Moby Dick by Herman Melville

I’ve never properly studied Moby Dick in a classroom setting, but reading it on my own one summer was enough for me. While I appreciate it as an important work of literature, there’s just far too much information about whaling in this novel for me to genuinely enjoy reading it.

Basically anything by William Shakespeare

I’ve talked about my love-hate relationship with Shakespeare many times before on this blog, so I feel like this one goes without explanation. (Although if you want more clarification, you can read this post that I published a while back).

Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe

While I appreciate the historical significance of this novel in light of the Civil War and race relations in the United States, I couldn’t get past the stereotypical caricatures of slaves that this text promulgates. It might have been a step in the right direction back in the nineteenth century, but it certainly is a step in the wrong direction now. This is a case when historical context is definitely a huge factor when thinking about the work as a whole.

Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens

In general, I am a big fan of Charles Dickens. His novel Great Expectations is one of the books that initially made me fall in love with reading classics and I love his witty, dramatic, creative writing style. While I appreciate Oliver Twist as a work by Dickens, I couldn’t help but be disappointed by how dark and sad this novel is. I’ll be the first to admit that this is entirely a personal preference– I just don’t enjoy reading really sad books!

On the Road by Jack Kerouac

There’s no denying that On the Road is an iconic text with an important literary influence in terms of the Beat and counterculture movements of postwar America. However, it’s frustrating to read something that seems to go on and on and on forever with little structure or direction. I understand that’s the point of the novel… but that doesn’t mean I have to enjoy it!

Dracula by Bram Stoker

While I admit that this novel is really fun to study and write about, reading it always feels like such a chore. Once you get past the initial iconic scenes in the creepy castle, the rest of the novel moves much too slowly for my taste. I feel like a good portion of the middle could definitely be cut out.

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

To be fair, I don’t actually remember anything about this novel from when I read it many years ago. All I know is that in 2012 I rated it one out of five stars on Goodreads and all I wrote in my review is: “This was probably one of the worst books I have ever read.” Holly of the past was HARSH.

Basically anything by Stephen King

While I appreciate Stephen King for being a prolific writer of numerous creative, unique, meticulously crafted books, I just can’t get past his choppy, terse writing style. (Similar to how I feel about Hemingway… can you tell this is a trend?)

Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift

I feel as though I would really enjoy this book if I studied it in the proper historical/political context; however, when I read it a few years ago I couldn’t help but feel as though much of the satire and historical significance went right over my head.

What books have you appreciated but not necessarily enjoyed reading? What do you think of the books on my list? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

I actually get to eat an ice cream sundae?!?! | Holly Goes Abroad

Recently I discovered one of the best food places I have ever been in my entire life: Yorica! Located on Wardour Street in London, Yorica is a sweet shop that serves ice cream, frozen yogurt, shakes, crepes, waffles. I’m sure that at this point you must be asking: But Holly, how can you possibly enjoy anything here when you have a severe nut allergy? Answer: it’s all nut free.

I repeat, italicized and bolded for maximum impact: it’s all nut free. 

In fact, Yorica prides itself on being free from the top allergens, with the exception of soy. According to their website: 

We’re a friendly, curious bunch. Always learning, growing and creating fab free-from treats for everyone. Free-from means freedom. Simple. So everyone’s invited to indulge without worry. All recipes and ingredients are free from wheat, gluten, dairy, eggs and nuts and all entirely vegan. Yorica! is where the love is. From process to product. Bye-bye allergens and intolerances! It’s our outta this world, earth-bound ingredients that makes Yorica! so divine. All free-from. All certified and traced, from crop to cone.

You can imagine my delight and astonishment when I walked into this place and realized that I could choose to eat anything they serve. I could probably count how many times I’ve had this foodie freedom in my entire life on one hand, maybe two. Eating out is always a fairly stressful experience for me, especially abroad. I can’t even remember the last time I was able to get ice cream at a shop that wasn’t plain vanilla soft serve, and I’ve never been able to casually order an ice cream sundae. I’ve always said that if I could get rid of my allergy for just a single day, the first thing I would do is march myself to an ice cream stand and order the largest sundae they have.

And yet here was Yorica, this miraculous place where I could suddenly choose whatever I wanted without having to worry about possible cross-contamination, effectively communicating the severity of my allergy to the server, or researching the menu ahead of time. When I walked up to the counter I could hardly believe my eyes. So many flavors to choose from! So many toppings! Dessert I could eat that wasn’t just fruit?! Unheard of!

On this particular day my mom and I decided to eat ice cream for lunch, so we went for something extravagant: ice cream AND waffles. I got a scoops of vanilla brownie and double chocolate with brownie bits and chocolate sauce on top. (Can you tell I like chocolate?) The waffles come in smaller pieces that are warm, fluffy, and perfect for fitting into your sundae cup. My finished product looked like this:

I’m not exaggerating when I say that this sundae was one of the best things I’ve ever eaten. This whole experience was such a foreign luxury to me that I savored every bite, so grateful that a place like this exists. There are countless things in life that are more challenging and painful to deal with than my nut allergy, but the truth is that allergies still really suck. Places like Yorica help make me feel normal, which doesn’t often happen in food-orientated settings. I always try to tell myself that countless things in life are more important than food, but it’s challenging to maintain that mindset when so many events and experiences often revolve around eating. I’m so appreciative of companies and organizations that go above and beyond to make allergy sufferers like me feel safe and comfortable. Yorica definitely deserves an A++ in that category! (And an A++ for DELICIOUS ice cream!!)

I’ve already been back to Yorica since that first time, and I’m really hoping to go at least once more before I head back to the States in about a month. If you’re vegan, have various food intolerances, or suffer from allergies, I HIGHLY recommend checking out Yorica. {And kudos to my mom for finding this place!}

Click here to check out other posts in my Holly Goes Abroad series!

Have you ever been to Yorica?  Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Feminist Fridays: Book blogging as a feminist space?

When I think about why I love blogging and why I’ve stuck with it for over five years, a few things come to mind: a welcoming sense of community, bloggers that support one another through encouragement, thought-provoking discussion, etc. Lately I’ve been asking myself what makes this kind of positive, supportive community possible online, and I’ve come to one of countless possible conclusions: a sense of equality. More specifically, I’ve been asking myself: Is the book blogging community a feminist space? 

{Disclaimer: This discussion is based on my own personal experiences in one corner of a much larger book blogging community online. I am not saying that all bloggers are feminists, nor that these views are necessary in order to be a blogger. Any statements that sound generalizing are inadvertent and are not meant to imply that every book blogger shares these same beliefs.}

When I say that the book blogging community is a “feminist space,” I’m not trying to suggest that only people who identify as women are book bloggers; rather, that this community is a space for everyone and anyone–no matter you gender, sexuality, race, class, etc.–to share their thoughts on books and bookish topics. Are there flaws with this view? Of course. No community is ideal, no matter how hard we strive to make it so. There are barriers preventing some people from participating as much as others: access to internet, computers to post with, cameras to take photos with, purchasing books vs. buying them from libraries, etc. There has also been much debate and discussion about the entrenched hierarchy of popularity regarding statistics. When one blogger becomes hugely popular, it can feel as though the sense of equality has diminished. At times it can feel as though numbers are all that matters and that an impressive number of page views is necessary in order to make your voice worth listening to in the midst of all others.

One way to combat this inequality due to statistics is to emphasize discussion and commenting rather than the number of views a blog receives. For the past few summers I’ve participated in the Comment Challenge hosted by Lonna @ FLYLēF and Alicia @ A Kernel of Nonsense that runs from June to August. After filling out a short survey, the hosts match you up with a blogger that has similar interests as far as the kinds of books they write about. The goal is to comment on each other’s posts as much as possible over the course of the challenge (you can choose between the 5+ or 10+ posts categories) in order to help bloggers connect with each other and meet new people. Not only has this challenge introduced me to some fantastic new blogs in the past, but it also gets me into the habit of commenting more on other blogs. If this challenge sounds at all interesting to you then I’d highly recommend giving it a try! Click here to read more about the rules of the Comment Challenge.

With that said, my personal experience with blogging does lead me to view this platform as a feminist space. When I blog I feel comfortable sharing my opinions without being discriminated against or judged because of my gender. When I read other blogs I don’t care which gender they identify with. I’m able to make weekly features like Feminist Fridays and not be bombarded by angry, insulting comments; I’m lucky enough to be part of this supportive community that fosters thought-provoking discussion and challenges me to think more deeply about important topics such as this one. To me, these freedoms are priceless.

Whether or not this means that the blogging sphere is simply a feminist space from my perspective or that this sense is pervasive throughout the book blogging world, I’m not sure. Nevertheless, I am so grateful that a discussion like this is even made possible by this incredible platform. 

Click here to see other Feminist Friday posts!

Do you think book blogging is a feminist space? How can we improve it? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

NORSE MYTHOLOGY by Neil Gaiman | Review

Neil Gaiman has long been inspired by ancient mythology in creating the fantastical realms of his fiction. Now he turns his attention back to the source, presenting a bravura rendition of the great northern tales. In Norse Mythology, Gaiman fashions primeval stories into a novelistic arc that begins with the genesis of the legendary nine worlds; delves into the exploits of the deities, dwarves, and giants; and culminates in Ragnarok, the twilight of the gods and the rebirth of a new time and people. Gaiman stays true to the myths while vividly reincarnating Odin, the highest of the high, wise, daring, and cunning; Thor, Odin’s son, incredibly strong yet not the wisest of gods; and Loki, the son of giants, a trickster and unsurpassable manipulator. From Gaiman’s deft and witty prose emerges the gods with their fiercely competitive natures, their susceptibility to being duped and to dupe others, and their tendency to let passion ignite their actions, making these long-ago myths breathe pungent life again. {Goodreads}

I love Neil Gaiman’s writing. He could write an instruction manual to a washing machine and I would probably still adore it, admiring the way he always blends wit, charm, and thought-provoking ideas into his writing. With that being said, I eagerly looked forward to reading this collection of Norse myths even though my only knowledge of Norse mythology came from the Thor movies by Marvel.

Fortunately, Gaiman has a way of explaining background information of Norse myths for those who don’t know much about them while not taking away from the actual stories themselves. I also really appreciated the overarching goal of this book: to breathe new life into these old myths while simultaneously preserving their core ideas and elements. The stories are told with a more charming and whimsical tone rather than a darker attitude, juxtaposing against the violence, betrayal, and revenge present in the stories themselves. While someone who is well versed in Norse mythology may find this book too rudimentary, I think it is the perfect balance between informative and entertaining.

It’s strange to review a book that has less to do with the writer and more about the myths themselves, so I will just end this review a bit more praise for Gaiman’s captivating writing style (and narration of the audio book!). I highly recommend Norse Mythology even if you know nothing about Thor, Loki, or Ragnarok!

What are your thoughts on Norse Mythology? Do you have a favorite book by Neil Gaiman? Are you a fan of reading mythology in general? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

One Lovely Blog Award | 4

Waking up to see that I’ve been nominated for things like the One Lovely Blogger Award always brings a smile to my face. Thanks so much to Stephen @ Stephen Writes and Emma @ A Dreamer’s Library for nominating me!!

  • Thank the person who nominated you for the award;
  • Share seven facts about yourself;
  • Nominate 15 other bloggers and inform them.

Does being nominated twice mean I have to share fourteen facts about myself instead of just seven? If you insist…

1. I’m a morning person. Not only do I enjoy mornings the most out of all the times of the day, but I also tend to automatically wake up early (relative early, of course–around 7:30am).

2. Jurassic Park is my favorite movie. I even dressed up as Laura Dern in Jurassic Park for a bop that was movie themed. Dedication. 

3. I’m a pretty terrible cook. Why make actual meals for myself when I can just eat variations of breakfast (a.k.a. eggs, toast, and oatmeal) for every meal?

4. I like to bake. However, baking is different. What’s not to love about sweet treats at the end? I also feel like mistakes are less noticeable while baking than while cooking actual meals (chocolate hides pretty much everything).

5. I can touch my nose with my tongue. When I was younger I assumed that everyone could do this, but apparently that isn’t the case. Now I use it as my go-to fun fact during awkward ice-breakers at orientations, group meetings, etc.

6. I have no idea what Hogwarts House I should be in. This became an actual dilemma when I visited the Platform 9 3/4 sign at King’s Cross Station in London and the Official Scarf Waver asked me what House I’m in. I ended up saying Gryffindor because I thought the maroon scarf would stand out more in the photo AND because I just couldn’t decide in that short moment. WHAT AM I.

7. I’m allergic to MANY things, not just nuts. Dogs, Cats, birch pollen, ragweed, grass… the list goes on and on!

8. My favorite food is pizza. I could eat pizza every night for a week (or two! or three!) and still not complain. I am ALWAYS in the mood for pizza.

9. I rarely watch Netflix during terms/semesters. Some people turn to Netflix when they want to wind down after a long day of working in the library, but for some reason I usually don’t watch Netflix during term time unless I’m watching it with friends. Maybe this explains why I’m always so behind on shows?

10. I love listening to music while I work. Some people prefer silence when they read or write, but I’d rather have at least some background noise while I’m working.

11. I have a bookstagram. If you’ve followed this blog for a while I feel like you probably already know this already, but I thought I would throw it out there just in case. It’s so much fun!

12. I am an avid list maker. Almost every day the last thing I do before heading to bed is make a to-do list for the next day. Even if I don’t check off everything on the list it’s still nice to wake up with a clear direction for the day. (Besides, what’s more satisfying than checking off tiny boxes?)

13. If I’m not drinking tea, I’m usually drinking hot water. Drinking plain hot water in a mug is something that people are either 100% on board with or think is the strangest thing they’ve ever witnessed. I love it.

14. I love mugs. Speaking of mugs, I adore them. I have far too many for one human being. But when will I stop acquiring new ones? (Never.)

Thanks again to Stephen and Emma for nominating me! ❤

What’s a fun fact about you? What do you think of mine? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Top Ten Tuesday: Solid Colors, Solid Covers

Happy Tuesday!! This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic (hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl) is supposed to be books with our favorite color on the cover or in the title. I initially wanted to make a list of books with yellow covers because that’s my favorite color, but alas! Why are there so few yellow cover designs out there?! Instead, I’ve decided to share ten books that have solid color backgrounds on their covers, since that’s a design I’m always drawn to when perusing bookshop shelves. (Great typography is also appreciated!)

What’s your favorite color (on books or otherwise)? What do you think of the books I’ve mentioned? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY