Sunshine Blogger Award | 2

Happy Friday!! I hope you’re all having a fantastic day. Today I’m going to veer off from my usual bookish path to answer some fun questions for the Sunshine Blogger Award. Thanks so much to Loraine @ Wholesome Valour for nominating me!!

If you were to pick a cooking spice to describe your personality, what would you choose and why?

Hmm…. I think I’m going to go with nutmeg. Cinnamon and pepper are too bold, but nutmeg seems just right.

What song would you pick as the soundtrack to your life?

Little Slice by Watsky because it’s upbeat, makes me want to dance, and always reminds me of summer.

What is your Myer’s-Briggs personality type?

ISFJ. However, my middle two letters are pretty close to the center on the chart the test gives you, which means that my S could shift to an N and my F could switch to a T. According to this website, being an ISFJ makes me a “Defender.” I guess this sounds accurate???

What is one thing you like others to know about you?

The first thing I usually tell people is that I’m allergic to nuts… maybe a little boring, but definitely practical!

What is the best advice you have ever received? How did it help you?

TRY YOUR BEST. This is pretty cliché but so true. If you try your best than you really can’t regret not working hard enough or not giving it your all.

Do you think that we are bodies or do you that think we have bodies?

Hmmm…. this is tough! I’m going to say that we have bodies because I think it’s easier to think about the mind and body being separate… if that makes any sense?

When do you feel most confident?

When I’m wearing an outfit that I really love, or even just awesome shoes (a good pair of shoes can work wonders).

How old are you? Do you think your actual age is an accurate representation of your mental / emotional / spiritual age?

People have always told me that I’m an “old soul,” so I guess that means I’m older inside than outside? Interesting…

What is the craziest thing you have ever done?

Decide to go study abroad for a year when I have never left the country before. (Eeeek!!!)

Where do you like to escape to when life becomes chaotic?

Between the pages of a book.

What is something you are looking forward to in the coming weeks?

My brother’s high school graduation, hopefully meeting up with some friends from college, and READING!

This was definitely a strange (but fun!) post. Thanks again to Loraine for tagging me!

What are your answers to these questions? Most importantly, what spice would you be? (I think that’s such a cool question!) Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

DEATH COMES FOR THE ARCHBISHOP by Willa Cather | Review

Over a full year after reading (and loving) My Ántonia, I have finally picked up another book by Willa Cather. Set in 1851 primarily in New Mexico, Death Comes for the Archbishop is a story of religion, a clash of cultures, the deceiving concept of the American identity, and living in the present by embracing the past. When Father Jean Marie Latour leaves Europe to become the Apostolic Vicar to New Mexico, he hardly expects to be swept up in the tangled knot of history between the whites, Mexicans, and Native Americans. As he continues to serve his religious duties in the following decades we see him become more and more a part of the red hills surrounding what is to ultimately be his final resting place.

For me, the experience of reading  Cather novel is like coming home after months of being away: it’s familiar, refreshing, comforting, and sweetly nostalgic. In particular, I greatly enjoyed the following aspects:

+ The focus on identity. The idea of one’s cultural, national, and personal identity seems to be an important common thread running between many of Cather’s works. Here Cather explores the tension between whites, Mexicans, and Native Americans during this time period. She plays with the question of whether or not land defines one’s identity, simultaneously linking back to the landscape’s past and rejecting the notion that living on what is considered to be “American” soil automatically makes one an “American.”

+ An emphasis on living through the past. Cather showcases and embraces the rich history of New Mexico by presenting these people as developed characters rather than one-dimensional representations. In this way she subverts white superiority, acknowledging the political and social power they had at this time while emphasizing the strength, intelligence, and humanity of the Mexicans and Native Americans. Father Latour embraces these people as the complex individuals that they are. At one point, Cather states:

“Observing them thus in repose, in the act of reflection, Father Latour was thinking how each of these men not only had a story, but seemed to have become his story.” 

Through Father Latour’s eyes Cather shows us the importance and value of remembering the past.

+ The use of Spanish. As someone currently studying Spanish in college, I was intrigued by the way Cather incorporates another language into this novel. Did Cather speak Spanish? Why did she decide to use it in the places that she did? This is likely something that I’ll research further in the future because I think it’s fascinating to learn about.

+ The portrayal of the landscape. Cather describes the landscape of New Mexico in a way that seems to take on the culture of the people living there. For instance, when she first describes the red hills of New Mexico, she writes:

“They were so exactly like one another that he seemed to be wandering in some geometrical nightmare; flattened cones, they were, more the shape of Mexican ovens than haycocks– yes, exactly the shape of Mexican ovens, red as brick-dust, and naked of vegetation except for small juniper trees. And the junipers, too, were the shape of Mexican ovens.” 

Is this a suggestion that whites viewed Mexicans as a sort of homogeneous group of people, similar to how Father Latour viewed the red hills as identical copies of one another? Perhaps. It could also be a way for Cather to demonstrate how the landscape can represent and reflect culture, like the way the hills apparently looked similar to Mexican ovens. (This is why Cather’s writing is SO INTERESTING.) Regardless, I want to emphasize that I believe Cather was attempting to expose the unjust treatment and dehumanization of these people, not promote, support, or justify it in any way. 

+ The incredible writing. I couldn’t write a review of this book without praising Cather’s remarkable way with words. I’m a big believer in writing in my books and I cannot even begin to tell you how many passages I underlined, starred, and made notes next to throughout this novel. For now, I’ll simply share with you one of my favorite quotes:

“If hereafter we have stars in our crowns, yours will be a constellation.” 

Overall, reading Death Comes for the Archbishop has reaffirmed Cather as one of my favorite authors. Was this as good as My Ántonia? Yes and no. More importantly, it has inspired me to pick up even more of Cather’s work. Certainly this must be a sure sign of a successful novel!

Would I recommend it to a friend?: Definitely!! Especially if they have an interest in American history, the Spanish language, or Mexican or Native American culture during this time period.

What are your thoughts on this novel? Would you recommend any of Willa Cather’s other works? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Top Ten Tuesday: Summer 2017 TBR

Happy Tuesday!! June is almost here, meaning that summer is right around the corner! (In my mind it’s been summer for a few weeks now because my semester ended a while ago, but I guess if we’re talking seasons then we still have a bit to go…) Anyways, today’s Top Ten Tuesday theme from The Broke and the Bookish is anything having to do with summertime, so I’ve decided to share the top ten books on my summer TBR list. My next term of classes doesn’t start until late September, so I have nearly four months to read whatever I please. (Can you feel how excited I am?!?!) In no particular order, here is my summer TBR:

The Heroic Slave by Frederick Douglass

Recently for one of my final papers I did a study of the critical reception of Douglass’ works. I knew that he had written three different autobiographies, but I had no idea that he also published a novel. I’m really intrigued to see what Douglass’ only piece of fiction is like, especially since I now know all about the historical, social, and critical context of his writing.

More plays by Shakespeare

Every summer I try to read a few plays by Shakespeare to knock them off my TBR list. They are referenced so often in literature that I feel as though it’s beneficial for me to spend some time on them (even though I’m not a super huge fan of the Bard as of now….). So far I’ve read Romeo and Juliet, Othello, Hamlet, King Lear, and Macbeth. If you have any recommendations for which plays I should read next, let me know!

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

This novel has been recommended to me countless times, both online and in real life. I can’t wait to see how she tackles fascinating and interesting topics such as race, cultural identity, nationhood, and love for people and places alike. I feel as though summer will be the perfect time to dive into what promises to be an incredibly eye-opening read.

Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe

This is one of those books that I’ve been meaning to read since high school but just haven’t gotten around to doing so. (To be honest, I’m kind of surprised that I haven’t had to read it for a class…) Considering the enormous reputation it has in American history, I’m really looking forward to finally understanding the controversy surrounding this novel.

One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories by B.J. Novak

I’ve been in the middle of reading this book for MONTHS. It was a great book to keep on my nightstand in college because I could quickly read a story or two before bed if I couldn’t fall asleep. Of course, the downside to this method is that it’s taking me forever to get through. Hopefully I can read the rest of these hilarious, witty stories this summer!

An Unreliable Guide to London by too many authors to list

Rumor has it that a certain bookworm will be traveling to a certain European county in the near future, meaning that this quirky collection of short stories would be the perfect book to read alongside many travel guides this summer.

More by William Faulkner

Next term I’ll hopefully be taking an entire course about William Faulkner (fingers crossed!) so I’m planning on reading a lot of his work this summer. Besides rereading The Sound and the Fury again, I’d also like to read Absalom, Absalom!, The Hamlet, Go Down, Moses, and several of his short stories. If you have any recommendations for more of Faulkner’s writing, please let me know!

Looking for Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta

I’m sure you’re sick and tired of hearing me praise Marchetta’s Jellicoe Road in every single post, so I think it’s high time that I branch out and read more of her work. I’ve been meaning to read this book ever since I read Jellicoe Road for the first time!

The Quartet : Orchestrating the Second American Revolution, 1783-1789

I absolutely love learning about these formative years in the history of the United States. After reading and adoring Ellis’ book Founding Brothers several years ago I’ve been eagerly anticipating this next read. (It’s also been glaring at me from my bookshelf for quite some time.)

Matilda by Roald Dahl

I thought I would end this TBR list on a really fun read that I’ve been meaning to get to for AGES. I feel like I’m the only twenty-year-old bookworm who has yet to read this charming little book! Every time I go to my local library it has already been checked out, but fingers crossed that I can finally snag it this summer.

What books are you hoping to read this summer? What do you think of the books on my list? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

My Personal Canon | 2017

Recently Jillian @ To Begin with I Read Jane Eyre created a post about her own personal literary canon and requested that I do the same. The goal is to compose a list of books that have greatly influenced your life, that you consider to be your favorite books, etc. I think this is a really interesting idea because there are so many different variables involved. On what criteria do you decide which books to include? Do you focus solely on books that have had a positive influence on your life? How long should your list be? Canon formation in general is really fascinating, but that’s a topic for another day.

For now, here is what I consider to be my personal canon. Some of these books I’ve read more times than I can count, while others I’ve only had the pleasure of experiencing once. Some have shaped who I’ve grown to be since childhood, while others have influenced my much more recently. Nevertheless, all of these books are ones that I love wholeheartedly, that I would read again and highly recommend to others. You’ll likely recognize these as ones I talk a lot about on this blog! In no particular order, they are:

Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

I don’t think this one needs much of an explanation. I first started this series when I was in second grade and in a way I don’t think I’ll ever be truly done with it completely. Even though I’ve certainly “finished” the series in the sense that I’ve read all seven books, I know that I’ll keep rereading it well into the future.

The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

Again, this one doesn’t require much of an explanation. I’ve reread these books more times than I can possibly count and they played a huge role in shaping my reading tastes and interests in middle school. They’re books I return to again and again for comfort, reassurance, and entertainment alike.

The Outcasts of 19 Schuyler Place by E.L. Konigsburg

I vividly remember buying my first and only copy of this book at a Scholastic book fair when I was in third grade. (Did anyone else LOVE those things?!?!) Since then I’ve reread it nearly every summer and each time I discover something new. What was at first a simple summer camp story in my ten-year-old eyes has transformed into a story of family, history, creativity, and resilience. (And THIS is why rereading is both important and awesome!)

Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

I’m sure it is absolutely no surprise to anyone in the slightest that this book has a spot in my personal canon. Words cannot express how much I LOVE this book. It’s the one book I always bring with me to college each semester and that I talk about incessantly on this blog. For the millionth time, PLEASE read this fantastic novel. ❤

Gone by Michael Grant

Interestingly, this book’s influence comes from the context in which I first read it: a lunchtime book club in seventh grade. Through avidly reading and following this series’ six books I met one of my best friends, actually met Michael Grant in person at a book-signing, and realized how social reading could be.

Looking for Alaska by John Green

In reality, this is more of a placeholder for all of John Green’s books, though Looking for Alaska is probably my favorite. As with Gone, the context surrounding these books has been just as influential in my life (if not more so) than the content of the books themselves. John and Hank Green have shaped my life in countless ways at a time when I needed it most (I’m looking at you, tumultuous middle school years).

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Reading this classic novel in my high school American literature class opened my eyes to the depth and breadth that symbolism could add to books. Though this symbolism is pretty obvious (colors, the green light, East and West Egg, the eyes, etc.) it nevertheless made me realize how interesting and fun analyzing literature with a critical eye could be.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Ah, Jane Eyre. I adore this novel not for the romance, writing, or plot (though all aspects of this book are fantastic) but primarily for the character of Jane herself. She is strong, independent, witty, kind, determined, and resilient– everything that I aspire to be. I’ve only read this novel once; however, it has lingered in my mind with more clarity than most other books I’ve read since then. I can’t wait to read it again soon!

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

I ADORED this book when I was assigned to read it for my AP English class senior year of high school (much to the annoyance of the majority of my peers, who didn’t share my enthusiasm). I love watching Pip grow over time and overcome all of the obstacles he has to face. Dickens’ writing is witty and captivating, and the plot twist at the end had me gasping in surprise. This is another one that I definitely have to reread in the near future!

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave by Frederick Douglass

Since reading this autobiography in my Intro to Literature class during my first semester of college I have written at least three papers about it and researched the critical reception of Douglass’ works in general. Something about Douglass’ life and use of language to transform himself in American society fascinates me like nothing else.

My Ántonia by Willa Cather

I read this for my Cultural Diversity in American Literature class during my second semester of college and have not been able to stop thinking about it since (I’m only slightly exaggerating here). The narrative is constructed brilliantly and I think it’s fascinating how we only ever see Ántonia through the lens of Jim’s narration. Since then I’ve read two of Cather’s other novels and am eagerly looking forward to reading more!

There are so many books that I could have included, but I think this is a solid look into the books that have had the greatest influence on me thus far. Thanks so much to Jillian for asking me to make a personal canon! I had such a great time forming this list and thinking about all of the amazing books I’ve had the pleasure of reading over the years.

What books would be in your personal canon? What are you thoughts on any of the books that I’ve mentioned? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

I Dare You | Book Tag

Happy Friday!! I hope you’ve all had a great week and are looking forward to an even better weekend. Today I’m here with an exciting tag I’ve never come across before: the I Dare You Book Tag. Thanks so much to Emily @ Mixed Margins for tagging me!

Which book has been on your shelf the longest?

In general, probably Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling. I first read it in second grade and I’ve kept the same beloved, tattered copy ever since– I can’t bear to part with it!

What is your current read, your last read, and the book you’ll read next?

  • Current: Sartoris by William Faulkner
  • Last: The Song of the Lark by Willa Cather
  • Next: VERY UNDECIDED (help?!?!?!)

What book did everyone like but you hated?

I’m going to use my go-to answer for this one: The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han. I feel like I talk about this a lot, but it was just SO disappointing because everyone else seems to really love it.

What book do you keep telling yourself you’ll read but you probably won’t?

Unfortunately, I’ve been telling myself that I’ll read J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Silmarillion for YEARS but I just haven’t gotten around to it. I tried to start it once when I was younger but immediately set it aside because it was incredibly confusing at the time. I would really love to check it off my TBR list someday, but today is not that day. (See what I did there?!)

What books are you saving for retirement?

To be realistic, probably something huge like War and Peace. 

Last page: Read it first or wait until the end?

Story time: I’m someone who likes to know how many pages are in a book before I start reading it so I can keep track of my progress. Consequently, I always look at the very last page just to see the number. However, when I was reading Looking for Alaska by John Green years ago I accidentally read a HUGE SPOILER when I flipped to the back of the book. (Thanks reading circle questions.) Ever since then I’m always overly cautious when I flip to the back of a book.

In short: DEFINITELY wait until the end.

Acknowledgments: waste of paper and ink, or interesting aside?

I used to always skim the acknowledgments, but now I skip right over them unless I’m particularly interested in what a specific author has to say for some reason. I think they’re important and valuable for the author to include, but from a reader’s perspective I don’t usually give them much thought.

Which book character would you switch places with?

My immediate response is HERMIONE (obviously), but a more creative response would be Blue from The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater. Can you imagine how amazing it would be to go on all of those adventures?!

Do you have a book that reminds you of something specific in your life? (Place, time, person)

SO MANY. Some books I associate with specific songs I listened to a lot when reading them. For instance, The Fellowship of the Ring reminds me of the song “Even Flow” by Pearl Jam because I read most of it in the back of my dad’s truck the summer before sixth grade and apparently he played that song quite often.

Name an interesting book that you acquired in an interesting way.

I’m not sure if this necessarily counts as super interesting, but the first book that comes to mind is my copy of A Little History of Literature by John Sutherland that I bought at the Met gift shop last year when I went to New York City with my friends. The weird part is that we didn’t actually end up looking at art at the Met that day; rather, we had some time to kill before our bus picked us up so we decided to peruse the gift shop.

Have you ever given a book away for a special reason to a special person?

I’ve given a lot of people books for gifts over the years, but besides that I don’t think I’ve given books away for any other special reasons.

Which book has been with you most places?

Ooooh, what an interesting question! I take a lot of books camping with me every year when my family goes tenting for a week in the summer, but the books I bring change each year. I would probably say any of the Lord of the Rings books simply because I’ve read them so many times that they’ve probably been toted around to countless different places.

When you convince your brother to take pictures of your books with his fancy camera 📷 (welcome to my spring break)

A post shared by HOLLY 📓 20 (@nutfreenerd) on

Any required reading in high school that wasn’t so bad two years later?

Absolutely!! To name a few: The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, and Great Expectations by Charles Dickens.

Used or brand new?

Ideally: new. Realistically: used, because they’re usually a lot cheaper.

Have you ever read a Dan Brown book?

Nope! I’m hoping to read The Da Vinci Code at some point, though.

Have you ever seen a movie you liked more than the book?

YES. I really loved the movie version of The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. The book was great as well, but something about the movie has always stuck with me. (Also, it has a fantastic soundtrack!)

Have you ever read a book that made you hungry (cook books included)?

The first book that comes to mind is Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert (especially the Italy section!).

Who is the person whose book advice you’ll always take?

I always take my friends’ advice about books– luckily they have excellent taste in books!!

Is there a book out of your comfort zone (e.g., outside your usual reading genre) that you ended up loving?

Last semester I took a history class about Modern Spanish America that focused primarily on Argentina and Mexico from 1800 to the present. We read several monographs for that class that I expected to have to trudge through, but I ended up actually really enjoying the majority of them. The two that were the most interesting to me were Becoming Campesinos by Christopher Boyer and Lexicon of Terror by Marguerite Feitlowitz. They weren’t necessarily uplifting or enjoyable reads, but they were incredibly eye-opening, thought-provoking, and valuable ones.

What are your answers to these questions? What are you currently reading? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

THE IDIOT by Fyodor Dostoevsky | Review

I first picked up Fyodor Dostoevsky’s The Idiot in my local Barnes & Noble for the simple, superficial reason that I loved the cover design. Yet what drew me to read the a few pages and then ultimately purchase it that day was the intriguing premise promised by the back cover blurb: an innocent prince caught in a tangled web of corruption, secrets, and even murder. I was pulled in by the compelling juxtapositions between good and evil, moral and immoral, innocent and sinful, intelligent and idiotic. What are the distinguishing factors between the components of each opposing pair? And how oppositional are these pairs in actuality? Are they mutually exclusive or is there a blurry bridge that straddles both sides?

Prince Myshkin quickly became the most fascinating aspect of the novel in my eyes, precisely due to his position on this blurry bridge. As written in The Guardian by A.S. Byatt in 2004: 

“The central idea of The Idiot as we have it was, as Dostoevsky wrote in a letter, “to depict a completely beautiful human being”. Prince Myshkin is a Russian Holy Fool, a descendant of Don Quixote, and a type of Christ in an un-Christian world. Author and character face the problem all good characters face in all novels – good in fiction is just not as interesting as wickedness, and runs the risk of repelling readers…”

The Prince is often ridiculed by his peers for being an “idiot,” yet in many ways he is the most intelligent one of them all. He is surrounded by a society that cares for nothing but money and social status, a society that tugs on all corners of his life in an attempt to mold him into something different. My heart ached for the Prince even as he made questionable decisions that could have easily been avoided with careful thought. In this way he is as frustrating as he is admirable. Many of the characters in The Idiot follow a similar pattern in terms of contradictory personalities. I was constantly being torn between pitying and opposing several characters, especially towards the end of the story.

There are countless different levels and interpretations of meaning to this novel that I hardly know where to begin. One can view the story through a religious lens, asserting that the Prince is a Christ figure countered by the Satan-like figure of the murderer. Or one can talk about the role that Fate seems to play in the story. Does the Prince really deserve any of the misfortune that befalls him? There is also the complicated discussion of death in general, a topic that fuels many philosophical tangents and conversations in the novel. I would love to read this book in a class to be able to dissect some of these philosophical asides.

One of my favorite passages in The Idiot is an excellent demonstration of Dostoevsky’s brilliant wisdom and talent with language. At one point in the novel he states:

“It wasn’t the New World that mattered…Columbus died almost without seeing it; and not really knowing what he had discovered. It’s life that matters, nothing but life — the process of discovering, the everlasting and perpetual process, not the discovery itself, at all.”

I must have reread those few sentences a handful of times when I first came across them while reading. Using Columbus as an example of “failed” discovery is such a smart move because it’s something that a lot of people are familiar with and can easily relate to.

However, the main issue I have with this novel is that I still feel as though I don’t fully understand everything that happened. Prior to reading The Idiot I had never read a novel translated from Russian before. I must admit that I think this had something to do with my increasing confusion as the narrative progressed. I’m sure that Russian names are a common source of frustration for English-speaking readers– at least, they certainly were for me as I attempted to keep all of their names straight in my mind. Of course, it didn’t help that I read this book over the course of several months. An extremely busy semester meant that I went weeks at a time without picking The Idiot back up again. To be honest, I’m surprised I was able to remember the basic events of the plot never mind the names of all of the characters. While it’s not necessarily fair to blame the novel for my confusion, it’s still important to acknowledge the issue because it nevertheless impacted my thoughts on The Idiot as a whole.

Overall, I’m glad I stumbled upon this striking edition of The Idiot while perusing the shelves of Barnes & Noble months ago because it has opened my eyes to the work of Dostoevsky. Though I’m left with mixed feelings about this particular novel, I feel like it’s something I might come back to in the future and try again.

My Rating: :0) :0) :0) 3 out of 5.

Would I recommend it to a friend?: Yes, along with a word of advice to read it without long periods of interruption.

What are your thoughts on The Idiot? Would you recommend any of Dostoevsky’s other works? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Top Ten Tuesday: My Mom’s Favorite Books

Happy Tuesday!! In the spirit of the Mother’s Day season, this week’s Top Ten Tuesday theme is all about MOMS. Mothers are the real MVPs– I, for one, don’t know how I would have made it to this point in my life without mine. In honor of Mother’s Day I decided to have a little fun with this list by asking my mom to the best books she’s ever read. Without further ado, here are My Mom’s Top Ten Favorite Books!!!

What do you think of the books on this list? What are some of your mom’s favorite books? Do you celebrate Mother’s Day? Have any fun traditions? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

P.S. Shout out to my mom for actually doing this. You’re the best ❤

5 Reasons Why Molly Weasley is the Ultimate Mom

Happy Mother’s Day!! When I thought about making a Mother’s Day post about fictional moms, one woman immediately popped into my head: Molly Weasley. Every year this red-headed witch tops countless lists of fictional mothers… but why? In an attempt to answer this age-old question, here are 5 reasons why Mrs. Weasley is the ultimate fictional mom:

1. She does it all.

My jaw basically drops any time there’s a scene with Mrs. Weasley doing housework. She’s the master of multi-tasking, even if she does have the help of magic on her side.

2. She doesn’t take any $h!t.

Exhibit A: the Howler. Don’t mess with Molly Weasley, folks!

3. She gives the best Christmas presents.

My goal in life is to receive one of Mrs. Weasley’s knitted jumpers for Christmas. A girl can dream, right?

4. She’s incredibly strong and independent.

I think my favorite scenes of Molly Weasley are in the epic battle at Hogwarts in the final book. Not only does she shout her famously bad@$$ line, but she also demonstrates that mothers (and people in general!) cannot be categorized in a single box. Mothers can be both sweet and strong, feminine and fighting experts.

5. You won’t find a more caring and loving witch.

Above all else, Mrs. Weasley is the ultimate fictional mom because she is endlessly caring, kind, thoughtful, and giving. She loves Harry as though he were her own son and always welcomes people into her home on holidays and when danger arises. She stands up for what she believes in and will stop at nothing to protect those she loves. ❤

Do you think Molly Weasley is the ultimate fictional mom? What are your favorite mothers in fiction? Let me know in the comments section below!

Happy Mother Day!!

Yours,

HOLLY

THE BRIDGE OF SAN LUIS REY by Thornton Wilder | Review

The Bridge of San Luis Rey is a novel I had never heard of prior to picking up a copy of it in the Met gift store. It wasn’t even until I got back to my dorm room and put this book on my shelf that I realized it was written by Thornton Wilder, the brilliant writer behind the play Our Town. Winner of the Pulitzer Price in 1928, The Bridge of San Luis Rey is a collection of interwoven stories of five people who died while crossing an incredibly tall Peruvian bridge. Plagued with the seemingly unanswerable question of whether or not these individuals were destined to die, Brother Juniper makes it his mission to learn everything he possibly can about their lives. Rooted in the themes of love, life, death, fate, and art, this novel is more than simply an attempt to answer Brother Juniper’s inquiry; rather, it ponders the very existence of the question in the first place.

The setting was the first remarkable aspect of this book that captured my attention. The story takes place in 18th century South America (mostly Peru), which I’ve learned quite a bit about in various Spanish classes that I’ve taken. Specifically, it was interesting to read a novel written in English yet set in a Spanish-speaking country and revolving around characters who are Spanish. There are numerous instances where Spanish phrases and names are used, but they are usually contextualized enough that someone who doesn’t understand Spanish can roughly figure out the general meaning. It makes me wonder whether Wilder knew a lot of Spanish; at the very least, I do know that he didn’t visit Peru for the first time until 1941, well after he had written this novel. In a Washington Post review by Jonathan Yardley, it was noted that he made several incorrect assumptions about Peruvian culture and life:

“Pheasant may be a priestly dish in England, but it is virtually unknown in Peru. Peruvians love their chicken and cook it as well as anyone in the world, but wild game is not on the menu. Wilder seems to have thought that it rains often in Lima, a city where to all intents and purposes it never rains at all.”

Though it obviously would have been better if Thornton had more accurately represented the culture of the time period, I ultimately don’t think these inconsistencies had a significant negative impact on the novel. As Yardley goes on to say in his review:

“So it probably wouldn’t have been a bad idea if Wilder had visited Peru in 1925 rather than in 1941, when he did for the first time, but in truth that is neither here nor there. In his broader strokes Wilder has created a Peru that I recognize and Peruvians who remind me in some way of Peruvians whom I know. In any event ‘The Bridge of San Luis Rey’ deals in universals and just happens to be set in Peru.”

I love Yardley’s point that this novel “deals in universals” because it perfectly describes the almost philosophical stance from which Thornton tells this story. The time period and setting and characters are so specifically and carefully crafted with tiny details, yet the story itself could really have taken place anywhere. This is a testament to the universality of this novel’s major themes and questions about life and death, a reflection of the fact that we all must face these issues at some point in our lives. The stories of these five individuals present a sort of microcosm of life in general, presenting the reader with different challenges and experiences that must be confronted eventually.

Despite the seemingly random assortment of people who die while crossing the bridge, the conclusion of this novel miraculously connects them all thematically and through the plot itself. Yet the ending is arguably not even the most important part– really, is one single part of this book more important than any other? I would assert no; rather, each section of this novel is equally significant, sharing a piece of the puzzle that’s necessary in order to have a complete whole. The unexpected cohesiveness of the story is part of what makes The Bridge of San Luis Rey such a brilliant novel.

Of course, I can’t finish this review without mentioning the beauty of Wilder’s writing. Not only is he an excellent writer in the sense of word choice, sentence structure, etc., but I also couldn’t help but marvel at the seemingly effortless way he conveys such profound meaning in simple statements. This novel is short, but it certainly packs a punch. Wilder’s writing style allows him to say exactly what he needs to in a little over one hundred pages.

“There is a land of the living and a land of the dead and the bridge is love, the only survival, the only meaning.”

Overall, I’m so glad that I randomly picked this book up in the gift shop that day. Thornton Wilder is a brilliant writer and I cannot wait to read more of his work. I know that I’ll be returning to The Bridge of San Luis Rey time and time again in the years to come!

My Rating: :0) :0) :0) :0) 4 out of 5 smileys

Would I recommend it to a friend?: Absolutely! Especially one who is a fan of Our Town or is interested in Latin American literature.

What do you think of this book? Have any recommendations for other works by Thornton Wilder? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Really Wish Existed

Happy Tuesday!! This week’s Top Ten Tuesday theme involves talking about bookish wish lists– things we want to see more of in books, from tropes and characters to settings and themes. The more I thought about this kind of list, the more I honed in on a different idea that’s been on my mind a lot recently. Back in December I made a TTT list of the Top Ten Books I Wouldn’t Mind Santa Bringing Me; however, the list contained only made-up titles of books that I really wished existed in real life. In the same vain, today I’ll be sharing the Top Ten Books I Really Wish Existed because I could desperately use some great advice at this point.

What books do you really wish existed? What do you think of the titles I’ve included on my list? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY