Top Ten Tuesday: Fall 2018 TBR

Happy Tuesday!! As per usual, it’s time for the seasonal TBR topic! Since the fall semester is now in full swing and I have to divide my reading between what I’m assigned for class and what is on my bookshelf from home, I’m going to do the same with this list. Here are the books I have to read and am hoping to read this fall. 

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

Yours,

HOLLY

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The Cramm Award

Today I bring to you something I had never heard of until recently: the Cramm Award. Thanks so much to Zoie @ Whisked Away By Words for nominating me! Let’s get straight to it, shall we?

  • Include a tidbit about who created this award (theCramm)
  • Mention the person who nominated you
  • Share three things that motivate you to blog
  • Share three people who inspire you to blog
  • Share one thing you hope to do that will improve the world
  • Answer your challenge question
  • Nominate 10+ bloggers and give them a fun challenge question

+ Keeping a record of my bookish thoughts. This was my original reason for starting a blog years ago–I wanted to keep a record of what I thought about specific books so I could go back and compare later on. Although I post more than solely book reviews nowadays, this is still an important motivation for me.

Writing practice. Writing is something that I love to do, meaning that I’m always looking to improve. Blogging helps me keep my typing fingers at the ready, especially during the summer months when I wouldn’t ordinarily be writing much without classes.

+ The blogging community. By far the most important motivation for me nowadays is the blogging community. I love discussing things in the comments section with you all as well as keeping up to date with what’s going on in your bookish lives.

+ Marie @ Drizzle & Hurricane Books. Marie has always been one of my greatest blogging inspirations. Not only does she always post such thought-provoking discussions, but she’s also incredibly active in the comments sections of other blogs. I aspire to be as kind, thoughtful, and active in the blogging community as Marie!

+ Bridget @ Bridget & Books. This blog is definitely my aesthetic inspiration. I absolutely adore the design of Bridget’s blog, from her beautiful photos to the insightful structure of her book reviews.

+ Shanti & Shar @ Virtually Read. These lovely bookworms are some of my oldest blogging pals and I aspire to be as wonderful as they are. Their comments always brighten my day, as do their creative, thoughtful posts. 

One thing I hope to do that will improve the world? That’s a tall order! I suppose I’d just like to be as supportive of people as I can. A teacher once told me that brightening our own corner of the world in turn brightens the entire world–I’d like to believe that this is at least a bit true!

If your life’s story was magically kept in a detailed journal, would you rather 1) be able to read about your past at any time to reflect on your life, or 2) have the ability to write in the blank pages of your future to control what will happen? You can only choose one option!

I would definitely choose the first option–the mere thought of being able to control my future stresses me out already!

  • YOU!

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

Yours,

HOLLY

A Classic Couple: The Catcher in the Rye and The Perks of Being a Wallflower

When I realized recently that I have never made a Classic Couple pairing of J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye (1951) and Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower (1999), I vowed to remedy that situation immediately. This classic/contemporary duo always reminds me of the start of the school year, which makes this the perfect time to write about them here. I’m sure this pairing has been done many times before, but I still think there are some interesting parallels worth discussing.

+ Lost souls. Both novels are narrated by protagonists who are unsure of their place or role in life. In the earlier book, the infamous Holden Caulfield who attends Pencey Preparatory Academy before deciding to roam around New York City for a while. Likewise, Charlie, a fifteen-year-old freshman, uncertainly navigates through his first year of high school as he simultaneously deals with a tumultuous home life. Both boys feel lost in a sea of people and just desperately want someone to understand what they’re going through.

+ Narration. Both novels are told through first person narration of their protagonists: Holden is telling his story from a mental institution, while Charlie writes his letters to an unknown audience. This particular similarity is what most closely connects these texts in my mind. The voices of the narrators are so distinct and clear that they feel as though they could certainly have been taken directly from a teenager’s mouth. Few readers may remember the specific events of these texts after reading them, but they surely will remember Holden’s incessant complaining and Charlie’s uncertain worrying.

+ School settings. This list would be incomplete without at least mentioning the school settings that make me associate these novels with this time of year. Holden begins his story at Pencey Preparatory Academy, a private boarding school, whereas Charlies begins his as a freshman at a public high school. Despite the differences between these two schools in terms of education styles and structures, they nevertheless evoke similar feelings of nostalgia and bittersweet fondness for those kinds of coming-of-age experiences.

This Classic Couple may seem a bit obvious or overdone, but I think that’s what makes it so interesting to discuss. Was Chbosky inspired, either consciously or subconsciously, by Salinger’s novel? I think it’s a testament to the enduring quality of The Catcher in the Rye that we still discuss it alongside popular books like The Perks of Being a Wallflower today. After all, isn’t that part of what makes a classic a classic?

Click here to check out other Classic Couples from past posts.

What do you think of this classic couple? What other books would you pair with The Catcher in the Rye? What are your thoughts on either or both of these books? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Top Ten Tuesday: Hidden Gems of Classic Literature

Happy Tuesday!! This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic (hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl) asks us to share hidden gems–in other words, books that we believe aren’t discussed or read often enough. As per usual, I’m going to focus on classics that I believe deserve to be read more, discussed more, and highlighted more, both within and beyond the classroom setting.

What classics do you wish were discussed more often? What do you thinks of the books on my list? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

On Writing: Interview with Nadette Rae Rodgers

Today I bring you a very special interview with Nadette Rae Rodgers, author of the Illusion Trilogy. With the release of the final book in this trilogy just around the corner, Nadette has been kind enough to answer some of my questions about her writing process and experience writing these novels.

Do you remember where you were/what you were doing when you first thought of the idea for this trilogy?

Yes! It was a rainy summer day, so I had just been reading all afternoon. I had put down the book I was reading and was just looking at the rain outside. There was something that day that had happened that I swear I had dreamt before. It was that deja vu feeling. Then I just started writing down what was in my head.

Do you have a specific writing routine?

My writing routine really depends on the type of scene I’m writing. But typically, I turn on the twinkly lights in my room, pick a playlist that fits what I’ll be writing about then, listen to a song or two while I jot down quick notes and ideas I have, and then I just start writing. I also love to have hot chocolate or coffee in my Eiffel Tower mug too!

Who is your biggest writing inspiration?

My biggest inspiration for writing is one hundred percent the aspiring writers I meet! The BEST moments are when I’m talking to a local literature class and an eighth grader tells me that they want to be a writer or they have been working on a book but were too scared to share it with anyone. I love getting the opportunity to talk to these young writers because the summer after eighth grade is when I wrote Illusion. I love being able to talk with them and encourage them to follow their dreams now. It’s funny, sometimes I’ll be in a bit of a writing slump and then I’ll get an email from a student whose class I talked to weeks before telling me they decided to finish their writing project or let their friends read it. Those moments are what inspire me to keep writing!

What is the most difficult part of the writing process?

Honestly, I do all the formatting myself and that takes a lot of time! It is definitely a more technical process than a creative one like writing the actually book is. It’s more of a challenge for me and I would say, is the most difficult part of the process.

What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?

I really enjoyed Stephen King’s memoir “On Writing” and it is always the first thing I recommend to anyone who tells me they want to write a book. The book is full of amazing advice for writers! One thing he says is, “Read a lot. Write a lot.”

Sometimes when I’m in the middle of writing a book, I think I have to devote all my time to writing and I forget to just read a book. My love of reading is why I started writing in the first place! So after reading that, I began setting aside time while writing my novels to read a book I love or try a new author. I do agree with King that you get a lot of the tools you need from writing by reading! So, while a lot of peoples’ advice is “write write write,” I love the tip to schedule some reading time for yourself amidst all the writing.

Thanks so much to Nadette for answering these questions! Click here to pre-order her new book, Sweet Dreams. Be sure to keep up to date with Nadette via Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Hope you’ve enjoyed this interview!

Yours,

HOLLY

Feminist Fridays: Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

They say that timing is everything, and reading is no exception. Sometimes you read a book and acknowledge that you probably would have enjoyed it more if you had read it when you were older or younger, in a different mood, or at a different time of year. However, sometimes you read a book at the precise moment you need its advice most. This ideal timing recently happened to me when I read Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s tiny book Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions. I finished reading it in one sitting before going to bed one night and immediately wanted to start reading it all over again. It’s safe to say that this is the best feminist text I’ve read in a while.

Dear Ijeawele is a modified version of a letter Adichie sent to a friend after this new mother asked Adichie how to raise her daughter to be a feminist. What a question! It’s one that many people likely ask themselves but few endeavor to answer directly and comprehensively, especially through writing. How do you raise a feminist in a culture that is often at odds with gender equality, intersectionality, and acceptance? I do not have kids nor have I ever raised one; however, I would venture to say that Adichie does a pretty good job of answering this question.

What I love about Adichie’s writing is that it is direct, to the point, and unabashedly honest. Nothing is sugar-coated or brushed over. For instance, she blatantly describes the difference between how men often act after they get a divorce and how women often act after they get a divorce. She describes how women will support each other by saying things along the lines of “You’re going to be okay,” while men will say things like “You could do better than her anyways.” Notice the difference? The former focuses on individual progress and development, whereas the latter denounces the ex-wife as inferior or not good enough. This is a bold statement to make on Adichie’s part—it doesn’t exactly portray men in a favorable light—but she doesn’t shy away from incorporating it into her argument.

This book doesn’t just advise the reader on how to raise a feminist; rather, Adichie’s text also reminds the reader how to be a feminist. In a sea of books, films, and songs emphasizing romantic love as a heightened ideal, it’s nice to be reminded that marriage doesn’t have to be one’s first and foremost priority all the time. It’s also nice to be reminded that marriage isn’t the only path for women to walk on, despite what the media might otherwise proclaim. Adichie lauds women who are passionate about their careers and underscores the importance of normalizing women holding leadership positions and being successful in the workplace. I read this at a time when such a reminder was incredibly helpful and comforting, particularly as my final year of college begins.

If you’re searching for a powerful, quick, witty feminist read, then look no further than Dear Ijeawele. I would recommend this to anyone and everyone, regardless of whether you’re raising a feminist or just hoping to be one.

Click here to check out other Feminist Friday posts!

What are your thoughts on Dear Ijeawele? Have any other feminist texts you would recommend? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Top Ten Tuesday: Podcasts Worth Listening To

Happy Tuesday!! Technically this week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic is supposed to be about binge-worthy TV shows and movies; however, this summer I watched a grand total of one movie and zero TV shows, which helps demonstrate how little I watch TV. Instead, I thought I would focus this list on binge-worthy podcasts. Lately I’ve been getting into listening to podcasts more often, which is something I’ve been meaning to do for ages. Here are some of the ones I’ve been enjoying recently:

The Daily from The New York Times

“This is how the news should sound. Twenty minutes a day, five days a week, hosted by Michael Barbaro and powered by New York Times journalism.” {Source}

Slow Burn by Slate

“On Slow Burn, Leon Neyfakh excavates the strange subplots and forgotten characters of recent political history—and finds surprising parallels to the present. Season 1 captured what it was like to live through Watergate; Season 2 does the same with the saga of Bill Clinton’s impeachment.” {Source} 

Revisionist History by Malcolm Gladwell

“Welcome to Revisionist History, a podcast from Malcolm Gladwell and Panoply. Each week for 10 weeks, Revisionist History will go back and reinterpret something from the past: an event, a person, an idea. Something overlooked. Something misunderstood.” {Source}

More Perfect by Radiolab

“Supreme Court decisions shape everything from marriage and money to public safety and sex. We know these are very important decisions we should all pay attention to – but they often feel untouchable and even unknowable. Radiolab’s first ever spin-off series, More Perfect, connects you to the decisions made inside the court’s hallowed halls, and explains what those rulings mean for “we the people” who exist far from the bench. More Perfect bypasses the wonkiness and tells stories behind some of the court’s biggest rulings.” {Source} 

Dear Hank and John by Hank and John Green

“Hank and John Green (YouTubers and etc.) answer questions, give questionable advice, and talk about Mars (the planet) and AFC Wimbledon (the 3rd tier English football club).” {Source} 

10 Minute Writer’s Workshop by New Hampshire Public Radio

“A peek into how great writers conjure and craft their work. From creative rituals to guilty distractions…what it takes to get pen to paper. Hosted by Virginia Prescott.” {Source} 

S-Town by Brian Reed

“John despises his Alabama town and decides to do something about it. He asks a reporter to investigate the son of a wealthy family who’s allegedly been bragging that he got away with murder. But then someone else ends up dead, sparking a nasty feud, a hunt for hidden treasure, and an unearthing of the mysteries of one man’s life.” {Source}

What are your favorite podcasts? What do you think of the ones I’ve mentioned? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

AUGUST 2018 | Wrap-Up

What a month August was! I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels like August is a month of transition. Perhaps this feeling has been instilled in me from decades of back-to-school prep, but it nevertheless rings true every year. Here’s what I’ve been up to this past month:

In August I read a total of 3 books:

  1. Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  2. Tell Me How It Ends: An Essay in Forty Questions by Valeria Luiselli
  3. Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel

Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions definitely wins the Favorite Book of the Month award from me in August. This text is incredibly empowering and thought-provoking and I would highly recommend it!

I wasn’t able to read much this month, but I’m still happy with what I did manage to read considering all that I was busy with otherwise. Hopefully I can squeak in some extra reading besides what’s required of me during this semester.

+ MOVIE: I actually didn’t watch any movies in the month of August. *gasp!* I was so busy trying to wrap everything up at home before moving back to campus for the start of the semester that my movie list went unwatched. However, I did listen to several great podcasts, including one of my new favorites: S-Town. Would highly recommend!

+ MUSIC: Lately I’ve been listening to Brockhampton, which has been an interesting time. The playlist I listened to on my commute during my last week of summer was a mix of rap and Disney songs, which pretty much sums up what a transition point in the year I’m in.

+ FOOD: Definitely burritos from the local place near my home in New Hampshire. I always make sure to go there a few times each summer before I have to leave for school.

+ PLACE: Ah, isn’t this the ultimate question this month? Moving back to Wheaton after an entire year away has been a strange and lovely experience, and I’m happy to say that the suite I now share with my friends has quickly become a favorite place this month.

What a month! August encompassed the last couple weeks of my summer as well as my move back to Wheaton after an entire year of being away. It’s been strange and overwhelming to be back in such a familiar place where I don’t know most of the students anymore, since most of the people I was close to outside of my class year have graduated. So many aspects of Wheaton are the same, yet many are so different that it makes me feel like a freshman again in some instances. At first I was taken aback, but fortunately I adjusted fairly quickly with the help of friends. The mountains of work have already begun to pile up, so there hasn’t been much time to wallow.

Mary Lyon Hall at Wheaton College, MA.

Also, can we just take a second to talk about how I’m a senior. I still can’t believe that this is my last year at Wheaton. Where has the time gone? It feels even shorter since I studied abroad, as though there should somehow be an extra year to make up for the one I didn’t experience here. However, part of me does feel ready to complete this year and take on a new path. I have a feeling that this year will be filled with the unexpected!

 Here are some notable posts from my blog this past month:

Here are some posts that I loved reading this month:

How was your month of August? What was the best book you read? Did you do anything really fun or exciting? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

TELL ME HOW IT ENDS by Valeria Luiselli | Review

“Structured around the forty questions Luiselli translates and asks undocumented Latin-American children facing deportation, Tell Me How It Ends (an expansion of her 2016 Freeman’s essay of the same name) humanizes these young migrants and highlights the contradiction of the idea of America as a fiction for immigrants with the reality of racism and fear both here and back home.” {Goodreads}

I stumbled upon Valeria Luiselli’s Tell Me How It Ends in my local bookshop recently and was intrigued by the title. Tell her how what ends? What forty questions were being asked? When I discovered that this book was an extended essay about Luiselli’s time translating the responses of immigrant children, I immediately knew that I would have to bring a copy home with me. I read the entire text the next night before bed, completely enthralled by her experiences working with these children.

Anyone who pays any sort of attention to the news has likely gleaned that immigration has become not only a U.S.-Mexico issue, but a global matter. In this time of explosive, often polarizing politics, it’s refreshing to read a text about immigration that draws on more than solely party lines in order to convey its argument. Although Luiselli does get quite political at times, she does so when it is relevant and necessary to her narrative.

A major strength of this text is that its structure reflects the nature of its subject matter. The immigration issue is both deeply personal and entrenched in formal legal problems. Part of what makes it such a controversial topic is that it’s extremely difficult to separate one aspect from the other. Likewise, Luiselli’s essay weaves her own personal experiences translating children’s stories with information about methods of crossing the border, the social, economic, and political problems of various countries from which these children immigrate, etc. One page she’ll be recounting a story that still haunts her to this day, and the next she’ll be rattling off statistics and quotes and facts that further reinforce the need for books like Luiselli’s in the first place. This intertwining of personal experiences, emotional stories from children, and straight factual information makes Tell Me How It Ends a powerful, moving piece of writing that has the potential to open readers’ eyes about a side to the immigration issue that they may never have thought about before.

Overall, Tell Me How It Ends lived up to all of my expectations. I would highly recommend this book to anyone wanting to learn more about immigration across the U.S.-Mexico border, particularly its impact on children.

What are your thoughts on Tell Me How It Ends? Have any recommendations on similar books to read? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Top Ten Tuesday: Books to Buy Your Rising College Senior

Happy Tuesday!! This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic (hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl) celebrates the back-to-school season with a school-related freebie. As per usual around this time of year, I’d like to share some fictional book titles that I sincerely wish existed (if you’re looking for the subject of your next writing project, then look no further!). As I start my second to last semester of college this week, I can’t help but wish I had more answers to my many burning questions. Without further ado, here is my list of the Top Ten Books to Buy for Your Rising College Senior:

What do you think of these titles? What books would you buy a rising college senior (real or otherwise)? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY