JANUARY 2018 | Wrap-Up

The first month of 2018 is officially complete! Resolutions have been made (and inevitably some have been dropped…), classes have resumed, and the busy bustling of everyday life is back in full swing once again. January through March or April tends to be my least favorite time of year because I don’t have any fun holidays to look forward to, but this year feels a bit different thanks to studying abroad. Here’s what I’ve been up to thus far in 2018:

In January I read a total of 18 books (!!!):

  1. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
  2. Girl Up by Laura Bates
  3. The Quartet by Joseph J. Ellis
  4. The Miserable Mill by Lemony Snicket
  5. The Austere Academy by Lemony Snicket
  6. Frederick Douglass by William S. McFeely
  7. What Happened by Hillary Rodham Clinton
  8. The Art of Memoir by Mary Karr
  9. Lit Up by David Denby
  10. Not So Quiet by Helen Zenna Smith
  11. Why Read Moby-Dick? by Nathaniel Philbrick
  12. Nightwood by Djuna Barnes
  13. The Ersatz Elevator by Lemony Snicket
  14. The Vile Village by Lemony Snicket
  15. Night by Elie Wiesel
  16. Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin
  17. On Writing by Stephen King
  18. Les Misérables by Victor Hugo

HOW DID I READ THIS MANY BOOKS?! I definitely expected to read nothing at all this month because I moved back to England to continue the rest of my year at Oxford. The constant stream of essays I write each week means that I hardly have time to read for fun… EXCEPT by listening to audio books. Audiobooks are the secret key to reading way more than I ever expected I’d be able to. I listen to them while walking to lecture and college, cooking, getting ready in the morning, doing laundry, etc. It’s the perfect way to read and be productive at the same time!

I read a lot of excellent books this month, but my favorite is the first book I read so far this year: Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf. I read this novel for my English Literature 1910-Present tutorial and have immensely enjoyed studying it in terms of gender, its treatment of veterans in postwar British society, and its modernist writing style. It as also her 136th birthday this month!

This year I’m adding a new section to my monthly wrap-ups: favorites!

+ MOVIE: Definitely Les Misérables (2012). I had never seen the play or a movie adaptation before this month, so I had absolutely no idea what to expect. Let me just say that I was wrecked. I literally cried throughout a solid 70 percent of this film.

+ MUSIC: Is anyone surprised that I’ve been listening to the Les Mis soundtrack on repeat for the past two weeks? (Answer: You shouldn’t be.) My favorite songs include “ABC Cafe / Red & Black,” “On My Own,” “One Day More,” and “Paris / Look Down.” There are so many amazing songs to choose from!

+ FOOD: FALAFEL. Falafel is definitely more popular here in England than where I live back home, so I’ve enjoyed making falafel wraps for lunch and dinner. It’s so good with carrots and cucumbers and sweet potato…

+ PLACE: It’s been hard not to fall even more in love with Mansfield College, where I’m currently studying abroad in Oxford. It’s such a beautiful place and the people I’ve met here are lovely ❤

I did it! I made it back to Oxford all by myself! It was the first time I had made the trip from home to England alone, and it actually went surprisingly smoothly. Every new step I take as far as travel goes makes me a bit more confident about traveling even more in the future. The transition back to Oxford life was seamless and in many ways it feels as though I never even left. Work has picked back up again, reading has commenced, and my typing fingers have already written more essays than I would have written in an entire semester back at Wheaton.

Of course, there’s been plenty of time for fun as well. My friends and I have booked a trip to Spain for our spring break, visited several pubs, played a plethora of board games, and even attended a bop and other college events. I love Oxford because there’s a pervasive sense of routine here despite the seemingly unstructured tutorial system. Apart from tutorials and lectures, there is also a sort of structure to social events: bops in 0th and 8th week, champagne and chocolates on 2nd and 6th week, formal hall Wednesdays and Fridays, etc. It’s nice to be able to plan ahead for fun nights like those!

All in all, I’m really looking forward to what this term has in store!

 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 January? What was the best book you read? Did you do anything really fun or exciting? Let me know in the comments section below!



51 thoughts on “JANUARY 2018 | Wrap-Up

  1. What a lovely post – and thanks for the link. I’m thrilled to be included in the posts you enjoyed this month. I’m impressed by how much you read/managed to listen to, given everything else you did – lectures and tutorials, essays, pubs and socialising.Well done.

    I like that you are including favourite food and films in your post. That Les Mis was very moving I recollect – as is the musical. I’m embarrassed to say that I haven’t read the book. Bad me.

    And falafel. That’s interesting about the difference between where you are now and where you’re from. Middle eastern food has been big down under for a couple of decades and so falafel is very popular here too. (It’s great vegetarian food for a start.) Anyhow, I agree, falafel is delicious and I’m glad you’ve discovered it!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you! It’s funny that you mention falafel being great vegetarian food because that’s actually why I first tried it here. I’m not a vegetarian but one of my close friends at Oxford is, and making falafel wraps for dinner is her go-to meal. Works out well for me! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Omg Holly, I had a chance to taste falafel like some months ago and I love it so much! There’s not enough love for it! Also, that’s a great list of books. I do love your reading tastes! Will you be blogging about your spring break trip? The champagne and chocolate event sounds crazy haha

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’ll definitely be blogging about my spring break trip! I’m already looking forward to it SO much… it certainly helps to have something planned to get you through the term 🙂


  3. falafel!!! I made falafel for my family before they ever had it professionally done, and now they think falafel in general is horrible because I blighted the recipe. DISASTERS. & i can’t believe it’s Virginia’s 136th birthday this month????? she is getting her own small shrine ❤ ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Wow, looks like you had a great month! I’ve been finding audiobooks have been allowing me to read more, too, especially during my commute.

    I also dislike Jan-April, because there are basically no days off to look forward to!

    Have a great semester!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Yay for your successful move back to Oxford! It looks so pretty there. 🙂
    A few things that left me flabbergasted:1) how did you read 17 books AND Les Misérables?? Even if you listened to audiobooks…it’s a beast. I’m wondering if your brain is actually a computer that you can just download things into…
    2) I can’t believe you haven’t seen Les Mis before now! It’s so good.

    Hoping you have a wonderful time back at Oxford. I feel like I’m living the college dream vicariously through you. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hahaha I’m wondering those things myself! Just goes to show how much time I spend walking back and forth from college to lecture listening to audio books…

      Thanks so much, Emily! ❤


  6. I studied Literature when I was at university too, and reading Mrs Dalloway was such a game changer for me. It was the first time I really deeply engaged with a text in a way in a way that made me really understand it’s place in literary history. Urgh, Virginia is. THE. BEST.

    Oxford looks gorgeous. I live in the UK, and it has been on my list of places to visit forever. It must feel pretty special to be studying somewhere so historic 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. YES ❤ I'm taking an entire course on Virginia Woolf next term and I'm SO excited!!

      Also, you should absolutely visit Oxford if you get the chance! It's surreal walking down these streets and in these libraries that have been around for centuries… I still feel like I'm in a movie! 🙂


  7. Wow! I’ve never been very good at listening to audiobooks but this makes me want to give them another shot.

    I’m doing a re-read of Les Miserables right now, and this reminds me to get back on it. (I’m fanatical about the musical/film — I’m so glad you enjoyed it! I really enjoyed how the film manages to sneak in some great moments from the book that aren’t usually portrayed the same way in the musical, such as Grantaire’s death.)

    Liked by 1 person

  8. January: my school had two snow days. I live in the suites and we did not have sleds so we ended up using cushions from the common areas and put them in garbage bags to go sledding. The only things I read were book required for class.

    About Les Mis: First the movie December 2012 and despite not knowing if I liked it or not, looked it up anyway. Seen it a 2nd time and started to notice there is something special in it. Before you knew it, I was obsessed with it. Saw the stage show first in 2013 at community college 3x, then in 2015 in the West End, and finally in 2017 on tour so saw the stage show a total of 5x. I am emotional wreck when I watch Les Mis. If you actually go to my blog, you will eventually find a post about how I got obsessed with the musical in the first place.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. OMG I’ve always wanted to go sledding on campus… definitely a bucket list goal! Also, I can totally see myself going down that same Les Mis adoration spiral…. it’s so amazing! ❤ ❤


      1. Sledding on Campus is so much fun.

        I never thought I would love a musical like Les Mis. Prior, I thought all musicals were happy, but capable of sad at times. In high school, I thought tragedies were pure sad so I ignored them and told myself I will never love one. Les Mis proved me wrong on so many levels.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. It is so great you managed to read so much this month, despite being so busy with your schedule 🙂 All of these Oxford pictures are making me quite nostalgic, I’ll have to go back here someday ahah ❤
    Hope you'll have a lovely month xx

    Liked by 1 person

  10. oh YAY a series of unfortunate events!!! i love those books so much it hurts my soul :’)

    i’m obsessed with reading about your life at oxford!! i’m so glad it’s going so well, it sounds amazing. hope your february is great, too!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I’ve seen Les Mis many times, but certain moments always make me tear up a bit!
    I had no idea that falafel was such a popular food in England. There used to be a great falafel place near me but it closed recently.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. 18 books?!!! Girl you are on FIYAAHHHH!! And Les Mis as one of them? I’ve seen editions of that as thick as a dictionary!

    (And it’s so funny you mention audiobooks because January is when I started listening to them too! Great minds think alike hehehe)

    The film of Les Mis is incredible. I saw the musical waaay back in junior high school performed by a
    community college and have been obsessed with the story ever since. Been too intimidated to read the book though by its sheer size! How did you like it?

    Enjoy your trip to Spain and please take lots of pictures! You know I live vicariously through you hahaha! 😀


  13. With traveling, you definitely need to throw yourself out there, because otherwise there’s no other way you can grow your confidence to travel solo. 😊 I’ve never flown by myself before, but I think the opportunity to do so might be coming up for me and I can’t wait to finally test my confidence as a traveler!

    Have fun on your trip to Spain! 😋😋

    Liked by 1 person

  14. My January was pretty good! I travelled around new zealand a lot and went to a really delightful excellent camp, but I’m really looking forward to actually starting uni this month. And good for you travelling on your own! It’s so fun (also terrifying) but go you! It sounds like you’re earning lots at oxford, which is fantastic. And have fun in spain; it’s a great place to visit (and the food is so good!)

    Liked by 1 person

  15. WOAh 18 books you are such a great overachiever!! I was travelling and socialising lot in January and didn’t read so much, sadly 😦 I love reading audiobooks though and I agree, it’s very efficient! (although I’m also pretty good at reading and walking tbh). I kind of go through phases of being really into audiobooks and then forgetting that they exist. Falafel is GREAT. I need more in my life, haha. I really should watch Les Mis again! I watched it while I was in England last year and like it but kind of didn’t understand all the lyrics??

    Liked by 1 person

    1. OMG reading and walking?!?! That’s IMPRESSIVE. I’d be so afraid of bumping into people, although I have seen many people reading and walking around Oxford 🙂


  16. I’ve found audiobooks to be a massive help too! I still don’t read anywhere near as much as you do, but they really help me get through my uni books within the timescale given, especially because a lot of the time I’ll be too tired in the evenings after a day of uni and would have to write it off as a no-read evening. They’re so helpful!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Exactly! By the time I get back to my room at night after reading and writing essays all day that last thing I want to do is look at another page… but listening to an audio book is the perfect middle ground 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  17. You had such an excellent month, Holly 🌸
    Oxford is so amazingly beautiful, I would love to visit there someday and I’m sure you love studying there! Also Falafels are SO good, we don’t get them here a lot but when I get the chance to have one I definitely go for it 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I LOVED Mrs. Dalloway ❤ It took a little while to get used to Woolf's stream of consciousness style, but once I finished reading it all I wanted to do was go back to the beginning and start all over again 🙂


  18. I was so happy to see Night on your list because I’ve been thinking for a while to pick it up since I’ve recently listened to an interview of the author and he seemed like an amazing person! Also, it looks like you had an amazing month for reading and for everything else! ❤ Enjoy your trip to Spain, it's a really beautiful country, I'm sure you'll enjoy your time there!

    Liked by 1 person

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