Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Books of 2017

Happy Tuesday!! The end of 2017 is just around the corner (!!!), meaning it’s time to reflect on what I’ve read thus far this year. Today’s Top Ten Tuesday theme highlights the best books we’ve read in 2017, and fortunately I have plenty of fantastic texts to choose from. I’ve decided to limit my list to the books I read for the first time this year because there were many, many rereads thrown into the mix. Here are my favorite books of 2017 in the order that I read them:

Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur

From my review: I bought a copy of Milk and Honey on a whim because I had heard a lot of great things about it. What I didn’t realize was that Rupi’s words would resonate so deeply with me and linger on in my mind long after I had read them. These poems are for anyone and everyone, regardless of whether or not you’ve read or enjoyed poetry in the past. Rupi Kaur has written poetry for human nature.

How to Ruin Everything by George Watsky

From my review: Reading this book felt like having the a random, hilarious, and well-spoken conversation with Watsky. How to Ruin Everything is definitely something I’ll be returning to in the future– for a laugh, for inspiration, and to be reminded that there’s nothing quite like the power of a good story.

The Song of the Lark by Willa Cather

From my review: I was enthralled by this novel. Everything about it captivated me from the very first sentence to the very last word. In fact, I was enjoying it so much that I marked all of my favorite passages with sticky notes, only to realize halfway through that I would have to take them all out when I was finished (it was a library book).

Sartoris by William Faulkner

From my review: When I first started reading Sartoris I was so confused by the many Johns and Bayards that I actually created a character web or family tree of sorts in an attempt to keep them all straight in my mind. However, I thought this would be a much larger hindrance than it ended up being in the long run because the characters became more defined as I became more invested in the story. In fact, the links between the characters– both linguistically with names and in terms of their relationships and personalities– soon became my favorite aspect of this novel. Faulkner uses the Sartoris family to ask a fascinating question: Are these events caused by the fate of the family or a logical cause-and-effect reaction? In other words, are these people responsible for their actions or have they already been destined (or doomed)?

Matilda by Roald Dahl

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

The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins

From my review: I enjoyed The Woman in White far more than I had initially expected to when I turned to the very first page. Collins’ meticulous attention to details and carefully developed characters make for an impressive, memorable, suspenseful, and thrilling story. I’m so thankful that this novel was on my required reading list for this term– sometimes they contain unexpected gems!

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

From my review: As the facade fades away, the reader realizes that what appears to be a utopian world is actually a dystopian society masked in false promises and illusions. I love Brave New World for the way it makes you think about our own society and what we value in our lives today. It’s interesting to think about how this novel was first published in 1932 yet it’s still relevant almost a century later. To me, this endurance is the definition of a classic.

Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner

From my review: For me, the most challenging aspect of this novel was deciphering exactly what happened in the Sutpen family. Who married who? Who killed who? Who had children and who didn’t? Who is still alive? In what order did this all take place? These questions and many others remained at the forefront of my mind the entire time I was reading. There are so many characters, voices, and events– not to mention the fact that it’s not told in chronological order. It was fascinating and exciting to constantly learn new information; however, it also makes it much more confusing to read. I think this is a novel that would absolutely benefit from being reread in the future now that I have the basic plot in my mind.

Quiet by Susan Cain

Sneak peak of my upcoming review: Cain has done incredible work providing both introverts and extroverts with a guide as to the importance of being “quiet.” As an introvert, I constantly found myself nodding along with her ideas and examples, seeing myself accurately reflected in her words. If more teachers, employers, friends, and family members read Quiet, the world would be a brighter, more productive, less stress-inducing place for introverts everywhere.

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

I haven’t yet posted my review of John Green’s most recent novel, but rest assured that I enjoyed it immensely. The representation of mental health issues is incredible and I became invested in the characters almost immediately. You know a novel is great when you find yourself still thinking about it days later!

What are your favorite books of 2017? What do you think of the books that I’ve mentioned? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

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Feminist Fridays: Taylor Swift as a Problematic Poet

On my recent flight from England back to the States I spent hours finally listening to Taylor Swift’s new album reputation. I’ve been a loyal Taylor Swift fan since my middle school days, mostly for nostalgic reasons; however, I’ve always had some mixed feelings about her music and the image she portrays of herself. Today I’d like to discuss a question I’ve been pondering a lot lately: Where does Taylor Swift fit in with feminism? I’d like to approach answering this question as any English major likely would: namely, by analyzing her lyrics as poetry.

Before I begin, I would like to add a little disclaimer: I listen to Taylor Swift’s music all the time. Is this a bit hypocritical of me? Perhaps. I am in no way trying to suggest that no one should ever listen to her music because I think it’s certainly possible for us to enjoy things while also acknowledging that they may be problematic. 

It’s clear that the music of Swift’s early career does not align with feminist thought today. In “Picture to Burn” from her self-titled first album, Swift emphasizes the image of a “crazy” ex-girlfriend while simultaneously threatening to falsely “out” someone for not loving her back:

So go and tell your friends that I’m obsessive and crazy
That’s fine!
I’ll tell mine
You’re gay
By the way…

She continually perpetuates the image of herself as an idealized victim of romance throughout her later albums. In “Love Story” from her album Fearless she presents the classic Romeo and Juliet story, complete with a marriage proposal that is completely one-sided. Her Romeo must come and save her of his own volition, for she is apparently incapable of independently mobilizing herself at all. Yet she also acknowledges that this romanticized story is an illusion in her song “White Horse” when she sings:

That I’m not a princess, this ain’t a fairy tale
I’m not the one you’ll sweep off her feet,
Lead her up the stairwell
This ain’t Hollywood, this is a small town,
I was a dreamer before you went and let me down
Now it’s too late for you
And your white horse, to come around…

You can see why my conflicted feelings about her music has persisted over the years, especially when such contradictions also run through her other albums. Her album Speak Now contains uplifting songs like “Mean,” showing listeners that they’re not alone in being bullied and that one can overcome such traumatic experiences. However, it also has songs like “Better Than Revenge” in which Swift participates in some obvious slut-shaming: 

She’s not a saint
And she’s not what you think
She’s an actress, whoa
She’s better known
For the things that she does
On the mattress, whoa…

My conflicted feelings only worsened when Swift endeavored to change her image entirely with albums Red and 1989, shifting from country music star to pop music artist. I greatly admired her work with 1989, especially the way she poked fun at how she was often viewed by the media in “Blank Space.” Here we see the persistence of the “crazy” and obsessive girl in love, yet she is attempting to use it against those who view her this way.

So it’s gonna be forever
Or it’s gonna go down in flames
You can tell me when it’s over
If the high was worth the pain
Got a long list of ex-lovers
They’ll tell you I’m insane
‘Cause you know I love the players
And you love the game…

But how effective is this satire actually delivered? Does it come across that she is self-aware of how people view her, or does it simply perpetuate the image that she’s been feeding fans all along? The line between the two sides is incredibly fine and ultimately subjective, making it difficult to confidently argue either side.

Then comes her most recent album reputation, which was released on November 10, 2017. It’s obvious that Swift has had enough of the way people have viewed her in the past, making this album an overt attempt to reclaim power over her public reputation. At first I was overjoyed when I learned the theme of this new album– finally, Swift was going to break free from the problematic aspects of her work that have made me feel conflicted for so long. However, as I listened to this album multiple times from my airplane seat I couldn’t help but be disappointed that the same controversial tropes still saturated her lyrics. Of course, there are songs that I really enjoy and genuinely like, and then there are those that make me inwardly cringe as I sing along.

Take the song “Don’t Blame Me” as an example. The entire song is a plea for innocence from a victim of romance, as suggested with the repeated lines:

Don’t blame me, love made me crazy
If it doesn’t, you ain’t doin’ it right
Lord, save me, my drug is my baby
I’ll be usin’ for the rest of my life…

It’s as though Swift’s actions are out of her control because love has made her insane. This image is far from the independent, strong, bold feminist figure she often strives to possess in interviews and television appearances. The Swift of this song is a possession of her lover and completely under his control:

My name is whatever you decide
And I’m just gonna call you mine
I’m insane, but I’m your baby (your baby)
Echoes (echoes) of your name inside my mind
Halo, hiding my obsession
I once was poison ivy, but now I’m your daisy
And baby, for you, I would fall from grace
Just to touch your face
If you walk away
I’d beg you on my knees to stay…

By stating that she would “fall from grace” for her lover, she is invoking the sexist idea of the “fallen women” that was promulgated in the Victorian Era. Here love is portrayed as something too dangerous and sinful for a woman to participate in without inevitably “falling” from her inherent purity. Why would anyone want to perpetuate this awful stereotype that we’ve been trying to break for centuries?

What is the verdict, then? In my opinion, Taylor Swift is undeniably problematic as a supposed feminist figure. Yet despite this bad reputation, my nostalgic attachment for her music continues (as do my ever-increasing conflicted feelings!). This is where it is important to emphasize that it is possible to enjoy art while also acknowledging that it is problematic. I have no problem criticizing Taylor Swift for her sexist, controversial lyrics– but don’t be surprised when I inevitably sing along the next time they blast from the radio.

What are your thoughts on Taylor Swift? Have you listened to her most recent album? How do deal with enjoying problematic things? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

7 Reasons to Read AS I LAY DYING by William Faulkner

William Faulkner is one of my favorite authors. Today, I’m here to persuade you to pick up one of my favorite Faulkner novels: As I Lay Dying. First published in 1930, As I Lay Dying tells the story of the Bundren family as they attempt to move a coffin to Jefferson, Mississippi.

I’ve read this intense novel twice: once last summer just for fun and once this past summer for the Faulkner tutorial I’m currently taking at Oxford. Each time I’ve been taken aback by the depth and complexity of this story. What first appears to be a simple task– transporting a coffin to a burial ground– quickly transforms into a journey that will change the family forever.

If you’ve never read this book, here are seven reasons why you should:

1. Relatively short length || At around 250 pages, As I Lay Dying is more manageable than some of Faulkner’s other texts. The pace moves quickly due to the short chapters and numerous narrators, meaning that it feels even shorter. If book length intimidates you, then this might be a good place to start with Faulkner.

2. Narration || With 15 narrators and 59 chapters, this novel is certainly a whirlwind. This jigsaw puzzle of perspectives forces the reader to piece together the story bit by bit. Each chapter is labelled with the narrator’s name, though Faulkner writes his characters so distinctly that the reader would likely be able to identify the narrator even without the helpful note at the top of the page.

3. Family dynamics || The abundance of narrators also offers the reader a close look at the inner workings of the Bundren family. Over the course of the novel we learn the many secrets this family has been hiding, including knowledge that only certain family members know.

4. Plot twists || There are so many details and layers to this story that I was still surprised when I read it a second time. From uncovered secrets and personality traits to unexpected events in the middle of the night, As I Lay Dying is sure to make you gasp at least once.

5. Dewey Dell || Dewey Dell is my favorite character because she’s arguably the most interesting character. Now that Addie Bundren is no longer living, Dewey Dell is the only female in the family. Though we do hear from Cora– a woman living near the Bundrens– Dewey Dell’s narrations allow us to peek into the life of a teenage girl during this time period. Though her narration was written by an older man and therefore must be taken with a grain of salt, it’s nevertheless telling that Faulkner decided to focus on pregnancy as a major theme. The idea of virginity is a common thread throughout Faulkner’s works, suggesting that humans have been preoccupied with the concept of purity in womanhood for far longer than we’d like to admit.

6. The challenge || I’m not going to lie: this book is quite challenging at times. What is the reader to do when characters start arguing over whether their mother is a fish or a horse? However, reading this novel twice has taught me that all the details unfold eventually– you just need a little patience.

7. The ending || The last line of this novel has made me gasp out loud each time that I’ve read it (even though I knew it was coming the second time around). It’s amazing that a simple sentence can change how you think about everything you’ve just read.

I hope I’ve convinced you to pick up this brilliant novel!

What are your thoughts on As I Lay Dying? What’s your favorite Faulkner text? Have any recommendations? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Sunshine Blogger Award | 4

Hi everyone! I hope you’re having a lovely day! To brighten up this wintery mood I’m going to share the Sunshine Blogger Award. Thanks so much to Dani @ Perspective of a Writer for nominating me!

  • Thank the person who nominated you in a blog post and link back to their blog.
  • Answer the 11 questions sent by the person who nominated you.
  • Nominate 11 new blogs to receive the award and write them 11 new questions.
  • List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post and/or on your blog.

Who is the one person that is the sunshine in your life?

Just ONE?!?!?!? I’m going to cheat and say all of my family and friends. How can I pick just one?!?!

Do you prefer all happy movies, or occasional sad movies?

Preferably all happy movies. I’ll watch sad movies if I’m with other people who also want to watch it, but I definitely try to avoid reading sad books if I can help it.

What is the one food that always makes you happy?

PIZZA. Or oatmeal… there’s nothing better than a steaming bowl of oatmeal and raisins in the morning.

What is the sunshine on your blog?

The comments section! I love reading everyone’s comments even though I’m usually pretty slow at finding time to respond to them all. I appreciate each and every one of them ❤

What is your favorite holiday?

CHRISTMAS.

What is one thing you love about yourself?

My ability to remember song lyrics even when I haven’t listened to a song in years.

What is one thing you love about the blogging community?

I love how incredibly kind and supportive everyone is in the blogging community, especially when it comes to inclusiveness.

What is the one book that made you smile the most?

Definitely The BFG by Roald Dahl. No matter how many times I read this book it will always make me laugh!

Where is your corner of sunshine in your home?

At the moment, it’s the Christmas tree in the corner of our living room. I love when the house is decorated for Christmas!

What is your favorite color or colors?

Probably yellow and mint (or is it called turquoise/teal? It’s the color of my blog…).

What is the one movie (or drama) that always makes you happy?

Definitely Jurassic Park. It’s such a wacky story and I love the cheesy, witty banter between all of the characters.

As per usual with these kinds of posts, I’ll pass along the same questions that I answered for those that I’ve nominated. Thanks again to Dani for nominating me! Answering these questions was a blast!

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

Yours,

HOLLY

Top Ten Tuesday: Bookish Settings I’d Love to Visit

Happy Tuesday!! Today’s Top Ten Tuesday topic set by the bloggers over at The Broke and the Bookish highlights the ten bookish settings we’d love to visit. At times it has felt like I have been living in a fictional setting for the past few months (shout out to Oxford for being so magical!), so I was very excited when I saw this topic on the list. I’ve tried to avoid mentioning the really obvious ones (AKA Hogwarts and Middle-earth) so hopefully these are a little more interesting. In no particular order, they are:

The Yorkshire Moors of Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

This is quite a realistic goal for me considering that I’m currently studying abroad in England. I would love to visit the beautiful rural backdrop of this tumultuous Victorian novel.

The forest in Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt

The forest in this charming little book sounds so idyllic and peaceful (plus there’s that beautiful magic spring!). I’d love to take a strong among the tall trees and have a chat with Winnie Foster.

Cabeswater in The Raven Boys by Maggie Steifvater

Another magical forest I’d love to visit (can you tell I have a thing for magical forests?!). Exploring it with Blue and her crew would be an added bonus!

The BFG’s home in The BFG by Roald Dahl

I would give anything to see the rows and rows of dream jars in the BFG’s cavern… and maybe try a snozzcumber or two while I’m at it! Little ten-year-old me was so jealous of Sophie’s adventures and friendship with the Big Friendly Giant.

Jurassic Park in Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton

Even though the park ends up being a total disaster, it would still be incredible to see such huge dinosaurs up close. Besides, who doesn’t want to cruise around in those fun jeeps?

The circus in The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Confession: I’ve never been to a circus before. I feel like the amazing, whimsical, fantastic circus of this novel would be an incredible first circus experience… and a very overwhelming one!

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

I’ve read this book so many times, but I can never quite imagine precisely what the towers in the garden might look like with all of their different pieces and parts. I would love to finally see them for myself!

The Lands Beyond in The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

I would go to the Lands Beyond just for the sake of the amazing puns and wordy cleverness (and also Tock, the watchdog). It sounds like the ultimate destination for an English major!

Florin in The Princess Bride by William Goldman

Rolling hills? Looming cliffs? Fire swamps? (Minus the scary R.O.U.S. of course.) Sign me up! I would love to visit the amazing landscape of Florin (especially with Westley by my side…).

Outer space in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

Adams makes me want to achieve my childhood dream of being an astronaut (although it probably wouldn’t be as hilarious as he makes it out to be!).

What bookish settings would you love to visit? What do you think of the ones I’ve mentioned? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

OXMAS | Holly Goes Abroad

The festive fun might just be beginning with the start of December, but Oxmas is actually already over…. But what is Oxmas, you ask? Oxmas is Oxford’s version of celebrating Christmas much, much earlier than everyone else. The vast majority of students move out of their accommodations during the first few days of December (I’ll be on a plane flying home as you read this), meaning that there would hardly be any time for Christmas festivities if they waited until November was over to celebrate. Thus, Oxmas was born!

Without Thanksgiving, there is nothing creating a clear distinction between when you should and shouldn’t start getting in the Christmas spirit. Decorations around the city began going up around the middle of November, with shops playing Christmas music and Christmas markets popping up on the weekends. (There was even a Christmas tree at our Thanksgiving dinner…) There were too many Christmas parties, socials, dinners, and other events to possibly count. I actually went to two carol services– two more than I had ever been to in my life before. Everyone is genuinely, unironically festive despite the fact that all of this happened before it was even December. 

 Celebrating Christmas so early may feel strange to some people, but I loved it. I’m one of those people who starts listening to Josh Groban’s Christmas album the minute the clock strikes November 1st, so Oxmas was an incredibly welcome surprise. What I didn’t anticipate was how disoriented it makes you feel. Every time I left one of these events I felt as though Christmas was right around the corner, like it was December 20th and I just had a few more days to wait… until I realized that, in actuality, it was still November. But that means that I get SO MUCH extra Christmas fun this year!

One of the best Christmas events I attended was the Christmas formal dinner at Mansfield College. The hall was beautifully decorated and the food was absolutely delicious. Being served turkey, vegetables, and potatoes reminded me a lot of Thanksgiving (albeit without squash and stuffing, the best parts). I had also never done Christmas crackers before, so I was pretty surprised and a bit confused when we all popped open the crackers and put on shiny paper crowns. There was a moment during dinner when the feeling of being at some sort of real-life Hogwarts just hit me– how can this place be so amazing?!

Christmas remains my favorite holiday, but Oxmas has definitely jumped to the top section of the list! Now that I’ve celebrated Christmas for about two weeks, I’m ready to go back home and continue on for another month. I wish I could celebrate Oxmas every year!

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

Have you ever been in Oxmas during Christmastime? How early do you start celebrating Christmas? What is your favorite Christmas tradition? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

NOVEMBER 2017 | Wrap-Up

Happy December!! We are now in the middle of my two favorite months of the year: chilly November and festive December (though my November was also incredibly festive!). November has been a whirlwind of travel, celebrations, work, and more work. Now that term has officially ended for me (woo hoo!) I’m really looking forward to some rest and relaxation in December. But before that, let’s see what I was up to in November!

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In November I read a total of 3 books:

  1. The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket
  2. Rhetoric: A Very Short Introduction by Richard Toye
  3. The Time Keeper by Mitch Albom

My favorite book of the month was The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket. For some reason I never read this popular series when I was younger so I’ve never understood all of the references people make to them. I definitely regret not reading them sooner– they’re fantastic! So witty! So clever! So dark yet so funny! I’ve been listening to the audio book version narrated by Tim Curry and it’s extremely well done. I can’t wait to continue on with the rest of the series!

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I was so busy in November that it feels as though this month has stretched on forever! At the beginning of the month my friends and I took a trip to Brighton, England, which was really beautiful and lovely. You read more about it in my post here, but we basically spent one day perusing the downtown area and exploring the pier and another day admiring the extraordinary Seven Sisters Cliffs. A weekend in Brighton was definitely not enough time and I would love to go back at some point before my year abroad is over.

Seven Sisters Cliffs

In the middle of the month I celebrated my 21st birthday! Before you ask: I don’t feel older, especially since it isn’t even a big marker of drinking age in the UK. Still, I had a really great time with friends and I’m so thankful to be surrounding by such wonderful people.

Come to think of it, November has been a flood of holidays and celebrations. Not only did I have a birthday this month, but we also celebrated Thanksgiving and Oxmas. Since most students move out of their college accommodations for winter break, the city of Oxford gets into the festive spirit even before Thanksgiving. Streets and shops have been decorated for weeks now, and my college even had Christmas carol services and a formal dinner for us all. I feel like Christmas is right around the corner already even though December has just begun!

A big Christmas tree in our Chapel Hall

Of course, November wasn’t all fun and festivities: I’m finally done with all of my work for the term! An eight-week term might sound like no time at all, but the work is so intense that eventually it feels like you’ve been reading about Victorian literature and Faulkner for ages. I’ll miss the subjects I studied in Michaelmas, but I’m equally excited to launch into new subjects in Hilary. I can’t believe I’m already a third of the way through the year!

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Now that term has officially ended, I should finally have more time to actually blog on a regular basis! I’ve pretty much depleted my store of posts I had scheduled in advance, so it’s back to the blogger drawing board. I’ve got some new ideas I’ve been eager to try and I can’t wait to be able to read and comment on all of your lovely posts again. ❤

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 November? 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

THE SUN AND HER FLOWERS by Rupi Kaur | Review

Recently I read this Guardian article by Priya Khaira-Hanks that speaks about the controversy surrounding Rupi Kaur as an “instapoet” who has supposedly lowered the bar when it comes to the quality of publishable poetry. Kaur’s poetic style is often parodied with the intended implication being that anyone could write such simple, mundane lines. Despite this criticism, Khaira-Hanks asserts that Kaur presents an important and underrepresented voice in our modern world of poetry, saying at the end of the article:

As a young woman of colour in a world where white, male delectations are treated as the definitive barometer of taste, Kaur speaks a truth that the literary establishment is unlikely to understand. Even the most sincere critique of her work can slide from healthy debate into vicious attack at the turn of a page. But to read Kaur’s success as an omen of the death of poetry would be to unfairly dismiss writing that contains bravery, beauty and wisdom. Frankly, the literary world is saturated with white male voices of dubious quality. Kaur’s poetry should be given the same freedom to be flawed.

After reading Kaur’s second published poetry collection titled The Sun and Her Flowers, I’m inclined to agree with the Guardian article. Kaur’s poems are not perfect, yet I believe that is precisely the point: they are not perfect and neither are those who read them. I admire Kaur’s poetry not because it demonstrates a mastery of poetic form or follows conventional poetic traditional; rather, I keep returning to her words because they’re true. Genuine. Raw. Honest. Real.

Kaur once gave a TEDtalk called “I’m Taking My Body Back” in which she discussed how she began writing poetry as a means of survival in the tumultuous aftermath of abuse. Listening to her speak about her trauma adds another layer of depth and emotion to her work. Suddenly those short, seemingly simple snippets of verse (“what is stronger / than the human heart / which shatters over and over / and still lives”) take on greater meaning and significance in the context of someone’s actual experiences. I know that I find solace and comfort in her words because they are so undeniably human in their capacity to feel. Those moments of clarity when you finally feel as though someone else understands what you’re going through are abundant in Kaur’s work– perhaps this is why readers continue to support this (to use her flower analogy) blossoming young poet.

At times The Sun and Her Flowers so closely resembles her first collection Milk and Honey that I probably would only be able to recognize a handful of poems by sight from each. I would have liked to see a little bit more experimentation with form (more than the long paragraph poems); however, I did appreciate the vivid flower analogy that ties the entire collection together quite nicely. This collection felt repetitive to me, especially following Milk and Honey. Personally, I hope that she branches out a bit more if she publishes a third collection in the future.

Overall, Kaur’s The Sun and Her Flowers is an emotional, beautiful, thought-provoking collection of poetry. Although Milk and Honey remains my favorite of her collections, I nevertheless look forward to reading whatever poetry she continues to share with us readers in the future. I would highly recommend this collection even if you haven’t read anything by Kaur before!

What are your thoughts on The Sun and Her Flowers or any of Rupi Kaur’s other poetry? Have any recommendations for other poets I should check out? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Top Ten Tuesday: Winter 2017 TBR

Happy Tuesday!! I think it’s now safe to say that winter is pretty much here, meaning that it’s time to start thinking about winter TBR lists. I’m awful at sticking to TBRs– especially since I have so much to read for course work already– but I would really love to read at least a few of the titles on my list while I’m home for winter break. I know for a fact that I definitely won’t be able to read all of these! Nevertheless, here are ten books that I would love to read this winter: 

What books are you hoping to read this winter? What do you think of the books I’ve mentioned? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Thanksgiving in Oxford | Holly Goes Abroad

This past Thursday was my second favorite holiday (after Christmas, of course): Thanksgiving!! Every year since I can remember all of my family members have come over to my house for Thanksgiving dinner. Sitting crammed around our too-small dining room table is one of the few times each year when we’re all gathered together in one place and I always look forward to the food and festivities. Needless to say, I was quite sad when I realized that studying abroad would mean that I wouldn’t be home for this lovely holiday. Fortunately, Mansfield College already had this problem covered!

The smaller high table at the front of Chapel Hall.

Since Mansfield is used to hosting visiting students from the States each year they always put on a Thanksgiving dinner in the Chapel Hall. We weren’t quite sure how it was going to go, but we needn’t have worried– it was amazing! They served the usual turkey with all the trimmings and even had pumpkin pie for dessert (we had all been craving it for days now). Not only was it great to have a familiar meal, but it was also really fun to share the experience with my friends from the U.K. who had never been to a Thanksgiving dinner before. (They were so confused about the corn bread for some reason…)

Of course, nothing is comparable to Thanksgiving dinner back home. I think it’s safe to say that we all found this a bit too formal for our liking, especially since most of us are used to a relaxed, casual dinner with family. We missed the quirky twists that each of our families inevitably puts on the traditional meal (I missed the cheesecake my mom always makes) and spent a majority of the time talking about all of our different ways of doing Thanksgiving. Who knew that there were so many variations on turkey, stuffing, and squash?

The front of Chapel Hall– they’ve already started decorating for Christmas!

Despite these differences, I had a fun, delicious, and incredibly memorable Thanksgiving in Oxford. I must admit that for an American holiday, the British do it pretty well! I hope you all had a lovely Thanksgiving if you celebrate it! ❤

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

Have you ever celebrated Thanksgiving (or another big holiday) somewhere other than where you usually celebrate it? What’s your favorite Thanksgiving tradition? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY