Awards

Versatile Blogger Award | 4

Today I’m here with the Versatile Blogger Award. Thanks so much to Jenna @ Bookmark Your Thoughts for nominating me!! I’ve done this award a few times, and for the most recent one I did an autumn theme. Since I love a good tradition, I thought I would give this one a summer theme.

  1. Thank the person who nominated you.
  2. Leave a link to their blog.
  3. Tell us 7 things about yourself.
  4. Nominate 15 bloggers/bloggers you’ve discovered recently or follow regularly.

1. I’ve worked at the same nonprofit for four summers now (!!!). It’s called a child advocacy center and they conduct forensic interviews of child abuse victims in our county so the kiddos don’t have to be interviewed my multiple people in different settings. I do a lot of writing for them, applying to grants for funding and creating anything they need for fundraising events. It’s such a great job because it blends together my love of writing and my interest in the legal field. It’s wild to think that this is my fourth summer working there!

2. Up until a few years ago, my family camped at the same site in the same campground over the same week every summer–for twelve consecutive years. We’ve stopped doing it because of busy work schedules and the fact that it takes a lot of work to prepare for and actually execute, but it’s one of my most beloved family traditions. So many wonderful memories came out of those nights curled up in sleeping bags in the tent, sitting around the campfire, and lounging by the lake.

3. Every summer I try to tackle a tome, preferably one that I’ve been meaning to read for a while or that I wouldn’t otherwise have the time to read. I’ve read Hamilton by Ron Chernow, Moby Dick by Herman Melville, Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell, and War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy this way. This summer I’m buddy reading The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien with Mary Drover, which I’m really excited about. It’ll be so great to finally check this one off my list after literal decades of it sitting on my shelf.

4. Summer is my blog scheduling time. As soon as a new semester starts, I find that I barely have time to pick up a book, let alone have the headspace to write blog posts in the midst of writing paper after paper. I’ve gotten into the routine of scheduling a bunch of posts ahead of time so that I don’t have to worry about writing new posts for at least the first few weeks of the fall semester. Blogging nonstop like this also keep me reading and writing regularly, which helps make the transition back to taking classes a lot easier when the new semester begins.

5. I love going picking. Every summer my mom and I pick strawberries and blueberries and then bake with our goodies. We always make a strawberry rhubarb pie, and then experiment a bit with the blueberries–sometimes we’ll bake a classic blueberry pie, and other times we’ll make breads or muffins. We’ve stayed loyal to the same farm for years, returning each summer to pick and then peruse their farm stand for pea pods and raspberries. It’s one of my favorite summer traditions!

6. When I was younger, I was an avid summer reader. I have distinct memories of being 11 or 12 years old and going to my local public library each week. I would check out four or five books at a time and always return with my stack the following week to return them and get more. I remember thinking that I would love to work at that library someday–and then I did! Such a nice little full circle!

7. This summer I’m doing #100daysofsummer on my bookstagram. I love taking bookish photos, especially in the summertime when I can take them outside in the garden or by the edge of the woods surrounding my house. I’ve decided to post a photo every day this summer as a fun little project to get me taking more photos and talking about books more beyond just this blog. I’m really excited about it! Follow my bookstagram here to follow along!

Emma @ Emma Reads || Rebecca @ Bookishly Rebecca || Georgiana @ Readers’ High Tea || Amanda @ Amanda’s Book Review || Dini @ Dini Panda Reads || Mia @ Pen and Parchment

Yours,

HOLLY

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Books

BOOK OF ILLUSIONS by Paul Auster | Reflection

In my Postmodern American Fiction class this past semester, we were assigned to write a page reflection each week on the book that we read. I actually really enjoyed writing these reflections because they were a chance to choose a specific aspect of the book and discuss it in depth without needed to come to any precise conclusions or arguments. In fact, I liked it so much that I’ve decided to continue on the process this summer! Along with reviews I’ll be sharing these reflections, brief discussions on novels that I’ve read without any value judgment or rating on my part. Let me know what you think! 

While watching what is deemed to be Hector Mann’s last film known to the public, David remarks that “we are looking at him as he looks at himself, and in this eerie doubling of perspectives, we watch him confront the fact of his own annihilation. Double or nothing” (Auster 53). This latter phrase struck me as both interesting and important: interesting because it is strange to think of a human identity as being something that can be doubled or reduced to nothing, and important because of the implications of this very contradiction. One could read this statement as it appears to be most obviously written–something is either double or nothing–or, I would argue, one could read this as something being simultaneously double and nothing. Here is where we can see a connection with the basic tenets of quantum theory: conceptually we understand that light is both a particle and a wave, but it could also be observed as either/or depending on how it is measured.

Paul Auster’s novel The Book of Illusions is riddled with instances of “double or nothing,” from names and puns to women, fathers, and actions. For instance, Frieda Spelling also writes her name as Mrs. Hector Mann in her letters to David. Is she both of these identities? One of them? Neither? Furthermore, when David describes the multiple ways Hector portrayed himself to the media he remarks: “Put these contradictions together, and you wind up with nothing, the portrait of a man with so many personalities and family histories that he is reduced to a pile of fragments, a jigsaw puzzle whose pieces no longer connect” (Auster 83). This statement offers another way to look at the phrase “double or nothing,” for David seems to suggest that too much multiplicity can lead to a blurring or even loss of meaning. In other words, more than two options may lead to nothingness, to an ambiguous mess of possibilities too numerous to keep track of.

Perhaps this is Auster’s way of commenting on the seemingly arbitrariness of language: puns are intelligible when a word has two meanings, but what if it has more than two? What if a metaphor can be interpreted in multiple ways? Does it have multiple meanings? Or does it have no meaning at all, since it is left up to so much interpretation? These are the sort of questions and ideas that haunted my reading of The Book of Illusions, a novel that once again plays with themes and problems that quantum theory also endeavors to address.

Thoughts on The Book of IllusionsHave you ever read a book that plays with the multiplicity of language in a similar way? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: My Favorite Empowering Reads

Happy Tuesday!! This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic asks us to share ten favorite books from our favorite genre. Usually I would say that my favorite genre is classic literature, but lately I’ve been going through a bit of a tough patch with some personal things and have been trying to immerse myself in books that are empowering and inspiring to read. There’s nothing like a good book to get you amped and excited!

The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House by Audre Lorde

This collection of essays was gifted to me by one of my friends that I met at Oxford and I am so grateful that it was. I remember reading this book in a parking lot waiting for an appointment and actually tearing up because Lorde’s words are just so moving and powerful.

“We have the power those who came before us have given us, to move beyond the place where they were standing. We have the trees, and water, and sun, and our children. Malcolm X does not live in the dry texts of his words as we read them; he lives in the energy we generate and use to move along the visions we share with him. We are making the future as well as bonding to survive the enormous pressures of the present, and that is what it means to be a part of history.”

Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

This little book is like a breath of fresh air. There are so many little nuggets of truth here, ones that deeply resonate with me as things that should come as a given in life but are often hidden and distorted by society. Such as: “Your feminist premise should be: I matter. I matter equally. Not “if only.” Not “as long as.” I matter equally. Full stop.”

What Happened by Hillary Rodham Clinton

As someone soon entering law school, I found this book to be a really interesting insight into the challenges women face in male dominated spheres like law, government, and politics. This memoir is also just inspiring in and of itself: Hillary has gone through so much in her life, much of it under the harsh, unforgiving, scrutinizing gaze of the American public. While she has certainly made mistakes along the way, she has also experienced a lot of turmoil in her life that was out of her control. Some may say that this book is sad because she ultimately did not achieve her goal of becoming president of the United States, and that is true; however, I think it’s also really empowering because she is still here fighting for what she believes in and telling her story in this memoir, despite the public failure that she recently endured.

“For a candidate, a leader, or anyone, really, the question is not “Are you flawed?” It’s “What do you do about your flaws?” Do you learn from your mistakes so you can do and be better in the future? Or do you reject the hard work of self-improvement and instead tear others down so you can assert they’re as bad or worse than you are?”

Girl Up by Laura Bates

Although this book may have been written with a younger audience in mind (around high school age, it seems) I still think it’s so worth a read at any age! Like Adichie’s book, Girl Up emphasizes some ideas that should be common sense but that are often obscured by gender inequality in politics and society today. Plus, this book has such fun and colorful graphics!

The Truth About Style by Stacy London

Stacy London has been an icon in my life since I was a kid and would watch What Not to Wear every day at lunchtime when I was home for the summer. This memoir is both personal and universal in a way, with London offering wisdom that can be taken and applied to so many different situations. Not only is it empowering from a fashion standpoint, but it is also empowering from a lifestyle standpoint. London discusses everything from relationships to body image to aging, so there really is something for everyone here.

“A whole life can go by being too busy and waiting for “when.” Living in the future means barely existing in the present. If you can’t enjoy things now, when will you magically develop the tools to enjoy things in the future?”

Wild by Cheryl Strayed

As someone who adores hiking, I was really excited to read about someone’s adventures on a trail that I know very little about. But this memoir is so much more than simply an account of one woman’s trek along the Pacific Crest Trail; rather, it’s an emotional story of Strayed’s journey through loss, grief, and a sense of purposelessness.

“I made it the mantra of those days; when I paused before yet another series of switchbacks or skidded down knee-jarring slopes, when patches of flesh peeled off my feet along with my socks, when I lay alone and lonely in my tent at night I asked, often out loud: Who is tougher than me?

The answer was always the same, and even when I knew absolutely there was no way on this earth that it was true, I said it anyway: No one.”

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling

Sometimes it’s empowering to remember that even those people we admire don’t have it all figured out one hundred percent of the time. Kaling is open and honest in this essay collection, discussing her childhood and the tumultuous road she took to get where she is today. Besides, it’s downright hilarious!

Not Just Jane: Rediscovering Seven Amazing Women Writers Who Transformed British Literature by Shelley DeWees

What’s better than a book about books? I love this book because it makes you look at British literature and writers in a different light. Sometimes when learning about the Western canon in classes it can be easy to forget that literary fame has a lot to do with circumstances and privilege. In some ways, it’s arbitrary chance that we read the books we read today. However, there is a sense of empowerment that comes from reading about these remarkable women who wrote despite their unfortunate circumstances and the traumatic hardships that they endured. It’s also a great source of reading inspiration: so many new texts to explore!

A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf

Although some people criticize this book for not being as feminist as people make it out to be, I think it’s nevertheless an important starting point and a lovely little source of empowerment. Women can do anything we put our minds to, and we deserve the opportunity to have a room of our own to do it in!

Matilda by Roald Dahl

Ahh, such a classic! I adore Matilda, even though I just read it for the first time a few years ago and don’t have the childhood nostalgia towards it that many bookworms have. Even just thinking about Matilda’s strength, perseverance, optimism, and kindness makes me feel empowered to go seize the day!

What books empower you? What do you think of the books I’ve mentioned? What’s your favorite genre? Let me know in the comments section below!

 

 

Yours,

HOLLY

Monthly Wrap-Up

MAY 2019 | Wrap-Up

What’s this?! My first monthly wrap-up of 2019?!?! I know it’s been a while, but I’m so happy to say that I’m back! May has certainly been a time…

In May I read a total of 4 books:

  1. The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor
  2. Food by Gertrude Stein
  3. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
  4. Mary Poppins Opens the Door by P.L. Travers

My favorite book this month was To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han. I watched the movie over spring break with some friends and loved it, and I think that positive memory definitely shaped this reading experience too. I’m excited to read the rest of the series at some point this summer! Review coming soon.

+ TO WATCH: The only thing I actually watched this month was the new Avengers: Endgame, and let me tell you: what a RIDE. I cried basically throughout the entire thing, especially at the end. (If you’ve seen it, you know what I mean!) It’s strange to think that this means goodbye to some of the characters I’ve grown up with, but there’s also an exciting silver lining: new characters! New stories! An ever-evolving and changing franchise! Definitely recommend watching it if you’re a Marvel fan.

+ TO LISTEN TO: In light of some things that happened recently in my personal life, I’ve opted not to listen to music on my commute back and forth to work every day (can’t get too emotional with those memories…). Instead, I’ve been listening to audiobooks, which has been really nice. Not only do I get a lot of reading done, but it also makes the ride go by a lot quicker.

+ TO EAT: Recently I made lemon and ginger cookies and they are so good. I used this recipe and they were super easy to bake. Will definitely be making these again soon!

+ TO GO: For the last time as a student, I’m going to have to say Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts. I’ve made such incredible friends there and have so many amazing memories of this tiny campus.

May was a rollercoaster of emotional ups and downs for me. I successfully defended my honors thesis, graduated from Wheaton College with a BA in English, and said goodbye (or “see you later!” as I like to think of it!) to so many of my close friends. I’ve also recently went through some pretty $#!tty stuff in my personal life, which is not fun. But thanks to the help of my family and friends (and my love for books!) I’m getting through slowly but surely. So in lieu of me going into any details, please enjoy these photos of my month of May!

Am I wearing an outfit made of drafts of my thesis? Why, yes I am!
Me and my finished thesis!
After Holi on the last days of classes…. very wet, but very colorful!
The roses they gave us to hold during graduation.
I graduated!

 Here are some posts from other bloggers that I’ve loved this month: 

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

How was your month of May? 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

Tags

The Totally Should’ve Book Tag | 2

Hope you’re all having a lovely Friday! Today I’m here with the Totally Should’ve Book Tag, which I was tagged for by Norees @ Nor Reads Too Great.  This tag was created by EmmmaBooks. I’ve done this tag once before, but I always like repeating tags because it’s interesting to see how my answers change (if you’d like, you can check out my first version of this tag here). Without further ado, let’s get to it!

Totally should’ve gotten a sequel

I would love to know what happens to Ifemelu next in Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I feel like there’s so much of her story left to tell, especially since the novel doesn’t leave off on a particularly conclusive note. And this book was so popular that I feel like she would definitely have an audience for it… just saying! (*hopes that somehow Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is listening*)

Totally should’ve had a spin-off series

I would gobble up a spin-off series based on one of the side characters in Maggie Stiefvaters Raven Cycle. Can you imagine a series based on Gansey? Or Ronan? Or Noah? Or any of Blue’s family members? Or even someone else living in the same town experiencing similar fantastical things? I would even take a series of novellas about different characters… honestly, these are golden ideas here!

An author who should totally write more books

adore both of Mindy’s Kalings books (Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) and Why Not Me?) and have been (im)patiently waiting for her to write more. I love reading personal essays/memoirs like these, especially when they’re written with the humor, wit, genuineness, and eloquence of Mindy Kaling’s writing style.

Totally should’ve ended differently

Although I thought Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel was excellent, I thought it would have gone in a very different direction than it did. I’m not necessarily saying that it needed to end differently, but it would be interesting to see what the novel could have been like had she taken another path with it. (Really, I would have liked more answers. I just want closure!)

Totally should’ve had a movie franchise

Honestly, Sarah Dessen deserves a movie franchise more than any other author I know. She’s written so many novels that could have been turned into teenage rom-coms by now!! Why hasn’t anyone picked these up? Why has all the glory gone to Nicholas Sparks, or even John Green? (Although don’t get me wrong, I love a good John Green book/movie.) This may be the greatest wonder of the world.

Totally should’ve had a TV series

Rather than be a four hour film, I feel like Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell might be better suited to being a TV series. Imagine all the details that could be expanded upon in a TV series! They could include all the little events of this 1057 page tome and have plenty of time for fully explained character development. And think of the time they could spend showing the setting! Ah, this would be such a good television series…

Totally should’ve only had one point of view

Although I really admire Yvonne Vera’s novel The Stone Virgins for its striking, powerful look at violence in Zimbabwean society before, during, and after the war for independence, the alternating perspectives between the victim and the rapist/murderer are very, very, very unsettling. I understand that the novel wouldn’t have the same hard-hitting impact without it, but having to read and write about this book over and over and over again was pretty challenging emotionally.

Totally should’ve had a cover change

I love a good random Faulkner novel, but I feel like there are very few pretty editions of his books. Are cover designers trying to match the often somber, dark tone of his novels? Or have they just given up because they figure Faulkner novels are dull classics that aren’t really worth spicing up with a pleasant cover design? (I beg to differ!) All I’m saying is that we Faulkner fans would greatly appreciate a little bit of pizazz when it comes to his cover designs (or some attractive font at the very least).

Totally should’ve kept the original covers

I’m going with Sarah Dessen again for this one (maybe because summer always nostalgically reminds me of Sarah Dessen?). I grew up with the older covers, the ones with the girls without heads, and now whenever I see these new covers I’m so confused. Although I admit that these may be more aesthetically pleasing to look at, I can’t help but miss the old ones!

Totally should’ve stopped at one book

I’m pretty sure this was my answer for this prompt when I did this tag the first time, and if so I wholeheartedly stand by it: I just saw no reason that Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games had to be a trilogy that seemed to drag and repeat itself. Personally, I feel like The Hunger Games would have been perfectly fine as a longer novel, or at the very least a duology.

There you have it! Thanks again to Norees for tagging me! To pass along the fun, I’d like to tag Christine @ Life with All the Books, Jenna @ Bookmark Your Thoughts,  and Emma @ Daylight Awaits–and anyone else who would like to do this tag!

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

Yours,

HOLLY

Books

CITY OF GLASS by Paul Auster | Reflection

In my Postmodern American Fiction class this past semester, we were assigned to write a page reflection each week on the book that we read. I actually really enjoyed writing these reflections because they were a chance to choose a specific aspect of the book and discuss it in depth without needed to come to any precise conclusions or arguments. In fact, I liked it so much that I’ve decided to continue on the process this summer! Along with reviews I’ll be sharing these reflections, brief discussions on novels that I’ve read without any value judgment or rating on my part. Let me know what you think! 

Self-referentiality is a cornerstone of postmodernism; even so, I did not expect to find so many layers of it throughout Paul Auster’s City of Glass. The novel’s self-referential nature raises some interesting and important questions about narration, particularly regarding how to classify the narrator’s position in relation to the text. The beginning of the novel appears to be written from a third person perspective, as suggested by the very first sentence: “It was a wrong number that started it, the telephone ringing three times in the dead of night, and the voice on the other end asking for someone he was not” (Auster 7). While there are often references to some sort of plural collective (“As for Quinn, there is little that need detain us […] We know, for example, that he was thirty-five years old” (Auster 7)), the narration style nevertheless has the feel of a third person perspective, someone omnisciently looking on at these events as a mere observer.

Yet the narration takes an entirely different course at the end of the novel when the story itself is brought into the content of the novel. For instance, the narrator states that “the story grows obscure” because “the information has run out, and the events that follow this last sentence will never be known” (Auster 200-1). Even more startling is the sudden switch to first person at the novel’s conclusion when the narrator says: “I returned home from my trip to Africa in February, just hours before a snowstorm began to fall on New York. I called my friend Auster that evening, and he urged me to come over to see him as soon as I could” (Auster 201). Here we have a striking paradox: how can this narrator speak with his friend Auster if Auster is also the name of the person writing this novel? Is this switch from third person to first person really a switch, or has this unknown narrator been narrating in the first person all along?

In a way, it seems as though the author is poking fun at the reader’s instinctual expectations that a first person narrator automatically equates to the author himself in the absence of a clearly identified narrating protagonist. This paradox seems like a continuation of the name-play the author partakes in throughout the novel, from the Quinn/Max Work/William Wilson trio to the father/son duo of Peter Stillman. Perhaps the author also endeavors to break down the meaning of names, suggesting that names are not as significant as we believe them to be if the same name can refer to several different people. The Paul Auster that is a character in the novel may have absolutely no relation to the Paul Auster who wrote City of Glass; rather, they simply have the same name. Not only does language lose meaning here, but the position of the narrator becomes so tangled and muddled that it almost seems arbitrary.

Thoughts on City of Glass? Have you ever read a book with a similar paradox of names or layering of narration? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Books Released in the Last 10 Years

Happy Tuesday!! This week’s Top Ten Tuesday theme (hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl) asks us to share our favorite books released in the last 10 years. As someone who tends to read older books and isn’t great at staying on top of new releases, I’m pretty intrigued to see how this list will go. I decided to make this list based on which books came out in which year, not on the year that I read them.

Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan

Throwback to those first years of me being a Nerdfighter! I’ve always marveled at how these two authors were able to seamlessly write this novel of intertwining stories chapter by chapter. This book is hilarious and heart-wrenching and thought-provoking all at the same time, in Green and Levithan’s usual way. Different from many YA books that I’ve read!

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

I remember reading this book around Christmastime one year and thinking: Wow, what perfect timing! This book is mysterious and magical and will leave you wanting more of the fantastical world Morgenstern has created. If you’re looking for romance, adventure, suspense, and beautiful writing, then this is definitely the book for you!

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

How could this not have been my favorite book of 2012? I was so excited for it to be released that I pre-ordered a signed first edition copy–and I rarely pre-order anything! I loved how John Green balanced tough topics with heartfelt, thought-provoking discussions of important life questions and funny, memorable scenes that I still think about from time to time.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

This little book is eerie, suspenseful, and told like a twisted fairy tale. Definitely a great read for a spooky fall day. I love Neil Gaiman’s lyrical writing in general, but this novel in particular has really stood out to me even all these years later. Whether or not you’re a Gaiman fan already, you will be after reading this!

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

This beautiful, heart-wrenching, emotional historical fiction novel blew me away when I read it as a senior in high school–so much so that I went out and bought a copy just to have it on my shelf, even though I had borrowed it from the library. If that’s not a testament to how much I enjoyed this book, then I don’t know what is!

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

I remember this book being everywhere in the online book community for the longest time. It took me forever to finally get around to reading it, but when I did I could totally see what all the hype was about. The idea of so many different Londons is really interesting!

The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater

This series is just unlike any other that I have read! I really liked how it was 4 books instead of the usual three or longer–I feel like you rarely see quartets around. The entire premise is so creative and unique, and I couldn’t get enough of the idea of magical ley lines and forests snaking their way through a rural town.

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

Again, I have never read a book like this one. Written entirely in quotes that blend fact and fiction, Lincoln in the Bardo is a true masterpiece. Not only did this novel win the Man Booker Prize, but it is also Saunders’ first full length novel–wild! Definitely makes me want to read some of his short stories.

When the Curtain Falls by Carrie Hope Fletcher

I’ve been a fan of Carrie for years (both her videos on Youtube and her books), and I can confidently say that this is her best novel yet. I feel like Carrie really found her groove in writing this book because the setting, characters, and story all worked together so wonderfully. As with nearly all of Carrie’s books, I read this one in one sitting!

Unfortunately I haven’t read any books released in 2019 yet. Between finishing up the semester, writing my honors thesis, graduating from college, and dealing with some personal stuff that’s been happening lately, I just haven’t had any time to delve into any new releases. I’m really looking forward to finally having time to visit the library again and check out some new books. With that being said, let me know what 2019 releases you recommend!

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

Yours,

HOLLY

Bookish

5 Questions to Help Get Rid of Books

Recently I got rid of an entire trash bag full of books to donate. Anyone who has ever stepped foot into my bedroom at home knows that this is a surprising feat because I rarely part ways with books. Books are something I’m usually very sentimental about, which makes it hard to get rid of them when there are so many stories behind them all. But with the help of these five questions, I finally purged my bookshelf! Like I’ve been saying I would do for so long! 

Question 1: Have you read it?

Ah yes, we’ll start off with the easier question to answer. Of course, this does come with two branches of further questions. If you have read it, did you enjoy it? If you didn’t enjoy it, then you’re likely next step is to throw it in the donate bag. If you did enjoy it, move onto the other questions. If you haven’t read it, why not? Are you going to read it? If you have no plans whatsoever to read it, then your next course of action is simple: toss it in the donate bag.

Question 2: Will you read it again?

For those who don’t often reread books, this may seem like a bit of an irrelevant question; however, as someone who loves rereading books, this question is essential. To me, the sign of an excellent book is the desire to read it again at some point in the future. If I don’t want to reread a book, is it really worth keeping it on my shelf?

Question 3: Where did you get it?

If you’re a sentimental bookworm like myself, then you know that where you got a book can matter just as much as the actual book itself. Books that I was given by friends, that I bought while traveling, or that remind me of specific scenarios or times in my life are very unlikely to find themselves tossed in the donate bag.

Question 4: Where could you find it again?

This question is an attempt to challenge my pack-rat ways. Let’s say there’s a book that I liked but won’t read again, but for some reason I’m clinging on to. Where could I go to read it again? Would I have to buy a new copy, or is it likely that a local library would have it or that I could easily buy it used for cheap online? If it’s easily accessible, then chances are that it doesn’t need to be kept on my bookshelf.

Question 5: When was the last time you thought about this book?

I like saving this question for when I know that I should get rid of a book from a logical standpoint, but can’t seem to part with it emotionally for some reason. If I haven’t thought about this book in months or even more than a year, then chances are that whatever emotions I’m feeling in this moment won’t last. Basically, if I haven’t missed this book already, then I probably won’t miss it much in the future.

Bookish

Summer 2019 TBR List

It’s that exciting time of year again: Time for a summer to-read list! Thanks to my current in-between state of having just graduated undergrad but not yet started law school, I have an entire Glorious Summer of Reading for Fun ahead of me, which I haven’t had in years. The past few summers were filled with prep reading for studying abroad at Oxford and research for my honors thesis, so I haven’t had full reign over what I’ve read in a while. But now we’re back in that sweet spot, and I can’t wait to dive into those books! Here are just a few of the books that I’m hoping to read this summer:

The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien

When I was in middle school I bought a used copy of this book for a dime from the used book room in my library’s basement. Let’s all take a minute to acknowledge that it is a full decade later and I still have yet to read it?!?! I’m making it a mission to finally get around to reading it this summer.

Becoming by Michelle Obama

I love a good empowering memoir, and this seems like a perfect next place to turn! I’m also hoping she talks a bit about her career as an attorney–as someone starting law school soon, I could use all the advice I can get.

Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison

I finally watched the movie adaptation of this book for the first time this past semester, and I think it’s high time that I finally read the book series that goes along with it. Not only was the movie hilarious, but I also love how it’s set in Brighton, England, a place I visited one weekend when I was abroad. It has a little soft spot in my heart!

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

This is another book whose movie adaptation I recently watched and loved. Although this story is adorable, I’ve heard that the movie differs quite a bit from the book in terms of tone, characterization, and small details of the family and her relationship. I’m really intrigued to see what the differences are and how it affects my thoughts on the story overall.

This Common Secret by Susan Wickland

A friend lent me this book around the midway point of the semester and then things got really hectic and busy… and I still haven’t finished it (whoops!). This book is also high on my list due to the intense, terrifying abortion controversies going on the United States recently… definitely a relevant book for this summer!

My Beloved World by Sonia Sotomayor

It’s a secret dream of mine to be a judge someday, so what better book to read than the memoir of a Supreme Court justice? I’m about a third of the way through the audiobook version now and it’s already inspiring, powering, and incredibly moving. I can’t wait to read the rest!

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares

My friends and I at Wheaton always used to joke that we were like the girls in this book–connected by our random objects that we all shared. But seeing as I have yet to see the movie or read the book, I didn’t get that reference very much. It’s definitely time to fix that!

What books are you hoping to read this summer? Any thoughts on the ones I’ve listed here? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Books

THE CRYING OF LOT 49 by Thomas Pynchon | Reflection

In my Postmodern American Fiction class this past semester, we were assigned to write a page reflection each week on the book that we read. I actually really enjoyed writing these reflections because they were a chance to choose a specific aspect of the book and discuss it in depth without needed to come to any precise conclusions or arguments. In fact, I liked it so much that I’ve decided to continue on the process this summer! Along with reviews I’ll be sharing these reflections, brief discussions on novels that I’ve read without any value judgment or rating on my part. Let me know what you think! 

While reading The Crying of Lot 49 I was often a bit overwhelmed by the sheer number of times Thomas Pynchon plays with language. From names of people (“Mucho” Maas, Dr. Hilarius, Mike Fallopian, etc.) to the names of cities (San Narcisco), acronyms, and Trystero itself, it seems as though hardly any words have just one meaning. Considering this novel’s haphazard, rambling writing style and its blurry timeline and structure, it is not surprising that Pynchon would also want to apply this same level of complexity and depth to the language he uses. As the paranoia sets in and the characters begin to break down, the meanings of the words used seems to multiply. This plethora of meanings did not quite hit me until reading the very last line of the novel: “Oedipa settled back, to await the crying of lot 49” (Pynchon 152). All along I wondered what the title was about: was someone crying? Where was lot 49? Did it have something to do with the used car lot that Mucho worked at? Yet the answer was somehow much simpler: it refers to the auction of a book or set of stamps. In this way, playing with words is a way of instilling a sort of “linguistic paranoia” in the reader, causing them to question the meaning of language the more they read and thereby mimicking the paranoia experienced by the characters.

It has occurred to me that sometimes authors may write books that are deliberately confusing, how sometimes a confused reader is precisely the result that the writer was hoping for. I think this deliberate confusion is exactly what Thomas Pynchon was trying to achieve in The Crying of Lot 49. I have many questions that were left unanswered (or perhaps the answer is there and I just was not able to see it): What ended up happening to Pierce’s will? Why did Pierce name Oedipa in his will to the first place? What kind of relationship did Oedipa and Pierce used to have? Why did Mucho suddenly lose his sense of identity towards the end of the novel? What is Trystero exactly? What is the difference between Trystero and Tristero? I feel as though Pynchon purposefully wrote this book to be confusing and muddled; otherwise, why bother to write something that readers could not firmly grasp? What point would he be making?

Thoughts on The Crying of Lot 49? Have you ever read a book a similar sense of “linguistic paranoia”? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY