SEPTEMBER 2018 | Wrap-Up

September has come and gone faster than I thought possible, especially considering how much has happened in the past month. It’s hard to believe that we’re already five weeks into the semester! Here’s what I’ve been up to:

In September I read a total of 8 books:

  1. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo
  2. Butterfly Burning by Yvonne Vera
  3. Portnoy’s Complaint by Philip Roth
  4. Without a Name by Yvonne Vera
  5. Under the Tongue by Yvonne Vera
  6. The Stone Virgins by Yvonne Vera
  7. Narrative Form by Suzanne Keen
  8. The Ghost Writer by Philip Roth

As you can tell, I’ve read a lot of Yvonne Vera’s writing in the past month. I’m currently in the process of researching for my honors thesis, which involves reading a majority of what Vera has written and learning more about Zimbabwean literary traditions and narrative form. (Let me know if this is something you would be interested hearing more about!)

It’s difficult to choose a favorite book this month because I genuinely loved everything I read by Vera, although much of it was painfully sad and unsettling. However, I’m going to have to go with Butterfly Burning as my favorite book of September. Not only is it the first book by Vera that I ever read (making this a reread for me), but it is also provides one of the most striking, moving, thought-provoking reading experiences. Would absolutely recommend!

+ MOVIE: Moving back to Wheaton means hopping aboard the Film Club train again! One of my best friends is the president of our Film Club this year, which makes attending meetings even more fun. A few weeks ago we watched Loving Vincent (2017), the first fully painted feature film ever created. This film is breathtaking. The painting technique is absolutely incredible and the story is heart-wrenching. If you ever get the opportunity to see this film, please do. 

+ MUSIC: Dodie recently released a new song called “Human” from her upcoming album and it is so lovely. The music video literally made my jaw drop–it makes you think about the song in an entirely different way!

+ FOOD: Chex mix has been sustaining me these past few weeks–always a go-to snack!

+ PLACE: I fell in love with my suite this month. I absolutely love living with three of my closest friends and I can’t imagine spending senior year any other way.

September was a month of many transitory ups and downs. Adjusting back to Wheaton has been difficult after a year away, both in terms of academics and missing Oxford dearly. Fortunately, I have a group of amazing friends and people who are always willing to listen and help when I need some cheering up. It also helps that senior year is filled with plenty of exciting events (amidst the mountains of work, of course). I’m grateful that I’ve found time to make fun, hilarious memories in between classes, working on my honors thesis, and apply to law schools.

Wheaton’s nondenominational chapel, home to a cappella performances and drag shows.

 

Earlier this month I was lucky enough to see Chris Fleming perform life at the Wilbur Theatre in Boston, which was amazing. I’ve been a fan of his Gayle videos for years, so seeing him in person was surreal. If you’ve never seen his comedy before, then you should definitely check it out!

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

How was your month of September? 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

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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

JULY 2018 | Wrap-Up

What’s this? A blog post? For the first time in weeks?! July was a ridiculously busy, hectic month for me, meaning that I was too occupied with other things to have any free time to blog. While I won’t be back to my full blogging self yet (still so much to get done!) I thought it would be nice to do a little wrap-up post in the meantime.

In July I read a total of 4 books:

  1. Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys
  2. The Problem that Has No Name by Betty Friedan
  3. Create Dangerously by Albert Camus
  4. Goodbye, Columbus by Philip Roth

As you can see, not much reading progress was made last month; however, I did really enjoy most of what I read (with the exception of Roth…). I think my favorite book of the month was The Problem that Has No Name, mostly because I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since I finished it. These essays by Friedan are incredibly thought-provoking and empowering–I highly recommend checking them out!

+ MUSIC: This past month I discovered the band Little Chief and have been listening to them nonstop on my commute to and from work. Their music is so relaxing and I love the variety of instruments they utilize. Unfortunately, I don’t think the band is actually together anymore–I’m always late to the party!

+ FOOD: Definitely the blueberry pie my mom baked with the blueberries we picked at a local farm. Picking berries is one of my favorite things to do every summer, especially when the weather is as lovely as it has been recently.

+ PLACE: Last weekend I was lucky enough to spend the day at White Lake State Park, the campground where my family has been going since I was really young. Returning to this lake always feels like returning to some sort of home.

WOW, July was a BUSY month! I spent most of my time working at the nonprofit I work for, and when I wasn’t there I was living and breathing LSAT prep. It’s such a relief to finally be done with this exam! There’s only so many logic games and practice exams you can take before you start to wonder if they’ll ever end…

Once my exam was over, I finally had time to tackle all of the things I’ve been meaning to do all summer: research for my honors thesis, write a draft of my nearly-completed WIP (which I’m BEYOND excited about), choreograph a tap dance for my group’s next show, get ahead on some reading for this upcoming semester… the list goes on and on! Fortunately, I also squeezed in fun days and chats with friends that I haven’t seen in far too long. I’ve missed everyone so much since I was abroad!

Speaking of being abroad… I’ve also spent the last month continuing to transition to being back home from Oxford. I feel much better now than I did at the beginning of the summer, especially since my Wheaton move-in date is approaching so quickly. Who knew that studying abroad would involve so much recovery time?!

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

How was your month of July? 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

JUNE 2018 | Wrap-Up

What a wild month of June it was! So much has happened recently that I don’t even know where to begin. (I know I say something like this every month, but this time I really mean it!). Here’s what I’ve been up to:

In June I read a total of 5 books:

  1. The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy
  2. Grimm Tales: For Young and Old by Philip Pullman
  3. The Lost World by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  4. Why I Am Not Going to Buy A Computer by Wendell Berry
  5. Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

Between finishing up my time at Oxford, adjusting back to living in America, and starting work, I’ve hardly had the time to read. However, the books I did end up reading were fantastic, making it difficult to choose just one favorite. While I loved having my mind blown away by learning that The Lost World was the inspiration for Jurassic Park (which I discuss in my recent Classic Couple post) my favorite novel from June would probably have to be Lincoln in the Bardo. A full review will be posted shortly, so for now I’ll just say that this book is both bizarre and brilliant. I love the unique format as well as the fascinating blend between historical fact and fiction. Would absolutely recommend it!

+ MOVIE: My mom and I have been looking forward to seeing the new Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom for months, and we finally went to the theater to watch it on opening weekend. I know there have been some mixed reviews of it, but I really enjoyed it! There were some great plot twists at the end that made me gasp and one character in particularly that had us laughing out loud throughout the entire film. If you’re a fan of the Jurassic Park franchise in general, then I would highly recommend checking this out!

+ MUSIC: My music choice this month is very general, but very exciting: I finally purchased Spotify Premium! I used to always burn music to CDs to listened to while community an hour back and forth to work every day; however, now I can just connect my phone to my car and play whatever I want. My friends have been telling me to do it for ages, and I definitely should have listened to them earlier–it makes life so much easer (and my car rides so much better!).

+ FOOD: Since moving back home from Oxford I’ve loved being able to eat my mom’s cooking again. It feels great to be able to eat things I know for sure are safe for me to eat with my nut allergy (including my favorite burrito place, which is inexpressibly better than the burritos I ate in Oxford).

+ PLACE: I’m sure you could probably guess what I’m going to list as my favorite place this month: OXFORD. As I discussed in a recent Holly Goes Abroad post, leaving Oxford was incredibly hard and I miss it terribly. I’m so grateful for my amazing year there and cannot wait to hopefully venture back someday ❤

I spent the first half of June running around Oxford trying to squeak in all the last-minute things I wanted to do while simultaneously finishing up essays and tutorials. In a recent Holly Goes Abroad post I discussed all the fun adventures that summer term has to offer, like punting down the river and playing croquet on the Mansfield College quad. Of course, it wasn’t all fun in games–there came a time when I had to say goodbye to it all, friends and places and experiences and memories included. Before I knew it I was hopping on a seven-hour flight and heading back to New Hampshire to start my last summer as an undergrad (eek!!).

I’ll take literally ANY excuse to play with sparklers!!

My summer thus far has mostly consisted of working at the same nonprofit I’ve been at for the past few summers and studying for the LSAT (the law school entrance exam) that I’ll be taking in July. While I miss exploring new places and hanging out with my friends dearly, it’s also been nice to catch up on some reading, writing, and spending time with my family. I’ve picked up my WIP again and I’m really, really excited about it–I can’t wait to eventually show you all when it’s done! I’m a little over halfway done with a rough draft at the moment, so fingers crossed that I can finish it before the end of the summer.

My mom and I pick strawberries every summer. It wouldn’t be June without it!

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

And for all my fellow Americans out there: Happy Fourth of July!

Yours,

HOLLY

MAY 2018 | Wrap-Up

You know what they say: “April showers bring May flowers…” Well, this past month of May was certainly in full bloom! From making it over halfway through Trinity term, doing the usual summertime-in-Oxford activities, and hosting friends and family when they come to visit, I’ve barely had time to breathe lately. May was a whirlwind of so many twists and turns that I won’t soon forget. Here’s what I was up to in May:

In May I read a total of 4 books:

  1. Lucy by Jamaica Kincaid
  2. Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri
  3. How to Be Both by Ali Smith
  4. Grant by Ron Chernow

As you can see, I definitely read fewer books in May than in recent other months. Not only have I been incredibly busy writing essays and doing all the fun things that Oxford in summer has in store, but I’ve also dedicated most of my audio book time to finishing the 48-HOUR LONG audio book of Grant by Ron Chernow. I’ve been listening to it off and on since Hilary term (February maybe?) so it feels like such an accomplishment to have finally finished it. I would definitely recommend this to those who enjoyed Chernow’s Alexander Hamilton biography!

+ MOVIE: This isn’t technically a movie, but my favorite thing I watched this month was definitely John Mulaney’s new comedy special Kid Gorgeous. I’m not usually one for stand-up comedy, but for some reason I find John Mulaney absolutely HILARIOUS. Not only are his stories simultaneously relatable and oddly specific, but the way he delivers them always cracks me up. Plus, he gets bonus points for having a bit involving an epi-pen!

+ MUSIC: Shout out to Bastille for FINALLY releasing new music! They released their new song “Quarter Past Midnight” earlier in May with an album likely on the way. I was ecstatic to hear that this is a surprisingly upbeat song by Bastille standards–yet another great song to belt out as I dance in my dorm room!

+ FOOD: Probably fish and chips because I ate it SO OFTEN when my brother visited me for a week. I’ll miss it when I go back home!

+ PLACE: This may sound random, but I think my favorite place I visited in May was the Emirates Stadium in London, home of Arsenal FC. I’ve written an entire post about it that will be posted in the coming weeks so I won’t go into too much detail here, but touring this stadium was AMAZING.

So much happened in May that I don’t even know where to begin. My college’s semester ended back home, which not only means that all of my senior friends have actually graduated (so. many. emotions.) but also that all of my college friends are now on summer break. It sort of feels like summer here–the weather has been gorgeous, particularly by British standards!–but there are still plenty of books left to read and essays left to write. Lately I’ve been trying to balance fitting in last-minute Oxford things with doing school work and prepping for the summer and senior year, but it’s a tricky balancing act to sustain. Here are some photos that will capture my last month better than the my loss of words can:

May Day celebration on May 1st in front of Magdalen College (it was 6am).
A visit to Blenheim Palace.
Croquet is my new fave!
PUNTING!
My favorite view in the city.
I was lucky enough to have my brother visit me for an entire week!

 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 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

APRIL 2018 | Wrap-Up

T.S. Eliot famously wrote in The Waste Land that “April is the cruelest month.” Fortunately, this particular month of April has been remarkably kind to me! Between traveling, spending time with friends, starting a new term, and planning for some exciting days to come, this past month was filled with moments that I know I won’t soon forget. Here’s what I was up to in April:

In April I read a total of 12 books:

  1. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  2. All That She Can See by Carrie Hope Fletcher
  3. Chronicle of a Death Foretold by Gabriel García Márquez
  4. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
  5. Death and the King’s Horseman by Wole Soyinka
  6. Butterfly Burning by Yvonne Vera
  7. Changes by Ama Ata Aidoo
  8. The Autobiography of My Mother by Jamaica Kincaid
  9. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery 
  10. Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga
  11. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by J.K. Rowling
  12. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf {yup: second time this year!}

I read a lot of fantastic books this month (shout out to my Oxford required reading list) but I think my favorite is probably the very first one I read: Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. This novel is so well written and really uproots you and plants you in the United States at the time before Obama’s first presidential election. As a book blogger, I adored the fact that Ifemelu ran a blog about race in America as an outsider as well as all of the issues and delights that came along with it. I would recommend this book to anyone and everyone!

+ MOVIE: Definitely, definitely, definitely The Sound of Music. Up until early April I was one of the seemingly few people left on Earth who had never seen this iconic musical film, so you can imagine how confusing my life must have been before due to all of the reference I never fully understood. Well, I’m happy to say that this problem has finally been resolved, and I LOVED it. My friend and I watched it in preparation for the Sound of Music bus tour we went on while traveling through Salzburg on our break and I honestly still can’t believe it took me over two decades to finally see it. How have I lived???

The back of our Sound of Music tour bus in Salzburg, Austria.

{Also shoutout to Marvel’s Infinity War as an honorable mention. I went to the midnight screening of it (my first one ever) and it was a WILD time.}

+ MUSIC: I’m tempted to say the Sound of Music soundtrack, simply because it’s SO. DARN. CATCHY. However, in the interest of not repeating myself a million times, I think I’m going to go with an artist I was recently introduced to by one of my friend’s before we saw her perform live in London: Dodie. She has a lot of music up on her Youtube channel and she’s also released a few EPs, which are lovely. A few of my favorite songs are “When,” “6/10,” and “Party Tattoos.” Definitely check her music out if you haven’t already!

+ FOOD: Literally anything that is not granola bars, Lays and Pringles chips, fruit, and packets of oatmeal. This was basically all I ate while traveling with my friend for two weeks because I didn’t want to order anything in other languages due to my nut allergy, and now real food with substance tastes AMAZING. Actual protein! Meals that are cooked in a kitchen! Food that isn’t classified as a snack! What a life!

+ PLACE: I had the incredible opportunity to travel to many different European cities in April, so there are a lot of amazing places for me to choose from! However, I think the place I loved the most was Austria, particularly because I didn’t expect it to be so beautiful! We stayed in Vienna for several days and then spent some time in Salzburg and Mondsee for the Sound of Music bus tour and all of those places were just gorgeous. I would absolutely go back some day!

Wow, so much to say! The first half of April was one of the most incredible experiences of my life: traveling to five European cities in two weeks! The trip began by visiting my friend who is studying in Edinburgh this semester, and then from there we went to Amsterdam, Berlin, Vienna, and Salzburg. I don’t even know where to begin talking about this amazing experience! We went to so many places, from countless museums and parks to the Dutch amusement park Efteling, the East Side Gallery, the apartments of Beethoven and Mozart, actual sites used in the Sound of Music film, and more. I’ve been back in Oxford for weeks now and I still can’t believe I actually went to all of those places!

To be honest, before coming to Oxford I never, ever, ever thought I would go on such an adventure. Not only does my nut allergy make traveling quite difficult and stressful, but I’ve always been a bit of a homebody and have preferred to do things well within the bounds of my comfort zone. However, I am so, so SO glad I took advantage of the opportunity to travel while I’m already in England because it ended up being one of the most fun, exciting, eye-opening things I’ve ever done.

I’m in the process of writing MANY posts about all of my traveling adventures, so stay tuned for them over the course of the next few weeks!

So much Harry Potter graffiti in the bathroom at the Elephant House cafe in Edinburgh!
Amsterdam is so. pretty.
Loved all the tulips out in Amsterdam!
Efteling is so fun but also SO WEIRD.
Found the American flag at the East Side Gallery.
We were so lucky with the weather on this trip, and Berlin was no exception!
BEETHOVEN LIVED HERE?!?!
Anyone recognize this from the “I Have Confidence” number?
Casually visited the church where Maria gets married in Sound of Music (!!!)

I arrived back in Oxford at the beginning of 0th week, and then Trinity term started right up with work, work, and more work. It’s so strange thinking that I’m already well into my third and final term here at Oxford. I know that I’m going to miss this place immensely when I go back home to the States in June– cue the nostalgia already!

 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 April? 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

MARCH 2018 | Wrap-Up

{When you realize half way through April that you forgot to schedule your March wrap-up before you left to travel for two weeks… oops! Better late than never, right?!}

It’s official, folks: we’re one-fourth of the way through 2018! I’m pretty sure I say this literally every month, but it’s so hard to believe that the months are flying by this quickly. Not only was March a transitional month in terms of weather, but it also marked my transition from Hilary term to a sprawling five-week spring break. (SO. MUCH. TIME.) Here’s what I’ve been up to for the past month:

In March I read a total of 14 books:

  1. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
  2. Willa Cather: A Life Saved Up by Hermione Lee
  3. Life in the Iron Mills by Rebecca Harding Davis
  4. Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House by Michael Wolff
  5. Happily by Chauncey Rogers
  6. The Grim Grotto by Lemony Snicket
  7. Between the Acts by Virginia Woolf
  8. A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf
  9. Orlando by Virginia Woolf
  10. Call Me By Your Name by André Aciman
  11. To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
  12. Talking as Fast as I Can by Lauren Graham
  13. The Penultimate Peril by Lemony Snicket
  14. The End by Lemony Snicket

Much to my surprise, my favorite book I read in March was Between the Acts by Virginia Woolf. This novel is part of my assigned reading for my upcoming Virginia Woolf tutorial in Trinity term, so I figured I would get a head start over my spring break and try to get some reading done early. As the last book Woolf ever wrote, Between the Acts is not often considered her best work by literary critics. However, my low expectations (relatively low, since Woolf is a brilliant writer) were absolutely shattered. I adore this novel. You know a book is great when your first instinct upon finishing it is to turn back to the beginning and start reading again (which I would have done had I not had so much other required reading to get to…). If you’ve never read Between the Acts before, I highly recommend it!

+ MOVIE: This month I had a favorite show rather than a favorite movie: the 1995 BBC mini-series adaptation of Pride and Prejudice starring Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth. I decided to watch it on a whim one night and before I knew it I had finished it a few days later, completely invested in seeing how the story played out on screen despite the fact that I’ve already read the novel several times. So much cheesy dialogue! Awkward interactions! Romantic suspense! If you’re ever looking for something fun and heartwarming to watch on Netflix, definitely check out this mini-series if you haven’t already!

+ MUSIC: I’ve always enjoyed the songs by Lorde that I’ve heard on the radio over the years, but I never actually listened to her most recent album Melodrama in full until this month. I am not exaggerating when I say I have lost count of how many times I’ve listened to this album on repeat in the last few weeks. It’s dramatic and moody and angsty but so, so catchy. A few of my favorite songs are “Homemade Dynamite,” “The Louvre,” and “Supercut.”

+ FOOD: This month I had the best ice cream sundae I’ve ever had in my entire life. I don’t often get to enjoy ice cream that I don’t make myself due to my nut allergy, but my mom found a shop in London called Yorica that is free from every major allergen except soy. I was living. Waffles?! Brownie pieces?! Flavors besides vanilla?! If you’re ever in London and want some delicious allergen-free treats, I HIGHLY recommend stopping by Yorica!

+ PLACE: LONDON. I’ve spent so much time in London this month that I was actually able to navigate parts of it without using a map when my mom came to visit. Normally I’m not a huge fan of cities in general, but there’s something about London that makes it feel different from other cities I’ve visited. Maybe it’s the lack of looming skyscrapers like in New York City or the relative quiet compared to bustling Boston. I can’t wait to keep exploring this remarkable city!

March went from a snow-covered Oxford at the end of Hilary term to a relatively sunnier spring break in no time at all. So much happened in March that I can hardly write about it all– visits from many family and friends, trips to London, strolls through museums, afternoons in cafes, and even a day at a nearby palace. As the end of my year abroad approaches (eek!!!) I’ve been gradually diving back into the world of Wheaton through picking classes, sorting out housing for next year, and thinking about what I’ll be doing over the summer. So much seems to be happening at once lately!

At George Street Social, one of my favorite cafes in Oxford.
Me standing in front of the gorgeous Blenheim Palace.
The Baker Street tube station… Sherlock, anyone?
Fueling my Les Mis obsession one street at a time.
A photo of a photo of my mom in front of the Radcliffe Camera in Oxford.

Stay tuned for many, many posts about all of my traveling adventures in the near future!!

 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 March? 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

FEBRUARY 2018 | Wrap-Up

Happy March! It’s that time once again to look back on the last month’s books, favorites, adventures, and highlights. I’m just going to ignore the fact that it’s March already and spring has basically already arrived in England which means we’re getting closer to summer… but enough looking ahead! Here’s what I was up to in February!

In February I read a total of 9 books:

  1. Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman
  2. The Hostile Hospital by Lemony Snicket
  3. The Carnivorous Carnival by Lemony Snicket
  4. Poetics by Aristotle
  5. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  6. On Beauty by Zadie Smith
  7. From the Darkness Cometh the Light, or, Struggles for Freedom by Lucey Delaney
  8. Howards End by E.M. Forster
  9. The Slippery Slope by Lemony Snicket

I’m going to cheat and choose two favorites this month: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood and On Beauty by Zadie Smith. I really enjoyed rereading The Handmaid’s Tale for the first time since high school, especially in a more academic context. Knowing the startling ending from the very beginning reframes the rest of the novel and makes so many more details stand out that  I hadn’t noticed when I read it the first time. At the same time, I was thrilled to have been assigned yet another Zadie Smith novel to read, this time one with an interesting connection to Howard’s End, an early twentieth century classic by E.M. Forster. Now I just want to read everything Zadie Smith has ever written…

+ MOVIE: Definitely Lady Bird (2017), which has been nominated for five Oscars, including Best Picture. My friends and I decided to go to a movie theater here in Oxford recently for the first time and we saw this incredible film. It. Was. Brilliant. This movie is hilarious and sad and heart-breaking and heart-warming and thought-provoking all at the same time. I’m a sucker when it comes to movies about families (especially about mother-daughter relationships) so I was literally sobbing by the time the credits began to roll on the screen at the end. If you like coming-of-age stories, California, teen angst, great music, or feeling nostalgic, then this is the movie for you!

+ MUSIC: I’m the kind of person who listens to one song/album/playlist over and over and over again for about a week or two and then moves on to the next cycle of repetitive listening with a different song/album playlist. Over the summer I listened to Bleachers’ album Gone Now (2017) countless times as I commuted to work every day, and then when autumn rolled around I moved on to something different. However, recently I started listening to Bleachers again and realized how much I’ve missed it. If you’ve never listened to this album before, definitely give it a go!

+ FOOD: This month my friends and I have discovered something extraordinary: the art of the mug cake. Not only are mug cakes ridiculously easy and convenient to make, but they are also DELICIOUS. They’re perfect for when you want some dessert but don’t want to commit to actually making a full cake. There are so many recipes online for different kinds of mug cakes that the possibilities are endless!

+ PLACE: This past month I’ve really enjoyed spending time at the Oxford Union watching debates and speakers, as I discussed in a recent post. Recently my friend and I saw an interview with Michael Wolff, author of the recent bestseller Fire and Fury about his observations and insights of the Trump administration. It definitely made me want to read the book now!

February was definitely a month of plenty of ups and downs. From being sick with a small bout of the flu to celebrating the halfway point in my year at Oxford, this past month was filled with unexpected highs and lows. It’s a common Oxford belief that Hilary term is the least exciting term, which I would definitely agree with. There’s a sense of getting caught up in the daily grind of reading, researching, outlining, writing, attending lectures, defending arguments in tutorials… and then doing the exact same thing again and again for eight weeks. Fortunately, my friends and I found ways of breaking through the monotony by playing football games, going to the local movie theatre, attending formal dinners, having movie nights, and even taking a spontaneous trip to London.

February was also a month of a lot of planning: spring break trips, having friends over to visit, honors thesis ideas, classes for next semester, my flight home in June, etc. It’s strange trying to balance my life here with my life back home in the States, especially when trying to coordinate times to talk with people and taking the time difference into account. Part of me thinks I’ll never get completely used to this time difference!

 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 February? 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

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!

Yours,

HOLLY

DECEMBER 2017 | Wrap-Up

December is… done?! Where did this month (and YEAR) go?!?! Decembers always tend to be whirlwinds of celebrations, seeing friends and family, and frantically trying to wrap everything up before the new year comes around once again. In case you’re curious, here’s what I was up to in December:

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In December I read a total of 17 books (HOW?! I honestly have no idea):

  1. The Reptile Room by Lemony Snicket
  2. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain
  3. I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
  4. Turtles All the Way Down by John Green
  5. The Wide Window by Lemony Snicket
  6. A Vindication of the Rights of Woman by Mary Wollstonecraft
  7. Blink by Malcolm Gladwell
  8. Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
  9. The Hamlet by William Faulkner
  10. Woman and Labor by Olive Schreiner
  11. Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories by Sandra Cisneros
  12. White Teeth by Zadie Smith
  13. Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination by Toni Morrison
  14. Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
  15. Memorial by Alice Oswald
  16. Children of the Mind by Orson Scott Card
  17. Ann Veronica by H.G. Wells

I read a lot of fantastic books in December, which makes choosing a favorite quite difficult (as per usual). However, the book I’ve been thinking the most about this past month is definitely Turtles All the Way Down by John Green (which you can read my review of here). This novel exceeded all of my expectations and proved that not everything falls prey to the hype monster one hundred percent of the time!

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For some reason it simultaneously feels like so much and nothing at all happened in December. In actuality, I guess a lot did occur: I flew back home from Oxford, transitioned back to living in the States, visited Wheaton, spent time with my family and friends, saw Watsky (!!!), celebrated Christmas, and read, read, read. It’s been strange being back home after living in Oxford for a few months, but I’ve really enjoyed simply spending time at home. I have plenty of prep reading to get through before term starts again, but I’ve also made sure to carve out some time to read for fun. I missed reading for pleasure so much!!

This month I also finished the third season of Fargo (SO ANGRY) and watched the new Star Wars movie, which I really enjoyed. (PORGS, people!)

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

Here are some posts that I loved reading this month (there are so many!!):

How was your month of December? 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