GO DOWN, MOSES by William Faulkner | Review

As my summer of reading Faulkner continues, I’ve found myself continually stumbling upon some under-rated, under-discussed gems that deserve more time in the bookish spotlight. Though a large amount of literary criticism has been written about Faulkner’s works, it’s relatively rare to see his works being discussed beyond the usual classroom studies of As I Lay Dying, The Sound and the Fury, Absalom, Absalom!, etc. But what about the rest of his novels and short stories? Why is no one talking about these thought-provoking, masterfully crafted works of literature?

Well, I’m here to start the conversation– or at least to continue it from where it apparently fizzled out at some point. I have so many talking points that I’d like to bring up, but here are the ones I think are the most important to highlight:

+ Structure. Interestingly, this book spans the gray area between novel and short story collection. These stories are all closely interconnected and almost read like chapters of a single novel, though older editions of this book have often been titled Go Down, Moses and Other Stories. Such a title suggests a sharp distinction between the stories, when in actuality they tend to blend together into one long narrative. I like to think of them as sections rather than individual stories because they really do belong side by side. I also think it’s fascinating to think about the order they appear in Go Down, Moses. Each section reveals slightly different information about the tangled web of this family throughout several generations, unfolding a complicated history entrenched in slavery, war, and pride of property. One’s reading experience of this book would be vastly different if the sections were placed in another order.

+ Inheritance. The idea of inheritance plays a major role in this book in a myriad of ways, from inheritance of land and money to slavery, family legacies, reputations, and beliefs. Generations of characters are linked through so much more than just the blood that runs through their veins, and it is this interconnected web that creates such embedded conflict within the family. It’s really interesting to see how some characters try to shake loose from this inheritance while others embody it as part of their identity.

+ A changing South. One of the reasons I love Faulkner’s work and find it so interesting is that his stories straddle that gray area between the “Old South” and the “New South,” the rocky transition from slavery to supposed freedom. You feel that constant tug of tension between the two in his fictional Yoknapatawpha County, a reflection of the pervasiveness of this dichotomy throughout the actual South during this time period.

+ “Was.” Putting this story as the very first section of this book was a brilliant move on Faulkner’s part (assuming he decided the order of the stories for this edition). “Was” explains why the marriage between Tomey’s Turl and Tennie was arranged and introduces several of the key characters in the book. The reader has no way of knowing the incredible significance of the marriage at this point in the text, but providing information about it allows Faulkner to slowly let the details unfold in later sections. Also, I think the title of this section is brilliant because it emphasizes how important the past is to this family. Their heads and hearts and identities are so deeply entrenched in the past that they never seem to make it past what “was” to what now “is.”

+ “The Bear.” THIS STORY. HOLY COW. Not only is this the longest section of the book, but in my opinion it’s also the most interesting, important, and revelatory of them all. I became unexpectedly invested in the bear hunt and fascinated by the inner workings of the camp for those two weeks in November each year. This section also brings up the important Native American perspective, particularly in regard to land ownership and how his mixed race identity has been controlled by slavery. If you read one story from this book (though I don’t know why you would– just read the whole thing!!) definitely read this one!

Overall, I was sometimes confused, sometimes surprised, and always fascinated by Faulkner’s Go Down, Moses. This is a text I foresee myself reading many more times in the future as I endeavor to understand all of its layers, nuances, and implications.

Would I recommend it to a friend?: Absolutely!! Though I would probably recommend they start with another text by Faulkner first (maybe Sartoris or As I Lay Dying) to get used to his style of writing before diving into this more confusing work.

What are your thoughts on this book? What’s your favorite work by Faulkner? Any recommendations for what I should read by him next? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Top Ten Tuesday: MUGS

Happy Tuesday!! There’s still some time until the bloggers behind The Broke and the Bookish return with their weekly Top Ten Tuesday themes, so I’m back with another one of my own. Today I’ll be talking about things that are incredibly near and dear to my heart: MUGS. If you know me, then you’re probably aware of my mug problem. I own SO MANY mugs, it’s kind of ridiculous. It’s hard to explain what I love so much about them… they’re just so cozy and comforting and cute. In no particular order, here are my top ten favorite mugs that I own:

1 || The Blue One.

I got this mug at Bennington Pottery a few years ago when I drove up to Vermont to tour Bennington College. Though I ended up not going there for school, I would definitely take a trip back up just to check out that pottery store again. This mug is the perfect size and the stuff it’s made of keeps the heat of steaming tea in for so long.

2 || The One with Quotes.

I received this mug as a Christmas gift from one of my best friends during our freshman year of college. As you can tell, it didn’t take her long to realize how much I love books! This mug is covered in famous first lines from classic novels.

3 || The One with the Cool Handle.

Isn’t this the niftiest mug handle you’ve ever seen??? It’s perfect for when your hands are really cold because you can rest your hand right in there and absorb all of the heat from the tea. I don’t remember where I got this mug, but I love it.

4 || The Figment One.

I got this mug on my first trip to Disney World when I was younger because I LOVE Figment the dragon. Come to think of it, this might be the very first mug I ever owned?!

5 || The Wheaton One.

I adore this mug so much. It’s simple, it’s the perfect round shape and size, and it holds just the right amount of tea. (It’s also great for eating ice cream out of…) I got this at the Wheaton bookstore when I first decided I wanted to go there.

6 || The SGA One.

Being part of the Student Government Association is one of my favorite things about Wheaton. This mug was a Christmas gift to all of the Senators during my freshman year and now I use it as a pencil holder on my desk.

7 || The Pizza John One.

I was SO HAPPY when I got this mug back in middle school because it finally made me feel like an official Nerdfighter. I love this mug so much that I use it to hold my toothbrush and toothpaste when I’m at school. (I bet I’ve freaked out some people in the bathroom that way…)

8 || The Big One.

Shhhh! I don’t actually own this mug!!! Technically this is my brother’s mug, but it holds SO MUCH tea that I can’t help but steal it on chilly mornings.

9 || The One from White Lake State Park.

My family has gone camping at White Lake State Park every summer for the past twelve years. It’s one of my favorite places in the world, so naturally I had to purchase this mug.

10 || The Oxford One.

My amazing parents recently surprised me by ordering this mug from the actual Oxford University shop in England. You should have seen my face when I opened the package—I was ECSTATIC. Just look at this adorable mug! I love the small size, the simple design, and the fact that it’s specific to the actual college I’ll be studying at within Oxford.

Do you have a favorite mug (or mugs!) that you like to use? What do you think of my mugs? Do you have a collection of random things? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Booktube-A-Thon 2017 Wrap-Up

It’s official: the Booktube-A-Thon has come to a close! It’s time to tally up page counts, reading challenges, and books read in this wrap-up of the week. At the beginning of the read-a-thon I posted my Booktube-A-Thon TBR with my goals for this reading adventure. Let’s see how I did!!

Copy of June

George’s Marvelous Medicine by Roald Dahl

This book checks off so many challenges! Not only does it have a person on the cover, but I also read it in one sitting outside. Roald Dahl has done it again with yet another book I wish I had read when I was younger. (Although I probably would have been scarred by the abrupt and surprisingly harsh ending!)

Echo by Nadette Rae Rodgers

Fun fact: I also finished this book outside in one day AND it has a person on the cover… SO MANY CHALLENGES COMPLETED. I suppose this could also count as a book about someone different from me because I certainly can’t control my dreams like the protagonist of this suspenseful, engaging novel. I already can’t wait to read the third installment in this trilogy. Stay tuned for a full review soon!

Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbit

When one of my close friends learned that I never read this book when I was younger she immediately said that I had to read it NOW. Needless to say, this children’s classic was pretty hyped. I ADORED this book– I definitely wish I had read it when I was younger! Winnie is such a great protagonist and my heart simultaneously leapt and broke when I read the very last page. (Also: JESSIE <3)

The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins

I FINALLY finished this tome! It was definitely worth all 635 pages. This is assigned reading for my upcoming term on Victorian literature and so far it’s one of my favorite novels on the reading list. I’m not sure if it actually completes any challenges– maybe the one about characters being different from me– but I’m still so happy that I finished it!

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

This was my second time reading Wuthering Heights and I enjoyed it so much more than when I read it years ago. I’m glad this was on my assigned reading list for Oxford because I probably wouldn’t have reread it otherwise. Luckily, I can count this towards the challenge of reading a book I bought because of the cover– I ADORE Penguin English Library editions!! ❤

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

Though I’m only half way through this tome, I’m still calling it a success! I managed to read over three hundred pages this week, which isn’t too shabby. I’m enjoying this novel so much more than I initially thought I would. Not only is it easier to read than I first expected, but I’m connecting with the characters much more than I did while reading Dostoevsky’s The Idiot. I can’t wait to see where the second half of this novel goes!

Copy of June

1 || Read a book with a person on the cover.
2 || Read a hyped book.
3 || Finish a book in one day.
4 || Read about a character that is very different from you.
5 || Finish a book completely outdoors.
6 || Read a book you bought because of the cover.
7 || Read seven books.

I’m honestly SHOCKED that I managed to complete so many challenges! I definitely didn’t expect to read seven books, but I also didn’t think I would complete more than three or four of the rest. I’m so pleased with these results!

Copy of June (1)

All in all, I feel as though I had an incredibly successful BookTubeAThon this year. I love this event because it’s easy to participate no matter how busy you are during that particular week. It pushed me to read some books that I’ve been meaning to get around to for a while, and it’s always fun seeing the community come together for a glorious week of reading. A huge thanks to Ariel Bissett for organizing yet another lovely BookTubeAThon!! ❤

 Did you participate in the Booktube-A-Thon? How did you do? What do you think of the books that I read? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Debunking the Mythical “Beach Read” | Discussion

Each year as the temperature outside rises and spring gradually gives way to summer, one question is inevitably asked of readers everywhere: “What are you going to read at beach?”

The “beach read” genre has exploded recently, becoming an increasingly popular way of categorizing books that are “quick,” “light” and “fluffy.” When I hear this label I immediately think of contemporary YA novels I’ve brought to the beach in the past: The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen, The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han, This Is What Happiness Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith, etc. These are the kinds of books that have apparently been deemed perfect for reading by the water; however, they are certainly not the only books I read while lounging in the sun.

I’d like challenge this stereotypical “beach read” genre because I think that “beach reads” are based on each individual’s reading tastes and preferences. 

For instance, I tend to read longer, more challenging books during the summer months compared to what I read when classes are in session. Free from the burden of course work and a busy schedule of extracurriculars, I can now dedicate time to the texts I’ve been meaning to read for months. This summer I’m tackling Tolstoy’s War and Peace, though I probably wouldn’t lug it to the beach with me because it is a TOME. Nevertheless, this trend in my summer reading means that I’m likely to choose something outside of the “beach read” stereotype to pack in my tote bag.

I also love to read science fiction novels at the beach. My go-to author for this is Michael Crichton because his books are fast-paced, incredibly suspenseful, and dangerously easy to get sucked into reading for hours on end. Last summer I brought his novel Sphere with me to read by the lake while I was camping and I devoured it in a matter of two days. There’s nothing quite like being completely immersed in a novel with your toes in the sand.

In actuality, I rarely read what are considered “beach reads” at the beach– so doesn’t this necessitate a new way of thinking about this genre? Personally, I feel like the genre as a whole doesn’t even really exist; rather, “beach reads” are simply whatever we each prefer to read while enjoying some time in the sun. 

How do you define a “beach read”? Do you like to read at the beach? What kinds of books do you usually bring with you? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Would You Rather? | Book Tag

It’s time for another tag! I always loved playing would you rather as a kid, so I was super excited when I discovered that the Would You Rather Book Tag actually exists. Thanks so much to Bridget @ Bridget & Books for tagging me!!

Rather read only a series or stand-alone books?

When I was younger my answer to this question definitely would have been series, but nowadays I find that the majority of the books I read are stand-alones. (Probably because I read many more classics now, which tend to not be series.)

Rather read a book whose main character is male or female?

To be honest, the gender of the character doesn’t really matter to me so long as the character is well-developed, interesting, and has depth. But for the sake of this question I’ll go with a female main character because I can relate with them more easily.

Rather shop only at Barnes & Noble (or other actual bookstores) or Amazon?

I definitely prefer shopping at physical bookstores than online (although usually online prices are cheaper). You just can’t replicate the experience of leisurely strolling through towering shelves and being able to pick up books and check them out before actually purchasing them.

A rare photo of my brother in front of my favorite local independent bookshop.

Rather all books become movies or TV shows?

Movies! If all books became TV shows I would never have time to watch all of them… I’m so bad with keep up with series like that!

Rather read 5 pages per day or read 5 books per week?

5 books per week, so long as I could find the time to do so. Think of how many books I could read in a year!!

Rather be a professional book reviewer or author?

Oooh, interesting question!! I would rather be a professional author because it has always been my dream to write and publish a book. It would feel absolutely amazing to finally achieve that goal!

Rather only read the same 20 books over and over or get to read a new book every 6 months?

Okay, I think I found a loophole to this question. I would rather read a new book every six months if it meant that I could only reread books in between… that’s allowed, right?!

Rather be a librarian or own a bookstore?

Probably own a bookstore because I think it would be really fun to pick out gorgeous editions of books.

Rather only read your favorite genre or your favorite author?

Favorite genre because that would probably also include my favorite author (in my case, the genre would likely be classic literature)

Rather only read physical books or ebooks?

PHYSICAL!!! I can’t even remember the last time I read an ebook.

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

Yours,

HOLLY

TO THE LIGHTHOUSE by Virginia Woolf | Review

Months ago when I was choosing what tutorials I’d like to take at Oxford I asked my roommate if she knew anything about Virginia Woolf. She said that she had a really interesting life, particularly the circumstances of her death (she committed suicide and left a note). Based on my roommate’s vague interest alone I decided to take an entire term on Woolf and her writing… without having read anything by her myself. (Look at me being academically spontaneous.) Of course, I had heard mountains of praise about her famous works such as A Room of One’s Own and Mrs. Dalloway, but I knew nothing about her writing style at all.

Eager to brush up on Woolf before heading to Oxford, I decided that she would be one of my priority authors to read this summer. I arbitrarily started with To the Lighthouse solely because it was the only Woolf novel in my local public library. (A discovery that made me stare at the shelf angrily and promise that if I ever win the lottery I will most definitely donate money to this bookish abode.)

+ Stream of consciousness writing style. The first thing that struck me while reading this novel was the stream of consciousness style used. Little introduction is given of the characters, setting, or general premise of the story in the beginning; rather, the reader is thrown head first into a sea of thoughts and worries and hopes that one must wade through in order to understand the story as a whole. Woolf also writes via a variety of perspectives, each one focusing on the inner workings of a specific character. A major strength of this novel is the way Woolf uses this stream of consciousness style to seamlessly flow from one focal point to the next. The transitions are nearly imperceptible in the sense that you don’t even realize they have occurred until you’re already reading in the perspective of a different character.

+ Lily Briscoe. I knew that Lily would become my favorite character from the first time she was mentioned. Her position outside of the Ramsay family makes her perspective one of the most interesting and important views in the novel. I couldn’t help feeling an emotional connection with Lily as she yearns for the support and love of others. She views the Ramsay family as an idealized symbol of love and perfect unity; however, the other perspectives reveal a very different reality. Lily is a constant throughout the entire novel, much like the lighthouse itself. Even when time passes and certain characters come and go, Lily is always there with her painting, optimism, and fascinating introspection. She is both feminine and independent, a contrasting figure to Mrs. Ramsay.

+ The lighthouse. Ah, the lighthouse. It’s the common thread running through the entire novel, that elusive destination so greatly desired by Mrs. Ramsays’s children and so persistently avoided by Mr. Ramsay. The continual emphasis on visiting the lighthouse reminds me of Jay Gatsby looking out across the sound in The Great Gatsby, reaching towards that green light that embodied everything he had been working towards his entire life. Like the romanticized idea of the “American Dream” that Gatsby desires, the lighthouse represents a sort of unattainable end goal. When James finally reaches the lighthouse after years of wanting to visit it, he realizes that it cannot compare to the lighthouse he envisioned as a child. It is interesting to see everyone’s relationship to the lighthouse as the novel progresses, especially in the final section of the novel.

Overall, To the Lighthouse randomly happened to be a great introduction to Virginia Woolf’s writing. This is a captivating, fascinating, thought-provoking novel that sparks endless discussion points with its many intriguing themes. I’m so glad I took my roommate’s advice and chose to study Woolf for a term in Oxford. Hopefully I can read more of her work this summer!

Would I recommend it to a friend?: Yes! I think this is a great Woolf novel to pick up even if you’ve never read anything written by her before.

What are your thoughts on To the Lighthouse? What Woolf novel should I read next? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Top Ten Tuesday: How to Read More

Happy Tuesday!! The bloggers behind The Broke and the Bookish are taking a quick break from hosting Top Ten Tuesdays this summer, so I thought I would continue on in the meantime with some topics of my own. Recently someone asked me a question I’ve been asked a million times: How do you read so much? Usually my response is something along the lines of: “…I just do?” However, today I’m going to actually answer this question by sharing my Top Ten Ways to Read More. (Spoiler alert: the last reason is the most important!!)

1 || Carry a book with you. This is one of the most important and effective ways to read more because you simply can’t read if you don’t have a book with you. There are so many hidden pockets of reading time throughout the day, from sitting in waiting rooms and taking public transportation to lunch breaks and random bits of downtime between appointments or meetings.

2 || Listen to audio books. Though I would much rather read a paper book than listen to a recording, I must admit that audio books are a golden key to optimizing reading time. I know people who drive, cook, clean, and exercise all while listening to audio books. Just think of how many books they must go through in an average week!

3 || Designate reading time. If you’re anything like me, you thrive on structure, routines, and schedules. I find it helpful to set aside certain times for reading, such as before going to sleep or when I have a free Sunday afternoon. This doesn’t have to be a daily occurrence; rather, it could be as simple as deciding to read for an hour instead of watching Netflix on a Wednesday night after dinner.

4 || Set realistic, achievable goals. Telling yourself you’ll be able to finish the entirety of Tolstoy’s War and Peace in one night and still have time to paint your nails before bed is probably not the most realistic goal to set. (Unless you can actually do this, then by all means LET ME KNOW YOUR SECRETS.) Instead, set yourself small goals that can be achieved fairly quickly and easily. I usually like to do this by focusing on chapters or page numbers.

5 || Find a reading buddy. For those of you who work best alongside others, find someone or a group of people to read with. Book clubs are great for helping you read more: not only do they hold you accountable for reading on a regular basis, but they also spread enthusiasm and a contagious bookish excitement. A reading buddy could also just be someone you talk to about books occasionally or even a fellow blogger

6 || Take breaks. This might sound counterintuitive, but hear me out. As with any activity, it’s possible to feel burnt out after reading so much. When you feel a reading slump coming on, do yourself a favor and set the books aside for a while. Sometimes all you need is some time away from the page to recharge your bookworm batteries. Then you’ll be ready to read even more!

7 || Be aware of time and space. Where do you feel the most comfortable reading? Are you an early bird or night owl? Knowing when and where you prefer to read will only better the chances that you’ll be focused and engaged in what you’re reading when you finally curl up with a book. For instance, my favorite reading spot is outside on a sunny day or in this particular cozy chair in my living room on a cold night.

8 || Read in bed… at your own risk. I’ve always loved reading before bed, but I do admit that it’s not always the most productive reading time ever. Sometimes I fall asleep, sometimes I get tired and head to bed early after reading only a chapter or two, sometimes I’m sitting in a position that makes taking notes awkward… This is really up to personal preference, but I’ve found that if I solely rely on time before bed to read I usually get very little reading time during the week.

9 || Get rid of distractions. I’m sure we’ve all experienced the temptation to sneak a peek at your phone, check your inbox, or even take a scroll through Tumblr in the midst of reading. There’s nothing wrong with taking breaks to do these things… unless your goal is to get more reading done! To prevent being distracted, try putting your phone on silent or at least shutting off most notifications if you’re sitting down to read for a bit.

10 || Make reading a priority. To be honest, I think this is the single most important and effective rule on this list. If reading is a priority in your life as a hobby you’re bound to do it more often. The real reason I’m able to read so much is because I want to, so I do. Some people spend their free time binge-watching Orange is the New Black on Netflix or watch streams of hilarious cat videos on Youtube, other people enjoy painting or running or dancing or playing soccer—I choose to spend the majority of my free time reading.

What are your tips for reading more? What do you think of the advice I’ve given here? Have you ever been asked how you read so much? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Booktube-A-Thon 2017 TBR

HAPPY BOOKTUBE-A-THON TIME! The Booktube-a-thon is an annual event hosted by Ariel Bissett that encourages people to read as much as they can in seven days. Packed with challenges, giveaways, and fun videos, the Booktubeathon is guaranteed to be a blast! This year the Booktube-a-thon is taking place from July 24th to July 30th. (That’s right: it officially starts TODAY!) If you haven’t heard of the Booktube-a-thon before or you want to learn more about it, you can check out the official Youtube channel, Twitter account, or this new website.

Copy of June

Each year there are challenges you can choose to participate in that will help guide your TBR for the week. This year the challenges are:

1 || Read a book with a person on the cover.
2 || Read a hyped book.
3 || Finish a book in one day.
4 || Read about a character that is very different from you.
5 || Finish a book completely outdoors.
6 || Read a book you bought because of the cover.
7 || Read seven books.

I can say with certainty that I won’t be reading seven books this week, but I’m going to do my best to complete as many of the other challenges as possible.

Copy of June-2

Because I have SO MUCH reading to do this summer for my courses in the fall, my TBR will be mostly assigned reading. However, I think I might have a little wiggle room to squeeze in some extra ones!

The Women in White by Wilkie Collins

{Read about a character that is very different from you}

This is the book I’m currently reading for my upcoming tutorial on British Literature from 1830-1910. I’ve already started reading it and I’m really liking it so far. It’s sensation fiction, which preceded what is now the mystery or detective novel. I’m definitely not from nineteenth century England, so this classic is perfect for this challenge.

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

{Read a hyped book}

War and Peace is one of the most hyped classics I’ve ever heard of (the length! the huge cast of characters! the complicated story!). This summer I’m reading it for a War and Peace Newbie Read-along, which means that I have to keep up with our weekly reading amounts. I definitely won’t be finishing this tome during the Booktube-A-Thon, but I’ll be happy if I can get through this week’s reading amount.

Echo by Nadette Rae Rodgers

{Read a book with a person on the cover.}

Recently I received a copy of this sequel to Nadette Rae Rodgers’ novel Illusion in the mail and I can’t wait to read it! Thanks again to Nadette for sending me this ARC!

George’s Marvelous Medicine by Roald Dahl

{Finish a book in one day, finish a book completely outdoors, read a book you bought because of the cover}

Roald Dahl’s books are perfect for when you need a break from assigned reading (or when you have to complete reading challenges like these!). This summer I’m trying to read the Roald Dahl books I never read as a kid and this one is next on my list. Everything he writes is brilliant so I’m really looking forward to reading about George’s adventures!

I’ll be posting a wrap-up of my Booktube-a-thon experience at the end of the week, so be sure to stay tuned! Also, if you want to stay up to date more regularly with my progress you can follow me on Twitter (@peanutfreeismeand Instagram (nutfreenerd).

Are you participating in the Booktube-a-thon? What are you planning to read this week? Let me know in the comments section below!

Whether or not you’re participating in the Booktube-a-thon, I hope you have a lovely week! Happy reading! ❤

Yours,

HOLLY

I Visited Willa Cather’s Grave

One day while reading a short bio of Willa Cather I stumbled upon the fact that she’s buried in Jaffrey, New Hampshire, only an hour and a half from where I live.

As you can imagine, I was ecstatic.

I was shocked when I learned she’s buried in NH because I knew she was born in Virginia and raised in Nebraska. Though she died in Manhattan, she asked to be buried in Jeffrey because apparently it was where she wrote a lot of her novels. She’s buried there with Edith Lewis, the woman she lived with for decades.

The sign on the Meeting House in Jaffrey, NH.

Recently my mom and I made the trek to Jaffrey to see the grave in person. She’s buried in the Old Burial Ground behind the Meeting House, which is a really beautiful old building in and of itself. When we pulled into the dirt parking lot on that rainy Friday morning we weren’t quite sure where we were headed, but fortunately we easily found her grave site because it’s in a corner near a stone wall (which we had to hop). The burial ground itself was actually kind of beautiful, even though that might sound weird. There were so many old, weathered headstones in all kinds of shapes and sizes. Part of me wanted to just stroll through it row by row and take it all in, but the rain encouraged us to be quick to avoid getting completely soaked. I was almost glad it was raining because it made the day feel cozy, peaceful, and even sort of eerie.

When we finally arrived at her headstone I couldn’t help but gasp. There she was. There’s a great quote from My Ántonia on Cather’s headstone, which made me so happy because I love that book immensely. There were also a bunch of rocks and pennies on her grave, most likely from others who admire her work as well.

I was definitely the happiest person in this burial graveyard (and the only person besides my mom).

Standing in front of Willa Cather’s grave was surreal. Too often it can feel as though authors are these untouchable, legendary figures who live on forever through the pages of their work. While visiting a grave like this it’s impossible to not feel a wave of realization wash over you: this woman was human, with hopes and dreams and flaws and desires just like the rest of us. Though I sometimes like to believe that the books I love hold a sort of elevated notion of truth and meaning that emanates from their spines, it’s important to remember that these texts were written by people just like us. Writers exist beyond their work, which is easy to forget when you’re engrossed in their stories and captivated by their words. Visiting Cather’s grave made everything feel much more real, tangible, and within reach.

Needless to say, I want to read everything that Willa Cather has ever written now, even more so than I did before. I’m so happy I had the opportunity to visit such an interesting piece of literary history— it’s definitely a place I would visit again in the future!

Have you ever visited the grave sites of your favorite authors? (Also, how weird is that question out of context?!) Do you have a favorite novel or short story by Willa Cather? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Rapid Fire Book Tag

Got some tea and a snack or two? Buckle up, because this Rapid Fire Book Tag is a long one! Thanks so much to Heather @ Book and Words for tagging me!!

Question 1 : E-Book or Physical Book?

Physical book!! I can’t even remember the last time I read an ebook.

Question 2 : Paperback or Hardback?

Paperback!! They’re easier to hold, lighter to carry, fit easily on bookshelves, and you don’t have to worry about pesky dust jackets.

Question 3 : Online or In-Store Book Shopping?

Online shopping for the cheaper prices, but in-store book shopping for the overall experiences and lovely bookish smells.

Question 4 : Trilogies or Series?

Hmm…. this is a tough one! I think I’ll go with series to avoid the second-book slump that a lot of trilogies tend to have. (Except for Lord of the Rings because I absolutely love The Two Towers!)

Question 5 : Heroes or Villains?

Heroes!! I’m a sucker for an underdog story, though I do enjoy books with anti-heroes. My favorite anti-hero to mention is Victor from Vicious by V.E. Schwab. He’s such a complex, interesting character to read about because you never know what he’s going to do next.

Question 6 : A book you want everyone to read?

If you branch out and read one book you wouldn’t normally read this summer, definitely read Sartoris by William Faulkner. This is possibly my favorite Faulkner book I’ve read so far, which surprised me because it isn’t one that’s usually discussed or read in English classes. It might not be as popular as The Sound and the Fury or As I Lay Dying, but in my opinion it is just as fascinating, poignant, well-written, and brilliant!

Question 7 : Recommend an underrated book?

If you’re a fan of historical fiction, look no further than Life After Life by Kate Atkinson. This story about a woman who relives parts of her life over and over again in different ways is sure to have you on the edge of your seat!

Question 8 : The last book you finished?

Just this morning I finished reading The Road by Cormac McCarthy. It was SO SAD, but I enjoyed it much more than I initially thought I would.

Question 9 :The Last Book(s) You Bought?

The Road by Cormac McCarthy.

Question 10 : Weirdest Thing You’ve Used as a Bookmark?

Usually I’m pretty good about using actual bookmarks, but occasionally I do use receipts, sticky notes, and even string (!!) as placeholders.

Question 11 : Used Books: Yes or No?

YES!! I love used books because a) they’re cheap and b) sometimes they have fun notes and annotations from previous owners in them. Also, who can resist than old book smell?

Question 12 : Top Three Favourite Genres?

Right now my top three favorite genres are classic literature, fantasy, and science fiction.

Question 13 : Borrow or Buy?

Buy!! (As long as my wallet is able.)

Question 14 : Characters or Plot?

Characters!! In general I tend to find character-driven novels a lot more interesting and captivating than novels mostly motivated by plot. Part of me thinks this is because it can be really difficult to write a plot without holes and with a satisfying ending. William Faulkner, Willa Cather, Virginia Woolf, and Melina Marchetta are some writers who write excellent character-driven novels. 

Question 15 : Long or Short Books?

Long books!! There’s nothing like the feeling of finally finishing a tome after hours upon hours dedicated to reading. It’s so satisfying!

Question 16 : Long or Short Chapters?

Short!! I tend to read books with short chapters so much more quickly than books with long chapters because it’s easy to say, “Oh, just one more quick chapter before I go to bed…”

Question 17 : Name The First Three Books You Think Of…

Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley, and The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky.

Question 18 : Books That Makes You Laugh or Cry?

Laugh!! I usually try to avoid sad books (and movies!) at all costs. Who wants to be sad when they can read something that will make their day brighter?

Question 19 : Our World or Fictional Worlds?

Oooh, this is tough! Though I love reading books about fictional worlds (Harry Potter, LOTR, etc.), lately I’ve been reading many more books set in our world. I think some of the most interesting and captivating stories mix the two. For instance, One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez takes place in our world but adds in magical elements from legends and myths that make it fantastical. 

Question 20 : Audiobooks: Yes or No?

Yes!! I love how much you can get done while listening to audio books– exercising, doing laundry, washing dishes, knitting, etc. My favorite audio books are ones narrated by the authors who wrote the books themselves, such as Neil Gaiman.

Question 21 : Do You Ever Judge a Book by its Cover?

Yes, though I certainly won’t hold an ugly cover against a book if the content inside is amazing ❤

Question 22 : Book to Movie or Book to TV Adaptations?

Book to movie adaptations! I’m the worst with staying up to date with TV series, so I would much rather watch a single movie and be in the know already.

Question 23 : A Movie or TV-Show You Preferred to its Book?

The Shining by Stephen King. I watched the movie before reading the book and was so disappointed to find that some of my favorite scenes aren’t even in the novel!

Question 24 : Series or Standalone’s?

Stand-alones!! I love reading classic literature, and most of the books in this genre are standalone.

Thanks again to Heather for tagging me!!

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

Yours,

HOLLY