How I Choose My Books Tag

When I’m not buried under mountains of required reading for coursework, I often ask myself an important question: How do I choose my books? Fortunately, that’s the very same question that this tag attempts to answer! I had never heard to this tag before I was tagged in it, so I’m really excited to take a look at these questions. Thanks so much to Krisha @ Bookathon for tagging me!!

Find a book on your shelves or e-reader with a blue cover. What made you want to pick up this book?

Since I’m currently studying abroad and don’t have access to my actual bookshelves at home, the closest I could come to a blue book is the turquoise Penguin Modern edition of Wendell Berry’s “Why I Am Not Going to Buy A Computer.” I chose this book not only because the design is brilliant but also because Ariel Bissett (one of my favorite booktubers) HIGHLY recommended it.

Think of a book you didn’t expect to enjoy, but did. Why did you read it in the first place? 

This situation happened to me when I tackled War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy last summer. It’s a novel that was always on my list of books that “I Should Probably Read At Some Point Because They’re Really Well Known and Are Referenced In A Lot of Other Things.” However, I finally decided to read it last summer because Laura @ Reading in Bed was hosting a read-a-long and I couldn’t resist.

Stand in front of your bookshelf with your eyes closed and pick up a book at random. How did you discover this book?

Once again using my limited shelves, I picked up Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I first discovered this book from major blogging hype and purchased a copy so long ago. However, I just got around to read it recently because it’s on my required reading list for Postcolonial Literature this term. Everything comes full circle eventually!

Pick a book that someone personally recommended to you. What did you think of it?

Whenever I think about books people have recommended me over the years, the first one that usually comes to mind is All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. The librarian at my high school recommended this to me when I was a senior and I LOVED it. Now I’m the one always recommending this brilliant novel to people! I’m so glad I decided to follow her suggestion!

Pick a book that you discovered through Youtube/book blogs. Did it live up to the hype?

I could list so many books in this answer, but I think I’m going to go with An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir. For a while this book was everywhere in the blogosphere, so I decided to give it a try; however, it definitely didn’t live up to my expectations. If you want to read more about why I was disappointed with it, you can check out my book review here. 

Find a book on your shelves or e-reader with a one word title. What drew you to this book?

Since I’ve already used Americanah, I’m going to have to go with Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf because it’s the closest I can get to one word with the books I currently have on my limited shelf. While I was required to read this for two tutorials, I was also drawn to it because the entire novel takes place in a single day. I was so intrigued!

What book did you discover through a film/ TV adaptation?

Years ago I watched The Help movie with my family one night and immediately went to the library to check out the novel of the same name by Kathryn Stockett. Both forms of telling this story are amazing and I would highly recommend them in either order. I think this is definitely a case where the book and the movie are equally as well done.

Think of your all-time favourite book/s. When did you read these and why did you pick them in the first place?

For this question I have to go with The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien I first read this series going into sixth grade (for a book project!), a time in my life when I was a very awkward kid and needed a respite from middle school awkwardness. These books will always hold a special place in my heart. ❤

  • YOU!!!

 

These questions were surprisingly difficult to answer! Thanks again to Krisha 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

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Top Ten Tuesday: Bookish Worlds I’d Never Want to Live In

Happy Tuesday!! Today’s Top Ten Tuesday topic (hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl) is the Top Ten Bookish Worlds I’d Never Want to Live In. Something tells me that there are plenty of unpleasant bookish settings to choose from and that most of these are pretty self-explanatory, so let’s jump right in!

What bookish worlds would you never want to live in? What do you think of the ones I’ve mentioned? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

A Film Screening with Neil Gaiman?!?! | Holly Goes Abroad

I’ve been a fan of Neil Gaiman’s writing for years, so when one of my friends asked if I’d like to go to a London screening of a film based on one of his short stories it was nearly impossible for me to refuse. Starring Alex Sharp and Elle Fanning, the film How to Talk to Girls at Parties is based on Neil Gaiman’s short story of the same name. The short story was initially published in the collection Fragile Things in 2006 and centers on teenage boys in the 1970s Croydon as they conclude that girls may as well be from a different planet… and meet some that actually might be.

The film screening took place at Picturehouse Central in Picadilly, a fantastic cinema with such a fun atmosphere. I loved how the vibe was a blend of old-fashioned cinema with modern touches, especially with the gorgeous lights and neon signs everywhere. There were even hair stylists doing punk-themed hairstyles before the show (the punk scene is an important part of the film), which my friend and I couldn’t resist agreeing to get done. Needless to say, walking back to the bus stop after the screening with my enormous teased hair was pretty interesting!

The film itself was wild, bizarre, and unpredictable–but what else would you expect from something inspired by the brilliantly creative mind of Neil Gaiman? I decided not to read the short story until after watching the film so I  didn’t have any prior expectations, but after finally reading the short story it’s safe to say that it wouldn’t have made a difference. The film strikes a perfect balance between capturing the essence of the short story and fully fleshing out the world that the characters inhabit in ways that the reader would never have seen coming. As someone who adores science fiction, I couldn’t help but be captivated by the meticulous attention to detail regarding the film’s alien world. From costumes and choreography to the dialogue itself, no aspect of alien life was left unaccounted for.

In the Q&A session following the screening, Neil Gaiman made it abundantly clear that he loves when other creators take inspiration from his work and make it their own. Hearing him speak about this adaptation was surreal in many ways–not only am I a huge fan of his work, but it was also so fascinating to hear his thoughts on something I had just watched. Alongside him on stage were Elle Fanning and screenwriter Philippa Goslett, both of whom offered really great insight as to the creation of the film and their experiences watching it unfold. Weeks have passed since I attended this event but I still can’t believe that I actually saw Neil Gaiman in person–it’s something I never even dreamed of putting on my bucket list int he first place!

Thus far, my third term at Oxford has been an interesting balancing act between studiously getting work done and making time for amazing opportunity that I may never have the chance to experience again. Learning when to sacrifice a night of sleep or a few extra hours working on an essay in order to do something like see Neil Gaiman speak is something that has taken time to get used to, but in most cases I think it’s always worth it in the long run. I couldn’t think of a better way to spend a Friday night!

I highly recommend visiting Picturehouse Central in Picadilly if you ever get the chance, as well as reading Neil Gaiman’s short story “How to Talk to Girls at Parties.” And, of course, go see this beautifully bizarre film!

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

Have you ever seen this film, read the short story, or been to an event with Neil Gaiman? Do you have a favorite novel or short story by Neil Gaiman? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Feminist Fridays: Postcolonial Literature & Tsitsi Dangarembga

First, I want to thank you all for being so receptive to my last Feminist Fridays post about postcolonial literature. I didn’t expect there to be such resounding interest in this topic, but I’m so happy that there is! Today I’ll be talking about a groundbreaking author who does not get nearly enough time in the spotlight as she deserves: Tsitsi Dangarembga. After reading her debut novel in my postcolonial literature tutorial, I can’t help but want to dedicate an entire post to her impressive work.

Born in Bulawayo, Rhodesia (what is now Zimbabwe) in 1959, Tsitsi Dangarembga made her mark in 1988 as the first Zimbabwean women to publish a novel in the English language. After studying medicine for some time at Cambridge University, she ultimately returned to Zimbabwe due to the intense racism she experienced in England. While studying psychology at the University of Zimbabwe she began writing plays and then finally wrote her landmark novel in 1988. The success of her debut text led her to study and pursue film as a career, and in 2002 she founded the International Images Film Festival in order to challenge the damaging stereotypes and beauty ideals promulgated by beauty pageants.

Her debut novel titled Nervous Conditions tells the story of several women struggling under the pressures of sexism, racism, and colonialism in 1960s Zimbabwe. Although narrated from the perspective of Tambudzai, a woman looking back on her life growing up in this tumultuous time, Dangarembga goes to great lengths to emphasize that Tambu is one of countless women whose experiences and perspectives are rarely considered, both in Zimbabwean society and in literature. Not only are there multiple women who feature prominently in this novel, but their lives are written with nuance and a meticulous attention to detail that defies homogeneity. By emphasizing multiplicity in Nervous Conditions, Dangarembga suggests the necessity and advantage of many voices being heard rather than a single perspective prevailing over all others. This cacophony of expression thus provides a space for African women writers to share their experiences and ideas in the predominantly male sphere of postcolonial literature.

Was Dangarembga successful in helping break down barriers of access and opportunity for a tradition of African women’s writing? When asked this question in an interview with Seal Press found in their 2004 edition of Nervous Conditions, Dangarembga responded: “I like to think the novel’s success might have encouraged other African women to go out there and do their thing […] because the shortage of role models is a critical issue for young black women in my part of the world.” Dangarembga’s emphasis on multiplicity in numerous aspects of the novel–from Tambu’s narration and focus on five women’s experiences to subverting Sartre’s notion of a singular “nervous condition” and portraying eating disorders with careful, meaningful nuance–defies the creation of a single homogenizing interpretation of women’s experiences of colonialism. In writing Nervous Conditions as a novel about African women and largely for African women, Dangarembga has indeed asserted the perspective of women into the otherwise male-dominated literary sphere of postcolonial writing. By engaging with the idea of multiplicity in the present, Dangarembga strives to ensure a multiplicity of African women’s voices being heard in the future.

I would highly recommend this novel to anyone and everyone, especially those who have studied postcolonial literature or have read novels like Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart. Here Dangarembga asserts that there is no universal women’s experience, calling for increased intersectionality and nuance when discussing feminist issues around the globe.

Click here to see other Feminist Friday posts!

What are your thoughts on Nervous Conditions? Are you interested in hearing more about what I’ve been reading in this tutorial? Have you ever taken a course on postcolonial literature? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

BETWEEN THE ACTS by Virginia Woolf | Review

In Woolf’s final novel, villagers present their annual pageant, made up of scenes from the history of England, at a house in the heart of the country as personal dramas simmer.

Between the Acts is also a striking evocation of English experience in the months leading up to the Second World War. Through dialogue, humour and the passionate musings of the characters, Virginia Woolf explores how a community is formed (and scattered) over time. The tableau, a series of scenes from English history, and the private dramas that go on between the acts are closely interlinked. Through the figure of Miss La Trobe, author of the pageant, Virginia Woolf questions imperialist assumptions and, at the same time, re-creates the elusive role of the artist. {Goodreads}

I think it’s safe to say that Virginia Woolf is most popularly known today for three particular works: Mrs. Dalloway (1925), To the Lighthouse (1927)and A Room of One’s Own (1929). These are the works I hoped to branch out from through taking a class solely about Woolf’s writing in modernist contexts this term, simply because I rarely hear any of her other writing being discussed. Among the titles on my reading list is Between the Acts, published posthumously after Woolf’s suicide in 1941. From letters with her editor and husband we have gleaned that she thought this to be perhaps her best work yet, although critics have often disagreed and have found it to be rather lackluster. After all, modern reception speaks for itself: How many people not studying literature today have actually read Between the Acts? Clearly, history has not favored it.

Yet I adore this novel.

A key component to understanding and appreciating the brilliance of Between the Acts is knowing about its context. Although the setting of the novel seems peaceful, it is actually set in 1939 against the backdrop of the start of World War II. A sense of terror, despair, and uncertainty lurks beneath the surface of the seemingly whimsical, humorous play that Mrs. Manresa organizes and gradually comes forth to the center stage as the novel goes on. There is a clear feeling of uneasiness in the audience as their ordinary lives continue on in the intervals of the play–literally between the acts (can I just say how much I love the title?). The juxtaposition between the violent context of the novel and the events of the novel itself could easily be overlooked by a reader without knowledge of the time period but are glaringly obvious and rather unsettling to a reader aware of life in England during Woolf’s time.

As always, Woolf’s writing style significantly contributes to the brilliance of her work. Not only is her writing beautiful, lyrical, and captivating, but she also writes in a way that pulls you in and keeps you reading. Woolf is well-known for her stream of consciousness writing, yet I think the main strength of this novel is her ability to provide snapshots of thoughts and scenes involving numerous different characters. While some characters are followed more closely than others by the narration, she takes care to dip in and out of a variety of minds. This novel is also quite different from her other works in that it suddenly takes on the format of a script partway through and continues to alternate between prose and script going forward. The result is a collage of a novel that feels much like the collage of scenes performed in Mrs. Manresa’s play.

My favorite part of the novel is the ending, both of the novel itself as well as the play performed within it. At the end of the play the audience has their reflections revealed through a display of mirrors, forcing them to look at themselves and see each other for who they really are. Is this Woolf urging England to evaluate and reflect on its own position in the world at the outbreak of yet another world war? As the audience disperses after the play concludes, the characters must decide how they will move forward. The last few lines of the novel tie everything together and make you think about the book in an entirely new light. Are we living our own play? If so, who has written it? Is it already written, or is it yet to be created? Whether or not Woolf intended these questions to be asked, I am grateful that this novel brings them to mind.

Overall, Between the Acts completely exceeded all of my initial expectations and has become–dare I say?– perhaps my favorite Virginia Woolf novel thus far? (I know, I know. It’s a bold statement.) If you’ve read the usual To the Lighthouse and Mrs. Dalloway and are looking for more remarkable Woolf writing, I highly recommend adding Between the Acts to the top of your list!

What are your thoughts on Between the Acts? Do you have a favorite novel or text by Virginia Woolf? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

A Classic Couple: Chronicle of a Death Foretold and The Secret History

I don’t often enjoy reading books that are really dark, unsettling, and morbid, but this week’s Classic Couple is certainly an exception. Published a little over a decade apart, Chronicle of a Death Foretold by Gabriel García Márquez (1981) and The Secret History by Donna Tartt (1992) both have similar structures as murder mystery novels with a twist.

Answers your question before it is even asked || Both of these novels waste no time telling the reader exactly what death will occur by the end of the story. Rather than reading to see who has died, you’re reading to learn under what circumstances they died. When I first started reading The Secret History a few years ago I was a bit dubious about this format– after all, how interesting could it be if you already know who is going to die? Well, I stand corrected. Tartt’s attention to detail as well as the convoluted, bizarre plot and intriguing characters made the novel even more engaging and interesting than I had initially anticipated. Chronicle of a Death Foretold definitely confirms the effectiveness of this inside-out format with its suspense and ability to pull readers in from the very first page.

Complicates the notion of blame || One of the most interesting aspects of these books is the way they complicate the notion of blame. To a certain extent, one could argue that numerous people are involved with the deaths of Bunny and Santiago Nasar alongside those who literally, physically killed them. A sense of communal blame is especially prominent in Chronicle of a Death Foretold, in which basically the entire community knows that the two Vicario brothers plan to murder Nasar but no one actually tells him. Should these people also be held responsible for the death of Nasar? Should they be considered accomplices in this crime? Or are they simply bystanders trying to do their best to stay out of trouble? These are the sort of questions that make these kinds of novels so difficult to put down.

Still surprising and suspenseful || Despite the large amount of information presented in the beginning, these novels still manage to be surprising and suspenseful. In particular, I was taken aback by how unexpected the deaths felt at the end even though I had plenty of warning ahead of time that they were coming. I think convoluted plots play a role in this surprising feeling (particularly in the case of The Secret History, in which many bizarre events occur), as do the gory details and the suddenness of the event after so much leading up to it. All at once what was a mere story for so long abruptly becomes reality, and the brutal force of the death is hard to swallow.

If you’re ever in the mood for a different kind of murder mystery, definitely check out these haunting, dark, lyrically written novels!

Click here to check out other Classic Couples from past posts.

What are your thoughts on these books? What other books could they be paired with? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Top Ten Tuesday: Best Character Names {For Plants}

Happy Tuesday!! This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic (hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl) is supposed to be Best Character Names; however, as per usual I’ve decided to put my own spin on it. A few years ago I made a Top Ten Tuesday list of Characters I’d Name My Plants After, which was a blast. Today I’d like to do a similar list along those lines, so I’ll be sharing ten character names for plants. {Shout out to my plants back at home in the States– hope you’re still alive on my window sill!}

What are some of your favorite character names (for plants or otherwise)? What do you think of the ones I’ve mentioned? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Sherlock Holmes Museum | Holly Goes Abroad

My mother and I have been fans of Sherlock Holmes–both in book and BBC form–for years, so visiting the Sherlock Holmes Museum was high on our list of priorities for our trip to London. Located at the actual address of 221B Baker Street, the Sherlock Holmes Museum was founded in 1990 as an homage to the famous fictional detective created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The museum is currently run by a non-profit organization called the Sherlock Holmes Society of England and is located in an actual Georgian town house.

The Sherlock Holmes Museum may be small, but it is packed with objects dating back to the time when Sherlock Holmes and John Watson would have been alive. There are several rooms to explore, including the iconic living room, Holmes’s bedroom, and various other spaces filled with knickknacks and unexpected artifacts. One floor of the museum is nearly entirely dedicated to wax figures of characters from the Sherlock Holmes stories, as shown by the photo below of Holmes and Watson. (As someone who is not a fan of wax figures–they’re so creepy!–it’s safe to say that I didn’t spend much time on that floor.) The tour of the museum is a mix of guided time with speakers that tell you about the artifacts as well as time for you to explore on your own.

After exploring this museum, it’s easy to forget that Sherlock Holmes wasn’t actually a real person. The tour guides are careful to explain that while the objects are from the time that Sherlock Holmes would have been doing detective work in London, they obviously were not owned by Sherlock Holmes himself. However, it’s hilarious and so much fun to walk through this museum as though Sherlock and Watson did actually exist. The attention to detail is impressive, as is the effort to incorporate as many references to the Sherlock Holmes stories in these rooms as possible. It makes me want to finish reading all of the stories, which is something I’ve been promising myself for years that I would complete.

While my mom and I had a blast at this museum, I would add in a disclaimer that the rather costly price (fifteen pounds per adult) is only really worth it for avid Sherlock Holmes fans. Without a passion for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s fiction, I can imagine that this museum would appear rather boring and uninteresting to the average person.

All in all, I would highly recommend the Sherlock Holmes Museum to anyone who loves the Sherlock Holmes stories, modern adaptations of the texts, or detective fiction in general. Besides, it’s worth it for a trip to the iconic Baker Street itself! To learn more about the museum, check out their website here. 

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

Have you ever visited the Sherlock Holmes Museum? Are you a fan of the stories or any modern adaptations of them? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Feminist Fridays: Postcolonial Literature, Feminism, and Unexpected Enthusiasm

As of this week I am halfway through my third and final term at Oxford, meaning that by this point I’ve done enough work to form a solid opinion about my Trinity tutorials. Today I’d like to talk about my unexpected enthusiasm for postcolonial literature and how feminist perspectives play a role in reading and discussing this relatively recent field of study.

First, let’s talk about what I mean by postcolonial literature. This is actually a really difficult category to define, largely because it is commonly used to encompass a variety of different writers, texts, and ideas that don’t necessarily belong together. As Paul Brians explains in his article for Washington State University, “Taken literally, the term “postcolonial literature” would seem to label literature written by people living in countries formerly colonized by other nations.” However, he further argues that there are numerous problems with this definition because it can be homogenizing, generalizing, and therefore does not lead to productive and effective discussion of such texts or ideas:

“The more it is examined, the more the postcolonial sphere crumbles. Though Jamaican, Nigerian, and Indian writers have much to say to each other; it is not clear that they should be lumped together. We continue to use the term “postcolonial” as a pis aller, and to argue about it until something better comes along.”

As a relatively new field in academia (it only really started to develop in the US in the 1980s), postcolonial studies is a subject we are still grappling with today. Although it is much more commonly studied at universities now than in the past, it still isn’t as popular or frequently studied as other time periods or kinds of literature. Before coming to Oxford I had never studied this specific area of literature before and had little to no prior knowledge of the history of any of the nations I would be focusing on. When my tutor emailed me during spring break asking what texts I would like to read in the upcoming term, I remember worriedly replying: “I don’t even know where to begin.” Needless to say, I was intimidated, concerned, and convinced that I would be too stressed to even enjoy this tutorial.

As per usual with these kinds of situations, I needn’t have worried at all. 

First of all, I can’t tell you how refreshing it is to study something I have absolutely no experience with. Rather than feeling overwhelmed and bogged down with all of the new information I need to know, I can’t help feel excited and curious to learn even more. As a student who has mainly studied the same time periods and writers over and over and over again (I like modernism, what can I say?), it’s actually exhilarating to be tackling something completely new. There’s only so much T.S. Eliot and Virginia Woolf I can read before I start to ask: “Okay, but what else is out there?” {The answer? SO MUCH.}

Most importantly, the aspect of studying postcolonial literature that I’ve enjoyed the most is analyzing it from a feminist perspective. How does gender play a role in this genre of literature? How does taking gender into consideration change how we think about classic postcolonial texts like Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart? Not only are these questions complicated by differences in languages and time periods, but they are also made more complex by differences in cultures. In her excellent book Feminism Without Borders: Decolonizing Theory, Practicing Solidarity, Chandra Talpade Mohanty denounces Western feminism for characterizing women outside of the Western world as inherently inferior:

“This average Third World woman leads an essentially truncated life based on her feminine gender (read: sexually constrained) and her being ‘Third World’ (read ignorant, poor, uneducated, tradition-bound, domestic, family-orientated, victimized, etc.). This, I suggest, is in contrast to the (implicit) self-representation of Western women as educated, as modern, as having control over their own bodies and sexualities and the freedom to make their own decisions” (Mohanty 22).

These are the kinds of challenging, eye-opening, fascinating questions that studying gender in postcolonial literature forces you to think about in each and every text. The answers are never simple or easy to reach, yet the process of coming to some sort of conclusion in each essay is a mode of learning in itself. There is nothing quite as rewarding as peeling back yet another layer of ignorance or homogeneity in a text to reveal the nuance, specificity, and purpose with which women writers write texts about women, for women. There are so many more voices out there that need to be heard, but we’ll never make any progress if we don’t first start listening to the ones that are slowly but surely trying to break through the masculine cacophony of the literary sphere.

Deciding to take this tutorial on a whim when I first applied to study at Oxford for a year was one of the best decisions I’ve made regarding my tutorial schedule. I can’t wait to see what new ideas the last few weeks of tutorial bring!

Click here to see other Feminist Friday posts!

Is feminism in postcolonial literature a topic you would like me to write more about in the future? Are you interested in hearing more about what I’ve been reading in this tutorial? Have you ever taken a course on postcolonial literature? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

11 Reasons to Read STATION ELEVEN by Emily St. John Mandel

One snowy night a famous Hollywood actor slumps over and dies onstage during a production of King Lear. Hours later, the world as we know it begins to dissolve. Moving back and forth in time-from the actor’s early days as a film star to fifteen years in the future, when a theater troupe known as the Traveling Symphony roams the wasteland of what remains – this suspenseful, elegiac, spellbinding novel charts the strange twists of fate that connect five people: the actor, the man who tried to save him, the actor’s first wife, his oldest friend, and a young actress with the Traveling Symphony, caught in the crosshairs of a dangerous self-proclaimed prophet. {Goodreads}

Station Eleven popped onto my reading radar in 2014 when it was first published, intriguing me with its blend of post-apocalyptic plot, Shakespearian elements, and gorgeous cover design. Years passed and I never got around to reading it–that is, until recently when one of my friends mentioned that it’s one of her favorite books ever… and she had a copy of it with her in Oxford! How could I say no to this golden opportunity? I’m so glad I finally read Station Eleven, and here are 11 reasons why you should, too:

1. A creative twist on a popular genre. It’s no secret that post-apocalypse fiction and storytelling in both books and movies has become much more popular in the last decade or so. However, Mandel has breathed fresh air into this genre by adding a unique, creative twist on what you would usually expect. It doesn’t feel stale at all, which is greatly appreciated.

2. So. Many. Characters. There are so many characters in this book that sometimes it’s hard to keep track; however, I think Mandel does a great job of balancing their perspectives and stories within the context of the rest of the novel. Hearing from so many points of view also keeps the plot moving quickly.

3. Incorporation of different text formats. I love books that include emails, letters, texts, etc. between characters, and Station Eleven is no exception. Not only do they help keep things interesting by switching up the writing style, but they also make the characters seem more realistic.

4. Creepy, eerie, and suspenseful atmosphere. Reading this novel alone in your bedroom at night is sure to make you check under your bed twice before turning off the lights. Even so, I couldn’t put this book down because I was so invested in knowing what would happen next.

5. A gorgeous cover. How could I not give this amazing cover design some time in the spotlight?

6. Shakespearian elements. If you’ve been following my blog for a while (or have seen this post or this post) then you’re probably aware of my love-hate relationship with the Bard. I was worried that you would need actual knowledge of Shakespeare in order to enjoy this story, but fortunately that’s not the case. Still, I did enjoy the whole premise of keeping arts and literature alive in times of utter struggle.

7. Orchestra banter. I played in my school’s orchestra for about ten years growing up (go second violins!) so I really enjoyed the simultaneously witty and cheesy orchestra banter that went on between the members of the Traveling Symphony. Makes me miss my orchestra days!

8. Unsettlingly believable. Some books in this end-of-the-world genre tend to be a little far-fetched and unrealistic; however, I completely believe that some sort of flu like the one in Station Eleven could wipe out the planet some day. Scary!

9. Past, present, and future. Instead of focusing solely on what happens after society has collapsed, a significant portion of this novel takes place in these characters’ pasts, exploring how they got to where they are in the present time of the story. I love this narrative decision because it adds depth to the novel and makes the reader more invested in the characters by learning how far they’ve come up until this point.

10. Character-driven story. Unlike many novels in this genre, Station Eleven is largely driven by characters rather than plot, most likely due in part to the point previously mentioned. This was such a nice surprise!

11. The ending. Since this novel is focused more on characters than plot, the ending tied up many personal loose ends while leaving the plot or the future of the characters rather ambiguous. I thought it perfectly reflected the tone of the rest of the novel.

Have I convinced you to read Station Eleven? Have you already read this novel? What are your thoughts on it? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY