Tags

The Totally Should’ve Book Tag | 2

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

Totally should’ve gotten a sequel

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

Totally should’ve had a spin-off series

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

An author who should totally write more books

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

Totally should’ve ended differently

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

Totally should’ve had a movie franchise

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

Totally should’ve had a TV series

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

Totally should’ve only had one point of view

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

Totally should’ve had a cover change

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

Totally should’ve kept the original covers

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

Totally should’ve stopped at one book

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

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

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

Yours,

HOLLY

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Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: Best 10 of 2018 {So Far}

Happy Tuesday!! Can you believe that we’re already over half way through 2018 already?! This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic (hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl) asks us to share the best 10 books we’ve read so far in 2018. I’ve already read far more than I expected to this year–mostly due to my sprawling required reading lists at Oxford–so I have plenty of books to choose from. Picking only ten won’t be easy!

Here’s to another six months of lovely reading days and great books! ❤

What are the best books you’ve read so far this year? What do you think of the ones I’ve mentioned? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Feminist Fridays

Feminist Fridays: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

I was thrilled that part of my postcolonial literature tutorial during my last term at Oxford was reading and writing about Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Fifteen years after the publication of her debut novel Purple Hibiscus in 2003, Adichie continues to make headlines today. Not only is she known as a renowned Nigerian novelist, but she has also made great viral strides with her TED talks “The Danger of a Single Story” (2009) and “We Should All Be Feminists” (2012). Adichie’s popular success in the public eye has thus had major implications for her most recent novel Americanah, published in 2013. Today I’d like to discuss Adichie’s role as a public feminist figure as opposed to how we would stereotypically categorize an academic.

Image from the Washington Post.

After the critical successes of her first two novels Purple Hibiscus (2003) and Half of a Yellow Sun (2006), alongside the publication of her short story collection The Thing Around Your Neck in 2009, Adichie began to step further and further into the popular spotlight through publicly giving TED talks. Part of her “We Should All Be Feminists” TED talk was also used in Beyonce’s 2013 single “***Flawless,” immediately thrusting Adichie into a wider, more varied audience than those who attend TEDx conferences or judge literary prizes. Adichie’s dual role as both novelist and public figure allows her the agency and opportunity to advocate for her own work and ideas without relying on the voices of literary critics for praise.

Perhaps Americanah has also achieved great popular success due to the close alignment between Adichie’s values as a public figure and those promulgated by the novel. In “The Danger of a Single Story,” Adichie explains how reading African literature helped her realize that “people like me, girls with skin the color of chocolate, whose kinky hair could not form ponytails, could also exist in literature” and therefore “I started to write about things I recognized” (Single Story). Years later, Americanah becomes a direct reflection of these words, even honing in on African women’s hair from the very beginning of the novel when Ifemelu wonders “why there was no place where she could braid her hair” in Princeton (Adichie 4). Ifemelu does not mirror the characters Adichie describes reading as a child, who were all “white and blue-eyed, they played in the snow, they ate apples”; instead, she has delivered her promise of branching beyond that single story promulgated by the Western literary canon (Single Story).

Likewise, in “We Should All Be Feminists,” Adichie laments that “because I’m female, I’m expected to aspire to marriage; I’m expected to make life choices always keeping in mind that marriage is the most important” (Feminists). This disdain for women’s dependence on men for their personal identities and sense of self-worth is greatly emphasized in Americanah through Ifemelu’s increased agency. At the end of the novel, it is clear that Ifemelu has taken control of her own life on her own terms, remarking that “still, she was at peace: to be home, to be writing her blog, to have discovered Lagos again. She had, finally, spun herself fully into being” (Adichie 475). It is only after she creates this identity for herself that she finally allows Obinze, her past lover, to come into her house, thereby putting herself before the prospect of finding a partner. Adichie consistently values feminism and diverse representation both within and beyond her texts, becoming a reliable figure in the public eye. Her novel is therefore seen and read in this empowering context.

I highly recommend watching Adichie’s TEDtalks as well as reading her latest novel Americanah. Adichie is both a masterful novelist and public speaker, and the messages she delivers are certainly ones worth hearing.

Click here to see other Feminist Friday posts!

What are your thoughts on Adichie? Have you read any of her books? Have any recommendations? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Monthly Wrap-Up

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

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: Spring 2018 TBR

Happy Tuesday!! It’s that time of year again: bring out the spring 2018 TBR lists! Every season I set a TBR list and then completely forget about it by the time I have to create another one for the next season… when will this vicious cycle end? (Not anytime soon!) Since I now have my reading lists for next term to start working on I have quite a bit of reading to do over the next few weeks. Based on a mix of assigned reading and random books I’ve meaning to read for ages, here are ten books I’m hoping to read this spring: 

What books do you want to read this spring? What do you think about the books that I’ve mentioned? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Meant to Read in 2017 (But Didn’t)

Happy Tuesday!! As you have probably noticed by now, I’m pretty awful at sticking to TBR lists. Whenever I make one for a specific month, season, or read-a-thon I inevitably end up scrapping the entire thing and just reading whatever seems appealing in that moment. As a result, there are SO MANY books that I mean to read in 2017 but didn’t find the time to do so. Fortunately, this week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic focuses on just that! Here are just a few of the books I meant to read in 2017 but didn’t:

 

 

What books were you hoping to read in 2017? What do you think of the books on my list? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: Winter 2017 TBR

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

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

Yours,

HOLLY

Haul

Summer is Here! | Book Haul

Not long ago I wrote a post discussing book hauls and why I haven’t posted many in the past. However, the more I think about it the more I feel like this could be a fun way to share the books that I’m currently really excited about reading and discussing. Without further ado, here are some books that I’ve recently bought, received, or otherwise acquired:

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

I’ve been wanting to read Americanah for a while, and then my favorite professor recommended it to me and I knew I had to buy a copy for the summer. People seem to love Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s work– fingers crossed I fall in love with her writing as well!

How to Ruin Everything by George Watsky

Surprise, surprise! I feel like I’ve talked a lot about this book lately (with good reason because it’s fantastic). Initially my brother lent me his copy of How to Ruin Everything to read while I was living on campus; however, when I moved back home and went to return it to him he told me I could keep it because he’s not a fan of rereading books. (THANK YOU.) You can read my review of this essay collection here.

The Road to Little Dribbling by Bill Bryson

Recently I received this book as a gift from my wonderful boss for being accepted into a study abroad program (any guesses on where I’ll be going?!). In this sort of sequel to his 1995 book Notes from a Small Island, Bill Bryson travels across England and recounts his adventures and observations in each delightfully British location.

William Faulkner: The Yoknapatawpha Country by Cleanth Brooks

I can’t even begin to tell you how excited I am that this book finally arrived in the mail the other day!! I’ve been really enjoying reading Faulkner lately and I’m super excited to read this study of how the fictional Yoknapatawpha County he created as the setting of many of his works plays a role in his texts. I read some criticism by Cleanth Brooks in one of my English classes this past semester, so I’m also really  interested to see what I think of this particular text. (Also, this edition is GORGEOUS!)

Have you read any of these books? What books have you recently acquired? What do you think of book hauls? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: Summer 2017 TBR

Happy Tuesday!! June is almost here, meaning that summer is right around the corner! (In my mind it’s been summer for a few weeks now because my semester ended a while ago, but I guess if we’re talking seasons then we still have a bit to go…) Anyways, today’s Top Ten Tuesday theme from The Broke and the Bookish is anything having to do with summertime, so I’ve decided to share the top ten books on my summer TBR list. My next term of classes doesn’t start until late September, so I have nearly four months to read whatever I please. (Can you feel how excited I am?!?!) In no particular order, here is my summer TBR:

The Heroic Slave by Frederick Douglass

Recently for one of my final papers I did a study of the critical reception of Douglass’ works. I knew that he had written three different autobiographies, but I had no idea that he also published a novel. I’m really intrigued to see what Douglass’ only piece of fiction is like, especially since I now know all about the historical, social, and critical context of his writing.

More plays by Shakespeare

Every summer I try to read a few plays by Shakespeare to knock them off my TBR list. They are referenced so often in literature that I feel as though it’s beneficial for me to spend some time on them (even though I’m not a super huge fan of the Bard as of now….). So far I’ve read Romeo and Juliet, Othello, Hamlet, King Lear, and Macbeth. If you have any recommendations for which plays I should read next, let me know!

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

This novel has been recommended to me countless times, both online and in real life. I can’t wait to see how she tackles fascinating and interesting topics such as race, cultural identity, nationhood, and love for people and places alike. I feel as though summer will be the perfect time to dive into what promises to be an incredibly eye-opening read.

Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe

This is one of those books that I’ve been meaning to read since high school but just haven’t gotten around to doing so. (To be honest, I’m kind of surprised that I haven’t had to read it for a class…) Considering the enormous reputation it has in American history, I’m really looking forward to finally understanding the controversy surrounding this novel.

One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories by B.J. Novak

I’ve been in the middle of reading this book for MONTHS. It was a great book to keep on my nightstand in college because I could quickly read a story or two before bed if I couldn’t fall asleep. Of course, the downside to this method is that it’s taking me forever to get through. Hopefully I can read the rest of these hilarious, witty stories this summer!

An Unreliable Guide to London by too many authors to list

Rumor has it that a certain bookworm will be traveling to a certain European county in the near future, meaning that this quirky collection of short stories would be the perfect book to read alongside many travel guides this summer.

More by William Faulkner

Next term I’ll hopefully be taking an entire course about William Faulkner (fingers crossed!) so I’m planning on reading a lot of his work this summer. Besides rereading The Sound and the Fury again, I’d also like to read Absalom, Absalom!, The Hamlet, Go Down, Moses, and several of his short stories. If you have any recommendations for more of Faulkner’s writing, please let me know!

Looking for Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta

I’m sure you’re sick and tired of hearing me praise Marchetta’s Jellicoe Road in every single post, so I think it’s high time that I branch out and read more of her work. I’ve been meaning to read this book ever since I read Jellicoe Road for the first time!

The Quartet : Orchestrating the Second American Revolution, 1783-1789

I absolutely love learning about these formative years in the history of the United States. After reading and adoring Ellis’ book Founding Brothers several years ago I’ve been eagerly anticipating this next read. (It’s also been glaring at me from my bookshelf for quite some time.)

Matilda by Roald Dahl

I thought I would end this TBR list on a really fun read that I’ve been meaning to get to for AGES. I feel like I’m the only twenty-year-old bookworm who has yet to read this charming little book! Every time I go to my local library it has already been checked out, but fingers crossed that I can finally snag it this summer.

What books are you hoping to read this summer? What do you think of the books on my list? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY