Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Hope to Find Under the Christmas Tree

Happy Tuesday and MERRY CHRISTMAS!! I’m back to blogging now that I’m on break in between semesters, which means it’s time for my first Top Ten Tuesday in a while. This week we’re asked to share the top ten books we hope to find under the Christmas tree. I actually didn’t ask for any books this year, but there are always some that I wouldn’t mind receiving…

 

Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom by David W. Blight

It’s no secret that I love learning and reading about Frederick Douglass, a former slave who became an incredibly influential and important abolitionist orator in the nineteenth century. This new biography of Douglass just came out in October, so I’m eager to see how it compares to the other Douglass biography I’ve read.

Nehanda by Yvonne Vera

I’ve been trying to check out this book through the ILL system at my college library for weeks and for some reason it never seems to work. Vera is a large part of the honors thesis I’m currently working on, so I would love to read Nehanda, which was the first novel she ever wrote (not counting her collection of short stories published in 1992).

 

Operation Shylock: A Confession by Philip Roth

This past semester I took a senior seminar solely about Philip Roth. After reading so many Roth novels (and complaining about reading so many Roth novels), it’s a wonder that one has ended up on this list! But now that I’ve read so much Roth I feel like I should just keep going at this point.

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green

I’ve been a fan of the Vlogbrothers for nearly a decade now, so it seems only fitting that I pick up Hank’s first novel one of these days. I’m so intrigued by the synopsis on Goodreads–who knows what kind of crazy stuff Hank has in store for us?

Secrets for the Mad by Dodie Clark

I’ve been a fan of Dodie’s music for a little while now (especially since seeing her perform live in London earlier this year!) so I’d love to read her book. If it’s anything like her song lyrics, then it’s bound to be beautifully written!

Those are all of the books I could come up with off the top of my head that I’d really love to own a copy of. What books are on your wish list? What do you think of the books on mine? Let me know in the comments section below!

Once again, MERRY CHRISTMAS!!

Yours,

HOLLY

Advertisements

The Bookish Naughty List Tag

Long time, no see! It’s been a while since I last posted something (since Halloween?!), but I’m here today with a festive tag to jump back into things. Norees @ No Reads Too Great tagged me in the Bookish Naughty List Tag, which I had never seen before. Let’s get right to it!

Read an ARC and not reviewed it.

Unfortunately, yes. There are a few that I read over the summer that I meant to write reviews of this past semester, but obviously that didn’t happen… hopefully I’ll get around to writing them eventually!

Have less than 60% feedback rating on Netgalley.

Although I signed up for a Netgalley account years ago, I don’t think I’ve ever actually used it.

Rated a book on Goodreads and promised a full review was to come on your blog–and it never did.

Oh, ALL THE TIME. I’m so guilty of saying this; however, I always do genuinely intend on writing a review at some point, so at least it comes from a place of good intentions!

Folded down the page of a book.

Yup yup. I’m not averse to doing this at all if it’s a book that I own, but I would never fold down the page of a book that wasn’t mine.

Accidentally spilled something on a book.

I’m the worst and spill tea on the corners of pages on a regular basis. At least it doesn’t really stain, though!

DNF’d a book this year.

Probably, although none come to mind at the moment. I have a bad habit of checking out audiobooks, listening to an hour or so of them, and then running out of time in my schedule to fit it in before the due date arrives much too soon.

Bought a book purely because it was pretty with no intention of reading it.

Nope! If I buy a book, it’s because I’m at least decently interested in reading it. I don’t want to waste money (or space on my bookshelf!).

Read whilst you were meant to be doing something else (like homework).

Oh, absolutely! I tend to read whenever I’m stressed or sad or want to distract myself from something, so it often makes its way into my morning/evening routine when I could be spending that time being productive in other ways. I don’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing, though–it’s always good to take a much-needed break sometimes!

Skim read a book.

Guilty as charged! I’ve done this with quite a few books for courses when I only need to read a certain section but I want more context from the rest of the book. Some skimming also usually happens when I’m particularly tired…

Completely missed your Goodreads goal.

I for sure thought I had at some point, but I just checked my Goodreads page and apparently I’ve never missed my goal?!?! How has this happened?!?! In recent years I’ve taken to setting some pretty manageable goals so I don’t put added pressure on myself to read more than I feasibly can, but early on I had some WILD reading years.

Borrowed a book and not returned it.

Nope! I’m pretty diligent about returning books to people. I’ve been on the opposite end of not getting a book back a few times and it’s not fun!

Broke a book buying ban.

I’ve never set myself a book buying ban, so there hasn’t been one to break! I’m fairly good at only buying books here and there, mostly because I already have so many books on my shelf that I haven’t read yet.

Started a review, left it for ages, and then forgot what the book was about.

ALL. THE. TIME. I can’t even count the number of times this has happened to me, especially during the summer months when I tend to read books faster than I write reviews of them. All those poor deleted drafts!

Wrote in a book you were reading.

Oh, I LOVE writing in books! I do this all the time and have absolutely no shame.

Finished a book and not added it to your Goodreads.

I’m sure there have been a few that I’ve forgotten to add, but I do try to stay on top of updating my list–even if that means doing so a few weeks late!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this tag! I’m not going to tag anyone else because I’ve been out of the loop for so long that I have no idea who has done this yet and who hasn’t. If you’d like to have a go at it, please do!

Looks like I’ve been more bookishly naughty than nice lately! What are your answers to these questions? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

DECEMBER 2017 | Wrap-Up

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

thank-you-14

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

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

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

thank-you-15

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

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

thank-you-16

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

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

How was your month of December? What was the best book you read? Did you do anything really fun or exciting? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Jingle All the Way Book Tag

MERRY CHRISTMAS!! I can’t believe it’s finally here! To celebrate I’m going to answer some festive questions in the Jingle All the Way Book Tag, which was originally created by The Left Handed Book Lover. Thanks so much to Dani @ Perspective of a Writer for tagging me!!

JINGLE BELLS: A fun, lighthearted book

The Princess Bride by William Goldman? I love this entertaining, hilarious, captivating adventure story, especially the snarky narrator. I highly recommend the movie as well (this is one of the few cases in which the movie rivals the book for me!).

I SAW MOMMY KISSING SANTA CLAUS: A book with a scandalous romance

I don’t know if the relationships in Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights could necessarily be described as particularly “romantic” or “scandalous” per say, but they are certainly memorable!

I’LL BE HOME FOR CHRISTMAS: A book you are determined to reread

I always say that My Ántonia by Willa Cather is one of my absolute favorite books, but I’ve only read it once. I adore rereading books, so I definitely want to read this one again in 2018!

SANTA CLAUS IS COMING TO TOWN: Your most anticipated release of 2017

Definitely Turtles All the Way Down by John Green. I was hesitant at first because I was afraid of being disappointed by all of the hype surrounding his new release, but it actually exceeded all of my expectations.

SILENT NIGHT: A beautiful book that everyone knows

I’m not sure I would say that everyone knows the story of One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez, but everyone definitely should. The lyrical writing in this novel is stunning and the story itself is incredibly captivating.

WINTER WONDERLAND: A book with great world-building

Ah, there’s so many to choose from! I think that I’ll have to go with Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card. This science fiction series has some of the most interesting world-building I’ve ever read… come to think of it, I should definitely finish this series soon!

GO TELL IT ON THE MOUNTAIN: An under-hyped book that is so great you want to tell everyone about it 

I absolutely adored The Rook by Daniel O’Malley when I read it a few years ago but know very few people who actually talk about it. It’s fantastic! So good! Read it! Please!

I SAW THREE SHIPS: Favorite trilogy

Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. This has been my favorite trilogy for a decade now and I can’t see that changing anytime soon! Unlike with most trilogies, my favorite book in LOTR is actually The Two Towers, the middle one.

RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER: A book with an underdog protagonist who rises up

Holes by Louis Sachar. How could you not want to root for poor Stanley Yelnats as he tries to survive his time at Camp Green Lake.

HAVE YOURSELF A MERRY LITTLE CHRISTMAS: A book that helped you get through troubling times

SO. MANY. I especially love reading The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien whenever I’m stressed or just need to be cheered up. As I explained recently in another book tag I definitely identify with Bilbo.

Thanks again to Dani for tagging me! I hope you all have a lovely holiday filled with family, friends, delicious food, carols, and fresh snow!

What are your answers to these questions? What’s your favorite holiday tradition? How was Christmas for you this year? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Spreading Blogger (and Christmas!) Cheer

Recently Michelle @ The Writing Hufflepuff created this post in which she highlights bloggers as a way to spread blogger cheer during this festive season. Seeing as Christmas will be here before we know it (TOMORROW?!?!) I thought I would take the time to pass on Christmas cheer through a few blogger shoutouts. Here are some lovely bloggers and blogs that I’ve followed recently (and you should, too!):

Zoie @ Whisked Away by Words

Not only does Zoie have a beautiful blog, but she also leaves the most thoughtful comments. I love how she writes about travel as well as books!

Pamela @ Reverie Society

I love that Pamela’s blog is bilingual. She also writes such thought-provoking discussion posts and has a gorgeous blog design.

Loretta @ The Laughing Listener 

Loretta mostly reviews audio books, which motivates me to want to listen to more novels that way. The way she formats her reviews that makes them so easy and entertaining to read.

Marilyn @ Be Who You Want To Be

I love how much personality Marilyn’s writing has– she also has such a great taste in books! I’ve added so many titles to by TBR list since following her blog.

Georgiana @ Reader’s High Tea

Georgiana is another blogger with such ideal bookish taste. I’ve also had a great time reading through her posts on War and Peace. 

Last but not least, thanks so much to Michelle for constantly being a ray of positivity in the blogging community ❤ I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas if you celebrate!

What are you plans for Christmas Eve or Christmas in general? Have any favorite traditions? Reading any festive books? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Feminist Fridays: The “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” Controversy

In the spirit of the festive season, today’s installment of Feminist Fridays discusses the seemingly never-ending controversy surrounding the classic Christmas carol “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” Written by Frank Loesser in 1944 for the film Neptune’s Daughter, this song has been performed and recorded by countless artists in the following decades. However, in recent years this duet has been criticized for being a sexist song about rape. What is an avid listener of Christmas carols to do?

When I first heard the numerous arguments against this song, I was wholeheartedly in agreement. After all, how could I support a song about using alcohol in order to take advantage of women, which is a situation that happens all too often in actuality. In “A Line-by-Line Take Down of ‘Baby, It’s Cold Outside’” published by the HuffPost last year, this song is put squarely into the context of our modern day society:

Which begs the question: if our rape problem is still so bad today, 70 years later, but we’re at least now aware of this problem, then why does this creepy song still get so much play? Most of its new versions have been recorded in the last decade, with three new versions released in the past year! Yes, it’s a catchy tune, with some linguistically clever back-and-forths that make for a fun (or at least, fun-to-record) duet — even we can’t help but sing along! But in the age of campus rape awareness (finally!) and Bill Cosby allegations, how can so many contemporary artists (and listeners) not be more conflicted about a song that basically sanctions date rape — roofies and all?

Yet as a student of English literature, part of me couldn’t help but notice that there are two conflicting cultural contexts at war here: that of today and that in which the song was originally written. While I don’t buy into the excuse of pardoning problematic things just because they’re so-called “products of their time,” it can be valuable to view text or art in light of when it was produced.

In an article by Persephone Magazine titled ‘Listening While Feminist: In Defense of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,”’ the cultural context of the 1940s is brought into the debate by analyzing the role of alcohol in the song:

So let’s talk about that drink. I’ve discussed solely looking at the lyrics of the song and its internal universe so far, but I think that the line “Say, what’s in this drink” needs to be explained in a broader context to refute the idea that he spiked her drink. “Say, what’s in this drink” is a well-used phrase that was common in movies of the time period and isn’t really used in the same manner any longer. The phrase generally referred to someone saying or doing something they thought they wouldn’t in normal circumstances; it’s a nod to the idea that alcohol is “making” them do something unusual. But the joke is almost always that there is nothing in the drink. The drink is the excuse. The drink is the shield someone gets to hold up in front of them to protect from criticism. And it’s not just used in these sort of romantic situations. I’ve heard it in many investigation type scenes where the stoolpigeon character is giving up bits of information they’re supposed to be protecting, in screwball comedies where someone is making a fool of themselves, and, yes, in romantic movies where someone is experiencing feelings they are not supposed to have.

After reading articles such as this one, my fervent opposition to the song began to waver once again. Have we been taking this song out of context during this entire heated controversy? Then again, does context even matter at this point if the modern interpretation of the lyrics is so unpleasant?

So which side is the “right” one? Or can a single side even claim that bold title? This controversy is important because it brings up a question that plagues Christmas carol listeners and students of English literature alike: Is this a case of needing to recognize that something we enjoy is problematic, or have we misinterpreted the cultural context in which it was created in favor of emphasizing our own? Unfortunately, I don’t have a great answer.

What are your thoughts on this song? How do you deal with problematic art that you’re just not sure about? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Hope Santa Brings

Happy Tuesday!! As per usual at this time of year, the lovely bloggers behind The Broke and the Bookish set the annual Christmas topic: What books do you hope Santa brings? Last year I had a blast creating a list of fictional titles that I wish existed, so this year I’ll be doing the same. In the festive spirit of the season, here are the ten books I hope to find sitting under the Christmas tree:

What books do you hope Santa brings (real or otherwise)? What are your thoughts on the titles I’ve mentioned? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Sunshine Blogger Award | 4

Hi everyone! I hope you’re having a lovely day! To brighten up this wintery mood I’m going to share the Sunshine Blogger Award. Thanks so much to Dani @ Perspective of a Writer for nominating me!

  • Thank the person who nominated you in a blog post and link back to their blog.
  • Answer the 11 questions sent by the person who nominated you.
  • Nominate 11 new blogs to receive the award and write them 11 new questions.
  • List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post and/or on your blog.

Who is the one person that is the sunshine in your life?

Just ONE?!?!?!? I’m going to cheat and say all of my family and friends. How can I pick just one?!?!

Do you prefer all happy movies, or occasional sad movies?

Preferably all happy movies. I’ll watch sad movies if I’m with other people who also want to watch it, but I definitely try to avoid reading sad books if I can help it.

What is the one food that always makes you happy?

PIZZA. Or oatmeal… there’s nothing better than a steaming bowl of oatmeal and raisins in the morning.

What is the sunshine on your blog?

The comments section! I love reading everyone’s comments even though I’m usually pretty slow at finding time to respond to them all. I appreciate each and every one of them ❤

What is your favorite holiday?

CHRISTMAS.

What is one thing you love about yourself?

My ability to remember song lyrics even when I haven’t listened to a song in years.

What is one thing you love about the blogging community?

I love how incredibly kind and supportive everyone is in the blogging community, especially when it comes to inclusiveness.

What is the one book that made you smile the most?

Definitely The BFG by Roald Dahl. No matter how many times I read this book it will always make me laugh!

Where is your corner of sunshine in your home?

At the moment, it’s the Christmas tree in the corner of our living room. I love when the house is decorated for Christmas!

What is your favorite color or colors?

Probably yellow and mint (or is it called turquoise/teal? It’s the color of my blog…).

What is the one movie (or drama) that always makes you happy?

Definitely Jurassic Park. It’s such a wacky story and I love the cheesy, witty banter between all of the characters.

As per usual with these kinds of posts, I’ll pass along the same questions that I answered for those that I’ve nominated. Thanks again to Dani for nominating me! Answering these questions was a blast!

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

Yours,

HOLLY

OXMAS | Holly Goes Abroad

The festive fun might just be beginning with the start of December, but Oxmas is actually already over…. But what is Oxmas, you ask? Oxmas is Oxford’s version of celebrating Christmas much, much earlier than everyone else. The vast majority of students move out of their accommodations during the first few days of December (I’ll be on a plane flying home as you read this), meaning that there would hardly be any time for Christmas festivities if they waited until November was over to celebrate. Thus, Oxmas was born!

Without Thanksgiving, there is nothing creating a clear distinction between when you should and shouldn’t start getting in the Christmas spirit. Decorations around the city began going up around the middle of November, with shops playing Christmas music and Christmas markets popping up on the weekends. (There was even a Christmas tree at our Thanksgiving dinner…) There were too many Christmas parties, socials, dinners, and other events to possibly count. I actually went to two carol services– two more than I had ever been to in my life before. Everyone is genuinely, unironically festive despite the fact that all of this happened before it was even December. 

 Celebrating Christmas so early may feel strange to some people, but I loved it. I’m one of those people who starts listening to Josh Groban’s Christmas album the minute the clock strikes November 1st, so Oxmas was an incredibly welcome surprise. What I didn’t anticipate was how disoriented it makes you feel. Every time I left one of these events I felt as though Christmas was right around the corner, like it was December 20th and I just had a few more days to wait… until I realized that, in actuality, it was still November. But that means that I get SO MUCH extra Christmas fun this year!

One of the best Christmas events I attended was the Christmas formal dinner at Mansfield College. The hall was beautifully decorated and the food was absolutely delicious. Being served turkey, vegetables, and potatoes reminded me a lot of Thanksgiving (albeit without squash and stuffing, the best parts). I had also never done Christmas crackers before, so I was pretty surprised and a bit confused when we all popped open the crackers and put on shiny paper crowns. There was a moment during dinner when the feeling of being at some sort of real-life Hogwarts just hit me– how can this place be so amazing?!

Christmas remains my favorite holiday, but Oxmas has definitely jumped to the top section of the list! Now that I’ve celebrated Christmas for about two weeks, I’m ready to go back home and continue on for another month. I wish I could celebrate Oxmas every year!

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

Have you ever been in Oxmas during Christmastime? How early do you start celebrating Christmas? What is your favorite Christmas tradition? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

DECEMBER 2016 | Wrap-Up

june-2016-4

The last month of the year has come to an end, meaning it’s time for another monthly wrap-up! All in all, December was a pretty great end to a tumultuous and rocky year. Not only did I read several fantastic books, but I had a blast celebrating the holiday season with a plethora of Christmas festivities. Let’s take a look at what I’ve been up to!
June

All of my reading in December took place in the latter half of the month once I moved back home and started my winter break. Luckily, the CramAThon began on the day that my break started, so that helped give me the boost I needed to get some major reading done. It feels so nice to be able to read whatever I want without worrying about homework!

In December I read a total of 5 books:

  1. The Truth About Style by Stacy London
  2. When Everything Changed by Gail Collins
  3. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  4. Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
  5. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Picking a single favorite book of the month is really difficult, but I think I’m going to have to go with Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy. This classic novel has unexpectedly become one of my favorite books of 2016 and quite possibly one of my favorite classics in general. I couldn’t put it down and even though weeks have passed since I finished reading it the story of Bathsheba Everdene still lingers in the back of my mind. I can’t recommend it enough! (Honorable mention: The Truth About Style by Stacy London. LOVE THIS BOOK. <3)

img_5507

June (1)

As per usual, December was a month of extremes: the nearly overwhelming stress of finishing final exams and papers, the joy of celebrating with friends before saying goodbye until next semester, eating massive amounts of cake and cookies, and finally being able to relax at home and do absolutely nothing. This rapid decline from studying and working every possible minute to suddenly have a seemingly vast amount of free time feels incredibly strange– wonderful, of course, but strange nonetheless. Here are some highlights from my month:

+ Celebrating the holidays with friends. In the midst of studying and furiously writing papers, my friends and I decided to take a quick break and bake some delicious Christmas cookies after exchanging gifts. Considering we baked them in the kitchen of a college dorm building, I’d say it was definitely a success!

img_5479

+ Coming home. Winter break has begun, which means that I’m back home for a little over a month. It’s the best feeling to be able to spend time with my family, friends from high school, and dogs again. (And not having to wear flip-flops in the shower is also a plus!)

+ CHRISTMAS. I’d be amiss if I made a December highlights list without mentioning Christmas! I absolutely adore this time of year because I’m always overwhelmed by the love and support shown by friends and family. It’s a reminder of how incredibly fortunate I am to be surrounded by such wonderful people. We celebrated Christmas Eve at my house like we do every year and hilarious shenanigans ensued, as is expected with my family.

img_5499

+ Free time to read. I’ve read SO MUCH ini the two weeks that I’ve been home for winter break thus far. After basically having no time to read for fun during the entire semester it feels amazing to finally dive back into my TBR. (Also, I got a new bookcase!!!)

+ Starting work. Although I love having free time to relax over break, it does get old after w while. Fortunately I’ve started working at the organization where I was an intern over the summer, so I’ll be plenty busy over the next few weeks.

June (2)

It feels so nice to be able to jump back into blogging during my winter break! I’ve been channeling my inner Alexander Hamilton and writing posts non-stop in an attempt to schedule as many posts ahead of time as possible. During the semester I have hardly no time to blog, meaning that the bulk of my future posts will have to scheduled in the upcoming weeks.

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

How was your month of December? Did you celebrate any holidays? Do anything fun? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY