Tags

2016/2017 Tag

book-courtship-11Even though the start of the New Year has long since come and gone, it’s never too late for a book tag! Thank so much to Kyleigh @ Coffeehouse Chatter for tagging me in the 2016/2017 tag!

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1. Mention the creator of the TAG (David @ #theguywhosaidalwaysno)

2. Use the image that you find in this article.

3. Mention the blogger who has chosen you.

4. Answer the questions.

5. Mention 3 bloggers/friends and let them know through a comment on their blog.

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Describe your 2016 in 3 words!

An uphill climb.

Write the names of 2 people who characterized your 2016!

There were so many that it’s hard to name just two! I owe so much to my friends and family, as well as the amazing professors at my college who have helped me better define my goals for the future.

Write the most beautiful place you’ve visited in 2016 and why you liked it so much!

Probably Mount Cardigan, which my dad and I hike every New Year’s Day. My friends and I also hiked it over the summer, which is always a blast. I’ve probably hiked it around ten times over the years and I never get tired of visiting again and again.

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Write the most delicious food you’ve tasted in 2016.

My mom’s homemade cheesecake, hands down. SO GOOD.

Write the event which has marked you the most in 2016 (even global event).

It’s difficult to pinpoint one specific event, but I’d be amiss if I didn’t mention the realization I had in the spring of 2016 regarding what I’d potentially like to do after graduation college. Up until that point I had been dead set on going to law school, but talking with my English major advisor made me realize that pursuing my dream job would be possible: earning a doctorate and becoming an English professor at a university. This realization drastically changed my outlook on what I’d like to take away from my undergraduate experience as well as on my future in general.

Write the finest purchase you’ve made in 2016, and if you want link a photo.

I’m not sure what this tag’s definition of “finest” is, but one purchase I made in 2016 that sticks out in my mind is this amazing bookcase. How cool is that? It’s currently in my bedroom at home and I sorely miss it now that I’m living back on campus in my dorm.

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Write 3 good intentions for 2017.

Reach out more, be positive, and be kind.

Write 1 place you want to visit in 2017.

I would LOVE to study abroad in Oxford this upcoming fall semester… fingers crossed!!

Write 1 plate/food you want to eat in 2017.

Honestly, as much breakfast food as possible. I ❤ breakfast.

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How has 2017 been treating you so far? What’s the best book you’ve read so far this year? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

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Monthly Wrap-Up

JANUARY 2017 | Wrap-Up

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Welcome to my first monthly wrap-up of 2017! Take a gander at what I’ve been up to so far this year!

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In January I read a total of 5 books:

  1. How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran
  2. The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
  3. The Girls by Emma Cline
  4. The Shining by Stephen King
  5. Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur

I was not expecting to name Rupi Kaur’s Milk and Honey as my favorite book of the month (especially since I randomly bought it on a whim at a bookstore), yet how could I not? It’s all I’ve been able to think about since first reading this beautiful collection of poetry. Certain poems have me returning to reread them time and time again, a sure sign that this book deserves all of the praise it has received and more. I highly recommend it, even if you don’t usually read poetry!

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My dad and I started off the New Year by carrying on one of my favorite traditions: hiking on New Year’s Day. To me, the experience of spending the day outdoors surrounded by fresh snowfall and the smell of the forest is the ultimate way to feel grounded and refreshed going into the new year. We also went hiking again later on in the month and actually slept over in a cozy lodge at the base of the mountain. It was such a fun weekend!

Besides hiking and spending time with friends, I spent most of my winter break working at the local Child Advocacy Center where I was an intern over the summer. Of course, I also spent a fair amount of time blogging and reading, too!

Then came the end of winter break and the beginning of the new semester. I’m really excited for the classes I’ll be taking over the next few months and all of the fun events that will be happening soon. (If you’re interested, my new classes are Approaches to Literature and Culture, Renaissance Poetry, Logic, and Latin American History and Culture.)

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Since the new semester has officially started, my blogging time has just about dwindled down to being nonexistent. I’ve been writing posts non-stop over winter break in an effort to schedule as many in advance as possible– I should be all set until around late March!

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

Here are some posts that I loved reading this month:

How was your month of January? What is the best book you’ve read so far in 2017? Have you made any progress with your New Year’s resolutions? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Books

WILD by Cheryl Strayed

Wild by Cheryl Strayed cover“How wild it was, to let it be.”

I’ve had my eye on Cheryl Strayed’s memoir Wild for years now. I love hiking- as explained here– so when I heard of this book I knew it would be something I would find interesting, at the very least. I’m familiar with the Appalachian Trail, but before reading this memoir I knew next to nothing about the Pacific Crest Trail. While I learned an immense amount about the PCT, I was also happy to discover that Wild addresses so much more than a long, long hike. Strayed takes the reader along on her personal journey through grief, heartache, and a quest to find herself again.

Strayed’s personality simply shines through her writing, resulting in a memoir that is honest, genuine, and raw. It feels as though she holds nothing back, like she is confiding in the reader as if they were an old friend rather than a complete stranger. It takes courage to blatantly lay out the details of such an emotional time in your life in this way, and I applaud Strayed for choosing to do so. She admits her ignorance, foolishness, and mistakes while at the same time emphasizing her ability to learn from them. Her personality is accentuated by the engaging narration of the audio book that I listened to. Bernadette Dunne, the narrator, had different voices for all of the characters that really brought the story to life. She performed with just the right amount of emotion, and at times it almost felt as though Cheryl herself was talking to me on the phone, telling me her story.

Moreover, the structured of this memoir is really well-organized and executed. She tells the story of her hike on the PCT in mostly chronological order, all the while interjecting with bits and pieces about her life prior to embarking on this journey. As a result, the reader gains a clear understanding of Cheryl both on and off the trail without having to endure massive “info-dumps.”  Strayed gradually provides us with information when relevant rather than overwhelming us with it all at once. There is a careful balance between her past and present, and she has managed to find an incredibly effective way of seamlessly weaving them together.

Similarly, the conclusion of Wild was refreshingly satisfying and expertly written as well. I don’t know if this would be considered a spoiler since Wild is a memoir and not a fictional story, but at the end Strayed wraps everything up by flashing forward into her future, between when she finished the PCT and when she writes this book. She discusses how she moves on, gets married, starts a family, and eventually brings them all to the exact location where she finished her journey. Her moment of reflection was the perfect way to conclude this memoir because it really drives home how the overall experience has impacted here life. Glimpsing her future helped tie together the jumble of seemingly random experiences she had while hiking and made sense of them in a way the reader could better understand. When I finally listened to the last line of the audio book I felt an overwhelming sense of satisfaction. If only every book ending could be so rewarding!

I know this is a true story and therefore I can’t really complain about unchangeable events (this is her actual life, after all); however, I couldn’t help but feel frustrated with Cheryl at times. Why did she have to break things off with her husband? Why did she start and continue doing heroin, even though so many people offered to help her stop? It seems like Cheryl made so many poor decisions that could have been avoided with some self-control and common sense. Perhaps this is overly critical of me to say– she was dealing the crushing loss of her mother, after all, and things always appear clearer in hindsight– but I wanted to mention it as it is something that really bothered me throughout this memoir.

Overall, I was captivated and fascinated by Cheryl Strayed’s inspiring story. Not only is Wild an entertaining, thought-provoking memoir, but it is also an engrossing tale of hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. Whether you’re an avid hiker or not, this memoir is sure to be a valuable and enjoyable read!

My Rating: :0) :0) :0) :0) 4 out of 5 smileys

Would I recommend it to a friend?: Definitely! You don’t have to enjoy hiking to like this book, but it’s a bonus if you do!

What are your thoughts on this memoir? Would you recommend the movie adaptation? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: Why I Love Hiking Mountains

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Happy Tuesday! For this week’s Top Ten Tuesday list I’ve decided to stray a bit from the bookish path. Instead, I’ll be discussing the physical trails that I love to tread: hiking mountains. When I was in middle school I hiked my first mountain with my dad and I’ve been hooked ever since. Fortunately I live in an area with a plethora of mountains an hour or two away, making it fairly easy to plan hiking trips on a moment’s notice. The joy of hiking is something I think you have to experience to fully understand, but I’ll try my best to put it into words.

Falling Waters Trail1. Being connected with nature. This is an obvious one, but it’s arguably one of my most important reasons. When you’re deep in the forest on your way up the mountain with no cell service or way of contacting others, you suddenly realize how detached you are from civilization. It’s a liberating feeling to have only nature and your fellow hikers for company.

IMG_04682. The trails. Although the summit is the ultimate destination, the trails themselves should be equally as appreciated. Some of my favorite things to come across on trails are bridges, waterfalls, lush fields of green or flowers, and the occasional sign left by someone in their travels.

3. An alternate way of exercising. Let me tell you: hiking up a mountain is hard work. However, the great thing about hiking is that it’s an incredibly rewarding form of exercise. From beautiful views to priceless time with friends or family, the perks of hiking definitely outweigh whatever fatigue your muscles may be feeling.

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4. Always feels new. No matter how many times I hike the same trail it never feels stale, monotonous, or boring. There are so many variables involved– the weather, who you’re hiking with, etc.– that each hike really is an exciting new adventure.

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5. Hikers are friendly. This is a generalization, of course, but I’ve found that the majority of people (and dogs!) I meet on the trails are very friendly. You can usually count on fellow hikers to say hello and either ask you how the summit is or give yo an update on how it was, depending on if they’re in front of or behind you. You never know who you’ll meet on a hike!DSCN1013

6. Spending time with friends and family. I always go hiking with at least one friend or family member, both for safety’s sake and because it makes it so much more enjoyable. It’s great spending time with people without having to worry about technology or other life things interrupting. Besides, once you hike with someone, chances are that you’ll both want to go hiking again!

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7. Reaching the summit. This is the part of the hike that people generally look forward to the most. There’s nothing like cresting that ridge or popping out of the tree line to find that you’ve finally made it to the top. VICTORY!

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Yup, it’s me.

8. Breathtaking views. If you’re lucky enough to go hiking on a day with a clear blue sky, then you’ll likely be able to see some amazing views at the top. Everything looks so different from such a high perspective, and it always astounds me how incredibly small we are when compared to these behemoth natural giants.

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9. A rare experience. Despite the fact that hundreds of people hike mountains every day, I’m willing to bet that hikers are still a minority of the overall population. Whether it’s due to geography, financial problems, time constraints, health issues, or other reasons, a large number of people never have the opportunity to view the world from atop the summit of a mountain that they have hiked. I always feel lucky when I look out from the summit because I’m seeing something that few people experience in their lifetimes.

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Me again, except this time I’m really cold.

10. Sense of accomplishment. Whenever I finish a hike I’m overwhelmed by such a positive feeling of accomplishment. It’s a special moment when you can look up at a mountain from down below and say, “I’ve been there!”

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I hope you’ve enjoyed this list and these pictures of my many hiking adventures over the years!

Do you enjoy hiking? Do you have any funny, weird, or memorable hiking stories that you’d like to share? Have you read any good books about hiking? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY