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20 Questions Book Tag

It’s time for another tag! I’ve never done the 20 Questions Book Tag before, so this is an especially exciting one for me. Thanks so much to Jenna @ Bookmark Your Thoughts for tagging me!

1. How many books are too many books in a book series? 

I think it really depends on the series itself, but generally it takes an exceptionally great story to extend past the length of a trilogy in my opinion. One of my biggest pet peeves is when series drag on for books and books after the core of the story has been told.

2. How do you feel about cliffhangers? 

I love them! There’s nothing better than ending on a chapter with a cliffhanger that makes you want to keep reading until the very last page.

3. Hardcopy or paperback?

Definitely paperback! Not only are they cheaper to buy, but they’re also more comfortable to hold and easier to transport.

4. Favorite book?

This is such a difficult question! I think I’m going to have to go with The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien since it’s my favorite book of my favorite series.

5. Your least favorite book? 

This is also a difficult question! I usually don’t give up on books once I start reading them, but one book that I just couldn’t get through is Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdock. It was painfully cheesy!

6. Love triangles, yes or no? 

NO. I think love triangles are a really lazy way to create some sort of semblance of a plot.

7. The most recent book you just couldn’t finish?

I don’t often put down books once I’ve started reading them, so the last one I didn’t finish was probably Dairy Queen a few years ago.

8. A book you’re currently reading?

Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens. Unfortunately, it’s taking me a long time to read because other books keep distracting me. I’m hoping to finish it this weekend!

9. Last book you recommended to someone?

Probably How to Ruin Everything by George Watsky because I talk about it all the time.

10. The oldest book you’ve read? (Publication date) 

The Epic of Gilgamesh, which dates back to 2000 BC.

11. The newest book you’ve read? (Publication date)

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green, which was published on October 10, 2017.

12. Favorite author?

Another really difficult question! I have so many favorite authors, but at the moment I would have to go with William Faulkner. He’s such a fascinating writer!

13. Buying books or borrowing books?

Ideally: buying books. Realistically: borrowing books.

14. A book you dislike that everyone else seems to love? 

Anything by William Shakespeare. As you know if you’ve read this post, I’ve never been a huge fan of the Bard despite the fact that everyone else seems to be.

15. Bookmarks or dog-ears?

I prefer using bookmarks, though I have been known to dog-ear my own books to mark important quotes that I want to come back to. (I would never dog-ear someone else’s book, though!)

16. A book you can always reread?

Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta. I love it even more every time I come back to it.

17. Can you read while hearing music?

Yes! As long as it’s a song I already know and not something completely new. I’m usually pretty good at blocking out noise while I read.

18. One POV or multiple POV? (POV’ = Points of view)

I love reading books with multiple POVs as long as it’s done well. Otherwise, I would much prefer just sticking to one POV.

19. Do you read a book in one sitting or over multiple days? 

I LOVE reading books in one sittings if they’re short enough, but the vast majority of the books I read take me longer than a single day.

20. One book you read because of the cover.

So many! (I’m an awful impulse buyer in bookshops.) I remember buying The Silent History by Eli Horowitz, Kevin Moffett, and Matthew Derby because I thought the cover was so cool. It ended up being an okay novel, but not one that I would likely reread.

Thanks again to Jenna 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

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Books of 2017

Happy Tuesday!! The end of 2017 is just around the corner (!!!), meaning it’s time to reflect on what I’ve read thus far this year. Today’s Top Ten Tuesday theme highlights the best books we’ve read in 2017, and fortunately I have plenty of fantastic texts to choose from. I’ve decided to limit my list to the books I read for the first time this year because there were many, many rereads thrown into the mix. Here are my favorite books of 2017 in the order that I read them:

Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur

From my review: I bought a copy of Milk and Honey on a whim because I had heard a lot of great things about it. What I didn’t realize was that Rupi’s words would resonate so deeply with me and linger on in my mind long after I had read them. These poems are for anyone and everyone, regardless of whether or not you’ve read or enjoyed poetry in the past. Rupi Kaur has written poetry for human nature.

How to Ruin Everything by George Watsky

From my review: Reading this book felt like having the a random, hilarious, and well-spoken conversation with Watsky. How to Ruin Everything is definitely something I’ll be returning to in the future– for a laugh, for inspiration, and to be reminded that there’s nothing quite like the power of a good story.

The Song of the Lark by Willa Cather

From my review: I was enthralled by this novel. Everything about it captivated me from the very first sentence to the very last word. In fact, I was enjoying it so much that I marked all of my favorite passages with sticky notes, only to realize halfway through that I would have to take them all out when I was finished (it was a library book).

Sartoris by William Faulkner

From my review: When I first started reading Sartoris I was so confused by the many Johns and Bayards that I actually created a character web or family tree of sorts in an attempt to keep them all straight in my mind. However, I thought this would be a much larger hindrance than it ended up being in the long run because the characters became more defined as I became more invested in the story. In fact, the links between the characters– both linguistically with names and in terms of their relationships and personalities– soon became my favorite aspect of this novel. Faulkner uses the Sartoris family to ask a fascinating question: Are these events caused by the fate of the family or a logical cause-and-effect reaction? In other words, are these people responsible for their actions or have they already been destined (or doomed)?

Matilda by Roald Dahl

From my review: I really wish I had read this book when I was younger because I think Matilda’s character would have really resonated with me. Younger Holly would have been thrilled to read about a bookworm like myself who triumphed over obstacles against all odds. Matilda is such an important character for children to read about, both as a bookish hero as well as a strong, clever, independent female character.

The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins

From my review: I enjoyed The Woman in White far more than I had initially expected to when I turned to the very first page. Collins’ meticulous attention to details and carefully developed characters make for an impressive, memorable, suspenseful, and thrilling story. I’m so thankful that this novel was on my required reading list for this term– sometimes they contain unexpected gems!

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

From my review: As the facade fades away, the reader realizes that what appears to be a utopian world is actually a dystopian society masked in false promises and illusions. I love Brave New World for the way it makes you think about our own society and what we value in our lives today. It’s interesting to think about how this novel was first published in 1932 yet it’s still relevant almost a century later. To me, this endurance is the definition of a classic.

Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner

From my review: For me, the most challenging aspect of this novel was deciphering exactly what happened in the Sutpen family. Who married who? Who killed who? Who had children and who didn’t? Who is still alive? In what order did this all take place? These questions and many others remained at the forefront of my mind the entire time I was reading. There are so many characters, voices, and events– not to mention the fact that it’s not told in chronological order. It was fascinating and exciting to constantly learn new information; however, it also makes it much more confusing to read. I think this is a novel that would absolutely benefit from being reread in the future now that I have the basic plot in my mind.

Quiet by Susan Cain

Sneak peak of my upcoming review: Cain has done incredible work providing both introverts and extroverts with a guide as to the importance of being “quiet.” As an introvert, I constantly found myself nodding along with her ideas and examples, seeing myself accurately reflected in her words. If more teachers, employers, friends, and family members read Quiet, the world would be a brighter, more productive, less stress-inducing place for introverts everywhere.

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

I haven’t yet posted my review of John Green’s most recent novel, but rest assured that I enjoyed it immensely. The representation of mental health issues is incredible and I became invested in the characters almost immediately. You know a novel is great when you find yourself still thinking about it days later!

What are your favorite books of 2017? What do you think of the books that I’ve mentioned? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I’m Thankful For

Happy Tuesday!! It’s one of my favorite times of the year: THANKSGIVING! Even though I won’t be in the States for Thanksgiving this year (shout out to my college at Oxford for having a dinner for the American students!) it’s still fun to get into the festive spirit. Today I’ll be sharing ten books that I’m thankful for (besides Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings because I feel like those are a given for me).

The BFG by Roald Dahl

I distinctly remember my fourth and fifth grade teacher reading this book aloud to us on multiple occasions and I simply adored it. Dahl’s creative, whimsical, witty stories are one of the things that made me fall in love with reading from a young age.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

I read this novel several summers ago and it is one of the books that made me realize how fun and rewarding reading classics can be. It also expanded my horizons of romantic classics beyond the usual Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.

My Ántonia by Willa Cather

THIS. BOOK. I read this book in on of my freshman year literature classes in college and I’m convinced that it’s one of the reasons I fell in love with literary criticism and now want to be a professor. It’s amazing how one book can change everything!

The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass

I read this in the very first college literature class I ever took and it completely changed the way I think about narrative, form, and linguistic expression. In many ways it’s the text I keep coming back to over and over again what it is that I really love about literature.

Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur

Not only did this collection spark me to read and write more poetry recently, but it also made me think about myself and the world from a different perspective. Rupi Kaur’s words have gotten me through many rough days, for which I am incredibly grateful.

How to Ruin Everything by George Watsky

I couldn’t be more thankful for this essay collection’s wit, humor, and important message: absolutely no one is perfect. Reading this book also launched me into the world of Watsky’s music, which you should definitely check out if you haven’t already!

1984 by George Orwell

I’m so grateful for this novel’s ability to spark and continue important conversations about where today’s society is headed tomorrow. The parallels between our modern world and the fictional society in this novel are terrifying and uncanny and real.

Looking for Alaska by John Green

I’m thankful for the way this book has made me laugh, think, and realize that I wasn’t the only one experiencing frustrating high school drama. John Green is amazing at making you feel less alone.

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling

This book is a hilarious reminder that success doesn’t come easy, not even for those who you admire or who seem like they have everything figured out. (Besides, Mindy always makes me smile!)

The Outcasts of 19 Schuyler Place by E.L. Konigsburg

I’m thankful for the way this book has made me smile, laugh, think, and look back on my own childhood nearly every summer for over a decade now.

Which books are you thankful for? What do you think about the ones I’ve mentioned? Do you have any fun Thanksgiving traditions or plans? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Awards

Liebster Award | 7

Hello, everyone! I hope you’re all having a lovely day! Today I’m here to share another Liebster Award. Thanks so much to Julianna @ Blots of Ink and Words for nominating me!! These kinds of awards are always fun because you never know what questions you might be asked to answer.

  • Thank the person(s) who nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
  • Answer the 11 questions they gave you.
  • Nominate 11 blogs and let them know they’ve been tagged.
  • Give them 11 questions to answer.

Why did you start blogging?

I started blogging back in high school as a way to keep a record of my thoughts on what I read. I had no idea that there was such a wonderful book blogging community!

What’s your favorite thing about blogging?

Definitely the people I’ve met and the great conversations I’ve had. There are so many lovely bookworms!

What causes you the most pain (bookish related)?

When people judge others for reading what they love to read.

What are the main reasons you’ll follow a blog?

An enthusiastic, kind blogger who writes creative content and engages in the blogging community.

What type of book covers do you like the most?

Simple ones! I adore beautiful typography or white backgrounds with pops of color. This explains my absolute love for the cover of George Watsky’s How to Ruin Everything. 

What’s your favorite genre of books and why?

I love classic literature because it makes me feel connected to so many people, places, and points in history.

Why did you start reading?

I was lucky enough to have parents, teachers, and other adults in my life when I was a kid who instilled a love of reading in me from a young age. I have vivid memories of my parents reading certain books to me before bed and me sitting on the floor of my third-grade classroom as my teacher read us books like Bridge to Terabithia and Pictures of Hollis Woods. I’ll be forever grateful for them!

What happened if someone walked up to you and tried to fight you?

I would turn and run.

What would your “happy place” include?

A mountaintop with clear blue skies and an amazing view for miles around.

What would you do if you were stranded on an island?

To be honest, I probably wouldn’t last long. In fact, I would probably just think about the TV show Lost for a while.

What makes you bored?

Math. Physics. Driving in traffic.

YOU!!

I know I’m supposed to create my own list of questions, but I’m going to cheat a little and pass on the questions that Julianna asked me. They were so much fun to answer! (Can you tell I’m being buried alive by course work right now due to my lack of blogging time?)

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

Yours,

HOLLY

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: Hidden Gems in Non-fiction

Happy Tuesday!! This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic celebrates books that are under-rated, under-discussed, and under-appreciated in specific genres. I’ve chosen a genre that I think fits this as well: non-fiction. There are so many amazing non-fiction books out there, yet so many readers (myself included!) tend to gravitate away from this misunderstood genre. In an effort to try to convince myself and others to read more from this genre, here are ten hidden gems of non-fiction!

 

Do you have a favorite non-fiction book? Have any recommendations? What do you think of the books I’ve mentioned? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,
HOLLY

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: My Bookstagram Process

Happy Tuesday!! We’ve made it to the last week of TTT before the bloggers over at The Broke and the Bookish come back with their great themes. As a last hurrah I’m going to share something silly and fun: 10 steps of my bookstagram process.  I started my bookstagram account (@nutfreenerd) over a year ago and I’m so glad I did! Not only do I love looking at everyone’s gorgeous photos, but I also love interacting with other bookworms.

Anyone who posts bookish photos knows how ridiculous taking them can feel sometimes (especially in busy places!) but that’s also what makes it fun. Whether you’re inside, outside, or somewhere in between, one thing is certain: taking photos can definitely be a process. Here’s my bookstagram photo-taking process:

1. Choose a location.

This is a beautiful park near my house that’s my new favorite photo spot.

The first thing to do it decide where you’ll be taking pictures. Inside? Outside? Outside in your front yard or somewhere else? Lately my account’s feed alters between inside and outside pictures so I end up doing a fair amount of both locations.

2. Choose books.

SO MANY BOOKS. This step usually takes me a long time and results in a tornado of books on my bedroom floor.

3. Pack.

Can I fit my entire bookcase into a backpack from middle school? CHALLENGE ACCEPTED. (And ultimately failed…)

4. Transport and set up. 

Sometimes this step is easy, particularly if I stay inside and decide to take photos using my phone. However, it can get tricky when I go to the park with my camera, tripod, and bag of books. There’s so much to lug around!

5. Choose a few different angles.

Finding new angles is one of my favorite aspects of taking photos. Just when you think you’ve exhausted them all, a new one jumps out at you!

6. Actually take the photos.

When you realize the lens cap is still on the camera *face palm*

Here it is, folks: the moment we’ve all been waiting for. Bust out those cameras and say CHEESE.

7. Take even more photos.

I’m always afraid that my camera is out of focus or the lighting isn’t good enough, so I make sure to take WAY MORE photos than I’ll ever need. Chances are that at least one of them will be decent, right?

8. Resist the urge to photograph Watsky’s book for the billionth time.

Note: This step nearly always fails.

This is a hard one– perhaps the most difficult step of them all. If you look at my account you’ll notice that How to Ruin Everything appears in SO MANY of my photos… it’s just such a beautiful cover design!!

9. Sort.

Jumping in the air looked way cooler in my mind, I promise.

Taking a million photos at a time means that there are a million photos to sort through later. Sorting is key because you inevitably end up with ridiculous photos like the one shown above.

10. Post!!!

Finally, it is time to post your photos. I love reading and replying to everyone’s comments!!

Are you part of the bookstagram community? (Let me know so I can follow you!!) What is your bookstagram process like? Do you have a favorite book to photograph? Do you follow a posting schedule? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Tags

Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag | 2017

Can you believe that 2017 is already half way over??? I’m still not used to how far along we are in the twenty-first century. Every time someone mentions the 90s my first thought is “Ah, yes, that decade ten years ago.” But that is NOT THE CASE and it’s kind of scary… Anyways, thanks so much to Inside My Library Mind for tagging me in this Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag!!

1. Best book you’ve read so far in 2017?

Must we start with the most difficult question ever??? I’ve read so many great books this year that choosing just one is really hard, so I’m going to go with two: How to Ruin Everything by George Watsky and Sartoris by William Faulkner. (Could you get two more opposite books??)

2. Best sequel you’ve read so far in 2017?

I actually don’t think I’ve read any sequels this year!

3. New release you haven’t read yet, but want to.

When I heard that John Green was releasing a new book this fall I literally squealed in delight, surprise, and excitement. ANOTHER JOHN GREEN BOOK, PEOPLE. From what he’s shared about the basic premise of Turtles All the Way Down it promises to be an entertaining, thought-provoking, and story about adolescence, mental illness, and life. October can’t come soon enough!!!

4. Most anticipated release for the second half of the year.

I’m honestly not very up to date with new releases for the second half of 2017, so I don’t think I have an answer to this question.

5. Biggest disappointment.

How To Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran. This was the first book I read (listened to, actually) in 2017 and I was so disappointed by it. I disagreed with many of her points and was frustrated by her tendency to focus on problems that were fairly tedious and insignificant compared with the more serious issues that some women have to deal with on a regular basis. The potential was there for this to be a great book, but in the end I just don’t think it was executed as well as it could have been.

6. Biggest surprise.

Sartoris by William Faulkner. Unexpectedly, this may be my favorite Faulkner novel that I’ve read thus far. I had never heard of it before taking a closer look at the Faulkner section of my local library because usually people stick with his most well-known texts (The Sound and the Fury, As I Lay Dying, etc.). Sartoris is under-rated, under-appreciated, and certainly deserves to be read by a wider audience!

7. Favorite new author. (Debut or new to you)

E.M. Forster. I read his novel A Room with a View earlier this year and was absolutely enthralled by it. Not only is his writing beautiful, but the novel was incredibly thought-provoking and captivating. I look forward to reading more of his writing!

8. Newest fictional crush.

Vincent from On the Other Side by Carrie Hope Fletcher. Not only is Vincent incredibly musically gifted, but he’s also sweet, thoughtful, loyal, caring… what more could you want? This entire book is adorable and romantic in general– I definitely recommend it if you’re in the mood for something really sweet, captivating, and heartwarming .

9. Newest favorite character.

Matilda from Matilda by Roald Dahl. I really wish I had read this book when I was younger because I think Matilda’s character would have really resonated with me. Younger Holly would have been thrilled to read about a bookworm like myself who triumphed over obstacles against all odds. Matilda is such an important character for children to read about, both as a bookish hero as well as a strong, clever, independent female character.

10. Book that made you cry.

Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur. Though I didn’t physically cry while reading this poetry collection, I did feel emotional and sense tears welling up in my eyes at times. Rupi Kaur’s poetry is raw, honest, and beautiful. I highly recommend this collection!

11. Book that made you happy.

Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl. I never read this book when I was a kid (are we sensing a trend here?) but I definitely wish I had because it’s SO FUN. I couldn’t help but smile all the way through this creative, hilarious, adorable book. Roald Dahl is the best! Also, now I really want to watch the movie adaptation directed by Wes Anderson. I’ve heard really great things about it!

12. Most beautiful book you’ve bought so far this year (or received)

How to Ruin Everything by George Watsky. I love everything about this cover design– the color, the simple design of handwriting on a solid background, and the way it’s messy but not overwhelmingly so. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve photographed this book (although looking at my bookstagram will give you a pretty good idea). This is one of my favorite books that I’ve read so far this year, so I would highly recommend it!!

13. What books do you need to read by the end of the year?

SO MANY. A novel I’m hoping to read by the end of the summer is Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe. I’ve been meaning to read this book for ages but for some reason I just haven’t gotten around to it.

14. Favorite Book Community Member (Blogger, Booktuber and Bookstagrammer)

Ahhh, there are so many!!! I love each and every one of you from the bottom of my heart ❤ For the sake of this tag, I’m going to give a shoutout to:

  • Shar & Shanti @ Virtually Read. Not only do Shar and Shanti post thought-provoking, creative content on they’re blog, but they’re also both incredibly kind individuals. They leave the most thoughtful comments that always make me happy. If you haven’t checked out their blog, definitely do so!! ❤
  • Ariel Bissett. Ariel has been my favorite booktuber for YEARS. A smile immediately lights up my face every time I see that she has posted a new video because they always manage to brighten my day. I love her bubbly, enthusiastic personality and knack for creating content that’s simultaneously thought-provoking, creative, and entertaining.
  • Resh Susan (@thebooksatchel). I love her book blog, but I especially look forward to the photos she posts on bookstagram. They’re beautifully shot and always contain the most gorgeous editions of books. ❤

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How was your reading in the month of #may? Time for a #wrapup. – – 5⭐️ : The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy (love the lyrical prose and choice of words) 5⭐️ : Anna Karenina by Tolstoy (loved minute observations of life in Russia & character sketches) 4.5⭐️ : The Dark Circle by Linda Grant (made me feel fortunate for medical advancements. Written in a stream of consciousness style) 4⭐️ : First Love by Gwendine Riley (imperfect lives and flawed characters told in minimal words) 4⭐️ : Lord Edgware dies by Agatha Christie (kept me on toes guessing the killer) 4⭐️ : The Muse by Jessie Burton ( moderate pace, predictable but enjoyable) 3.5⭐️ : Effi Briest by Theodor Fontane (beautifully written story of a marriage between a young wife and older husband) 3.5⭐️ : Mr Tibbit's Catholic school (charming boarding school stories and nuances of headmasters) : : What was your favourite book of the month? : : #bookworm#maywrapup #thebooksatchelwrapup #coffee #booksbooksbooks #books

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I hope you’ve had a great first half of 2017 and that the second half is even better! ❤

What are your answers to these questions? What do you think of mine? How has your 2017 been so far? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: Best Books of 2017 (So Far)

Happy Tuesday!! Since we’re around halfway done with 2017 (eek!) it’s time to reflect on what I’ve read so far this year. Though my reading slowed to a near halt during the first few months of this year due to my busy semester at school, but it picked up significantly once I moved back home for the summer in May. (I’ve read SO MANY books since I’ve been home and it feels WONDERFUL.) Hosted by the lovely bloggers at The Broke and the Bookish, this week’s TTT theme is the Top Ten Best Books of 2017 (So Far). In no particular order, here are my favorites with some snippets of my thoughts from reviews I’ve written about them:

The Shining by Stephen King

From my review: Stephen King’s The Shining is a standout thriller in its attention to detail and incorporation of family dynamics, human nature, and the perspective of a child into a twisted, creepy story. Whether or not you’ve seen the movie adaptation or are a fan of thrillers in general, The Shining is one book that you must add to your TBR list!

Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur

From my review: I bought a copy of Milk and Honey on a whim because I had heard a lot of great things about it. What I didn’t realize was that Rupi’s words would resonate so deeply with me and linger on in my mind long after I had read them. These poems are for anyone and everyone, regardless of whether or not you’ve read or enjoyed poetry in the past. Rupi Kaur has written poetry for human nature.

How to Ruin Everything by George Watsky

From my review: Reading this book felt like having the a random, hilarious, and well-spoken conversation with Watsky. How to Ruin Everything is definitely something I’ll be returning to in the future– for a laugh, for inspiration, and to be reminded that there’s nothing quite like the power of a good story.

As You Wish by Cary Elwes

From my review: Reading this memoir was such a fun, entertaining, and interesting experience. Not only did I learn a lot about Elwes and everything that went into making this movie, but my eyes were also opened to the entire film-making process in general. As You Wish is a must-read for any fan of The Princess Bride. Now all I want to do is re-watch the movie!

A Room with a View by E.M. Forster

From my review: A Room with a View is basically an English major’s dream novel. As I was reading I couldn’t help but think how many interesting papers could be written about it. You could discuss the entire concept of a “room with a view” and what that means, the contrast between the liminal space of the woods as opposed to the confines of the domestic sphere, the hierarchy of social classes, the portrayal of women and their role in society, the differences between Italy and England– the list goes on and on!

The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder

From my review: The time period and setting and characters are so specifically and carefully crafted with tiny details, yet the story itself could really have taken place anywhere. This is a testament to the universality of this novel’s major themes and questions about life and death, a reflection of the fact that we all must face these issues at some point in our lives. The stories of these five individuals present a sort of microcosm of life in general, presenting the reader with different challenges and experiences that must be confronted eventually.

Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather

From my review: For me, the experience of reading  Cather novel is like coming home after months of being away: it’s familiar, refreshing, comforting, and sweetly nostalgic… reading Death Comes for the Archbishop has reaffirmed Cather as one of my favorite authors.

The Song of the Lark by Willa Cather

From my review: I was enthralled by this novel. Everything about it captivated me from the very first sentence to the very last word. In fact, I was enjoying it so much that I marked all of my favorite passages with sticky notes, only to realize halfway through that I would have to take them all out when I was finished (it was a library book).

{I forgot to take a photo of my library copy– whoops!}

Sartoris by William Faulkner

From my review: What has always stood out to me the most about Faulkner’s novels is how character driven they are in every sense. The plot seems almost secondary, as though all that really matters are the thoughts within and relationships between the characters. (And sometimes this is all we are ever given!) In some ways it feels like more happens in texts that are steered by characters rather than plot because we are always learning more about characters’ changing beliefs, values, and attitudes as the story progresses.

Matilda by Roald Dahl

From my review (scheduled): I really wish I had read this book when I was younger because I think Matilda’s character would have really resonated with me. Younger Holly would have been thrilled to read about a bookworm like myself who triumphed over obstacles against all odds. Matilda is such an important character for children to read about, both as a bookish hero as well as a strong, clever, independent female character.

What are the best books that you’ve read so far in 2017? What do you think of the books I’ve mentioned? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Books

HOW TO RUIN EVERYTHING by George Watsky | Review

My brother has been a fan of Watsky’s music for years, but it wasn’t until recently when I met him at NerdCon that I really started listening to his music. It only took a few rhymes and rhythms to have me completely hooked on his words, listening to his music any chance I could get: while walking to class, doing laundry, getting ready in the morning, and even while (attempting) to do homework. Then one day, my brother said: “He wrote a book, you know.”

He wrote a book. Those four words led me to snag borrow my brother’s beloved copy of George Watsky’s How to Ruin Everything as soon as I got home for spring break. Devouring this collection of essays in just over twenty-four hours filled me with an even greater appreciation for this artist– not only of his work but of his determination, hard work, and positive outlook on life.

Of course, the English major in me was thrilled to discover that Watsky’s spoken word skills carry over into his ability to write prose that is casual, conversational, witty, and thought-provoking. His writing does everything that good writing should: it makes you feel as though you’re right there beside him, reliving his experiences through a kaleidoscope of his and your perspectives. The narration is engaging, funny, and has a strong sense of personality that comes off as undoubtedly genuine. One of my favorite lines of this book appears in his essay titled “What Year Is It?” in which he talks about his experiences with epilepsy. The last line of the essay reads:

“I catch my reflection in the water, pieces of me plagiarized from the past—Dad’s nose, Mom’s chin, her dad’s hair, his sister’s brain—and look up to admire the scenery, while I can.”

Plagiarized from the past. That’s brilliant.

This essay in particular is just one example of the personal stories that Watsky includes in this collection. There’s a juxtaposition between his touching childhood memories and hilarious awkward experiences that somehow just works. From stories of travel and relationships to discussions of being a vegetarian, performing slam poetry at college campuses, and even an entire essay about his old tour vehicle, Watsky incorporates more topics and tales than I thought possible in such a slim volume. All of the personal information he shares contributes to an overwhelming feeling of authenticity in this text, the sense that he is confiding in the reader as though he or she were an old friend. It’s honest and endearing and makes for a book that is impossible to put down. 

Though all of the essays are remarkably different, they’re nevertheless tied together through a common thread: failure. Yes, Watsky has succeeded in writing a hilarious, entertaining, and surprisingly optimistic book about… well, not succeeding. (Ironic, no?) Time and time again he recounts experiences that didn’t go quite as planned or that took a sudden turn for the worse, yet there’s an underlying tone of optimism that runs like a current beneath the surface of his writing. It’s difficult to choose a favorite essay out of the entire collection, but the one that sticks out the most in my mind is the very first one, titled “Tusk.” In this essay, Watsky tells the story of when he and some friends smuggled a narwhal tusk over the Canadian border into the United States as a gift for a one hundred year old woman. If that’s not a conversation starter, then I don’t know what is!

Overall, reading this book felt like having the a random, hilarious, and well-spoken conversation with Watsky. How to Ruin Everything is definitely something I’ll be returning to in the future– for a laugh, for inspiration, and to be reminded that there’s nothing quite like the power of a good story.

Rating: :0) :0) :0) :0) :0) 5 out of 5

Would I recommend it to a friend?: Absolutely! I would recommend to any of my friends, regardless of whether or not they have listened to Watsky’s music.

Are you a fan of Watsky’s music or writing? What are your thoughts on this book? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY