Top Ten Tuesday: Best Books I Read in 2018

Happy New Year!! I know this was technically last week’s topic, but shhh! I’m going to do it anyways because I didn’t get a chance to do it yet. I ended up reading way more books than I expected to in 2018, so picking just ten was actually pretty difficult. In the order that I read them, they are:

1. Girl Up by Laura Bates

This is one of the first books I read in 2018 and I can’t think of a better way to start a reading year off right. Although I think this book is technically geared toward young women in their teens, I think it is an important and valuable read for women at any age. In addition to the witty, intelligent writing in this book, the graphics are also fantastic in and of themselves.

2. What Happened by Hillary Rodham Clinton

I distinctly remember listening to Hillary narrate the audio book version of What Happened and I’ve found myself thinking about it frequently since then, even all these months later. Politics aside, Hillary offers some fascinating food for thought regarding being a woman in  the professional work sphere as well as what it’s like to suddenly have your private life become a public spectacle.

3. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

Another great audio book listen of 2018! Although it took a while to get through, I really enjoyed reading story that sparked the amazing musical that I was lucky enough to see performed on the West End while in London. It’s always interesting to note the differences between page and performance; however, I think experiencing both in this case gave me a greater appreciation for each!

4. A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf

After taking an entire term solely on Virginia Woolf while at Oxford, I think A Room of One’s Own is the one that has made me think the most. So many aspects of this book are still applicable today–or at least the sentiment behind her words is still relevant today–and I found solace in the fact that even one of the most brilliant minds I have ever read something by struggled with these sorts of issues.

5. Call Me By Your Name by André Aciman

This novel was everywhere in 2018, and for good reason: it is beautiful, lyrical, and captivatingly emotional. I remember visiting several bookshops in Amsterdam over my spring break and being overjoyed to see displays of this novel in many of them. Something about its story is so universally human.

6. Butterfly Burning by Yvonne Vera

Ahh, the novel that sparked my honors thesis! I feel such gratitude towards this novel for making me think about literature, feminism, and individual independence in ways that I never had before. If you want a challenging, eye-opening, heart-wrenching, thought-provoking read then I highly, highly recommend picking this one up!

7. Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga

Nervous Conditions is another vital novel in terms of my honors thesis and such a formative reading experience regarding thinking about the importance of multiplicity in stories and experiences. Learning that this novel is actually the first in a trilogy written over the course of decades was just icing on the cake!

8. The Lost World by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Jurassic Park has been one of my favorite movies and books for a long time, so you can imagine how surprised and ecstatic I was when I stumbled upon this novel in the Blackwell’s Bookshop in Oxford. I had had no idea that the modern story was inspired by this early novel–and what a novel it is!

9. Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

I read this essay at a time when its message was exactly what I needed to hear. I love how bold, direct, assertive, and confident Adichie is in this text. I think I’d even go so far as to say that it’s one of the most empowering things I have ever read.

10. The Human Stain by Philip Roth

Surprising to see a Roth book on this list after how much I complained about my Philip Roth senior seminar this semester? Honestly, so am I. I came to appreciate Roth as a writer, and the way he writes about identity in this novel really made me think.

What are the top ten books you read in 2019? What do you think of the books on my list? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

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Jurassic Park Book Tag

It’s no secret that I adore Jurassic Park. Not only is it my favorite movie, but it’s also one of my favorite books. You can imagine my excitement when I learned that such a thing exists as a Jurassic Park Book Tag. I wasn’t tagged in this at all, but Camillea Reads showed me this post from the Literary Phoenix and I knew I had to do it, too!

“Spared no expense.”  ~John Hammond || A series that seems to go on forever. 

The longest series I’ve read recently is A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket. It takes some dedication to wade through all thirteen books! Fortunately they’re quick and easy to get through, so they don’t take that long to read.

“Life finds a way.”  ~Ian Malcolm || A book with amazingly intricate world-building. 

I’m only halfway through The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss, but it’s already clear that the world-building here is incredible. I love the way the novel is formatted as stories told within this larger story. It’s easy to forget that all of this happens in such a short span of time.

“Hold on to your butts.”  ~Arnold || What’s the fastest you’ve read a book, and what book was it?

I read I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith in one sitting in Heathrow Airport as I waited for my flight from London to Boston over winter break, which was pretty fast. I was stressed about traveling and definitely grateful for the distraction!

“Mr Hammond, after careful consideration, I’ve decided not to endorse your park.”  ~Alan Grant || A book you refuse to read (or finish).

There are few books that I would flat-out refuse to ever read, so I can’t say that one even comes to mind.

“Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.”  ~Ian Malcolm || A book that left you going ‘Why?’

I love this question–so many books can apply! I’m going to go with How to be Both by Ali Smith, which I had to read for a tutorial last term. This book is so bizarre that you can’t help but wonder why she makes the writing decisions that she does.

“We need more teeth!”  ~Gray Mitchell || A book with no human MCs. 

Animal Farm by George Orwell. I’ve only ever read the Spanish translation of this book, but I love it all the same. It’s one of those books that haunts you long after you finish the final page. I’d love to read the original English sometime.

“The kids? This will give the parents nightmares.”  ~Simon Masrani || A book that terrified you.

Definitely The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. I’ve read this book twice now and both times it has made me think twice about the direction in which our society is currently heading. I haven’t seen the TV series yet, but I can only imagine that it’s just as terrifying!

“Monster is a relative term. To a canary, a cat is a monster. We’re just used to being the cat.”   ~Henry Wu || A book that changed your perceptions on an issue/culture, etc.

I’ve talked about this book a lot on this blog, but I adored reading Girl Up by Laura Bates. It’s such a hilarious, fun, empowering read!

What are your answers to these prompts? What do you think of mine? Do you like Jurassic Park, either the book or the movie? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Top Ten Tuesday: Dynamic Duos You Didn’t See Coming

Happy Tuesday!! This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic asks us to mash books together. In the same vein as my Classic Couple feature, I’m going to incorporate a classic and more contemporary book in each pair I make. Let’s see how weird this gets, shall we?

What do you think of the combos I’ve created? What books would you want to see paired together? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

A Classic Couple: The Lost World and Jurassic Park

Today I bring you a very specie edition of A Classic Couple featuring two remarkable books: The Lost World by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1912) and Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton (1990). You may be wondering what a novel by the creator of Sherlock Holmes has to do with the book that inspired my favorite movie. The answer? The Lost World has EVERYTHING to do with Jurassic Park because it’s the classic novel that the contemporary book is based on. 

Just in case you’re anything like me and this fact has completely blown your mind, I’ll give you a few moments to recover.

I discovered this connection just a few weeks ago when I was browsing the shelves of Blackwell’s in Oxford and stumbled upon Conan Doyle’s book. I picked it up because I thought it was a funny coincidence that it shares the same title as the sequel to Jurassic Park. My jaw literally dropped when I read the back cover and learned that this was the inspiration for a book that I hold near and dear to my heart. What are the chances?!?!

Usually in this feature I focus on the similarities between classics and their contemporary pairings; however, these two books share so many obvious elements that I actually think comparing them would be rather dull. Instead, today I’ll be discussing the differences between the two novels.

+ Setting. If you’ve read or seen the film Jurassic Park then you know that it takes place on the fictional Isla Nublar. Not only does this allow Crichton to write without worrying about being geographically accurate, but it also eliminates the need to discuss any inhabitants of the island. Unfortunately, the fact that The Lost World takes place in the Amazon basin of South America  means that the novel is riddled with prejudiced colonial ideology. There is little to distinguish Conan Doyle’s descriptions of the natives that the professors meet and the ape-creatures that violently attack them later on in the novel. This racist view didn’t necessarily surprise me given the publication date of the novel, but it certainly disappointed me.

+ Women. Yet another disappointment in the earlier novel is the near complete absence of women from the story. The only woman we meet is Gladys, who appears at the beginning and end of the novel for the sole purpose of being the narrator’s love interest. While Crichton’s novel could also benefit from a boost of women characters, at least we have Ellie Sattler as an intelligent, brave, complex woman to look up to.

+ Endings. I was surprised and delighted to see how different the conclusions of these two novels are despite their numerous similarities. I don’t want to spoil the endings for anyone, so I won’t share any specific plot details; however, it is enough to say that these two novels present very different views on the relationship between science and nature. While the earlier novel celebrates this scientific expedition as a glorious conquest that should be continued and used as a means of profit, the later novel condemns Jurassic Park as a dangerous yet futile attempt by humans to control nature. Perhaps this contrast can give us important insights into how we viewed scientific advancements at the beginning and end of the twentieth century.

Despite its problematic elements, I still very much enjoyed reading The Lost World and seeing how it compares to its contemporary counterpart. While I appreciate the earlier novel for its originality, I nevertheless must admit that Crichton’s Jurassic Park will always come first for me.

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

What do you think of this classic couple? What other books would you pair with Jurassic Park? What are your thoughts on either or both of these books? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Sunshine Blogger Award | 7

What better way to celebrate summertime than with the Sunshine Blogger Award? Usually I would post a book review on Thursdays, but I’m quite behind on scheduling posts in advance due to the chaos of moving back to the States. I was lucky enough to be nominated by the fab Andrea @ Andrea’s Nirvana— definitely check out her lovely blog!

  • Thank the blogger who nominated you in a blog post and link back to their blog.
  • Answer the 11 questions the blogger asked 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/or on your blog.

1. What’s your latest 5 star read and one thing you liked about it?

I haven’t rated books for a long time (see this post I wrote a while back explaining why) but one of the best books I read recently was The Lost World by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I had no idea that THIS WAS THE INSPIRATION FOR JURASSIC PARK?!?!

2. How do you organize your bookshelves?

Right now they’re a MESS because I haven’t had a chance to properly organize them since returning from my year abroad; however, ideally I like to organize them by genre.

3. Print, e-book or audiobook? Why?

Definitely print! I love the feeling of holding a book in my hands and the fact that it allows me to be separated from technology. I do enjoy listening to audio books while walking around, cooking, cleaning, etc., though. E-books are usually my last resort.

4. What is your favorite bookish post to write?

I really enjoy writing Classic Couple posts because they’re so fun and always spark really great discussions. They also allow me to combine my two favorite loves: classic literature and contemporary connections.

5. Dream reading nook?

What a fun question! Definitely one outside in the woods, preferably in the middle of summer when it’s warm enough to sit outside for ages. Perhaps a tree house?

6. How much does it take you to read, say, 100 pages?

Depending on the font size/how much I like the book/how focused I am, usually an hour and a half or less. (Maybe? That’s a really rough guess!)

7. Do you prefer series or standalones at the moment?

Standalones! When I was younger I used to always prefer series, but now I really appreciate a book that is satisfying on its own without the need to drag the plot on for books and books and books.

8. How do you deal with reading slumps?

Usually the same way I deal with blogging slumps: I take a break and then come back to it whenever I’ve started to genuinely miss doing it. The more I force myself to read when I’m not in the mood, the worse the slump gets!

9. How many books are you currently reading?

I’m currently in the middle of three or four books, if you count audio books that I’ve left unfinished. Who knows when I’ll actually get around to reading all of them?

10. Does it come easy for you to unhaul books?

NO. I adore most of the books I own and therefore getting rid of them is always a lengthy process of me repeatedly trying to convince myself that getting rid of books just makes space for EVEN MORE (a win-win, right?!).

11. Fave Booktubers?

My favorite booktuber is definitely Ariel Bissett. I’ve loved her videos for so long! ❤

 

I’m going to ask these lovely bloggers the same questions that Andrea asked me because they were a blast to answer.

Thanks again to Andrea for nominating me! ❤ What are your answers to these questions? What do you think of mine? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

One Lovely Blog Award | 4

Waking up to see that I’ve been nominated for things like the One Lovely Blogger Award always brings a smile to my face. Thanks so much to Stephen @ Stephen Writes and Emma @ A Dreamer’s Library for nominating me!!

  • Thank the person who nominated you for the award;
  • Share seven facts about yourself;
  • Nominate 15 other bloggers and inform them.

Does being nominated twice mean I have to share fourteen facts about myself instead of just seven? If you insist…

1. I’m a morning person. Not only do I enjoy mornings the most out of all the times of the day, but I also tend to automatically wake up early (relative early, of course–around 7:30am).

2. Jurassic Park is my favorite movie. I even dressed up as Laura Dern in Jurassic Park for a bop that was movie themed. Dedication. 

3. I’m a pretty terrible cook. Why make actual meals for myself when I can just eat variations of breakfast (a.k.a. eggs, toast, and oatmeal) for every meal?

4. I like to bake. However, baking is different. What’s not to love about sweet treats at the end? I also feel like mistakes are less noticeable while baking than while cooking actual meals (chocolate hides pretty much everything).

5. I can touch my nose with my tongue. When I was younger I assumed that everyone could do this, but apparently that isn’t the case. Now I use it as my go-to fun fact during awkward ice-breakers at orientations, group meetings, etc.

6. I have no idea what Hogwarts House I should be in. This became an actual dilemma when I visited the Platform 9 3/4 sign at King’s Cross Station in London and the Official Scarf Waver asked me what House I’m in. I ended up saying Gryffindor because I thought the maroon scarf would stand out more in the photo AND because I just couldn’t decide in that short moment. WHAT AM I.

7. I’m allergic to MANY things, not just nuts. Dogs, Cats, birch pollen, ragweed, grass… the list goes on and on!

8. My favorite food is pizza. I could eat pizza every night for a week (or two! or three!) and still not complain. I am ALWAYS in the mood for pizza.

9. I rarely watch Netflix during terms/semesters. Some people turn to Netflix when they want to wind down after a long day of working in the library, but for some reason I usually don’t watch Netflix during term time unless I’m watching it with friends. Maybe this explains why I’m always so behind on shows?

10. I love listening to music while I work. Some people prefer silence when they read or write, but I’d rather have at least some background noise while I’m working.

11. I have a bookstagram. If you’ve followed this blog for a while I feel like you probably already know this already, but I thought I would throw it out there just in case. It’s so much fun!

12. I am an avid list maker. Almost every day the last thing I do before heading to bed is make a to-do list for the next day. Even if I don’t check off everything on the list it’s still nice to wake up with a clear direction for the day. (Besides, what’s more satisfying than checking off tiny boxes?)

13. If I’m not drinking tea, I’m usually drinking hot water. Drinking plain hot water in a mug is something that people are either 100% on board with or think is the strangest thing they’ve ever witnessed. I love it.

14. I love mugs. Speaking of mugs, I adore them. I have far too many for one human being. But when will I stop acquiring new ones? (Never.)

Thanks again to Stephen and Emma for nominating me! ❤

What’s a fun fact about you? What do you think of mine? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Love But Have Never Reread

Happy Tuesday!! Today’s Top Ten Tuesday topic (hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl) is supposed to be books I’ve loved but will never reread, but I’ve decided to scratch that and add a bit of a twist to it. Because I ADORE rereading books, there’s a likelihood that I’ll reread almost any book that I love. Instead, today I’ll be sharing ten books I love but for some reason have never gotten around to rereading. Fingers crossed that I’ll find time to reread them soon!

What favorite books have you never reread? Do you like rereading books in general? What are your thoughts on the books that I’ve mentioned? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Book Quotes

Happy Tuesday!! I am so excited for today’s Top Ten Tuesday topic because it focuses on one of my favorite things: QUOTES. So many of my books are covered in highlighter and pen lines because I’m an avid annotator and marker of writing that really resonates with me. Here are just a few of the many quotes I’ve fallen in love with over the years:

“I go to seek a Great Perhaps.”

{Originally from poet Francois Rabelais, read in Looking for Alaska by John Green}

“But I don’t want comfort. I want God, I want poetry, I want real danger, I want freedom, I want goodness. I want sin.”

{Brave New World by Aldous Huxley}

“Don’t be afraid of death; be afraid of an unlived life. You don’t have to live forever, you just have to live.”

{Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt}

“Never do anything by halves if you want to get away with it. Be outrageous. Go the whole hog. Make sure everything you do is so completely crazy it’s unbelievable…”

{Matilda by Roald Dahl}

“In the information society, nobody thinks. We expected to banish paper, but we actually banished thought.”

{Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton}

“If there is no struggle, there is no progress.” 

{Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass}

“My mother is a fish.”

{As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner}

“May it be a light to you in dark places, when all other lights go out.”

{The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien}

“It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.”

{Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling}

“I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.”

{Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë}

What are your favorite book quotes? What do you think of the ones I’ve mentioned? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

A Classic Couple: Frankenstein and Jurassic Park

Do you like science fiction? I hope so, because this week’s Classic Couple feature highlights two famous science fiction novels that have made it to the big screen: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818) and Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park (1990).

Dangers of science || A major theme of both of these novels is the fact that humankind does not and cannot have complete control over nature. Try as we might, there is no place for humans as supreme rulers in the world. One quote I love from Jurassic Park sums this up nicely:

“But now science is the belief system that is hundreds of years old. And, like the medieval system before it, science is starting not to fit the world any more. Science has attained so much power that its practical limits begin to be apparent. Largely through science, billions of us live in one small world, densely packed and intercommunicating. But science cannot help us decide what to do with that world, or how to live. Science can make a nuclear reactor, but it cannot tell us not to build it. Science can make pesticide, but cannot tell us not to use it. And our world starts to seem polluted in fundamental ways—air, and water, and land—because of ungovernable science.”

Unexpected intelligence || The creatures produced in these novels end up being much more intelligent than the creators initially expended or intended. Both Victor Frankenstein and John Hammond believe they’ll be able to completely control what they scientifically construct, yet this is far from reality. Victor’s Creature argues for his right to happiness and asserts that Victor should create a female companion for him so they can mate. Hammond’s ultimate undoing is the way he underestimates the intelligence of the dangerous raptors who try hunting down all of the people on the island. These men don’t want to acknowledge that humans are not the smartest form of life, yet that is precisely what they learn by the end of these novels.

Violent twists || I always think it’s funny when people are surprised to learn that Jurassic Park is not quite the fun family movie they expect. Newsflash: PEOPLE DIE. While the Creature in Frankenstein has a reputation for being sinister due to movie adaptations over the years, the Creature in the book is actually much more terrifying because he closely resembles a human being. This is science reflecting our own flawed nature right back at us, showing humans that we are not always the peaceful beings we like to believe that we are.

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

What do you think of this classic couple? What other books would you pair with FrankensteinWhat are your thoughts on either or both of these books? 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