Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Waited A Long Time to Read

Happy Tuesday!! Technically today’s Top Ten Tuesday topic asks us to share the longest books we’ve ever read; however, I already made a list of a similar topic at the beginning of this year (which you can read by clicking here). Instead, I’m going to share books I waited a long time to read (AKA children’s books that I read for the first time within the past few years). If only I had read these gems sooner!

What are some books that you waited a long time to read? What do you think of the books on my list? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

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Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: Best Character Names {For Plants}

Happy Tuesday!! This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic (hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl) is supposed to be Best Character Names; however, as per usual I’ve decided to put my own spin on it. A few years ago I made a Top Ten Tuesday list of Characters I’d Name My Plants After, which was a blast. Today I’d like to do a similar list along those lines, so I’ll be sharing ten character names for plants. {Shout out to my plants back at home in the States– hope you’re still alive on my window sill!}

What are some of your favorite character names (for plants or otherwise)? What do you think of the ones I’ve mentioned? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Top Ten Tuesday

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

Tags

The “Me in Book Characters” Tag

Ever wonder what kind of book characters I would be? Well, I’m here to tell you exactly that. Thanks so much to Ash and Lo @ Windowsill Books for tagging me in this original tag that they created!

  1. Thank the creators of the tag (Us! Ash & Lo @ Windowsill Books)
  2. Thank whoever tagged you!
  3. List 5 book characters who you are most like and explain why.
  4. Tag your friends!

Hermione Granger from Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling

I would be amiss if I didn’t include Hermione at the top of this list, mostly because she was such an influential character to me when I was growing up. I definitely prioritize academics and studying, but I also really value friendship and I’m not afraid to confront someone when I really feel strongly about a cause.

Bilbo Baggins from The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

Like Bilbo at the start of this novel, I would certainly consider myself a homebody. I like being cozy at home instead out on risky adventures– that is, until I inevitably find myself tugged out the door! (I’m looking at you, study abroad…)

Pip from Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

Pip isn’t really sure of himself and is definitely still trying to figure things out even when he’s matured in age… sounds familiar!

Jane from Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

Perhaps this one is more aspirational, but I really admire and identify with Jane independence, wit, and thoughtfulness. I’ve always loved her as a character, especially her way of reflecting on her past. Besides, she says the best quotes:

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

Matilda from Matilda by Roald Dahl

Reading, reading, reading– that’s me!! When I first read Matilda this past summer I immediately saw myself in this voracious little bookworm. So many trips to the library, so little time!

What book characters are you most like? What do you think of the ones I’ve mentioned? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Want Kiddos to Read

Happy Tuesday!! This week’s Top Ten Tuesday theme is simultaneously a throwback and a look at the future. Today I’ll be sharing ten books I hope kiddos continue to read decades from now. Reading played a huge role in shaping me as a child into the person I am now and I am so grateful to all of those who encouraged me to spend time with my nose between pages, eagerly flipping away. I hope that kiddos continue to have positive bookish experiences at an early age!

Matilda by Roald Dahl

Matilda is such important role model for young readers, especially girls. She is intelligent, bookish, independent, courageous, and kind. I wish I had read this when I was younger!

Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein

I haven’t read this book in years, but I can still remember certain poems from when I read it as a child. I love this book because it shows kids that poetry doesn’t have to follow rules or conform to certain standards– it can be fun, funny, and silly!

If You Give a Pig a Pancake by Laura Joffe Numeroff

I ADORED this book when I was younger (in fact, I think I still have it in my bedroom back home somewhere…). It’s such a fun read and the little pig is SO CUTE <3. It definitely made me want a little pig of my own!

Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt

I read this book for the first time this past summer and immediately wanted to flip back to the first page and read it all over again. I love everything about this book– if anything, I wish it were longer so I could revel in the story more! Isn’t that always the sign of a great book?

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

Although I didn’t actually read this when I was younger (just last year!) I still enjoyed it immensely. Juster is incredibly clever, witty, and creative with his use of language to construct not only puns but also characters, settings, and even the plot. I hope both kiddos AND adults continue to read this book for generations to come!

Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen

This is yet another book that I read for the first time only recently, but I loved it all the same. I think this book is particularly great for reading at different ages because you can get something completely new out of it depending on your perspective. (The movie is excellent as well!)

The BFG by Roald Dahl

Am I mentioning Roald Dahl twice on this list? YES. Do I have regrets? NO. He’s definitely worth it! This is my favorite Roald Dahl book because one of my wonderful elementary school teachers used to read it aloud to us all the time when I was younger. It holds such a nostalgic place in my heart ❤

Holes by Louis Sachar

So fun! So bizarre! It would be a shame if kiddos stopped reading this wacky tale in the future (and if they stopped watching the excellent movie adaptation!). What would life be without the great fictional existence of Stanley Yelnats?

Nancy Drew by Carolyn Keene

I LOVED the Nancy Drew mystery stories when I was younger, especially the original series. Learning that Carolyn Keene isn’t an actual person (it’s a fake name for a group of commissioned writers) was devastating. I desperately wanted there to be a mastermind behind all of those puzzling mysteries!

Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling

I would be amiss to not include the Harry Potter series in this list. I have a feeling kiddos and adults alike will be reading this for decades to come. I can’t even begin to imagine a childhood without the magical world of Harry Potter!

I think it’s interesting that many of these books are ones I’ve read recently rather than when I was actually a kiddo… though I really wish I had read them when I was younger because I know I would have loved them! ❤

What are books that you hope kids will read in the future? What do you think of the titles I’ve mentioned? What was your favorite book when you were younger? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: Fictional Women Leaders

Happy Tuesday!! This week’s Top Ten Tuesday theme is one that I think is incredibly important: leadership in fiction. While being a fun source of entertainment, literature is also immensely valuable in providing role models for readers. In particular, I think it is incredibly important for literature to provide readers with women and girls that they can look up to in a society that is still dominated by masculine leadership. Today I’ll be sharing ten notable women leaders in fiction: 

Who are your favorite fictional women leaders? What do you think of the characters and books I’ve mentioned? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Tags

Goodreads Book Tag

I first joined Goodreads in December of 2010, which means that I’ve been an active member for SEVEN YEARS. When I first discovered that such a website even existed I was ecstatic– finally, a place to connect with other people about BOOKS. Today I am still a loyal Goodreads user, so you can imagine how happy I was when I learned that I had been tagged to do the Goodreads Book Tag. Thanks so much to Lauren @ My Paper Infinity for tagging me!!

What was the last book you marked as ‘read’?

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy. It was excellent!

What are you currently reading?

I’m reading several books at the moment, but the one I’m focusing on the most is Light in August by William Faulkner for my upcoming term.

What was the last book you marked as TBR?

Artemis by Andy Weir. I’m so excited for this book to be released in November! It’s been far too long since I read The Martian and I’m in desperate need of some great science fiction.

What book do you plan to read next?

Do you use the star rating system?

I used to until a few months ago when I realized that I was letting it frustrate me for no reason. In fact, I wrote a whole post about it which you can check out here!

Are you doing a 2017 reading challenge?

Yes! For the past few years I’ve set myself a goal of reading 24 books, which I’ve already surpassed this year. I use the reading challenge more for tracking purposes than to ensure that I read a certain number of books each year.

Do you have a wishlist?

No, but that’s actually a really good idea….

What book do you plan to buy next?

I’m already looking forward to buying and reading Rupi Kaur’s upcoming poetry collection the sun and her flowers, which is set to be released on October 3rd. I adored Milk and Honey and I can’t wait to see what emotions Rupi delves into in this collection. I already love the connection she’s making between the lives of humans and plants. October can’t come soon enough!

Do you have any favorite quotes? Share a few.

SO MANY. A few favorites that I’ve recently added to my list are:

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

“Matilda said, “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

“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 Babbit

Who are your favorite authors?

I didn’t even know this was a feature on Goodreads!! (You learn something new every day…) In general, some of my favorite authors are J.R.R. Tolkien, John Green, Willa Cather, William Faulkner, Frederick Douglass, and Melina Marchetta.

Have you joined any groups?

I’m part of SO MANY groups on Goodreads, although unfortunately I rarely participate in them. I try to be a more active member, but there’s just so much to keep up with!

Thanks again to Lauren for tagging me!!

Do you use Goodreads? What are your favorite and least favorite things about it? Are there any cool bookish websites like Goodreads that you’d recommend? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Bookish, Discussion

MATILDA as a Feminist Text | Discussion

While reading Matilda for the first time ever recently (gasp!), I loved how Roald Dahl places such an emphasis on gender equality in the story. If we consider feminism to be defined as equality between all genders, I would argue that this lovely children’s book is a strong example of a feminist text. Here are 5 quotes that help illustrate this point:

“Matilda said, “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…”

This quote depicts girls as active agents in their own lives rather than the passive, conforming subjects that they are often portrayed as in literature.

“A girl should think about making herself look attractive so she can get a good husband later on. Looks is more important than books, Miss Hunky…”
“The name is Honey,” Miss Honey said.
“Now look at me,” Mrs Wormwood said. “Then look at you. You chose books. I chose looks.”

Here Roald Dahl takes a feminist stance by making Matilda’s awful mother possess a misogynistic mindset. This obviously shines a negative light on such prejudice against women by showing how ridiculous it sounds, especially coming from Mrs. Wormwood. By this point in the story, the reader knows that Miss Honey is a kind, smart, lovely individual who is both beautiful and intelligent. In other words, there’s no such thing as having to choose between “looks” and “books”!!

“I’m afraid men are not always quite as clever as they think they are. You will learn that when you get a bit older, my girl.”

I think the message is pretty clear with this one: men are not the only clever ones!

“Being very small and very young, the only power Matilda had over anyone in her family was brain-power.”

Probably my favorite thing about Matilda as a character is that she is a role model for everyone who feels ostracized by a desire to learn and be smart. Here Roald Dahl asserts that intelligence is power– just because one is disadvantaged in other ways doesn’t mean you can’t fight back with words and ideas and wit. Taken even further, one could argue that this also applies to feminism: just because someone is viewed as inferior for being a woman doesn’t mean they can’t challenge this adversity with brain-power. 

“All the reading she had done had given her a view of life they had never seen.”

This might be my favorite quote of the entire book. When I came across it while reading I literally stopped and reread the same line five or six times because I think it perfectly encapsulates one of the most important values of reading. Reading teaches us empathy, something imperative to understanding and accepting everyone around us. If more people read and had empathy, then perhaps feminism would be embodied by everyone.

The fact that this children’s book has such a strong, smart, independent female protagonist is so important for all readers, but especially younger ones. Characters like bookish Hermione Granger and clever Nancy Drew had such a huge impact on me when I was younger and I know that Matilda would have done the same if I had read this book as child. This is just one of the many reasons why Matilda is truly an incredible book!

Would you consider Matilda to be a feminist text? What are your thoughts on what constitutes a “feminist text” in general? 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

Books

MATILDA by Roald Dahl | Review

Up until very recently, I have spent the entirety of my twenty-year existence with no knowledge of the wonderful brilliance that is Roald Dahl’s Matilda. Though I had been recommended it countless times by enthusiastic readers and had seen the charming advertisements for the movie adaptation, I had never managed to actually sit down and read the book itself. Last summer I made several valiant efforts to check it out of my local library, but to no avail; other patrons (presumably much younger than I) always beat me to it. Determined to beat the summer reading rushed, I hurried over to the children’s room of the library early on in my summer break this year to finally check it out once and for all.

After literal decades of waiting, I read Matilda in a single sitting.

loved it.

Now I understand why so many people eagerly recommended this lovely little book to me, why it continues to be read by adult readers who have long since outgrown the tiny chairs in the children’s rooms of libraries. Though Matilda has an established position in the genre of children’s literature, it almost seems as if Roald Dahl wrote this book with an adult audience in mind as well. Matilda is so wise beyond her years that it sometimes feels like she is an adult—especially when faced with the temperamental, ignorant, cruel Miss Trunchbull. The four-year-old girl offers helpful advice to Miss Honey, has intellectual capabilities that surpass those of most adults, and possesses enough resilience in the face of adversity to last her a lifetime. Ultimately, this book argues for the idea of immaturity v. maturity rather than the conflict between children v. adults. In other words, Roald Dahl would likely not view the word “childish” as a synonym for being immature. Just because someone is older doesn’t mean they possess a certain degree of maturity, empathy, or common sense (as many recent events in our own world have certainly proven true).

While reading this book I was taken aback by how many references there are to classic literature. I don’t think I’ve ever read a children’s book that talks so much about literature that one would normally read in high school, college, or beyond. Matilda reads Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, Kim by Rudyard Kipling, The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells—the list goes on and on! (New goal: read all of the novels mentioned in Matilda.) One of my favorite moments in the book is when it describes little Matilda balancing a huge tome on her lap while reading in the library. I think that image really helps illustrate how brilliant and ahead of her age Matilda is (not to mention the fact that the illustrations in this book are adorable). The numerous references to classic literature in this book also work to break down genre barriers between what is considered literature for children versus that of adults.

Arguably one of the most important, interesting, and exciting aspects of Matilda is the way it emphasizes the importance of reading, learning, and education. Miss Honey is an incredible proponent of education, as shown when she provides Matilda with extra textbooks to read in class so she doesn’t have to sit through learning material she already knows. Matilda and Miss Honey stand up to Matilda’s frustratingly terrible parents who don’t understand why anyone would ever want to read a book when you could just watch the television instead. 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 can I say? Matilda is wonderful, Roald Dahl is a brilliant writer, and I’m completely in love with this book. If you haven’t read this book yet, please do yourself a favor and check it out—you definitely won’t regret it!

Would I recommend it to a friend?: Absolutely!! I would recommend this book to anyone and everyone, no matter your age.

What are your thoughts on Matilda? Do you have a favorite Roald Dahl book? Which Roald Dahl book should I read next? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY