Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Books I’ve (Shamelessly & Proudly) Written In

Happy Tuesday! This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic (hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl) asks us to share our unpopular bookish opinions. However, I thought I would hone in on one unpopular bookish opinion and share ten examples of it instead. Perhaps one of my most controversial book habits is that I often annotate and highlight my books. *Gasp!* I know this is an atrocious act to some bookworms, but I view it as the actual purpose of books. To me, books are meant to be experienced, meaning that they are not meant for just sitting prettily on a shelf (with the exception of some expensive editions). I want to get the most out of a book as I possibly can, and if that means underlining or highlighting quotes that resonate with me or writing little notes in the margins, then that’s exactly what I’m going to do. Plus, I think it’s fun to reread a book that I’ve annotated and see what I was thinking about the last time I read it. For me, it’s a way by which I think more deeply about what I’m reading. I don’t do it all the time, but when I do I really enjoy the process.

Now that I’ve explained a bit about this unpopular bookish opinion of mine, here are ten examples of books from my shelves that I’ve annotated or highlighted:

 

What are your thoughts on highlighting or writing in books? What’s your most controversial bookish habit or opinion? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

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Top Ten Tuesday

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

Tags

How I Choose My Books Tag

When I’m not buried under mountains of required reading for coursework, I often ask myself an important question: How do I choose my books? Fortunately, that’s the very same question that this tag attempts to answer! I had never heard to this tag before I was tagged in it, so I’m really excited to take a look at these questions. Thanks so much to Krisha @ Bookathon for tagging me!!

Find a book on your shelves or e-reader with a blue cover. What made you want to pick up this book?

Since I’m currently studying abroad and don’t have access to my actual bookshelves at home, the closest I could come to a blue book is the turquoise Penguin Modern edition of Wendell Berry’s “Why I Am Not Going to Buy A Computer.” I chose this book not only because the design is brilliant but also because Ariel Bissett (one of my favorite booktubers) HIGHLY recommended it.

Think of a book you didn’t expect to enjoy, but did. Why did you read it in the first place? 

This situation happened to me when I tackled War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy last summer. It’s a novel that was always on my list of books that “I Should Probably Read At Some Point Because They’re Really Well Known and Are Referenced In A Lot of Other Things.” However, I finally decided to read it last summer because Laura @ Reading in Bed was hosting a read-a-long and I couldn’t resist.

Stand in front of your bookshelf with your eyes closed and pick up a book at random. How did you discover this book?

Once again using my limited shelves, I picked up Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I first discovered this book from major blogging hype and purchased a copy so long ago. However, I just got around to read it recently because it’s on my required reading list for Postcolonial Literature this term. Everything comes full circle eventually!

Pick a book that someone personally recommended to you. What did you think of it?

Whenever I think about books people have recommended me over the years, the first one that usually comes to mind is All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. The librarian at my high school recommended this to me when I was a senior and I LOVED it. Now I’m the one always recommending this brilliant novel to people! I’m so glad I decided to follow her suggestion!

Pick a book that you discovered through Youtube/book blogs. Did it live up to the hype?

I could list so many books in this answer, but I think I’m going to go with An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir. For a while this book was everywhere in the blogosphere, so I decided to give it a try; however, it definitely didn’t live up to my expectations. If you want to read more about why I was disappointed with it, you can check out my book review here. 

Find a book on your shelves or e-reader with a one word title. What drew you to this book?

Since I’ve already used Americanah, I’m going to have to go with Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf because it’s the closest I can get to one word with the books I currently have on my limited shelf. While I was required to read this for two tutorials, I was also drawn to it because the entire novel takes place in a single day. I was so intrigued!

What book did you discover through a film/ TV adaptation?

Years ago I watched The Help movie with my family one night and immediately went to the library to check out the novel of the same name by Kathryn Stockett. Both forms of telling this story are amazing and I would highly recommend them in either order. I think this is definitely a case where the book and the movie are equally as well done.

Think of your all-time favourite book/s. When did you read these and why did you pick them in the first place?

For this question I have to go with The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien I first read this series going into sixth grade (for a book project!), a time in my life when I was a very awkward kid and needed a respite from middle school awkwardness. These books will always hold a special place in my heart. ❤

  • YOU!!!

 

These questions were surprisingly difficult to answer! Thanks again to Krisha 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

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: Named Novels

Happy Tuesday!! Today’s Top Ten Tuesday theme (hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl) is Frequently Used Words in (Genre) Titles. If you’ve followed this blog for any length of time then you’ve probably noticed that I adore classic literature. In typical Holly fashion, today I’ll be sharing ten classic novels with names as their titles. This might sound like a rather narrow, niche topic, but you’d be surprised how many of them there actually are!

What are your thoughts on the books I’ve mentioned? What other novels have names as their titles? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Books

MRS. DALLOWAY by Virginia Woolf | Review

Virginia Woolf’s classic 1925 novel Mrs. Dalloway is one of this prolific writer’s best known works. It tells the story of a single day in the life of Clarissa Dalloway, who struggles with the fact that she is no longer the young woman she used to be once upon a time. Set in the urban tumult of London after WWI, Mrs. Dalloway is a fascinating exploration of what it means to be an adult woman in this rapidly changing yet surprisingly stagnant society.

Where do I possibly begin? Mrs. Dalloway is one of those novels that had been incessantly recommended to me for years before I finally read it recently for a tutorial. This was only the second Woolf novel I had ever read (the first one being To the Lighthouse over the summer) so I sort of knew what to expect from her style but no idea what to expect from the general story itself. I needn’t have worried, though; Virginia knows what she’s doing.

Mrs. Dalloway is a novel rooted in the modernism of the early twentieth century, one of my favorite time periods and literary movements to study. One of the important markers of modernism is experimentation with narration, such as the stream of consciousness style Woolf uses throughout the novel. Although the novel is told through the eyes of an omniscient third person narrator, we nevertheless are privy to the innermost thoughts of a vast cast of characters through free indirect discourse. We learn about Clarissa’s relentless yearning for the past, Septimus’ struggles as a veteran in postwar British society, Lucrezia’s unhappiness with her husband, Peter’s love for Clarissa…. the list goes on and on. At times it may actually feel as though we are hearing from the characters in their own voices; this immersion is the beauty of Woolf’s writing.

Another feature of modernism is a fascination with time. Woolf plays with the concept of time in a number of ways in this novel: the measured tolls of Big Ben over bustling London, the characters’ varying perceptions of time, the constant flashbacks to the past, etc. There is also the fact that the entire novel takes place over the course of a single day in June 1923. This detail is one of my favorite things about Mrs. Dalloway because its bewildering and even unbelievable at times because so much time seems to pass from the beginning to the end. The flowing and fluid stream of consciousness style makes it seem as though a lot is happening when in actuality the reader is just experiencing a lot of the characters’ thoughts. While reading I had to constantly remind myself that all of this was happening in a single day because it just seemed so unlikely.

This novel also deals with many important and interesting topics: aging, missing youth, the role of women in society, postwar British society, the plight of veterans after WWI, the relationship between noncombatant civilians and veterans, mental health, etc. When my tutor told me that I could write an essay on any topic from Mrs. Dalloway I immediately felt overwhelmed. How on earth could I choose just one? Somehow Woolf has managed to pack a tome’s worth of material into a slim, beautiful, well-crafted novel. 

Overall, Mrs. Dalloway is a captivating, brilliant novel that I couldn’t help becoming invested in from the very first page. This may have only been the second Wool novel I have ever read, but it most certainly won’t be my last! I would highly recommend this novel to anyone and everyone!

What are your thoughts on Mrs. Dalloway? Do you have favorite novel or text by Virginia Woolf? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Monthly Wrap-Up

JANUARY 2018 | Wrap-Up

The first month of 2018 is officially complete! Resolutions have been made (and inevitably some have been dropped…), classes have resumed, and the busy bustling of everyday life is back in full swing once again. January through March or April tends to be my least favorite time of year because I don’t have any fun holidays to look forward to, but this year feels a bit different thanks to studying abroad. Here’s what I’ve been up to thus far in 2018:

In January I read a total of 18 books (!!!):

  1. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
  2. Girl Up by Laura Bates
  3. The Quartet by Joseph J. Ellis
  4. The Miserable Mill by Lemony Snicket
  5. The Austere Academy by Lemony Snicket
  6. Frederick Douglass by William S. McFeely
  7. What Happened by Hillary Rodham Clinton
  8. The Art of Memoir by Mary Karr
  9. Lit Up by David Denby
  10. Not So Quiet by Helen Zenna Smith
  11. Why Read Moby-Dick? by Nathaniel Philbrick
  12. Nightwood by Djuna Barnes
  13. The Ersatz Elevator by Lemony Snicket
  14. The Vile Village by Lemony Snicket
  15. Night by Elie Wiesel
  16. Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin
  17. On Writing by Stephen King
  18. Les Misérables by Victor Hugo

HOW DID I READ THIS MANY BOOKS?! I definitely expected to read nothing at all this month because I moved back to England to continue the rest of my year at Oxford. The constant stream of essays I write each week means that I hardly have time to read for fun… EXCEPT by listening to audio books. Audiobooks are the secret key to reading way more than I ever expected I’d be able to. I listen to them while walking to lecture and college, cooking, getting ready in the morning, doing laundry, etc. It’s the perfect way to read and be productive at the same time!

I read a lot of excellent books this month, but my favorite is the first book I read so far this year: Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf. I read this novel for my English Literature 1910-Present tutorial and have immensely enjoyed studying it in terms of gender, its treatment of veterans in postwar British society, and its modernist writing style. It as also her 136th birthday this month!

This year I’m adding a new section to my monthly wrap-ups: favorites!

+ MOVIE: Definitely Les Misérables (2012). I had never seen the play or a movie adaptation before this month, so I had absolutely no idea what to expect. Let me just say that I was wrecked. I literally cried throughout a solid 70 percent of this film.

+ MUSIC: Is anyone surprised that I’ve been listening to the Les Mis soundtrack on repeat for the past two weeks? (Answer: You shouldn’t be.) My favorite songs include “ABC Cafe / Red & Black,” “On My Own,” “One Day More,” and “Paris / Look Down.” There are so many amazing songs to choose from!

+ FOOD: FALAFEL. Falafel is definitely more popular here in England than where I live back home, so I’ve enjoyed making falafel wraps for lunch and dinner. It’s so good with carrots and cucumbers and sweet potato…

+ PLACE: It’s been hard not to fall even more in love with Mansfield College, where I’m currently studying abroad in Oxford. It’s such a beautiful place and the people I’ve met here are lovely ❤

I did it! I made it back to Oxford all by myself! It was the first time I had made the trip from home to England alone, and it actually went surprisingly smoothly. Every new step I take as far as travel goes makes me a bit more confident about traveling even more in the future. The transition back to Oxford life was seamless and in many ways it feels as though I never even left. Work has picked back up again, reading has commenced, and my typing fingers have already written more essays than I would have written in an entire semester back at Wheaton.

Of course, there’s been plenty of time for fun as well. My friends and I have booked a trip to Spain for our spring break, visited several pubs, played a plethora of board games, and even attended a bop and other college events. I love Oxford because there’s a pervasive sense of routine here despite the seemingly unstructured tutorial system. Apart from tutorials and lectures, there is also a sort of structure to social events: bops in 0th and 8th week, champagne and chocolates on 2nd and 6th week, formal hall Wednesdays and Fridays, etc. It’s nice to be able to plan ahead for fun nights like those!

All in all, I’m really looking forward to what this term has in store!

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

Here are some posts that I loved reading this month:

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

Yours,

HOLLY