Looking Back at 2018

Every year for the past few years (2015, 2016, 2017) I’ve made one of these posts, and each year I’m even more surprised by how much can be packed into just twelve months.

2018 was a whirlwind year. Sometimes it’s hard to believe that the first half of it was spent in magical Oxford, England, traveling and studying and making memories that I will always, always fondly look back on with immense gratitude. While the transition back home was far from easy–I missed everyone and everything from my time at Oxford so dearly–it was made a thousand times better thanks to endless support from friends and family. Senior year at Wheaton has turned out to be more exciting, eye-opening, and formative than I ever expected. I found a true sense of belonging in 2018, something I feel as though I had been lacking for a long time.

2018 was also a year of countless firsts. I traveled to so many new places for the first time, from Edinburgh, Amsterdam, Berlin, Vienna, and Mondsee abroad to new mountains and cities back home in the States. I began traveling by myself more for the first time here, more comfortable with venturing off on my own. I had my first (and thankfully only) abroad allergic reaction and my first allergic reaction to occur at Wheaton, but survived them both and bounced back with the help and kind words of those around me. I finished my first semester as a college senior and have begun to confront the terrifying, exciting fact that this is it. I took the LSAT, applied to law schools, and got accepted to law schools for the first time. Never before have I felt so validated academically, like all of my hard work over the years has finally, finally paid off. It’s an amazing, incredible feeling.

2018 taught me many things, but above all I learned balance. I feel as though I’ve finally found a sort of equilibrium between friends, family, work, school, looking towards the future, reflecting on the past, and finding time to do the things that make me happy. It’s not a perfect balance, but something tells me that’s not truly possible to achieve. For now, I’m content with the balance I’ve struck.

2018 was far from flawless; there were many rough patches and turbulent waters, but somehow it all skyrocketed to an amazing end of the year. I know 2019 will be a year of huge transition for me–graduating college, entering law school, figuring out what my path forward looks like–but I’m happy knowing that 2018 set me up as best it could with unforgettable memories, challenging new experiences, and a better support network of friends and family than I could have ever asked for.

Thanks to everyone who made 2018 so wonderful; I hope I can return the favor in 2019. Happy New Year!!

How was your 2018? Highlights? Things you overcame? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

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Top Ten Tuesday: 2018 Bookish Resolutions

Happy Tuesday!! This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic (now brought to us by That Artsy Reader Girl) asks us to share our bookish resolutions for 2018. Now that the new year is well underway and I’ve done some reflecting on 2017, I think it’s time to set some new goals. I don’t like to put an exorbitant amount of pressure on myself to meet unrealistically high expectations, so these are ten relatively simple goals that I’d like to keep in mind throughout the next year.

1. Read 24 books. I’ve made this my Reading Challenge goal on Goodreads for the past few years now and it’s worked out really well. This is a number that I can meet without any added stress, which is precisely what I need from a yearly goal.

2. Balance reading for classes, reading for fun, and blogging. I absolutely LOVE studying abroad at Oxford, but when term is in session I miss blogging and reading for fun so much! I’m hoping I can figure out a way to balance all of these things better during my last two terms there.

The main library at Mansfield College, Oxford.

3. Be more engaged with the blogging community. This goal is one that I wish I had done better at in 2017… so I’m carrying it over into 2018! As with the previous resolution, I’m hoping that I can find a way to make this work while balancing everything else I have to do.

4. Read more nonfiction. I’ve read some really great nonfiction books recently, which makes me feel motivated to read even more of them in the new year. Any recommendations would definitely be appreciated!

5. Read A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin. Now, what would a Holly resolution list be without this novel inevitably included? I vow that someday I will read this book!

6. Continue writing discussion posts regularly. This is a resolution I accomplished in 2017, but I would really love to keep it up this year as well. Creating interesting, thought-provoking content that sparks engaging discussions is something that I want to always strive towards with this blog.

7.  Keep better track of the books I want to read. More often than not I forget to write a book title down when someone recommends it to me, leaving me without a list of books I want to read whenever I go into a bookstore or decide to order books online. Putting them on a list in my phone or something similar would be so helpful!

8. Be more creative with my bookstagram posts. I love taking photos and updating my bookstagram, but in the midst of writing pages and pages of essays it’s easy to revert back to posting the same kinds of photos every single time. This year I’d like to be more creative with my books, props, scenery, etc.

9. Be more open to talking about this blog IRL. I rarely ever mention my blog to people unless they bring it up first, and even when they do I’m pretty hesitant to talk about it (as I’ve discussed in this post from a while back). In 2018, I’d like to be more open about talking about my blog if people bring it up.

10. HAVE FUN!! As always– what’s reading without a little (or a lot!!) of fun?

Happy New Year, everyone!!

What are your resolutions for 2018? What do you think of mine? Any advice on how to accomplish them? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Looking Back on 2017

For the past few years I’ve made one of these posts reflecting on the concluding year. After reading what I wrote at the end of 2015 and 2016, it hit me just how much has happened in 2017.

I got accepted to study abroad for an academic year at Oxford University. My friends and I went to NerdCon in Boston on that same weekend, where I saw John and Hank Green speak and actually had a conversation with Watsky (honestly, amazing weekend). I wrote and performed my own monologue in the annual Wheaton Words production at my college. I visited the Met in New York City for the first time. I visited Willa Cather’s grave in Jeffrey, New Hampshire and took some very rainy photos (thanks, mom!). I watched my brother graduate from high school and start college in the fall. I said far too many goodbyes in September before traveling outside of the United States for the first time to begin my first term at Mansfield College in England. I visited so many incredible places, met even more incredible friends, and did things I never thought I would do (join my college’s soccer team at Oxford!). I ate in a chapel every day that was fit to be the Great Hall at Hogwarts, wore a gowns (short wizard capes) to formal dinners, and danced for hours at bops. I spent hours and hours in libraries and lecture halls studying my favorite subject in the world. I turned 21. I flew on a plane by myself for the first time. I said goodbyes to new friends and hello to so many old ones. I marveled at how much I did that I never, ever expected to achieve.

As always, I am grateful to everyone who made 2017 one of my best years yet despite the tumultuous world we live in. {And thank YOU for sticking with this little blog of mine!} Happy New Year!!

How was 2017 for you? Highlights? Things you’re looking forward to in 2018? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

2016/2017 Tag

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

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

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

3. Mention the blogger who has chosen you.

4. Answer the questions.

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

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Describe your 2016 in 3 words!

An uphill climb.

Write the names of 2 people who characterized your 2016!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Write 3 good intentions for 2017.

Reach out more, be positive, and be kind.

Write 1 place you want to visit in 2017.

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

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

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

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

Yours,

HOLLY

JANUARY 2017 | Wrap-Up

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

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In January I read a total of 5 books:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are some posts that I loved reading this month:

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

Yours,

HOLLY

Top Ten Tuesday: 2017 Bookish Resolutions

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Happy Tuesday!! I know that today’s official Top Ten Tuesday theme is about our most anticipated 2017 debuts, but here’s my dilemma: I really don’t know any upcoming debuts being published in 2017. Due to an incredibly busy college semester I’ve been out of the bookish loop for so long that I haven’t been able to stay up to date with new releases. Rather than ramble on about books I know nothing about, I’ve decided to share my Top Ten 2017 Resolutions instead. (Look at me, starting off the New Year as a blogging rebel!)

1.Read 24 books. Though I easily surpassed this Goodreads Challenge goal in 2016, I’m nevertheless going to set the same overall reading goal for 2017. I like to have something to work towards, but I never want to feel pressured to read an impossibly and impractically high number of books. Two books a month feels just right!

2. Read more classics. Yet another resolution that I’m borrowing from last year’s list (I assure you, there’s a purposeful trend here). Over the past few years I’ve been really enjoying reading classics and I’d love to continue expanding the network of authors and genres within classical literature that I’ve read.

42003. Read something by Zadie Smith. 

Ever since reading her interview on the New York Times’ By the Book column I’ve had the itch to read something by Zadie Smith. Her most recent novel Swing Time has received fantastic reviews, but I think I might start with her debut novel White Teeth and then work my way forward from there. As long as get around to reading one book by this fascinating, highly-praised author this year, I’ll be happy!

Charles Dickens4. Read more by Charles Dickens. If this goal looks familiar, it’s because I sadly failed to accomplish it last year. I absolutely adored Great Expectations when I read it two (three???) years ago, but since then I have read nothing else by Dickens. I desperately need to remedy this in 2017! Any suggestions on where to start would be greatly appreciated! The only other book I’ve read by Dickens in A Tale of Two Cities, so everything else is fair game for a recommendation.

a game of thrones cover5. Read A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin. That’s right: another goal that I failed to accomplish in 2016. I’ve honestly been meaning to read this book for years but for some reason my inner bibliophile is really intimidated by it, both in terms of size and content. A little pep talk, anyone?

6. Continue posting to my bookstagramCreating a bookstagram was one of the best bookish decisions I made in 2016. I randomly decided to make one over the summer and I’ve had a blast doing it every since! In 2016, I want to continue posting photos and exploring different themes and angles.

7. Write more discussion posts. Lately I feel as though I’ve been getting into a blogging rut. My blog has been mostly tags and Top Ten Tuesday posts lately with the occasional review mixed in, so I want to make an effort to write more discussion posts in 2016. I was surprised and overjoyed by the positive and thoughtful comments left on my recent discussion post (Why It’s Okay to NOT Make Time for Reading). Discussions in the comments section always remind me how amazing the online book community is!

8. Be more engaged with the online book community. With my discussion post goal in mind, I would also like to be more engaged in the online book community in other ways. Recently I’ve been using Twitter (@peanutfreeisme) more, but I would also like to be more active on Goodreads and other platforms. Feel free to reach out and follow/friend me on any of these platforms!

9. Read slowly. As I recently mentioned when taking a look at my 2016 resolutions, reading slowly and taking the time to appreciate and absorb each book I read is always something that I can improve upon. It’s easy to feel as though we have to rush through books to achieve reading goals or read as much as possible, but where’s the fun in that?

10. Have fun!! As always, I include this final resolution as a reminder to myself that reading is for ENJOYMENT. I want to read to have fun, to learn, and to be inspired– not merely to check off books on a list or achieve a Goodreads challenge.

What are your 2017 resolutions, bookish or otherwise? What do you think of the goals I’ve set for myself? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Looking Back at 2016

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What a year 2016 has been.

I officially declared my English major and became my advisor’s research assistant. I completed my freshman year of college and embarked on my sophomore year. I spent a rainy day in New York City with friends and stood outside of The Room Where It Happens. I said goodbye to some amazing graduating seniors and hello so some excited (and nervous!) freshmen. I got a new dog named Eddie. I worked at a local Child Advocacy Center over the summer and tried Japanese food for the first time (two thumbs up!). I lived with an incredible roommate who also happens to be one of my best friends in the whole world. I saw Of Monsters and Men and Florence and the Machine perform live. I watched as the United States presidential election took an… interesting turn. I went to my first ever Comic Con and had a blast dressing up as Spock. My mom and I went to a Trans-Siberian Orchestra concert for the eighth year in a row. I took classes that inspired me, challenged me, and made me grow as both a student and human. I came home to discover that my beloved dog Melody had passed away. I laughed, I cried, I worked, I danced, I hugged, I smiled, and I appreciated.

2016

Through the many ups and downs that 2016 brought, I was fortunate enough to have an amazing group of family and friends supporting me along the way. To every family member, friend, professor, fellow blogger, and stranger who has made me smile over the past year: I am so, so grateful. 

And to you: Thank you from the tip of my pen and the bottom of my bookcase for reading my blog! I can’t express how much each and every one of you mean to me. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU. ❤

It’s been a wild ride, 2016. Let’s hope 2017 is even better.

Happy New Year!

Yours,

HOLLY

The Mystery Blogger Award | 1

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Imagine my surprise when I recently woke up one morning to find that I had been nominated for the Mystery Blogger Award. According to Okoto Enigma, the creator of this award, it is:

Mystery Blogger Award” is an award for amazing bloggers with ingenious posts. Their blog not only captivates; it inspires and motivates. They are one of the best out there, and they deserve every recognition they get. This award is also for bloggers who find fun and inspiration in blogging; and they do it with so much love and passion.

Thanks so much to Azia @ The Uncharted World for nominating me!

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  1. Put the award logo/image on your blog
  2. List the rules.
  3. Thank whoever nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
  4. Mention the creator of the award and provide a link as well
  5. Tell your readers 3 things about yourself
  6. You have to nominate 10 – 20 people
  7. Notify your nominees by commenting on their blog
  8. Ask your nominees any 5 questions of your choice; with one weird or funny question (specify)
  9. Share a link to your best post(s)

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  1. I can touch my nose with my tongue.
  2. I’ve never traveled outside of the United States.
  3. I have a pair of lucky Converse shoes that I wear whenever I take an exam or have to give a presentation in class.

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This is excellent timing because these questions are perfect for the turn of the new year!

What will be your new year’s resolution?

I’ll undoubtedly have many New Year’s resolutions (I love making resolutions!) but I think one of my most important goals is to slow down an appreciate more. This applies to reading, blogging, and life in general. Particularly with blogging, I want to stop feeling like I need to race through books just to check them off of a list. There’s value in taking time with a book!

How would you describe your perfect Christmas?

Quality time with family around the tree, lots of laughter, and homemade coffee cake for breakfast.

Do you have a daily routine for blogging?

Yes! Now that I’m home from college for winter break I can finally get back into my blogging routine. Usually I read through and comment on posts on other blogs while eating breakfast and then work on my own posts for a bit. Blogging is a great way to start the day!

What are some of the things/books you are looking forward to next year?

  • Being able to take two English classes in one semester.
  • Performing with my college’s tap dancing group at our annual show in February.
  • Reaching the halfway point in my undergraduate college career (this is also a bit terrifying!).
  • Hearing all about my brother’s experiences as a college freshman!

2017 should be an exciting and interesting year!

Weird/Funny: Which Marvel Avenger (or any other superhero/heroine) do you think best represents you?

Definitely Captain America (and not just because he’s my favorite!). I’m a rule follower by nature and I can really relate to a lot of the values that Steve Rogers stands for.

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Because I LOVE Azia’s questions, I’m going to pass them along!

  1. What will be your new year’s resolution?
  2. How would you describe your perfect Christmas?
  3. Do you have a daily routine for blogging?
  4. What are some of the things/books you are looking forward to next year?
  5. Weird/Funny: Which Marvel Avenger (or any other superhero/heroine) do you think best represents you?

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

Yours,

HOLLY