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

Classic Couple

A Classic Couple: The Song of the Lark and Paper Towns

It seems fitting that books by two of my favorite authors—Willa Cather and John Green—would connect across different centuries. As mentioned in a past Top Ten Tuesday post about pairs of classic and contemporary novels, I’ve found many interesting parallels between Cather’s The Song of the Lark (1915) and Green’s Paper Towns (2008).

Thea and Margo || These protagonists are headstrong, determined, and different from the people in their hometowns. Thea loves music and is seen as a young woman who holds great potential, whereas Margo is an enigma that no one can understand. Despite the man differences between them, they nevertheless share the same reckless, carefree spirit.

Leaving home || Eventually Thea and Margo move away from their childhood homes, leaving behind people who love and care about them in order to chase the prospect of adventure. Thea heads to the big city of Chicago to pursue a career in music, later finding herself traveling to Arizona, Dresden, and New York City. Margo departs suddenly in a shroud of mystery; she doesn’t tell anyone that she’s leaving or where she’s going to. These young women are running to something—adventure, adulthood, independence—but they’re also running from something: their past identities and the preconceived notions held by people they grew up with of who they should become.

Resistance || In both novels, friends from their pasts find Thea and Margo in the new lives they’ve made for themselves and try to persuade them to come back home. Unexpectedly, Thea and Margo refuse. Though Thea does go back and visit her hometown, she does not stay long and feels as though she doesn’t belong there anymore. Margo won’t even entertain the idea of returning to the town where she attended a high school that she technically hasn’t graduated from yet. Their new ideas and identities seem to manifest themselves in new locations.

Wanting “more” || The underlying current that runs beneath The Song of the Lark and Paper Towns is the desire for more out of life. Thea is enchanted by fantasies of big cities, fame, and a life away from her small, dull town; Margo is denounces the “paper people” she grew up around, yearning for those who are less materialistic and actually genuine, authentic, and real. The question remains: Do they really reach their “more”?

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

Yours,

HOLLY

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: High School Grads

Top Ten Tuesday

 As my high school career nears its end (I’ll be graduating this June!) it’s starting to really hit me that I have less than two months of my senior year left before it’s over. I’ve read about the senior year experiences of many characters in books over the years, yet I don’t think I couldn’t have prepared myself for the ups and downs that I have experienced this year. It’s been both exciting and scary, filled with laughter and tears, but I think that’s generally how growing up tends to go. Since I seem to be thinking about my overall senior year experience so much lately, I thought I’d turn it into a fun Top Ten Tuesday topic. This week I’ll be listing my Top Ten Books with Characters Who are Entering, Living, or Remembering Their Senior Year of High School. What a mouthful!

So, no particular order, here are the books I have chosen:

paper towns cover1. Paper Towns by John Green. 

I can never seem to make it through one of these lists without mentioning at least one John Green novel. They’re just so good and they apply to so many different topics! In this book, the majority of the characters are in their senior year of high school and my favorite part of the story happens when they’re supposed to be at their graduation. (Key words: supposed to be !!!) It’s fun and hilarious yet nostalgic and thought-provoking all at the same time, which I’m coming to find out is one of my favorite combinations when it comes to books.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky2. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

In this book, Charlie’s friends Sam and Patrick are in their senior year of high school. Despite the fact that he’s a freshman they waste no time befriending him and teaching him the ropes of growing up. It’s really neat to see the differences between the views of a freshman and those of seniors, and I think this novel captures them really well. Charlie experiences so much in this short book, and his senior friends are by his side every step of the way. If you;re looking for nostalgia, this will definitely bring back those memories!

the disenchantments3. The Disenchantments by Nina LaCour

Four friends in a band have recently graduated from high school, and it’s their last summer of freedom before going off to start their adult lives. Will their special bond grow stronger through playing music and traveling, or will these adventures cause them to grow apart? This is a fun, thought-provoking, and whimsical read about growing up, growing apart, but also growing together.

WHERE THINGS COME BACK by John Corey Whaley

4. Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley

This story takes place during the summer before the main character’s senior year, so it has that feeling of being on the brink of something great. It’s certainly a summer that Cullen (the MC) will never forget, with its quirkiness and excitement and even a few frightening moments. I’ve read this book several times over the past few times, and it’s a really unique summer read.

the moon and more cover5. The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen

It’s the summer before college, and Emaline is spending it in the lovely beach town of Colby. But she soon finds that these few precious months are not going to be the stress-free ones that she initially envisioned. Enter Luke, her boyfriend, and Theo, a new guy from New York who comes to work on a film project in Colby. Filled with boy troubles, before-college jitters, and a fantastic ending (such a surprise, but I loved it!), this book encompasses many of the ups and downs of that notorious summer.

the beginning of everything cover6. The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider

This book takes place during senior year, with  its many trials, tribulations, and terrific experiences. It’s as much about friendship, change, and growing up as it is about romance, which I thought was really refreshing to read about in a contemporary YA novel. The unique perspective that senior year brings is also emphasized really well in this book: the knowledge that this is the last time you’ll see the majority of your classmates, and the liberation that comes with this realization.

the tragedy paper7. The Tragedy Paper by Elizabeth LaBan

Senior year at a boarding school- what more could you want in a book? I LOVE boarding school books, and this one was made even better by its interesting premise. It’s a story within a story, and it’s really cool to see the history and present kind of mirror each other in an odd way. It didn’t completely blow me away, but it nevertheless left an impression on me!

please ignore vera dietz8. Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King

Quirky and sorrowful, with a bit of the supernatural thrown in for good measure- sound interesting? The premise of this book is difficult to explain, in part because it’s just so strange. Vera is a senior in high school who is dealing with the loss of her best friend on top of all the other struggles of the time. But there’s an added layer of mystery, because she talks to Charlie. But he’s dead. I’m still not really entirely sure how that all worked, but it was interesting to read about nevertheless!

nick and norah's infinite playlist9. Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

Oh, those wild teenage emotions! Those crazy nights of reckless abandon and unforgettable adventures! My senior year has been nothing like that of Nick and Norah’s, but honestly I’m pretty okay with that. Taking place over the course of a single insane night in New York City, this story is one that will make you constantly wonder: Where are these kids’ parents? 

An Abundance of Katherines by John Green10. An Abundance of Katherines by John Green

I thought it would be great to begin and end with a wonderful John Green book, so here we go! This book takes place during Colin Singleton’s last summer before college, in which he has to emotionally recover from his most recent messy relationship with a Katherine. Hilarious, thought-provoking, and spontaneous, this story will make you view relationships in a completely different way.

What books about high school seniors do you enjoy the most? What do you think of the books on my list? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: Where are they now?

nfn tttWelcome to another Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish! This week the topic is a really fun one: Top Ten Characters You’d Like to Check In With. These are characters that you’d like to have a conversation with long after the book ended to see where they are now and what they have done with their lives- at least, that’s how I view this prompt! Here are my picks, in no particular order:

jellicoe road cover1. Taylor Markham from Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

Taylor has such a rough time in the beginning of this story, but by the end things are finally starting to fall into place for her. I’d love to see what she ends up doing with her life, how her relationship with Jonah Griggs is, and how she is holding up emotionally. I have a feeling she’s doing just fine, but it would still be lovely to talk to her.

great expectations cover2. Pip from Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

The ending of this classic novel is very different from what I expected it to be, and it would be  very interesting to see if Pip’s new relationship lasts. It seemed too happy and perfect for the story, especially considering the bittersweet tone of the rest of the novel. Is Pip finally happy with his life? I hope so!

paper towns cover3. Margo from Paper Towns by John Green

Margo is such an enigmatic girl. I can sort of understanding her reasoning at the end of Paper Towns, but not completely. What she did was sort of selfish and didn’t really make sense. I’d love to sit and chat with her about why she did what she did, if she regretted it, and what her plans were for the future. I’ve read this book several times, but I still have a lot questions!

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger conver4. Holden Caulfield from The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

I’ve read this novel twice now, and each time I read it I’m filled with a desire to know what happens to Holden Caulfield after the last page. Does he receive the help he clearly needs? Does he meet a girl and fall in love? Is he happy? What does he end up doing for a job? I have so many questions for poor, misunderstood Holden, and I would love to hear his answers!

the great gatsby cover5. Nick Carraway from The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Nick Carraway is quite an extra wheel in this novel, but he is nevertheless greatly impacted by Gatsby and the events his infatuation with Daisy lead to. What does he end up doing with his life? Does he ever regret meeting Gatsby, or does he miss his companionship? How does he feel about the Buchanans? So many questions!

tfios6. Hazel from The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

This one has always lingered in the back of my mind, and I think it would be so interesting to find out what Hazel ends up doing with her life after everything that happens. I think she has incredible potential as an intelligent, independent, down-to-earth young woman, and I hope that she finds happiness again.

eleanor and park cover7. Eleanor and Park from Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

I won’t spoil the ending of this novel for you in case you haven’t read it, but let’s just say that it’s definitely a cliffhanger! Most books in this genre end with a more defined ending, but this one really took me by surprise. I would love to find out what Eleanor and Park do in the future and what happens with their relationship.

the goldfinch cover8. Theo from The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt 

Theo makes some crazy decisions in this novel that I really disagree with, and I would love to talk to him and figure out his motivations for making them. His life is filled with twists and turns, and I think it would be really interesting to see if they continued after the story ended. Has he lived a calm life since then, or has he experienced even more ups and downs? It would be a fascinating conversation, that’s for sure!

beloved cover9. Denver from Beloved by Toni Morrison

Throughout this novel I couldn’t help feeling bad for Denver, because she was the victim of her mother’s terribly haunting experiences and memories. Not only was she just a child, but she hardly knew anything of the outside world because she wasn’t allowed to interact with many other people. Our conversation would indeed be a serious and sorrowful one, but I can’t help but think that it would be a bit hopeful as well.

lord of the rings cover10. Frodo from The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

I just had to include this trilogy somehow because I love it so very much! I think that any of the characters in this epic story would be wonderful to chat with, but I’d particularly like to have a conversation with Frodo. He went through so much to get the Ring to Mount Doom, and I’d love to hear about any of the adventures he had after he returned to the Shire.

Writing this post has made me realize what a strong connection we form with fictional characters. We feel as though we’ve known them all our lives, like they are friends we haven’t spoken to in quite some time. I think that’s part of the power and beauty of reading, and I wish that more people would appreciate such a wonderful aspect of literature- and all forms of storytelling, for that matter.

What do you think of my list? Which fictional characters would you like to check in with? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Rambles

on margo roth spiegelman.

Since today is International Women’s Day, I thought I would take the time to discuss one of my favorite female characters: Margo Roth Spiegelman from John Green’s novel Paper Towns.

If you’ve read the book, you might be a bit confused. Margo is not a very friendly, compassionate, or lovable person, and the decision she makes at the end of the book absolutely drives me insane. She is resolutely stubborn, often selfish, and seems addicted to dangerous adventures that make everyone worry about her safety. So why do I admire her so  much? The answer is simple: she is an independent young woman who is determined to live life the way she wants to.

At first, Margo seems like the stereotypical popular girl in high school- she’s attractive, has major boyfriend-drama to deal with, and doesn’t really talk to those in “lower” social cliques. But this image is shattered when she embarks on a quest for revenge with Quentin one night. Possibly my favorite scene in the entire book occurs when they are at the top of a tall building, looking out at the rest of the city. In a burst of surprising truth, Margo says:

“Here’s what’s not beautiful about it: from here, you can’t see the rust or the cracked paint or whatever, but you can tell what the place really is. You can see how fake it all is. It’s not even hard enough to be made out of plastic. It’s a paper town. I mean, look at it, Q: look at all those culs-de-sac, those streets that turn in on themselves, all the houses that were built to fall apart. All those paper people living in their paper houses, burning the future to stay warm. All the paper kids drinking beer some bum bought for them at the paper convenience store. Everyone demented with the mania of owning things. All the things paper-thin and paper-frail. And all the people, too. I’ve lived here for eighteen years and I have never once in my life come across anyone who cares about anything that matters.”

Margo is wise beyond her years, and if this quote doesn’t prove that then I don’t know what will. She has realized something that many adults either aren’t aware of or refuse to accept: there is more to life than material possessions, than mere things. Trying to fill some empty void in your happiness with objects is a venture doomed to fail. She is disgusted with herself for caring so much about her meaningless relationship with her stupid boyfriend, the “friends” that had not thought twice about betraying her, and the newest gadget that she just had to own. She hates society for making her this way, for transforming her into this shallow, materialistic shell of a girl as she aged. So she decides to run away, to live the life she wishes she had been living all along.

Would I like to be friends with Margo? No, not really. Her personality is not a very likable one, and I’m not sure if she would make a great friend. However, this doesn’t mean that I don’t still admire her. Margo is selfish because she is trying to find happiness, and who can blame her for that? In this regard, don’t we all have a bit of Margo inside of us? It is her independence and her ability to go after what she wants with such great determination that I admire. Despite her flaws and her inner turmoil she is strong, ambitious, and wise. She’s not perfect, but who is?

Which fiction female characters do you admire? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Books

top books I reread in 2013

In no particular order, here is a list of the top books I reread in 2013! As always, each book title is a link to my review of it.

  1. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
  2. An Abundance of Katherines by John Green
  3. Paper Towns by John Green
  4. Looking for Alaska by John Green
  5. Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley
  6. On the Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
  7. The Outcasts of 19 Schuyler Place by E.L. Konigsburg

I just realized that John Green has sort of dominated my list here… if you have never read a book by John Green before, OH MY GOD GO READ ONE RIGHT THIS INSTANT. They are all AMAZING.

Have you read any of these books? What did you think of them? Let me know in the comments section below or tweet me @Nutfreenerd.

Yours,

HOLLY

Quotes

QUOTE: John Green

“She was not an adventure. She was not a fine and precious thing. She was a girl.” ~Paper Towns by John Green

Yours,

HOLLY

Books

Book Review: PAPER TOWNS

paper towns coverAuthor: John Green

Number of Pages: 305

Publisher: Speak

Release Date: October 16, 2008

“Quentin Jacobsen has spent a lifetime loving the magnificently adventurous Margo Roth Spiegelman from afar. So when she cracks open a window and climbs back into his life—dressed like a ninja and summoning him for an ingenious campaign of revenge—he follows.

After their all-nighter ends and a new day breaks, Q arrives at school to discover that Margo, always an enigma, has now become a mystery. But Q soon learns that there are clues—and they’re for him. Urged down a disconnected path, the closer he gets, the less Q sees of the girl he thought he knew.”

– Goodreads.com

The first time I read this book, Margo angered me. Why did she have to be so uncooperative, so difficult to figure out, so stubborn? Why did she insist on putting on a show in public and locking her real personality deep inside? Why couldn’t she give anyone straight answers, and why did she have to be so blatantly selfish? I couldn’t understand Margo the first time I read this novel, and as a consequence a negative light bathed her whenever her image appeared in my mind. However, after reading it a few more times I have found that I can actually relate with Margo. She feels as though the town in which she lives is fake- “paper” is how she describes it, hence the title of the novel. She is conscious of the fact that at times she, too, is paper. I can connect with Margo because there are times when I feel similar things. I know several people (primarily my peers at school) who put on a show whenever they are in public. They appear to be vain, selfish, and conceited, but when you talk to them alone they seem very down-to-earth. Why can’t they be so nice all of the time? How can people who are so fake live with themselves? How can you be happy living a life like that? There are a lot of paper people in the world.

I can also relate with Quentin a lot. One of the themes of this book is the way we imagine other people in our minds. On page 282, he says, “What a treacherous thins it is to believe that a person is more than a person.” I know that I have experienced this feeling a lot. Sometimes when you are really good friends with someone, you have a lot of respect for them, or you simply adore them, it is easy to think that they are without flaws. This is so easy to do, in fact, that sometimes we tell ourselves that they are perfect. We believe this until they make a mistake and it jerks us back to reality. On page 199, Quentin says, “Margo was not a miracle. She was not an adventure. She was not a fine and precious thing. She was a girl.” That simple truth is one that we should always keep in the back of our minds. People are humans- nothing more, and nothing less.

Paper Towns is by far one of my favorite books. John Green is a spectacular author who deserves way more credit than he gets.

My Rating: :0) :0) :0) :0) :0) 5 out of 5 smileys.

Would I recommend it to a friend?: ABSOLUTELY! If you have not read this book, then I highly encourage that you do so!

Yours,

HOLLY