Tags

The Totally Should’ve Book Tag | 2

Hope you’re all having a lovely Friday! Today I’m here with the Totally Should’ve Book Tag, which I was tagged for by Norees @ Nor Reads Too Great.  This tag was created by EmmmaBooks. I’ve done this tag once before, but I always like repeating tags because it’s interesting to see how my answers change (if you’d like, you can check out my first version of this tag here). Without further ado, let’s get to it!

Totally should’ve gotten a sequel

I would love to know what happens to Ifemelu next in Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I feel like there’s so much of her story left to tell, especially since the novel doesn’t leave off on a particularly conclusive note. And this book was so popular that I feel like she would definitely have an audience for it… just saying! (*hopes that somehow Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is listening*)

Totally should’ve had a spin-off series

I would gobble up a spin-off series based on one of the side characters in Maggie Stiefvaters Raven Cycle. Can you imagine a series based on Gansey? Or Ronan? Or Noah? Or any of Blue’s family members? Or even someone else living in the same town experiencing similar fantastical things? I would even take a series of novellas about different characters… honestly, these are golden ideas here!

An author who should totally write more books

adore both of Mindy’s Kalings books (Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) and Why Not Me?) and have been (im)patiently waiting for her to write more. I love reading personal essays/memoirs like these, especially when they’re written with the humor, wit, genuineness, and eloquence of Mindy Kaling’s writing style.

Totally should’ve ended differently

Although I thought Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel was excellent, I thought it would have gone in a very different direction than it did. I’m not necessarily saying that it needed to end differently, but it would be interesting to see what the novel could have been like had she taken another path with it. (Really, I would have liked more answers. I just want closure!)

Totally should’ve had a movie franchise

Honestly, Sarah Dessen deserves a movie franchise more than any other author I know. She’s written so many novels that could have been turned into teenage rom-coms by now!! Why hasn’t anyone picked these up? Why has all the glory gone to Nicholas Sparks, or even John Green? (Although don’t get me wrong, I love a good John Green book/movie.) This may be the greatest wonder of the world.

Totally should’ve had a TV series

Rather than be a four hour film, I feel like Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell might be better suited to being a TV series. Imagine all the details that could be expanded upon in a TV series! They could include all the little events of this 1057 page tome and have plenty of time for fully explained character development. And think of the time they could spend showing the setting! Ah, this would be such a good television series…

Totally should’ve only had one point of view

Although I really admire Yvonne Vera’s novel The Stone Virgins for its striking, powerful look at violence in Zimbabwean society before, during, and after the war for independence, the alternating perspectives between the victim and the rapist/murderer are very, very, very unsettling. I understand that the novel wouldn’t have the same hard-hitting impact without it, but having to read and write about this book over and over and over again was pretty challenging emotionally.

Totally should’ve had a cover change

I love a good random Faulkner novel, but I feel like there are very few pretty editions of his books. Are cover designers trying to match the often somber, dark tone of his novels? Or have they just given up because they figure Faulkner novels are dull classics that aren’t really worth spicing up with a pleasant cover design? (I beg to differ!) All I’m saying is that we Faulkner fans would greatly appreciate a little bit of pizazz when it comes to his cover designs (or some attractive font at the very least).

Totally should’ve kept the original covers

I’m going with Sarah Dessen again for this one (maybe because summer always nostalgically reminds me of Sarah Dessen?). I grew up with the older covers, the ones with the girls without heads, and now whenever I see these new covers I’m so confused. Although I admit that these may be more aesthetically pleasing to look at, I can’t help but miss the old ones!

Totally should’ve stopped at one book

I’m pretty sure this was my answer for this prompt when I did this tag the first time, and if so I wholeheartedly stand by it: I just saw no reason that Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games had to be a trilogy that seemed to drag and repeat itself. Personally, I feel like The Hunger Games would have been perfectly fine as a longer novel, or at the very least a duology.

There you have it! Thanks again to Norees for tagging me! To pass along the fun, I’d like to tag Christine @ Life with All the Books, Jenna @ Bookmark Your Thoughts,  and Emma @ Daylight Awaits–and anyone else who would like to do this tag!

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

Yours,

HOLLY

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Books

11 Reasons to Read STATION ELEVEN by Emily St. John Mandel

One snowy night a famous Hollywood actor slumps over and dies onstage during a production of King Lear. Hours later, the world as we know it begins to dissolve. Moving back and forth in time-from the actor’s early days as a film star to fifteen years in the future, when a theater troupe known as the Traveling Symphony roams the wasteland of what remains – this suspenseful, elegiac, spellbinding novel charts the strange twists of fate that connect five people: the actor, the man who tried to save him, the actor’s first wife, his oldest friend, and a young actress with the Traveling Symphony, caught in the crosshairs of a dangerous self-proclaimed prophet. {Goodreads}

Station Eleven popped onto my reading radar in 2014 when it was first published, intriguing me with its blend of post-apocalyptic plot, Shakespearian elements, and gorgeous cover design. Years passed and I never got around to reading it–that is, until recently when one of my friends mentioned that it’s one of her favorite books ever… and she had a copy of it with her in Oxford! How could I say no to this golden opportunity? I’m so glad I finally read Station Eleven, and here are 11 reasons why you should, too:

1. A creative twist on a popular genre. It’s no secret that post-apocalypse fiction and storytelling in both books and movies has become much more popular in the last decade or so. However, Mandel has breathed fresh air into this genre by adding a unique, creative twist on what you would usually expect. It doesn’t feel stale at all, which is greatly appreciated.

2. So. Many. Characters. There are so many characters in this book that sometimes it’s hard to keep track; however, I think Mandel does a great job of balancing their perspectives and stories within the context of the rest of the novel. Hearing from so many points of view also keeps the plot moving quickly.

3. Incorporation of different text formats. I love books that include emails, letters, texts, etc. between characters, and Station Eleven is no exception. Not only do they help keep things interesting by switching up the writing style, but they also make the characters seem more realistic.

4. Creepy, eerie, and suspenseful atmosphere. Reading this novel alone in your bedroom at night is sure to make you check under your bed twice before turning off the lights. Even so, I couldn’t put this book down because I was so invested in knowing what would happen next.

5. A gorgeous cover. How could I not give this amazing cover design some time in the spotlight?

6. Shakespearian elements. If you’ve been following my blog for a while (or have seen this post or this post) then you’re probably aware of my love-hate relationship with the Bard. I was worried that you would need actual knowledge of Shakespeare in order to enjoy this story, but fortunately that’s not the case. Still, I did enjoy the whole premise of keeping arts and literature alive in times of utter struggle.

7. Orchestra banter. I played in my school’s orchestra for about ten years growing up (go second violins!) so I really enjoyed the simultaneously witty and cheesy orchestra banter that went on between the members of the Traveling Symphony. Makes me miss my orchestra days!

8. Unsettlingly believable. Some books in this end-of-the-world genre tend to be a little far-fetched and unrealistic; however, I completely believe that some sort of flu like the one in Station Eleven could wipe out the planet some day. Scary!

9. Past, present, and future. Instead of focusing solely on what happens after society has collapsed, a significant portion of this novel takes place in these characters’ pasts, exploring how they got to where they are in the present time of the story. I love this narrative decision because it adds depth to the novel and makes the reader more invested in the characters by learning how far they’ve come up until this point.

10. Character-driven story. Unlike many novels in this genre, Station Eleven is largely driven by characters rather than plot, most likely due in part to the point previously mentioned. This was such a nice surprise!

11. The ending. Since this novel is focused more on characters than plot, the ending tied up many personal loose ends while leaving the plot or the future of the characters rather ambiguous. I thought it perfectly reflected the tone of the rest of the novel.

Have I convinced you to read Station Eleven? Have you already read this novel? What are your thoughts on it? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Classic Couple

A Classic Couple: Between the Acts and Station Eleven

I never thought I would be pairing a Virginia Woolf novel with a post-apocalyptic book, but here we are! This week’s Classic Couple features Virginia Woolf’s 1941 novel Between the Acts and Emily St. John Mandel’s 2014 novel Station Eleven. Although these texts are strikingly different in many ways, a closer look reveals some interesting similarities that are worth mentioning here.

Theatre || Perhaps the most obvious similarity between these two novels is the significant role that theatre plays in their plots. In Between the Acts, an audience watches on the lawn as a play is performed before them by their family and friends. The play is a sort of collage of English history, ultimately ending in a display of mirrors that reflects the audience members’ own images back at them to contemplate. In Station Eleven, a traveling theatre troupe and orchestra performs Shakespeare plays for people them come across in the post-apocalyptic future. While not everyone they meet is friendly, the majority of viewers are grateful for the small semblance of normalcy that the performances offer.

Stressful settings || Station Eleven clearly has a very stressful setting: a world that has been destroyed by sickness and seized by corruption, danger, and uncertainty in the aftermath. Although Between the Acts may appear to be quite peaceful in comparison, its context–set in 1939 at the outbreak of World War II- is actually incredibly desperate. Here Woolf challenges the reader to see past the facade of the rather whimsical play and look at what is really going on underneath; in other words, what is literally happening between the acts. (Can I just say that I love the title of this novel?)

Focus on characters || Last but not least, both of these novels place an important emphasis on characters rather than plot. Each cast of characters is wide and varied, representing different generations, socioeconomic classes, and beliefs. Both of these books end in vague and ambiguous ways, leaving it up to the reader to decide what happens beyond the last page. These open-ended conclusions underscore the irrelevancy of the plot in light of character development and growth. While we only get snapshots of characters throughout Between the Acts and Station Eleven, they are enough to make us feel invested in their lives and stories.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this foray into two distinct yet surprisingly similar novels. I would highly recommend both of these books!

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 Between the Acts or Station Eleven? What are your thoughts on either or both of these books? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Monthly Wrap-Up

MARCH 2018 | Wrap-Up

{When you realize half way through April that you forgot to schedule your March wrap-up before you left to travel for two weeks… oops! Better late than never, right?!}

It’s official, folks: we’re one-fourth of the way through 2018! I’m pretty sure I say this literally every month, but it’s so hard to believe that the months are flying by this quickly. Not only was March a transitional month in terms of weather, but it also marked my transition from Hilary term to a sprawling five-week spring break. (SO. MUCH. TIME.) Here’s what I’ve been up to for the past month:

In March I read a total of 14 books:

  1. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
  2. Willa Cather: A Life Saved Up by Hermione Lee
  3. Life in the Iron Mills by Rebecca Harding Davis
  4. Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House by Michael Wolff
  5. Happily by Chauncey Rogers
  6. The Grim Grotto by Lemony Snicket
  7. Between the Acts by Virginia Woolf
  8. A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf
  9. Orlando by Virginia Woolf
  10. Call Me By Your Name by André Aciman
  11. To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
  12. Talking as Fast as I Can by Lauren Graham
  13. The Penultimate Peril by Lemony Snicket
  14. The End by Lemony Snicket

Much to my surprise, my favorite book I read in March was Between the Acts by Virginia Woolf. This novel is part of my assigned reading for my upcoming Virginia Woolf tutorial in Trinity term, so I figured I would get a head start over my spring break and try to get some reading done early. As the last book Woolf ever wrote, Between the Acts is not often considered her best work by literary critics. However, my low expectations (relatively low, since Woolf is a brilliant writer) were absolutely shattered. I adore this novel. You know a book is great when your first instinct upon finishing it is to turn back to the beginning and start reading again (which I would have done had I not had so much other required reading to get to…). If you’ve never read Between the Acts before, I highly recommend it!

+ MOVIE: This month I had a favorite show rather than a favorite movie: the 1995 BBC mini-series adaptation of Pride and Prejudice starring Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth. I decided to watch it on a whim one night and before I knew it I had finished it a few days later, completely invested in seeing how the story played out on screen despite the fact that I’ve already read the novel several times. So much cheesy dialogue! Awkward interactions! Romantic suspense! If you’re ever looking for something fun and heartwarming to watch on Netflix, definitely check out this mini-series if you haven’t already!

+ MUSIC: I’ve always enjoyed the songs by Lorde that I’ve heard on the radio over the years, but I never actually listened to her most recent album Melodrama in full until this month. I am not exaggerating when I say I have lost count of how many times I’ve listened to this album on repeat in the last few weeks. It’s dramatic and moody and angsty but so, so catchy. A few of my favorite songs are “Homemade Dynamite,” “The Louvre,” and “Supercut.”

+ FOOD: This month I had the best ice cream sundae I’ve ever had in my entire life. I don’t often get to enjoy ice cream that I don’t make myself due to my nut allergy, but my mom found a shop in London called Yorica that is free from every major allergen except soy. I was living. Waffles?! Brownie pieces?! Flavors besides vanilla?! If you’re ever in London and want some delicious allergen-free treats, I HIGHLY recommend stopping by Yorica!

+ PLACE: LONDON. I’ve spent so much time in London this month that I was actually able to navigate parts of it without using a map when my mom came to visit. Normally I’m not a huge fan of cities in general, but there’s something about London that makes it feel different from other cities I’ve visited. Maybe it’s the lack of looming skyscrapers like in New York City or the relative quiet compared to bustling Boston. I can’t wait to keep exploring this remarkable city!

March went from a snow-covered Oxford at the end of Hilary term to a relatively sunnier spring break in no time at all. So much happened in March that I can hardly write about it all– visits from many family and friends, trips to London, strolls through museums, afternoons in cafes, and even a day at a nearby palace. As the end of my year abroad approaches (eek!!!) I’ve been gradually diving back into the world of Wheaton through picking classes, sorting out housing for next year, and thinking about what I’ll be doing over the summer. So much seems to be happening at once lately!

At George Street Social, one of my favorite cafes in Oxford.
Me standing in front of the gorgeous Blenheim Palace.
The Baker Street tube station… Sherlock, anyone?
Fueling my Les Mis obsession one street at a time.
A photo of a photo of my mom in front of the Radcliffe Camera in Oxford.

Stay tuned for many, many posts about all of my traveling adventures in the near future!!

 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 March? 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

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: Longtime Members of My TBR

Happy Tuesday!! This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic (hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl) exposes all of those books we’ve been putting off reading for months and months (and years and years…). Today I’m going to share the unread books that have been on my TBR the longest. (Hopefully I’ll be able to read at least a few of these this year! No promises, though…)

Which books have been on your TBR for the longest time? What do you think of the books on my list? Which one of these should read first? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY