Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: Appreciated, Not Enjoyed

Happy Tuesday!! As per usual, I’ve decided to switch up this week’s Top Ten Tuesday theme a bit (hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl). The theme is supposed to be Books I Disliked/Hated but Am Really Glad I Read; however, I often find it hard to list many books that I really dislike because I tend to like most of the books I read. I say this all the time, but it might be more accurate to say that I end up either enjoying or appreciating most of the books I read. For me, there’s a big difference between genuinely finding pleasure in reading a book and appreciating it for various historical/cultural/textual reasons. I might appreciate a book’s writing style or historical significance, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that I had a great time reading it. Today I’m going to share ten books that I appreciated but didn’t enjoy reading. 

The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway

This novel is always a go-to answer for me when it comes to this dichotomy. I’ve read this book twice (once on my own, once for a college course) and I just really can’t get past Hemingway’s choppy, dull writing style. However, I do appreciate this novel for being interesting to study (what would we do without all of that bull symbolism?!).

Moby Dick by Herman Melville

I’ve never properly studied Moby Dick in a classroom setting, but reading it on my own one summer was enough for me. While I appreciate it as an important work of literature, there’s just far too much information about whaling in this novel for me to genuinely enjoy reading it.

Basically anything by William Shakespeare

I’ve talked about my love-hate relationship with Shakespeare many times before on this blog, so I feel like this one goes without explanation. (Although if you want more clarification, you can read this post that I published a while back).

Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe

While I appreciate the historical significance of this novel in light of the Civil War and race relations in the United States, I couldn’t get past the stereotypical caricatures of slaves that this text promulgates. It might have been a step in the right direction back in the nineteenth century, but it certainly is a step in the wrong direction now. This is a case when historical context is definitely a huge factor when thinking about the work as a whole.

Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens

In general, I am a big fan of Charles Dickens. His novel Great Expectations is one of the books that initially made me fall in love with reading classics and I love his witty, dramatic, creative writing style. While I appreciate Oliver Twist as a work by Dickens, I couldn’t help but be disappointed by how dark and sad this novel is. I’ll be the first to admit that this is entirely a personal preference– I just don’t enjoy reading really sad books!

On the Road by Jack Kerouac

There’s no denying that On the Road is an iconic text with an important literary influence in terms of the Beat and counterculture movements of postwar America. However, it’s frustrating to read something that seems to go on and on and on forever with little structure or direction. I understand that’s the point of the novel… but that doesn’t mean I have to enjoy it!

Dracula by Bram Stoker

While I admit that this novel is really fun to study and write about, reading it always feels like such a chore. Once you get past the initial iconic scenes in the creepy castle, the rest of the novel moves much too slowly for my taste. I feel like a good portion of the middle could definitely be cut out.

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

To be fair, I don’t actually remember anything about this novel from when I read it many years ago. All I know is that in 2012 I rated it one out of five stars on Goodreads and all I wrote in my review is: “This was probably one of the worst books I have ever read.” Holly of the past was HARSH.

Basically anything by Stephen King

While I appreciate Stephen King for being a prolific writer of numerous creative, unique, meticulously crafted books, I just can’t get past his choppy, terse writing style. (Similar to how I feel about Hemingway… can you tell this is a trend?)

Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift

I feel as though I would really enjoy this book if I studied it in the proper historical/political context; however, when I read it a few years ago I couldn’t help but feel as though much of the satire and historical significance went right over my head.

What books have you appreciated but not necessarily enjoyed reading? What do you think of the books on my list? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

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Books

ON WRITING by Stephen King | Review

“Long live the King” hailed Entertainment Weekly upon publication of Stephen King’s On Writing. Part memoir, part master class by one of the bestselling authors of all time, this superb volume is a revealing and practical view of the writer’s craft, comprising the basic tools of the trade every writer must have. King’s advice is grounded in his vivid memories from childhood through his emergence as a writer, from his struggling early career to his widely reported, near-fatal accident in 1999–and how the inextricable link between writing and living spurred his recovery. Brilliantly structured, friendly and inspiring, On Writing will empower and entertain everyone who reads it–fans, writers, and anyone who loves a great story well told. {Goodreads}

I’ve been around Stephen King’s books and stories for most of my life. Not only is my mother a huge fan of his writing, but it’s sort of difficult to grow up as a self-proclaimed bookworm and not be around his books. Stephen King is a prolific writer with the added popularity of many of his books being made into movies and television shows. Although I’ve only read a few of his books (The Gunslinger, which I disliked, and The Shining, which I enjoyed), I have nevertheless always admired King for his remarkable creativity and ability to write so much. When I learned that he had written a memoir all about his life as a writer and how he goes about the writing process I knew that I would have to read it. So, in the airport waiting to fly back to Oxford, I began.

On Writing is a perfect blend of personal memoir and writing advice. In a book like this I feel as though starting with the more personal parts is necessary in order to give the reader context and establish credibility with the audience. Who is this man, and what makes him qualified to dish out advice? (Even though I’m pretty sure most of us could answer those two questions without a moment’s hesitation.) It’s also reassuring to learn that King did not immediately become a bestselling author the first time he put a pen to paper; rather, he worked tirelessly to improve his writing over time through incessant practice and persistently putting his work out there for others to see. This personal section also helped put a lot of King’s work in perspective and would likely be even more interesting for someone more familiar with several of his novels.

There are countless points in this book that I found myself nodding my head along with, endlessly surprised by the way King is somehow able to put into words what the process of writing actually feels like. He manages to articulate precisely how it feels when you suddenly have a spark of inspiration as well as the uncertainty of not knowing what direction your writing should take next. Most importantly, he deftly describes how important and necessary writing feels to those who do it.

“Writing is not life, but I think that sometimes it can be a way back to life.”

However, I think it should be said that, like any advice, King’s tips and tricks for writing should be taken with a grain of salt. Not everyone has the luxury of being able to carve out enough time in the day to consistently write thousands of words. The tone of the book can also definitely come off a bit cocky and flippant– although I suppose if you’ve been as successful as Stephen King, you can sort of get away with this. To King’s credit, he does make it clear that this advice is just that: advice, not writing rules set in stone. This book is nothing if not authentic, genuine, and brutally honest.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading On Writing and would definitely return to it again in the future for some inspiration and important reminders. While I don’t necessarily agree with all of King’s advice, I do appreciate his honesty and willingness to be so open with readers. It makes me want to read more of his fiction now!

What are your thoughts on On Writing? Do you have a favorite book by Stephen King? What’s your best piece of writing advice? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Awards

Sunshine Blogger Award | 5

Today I’m here with the Sunshine Blogger Award. Thanks so much to Kayla @ Kayla’s Book Nook for nominating me!!

1. Where was the last place you travelled, and when was it?

To Oxford, England where I’m currently studying abroad.

2. How many physical books do you own?

Now that you mention it, I’ve never actually counted how many books I own… but I would venture to say at least fifty. I’m currently whittling my way through my physical TBR, and my goal is to read all of the unread books that I own by this summer so I can donate the ones I don’t want.

3. Under what circumstances would you DNF a book?

It’s rare for me to give up on a book, but it’s definitely happened before! Usually when I DNF a book it’s because I can’t see myself taking anything meaningful away from the reading experience. The problem could also be an annoying protagonist, which is one of my biggest bookish pet peeves.

4. What was the last movie you saw in theatres? Did you enjoy it?

The last movie I saw in theatres was Star Wars: The Last Jedi and I really enjoyed it! It’s certainly not my favorite of the bunch, but it was great nonetheless.

5. Share your favorite meme or GIF!

I love any and all GIFs of this dancing pumpkin guy– no matter what season we’re currently in! I’ve always wanted to dress up as him for Halloween (maybe next year!).

6. Tell me a teaser sentence from the book you’re currently reading!

“It starts with this: put your desk in the corner, and every time you sit down there to write, remind yourself why it isn’t in the middle of the room. Life isn’t a support-system for art. It’s the other way around.”  ~ On Writing by Stephen King

7. What device do you use to write your blog posts (computer, phone, etc.)?

I always use my laptop because it’s the most easy and convenient to use. I’ve never actually used the WordPress app before– what are your thoughts on it if you use it?

8. Tell me a little known fact about you that no other bloggers know.

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this on this blog before, but I love tap dancing. I started tapping when I was in elementary school and I’ve been a member of the tap dancing group at Wheaton for the past few years. I miss it now that I’m abroad!

9. Do you know your Myers-Briggs personality type? If so, what is it?

Yes! I’m an ISFJ, which according to 16Personalities means:

The ISFJ personality type is quite unique, as many of their qualities defy the definition of their individual traits. Though possessing the Feeling (F) trait, ISFJs have excellent analytical abilities; though Introverted (I), they have well-developed people skills and robust social relationships; and though they are a Judging (J) type, ISFJs are often receptive to change and new ideas. As with so many things, people with the ISFJ personality type are more than the sum of their parts, and it is the way they use these strengths that defines who they are.

10. What song is stuck in your head right now? (if any)

“Son of Man” from the Tarzan soundtrack. As always.

11. Give a shoutout to 5 awesome bloggers, and spread the love like confetti!

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

Yours,

HOLLY

Bookish

5 Books to Read If You Like TWIN PEAKS

Recently I finished watching Twin Peaks, the American drama TV series that ran from 1990-91. Created by Mark Frost and David Lynch, Twin Peaks follows the mysterious events transpire in this small town after the murder of Laura Palmer, a local high school student. The best way I can describe this show is that it’s charmingly bizarre (meaning that it’s incredibly weird but in a good way). I loved this show (except for the horrible ending, which I just won’t talk about because AGH) and since I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it I thought I would turn my enthusiasm into a bookish post.

If you’re a fan of Twin Peaks, then you’ve come to the right place for some book recommendations! Here are five books I think you’ll enjoy if you like Twin Peaks (and vice versa):

Far Far Away by Tom McNeal

If it’s the unexpectedly bizarre parts of Twin Peaks that you enjoyed most, then Far Far Away is the book for you. What’s more weird than a protagonist named Jeremy Johnson Johnson who can hear more voices than the average person, a talking ghost of Jacob Grimm, and a suspicious baker? It’s safe to say that I’ve never read anything quite like this entertaining, slightly twisted fairy tale retelling.

The Shining by Stephen King

I don’t think it’ll be a surprise to anyone that I’ve decided to include a Stephen King book in this list of recommendations. Not only are his books suspenseful and creepy like Twin Peaks, but they also tend to have a supernatural twist to them. It’s difficult to explain the kind of “otherworldly” elements in both Twin Peaks and The Shining (Is Jack Torrance being possessed by the hotel or is he just going insane?) which makes them a perfect pair.

The Woods by Harlan Coben

This murder mystery shares many parallels with Twin Peaks: the murders of teenagers, a woodsy setting, a protagonist called Cope (similar to Agent Cooper?), and a tangled web of characters that all have secrets of their own to look after. I read this while on a camping trip a few summers ago after my mom read it and absolutely loved it (on second thought, maybe a camping trip wasn’t the best place to read a murder mystery called The Woods…)

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Although this young adult fantasy book might seem out-of-place on this list at a first glance, in actuality it is more similar to Twin Peaks than it seems on the surface. Like Twin Peaks, The Raven Boys takes place in a small town where most people know each other, involves people with “otherworldly” powers, and focuses on the stories of both high schoolers and adults. (Also, Ronan sort of reminds me of the moody James who always rides a motorcycle on Twin Peaks, although I definitely like Ronan more.)

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

When I think about how I often describe Twin Peaks as being “charmingly bizarre,” the first book that comes to mind is Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane. Everything in this short novel is incredibly unexpected and told in a way that will keep you entranced until the very last page has been turned, similar to the captivating suspense of Twin Peaks.

I hope these recommendations are helpful! Are you a fan of Twin Peaks? What are your thoughts on the books I’ve mentioned? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: My Mom’s Favorite Books

Happy Tuesday!! In the spirit of the Mother’s Day season, this week’s Top Ten Tuesday theme is all about MOMS. Mothers are the real MVPs– I, for one, don’t know how I would have made it to this point in my life without mine. In honor of Mother’s Day I decided to have a little fun with this list by asking my mom to the best books she’s ever read. Without further ado, here are My Mom’s Top Ten Favorite Books!!!

What do you think of the books on this list? What are some of your mom’s favorite books? Do you celebrate Mother’s Day? Have any fun traditions? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

P.S. Shout out to my mom for actually doing this. You’re the best ❤

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: Reasons I’ll Read a Book ASAP

Happy Tuesday!! This week for Top Ten Tuesday I’ll be sharing the Top Ten Reasons I’ll Read a Book ASAP. In other words, these are some aspects of books that I look for when deciding what to read next. There are so many that I could list, but these are the first ones that come to mind.

1. An eye-catching cover design. I’m a sucker for a well-designed book cover, especially ones that are simple and have beautiful typography.

2. It’s written by one of my auto-read authors. There are some authors whose writing I will read no matter what the story or work is about. A few examples are John Green, Michael Crichton, and Joseph J. Ellis.

3. I love the author’s other work (both books and movies/shows/music/etc.). This applies to books written by people who are famous in other fields as well, such as acting, music, art, etc. A few of my personal favorites are Mindy Kaling, Stacy London, and George Watsky.

4. The book is highly recommended by my friends, professors, blogs, online reviews in general, etc. I love when people recommend books to me, especially when they are books that I’ve never heard of before. It’s the best feeling to discuss a book with the person who originally recommended it to you.

5. It has a boarding school setting. Surprise, surprise! I feel like I mention this fact a lot, but I’ve always gravitated towards books that take place at boarding schools or similar settings. I’ve loved Looking for Alaska by John Green, Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta– even Harry Potter!!

6. The story takes place during or around the Civil War in the United States. The Civil War in the United States has always fascinated me, likely due to the countless different factors that ultimately culminated in such an unthinkable event. For this reason, novels like Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell always capture my attention immediately.

7. I loved the movie adaptation. Though I prefer to read books before watching their movie adaptations, sometimes its unavoidable that I’ll do it in the reverse order. However, I’ve been fortunate enough to enjoy several books after seeing their movie adaptations, including The Shining by Stephen King and The Help by Kathryn Stockett.

8. It’s about hiking. Hiking mountains is one of my favorite things to do, which means that I also love to read about people’s personal experiences walking in the woods. For instance, I had a great time listening to the audio book of Wild by Cheryl Strayed.

9. It’s associated with a holiday. My enthusiasm for celebrating holidays definitely bleeds over into my reading choices. If it’s December and I see a book relating to Christmas, you can bet that I’m going to pick it up! A few recent examples of this are Skipping Christmas by John Grisham and My True Love Gave to Me, edited by Stephanie Perkins.

10. I can personally relate to a character’s experience in the story. If there’s a book about someone struggling with an allergy, trying to make it through college, or traveling abroad, then you can be sure that I’ll be picking it up ASAP!

What things will make you want to pick up a book? What do you think of the reasons I’ve listed? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: Writers I Would Love to Meet

Happy Tuesday!! This week’s Top Ten Tuesday theme is one that I could talk about forever. After all, who doesn’t want to meet all of their favorite authors? As per usual, I’ve done the difficult job of narrowing it down to just ten writers. In no particular order, they are:

What writers would you love to meet? What authors have you met? What do you think of the authors on my list? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Books

THE SHINING by Stephen King | Review

12977531I had never really been interested in reading Stephen King’s thriller The Shining– that is, until I saw the movie adaptation and became fascinated by the twisted and suspenseful story. Eager to see what it would look like in writing, I immediately made it a goal of mine to read the novel as soon as possible. Though I was surprised by how different the novel was from what I had seen on-screen, I still enjoyed it immensely.

A major strength of this novel is King’s impressive attention to detail, particularly regarding the backgrounds and development of the characters. Over time you come to realize that the Torrance family’s past is much darker and more complicated than first expected. It was simultaneously fascinating and unsettling to learn how Jack thinks, how he justifies his erratic and dangerous behavior even when it becomes harmful to his family. My favorite character was by far Mr. Hallorann, the chef at the Overlook Hotel who shared Danny’s “shining” abilities. Not only is he one of the only logical, sane people in this story, but he is also an incredibly caring and brave person. I loved his relationship with Danny and the way he seemed to care about him as though the boy was his own son.

mv5by2i4ztnlmgutzgflys00ndi4lwixotetyta0ytfhntdmnzvixkeyxkfqcgdeqxvyntgzmzu5mdi-_v1_ux182_cr00182268_al_At this point Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 movie adaptation of The Shining has become so iconic that is can be difficult to separate the novel from the film. Both the book and the movie adaptation have their own advantages and disadvantages, making it difficult to choose one over the other (so I won’t!). The book is obviously much more detailed in regard to the Torrance family’s background and further explains the extent of Jack and Wendy’s marital problems, Danny’s shining ability, and the financial desperation that prevents Jack from abandoning his job at the Overlook when circumstances take a turn for the worse. However, the downside to the incorporation of so many interesting details is that the pace of the plot slows down significantly, which is where the movie adaptation gains an advantage. Because fewer background details are shown on-screen, more time is dedicated to building as much suspense as possible and packing in the creepy punches. It seems as though most of the exciting action takes place in the last one hundred pages of the novel, meaning that the other five hundred or so pages could certainly use some more excitement.

Key scenes in the movie are not in the book. I know this is opposite of what I usually tend to complain about when it comes to movie adaptations (more often it bothers me when movie adaptations leave out details from books) but I think this is because in this case I watched the movie before reading the book. This might be an unfair complaint to make, but I’m going to say it anyways because it nevertheless impacted my opinion of the novel. I eagerly waited to read about the creepy twin girls, Wendy reading the utter nonsense that Jack had been typing on his typewriter, and the climactic chase between Jack and Danny in the maze. The plot of the novel was fine the way it was and made sense with the story it told; however, part of  me couldn’t help but feel disappointed that I wouldn’t get to read Stephen King’s description of Jack’s cold, icy face as he sat by the maze, defeated.

Overall, Stephen King’s The Shining is a standout thriller in its attention to detail and incorporation of family dynamics, human nature, and the perspective of a child into a twisted, creepy story. Whether or not you’ve seen the movie adaptation or are a fan of thrillers in general, The Shining is one book that you must add to your TBR list!

My Rating: :0) :0) :0) :0) 4 out of 5

Would I recommend it to a friend?: Definitely!

What are your thoughts on The Shining, either the book or the movie (or both)? Have you read the sequel? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,
HOLLY

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Wish Had A Faster Pace

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Happy Tuesday!! Have you ever wished that a story would pick up the speed just a little bit? (Or maybe a lot?) If so, you’re not alone! In this week’s installment of Top Ten Tuesday I’m sharing ten books that I wish had a faster pace. While I do love slow-burning novels driven by character development, it can never hurt to have an exciting plot to keep readers on their toes!

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Do you ever wish that certain books were more fast-paced? What do you think of the books on my list? Any recommendations for fast-paced books? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Monthly Wrap-Up

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