Top Ten Tuesday: Best Books I Read in 2018

Happy New Year!! I know this was technically last week’s topic, but shhh! I’m going to do it anyways because I didn’t get a chance to do it yet. I ended up reading way more books than I expected to in 2018, so picking just ten was actually pretty difficult. In the order that I read them, they are:

1. Girl Up by Laura Bates

This is one of the first books I read in 2018 and I can’t think of a better way to start a reading year off right. Although I think this book is technically geared toward young women in their teens, I think it is an important and valuable read for women at any age. In addition to the witty, intelligent writing in this book, the graphics are also fantastic in and of themselves.

2. What Happened by Hillary Rodham Clinton

I distinctly remember listening to Hillary narrate the audio book version of What Happened and I’ve found myself thinking about it frequently since then, even all these months later. Politics aside, Hillary offers some fascinating food for thought regarding being a woman in  the professional work sphere as well as what it’s like to suddenly have your private life become a public spectacle.

3. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

Another great audio book listen of 2018! Although it took a while to get through, I really enjoyed reading story that sparked the amazing musical that I was lucky enough to see performed on the West End while in London. It’s always interesting to note the differences between page and performance; however, I think experiencing both in this case gave me a greater appreciation for each!

4. A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf

After taking an entire term solely on Virginia Woolf while at Oxford, I think A Room of One’s Own is the one that has made me think the most. So many aspects of this book are still applicable today–or at least the sentiment behind her words is still relevant today–and I found solace in the fact that even one of the most brilliant minds I have ever read something by struggled with these sorts of issues.

5. Call Me By Your Name by André Aciman

This novel was everywhere in 2018, and for good reason: it is beautiful, lyrical, and captivatingly emotional. I remember visiting several bookshops in Amsterdam over my spring break and being overjoyed to see displays of this novel in many of them. Something about its story is so universally human.

6. Butterfly Burning by Yvonne Vera

Ahh, the novel that sparked my honors thesis! I feel such gratitude towards this novel for making me think about literature, feminism, and individual independence in ways that I never had before. If you want a challenging, eye-opening, heart-wrenching, thought-provoking read then I highly, highly recommend picking this one up!

7. Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga

Nervous Conditions is another vital novel in terms of my honors thesis and such a formative reading experience regarding thinking about the importance of multiplicity in stories and experiences. Learning that this novel is actually the first in a trilogy written over the course of decades was just icing on the cake!

8. The Lost World by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Jurassic Park has been one of my favorite movies and books for a long time, so you can imagine how surprised and ecstatic I was when I stumbled upon this novel in the Blackwell’s Bookshop in Oxford. I had had no idea that the modern story was inspired by this early novel–and what a novel it is!

9. Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

I read this essay at a time when its message was exactly what I needed to hear. I love how bold, direct, assertive, and confident Adichie is in this text. I think I’d even go so far as to say that it’s one of the most empowering things I have ever read.

10. The Human Stain by Philip Roth

Surprising to see a Roth book on this list after how much I complained about my Philip Roth senior seminar this semester? Honestly, so am I. I came to appreciate Roth as a writer, and the way he writes about identity in this novel really made me think.

What are the top ten books you read in 2019? What do you think of the books on my list? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

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Halloween Creatures Book Tag

BOOO! Happy Halloween, everyone! I hope you’re having a lovely day of spooky celebrations and plenty of candy corn to go around. Today I’d like to celebrate with this Halloween Creatures Book Tag. Thanks so much to Theresa @ The Calico Books for tagging me!

Witch: A magical character or book.

How could I not mention one of my favorite books? The Hobbit is magical in so many senses of the word, from setting and characters to the warm, fuzzy feeling it gives me whenever I return to its faded pages.

Werewolf: The perfect book to read at night.

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte has always struck me as the ideal book to read under the covers on a dark, stormy night. Is it the eerie setting? Cruel Heathcliff? Bronte’s lyrical writing? Or a combination of them all?

Frankenstein: A book that truly shocked you.

The existence of this book shocked me. I had no idea that my favorite movie and Michael Crichton’s brilliant book Jurassic Park was inspired by The Lost World, a 1912 novel by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, until I found it in a bookstore one day in Oxford.

The Devil: A dark, evil character.

The Rook by Daniel O’Malley is filled with complicated, ambiguous, surprising characters who may be considered a hero one minute and evil the next. I love a great character twist!

Grim Reaper: A character that should never have died.

I think Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling goes without explanation for this prompt. So sad!

Zombie: A book that made you hungry for more.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte was the book that made me eager to read more classic literature. What would I be reading nowadays if not for my favorite genre?

Gargoyle: A character that you would protect at all costs.

I’m going to say Jim Burden from My Ántonia by Willa Cather, one of my favorite novels. Ántonia could definitely hold her own, but I’m not so sure about poor Jim…

Vampire: A book that sucked the life out of you.

I really enjoyed reading War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy, but it took a long, long time. A few summers ago I read about a section a week for two months or so–splitting it up over the course of a summer definitely helped!

Ghost: A book that still haunts you.

Beloved by Toni Morrison is one of the most striking, unsettling, powerful, haunting books I have ever read. It’s a novel that stays with you long after you’ve turned the last page.

Demon: A book that really scared you.

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley is hilarious and witty while simultaneously terrifying. What if society goes in this direction? What does our future look like? Huxley offers a frightening example.

Skeleton: A character you have a bone to pick with.

Emma by Jane Austen was such a tedious book to read because I found so many of the characters annoying. I think it might be worth rereading someday, but for now I’m fine just watching Clueless. 

Mummy: A book you would preserve through time.

I have a strange attachment to Founding Brothers by Joseph J. Ellis. I read it for an essay in my AP United States History class during my junior year of high school and I adored it.

Creepy Doll: A cover too scary to look at.

Even the spine of The Shining by Stephen King is creepy. I remember finishing this book while staying overnight in a lodge on a mountain in January… definitely fit the mood of the book!

YOU! Since Halloween is today, I’m not quite sure if anyone will want to do this tag. But if you’d like to, definitely go for it! Happy Halloween!!

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

Yours,

HOLLY

Top Ten Tuesday: Hidden Gems of Classic Literature

Happy Tuesday!! This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic (hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl) asks us to share hidden gems–in other words, books that we believe aren’t discussed or read often enough. As per usual, I’m going to focus on classics that I believe deserve to be read more, discussed more, and highlighted more, both within and beyond the classroom setting.

What classics do you wish were discussed more often? What do you thinks of the books on my list? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Top Ten Tuesday: Best 10 of 2018 {So Far}

Happy Tuesday!! Can you believe that we’re already over half way through 2018 already?! This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic (hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl) asks us to share the best 10 books we’ve read so far in 2018. I’ve already read far more than I expected to this year–mostly due to my sprawling required reading lists at Oxford–so I have plenty of books to choose from. Picking only ten won’t be easy!

Here’s to another six months of lovely reading days and great books! ❤

What are the best books you’ve read so far this year? What do you think of the ones I’ve mentioned? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

A Classic Couple: The Lost World and Jurassic Park

Today I bring you a very specie edition of A Classic Couple featuring two remarkable books: The Lost World by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1912) and Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton (1990). You may be wondering what a novel by the creator of Sherlock Holmes has to do with the book that inspired my favorite movie. The answer? The Lost World has EVERYTHING to do with Jurassic Park because it’s the classic novel that the contemporary book is based on. 

Just in case you’re anything like me and this fact has completely blown your mind, I’ll give you a few moments to recover.

I discovered this connection just a few weeks ago when I was browsing the shelves of Blackwell’s in Oxford and stumbled upon Conan Doyle’s book. I picked it up because I thought it was a funny coincidence that it shares the same title as the sequel to Jurassic Park. My jaw literally dropped when I read the back cover and learned that this was the inspiration for a book that I hold near and dear to my heart. What are the chances?!?!

Usually in this feature I focus on the similarities between classics and their contemporary pairings; however, these two books share so many obvious elements that I actually think comparing them would be rather dull. Instead, today I’ll be discussing the differences between the two novels.

+ Setting. If you’ve read or seen the film Jurassic Park then you know that it takes place on the fictional Isla Nublar. Not only does this allow Crichton to write without worrying about being geographically accurate, but it also eliminates the need to discuss any inhabitants of the island. Unfortunately, the fact that The Lost World takes place in the Amazon basin of South America  means that the novel is riddled with prejudiced colonial ideology. There is little to distinguish Conan Doyle’s descriptions of the natives that the professors meet and the ape-creatures that violently attack them later on in the novel. This racist view didn’t necessarily surprise me given the publication date of the novel, but it certainly disappointed me.

+ Women. Yet another disappointment in the earlier novel is the near complete absence of women from the story. The only woman we meet is Gladys, who appears at the beginning and end of the novel for the sole purpose of being the narrator’s love interest. While Crichton’s novel could also benefit from a boost of women characters, at least we have Ellie Sattler as an intelligent, brave, complex woman to look up to.

+ Endings. I was surprised and delighted to see how different the conclusions of these two novels are despite their numerous similarities. I don’t want to spoil the endings for anyone, so I won’t share any specific plot details; however, it is enough to say that these two novels present very different views on the relationship between science and nature. While the earlier novel celebrates this scientific expedition as a glorious conquest that should be continued and used as a means of profit, the later novel condemns Jurassic Park as a dangerous yet futile attempt by humans to control nature. Perhaps this contrast can give us important insights into how we viewed scientific advancements at the beginning and end of the twentieth century.

Despite its problematic elements, I still very much enjoyed reading The Lost World and seeing how it compares to its contemporary counterpart. While I appreciate the earlier novel for its originality, I nevertheless must admit that Crichton’s Jurassic Park will always come first for me.

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 Jurassic Park? What are your thoughts on either or both of these books? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Sunshine Blogger Award | 7

What better way to celebrate summertime than with the Sunshine Blogger Award? Usually I would post a book review on Thursdays, but I’m quite behind on scheduling posts in advance due to the chaos of moving back to the States. I was lucky enough to be nominated by the fab Andrea @ Andrea’s Nirvana— definitely check out her lovely blog!

  • Thank the blogger who nominated you in a blog post and link back to their blog.
  • Answer the 11 questions the blogger asked you.
  • Nominate 11 new blogs to receive the award and write them 11 new questions.
  • List the rules and display the sunshine blogger award logo in your post/or on your blog.

1. What’s your latest 5 star read and one thing you liked about it?

I haven’t rated books for a long time (see this post I wrote a while back explaining why) but one of the best books I read recently was The Lost World by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I had no idea that THIS WAS THE INSPIRATION FOR JURASSIC PARK?!?!

2. How do you organize your bookshelves?

Right now they’re a MESS because I haven’t had a chance to properly organize them since returning from my year abroad; however, ideally I like to organize them by genre.

3. Print, e-book or audiobook? Why?

Definitely print! I love the feeling of holding a book in my hands and the fact that it allows me to be separated from technology. I do enjoy listening to audio books while walking around, cooking, cleaning, etc., though. E-books are usually my last resort.

4. What is your favorite bookish post to write?

I really enjoy writing Classic Couple posts because they’re so fun and always spark really great discussions. They also allow me to combine my two favorite loves: classic literature and contemporary connections.

5. Dream reading nook?

What a fun question! Definitely one outside in the woods, preferably in the middle of summer when it’s warm enough to sit outside for ages. Perhaps a tree house?

6. How much does it take you to read, say, 100 pages?

Depending on the font size/how much I like the book/how focused I am, usually an hour and a half or less. (Maybe? That’s a really rough guess!)

7. Do you prefer series or standalones at the moment?

Standalones! When I was younger I used to always prefer series, but now I really appreciate a book that is satisfying on its own without the need to drag the plot on for books and books and books.

8. How do you deal with reading slumps?

Usually the same way I deal with blogging slumps: I take a break and then come back to it whenever I’ve started to genuinely miss doing it. The more I force myself to read when I’m not in the mood, the worse the slump gets!

9. How many books are you currently reading?

I’m currently in the middle of three or four books, if you count audio books that I’ve left unfinished. Who knows when I’ll actually get around to reading all of them?

10. Does it come easy for you to unhaul books?

NO. I adore most of the books I own and therefore getting rid of them is always a lengthy process of me repeatedly trying to convince myself that getting rid of books just makes space for EVEN MORE (a win-win, right?!).

11. Fave Booktubers?

My favorite booktuber is definitely Ariel Bissett. I’ve loved her videos for so long! ❤

 

I’m going to ask these lovely bloggers the same questions that Andrea asked me because they were a blast to answer.

Thanks again to Andrea for nominating me! ❤ What are your answers to these questions? What do you think of mine? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

QUOTE: Michael Crichton

Absence of proof is not proof of absence.

“Absence of proof is not proof of absence.”  ~ The Lost World by Michael Crichton

Sounds like something Sherlock Holmes would say, doesn’t it? Interestingly enough, this quote is from Michael Crichton’s novel The Lost World, which is the sequel to Jurassic Park. I loved this quote so much when I first read it that I immediately wrote it down to make sure I would remember to discuss it with you all.

These eight words make an incredible amount of sense to me, and I love it. It’s a simple statement with a powerful message: apparent emptiness does not mean total vacancy, darkness does not mean there was never light, etc. In the story it was said in scientific context, but I think it can be applied to so much more.

What do you think of this quote or book? Have you discovered any great quotes recently? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Book Review: THE LOST WORLD

The Lost World by Michael Crichton coverAuthor: Michael Crichton

Number of Pages: 393

Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf

Release Date: September 1995

“It is now six years since the secret disaster at Jurassic Park, six years since the extraordinary dream of science and imagination came to a crashing end–the dinosaurs destroyed, the park dismantled, the island indefinitely closed to the public.

There are rumors that something has survived…”

Goodreads.com

As a child, I was never really that interested in dinosaurs. If only I had read this fantastic series! After reading Jurassic Park a few months ago I have a great appreciation for dinosaurs and all things Jurassic, including Michael Crichton’s sequel, The Lost World. While this second installment doesn’t reign victorious over the first novel in my opinion, it nevertheless provides an immensely enjoyable, suspenseful, and entertaining reading experience.

This sequel is different enough from the first novel to feel like a new story, but similar enough to connect the two together. The inclusion of the mathematician Ian Malcolm helps to create this bridge, despite some controversy over the ending of the previous novel. Apparently Malcolm was supposed to have died in Jurassic Park, yet here he is in the sequel. Personally, I think it’s great that Crichton carried him into The Lost World. Not only is he funny, but his interjections of chaos theory and practical common sense are refreshing compared to the more impulsive, radical characters. It may have flaws, but chaos theory makes a strangely large amount of sense in my mind, so I’m always fascinated to hear him talk about it.

Learning about the other island and what it is for is such a clever plot twist and connection to the previous story. There are a lot of little details from Jurassic Park that add up perfectly with this new explanation, meaning that Crichton carefully planned out how he would continue the series. If not, then he’s got a talent for weaving great stories on the fly!

In today’s culture of rising feminism, it’s always exciting to read about a heroine who is both caring and daring. Dr. Sarah Harding embodies these characteristics as she fights to survive on the island, not only to help herself but to protect the children as well. She’s smart and courageous but still has a big heart, which makes her an essential member of the character cast.

One thing I love about these books is their ability to terrify me. I usually read in my bed at night before going to sleep, and Crichton has certainly caused me to think twice before ultimately turning off my light! With my eyes wide, grasp tight on the book, and heart thrumming with excitement, it’s easy to see why this world of dinosaurs is so addicting. This story is truly suspenseful in a way that will keep you reading regardless of what time of night (or early morning!) it is.

Overall, The Lost World is an impressive sequel despite the incredibly large shoes it has to fill. I didn’t enjoy it more than Jurassic Park, but I honestly wasn’t expecting to. It was just too good! Still, this sequel is well worth reading, especially if your thirst for genetically modified dinosaur fun hasn’t yet been quenched!

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

Would I recommend it to a friend?: Absolutely!! But I would suggest reading Jurassic Park to get a better idea of what’s going on.

Have you read this book before? What did you think of it? Would you recommend any of Michael Crichton’s other novels? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY