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

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Top Ten Tuesday: Women Writers I’d Love to Meet

Happy Tuesday!! This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic (hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl) asks us to share a list of ten authors we would love to meet. In the past, I’ve found that the lists I’ve made like this tend to be fairly male-dominated; instead, this week I’d like to focus on ten women writers that I would love to have a conversation with.

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

Yours,

HOLLY

Feminist Fridays: Feminist Writing Tutorial

Now that Hilary term at Oxford has officially come and gone, I’m going to share my thoughts on the Feminist Writing tutorial I recently completed. This tutorial (basically what they call classes at Oxford) was an English course, but it also blended some feminist theory into the mix as well. It was nice to have a bit of a break from solely reading novels all the time. In this post I’ll be discussing some of the texts we read (although there were many more), the themes we focused on, and my thoughts on the course overall.

A Vindication of the Rights of Woman by Mary Wollstonecraft || This was my second time reading this for a class (the first was for a social contract theory course my freshman year of college) but my first time reading it in a strictly gendered context. While much of what she says is very outdated now (it was written centuries ago) a surprising amount of it is still relevant today. Definitely worth a read!

Woman and Labor by Olive Schreiner || loved reading this book, especially alongside Wollstonecraft’s work. There are so many brilliant quotes that I copied down into my notebook as I was reading–not to help with future essays, but simply because I found them inspiring and empowering. Here’s one of my favorites:

“I would like to say to the men and women of the generations which will come after us: you will look back at us with astonishment. You will wonder at passionate struggles that accomplished so little, at the, to you, obvious paths to attain our ends which we did not take. At the intolerable evils before which it will seem to you we sat down passive. At the great truths staring us in the face which we failed to see, at the great truths we grasped at but could not get our fingers quite ’round. You will marvel at the labour that ended in so little. But what you will never know that it was how we were thinking of you and for you that we struggled as we did and accomplished the little that we have done. That it was in the thought of your larger realization and fuller life that we have found consolation for the futilities of our own. All I aspire to be and was not, comforts me.”

Olive Schreiner is an underrated, under-appreciated writer that deserves more time in the feminist spotlight. If you’re interested in more of my thoughts on her writing, check out the Feminist Friday feature I wrote about her. 

This Sex Which Is Not One by Luce Irigaray || Let me just say that this book is a wild ride. My professor asked us to focus on the essay “This Sex Which Is Not One,” which basically argues that we should use the image of “two lips” in order to challenge the phallic discourse that currently dominates our society. It was really interesting, but had a bit too much Freud in it for my taste.

Poems by Emily Dickinson || Emily Dickinson may just be my favorite poet. We read many, many of her poems for this class and all I wanted to do when I finished was go back and read them all over again. I love how her poetry is frustratingly ambiguous yet still brilliantly poignant. I can’t even keep track of all of my favorite poems by her!

Memorial: A Version of Homer’s Iliad by Alice Oswald || I’ve never actually read Homer’s Iliad before, but I think a basic understanding of the epic is enough to read this contemporary poem. Not only is Oswald’s language haunting and beautiful, but it also brings up important questions about revitalizing old works, the oral tradition, and women’s writing. If you’d like to read more of my thoughts on this poem, click here to check out my recent review. 

White Teeth by Zadie Smith || This was the first Zadie Smith book I ever read, but it most certainly won’t be my last! Now I want to read literally everything Smith has ever written. If this praise isn’t convincing enough, check out my review of the novel to make you want to read it even more. 

Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination by Toni Morrison || Everything Toni Morrison writes is brilliant gold, and Playing in the Dark is no exception. I was so excited when I saw that this was on our reading list because I had read a certain section of the book many times for prior essays but had never actually read the entire collection. This work is so important for literary scholarship today as well as how we think about diversity in media and our lives in general. Would absolutely recommend to everyone! 

Education, marriage, and professions for women || I liked that we started off with this topic because it’s arguably the easiest category in which to see the vast improvement that women have made over the years. Of course, there’s always room for more improvement!

The body and sexuality || This is the week we drew on more abstract feminist theory to talk about how women’s bodies and sexuality are represented not only through language, but also through imagery and art. It raises some really interesting and important questions about how women portray themselves today and what that says about cultural gender norms.

Intertextuality, subverting/transforming genres, creating a tradition of women’s writing, the woman writer || This was definitely my favorite topic out of the ones we studied throughout the entire term. Thinking about writing traditions, reception studies, and genre formation really fascinates me, and coupling that with Emily Dickinson was a blast.

Differences among women; crossing boundaries, transitions, intersections; an “outsiders’ society” || Ending with this theme was great because it allowed us to look at feminist writings throughout the past few centuries from a modern standpoint and asses how far we’ve come and how far we still have to go.

Overall, I am so glad that I decided to take this tutorial on a whim when I was signing up for classes months ago. Not only did it introduce me to some remarkable women writers, but it also provided me with new tools to use when analyzing other literature in terms of gender and intersectionality. If you ever get the opportunity to take some sort of feminist writing or theory course, definitely do!

Click here to see other Feminist Friday posts!

Have you ever taken a class on feminist theory or literature? What are some of your favorite feminist writers, books, poems, etc.? What are your thoughts on any of the writing that I’ve mentioned? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Top Ten Tuesday: Winter 2017 TBR

Happy Tuesday!! I think it’s now safe to say that winter is pretty much here, meaning that it’s time to start thinking about winter TBR lists. I’m awful at sticking to TBRs– especially since I have so much to read for course work already– but I would really love to read at least a few of the titles on my list while I’m home for winter break. I know for a fact that I definitely won’t be able to read all of these! Nevertheless, here are ten books that I would love to read this winter: 

What books are you hoping to read this winter? What do you think of the books I’ve mentioned? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Top Ten Tuesday: FREEDOM!!

Happy Tuesday!! The lovely bloggers over at The Broke and the Bookish are taking a brief hiatus from hosting Top Ten Tuesday this summer, which means that I’ve decided to create some of my own TTT themes. Since today is Independence Day in the United States, I thought it would be fun to talk about books revolving around freedom. Though we might initially think of freedom as escaping from physical imprisonment or captivity, there are countless ways that freedom can be manifested. In no particular order, here are my Top Ten Books About Freedom:

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass

This autobiography discusses one of the most important kinds of freedom, in my opinion: freedom from slavery. Douglass was a slave who escaped from bondage, traveled to New England, and became one of the most successful and influential African American orators of his time. His life story and his writing are as fascinating as they are inspirational.

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

I think we can all relate to the feeling of being trapped in a monotonous, dull routine. The Phantom Tollbooth offers young Milo a respite from this gloomy boredom and helps him realize that there is fun, adventure, and excitement to be found in everyday life. (It also features the most adorable dog!!)

Wild by Cheryl Strayed

As she hikes the grueling Pacific Crest Trail, Strayed is simultaneously on a journey to free herself from the regrets, mistakes, and sorrows of her past. What she finds is an illuminating sense of self, life, and purpose. This empowering emotional and spiritual freedom is incredibly inspiring to read about.

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Atwood has created a brilliant, expertly crafted novel of what it feels like to live under an oppressive government that does not recognize the rights of women to their own bodies and lives. Offred, the protagonist, seeks freedom from the societal chains she is forced to bear. Not only is this simply a captivating story, but it contains an important message that we should remember in our own society today.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

Though very different in many ways, Huck and Jim are both searching for the same thing as they journey along the river: freedom from the restrictive, controlling civilization they are forced to live in. This is a classic case of nature vs. civilization, making the raft a kind of liminal space where the normal rules of society are bent.

1984 by George Orwell

In this classic dystopian novel, Orwell shows how difficult it can be to maintain individuality and assert one’s free will in the face of an all-knowing, omnipotent government. Though freedom from observance is sought, such efforts ultimately prove futile. This is one of the most unsettling, startling, eye-opening books I’ve ever read!

Beloved by Toni Morrison

Haunted by the ghosts of her past as a slave, Sethe is nearly driven to madness as her memories become more and more real. This raw, unsettling, captivating novel captures the struggle of trying to break free from the past, especially when remnants of it still surround you.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Sometimes adolescence can feel like one big cage built by society, arbitrary rules of “popularity,” the desire to conform and be liked, high expectations of adults, and all of the questions you wish you had answers for. Fortunately, Charlie finds some freedom from this cage through the help of some unlikely friends.

Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer

Krakauer tells the true story of a man named Chris McCandless who traveled across the United States all the way to Alaska where he unfortunately passed away in the middle of the wilderness. Though people wonder exactly what Chris wanted to get out of his journey, I personally feel as though he was searching for the freedom to live the life he wanted to live without feeling restricted by society.

1776 by David McCullough

How could I create a list about freedom without including a book about America’s independence from Great Britain? McCullough is a masterful historian and storyteller, as shown through his ability to tell this inspirational and engaging historical account.

 

What books remind you of freedom? What do you think of the books on my list? Do you have any fun Fourth of July traditions? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I’ve Read On A Whim

Books I Read On A Whim-2This is my first Top Ten Tuesday in quite some time, and it feels so great to be back on the weekly grind! This week I’ll be showcasing the Top Ten Books I’ve Read On A Whim, although there are many more than ten that I could highlight. Working in a library for two years and spending a lot of time perusing bookstore shelves are two surefire ways to end up reading numerous books on a whim. Some of these spontaneous picks have been better than others, but here are ten of my most recent memorable ones:

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What are the best books that you’ve read on a whim? What do you think of the ones I’ve read? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

QUOTE: Toni Morrison

“Definitions belong to the definers, not the defined.”  ~ Beloved by Toni Morrison

This quote is just one of the many gems sprinkled throughout Toni Morrison’s haunting novel Beloved. If you enjoy historical fiction, ghost stories, or compelling books in general then I highly recommend it!

What quotes have you discovered recently? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Book Review: BELOVED

beloved coverAuthor: Toni Morrison

Number of Pages: 324

Publisher: Vintage

Release Date: 1987

Staring unflinchingly into the abyss of slavery, this spellbinding novel transforms history into a story as powerful as Exodus and as intimate as a lullaby.

Sethe was born a slave and escaped to Ohio, but eighteen years later she is still not free. She has too many memories of Sweet Home, the beautiful farm where so many hideous things happened. Her new home is haunted by the ghost of her baby, who died nameless and whose tombstone is engraved with a single word: Beloved.

Filled with bitter poetry and suspense as taut as a rope, Beloved is a towering achievement by Nobel Prize laureate Toni Morrison.”

– Goodreads.com

Slavery in American history has always been a subject that has fascinated me. How could we have done something so dreadfully horrific for so long? How did these slave-holding Americans live with themselves knowing that they were essentially treating other human beings like animals? When I was given the choice to choose an independent novel in my AP English course, I knew that I wanted to further explore this subject. Luckily, Beloved was the perfect novel for this scenario. Not only did I delve deeper into the terrible past of slavery, but I also was exposed to some spooky, incredibly well-written supernatural elements.

I wouldn’t say this novel is confusing per say, but it definitely is mysterious. This works to its advantage because I was on the edge of my seat the entire time waiting to see what would happen next. The writing is a blend of many different personalities, which makes the story even more engaging. Sometimes it’s lyrical and florid, other times it’s sporadic and wild like Sethe herself. But make no mistake, every single word is absolutely beautiful. The emotions, desires, sorrows, and dreams of the characters are so raw and human that I could connect with many of them even though my position in life is vastly different from theirs. The themes of this novel transcend time periods and cultures, something that takes an extremely skilled writer and storyteller to successfully accomplish.

The whole atmosphere of this novel was spooky, haunting, and utterly suspenseful. It’s a unique mix of historical fiction and ghost stories, and it is executed excellently. The characters experience major growth and development throughout the book, so much so that my opinions of many of them changed drastically from beginning to end. The character I felt the most for was Denver, Sethe’s daughter. She is caught in the whirlwind that is the house at 124 without any say in the matter and to no fault of her own. I think that out of all the characters in the book she definitely draws the shortest straw and gets dealt the worst hand out of the deck. It was difficult at times to feel sympathy for Sethe because she became so selfish, but I had not trouble at all feeling sorry for Denver and wishing the best for her.

One startlingly moving aspect of this novel was when Morrison discussed slavery. Seeing how being a slave impacted the characters and what it eventually drove them to do simply broke my heart, to say the least. The abyss between whites and African Americans was enormous during this time in American history, and the disdain of the other side from each group was clearly apparent in the opinions of the characters. I applaud Morrison for handling such an important and challenging topic with such brilliance and thoughtfulness.

Overall, I loved Beloved. I could go on for pages and pages about how I much I love this book, but I’ll just leave it at that. It’s a complicated and very detailed story filled with flashbacks to the past, dreams of the future, and heartbreaking descriptions of the present. Toni Morrison is an amazingly talented writer, and I cannot wait to read more of her work. I am so happy I picked this to read in my AP English class!

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

Would I recommend it to a friend?: Yes!!!

Have you ever read this book? What did you think of it? What other books by Toni Morrison would you recommend? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

WWW Wednesdays: October 8th

WWW WednesdaysWWW Wednesdays is a meme hosted by Should Be Reading that asks three questions:

What are you currently reading???

Right now I’m reading Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift.

What did you recently finish reading???

This past week I finished reading Beloved by Toni Morrison for my AP English class and Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins. Both books were amazing! Reviews are on their way!

What do you think you’ll read next???

Hopefully The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater. I need to read it before the third book in the series comes out this month!

What are your answers to these questions? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

WWW Wednesdays: October 1st

WWW WednesdaysWWW Wednesdays is a meme hosted by Should Be Reading that asks three questions:

What are you currently reading???

Same as last week- I’m still reading Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins for fun and Beloved by Toni Morrison for my AP English class.

What did you recently finish reading???

I didn’t finish any books this past week, but I have made a lot of progress. I should be finishing them soon!

What do you think you’ll read next???

Right now I’m leaning towards The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater.

What are your answers to these questions? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

 P.S. Happy October everyone!!!