Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: For Outdoorsy Bookworms

Happy Tuesday!! The lovely bloggers behind The Broke and the Bookish are back with their weekly TTT themes and we’re starting off with a great one. Since today’s topic is open-ended, I’ve decided to share my Top Ten Book Recommendations for Outdoorsy Bookworms. My love for camping, hiking, and spending time in the mountains tends to be reflected in the books I read. Whether you love quality time in the great outdoors or simply like to read about it from the comfort of your reading nook, here are ten books for the outdoorsy bookworm:

Are you outdoorsy? What are your favorite books about the outdoors? What are your thoughts on the books I’ve mentioned? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

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Top Ten Tuesday

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

Top Ten Tuesday: I Recommend Books to My Dad

Happy Tuesday!! Father’s Day is right around the corner, and the lovely bloggers over at The Broke and the Bookish are celebrating by dedicating this week’s Top Ten Tuesday theme to those delightful dads. Since I recently made a TTT list about my mom, I’ve decided to make this TTT list about my dad. Here are my recommendations of ten books I think my dad would really enjoy:

Wild by Cheryl Strayed

My dad is an avid hiker, but since we live in New England we’re much more familiar with the Appalachian Trail than the Pacific Crest Trail on the west coast that Cheryl hikes and talks about in this memoir. I think he would find this really interesting!

One More Thing by B.J. Novak

My dad has an awesome sense of humor, and so does B.J. Novak. Plus, these short stories are perfect for reading in small chunks of time since my dad is usually really busy. This is a book that can easily be picked up and put down again over a longer period of time (hence why I took nearly two years to read it!).

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

This book is SO LONG but very worth the time commitment it takes to read it. It’s such a unique, dark, intriguing story and I would love to hear my dad’s thoughts on it. It’s also written by an author who graduated from one of the colleges I initially applied to.

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

Okay, I don’t actually know if he would enjoy this one because everyone but me seemed to hate it when I read it with my AP English class. But I know he really liked A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving and this classic reminds me of that book for some strange reason… maybe because of the younger protagonists?

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

I’m recommending this book because a) I’m a firm believer that everyone should read this because it’s fantastic and b) I really want to know if he can predict who the murderer is! (Side note: I was SO WRONG with my prediction when I first read it!)

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

He and my mom really enjoy watching the Hunger Games movies and I think he already read the first book in this trilogy, so the sequel would be a perfect summer read. It would also give me an excuse to make fiery summer puns (get it?).

1984 or Animal Farm by George Orwell

Talking about The Hunger Games made me think about darker, twisted versions of our own society—what better author to recommend than George Orwell? I would love to hear my dad thoughts on these novels, especially how they end.

Why I Write by George Orwell

While we’re already aboard the Orwell train, why not add another one? My dad is a great writer and he has to do a lot of it for his job, so I feel like he would find this both really interesting and really useful. It’s also fairly short, so it makes for a very quick read.

The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom

I have a feeling he might have already read this book (or maybe another book by this author) but I’m going to put it down anyways because I think it’s the kind of touching story that my dad would really appreciate.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by Harry Potter

I’m recommending this purely because I feel like it will explain SO MANY of the references I make on a regular basis. (Also because it’s Harry Potter and literally everyone on this planet should read it.)

Happy (early) Father’s Day, dad! Thanks for being the best ❤

What books would you recommend to your dad? 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: Best Audio Books I’ve Listened To

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Happy Tuesday!! This week’s Top Ten Tuesday theme highlights a form of reading that is often unappreciated and under-utilized: audio books. While the majority of my reading is done using physical copies of books, recently I’ve been listening to more and more audio books. They’re a great way to get some extra reading done if you have a really busy schedule because they make multitasking so easy. I love listening to audio books while working out, doing dishes, folding laundry, etc. Not only does it make me feel super productive, but it also allows me to read so much more than I otherwise would have.

To celebrate this ingenious way of reading, here are ten of the Best Audio Books I’ve Listened To, in no particular order.STILETTO-11STILETTO-12

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By far my favorite audio books are those narrated by Neil Gaiman. I love his voice so much!

What are some of your favorite audio books? What do you think of the ones on my list? Do you prefer to listen to books or physically read them? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: Things Books Have Made Me Want to Do

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Happy Tuesday! This week’s Top Ten Tuesday theme is a really interesting one: the Top Ten Things Books Have Made Me Want to Do. Books have inspired me to want to do so many fun, fascinating, and far away things. It’s a sort of Bookish Bucket List, if you will. I haven’t done any of these things yet, but here’s hoping I’ll be able to cross at least a few of them off this list someday!

the adventures of huckleberry finn cover1. Follow the route of Huckleberry Finn and Jim. 

I’ve heard of people following the route that these two adventurers took in the classic novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, and it sounds like such a fun trip to go on! Imagine being able to read any scene in the book and say: “Yup, I’ve been there!”

Wild by Cheryl Strayed cover2. Hike the Appalachian Trail. 

Even though Cheryl Strayed focuses on the Pacific Crest Trail in her memoir Wild, it still makes me want to hike the Appalachian Trail even more. The conditions and weather on the west coast of the United States are too extreme for me, but I could definitely see myself hiking at least part of the Appalachian Trail in the future.

eat pray love3. Practice daily meditation. 

Meditation has always been something I’ve had at least a vague interest in; however, it wasn’t until reading Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert that I considered just how powerful a tool it could be. I would love to incorporate this into my daily routine, but I never know if I’m doing it right.

Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton4. Become an archaeologist. 

Okay, so this one probably won’t ever happen, but how cool would it be to discover DINOSAURS? Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park has definitely fueled my recent love for these exciting yet extinct creatures.

the raven boys5. Find and follow a ley line. 

Oh, Gansey: your fascination with ley lines has rubbed off on me! While I highly doubt this will ever happen either, I can’t help but hope that I could have a magical adventure like the one Blue and the boys have in The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater.

the night circus cover6. Go to a circus. 

No circus could ever live up to the one inThe Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, but I still think it would be really fun to go to one. Besides, who knows– maybe people just don’t stick around long enough after the sun sets to see the real Night Circus?

When We Collided7. Spend the summer in an adorable beach town. 

I’ve visited beach towns before on day trips, but I think I would have a different perspective of them entirely if I stayed there for the majority of the summer like Vivi in When We Collided by Emery Lord. Meet the locals, get to know the best secret restaurants, snag the hidden gem of a beach spot… the possibilities are endless!

Amy & Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson cover8. Go on a road trip with friends. 

My family and I have been on many road trips before (as I discussed last summer) but I think it would be super fun to go on one just with my friends now that we’re all officially adults with driver’s licenses and stuff. (I wouldn’t say no to a romance like in Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson, either.)

outcasts of 19 schuyler place cover9. Paint a mural on my bedroom ceiling. 

Ever since reading about Margaret having Jake paint a gorgeous rose on the ceiling of her bedroom in The Outcasts of 19 Schuyler Place by E.L. Konigsburg I’ve secretly wanted to do a project like this in my own bedroom. I would probably paint a flower, a night sky, or something else nature-y.

the hobbit cover10. Visit the hobbit holes in New Zealand. 

A girl can dream, right? Living the Shire life of The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien in real life would be AMAZING. I need to make my way over there, ASAP!hobbits gandalf

What are some things that books have made you want to do? What do you think of the things on my list? Have you done any of these things before? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Books

WILD by Cheryl Strayed

Wild by Cheryl Strayed cover“How wild it was, to let it be.”

I’ve had my eye on Cheryl Strayed’s memoir Wild for years now. I love hiking- as explained here– so when I heard of this book I knew it would be something I would find interesting, at the very least. I’m familiar with the Appalachian Trail, but before reading this memoir I knew next to nothing about the Pacific Crest Trail. While I learned an immense amount about the PCT, I was also happy to discover that Wild addresses so much more than a long, long hike. Strayed takes the reader along on her personal journey through grief, heartache, and a quest to find herself again.

Strayed’s personality simply shines through her writing, resulting in a memoir that is honest, genuine, and raw. It feels as though she holds nothing back, like she is confiding in the reader as if they were an old friend rather than a complete stranger. It takes courage to blatantly lay out the details of such an emotional time in your life in this way, and I applaud Strayed for choosing to do so. She admits her ignorance, foolishness, and mistakes while at the same time emphasizing her ability to learn from them. Her personality is accentuated by the engaging narration of the audio book that I listened to. Bernadette Dunne, the narrator, had different voices for all of the characters that really brought the story to life. She performed with just the right amount of emotion, and at times it almost felt as though Cheryl herself was talking to me on the phone, telling me her story.

Moreover, the structured of this memoir is really well-organized and executed. She tells the story of her hike on the PCT in mostly chronological order, all the while interjecting with bits and pieces about her life prior to embarking on this journey. As a result, the reader gains a clear understanding of Cheryl both on and off the trail without having to endure massive “info-dumps.”  Strayed gradually provides us with information when relevant rather than overwhelming us with it all at once. There is a careful balance between her past and present, and she has managed to find an incredibly effective way of seamlessly weaving them together.

Similarly, the conclusion of Wild was refreshingly satisfying and expertly written as well. I don’t know if this would be considered a spoiler since Wild is a memoir and not a fictional story, but at the end Strayed wraps everything up by flashing forward into her future, between when she finished the PCT and when she writes this book. She discusses how she moves on, gets married, starts a family, and eventually brings them all to the exact location where she finished her journey. Her moment of reflection was the perfect way to conclude this memoir because it really drives home how the overall experience has impacted here life. Glimpsing her future helped tie together the jumble of seemingly random experiences she had while hiking and made sense of them in a way the reader could better understand. When I finally listened to the last line of the audio book I felt an overwhelming sense of satisfaction. If only every book ending could be so rewarding!

I know this is a true story and therefore I can’t really complain about unchangeable events (this is her actual life, after all); however, I couldn’t help but feel frustrated with Cheryl at times. Why did she have to break things off with her husband? Why did she start and continue doing heroin, even though so many people offered to help her stop? It seems like Cheryl made so many poor decisions that could have been avoided with some self-control and common sense. Perhaps this is overly critical of me to say– she was dealing the crushing loss of her mother, after all, and things always appear clearer in hindsight– but I wanted to mention it as it is something that really bothered me throughout this memoir.

Overall, I was captivated and fascinated by Cheryl Strayed’s inspiring story. Not only is Wild an entertaining, thought-provoking memoir, but it is also an engrossing tale of hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. Whether you’re an avid hiker or not, this memoir is sure to be a valuable and enjoyable read!

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

Would I recommend it to a friend?: Definitely! You don’t have to enjoy hiking to like this book, but it’s a bonus if you do!

What are your thoughts on this memoir? Would you recommend the movie adaptation? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: The Never-Ending TBR List!

nfn tttHappy Tuesday, everyone! It’s time for another Top Ten Tuesday once again, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week I’ll be updating you all on recent additions to my TBR list, since the topic is Top Ten Books Recently Added to My TBR List. So, in no particular order:

Wild by Cheryl Strayed cover1. Wild by Cheryl Strayed

I recently mentioned this book in a previous Top Ten Tuesday (click here to check it out!) and I’m still really looking forward to reading it. My interest was sparked when I watched Essiebutton’s video about it and saw that she really enjoyed it. Hiking is one of my favorite things to do outdoors, so it seems even more fitting.

One More Thing by B.J. Novak2. One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories by B.J. Novak

I love B.J. Novak for his hilarious work on the television show The Office, which holds  special place in my heart. Naturally when I heard he was writing a book I immediately knew I had to get my hands on it! This book is a collection of many short stories- and I mean short stories (some of them are only two or three pages!). I have no doubt that this will be a memorable read!

red queen cover3. Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Honestly, I’ve heard nothing but great things about this new YA fantasy novel! I’ve known about it since before it came out, but just recently I’ve seriously thought about picking it up and diving right in. The premise is intriguing and I’ve been in the mood for fantasy lately, which means that this one is a serious contender for being read soon!

All the Birds, Singing by Evie Wyld4. All the Birds, Singing by Evie Wyld

I came across this book while watching a Booktube video one day, and I was immediately intrigued by the synopsis. The setting- a remote British isle- is interesting and the story itself sounds heart-wrenching and perhaps even haunting. Come to find out it is actually one of two winners of the Barnes and Noble 2014 Discover Award, which is pretty cool!

Vicious by V.E. Schwab5. Vicious by V.E. Schwab

After reading her recently published novel A Darker Shade of Magic, I have a newfound adoration for V.E. Schwab! I’ve heard amazing things about this novel, especially due to the supposedly fantastic anti-hero that it the main character. If it’s anything like A Darker Shade of Magic, is has to be good!

Hold Me Closer The Tiny Cooper Story by David Levithan cover6. Hold Me Closer: The Tiny Cooper Story by David Levithan

PEOPLE, THERE IS A COMPANION NOVEL TO WILL GRAYSON, WILL GRAYSON!! I loved Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan, and that’s why I’m so excited that there’s a companion to it! This is supposed to be the story of the musical that Tiny Cooper created in the first book- and it’s actually written as a script! The parts of it that were in the first book were HILARIOUS, and I’m sure this installment will be just as awesome!

Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen7. Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen 

When I was in middle school and the first year or so of high school I read A LOT of books by Sarah Dessen, especially during the summer months. They were such feel-good books that always gave me that warm, fuzzy feeling inside. Her newest novel is expected to come out on May 5, 2015, just in time for me to make it part of my summer reading plans!

Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens8. Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens

I was blown away by Great Expectations, and I now have a new admiration for Charles Dickens. I’m really interested in reading more of his work, and Oliver Twist seems to be a popular favorite. Since this is also about a poor boy, I’d love to compare and contrast it with Great Expectations. 

The Guest Cat by Takashi Hiraide9. The Guest Cat by Takashi Hiraide

I was initially interested in this novel because of the beautifully simple cover, but as soon as I read the synopsis of it I knew that I was going to have to read it at some point. It’s about a cat that breathes life back into a couple’s relationship- I don’t know what’s sweeter or more heart-warming than that!

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee10. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

I read this novel in my ninth grade English class and did not intend to reread it for a while. However, when I found out that a sequel, Go Set a Watchman, is going to be published this summer I immediately decided to put the first book right back on my TBR list. Let’s hope I love it as much as I did the first time!

There are so many great books to read- now if only I had the time to read them all! I’m hoping that as the school year comes to a close I’ll have more and more time to read. Fingers crossed!

What books have you recently added to your TBR list? 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: Spring TBR 2015

nfn tttYou guessed it: here’s another Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by the blog the Broke and the Bookish.   The spring season is fast approaching, which means it’s time to start thinking about our reading for the warmer weather. Since I’m a mood reader, my reading taste definitely changes from season to season. In no particular order, here are the Top Ten Books on My Spring 2015 TBR List:

A Darker Shade final for Irene1. A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

I loved the ARC preview of this book that I finished recently (review will be up shortly!) and I can’t wait to read the full novel! I’m waiting for the downloadable copy on my state’s library website to be available, so hopefully I’ll be able to read it soon. Schwab builds such a great fantasy world and I can already tell that I’m going to really enjoy the story.

Harry Potter y la camara secreta2. Harry Potter y la cámara secreta by J.K. Rowling

This is the Spanish translation of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, and I’ve been reading this book for months and months. It takes me a while to read each page because I don’t actually speak Spanish fluently- I’m only learning it in my high school Spanish classes. Hopefully I’ll finally get around to finishing this book this spring!

Xenocide by Orson Scott Card3. Xenocide by Orson Scott Card

I loved the first two books in this series (Ender’s Game and Speaker for the Dead) and I can’t wait to continue on with this third installment! These stories are always so complex and detailed, and I love being able to spend time in this futuristic world. It’s almost like reading an episode of Star Trek, and what can be better than that?

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black4. The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

Despite the fact that we have the same first name (Hollys unite!) I’ve never actually read anything by Holly Black. I’ve had the ebook edition of this novel sitting in my Nook app for the longest time, and since I’ve been in a more fantasy mood lately I think it’s finally time that I read it. I’ve heard great things about Holly Black’s writing, so hopefully this one is great as well!

The List by Siobhan Vivian5. The List by Siobhan Vivian

Since my high school days are coming to a close in the next few months, I think I should read  more books set in high school while I am still going through similar experiences. Like the previous ebook I mentioned I’ve had this one for a while. I don’t think I’ve ever read anything by Siobhan Vivian, so it should be another interesting new author experience!

let's get lost cover6. Let’s Get Lost by Adi Alsaid

I was originally attracted to this book by the gorgeous cover- I have a weakness for anything map-related, and I just love the colors and style of the font! When I learned that it’s about a road-trip, I knew that I had to read it. I’ve heard some mixed things about it, but I’m going into it with an open mind. Who knows? Maybe I’ll end up loving it!

One + One = Blue by M.J. Auch cover7. One + One = Blue by M.J. Auch

I bought a physical copy of this book a while ago but I just haven’t gotten around to reading it yet. It’s a middle grade novel about two kids who both have synesthesia, which is such an interesting topic. The story seems really cute, unique, and down-to-earth, which are three things that I love in books!

Wild by Cheryl Strayed cover8. Wild by Cheryl Strayed

Hiking is one of my favorite things to do in spring and summer months, so this book is definitely something that I would find interesting. The fact that this is a memoir makes it even more fascinating, since someone actually lived through these experiences. This seems like such an inspiring story- plus, the movie is supposed to be fantastic as well!

jane eyre cover9. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

I’ve been meaning to read this classic novel for so long, and I think that this spring is finally the time to do it! So many people love this book, both online and people I know in my English class and at the various libraries I visit. It’s been recommended to me countless times, so it’s definitely a must-read this spring!

pride and prejudice cover 210. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

I first read this classic novel back when I was in ninth grade, and I don’t think I really got everything I could have out of reading it. Now that I’ve read more from this time period and know more about how society was back then, I think I would have a bit of a different opinion about it. I can’t wait to see how my views have changed since four years ago!

This may seem like a really random assortment of books, but that’s because it is a pretty random assortment of books! I probably won’t get to all of them in the coming months and I’ll most likely end up deviating from this list a bit, but these are just some of my options.

What books do you want to read this spring? What do you think about the books on my list? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY