Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: Books By My Favorite Authors That I Still Haven’t Read

Happy Tuesday!! This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic (hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl) asks us to share books by some of our favorite authors that we haven’t read (yet). Because I’ve had very little time to read lately and much of my reading is dictated by class reading lists, this particular list of mine could go on for miles. In the interest of time, here are just ten:

What books by your favorite authors have you yet to read? What do you think of the books on my list? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Advertisements
Books, Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Love But Have Never Reread

Happy Tuesday!! Today’s Top Ten Tuesday topic (hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl) is supposed to be books I’ve loved but will never reread, but I’ve decided to scratch that and add a bit of a twist to it. Because I ADORE rereading books, there’s a likelihood that I’ll reread almost any book that I love. Instead, today I’ll be sharing ten books I love but for some reason have never gotten around to rereading. Fingers crossed that I’ll find time to reread them soon!

What favorite books have you never reread? Do you like rereading books in general? What are your thoughts on the books that I’ve mentioned? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Books of 2017

Happy Tuesday!! The end of 2017 is just around the corner (!!!), meaning it’s time to reflect on what I’ve read thus far this year. Today’s Top Ten Tuesday theme highlights the best books we’ve read in 2017, and fortunately I have plenty of fantastic texts to choose from. I’ve decided to limit my list to the books I read for the first time this year because there were many, many rereads thrown into the mix. Here are my favorite books of 2017 in the order that I read them:

Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur

From my review: I bought a copy of Milk and Honey on a whim because I had heard a lot of great things about it. What I didn’t realize was that Rupi’s words would resonate so deeply with me and linger on in my mind long after I had read them. These poems are for anyone and everyone, regardless of whether or not you’ve read or enjoyed poetry in the past. Rupi Kaur has written poetry for human nature.

How to Ruin Everything by George Watsky

From my review: Reading this book felt like having the a random, hilarious, and well-spoken conversation with Watsky. How to Ruin Everything is definitely something I’ll be returning to in the future– for a laugh, for inspiration, and to be reminded that there’s nothing quite like the power of a good story.

The Song of the Lark by Willa Cather

From my review: I was enthralled by this novel. Everything about it captivated me from the very first sentence to the very last word. In fact, I was enjoying it so much that I marked all of my favorite passages with sticky notes, only to realize halfway through that I would have to take them all out when I was finished (it was a library book).

Sartoris by William Faulkner

From my review: When I first started reading Sartoris I was so confused by the many Johns and Bayards that I actually created a character web or family tree of sorts in an attempt to keep them all straight in my mind. However, I thought this would be a much larger hindrance than it ended up being in the long run because the characters became more defined as I became more invested in the story. In fact, the links between the characters– both linguistically with names and in terms of their relationships and personalities– soon became my favorite aspect of this novel. Faulkner uses the Sartoris family to ask a fascinating question: Are these events caused by the fate of the family or a logical cause-and-effect reaction? In other words, are these people responsible for their actions or have they already been destined (or doomed)?

Matilda by Roald Dahl

From my review: I really wish I had read this book when I was younger because I think Matilda’s character would have really resonated with me. Younger Holly would have been thrilled to read about a bookworm like myself who triumphed over obstacles against all odds. Matilda is such an important character for children to read about, both as a bookish hero as well as a strong, clever, independent female character.

The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins

From my review: I enjoyed The Woman in White far more than I had initially expected to when I turned to the very first page. Collins’ meticulous attention to details and carefully developed characters make for an impressive, memorable, suspenseful, and thrilling story. I’m so thankful that this novel was on my required reading list for this term– sometimes they contain unexpected gems!

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

From my review: As the facade fades away, the reader realizes that what appears to be a utopian world is actually a dystopian society masked in false promises and illusions. I love Brave New World for the way it makes you think about our own society and what we value in our lives today. It’s interesting to think about how this novel was first published in 1932 yet it’s still relevant almost a century later. To me, this endurance is the definition of a classic.

Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner

From my review: For me, the most challenging aspect of this novel was deciphering exactly what happened in the Sutpen family. Who married who? Who killed who? Who had children and who didn’t? Who is still alive? In what order did this all take place? These questions and many others remained at the forefront of my mind the entire time I was reading. There are so many characters, voices, and events– not to mention the fact that it’s not told in chronological order. It was fascinating and exciting to constantly learn new information; however, it also makes it much more confusing to read. I think this is a novel that would absolutely benefit from being reread in the future now that I have the basic plot in my mind.

Quiet by Susan Cain

Sneak peak of my upcoming review: Cain has done incredible work providing both introverts and extroverts with a guide as to the importance of being “quiet.” As an introvert, I constantly found myself nodding along with her ideas and examples, seeing myself accurately reflected in her words. If more teachers, employers, friends, and family members read Quiet, the world would be a brighter, more productive, less stress-inducing place for introverts everywhere.

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

I haven’t yet posted my review of John Green’s most recent novel, but rest assured that I enjoyed it immensely. The representation of mental health issues is incredible and I became invested in the characters almost immediately. You know a novel is great when you find yourself still thinking about it days later!

What are your favorite books of 2017? What do you think of the books that I’ve mentioned? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Classic Couple

A Classic Couple: The Song of the Lark and Paper Towns

It seems fitting that books by two of my favorite authors—Willa Cather and John Green—would connect across different centuries. As mentioned in a past Top Ten Tuesday post about pairs of classic and contemporary novels, I’ve found many interesting parallels between Cather’s The Song of the Lark (1915) and Green’s Paper Towns (2008).

Thea and Margo || These protagonists are headstrong, determined, and different from the people in their hometowns. Thea loves music and is seen as a young woman who holds great potential, whereas Margo is an enigma that no one can understand. Despite the man differences between them, they nevertheless share the same reckless, carefree spirit.

Leaving home || Eventually Thea and Margo move away from their childhood homes, leaving behind people who love and care about them in order to chase the prospect of adventure. Thea heads to the big city of Chicago to pursue a career in music, later finding herself traveling to Arizona, Dresden, and New York City. Margo departs suddenly in a shroud of mystery; she doesn’t tell anyone that she’s leaving or where she’s going to. These young women are running to something—adventure, adulthood, independence—but they’re also running from something: their past identities and the preconceived notions held by people they grew up with of who they should become.

Resistance || In both novels, friends from their pasts find Thea and Margo in the new lives they’ve made for themselves and try to persuade them to come back home. Unexpectedly, Thea and Margo refuse. Though Thea does go back and visit her hometown, she does not stay long and feels as though she doesn’t belong there anymore. Margo won’t even entertain the idea of returning to the town where she attended a high school that she technically hasn’t graduated from yet. Their new ideas and identities seem to manifest themselves in new locations.

Wanting “more” || The underlying current that runs beneath The Song of the Lark and Paper Towns is the desire for more out of life. Thea is enchanted by fantasies of big cities, fame, and a life away from her small, dull town; Margo is denounces the “paper people” she grew up around, yearning for those who are less materialistic and actually genuine, authentic, and real. The question remains: Do they really reach their “more”?

What do you think of this classic couple? What other books would you pair with The Song of the LarkWhat are your thoughts on either or both of these books? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Tags

Goodreads Book Tag

I first joined Goodreads in December of 2010, which means that I’ve been an active member for SEVEN YEARS. When I first discovered that such a website even existed I was ecstatic– finally, a place to connect with other people about BOOKS. Today I am still a loyal Goodreads user, so you can imagine how happy I was when I learned that I had been tagged to do the Goodreads Book Tag. Thanks so much to Lauren @ My Paper Infinity for tagging me!!

What was the last book you marked as ‘read’?

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy. It was excellent!

What are you currently reading?

I’m reading several books at the moment, but the one I’m focusing on the most is Light in August by William Faulkner for my upcoming term.

What was the last book you marked as TBR?

Artemis by Andy Weir. I’m so excited for this book to be released in November! It’s been far too long since I read The Martian and I’m in desperate need of some great science fiction.

What book do you plan to read next?

Do you use the star rating system?

I used to until a few months ago when I realized that I was letting it frustrate me for no reason. In fact, I wrote a whole post about it which you can check out here!

Are you doing a 2017 reading challenge?

Yes! For the past few years I’ve set myself a goal of reading 24 books, which I’ve already surpassed this year. I use the reading challenge more for tracking purposes than to ensure that I read a certain number of books each year.

Do you have a wishlist?

No, but that’s actually a really good idea….

What book do you plan to buy next?

I’m already looking forward to buying and reading Rupi Kaur’s upcoming poetry collection the sun and her flowers, which is set to be released on October 3rd. I adored Milk and Honey and I can’t wait to see what emotions Rupi delves into in this collection. I already love the connection she’s making between the lives of humans and plants. October can’t come soon enough!

Do you have any favorite quotes? Share a few.

SO MANY. A few favorites that I’ve recently added to my list are:

“I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.”    Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

“Matilda said, “Never do anything by halves if you want to get away with it. Be outrageous. Go the whole hog. Make sure everything you do is so completely crazy it’s unbelievable…”    ~ Matilda by Roald Dahl

“Don’t be afraid of death; be afraid of an unlived life. You don’t have to live forever, you just have to live.”    ~ Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbit

Who are your favorite authors?

I didn’t even know this was a feature on Goodreads!! (You learn something new every day…) In general, some of my favorite authors are J.R.R. Tolkien, John Green, Willa Cather, William Faulkner, Frederick Douglass, and Melina Marchetta.

Have you joined any groups?

I’m part of SO MANY groups on Goodreads, although unfortunately I rarely participate in them. I try to be a more active member, but there’s just so much to keep up with!

Thanks again to Lauren for tagging me!!

Do you use Goodreads? What are your favorite and least favorite things about it? Are there any cool bookish websites like Goodreads that you’d recommend? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

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

Monthly Wrap-Up

JULY 2017 | Wrap-Up

July was a blur of hot days, air-conditioned office spaces, lakeside reading, and time spent with friends and family… not a bad way to spend the bulk of summer! Here’s what I was up to this past month:

thank-you-14

In July I read a total of 9 books:

  1. Hard Times by Charles Dickens
  2. North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
  3. Middlemarch by George Eliot
  4. The Road by Cormac McCarthy
  5. George’s Marvelous Medicine by Roald Dahl
  6. Echo by Nadette Rae Rodgers
  7. Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbit
  8. The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
  9. Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

I honestly can’t believe I read so many books this past month, especially since many of them are LONG (I’m looking at you, Middlemarch). Picking a favorite is difficult, but I think the best book I read in July has to be Tuck Everlasting. This short little read was absolutely adorable, charming, and insightful. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it! I never read it when I was younger but I wish I had– I feel like it’s something I would have loved.

thank-you-15

It happened, people: I finally visited Willa Cather’s grave!! This is something I’ve been wanting to do ever since I learned a few months ago that it’s located a little over an hour away from where I live. Willa Cather is one of my favorite authors, so standing at the foot of her grave was absolutely surreal. I went on a rather dreary day, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying every second of it. You can read more about my adventures in this graveyard here. 

My family and I were also able to spend a few days by the lake in July, which means I had plenty of reading time by the water. And who can pass up the opportunity to take some bookish photos in such a beautiful place? (Not me!)

The majority of July was spent trying to plow through my required reading for Oxford, finishing up paperwork for studying abroad, spending time with friends I haven’t seen in a while, and working. It’s strange to think that we’re already more than half way through summer… September will be here before we know it! Also, I started watching the TV series Fargo… is anyone else obsessed with this series?!?!?!

thank-you-16

This past week I also had the amazing opportunity to participate in the Booktube-A-Thon. As you can tell from my initial TBR post, I really wasn’t expecting to get through much reading in a single week. However, in twist that I never saw coming I was actually able to complete almost all of the challenges and read even more than what I had put on my TBR!! I’m so happy with the progress I made and I actually miss the Booktube-A-Thon already. There’s just such fantastic positive bookish energy during those intense seven days of reading! ❤

Here are some notable posts from my blog this past month:

Here are some posts that I loved reading this month (there are so many!!):

How was your month of July? What was the best book you read? Did you do anything really fun or exciting? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Bookish

I Visited Willa Cather’s Grave

One day while reading a short bio of Willa Cather I stumbled upon the fact that she’s buried in Jaffrey, New Hampshire, only an hour and a half from where I live.

As you can imagine, I was ecstatic.

I was shocked when I learned she’s buried in NH because I knew she was born in Virginia and raised in Nebraska. Though she died in Manhattan, she asked to be buried in Jeffrey because apparently it was where she wrote a lot of her novels. She’s buried there with Edith Lewis, the woman she lived with for decades.

The sign on the Meeting House in Jaffrey, NH.

Recently my mom and I made the trek to Jaffrey to see the grave in person. She’s buried in the Old Burial Ground behind the Meeting House, which is a really beautiful old building in and of itself. When we pulled into the dirt parking lot on that rainy Friday morning we weren’t quite sure where we were headed, but fortunately we easily found her grave site because it’s in a corner near a stone wall (which we had to hop). The burial ground itself was actually kind of beautiful, even though that might sound weird. There were so many old, weathered headstones in all kinds of shapes and sizes. Part of me wanted to just stroll through it row by row and take it all in, but the rain encouraged us to be quick to avoid getting completely soaked. I was almost glad it was raining because it made the day feel cozy, peaceful, and even sort of eerie.

When we finally arrived at her headstone I couldn’t help but gasp. There she was. There’s a great quote from My Ántonia on Cather’s headstone, which made me so happy because I love that book immensely. There were also a bunch of rocks and pennies on her grave, most likely from others who admire her work as well.

I was definitely the happiest person in this burial graveyard (and the only person besides my mom).

Standing in front of Willa Cather’s grave was surreal. Too often it can feel as though authors are these untouchable, legendary figures who live on forever through the pages of their work. While visiting a grave like this it’s impossible to not feel a wave of realization wash over you: this woman was human, with hopes and dreams and flaws and desires just like the rest of us. Though I sometimes like to believe that the books I love hold a sort of elevated notion of truth and meaning that emanates from their spines, it’s important to remember that these texts were written by people just like us. Writers exist beyond their work, which is easy to forget when you’re engrossed in their stories and captivated by their words. Visiting Cather’s grave made everything feel much more real, tangible, and within reach.

Needless to say, I want to read everything that Willa Cather has ever written now, even more so than I did before. I’m so happy I had the opportunity to visit such an interesting piece of literary history— it’s definitely a place I would visit again in the future!

Have you ever visited the grave sites of your favorite authors? (Also, how weird is that question out of context?!) Do you have a favorite novel or short story by Willa Cather? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

ARCs, Books

HEMMED IN edited by M.R. Nelson | ARC Review

Hemmed In is a collection of six short stories written by women, about women. In the words of editor M.R. Nelson, the stories in this collection are about “women, the restrictions on their lives, and the ways they found to make space for themselves despite those restrictions.” When I was offered an ARC of this collection in exchange for an honest review I immediately knew I had to accept. Not only does Hemmed In include a story by Willa Cather, one of my all-time favorite writers, but it also highlights stories and writers that are often forgotten. My favorite aspect of this collection is the common thread that links these stories together: a woman’s role in society, both among men as well as other women. I’ve most often come across short story collections organized by shared time periods or by the same author, but this one struck me as particularly interesting and unique. Since there are only six stories, I’ll share my thoughts on each one:

+ “A Jury of Her Peers” by Susan Glaspell. I was sucked into this story from the moment it began. This murder mystery demonstrates a mutual understanding that can exist among women. It emphasizes the importance of being there for each other, being empathetic, and reaching out before it’s too late to do so. Though we may not always realize it, we share similar experiences that we can all learn and grow from.

+ “A Pair of Silk Stockings” by Kate Chopin. I read dozens of short stories by Chopin for one of my courses last semester and I love the way she manages to captivate the reader in just a few quick pages. This story counters the idea that mothers are supposed to be eternally selfless. How can you take care of others if you don’t take care of yourself, too? By choosing to splurge and spend money on herself rather than her family, the protagonist shows that women are people with needs, desires, dreams, and wills of their own.

+ “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. Unlike the other stories in this collection, “The Yellow Wallpaper” is written with a sort of stream of consciousness style as though the protagonist is writing her thoughts in a journal. Though her husband, a physician, repeatedly assures her that time alone will help her “recover,” what she really desires is to play a more active, social role in society. This powerful story of a supposedly “sick” woman illustrates the way women have been trapped physically, mentally, and emotionally. Gilman’s writing is clever, genuine, and really puts the reader in the shoes of the protagonist.

+ “Little Selves” by Mary Lerner. This story is just so, so sweet. Despite the fact that the protagonist is on her deathbed, she nevertheless finds solace in looking back on her happiest memories. Lerner’s optimistic story suggests that women are capable of leading fulfilling lives that they can look back on fondly.

+ “The Leading Lady” by Edna Ferber. I love that the overall message of this story is the importance of camaraderie and friendship among women. It made me want to call up all of my amazing friends who are women and thank them for always being there for me, just as the protagonist finds comfort in speaking with the women she meets in the hotel. This is “girl power” at its finest!

+ “The Bohemian Girl” by Willa Cather. I was thrilled when I discovered that a Willa Cather story is included in this collection. I fell in love with this story from the very beginning, especially because it gives off strong My Antonia vibes. In fact, there are many similarities between this short story and that novel. For instance, there are the familiar conflicts between home and away, rural areas and cities, the past and the present. Both Nils and Jim Burden inevitably return to their pasts on the farm, though with differing outcomes. This is actually the first short story I’ve read by Cather, but it certainly won’t be the last!

Overall, the entire premise behind a “taster flight” of short stories such as Hemmed In is brilliant and incredibly effective at highlighting a specific point or theme. In this case, these stories work to showcase not only the talent of women as writers but also the perseverance of women in spite of the discrimination and subordination we have faced throughout history. As an added bonus, I have now been introduced to several writers whose work I need to read more of!

Would I recommend this to a friend?: Yes!! I would recommend this to anyone interested in feminist writing, any of the particular authors featured in the collection, or simply short stories in general.

What are your thoughts on this collection? Have any related recommendations based on these authors? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: Best Books of 2017 (So Far)

Happy Tuesday!! Since we’re around halfway done with 2017 (eek!) it’s time to reflect on what I’ve read so far this year. Though my reading slowed to a near halt during the first few months of this year due to my busy semester at school, but it picked up significantly once I moved back home for the summer in May. (I’ve read SO MANY books since I’ve been home and it feels WONDERFUL.) Hosted by the lovely bloggers at The Broke and the Bookish, this week’s TTT theme is the Top Ten Best Books of 2017 (So Far). In no particular order, here are my favorites with some snippets of my thoughts from reviews I’ve written about them:

The Shining by Stephen King

From my review: 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!

Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur

From my review: I bought a copy of Milk and Honey on a whim because I had heard a lot of great things about it. What I didn’t realize was that Rupi’s words would resonate so deeply with me and linger on in my mind long after I had read them. These poems are for anyone and everyone, regardless of whether or not you’ve read or enjoyed poetry in the past. Rupi Kaur has written poetry for human nature.

How to Ruin Everything by George Watsky

From my review: Reading this book felt like having the a random, hilarious, and well-spoken conversation with Watsky. How to Ruin Everything is definitely something I’ll be returning to in the future– for a laugh, for inspiration, and to be reminded that there’s nothing quite like the power of a good story.

As You Wish by Cary Elwes

From my review: Reading this memoir was such a fun, entertaining, and interesting experience. Not only did I learn a lot about Elwes and everything that went into making this movie, but my eyes were also opened to the entire film-making process in general. As You Wish is a must-read for any fan of The Princess Bride. Now all I want to do is re-watch the movie!

A Room with a View by E.M. Forster

From my review: A Room with a View is basically an English major’s dream novel. As I was reading I couldn’t help but think how many interesting papers could be written about it. You could discuss the entire concept of a “room with a view” and what that means, the contrast between the liminal space of the woods as opposed to the confines of the domestic sphere, the hierarchy of social classes, the portrayal of women and their role in society, the differences between Italy and England– the list goes on and on!

The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder

From my review: The time period and setting and characters are so specifically and carefully crafted with tiny details, yet the story itself could really have taken place anywhere. This is a testament to the universality of this novel’s major themes and questions about life and death, a reflection of the fact that we all must face these issues at some point in our lives. The stories of these five individuals present a sort of microcosm of life in general, presenting the reader with different challenges and experiences that must be confronted eventually.

Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather

From my review: For me, the experience of reading  Cather novel is like coming home after months of being away: it’s familiar, refreshing, comforting, and sweetly nostalgic… reading Death Comes for the Archbishop has reaffirmed Cather as one of my favorite authors.

The Song of the Lark by Willa Cather

From my review: I was enthralled by this novel. Everything about it captivated me from the very first sentence to the very last word. In fact, I was enjoying it so much that I marked all of my favorite passages with sticky notes, only to realize halfway through that I would have to take them all out when I was finished (it was a library book).

{I forgot to take a photo of my library copy– whoops!}

Sartoris by William Faulkner

From my review: What has always stood out to me the most about Faulkner’s novels is how character driven they are in every sense. The plot seems almost secondary, as though all that really matters are the thoughts within and relationships between the characters. (And sometimes this is all we are ever given!) In some ways it feels like more happens in texts that are steered by characters rather than plot because we are always learning more about characters’ changing beliefs, values, and attitudes as the story progresses.

Matilda by Roald Dahl

From my review (scheduled): I really wish I had read this book when I was younger because I think Matilda’s character would have really resonated with me. Younger Holly would have been thrilled to read about a bookworm like myself who triumphed over obstacles against all odds. Matilda is such an important character for children to read about, both as a bookish hero as well as a strong, clever, independent female character.

What are the best books that you’ve read so far in 2017? What do you think of the books I’ve mentioned? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY