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

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Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: Short Stories that Exceed Tall Expectations

Happy Tuesday!! This week’s Top Ten Tuesday theme (hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl) asks us to share our favorite short story collections. While I usually prefer reading novels over short stories, I have enjoyed several fantastic collections. Here are a few of my favorites!

Apparently I haven’t read enough short story collections to fill this entire list.. but the ones I have read are excellent!

What are your favorite short story collections? What do you think of the ones I’ve mentioned here? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: Summer 2018 TBR

Happy Tuesday!! More importantly: HAPPY SUMMER! I’m officially back from Oxford for the next eight weeks, which means it’s time to share the books I’m most looking forward to reading this summer. This is a conglomeration of books that friends have recommended to me, that remind me of Oxford, and that I’ve been meaning to read for ages. Hopefully I’ll be able to get through all of them, but no promises!

What are you looking forward to reading this summer? What are your thoughts on the books I’ve mentioned here? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: Best Character Names {For Plants}

Happy Tuesday!! This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic (hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl) is supposed to be Best Character Names; however, as per usual I’ve decided to put my own spin on it. A few years ago I made a Top Ten Tuesday list of Characters I’d Name My Plants After, which was a blast. Today I’d like to do a similar list along those lines, so I’ll be sharing ten character names for plants. {Shout out to my plants back at home in the States– hope you’re still alive on my window sill!}

What are some of your favorite character names (for plants or otherwise)? What do you think of the ones I’ve mentioned? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Study Abroad

A Year of Oxford Reading Lists | Holly Goes Abroad

What do we have here? A Holly Goes Abroad post on a Wednesday?! Indeed. A few weeks ago someone commented asking if I could share all of my required reading lists from my year studying at Oxford, so that’s what I’m going to do today. I’m posting this in the middle of the week because it’s more about books than the traveling aspect itself… besides, I have so many of these abroad posts that I want to write and not enough Sundays to post them on!

Here’s how my required reading works: about a month before each term begins I get reading lists for the primary and secondary tutorials I’ll be taking next (primary meets every week, secondary meets every other). I usually try to read all of those books during my five-week breaks between term because once term begins I’m inundated with mountains of secondary sources (mostly literary criticism articles from JSTOR) which I use to write my weekly essays. Doing so much prep reading is arduous to say the least, but it definitely pays off in the long run because it eases some of the pressure of term-time. To be honest, I don’t know how people survive without doing any prep work at all– especially English lit students!

The following lists are all of the primary texts (mostly novels, but also some essays and poems) I’ve had to read for my tutorials–and yes, I’ve read every. single. one. of. them. (If you’ve wondering how I’ve managed to double my Goodreads reading goal already, this is why.)

Primary: Victorian Literature

  1. Hard Times by Charles Dickens
  2. North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
  3. Alfred Tennyson, Ulysses’
  4. Elizabeth Barrett Browning, ‘The Runaway Slave at Pilgrim’s Point’
  5. Robert Browning ‘Porphyria’s Lover’; ‘Fra Lippo Lippi’
  6. Matthew Arnold, ‘Dover Beach’
  7. Middlemarch by George Eliot
  8. The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
  9. Christina Rossetti, ‘Goblin Market’
  10. DG Rossetti, ‘Jenny’
  11. Augusta Webster ‘A Castaway’
  12. Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights
  13. Henry James, The Turn of the Screw
  14. Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray
  15. Bram Stoker, Dracula
  16. Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness
  17. E.M. Forster, Where Angels Fear to Tread

Secondary: William Faulkner

  1. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
  2. Light in August by William Faulkner
  3. Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner
  4. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
  5. Intruder in the Dust by William Faulkner

Primary: English Literature 1910-Present

  1. Ann Veronica by H.G. Wells
  2. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
  3. Not So Quiet: Stepdaughters of War by Helen Zenna Smith
  4. “Peace” by Rupert Brooke
  5. “Glory to Women” by Siegfried Sassoon
  6. “Anthem for Doomed Youth” by Wilfred Owen
  7. “Dulce et decorum est” by Wilfred Owen
  8. Nightwood by Djuna Barnes
  9. Night by Eli Wiesel
  10. Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin
  11. On Beauty by Zadie Smith
  12. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Secondary: Writing Feminisms

  1. A Vindication of the Rights of Woman by Mary Wollstonecraft
  2. Woman and Labour by Olive Schreiner
  3. “This Sex Which Is Not One” by Luce Irigaray
  4. “Fin de Siecle, Fin de Sexe: transsexuality and the death of history” in Doing Time by Rita Felski
  5. Many, many, many poems by Emily Dickinson
  6. Memorial: An Excavation of the Iliad by Alice Oswald
  7. White Teeth by Zadie Smith
  8. Playing in the Dark by Toni Morrison

Primary: Postcolonial Literature

  1. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
  2. The Bacchae of Euripides by Wole Soyinka
  3. Death and the King’s Horseman by Wole Soyinka
  4. Butterfly Burning by Yvonne Vera
  5. Changes by Ama Ata Aidoo
  6. The Autobiography of My Mother by Jamaica Kincaid
  7. Lucy by Jamaica Kincaid
  8. Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri
  9. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  10. The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundati Roy

Secondary: Virginia Woolf in Modernist Contexts

  1. The Waste Land by T.S. Eliot
  2. To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
  3. Ulysses by James Joyce (only the first few sections)
  4. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
  5. Orlando by Virginia Woolf
  6. How to be Both by Ali Smith
  7. A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf
  8. Between the Acts by Virginia Woolf

I hope you’ve enjoyed this look into what I’ve been reading for the past year… it’s a lot! I don’t know how I managed to read all of these AND sneak in some books for fun along the way… SO. MUCH. READING.

Click here to check out other posts in my Holly Goes Abroad series!

Have you read any of these books before. What did you think of them? Have you taken courses like this before? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Awards

Mystery Blogger Award | 3

Start warming up your super-sleuth abilities because it’s time for another Mystery Blogger Award. Thanks so much to Erin @ Her Big Mouth Book Blog for nominating me!!

  • Thank whoever nominated you and link to their blog
  • Mention the creator of the award and provide a link as well
  • Tell your readers 3 things about yourself
  • Nominate roughly 10 – 20 people for this award
  • Ask your nominees five questions

  1. When I was in high school I used to exclusively wear argyle patterned socks.
  2. My two favorite TV shows are The Office and Lost (I can’t possibly choose between them).
  3. I have three piercings in each ear.

  1. Which book got you interested in reading? I honestly can’t remember the first book that got me into reading. I was lucky that my parents read a lot to me when I was younger, so I don’t clearly remember most of the books that were read to me then. I do remember loving If You Give A Pig A Pancake by Laura Numeroff, mostly because I thought the pig was adorable and wanted one for a friend.
  2. What’s your biggest bookish pet peeve? Love triangles, especially when they’re used as the only thing driving the plot forward. I mean, how often do love triangles really happen in actuality? Why are they used so often in fiction? Isn’t there something more interesting to write about?
  3. What’s your greatest strength as a reader? Greatest weakness? I think my greatest strength is that I like a variety of genres. My greatest weakness is probably that I don’t often remember the details of books once I finish them, so whenever I read for my courses I have to take copious notes for reference later on.
  4. What author would you like to interview and why? Definitely William Faulkner because I would love to know his motivations for writing the kinds of characters and stories that he did. What did he really think about race? Gender? Class? And how did he develop an entire fictional county over numerous novels and short stories?
  5. What are your favorite kind of blog posts to write? I really enjoy writing discussion posts, especially rambling ones. It’s nice to be able to get down my thoughts on paper (or my laptop screen) and then hear what other people have to say if they write comments.

  1. If you could create any crayon color, what would it be?
  2. What’s the last song you listened to?
  3. Do you prefer driving or being the passenger of a car?
  4. What book are you most looking forward to reading next?
  5. What’s the weather like right now where you live?

Thanks again to Erin 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

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Could Reread Forever

Happy Tuesday!! I am so excited about this week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic because it features one of my absolute favorite parts about being a bookworm: rereading. I adore rereading my favorite books over and over and over again for countless reasons: the comforting familiarity, the brilliant writing, the characters that feel like old friends you haven’t spoken to in a while… the list goes on and on! It is my pleasure to share with you this list of ten books that I could reread forever. 

Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

I know I mention this book all the time but that is certainly not going to stop me from highlighting it here! I’ve read this novel more times than I can count and each time I do I become invested in Taylor and Jonah’s story all over again. It contains everything I love: characters with depth, a boarding school setting, stories within stories, literary references, beautiful writing, and a plot twist at the end that I never saw coming.

The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

I first read The Hobbit when I was in fifth grade and then continued on with the trilogy before the following summer was out. I love these books to pieces and they’ve played such an important role in shaping me into the avid reader that I am today. (Favorite of the bunch? Definitely Two Towers. For some reason I’ve always had a dear attachment to it!)

Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling

What would a list of rereads be without mentioning good old Harry Potter? I’m sure I’m not the only one who has featured this in their list this week. I’ve read many of the books a handful of times, although I can’t remember ever rereading Goblet of Fire now that I think about it…. (that’s my least favorite of the seven). I could definitely reread these books (and rewatch the movies) forever!

The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner

I reread this book for the first time last summer and was taken aback by how many new things I noticed. I’m now a firm believer that Faulkner is meant to be read more than once and I’m already looking forward to reading this brilliant, fascinating, bewildering novel again and again in the future. (The same goes for basically all of Faulkner’s works for me!)

The BFG by Roald Dahl

I was first read this adorable book by my fourth grade teacher in elementary school– and then again in fifth grade by the same teacher. Since then I’ve reread it once or twice and have loved it even more each time. Road Dahl is the master at creating timeless stories that captivate readers of all ages. There’s nothing like going back to this old favorite!

The Outcasts of 19 Schuyler Place by E.L. Konigsburg

I purchased my first and only copy of this book at a Scholastic book fair (I miss those so much!) when I was in third grade and I have read it nearly every summer since then. Not only is this simply an entertaining, clever summer camp story, but it’s also a novel about growing up and realizing that even adults don’t really know what they’re doing (what’s more liberating than that?!).

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

This is definitely one of those classics that never get old. There are countless fascinating ways to read and interpret this novel, from focusing on colors and other motifs to thinking about location, the American Dream, the role of women, prohibition, narrative voice– the list goes on and on! I’ve studied this in two different classes over the years and I honestly hope I get to study it again before undergrad is over.

Looking for Alaska by John Green

This may be John Green’s debut novel, but it remains my absolute favorite out of all the ones he has written. I love how the story seems so simple yet involves all of the complex and confusing emotions we each experience at one point or another. Besides, this novel has some of my favorite quotes in it!

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

It’s generally rare for me to want to reread mystery novels once I know how they end; however, this book has always been the exception to that rule. This murder mystery is so cleverly executed that I never tire of tiptoeing around its twists and turns over and over again. (If anyone has seen the BBC mini series, I’d be really interested to hear what you think of it because I have yet to watch it!)

The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass

I. Love. This. Text. I’ve written numerous papers about it for various classes over the years and Douglass’ story never ceases to amaze, inspire, and intrigue me. Douglass’ life story is as captivating as his writing is eloquent, making Narrative a text that I’ll undoubtedly return to again and again in the future.

What books could you endlessly reread? What do you think of the books on my list? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Books

THE HAMLET by William Faulkner | Review

The Hamlet (1940), the first novel in William Faulkner’s Snopes trilogy, tells the story of Flem Snopes’ rise to relative power and influence in Frenchman’s Bend. Yoknapatawpha County is the iconic backdrop to this slow burn of a novel, one that sets the stage for future books and stories to be written about the Snopes clan. The novel is narrated by V.K. Ratliff, creating a center to which the reader can always come back to when Faulkner’s rambling excursions stray too far from the path.

As you’ve probably noticed from my incessant discussion of Faulkner’s works on this blog, I am an avid Faulkner-file. There isn’t a specific order that I’ve read his works in, so over winter break I decided to read The Hamlet because it was one of the only books I hadn’t read yet in the Faulkner section of my local library. This novel has everything that I love about Faulkner– rambling prose, layered stories, a sprawling cast of characters, and rather haphazard plot points that somehow all make sense when put together. The Hamlet is divided into four sections, each one focusing on different characters but somehow still connecting back to Flem Snopes.

Faulkner certainly doesn’t shy away from unsettling and rather disturbing topics, particularly in this novel. One section focuses primarily on the sexual objectification of Eula Varner, a young teenage girl (around eleven to fourteen years old for much of this section) whose teacher tries to assault her. There is also domestic violence, murder, and even bestiality when Ike Snopes pursues a cow. These sections are not enjoyable to read, but they do say a lot about how Faulkner viewed the South at the time. It’s certainly not a place that I would have wanted to live in.

One of my favorite things about reading Faulkner novels is noticing how they all intertwine. For instance, one section of this novel was originally published as the short story “Spotted Horses” in 1931, which I had read over the summer as part of The Portable Faulkner, edited by Malcolm Cowley. Those horses are also mentioned as belonging to the Snopes family in Faulkner’s 1930 novel As I Lay Dying when Anne Bundren tries to trade for mules. While reading through Faulkner’s works one quickly realizes that they are an interconnected web of characters, places, and events.

Overall, The Hamlet is certainly not my favorite Faulkner novel but it was still enjoyable nonetheless. This novel isn’t something I’d necessarily recommend to someone who has never read Faulkner before, but it’s well worth reading if you’re looking for something besides his usual popular works (The Sound and the Fury, As I Lay Dying, Absalom, Absalom!, etc.). I’m looking forward to reading the rest of this trilogy!

What are your thoughts on The Hamlet? Do you have a favorite Faulkner novel? Let me know in the comments section below?

Yours,

HOLLY

Discussion

Why I Love Character Maps | Discussion

Today I’m here to discuss one of my recent favorite things: character maps. I discovered the greatness of character maps while trudging through all of my required reading for my year at Oxford this past summer. Although there may be many differences between Victorian literature and the works of William Faulkner, there is one important feature that they have in common: SO. MANY. CHARACTERS. Fortunately, character maps are incredibly helpful in these bookish situations. Here’s why:

They help you keep everything straight while you read.

Map for THE SOUND AND THE FURY by William Faulkner

If I know or even suspect that a novel will be confusing due to the sheer number of characters or complicated relationships between them, then I always look up a character map before diving into the actual book. Chances are that for most well-known classics there are character maps already available online, which is where I usually find mine. It’s so helpful being able to quickly refer back to the map whenever you’re unsure about who is related to who or where their marital status stands.

They give you valuable context before you start reading the novel.

WUTHERING HEIGHTS by Emily Bronte

Context is always key before starting a new text, especially if it’s something you’re reading for a course. Not only is context important for better understanding the novel itself, but it also helps get you in the right mindset to read the book. This latter aspect is also a valuable effect of writing down a character map before opening the first page.

They keep you accountable for actually understanding what is going on.

Map for AS I LAY DYING by William Faulkner

Usually I write down character maps before I start reading a novel, but it can also be useful to create them as you read. Although you won’t be able to use it as a reference point in the beginning, creating a character map as you go along is a great way to make sure you’re following what’s happening in the story. You can always look up an actual map later on to ensure that you’re on the right track.

Do you ever create or use character maps? Am I the only one who always struggles to keep all of the characters straight in Wuthering Heights?  Do you have any helpful tips and tricks that you use while reading challenging books? 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