Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: My Fall TBR

I'm not sure how much reading I will be getting done this fall as I have just started teaching. I am writing up this post quite far in advance, so I have no idea how much reading current me is doing! Here's some books that I would like to curl up with this fall. You'll notice I crave historical fiction and mysteries in the fall and winter seasons!
Hosted by: The Broke and the Bookish

1. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, J.K. Rowling 
I have been working my way through this series, and this is the next in line. I really want to dive into this one and continue with this reread, but the size mixed with my limited reading time is making me hesitant. I might find myself diving into this comfort read in the midst of things anyways.

2. Jane and the Unpleasantness at Scargrave Manor, Stephanie Barron
Fall is the perfect time to read mysteries! I have been wanting to dig into this series where Jane Austen solves mysteries for a while because it sounds so cute! I think fall will be the perfect time to start this series.

3. More than This, Patrick Ness
This book has been calling my name from my shelf for a long time.


4. A Tyranny of Petticoats, Jessica Spotswood
I really think I will love this collection, but for whatever reason, I haven't dug into it yet. With a second volume coming out next year, I really want to get into this one!

5. Sleeping Giants, Sylvain Neuvel  
This book is number one on my buy list right now! I've heard that this is a decent start to the series but that the second one is better and I really want to dig in! I've really been craving some quality science fiction lately.

6. The Gentlemen's Guide to Vice and Virtue, Mackenzi Lee
I've been hearing lots of great things about this one, and I love the sound of the premise. I really want to pick this one up and dig in!

7. Dust Tracks on a Road, Zora Neal Hurston
I've been loading up my TBR with feminist nonfiction, and this is one I want to get to very soon!

8. Tipping the Velvet, Sarah Waters 
I loved Water's Fingersmith so I'm eager to read more from her. Her books always have a mysterious element to them, and a great historical atmosphere, which screams fall to me.

9. Other Voices, Other Rooms, Truman Capote 
I've been meaning to read more of Capote's fiction since I have only read his short stories. I think this novel will be perfect for fall as it sounds a bit creepy and strange.

10.  All the Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doer
Another book that has been on my TBR forever and would be perfect for the fall weather! 

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

My Feminist Non-Fiction TBR List is Out of Control, Ya'll!

The other day, I was going through my Goodreads TBR shelf, and realized I had a lot of nonfiction on my TBR that I really wanted to get to, upon further inspection, I noticed that most of that nonfiction had feminist themes. Now, this isn't really surprising since I love to read about and study gender and gender issues, but it did remind me of a number of really interesting sounding books I want to get to very soon. So, here's a look at a few of the feminist nonfiction novels on my TBR. Check out my Goodreads to see both my feminist and nonfiction shelves.

Steinem is a feminist icon that I admittedly don't know much about. I will be picking this one up first, as I have an ebook copy from my library, and I'm hoping it will serve as a good introduction to Steinmen. I have spent a lot more time reading about the first wave of feminism, as compared to the second, so I'm interested to read more about the second wave and hear it from someone who was there!  

If you read my most recent Poetry Spotlight on Millay, you'll know she is one of my favorite poets, and she lived a very interesting and unconventional life. She was openly bisexual, had many public affairs during her long-time marriage, and was an activist in the political sphere, all while remaining one of the best and most recognized poets of her time as well as the the twentieth century. I'm really eager to learn more about Millay, and this 600-plus page biography seems perfect for that. 

This one sounds really interesting as it covers the way women in the public eye are viewed and discussed by the general public. It covers a range of women including Britney Spears, Billie Holiday, Hillary Clinton, and more. With the more recent tendencies to examine the sexist language and thought patterns in the media towards women, I think this book will be both interesting and important. 

And of course, leave me some recommendations of feminist nonfiction in the comments! 

Monday, September 11, 2017

Recently Reread: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (and thoughts on comfort)

Author: J.K. Rowling
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Publication Date: 2000
Page Count: 734
Rating: 5/5

Add on Goodreads

If you read this post, you will know that I am starting a new endeavor as a student teacher and completing my internship to receive my teaching degree. Because this is a big, scary, and unpredictable experience, I have been feeling nervous lately. So, I decided to pick up one of my favorite comfort reads, Harry Potter. 

I've been rereading this series for the past year or so, picking one up every once and a while, and this was the next in line for my reread. I took this one to the beach with me when I went for a long weekend, and I loved getting back into this world. Goblet of Fire is the novel where the books start to take a dark turn, and the plot really kicks into high gear. I remember reading that one line in the novel (the one where the first death takes place) over and over when I first read this book, because I thought that I had to have read it wrong. I was shocked to read that line, and completely enthralled with this book. That was the first time I really understood the evil that was in this novel, and I think that the ending of this book is one of the best endings in the series.    

One of the reasons I think Harry Potter is such a comfort read for me, is that each time I reread one of the books, I remember reading them for the first time as a young kid. It invokes the joy of being a kid, staying up way past your bedtime, curled in bed, and reading a book that you can't put down. Each time I reread these books, they get funnier, and the genius of Rowling's character development and symbols become more apparent. I love that I loved these novels for the story as a kid, and now as an adult, I love them for the story and the literary elements that they display so well. I find new things in this story every time I read it, and they truly are timeless. 

Of course, after finishing this I was itching to pick up Order of the Phoenix but I decided to wait on it a bit since that is the largest novel in the series. But I see myself picking it up very soon! 

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

A Few of my Favorite Unreliable Narrators

One of my favorite elements to find in a book is an unreliable narrator. Although it is difficult to get just right, unreliable narrators and unlikeable characters are fascinating to read about, and you know an author is good when they master these elements. A well-done unreliable narrator will keep the reader on their toes and prevent them from getting comfortable and solid footing at times, which I love. Here's a compilation of some of my favorite unreliable narrators, and please leave me your recommendations for similar books below!

Book Titles Link to Reviews!

I was totally captured by this novel. It was violent and dramatic, but I couldn't stop reading! Luke is a great narrator, as like any good unreliable narrator, he is crazy yet believes himself totally justified! I really enjoyed writing the review for this one as I had a LOT of thoughts after finishing this one!

It's been quite a while since I have read this one and I would love to reread it soon, but I remember being enthralled with the beautiful writing in this novel. Nabokov just wrote this novel to prove the power of beautiful words, and trust me, he is successful. You end up feeling for Humbert Humbert during the course of the novel even though you know you shouldn't. Nabokov was truly a master of the written word.

I am becoming a huge fan of Jackson's writing, and this short novel was so thought provoking and eerie. Merrikat is the perfect unreliable narrator; the narration and mysterious atmosphere keeps you guessing at the truth for the whole novel.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
This is one of my all-time favorite novels, and a novel I will die to defend! A lot of people dislike this book or think it's overrated and I couldn't disagree more! This book is full of unlikable characters, that serve a purpose to the story and themes, and Nick (while not crazy like a lot of unreliable narrators) is not always truthful. His biased and unchecked narration is essential to the reader's 'larger-than-life' perception of Gatsby and the unflattering perceptions of the novel's other characters. Man, I could write a book about this novel, which is how you know it's worth the hype! 

What unreliable narrators do you love?  Introduce me to my new favorite unreliable narrator!

Monday, September 4, 2017

Recently Read: We Have Always Lived in the Castle

Author: Shirley Jackson
Genre: Modern Classic
Page Count: 146
Publication Date: 1962
Rating: 4/5

Add on Goodreads

Also by Shirley Jackson:
The Lottery and Other Stories

The Blackwood family has lived in their mansion house for generations. New women move in each generation, bringing their own dishware with them, adding layers to the house, but the newest layer added to the Blackwood mansion is murder. Mary Kathrine's sister Constance has been accused of murdering her family, and although she was found innocent, the town refuses to forget it. 

As soon as I finished Jackson's short story collection, I treated myself to the beautiful Penguin Deluxe Edition of this novel as I knew I would love it, and I did. I am now eager to read everything Jackson put out. I read this one in two sittings because I couldn't put it down. 

This novel is eerie in the same vein as Jackson's short stories; Jackson doesn't rely on the supernatural or the paranormal to make the reader uneasy, instead she uses the everyday, and ordinary people, to create the eerieness of her stories. Jackson is a master at showcasing that the real monster is man (think Twilight Zone) and I love every minute of it. This story was extremely character driven, and I lover Merrikat as a narrator. Merrikat's narration of the story added a prefect veil of mystery over the story that mixed beautifully with the Gothic atmosphere of the mansion. 

This novel deals with themes of isolation and suspicion as well as loyalty and guilt. The novel leaves many questions unanswered, but gives you enough clues to come to a conclusion of your own. Many critics site this as Jackson's most personal novel as she was dealing with agoraphobia (fear of leaving her house) while she wrote this novel, which happens to have been her last completed project. Jackson's works are always an intimate and unsettling look into the human mind and human tendencies, and leave me feeling creeped out but so entertained. This is a book that would be great to discuss with other people, and something I would love to see on film. I know there is one film adaptation, but I don't know anything about it. Let me know it you have seen it! 

What's your favorite Jackson novel? I'll be on the look-out for her novels every time I visit a bookstore now! 

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

School and Life Update (I'm a student teacher)

If you guys have been around for a little while, you will know that I have been in college studying to become a high school English teacher for the entirety of my time on the blog. This has meant that my posting and reading schedule has never been steady, but I have loved my time (for the most part) as a student of education and literature. This week, I start my student teaching assignment, which is sixteen weeks of (unpaid) full-time teaching under a mentor teacher. I'll be working with two teachers and teaching two sections of freshman literature and composition, a section of sophomore literature and composition, and two section of advanced placement English. I'm super excited for this experience, (and a little nervous of course) but I'm not sure what it will mean for the blog and my reading. Of course I would love to continue reading in my time outside of the classroom, but I'm not sure if I will have the time and energy for it; the same goes for blogging. Along with full time teaching, I have other assignments and classes I must attend through my university, so I know my days will be full.

I have a few posts completed already, and will be working before this one goes up to hopefully complete a few more, but just know if I disappear, that's why. After completing my student teaching, I will be able to apply for my teaching license and get hired as a full-time teacher! I'm almost there, and I'm very excited about it!

Hopefully I will be popping in semi-frequently to update you on what I'm reading and loving! 

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: The Classics You Really Should Have Read in School (Hidden Gems)

We all know how much I love talking about under-rated classics, so of course I was going to spin this week's hidden gems topic in that fashion. High school and college English classes are always assigning the same reading material, and while most of it is really good, it would be nice to switch it up every once and a while. So here are ten hidden gem classics that I think deserve a spot on syllabus lists everywhere. Unsurprisingly, you will note that 8/10 of these works are written by women. It's 2017 people, let's get some women on our syllabuses!  
Hosted by: The Broke and the Bookish

1. Passing by Nella Larson
I've talked about this one in regard to hidden gems a couple of times on the blog. This is an amazing novel about race, women, and Harlem in the 1920s. I really need to reread this one soon.

2. The End of the Affair by Graham Greene
This short novel packs quite a powerful punch as it covers a lot of really big themes. It comments on religious faith, romantic love, and keeping a sense of self while in a romantic relationship. This is the only Greene I have read so far, even though I own quite a few, so I really need to get to more of his works.

3. We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
I just recently finished this one, so I haven't even reviewed it yet, but it's safe to say that this novel has officially cemented my love of Shirley Jackson. This short novel is eerie, thought provoking, and loveable.


4. Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
This novella has been one of my favorites for quite a while, and I talk about it any chance I get. I love the straightforward story line that Wharton amps up by creating complex characters and intricate symbols. Wharton is another author that I need to dive into along with Greene. Suggestions on where to start with her novels are much appreciated!

5. The Kiss by Kate Chopin 
Chopin is a genius, and although at least one of her short stories can usually be found on a reading list, either "Desiree's Baby" or "The Story of an Hour," her shortest story, "The Kiss" is my favorite. Chopin writes powerful feminist literature that gets better and better every time you read it.

6. In Our Time by Ernest Hemingway
While it's not unusual to find Hemingway on a reading list, you almost never find In Our Time on this list, which I think, is one of his best. It was written very early on in his career and contains short stories all loosely connected by vignettes. While I dislike Hemingway as a person very much, I can't deny his incredible writing talent.


7. The Lamplighter by Maria Susana Cummins 
This is a very long, and semi-forgotten, novel of nineteenth century America. It's a Dickens-esque drama written by a female author about a female character. Although it's long, it is quite enjoyable and was a huge success during its time. This is a key domestic novel in the era of the independent women writer. See this post for more on these independent women writers.

8. Memoirs of a Beatnik by Diane di Prima
This novel has such an interesting back story, I suggest you read my review (linked above) before reading this novel. This is not a truthful memoir, but what was requested of di Prima from her publisher and it perfectly embodies di Prima's struggle as a woman poet in the male lead Beatnik era.

9. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Sparks 
Another short novel that packs a punch, although a quieter punch than some of the others. This novel is such an interesting look at the complicated feelings between children regarding adults.

10. Trifles by Susan Glaspell 
This one act play is about as clever as it gets. I loved this play when I read it for the first time and thought I had never read anything quite as true and clever in my life. It's heavy feminist themes were perfect for its 1916 debut and current times.