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Quick post here: just wanted to put the word put that the awesome Bookshelvers Anonymous is doing an arc giveaway for Through The Ever Night by Veronica Rossi. This book is the sequel to Under The Never Sky, which was so enthralling that I absolutely can’t wait to read more in the series. Head over to their site to enter the contest and maybe by lucky enough to get this fabulous arc!



So after much consideration, I’ve decided to move this blog over to Blogger. Almost all the old posts are over there (some edited, some condensed, some missing entirely) but I think it will be a much better fit.

Come over and check it out at!



Cover of "Commencement: A novel"

Cover of Commencement: A novel


So I was at the library the other day (though, let’s face it, that’s basically the same thing as saying I was breathing the other day) looking through the Friends of the Library book sale section when I saw Commencement by J. Courtney Sullivan. It had a cute cover and it was only $1.50, so I immediately bought it.


I was also intrigued by the premise: four very different women become close friends during their first year at Smith College and the subsequent years both try their friendship and bring them closer together. Because all of my friends are going off to college literally as we speak (while I’m gap year-ing it thankfully) I felt like this book could not have come at a better time and would probably give me lots of helpful insights into what my friends (and I, eventually) could expect from that first year of college.


So. I started reading the book and I was actually really liking it – the characters were interesting, the writing was fluid, and I loved all the little details about Smith. (Sullivan, it turns out, is a Smith alumnae, and it really shows.) But as I rounded the 50 page mark, I realized that the book, while perfectly enjoyable, didn’t really feel like a novel to me. It felt more like I was reading a very long and well-written dossier about four different people (physical description of Sally, Sally’s family life, Sally’s relationship history etc etc…) in which the events of their lives were relayed in a dry this-happened-and-then-this-happened format, which is fine, you know, if you’re reading a history textbook or a private investigator’s report, but not exactly satisfying in a novel. I think the essential problem was that Sullivan told so much more that she showed.


Apart from that, I thought the book brought up a lot of really interesting and important themes. These women are constantly grappling with what it means to be a true feminist, and how hard it can feel to reconcile being a feminist with wanting to find love. The book also brings up a really valid point which is that the women of this current generation have so many more choices and so much more independence than our ancestors did, and yet there is still a world of opposition against women’s rights, not to mention the fact that these new freedoms present inherent problems and challenges of their own.


As a fully-fledged novel, Commencement missed the mark for me, but as a jumping-off point to explore ideas of modern feminism and the joys and challenges of female friendship, it excelled.



Ode to a Public Library

(Note: Highly adapted from “Ode to a Grecian Urn“…Enjoy!)

Thou still unsullied haven of quietness, 
  Thou mother of Silence and slow Time,
Guardian of History, who canst thus express 
  A fantastical tale of adventurous exploits:
What glorious legends haunt thy stacks 
  Of deities or mortals, or of both,
    In New York or Seattle or Picadilly?
  What men or gods are these? what maidens loth? 
What mad pursuit? What struggle to escape?
   What pipes and timbrels? What wild ecstasy?

Books read are sweet, but those unread 
  Are sweeter; therefore, ye writers, write on;
Not to the curious eye, but, more endear'd, 
  Look to the oft-read lines of no tome:
Fair library, beneath the trees, thou canst not leave 
  Thy books, nor ever can those stacks be bare;
    Bold book-giver, never, never canst thou fail, 
Though funds may run low--yet, do not grieve;
  Books cannot fade, though thou hast not thy capital, 
    For ever wilt thou remain, and still be there!

Ah, happy, happy genres! That cannot shed 
  Your tropes, nor ever bid the library adieu;
And, happy bestsellers, unwearied,
  For ever spinning lines for ever new;
More happy library! More happy, happy place! 
  For ever warm and still to be enjoy'd,
    For ever open, and for ever full to the brim; 
All watchful human eyes far above,
  That leaves a heart full of immortal lines, 
    An anxious pulse, and a critical eye.Who are these coming to the library? 
  To what reader's altar, O mysterious librarian,
Lead'st thou that reader gaping at the stacks, 
  And all her eager hands with arms outstretched?
What little town by river or sea shore, 
  Or mountain-built with peaceful citadel,
    Is emptied of this folk, this pious morn? 
And, little town, thy streets for evermore
  Will silent be; and not a soul to tell 
    Why thou art desolate, can e'er return.O promising shape! Fair attitude! With hopes 
  Of novels long and plots enthralling,
With long halls and the trodden carpets; 
  Thou, silent library, dost tease us out of boredom
As doth eternity: Warms library!
  When old age shall this generation waste, 
    Thou shalt remain, in midst of other woe
Than ours, a friend to man, to whom thou say'st,
  'Books are truth, truth books'--that is all 
    Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.

The Last American Man by Elizabeth Gilbert


Cover of "The Last American Man"

Cover of The Last American Man


So I guess you could say that I’m a hesitant fan of Elizabeth Gilbert. I read and enjoyed Eat, Pray, Love and Committed and (to a lesser extent) Stern Men, and I adore her TEDTalk, but there’s always been something I’ve found to be…slightly narcissistic and off-putting about her. But I just read her book The Last American Man and it is WONDERFUL. TLAM is a study of modern-day wilderness man Eustace Conway, who left home at seventeen to pursue an authentic life, living solely off the land. In what could have been an overly romanticized portrait of a rapidly dying breed, Gilbert manages to convey all of the complexity and contradictions of Conway – a man both fanatical and charismatic, perfectionistic and deeply flawed. It is a testament to Gilbert’s skills as a writer that Conway is so precisely drawn in his particular eccentricities and manias – even at his most idealistic, he is unmistakably human.



Five Quarters of the Orange and Chocolat



Cover of "Five Quarters of the Orange"

Cover of Five Quarters of the Orange


I recently read both Five Quarters of the Orange and Chocolat by Joanne Harris and they are both beautifully written and evocative books. FQotO is a somewhat darker and more mysterious novel, telling parallel stories of a french girl’s childhood and her later life as a small-town restaurant owner. Chocolat, on the other hand, is exuberant and celebratory. With its luscious descriptions of sweets, it seems to be begging the reader to taste every delicious aspect of life while it lasts. Throughout both books run deep veins of secrecy, mystery, wanderlust, appetite, and distrust. Mothers make delicious meals and carry dark secrets in their hearts. Daughters are wild and quietly mutinous. Judgmental neighbors look on with calculating eyes. The worlds that Harris conjures up are completely sensory, deeply absorbing, and intricately detailed.



Franny and Zooey and Vonnegut

Cover of "Cat's Cradle: A Novel"

Cover of Cat’s Cradle: A Novel

Last year, something wonderful happened to me: I fell in love. No, it wasn’t with a fellow student, and no, we have never actually spoken, but when I first picked up Slaughterhouse Five, I knew the love I felt for Kurt Vonnegut would never diminish.

So imagine my joy when my friend leant me Cat’s Cradle, and I was again immersed in a world of pathos, nihilism, imagination, and humor. I absolutely loved it! With its completely original and unclassifiable story line, ridiculously imaginative characters, and valuable message, Cat’s Cradle is a gorgeous, funny, sad, weird, wonderful classic.

I also just finished Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger and I (unexpectedly) loved it as well. I saw unexpectedly because I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with The Catcher in the Rye. (First I hated it, then I liked it, then I loved it, then I was annoyed by it, then I was tired of it, and now I like to think we’ve come to a sort of truce.) But to me, Franny and Zooey was like Catcher‘s slightly older, slightly more mature, but still angsty sibling. It was easy for me to relate to Franny’s academic discontent, her feelings of directionlessness and malaise, her devotion to an obscure novel. These are common late-adolescence/early-adulthood themes, and Salinger presented them beautifully and respectfully.

More later!

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