April Quotes

Hey y'all!It's Grace here, writing at the end of my finals week while visiting my twin sister. Although I'm exhausted from the winter (and still have a ton to do), I'm enormously lucky to have the chance to see her again. I'm excited to get to relax since this is the most soul-deep worn down I've ever been. I need to find a way to get back to graceness. Luckily, books are a good way to do that.While I can't quite dial everything back enough to just sink into reading, I've been chipping away at some recent favorites for some comfort. While I could go on forever about my love for the reads, I figured I'd go back to another aspect of these books I adore: the language.At the end of the day, my favorite part of reading is finding lines that completely resonate with me. At the very least, gorgeous phrasing or articulate feelings. Without further ado, here are some of my favorite books with quotes that have affected me lately.Excuse the scattered nature of my post -- some images, some typed highlights. Just want to get to the heart of some excellent words.Novel:Small Damages by Beth Kephart | GoodreadsRelease Date: July 19th 2012Publisher: Philomel

It’s senior year, and while Kenzie should be looking forward to prom and starting college in the fall, she is mourning the loss of her father. She finds solace in the one person she trusts, her boyfriend, and she soon finds herself pregnant. Kenzie’s boyfriend and mother do not understand her determination to keep the baby. She is sent to southern Spain for the summer, where she will live out her pregnancy as a cook’s assistant on a bull ranch, and her baby will be adopted by a Spanish couple.Alone and resentful in a foreign country, Kenzie is at first sullen and difficult. She begins to open her eyes and her heart to the beauty that is all around her and inside of her.

Small Damages is a sparse yet colorful coming-of-age that's all-around stunning. Kenzie is emotionally mature and sorting through complex issues, but roots it all in her thoughtful, quiet reflections on Seville and the surrounding countryside.I wish I could put every quote from this book into this post. Kephart has a way of making small moments resonant and powerful, and the imagery stays with you. Kenzie does too.Novel: Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger | GoodreadsRelease Date: 1955Publisher: Back Bay Books

The short story, Franny, takes place in an unnamed college town and tells the tale of an undergraduate who is becoming disenchanted with the selfishness and inauthenticity she perceives all around her.The novella, Zooey, is named for Zooey Glass, the second-youngest member of the Glass family. As his younger sister, Franny, suffers a spiritual and existential breakdown in her parents' Manhattan living room -- leaving Bessie, her mother, deeply concerned -- Zooey comes to her aid, offering what he thinks is brotherly love, understanding, and words of sage advice.Salinger writes of these works: "FRANNY came out in The New Yorker in 1955, and was swiftly followed, in 1957 by ZOOEY. Both stories are early, critical entries in a narrative series I'm doing about a family of settlers in twentieth-century New York, the Glasses. It is a long-term project, patently an ambiguous one, and there is a real-enough danger, I suppose that sooner or later I'll bog down, perhaps disappear entirely, in my own methods, locutions, and mannerisms. On the whole, though, I'm very hopeful. I love working on these Glass stories, I've been waiting for them most of my life, and I think I have fairly decent, monomaniacal plans to finish them with due care and all-available skill."

Franny and Zooey Oxford Exchange can be pretentious at times (come on -- it's Salinger!) but it brings up one of the most philosophically fascinating topics I've ever encountered. When we did this for an teen book club pick that I moderated in high school, the conversation constantly unspooled and re-complicated itself. Are you a good person if you're aware of it?It focuses on two siblings who were raised in a religious hodgepodge of philosophies and now find themselves dazed about what to believe. It's not so much religious as it is existential, and moral. Actions speak louder than words, but do actions speak louder than intention? If you're doing selfless acts and feel satisfied after, does that defeat the purpose -- since technically, the act then becomes selfish as it results in your own happiness? (I'm fascinated by narcissism, and have read some interesting books on the subject.)I'll probably circle back around to this read just to talk about some of the bigger themes in it -- which continually change my perspective, since I've gotten older -- but for now, here are some of my favorite quotes.

“I'm sick of not having the courage to be an absolute nobody.”

“It's everybody, I mean. Everything everybody does is so — I don't know — not wrong, or even mean, or even stupid necessarily. But just so tiny and meaningless and — sad-making. And the worst part is, if you go bohemian or something crazy like that, you're conforming just as much only in a different way.”

Some of my friends like to tell me that I overthink, which is true, but Franny overthinks more than anybody.Novel: Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta | GoodreadsRelease Date: May 9, 2006Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers

Francesca is stuck at St. Sebastian’s, a boys' school that pretends it's coed by giving the girls their own bathroom. Her only female companions are an ultra-feminist, a rumored slut, and an impossibly dorky accordion player. The boys are no better, from Thomas, who specializes in musical burping, to Will, the perpetually frowning, smug moron that Francesca can't seem to stop thinking about.Then there's Francesca's mother, who always thinks she knows what's best for Francesca—until she is suddenly stricken with acute depression, leaving Francesca lost, alone, and without an inkling of who she really is. Simultaneously humorous, poignant, and impossible to put down, this is the story of a girl who must summon the strength to save her family, her social life and—hardest of all—herself.A compelling story of romance, family, and friendship with humor and heart, perfect for fans of Stephanie Perkins and Lauren Myracle.

I've always been a huge fan of Marchetta's later book, Jellicoe Road, which is more larger-than-life. Saving Francesca is much more subtle, but equally important. She has a way of getting to the heart of things, of stripping down a lot of emotional issues that are part of a coming-of-age, rendering them in a plainspoken way that still has gravitas.These underlines are from the first time I read Saving Francesca over a year ago. I'm rereading it now, and there are so many more that I've highlighted (on an eBook version from the library, since my paperback copy is at home), but I forget that quality of a book: that it can change and take on new layers as I get older and have new experiences. Different lines jump out at me each time.Each one of these quoted books is one of my favorites for vastly different reasons, but I hope you get the same satisfaction from some of the quotes that I do -- and that you might encounter them on your own! I'm hoping to do some more language centric posts in the upcoming weeks, to spotlight books that have extraordinary phrasing.

Winter Mini Reviews

Hey y'all!Grace here, slightly more alive by the end of the term. We have less than two weeks left until I leave for spring break, and I could not be more ready to get out of this winter! It's been a hard one.I've scaled down a lot this semester just trying to get through it, so a lot of my daily routine has involved class, running, and then reading. I've caught up with some series I missed and gotten back to that 2011 mindset of just inhaling genre reads. (I'm still a sucker for paranormal books.)With that being said, I wanted to share my thoughts by discussing books that I first read when I was starting out blogging, almost eight years ago. Highlighting some ones that are still notable!Series:Gallagher Girls by Ally Carter | GoodreadsRelease Date: May 1, 2006Publisher: Disney Hyperion

Cammie Morgan is a student at the Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women, a fairly typical all-girls school-that is, if every school taught advanced martial arts in PE and the latest in chemical warfare in science, and students received extra credit for breaking CIA codes in computer class. The Gallagher Academy might claim to be a school for geniuses but it's really a school for spies. Even though Cammie is fluent in fourteen languages and capable of killing a man in seven different ways, she has no idea what to do when she meets an ordinary boy who thinks she's an ordinary girl. Sure, she can tap his phone, hack into his computer, or track him through town with the skill of a real "pavement artist"-but can she maneuver a relationship with someone who can never know the truth about her?Cammie Morgan may be an elite spy-in-training, but in her sophomore year, she's on her most dangerous mission-falling in love.

I forgot how much pacing means to a book series. If an author can pace well -- perfectly proportioning intrigue, character development, and action, it makes a world of difference. Ally Carter is honestly brilliant in her plotting, and her writing punctuates it all to make it all feel larger-than-life. One of the most exciting and cinematic series I've ever gotten the privilege of reading.Series: Fallen by Lauren Kate | GoodreadsRelease Date: December 8, 2009Publisher: Delacorte Press

What if the person you were meant to be with could never be yours?17-year-old Lucinda falls in love with a gorgeous, intelligent boy, Daniel, at her new school, the grim, foreboding Sword & Cross . . . only to find out that Daniel is a fallen angel, and that they have spent lifetimes finding and losing one another as good & evil forces plot to keep them apart.Get ready to fall . . .

Okay, so Fallen was a book that I LOVED when I was younger. When I first read it, I was blown away by the dark atmosphere and the twisted world of the fallen angels. Lauren Kate nails the Gothic vibe. I still adore it, having gone back, but the writing and the love story were weaker than I remember them being. Luce doesn't have much of a personality. Still, it's a solidly escapist read. Also, this is one of my favorite book covers of all time.Series: Even in Paradise by Chelsey Philpot | GoodreadsRelease Date: October 14, 2014Publisher: HarperCollins

When Julia Buchanan enrolls at St. Anne’s at the beginning of junior year, Charlotte Ryder already knows all about the former senator’s daughter. Most people do... or think they do.Charlotte certainly never expects she’ll be Julia’s friend. But almost immediately, she is drawn into the larger than-life-new girl’s world—a world of midnight rendezvous, dazzling parties, palatial vacation homes, and fizzy champagne cocktails. And then Charlotte meets, and begins falling for, Julia’s handsome older brother, Sebastian.But behind her self-assured smiles and toasts to the future, Charlotte soon realizes that Julia is still suffering from a tragedy. A tragedy that the Buchanan family has kept hidden... until now.

I genuinely forgot how incredible this book is. When I first reviewed it, I saw it as a modern day Gatsby set in a picturesque boarding school atmosphere. I called it "subtle and winning." Flawed characters, family secrets, and an undercurrent of wistfulness make for a stunning, powerful read that also feels gentle. I will champion this book forever. Intoxicating.Series: Famous in Love by Rebecca Serle | GoodreadsRelease Date: October 23, 2014Publisher: Poppy

The romantic story of a girl who gets plucked from obscurity to star in the next major feature film franchise based on a book and the ensuing love triangles she gets entangled in on—-and off screen.Meet Paige Townsen, Rainer Devon, and Jordan Wilder…When Paige Townsen, a young unknown, gets cast in the movie adaptation of a blockbuster book series, her life changes practically overnight. Within a month, Paige has traded the quiet streets of her hometown for a crowded movie set on the shores of Maui, and is spending quality time with her co-star Rainer Devon, one of People’s Sexiest Men Alive. But when troubled star Jordan Wilder lands the role of the other point in the movie’s famous love triangle, Paige’s crazy new life gets even crazier.In this coming-of-age romance inspired by the kind of celeb hookups that get clever nicknames and a million page views, Paige must figure out who she is – and who she wants – while the whole world watches.

The branding for this book does it a disservice, I think. The title, coloring, and "love triangle" focus undermine a coming-of-age that's poignant and affecting. It has a main character who I genuinely wish I could be best friends with. Self-aware, mature, thoughtful. Also, the framework of this book (small town girl catapulted to fame) include plenty of decadent scenes that also satisfy a craving for a fun read. I wish I could better capture in words how expertly curated this book is, and how full-bodied and distinct the experience of reading it is. Gorgeous.

What books have y'all rediscovered?

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On Bingeing & Book Series

When it's been a while since I've gotten the chance to read -- or I read only in bits and fragments -- I forget sometimes how a book can take you away from yourself.It sounds poetic, when I put it like that, or overly sappy. But in difficult times (or even just busy ones), it's such a luxury to be able to leave your own skin. To be so caught up in other characters, worlds, or stories. Even sometimes just to feel understood.

**

Yesterday, I read four books between class and bedtime. In the past two weeks, I've read 23 books. In total, I've read 34 books in 2019. To break it down for you, that's 68% of the books I've read this entire year.Last year, in 2018, I read 101 books, so I'm nearly to 1/3 of that already with only two months in. I've been fully bingeing. When I have time between classes, or need my head to quiet in between homework and bedtime, I've been reading. I'm not sure if I've been tearing through books more quickly than normal because of the pure quantity of reads I've consumed lately, or whether I've just been more focused on them. Regardless, I'm staying on my kick until it ends.

**

I get in a lot of moods in which I don't want to talk, or create. I don't want to write, or put myself out there. I just want to observe. To listen rather than speak. Absorb a lot of the world around me. Reading is good for that.Although reading is inevitably a huge part of my identity, and why I do what I do, sometimes I like to pick apart why it affects me so much. I am a words person. I have a lot swirling around in my head at a given time, because I fixate on details. Sometimes I read for peace; other times, I read for stimulation. Right now, I'm reading for distraction.I've been reading a lot of my favorite series, recently, for several reasons:

  • it's easy to tear through books when you're primed to the story, characters, and dynamic already
  • it's refreshing to see whole of everything: the lows and the highs
  • in a place as small as my school and town, it's comforting to remember that there's a diversity of experiences and people out there
  • I love rereading and tracking the ways that my reactions to books have changed over time
  • it's a productive way to fill up free time in between classes when I don't feel like doing continuing to do (constant) work
  • they are fun and winter term of junior year is not
  • all my favorite series are engaging and intense, and I love feeling passionate about them again

This semester has tested me, and so I've been dialing back and examining ways in which I can be easier on myself. Reading has been excellent for that. I've loved feeling like I can circle back to myself with the help of my favorite books, or just a really good series.

Winter Hiatus

Hey y'all!

It has been a while since I've taken an extended amount of time off from the blog -- which is something I never want to do. Anyone who knows me knows that my blog is my FAVORITE activity. But after a lot of thinking, I've decided to take a few weeks off to focus on getting healthy.The flu really beat me down into the ground, and I have notoriously awful lungs. (A job application recently asked me what my memoir title would be, and my final answer was "The Aesthetic Asthmatic.") My 53% effective lung capacity and I will be taking some time to fully recover. Plus, hopefully taking more time for catching up on work and less time for screens will mean that I get plenty of reviews written. (As much as I can restrict myself from posting, I can't seem to stop myself from reading and writing...)In the meantime, let me know what y'all want to see! Message me, tweet me, shoot me an email. I'll be taking a break from social media as well (and will likely lose some followers over it), but I would LOVE to hear your suggestions and incorporate that to the blog content I'm psyched about this spring.See y'all in a few!

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In My Mailbox -- January 27, 2019

Although I've been bed-ridden and not particularly up for reading lately (flu season has hit W&L and it hit HARD), some of my holds from the library came in! I'm psyched for these, and I genuinely enjoy having a time limit, because it keeps me accountable to build time into my schedule.Curiosity books, for me, are ones I borrow from the library rather than buy because I know I'll likely only read them once. Books that satisfy my continual urge to learn more about science, philosophy, or any other discipline I don't regularly study -- books to feed my pretension.If you don't take advantage of being able to check out books from your local library, DO. Go and get a library card. Download some reads on your e-reader or your phone. (It's my favorite life hack for finding time to read, as well as for not supporting Amazon.)Without further ado, here are some reads I'm psyched about.Novel: Beauty: A Very Short Introduction by Roger Scruton | GoodreadsRelease Date: April 8, 2011Publisher: Oxford University Press

Beauty can be consoling, disturbing, sacred, profane; it can be exhilarating, appealing, inspiring, chilling. It can affect us in an unlimited variety of ways. Yet it is never viewed with indifference. In this Very Short Introduction, the renowned philosopher Roger Scruton explores the concept of beauty, asking what makes an object--either in art, in nature, or the human form--beautiful, and examining how we can compare differing judgments of beauty when it is evident all around us that our tastes vary so widely. Is there a right judgment to be made about beauty? Is it right to say there is more beauty in a classical temple than a concrete office block, more in a Rembrandt than in an Andy Warhol Campbell Soup Can? Forthright and thought-provoking, and as accessible as it is intellectually rigorous, this introduction to the philosophy of beauty draws conclusions that some may find controversial, but, as Scruton shows, help us to find greater sense of meaning in the beautiful objects that fill our lives.

We read a few out of this "short introduction" series for my history class -- granted, those were about Puritanism and the Protestant Reformation -- and I really enjoyed the plainspoken overview of a topic. I'm really fascinated by the idea of beauty as a whole. What attracts you, how to quantify it, how to speak about it. Because I'm so fascinated by aesthetic, I figured I'd venture into some new nonfiction explanations.Novel: What We See When We Read by Peter Mendelsund | GoodreadsRelease Date: August 5, 2014Publisher: Vintage

A gorgeously unique, fully illustrated exploration into the phenomenology of reading-how we visualize images from reading works of literature, from one of our very best book jacket designers, himself a passionate reader. A VINTAGE ORIGINAL.What do we see when we read? Did Tolstoy really describe Anna Karenina? Did Melville ever really tell us what, exactly, Ishmael looked like?The collection of fragmented images on a page - a graceful ear there, a stray curl, a hat positioned just so - and other clues and signifiers helps us to create an image of a character. But in fact our sense that we know a character intimately has little to do with our ability to concretely picture our beloved - or reviled - literary figures.In this remarkable work of nonfiction, Knopf's Associate Art Director Peter Mendelsund combines his profession, as an award-winning designer; his first career, as a classically trained pianist; and his first love, literature - he thinks of himself first, and foremost, as a reader - into what is sure to be one of the most provocative and unusual investigations into how we understand the act of reading.

I used to always see this title when I was a bookseller at Oxford Exchange, and I was always tempted to buy it. As proven by the past seven and a half years, I love to read for plenty of reasons, and I'm fascinated by the science behind it. I feel like I'd derive a lot of comfort from understanding the mechanisms that are in place for it, as well as what cognitive benefits it provides.Novel: How to Break Up With Your Phone by Catherine Price | GoodreadsRelease Date: February 13, 2018Publisher: Ten Speed Press

Packed with tested strategies and practical tips, this book is the essential, life-changing guide for everyone who owns a smartphone.Is your phone the first thing you reach for in the morning and the last thing you touch before bed? Do you frequently pick it up "just to check," only to look up forty-five minutes later wondering where the time has gone? Do you say you want to spend less time on your phone--but have no idea how to do so without giving it up completely? If so, this book is your solution.Award-winning journalist Catherine Price presents a practical, hands-on plan to break up--and then make up--with your phone. The goal? A long-term relationship that actually feels good. You'll discover how phones and apps are designed to be addictive, and learn how the time we spend on them damages our abilities to focus, think deeply, and form new memories. You'll then make customized changes to your settings, apps, environment, and mindset that will ultimately enable you to take back control of your life.

On a more practical note, I spend a lot of time on my phone. I'm conscious about the role that photo-taking and scrolling through inspirational feeds has in my life. While I think I have a pretty good balance (sharing what makes me happy but not sharing much of my personal life aside from the occasional formal photo), I'd love to be less dependent on the security of my phone. My goal is to automate my Instagram as much as possible, via content planning and consistent photoshoots and all of that. Getting less screen time would be a good thing.Novel: You May Also Like: Taste in an Age of Endless Choice by Tom Vanderbilt | GoodreadsRelease Date: May 10, 2016Publisher: Knopf

From the best-selling author of Traffic, a brilliant and entertaining exploration of our personal tastes--why we like the things we like, and what it says about us.Everyone knows his or her favorite color, the foods we most enjoy, and which season of House of Cards deserves the most stars on Netflix. But what does it really mean when we like something? How do we decide what's good? Is it something biological? What is the role of our personal experiences in shaping our tastes? And how do businesses make use of this information? Comprehensively researched and singularly insightful, You May Also Like delves deep into psychology, marketing, and neuroscience to answer these complex and fascinating questions. From the tangled underpinnings of our food choices, to the dynamics of the pop charts and our playlists, to our nonstop procession of "thumbs" and "likes" and "stars," to our insecurity before unfamiliar works of art, the book explores how we form our preferences--and how they shape us. It explains how difficult it is, even for experts, to pinpoint exactly what makes something good or enjoyable, and how the success of companies such as Netflix, Spotify, and Yelp depends on the complicated task of predicting what we will enjoy. Like Traffic, this book takes us on a fascinating and consistently surprising intellectual journey that helps us better understand how we perceive and appreciate the world around us.

I'm both personally and professionally interested in the idea of "taste" -- curating it, reviewing it, all that jazz. I'm in an advertising class this term, and I'm so curious about how taste functions. Plus, the bit about being overwhelmed is really helpful to read about in this day and age. Always on the hunt to learn more about it.

What books have y'all gotten this week?

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