She's Gone Bookish - Five Spring Reads

10.4.19


Featuring: the revival of a seemingly ancient book series first formed four years ago, the return of the well-received short, "no-spoiler," review format, and of course, five tales that are bright, colorful, and/or remind me of spring - curated especially for you.

A quick disclaimer: I don't consider myself a purveyor of modern literature, and very rarely do I venture into the depths of young adult fiction, so all of the novels I have listed (with one exception) were published at least 75 years ago. If you are a fellow reader of classic literature, these books are for you. If you aren't, I would highly recommend that you try your hand at reading some of these, as I thoroughly enjoyed everything featured below and think that you might too.


The Secret Garden

"Mary did not know what 'wutherin' meant until she listened, and then she understood."

The Secret Garden is perfect for anyone wanting to relive their childhood. I read it for the second time only a few weeks ago, and was reminded of all the reasons I used to love reading classic children's literature.

This book follows the story and early life of Mary Lennox, a sour and spoiled little girl who moves to England and slowly discovers the secrets and wonders of her uncle's estate. Exploring the simplicity of naturalistic beauty, hearty food, and warm smiles, as well as the pleasure and happiness they can all provide, Frances Hodgson Burnett will stun you with her themes of un-selfishness and picture-painting descriptions, guaranteeing you a 100% happy ending. An absolute classic whose title, cover, and meanings all scream spring.


The Inimitable Jeeves

"I've found, as a general rule of life, that the things that you think are going to be the scaliest nearly always turn out not so bad after all."

This was my second read of the Jeeves and Wooster series (by P.G. Wodehouse) but was actually the first one written. For those unfamiliar with Wodehouse, he was a humorist and author belonging to the 20th century who has won the hearts of many  with the ridiculous banter and wit of his characters and "elegantly turned phrases."

The Inimitable Jeeves, in particular, is a collection of short stories all following the misfortunes of Bertie Wooster in his attempts to help his friend Bingo marry, and the many, many, times he must be saved from awkward situations by his valet, Jeeves and his brilliant solutions. A lovely, lighthearted book perfect for times like spring break when all you want to do is relax and laugh; whether you decide to read only one or two of the short stories or tackle the entire collection in one go is entirely up to you.




The Hobbit

"You certainly usually find something; if you look, but it is not always quite the something you were after."

I'm not sure if it would have been possible to compile another list of books to read without including Tolkien. I am also uncertain about how many times I've read this novel, but each time I do, I discover something new, whether it be a thought-provoking quote, an elegant description, or a love for an under appreciated character.

Taking you along the adventures of Bilbo Baggins, Gandalf the Grey, and the company of Thorin Oakenshield to reclaim their homeland of The Lonely Mountain, Tolkien doesn't disappoint with - what I consider to be - some of the finest writing and plots in English literature. If you've only ever watched the movies, please read the book, and if you haven't read or watched either, please read the book. I've never met anyone who has failed to enjoy the characters, themes, and the luscious scenery and journey across Middle-Earth that instantly makes you think of spring turning into summer.


Watership Down

"You want to run - I will run with you."

Though being the most sizable novel on the list (as well as the youngest), time flew by while I read Watership Down, and I was much too captivated and enthralled by the charm of this tale to care; it subsequently became one of my favorite books.

Another adventure story, but this time, a modern take on the classic 'hero' tale dating back to epics as old as The Iliad and The Odyssey. Here, we are privileged enough to follow the quest of two brothers - Fiver and Hazel - to find a new home and survive the challenges, perils, and temptations they must face in order to do so. Told through the characters of anthropomorphized rabbits, Richard Adams exhibits his incredible creativity and opens the door to this unknown world complete with culture and mythology in Watership Down (similar to how Tolkien created Middle-Earth, new species, and languages). Do I even have to mention its spring-themed appeal?



The Yellow Wallpaper

"The color is hideous enough, and unreliable enough, and infuriating enough, but the pattern is torturing..."

This is the only book on this list that I discovered through a class, not originally meant for pleasure, but perhaps has had the most impact on me. It is much 'darker' than the others, but it is important to note that there are gloomier, rainy days in spring just as much as there are in any other season.

The Yellow Wallpaper is a short story that follows a woman's slow descent into madness and an obsession with the wallpaper covering the walls of her temporary bedroom. Based off of and inspired by the author's own horrific experiences of being diagnosed with 'hysteria' in the 19th century, this tale is historically significant as well as beautifully written, and should be read by all.



Well, that's the end of the list. These are just a few of my personal favorites that all exhibited 'spring-like themes' (at least, to me), and I wanted to share my opinions as well as love for the books. Even if you don't get a change to read them this season, they are still just as good any other time of the year. 

Have any of you read the books mentioned above? Will you? What are some of your favorite stories to read this time of year?

Feature: El Monte, California

1.2.19



Over winter break, I was fortunate enough to be able to travel to the suburbs of L.A (plus, L.A.) to visit some family members. Though I only just got around to transferring the photos I took there from my camera onto my laptop, I still wanted to feature them on here.

Most of the photos were taken during the morning walks that my mother and I took around the neighborhood nearly every day, so they aren't anything extravagant, just small things that caught my eye, and shots that illustrate life in California suburbs.

 This photo was shot at a LAPD horse training center that we got a special tour of (thanks to a cousin who works there). Featured above is Stetson the horse. More similar shots over on my Instagram, if you're interested.

This was taken during Christmas Eve (or as it is called in Latin America, Noche Buena). Above is my great aunt dancing with my cousin.
Bilingual signs are extremely common, haha!


Love the unique shadows in this one.

Hopefully, you can expect some detailed posts that include more writing soon.

Also, I'm currently reading a book a week (or more, if possible) for year of 2019 - would any of you be interested in reading a recap of the books I read each month and my ratings? 

Comment below if you would enjoy reading about me reading, and if you travelled somewhere during winter break.

Top Books to Read This Summer

13.6.18


With school having ended for most, and a bit more free time, some of you may be looking for a new novel to get your hands on. Below are some of my own personal favorites, curated especially for you.

A quick disclaimer: I don't consider myself a purveyor of modern literature, and very rarely do I venture into the depths of young adult fiction, so all of the novels I have listed were published at least 75 years ago. If you are a fellow reader of classic literature, these books are for you. If you aren't, expand your horizons and try reading one or two of the stories below. New isn't always better.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn - Betty Smith

"Francie, about a year ago he gave me that card all written out and two dollars. He said, 'when Francie graduates, send her some flowers for me - in case I forget.'"

In last year's English class, I was required to pick and read a coming of age novel from a provided list, and subsequently write a couple essays on it. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is the book I chose, and ever since, I have been so grateful that I did.

It is a bit slow to start, but was a heartbreaking novel following the childhood and adolescent years of a Brooklyn girl living in poverty with her mother, brother, and father. Sort of like a 20th century Little Women - but with less sisters and no fashionable pickled limes - the reader is able to form a connection with the characters and watch them grow up.




The Metamorphosis - Franz Kafka

"When Gregor Samsa woke up one morning from unsettling dreams, he found himself changed in his bed into a monstrous vermin."

A novel that was on my TBR list for seemingly eternity, my copy sat on the shelf collecting dust on its pretty cover for months before I finally cleaned it off with the intention of reading it. I found the way it was written to be somewhat odd; definitely not what I was used to, since the first sentence of the novel begins with what might already have been considered as the climax of a novel.

However, since first reading the novel almost a year ago, I have reviewed it again several times, rereading some of my favorite chapters and quotes. Personally, I think it to be an absurd (in a good way, of course) and brilliant book on isolation and existentialism, and would thoroughly recommend it to anyone who enjoys classic literature and modernist fiction. 

The Picture of Dorian Gray - Oscar Wilde

"Humanity takes itself too seriously. It is the world's original sin. If the cave-man had learned to laugh, History would have been different."

I picked this book up on a whim, partly because I had some leftover money on a gift card to Barnes and Noble, and partly because the elegant designs on the cover attracted me. I had heard from a friend that Oscar Wilde was an incredible writer, and after reading his only novel and a few of his poems, I think I can safely say that that is a marvelous understatement.

I've always been one for psychological novels that leave you a tad bit mind blown, but The Picture of Dorian Gray goes above and beyond with its artistic (if you get the pun let me know) cruelty and narcissism. The book follows the life of a vain young man who makes a wish to stay young forever, and the ultimate consequences of his actions. The novel is a profound message to all that it is our actions that define us, not our beauty.

Cards on the Table - Agatha Christie

"He played the part of the devil too successfully. But he was not the devil. Au fond, he was a stupid man. And so - he died."

A little fun to lighten the load. I don't know about you, but I've been an avid reader of Agatha Christie and her iconic literary detectives for a few years now, and am always eager to pick up another Poirot novel in order to use my "little grey cells." Cards on the Table was originally just another detective novel to help pass the time, but it is now one of my all time favorites (along with The Murder on the Orient Express and The Murder of Roger Ackroyd; both worth a read).

If you've never encountered Hercule Poirot, he is essentially a slightly more Belgian version of Sherlock Holmes, but with more moustache and less deducing (to sum it up). It begins with a man who was quietly murdered in a room with only four other people, and it is up to four detectives to solve the crime; though of course, it is Poirot who is the hero in the end. Filled with suspicious characters and surprise clues that will keep the reader on the edge of their seat until the very end, this thriller is one of the best that Christie has written.


The Good Earth - Pearl S. Buck

"Hunger makes thief of any man."

The last novel on this list is coincidentally the one I read first. Recommended to me by my mother - someone who never seems to have read the books she suggests and yet is always right about the quality of them - for an Autumn read.

The Good Earth is a peaceful story, and takes you through the life of a poor farmer and his family living in China after the fall of the Qing dynasty. It won the Pulitzer Prize in 1932, and the whole book in itself represents the land; specifically, respect and piety for the land. It also deals with the corruption that wealth often brings, as well as the oppression of women during that time period. Since I read it, The Good Earth has been one of my favorite novels, mainly because of the author's ability to convey the emotions and thoughts of nearly every character.

Well, there you have it folks. I know this post was a bit longer than what I normally write (ahem, nothing at all), but I wanted to - and hope I did - convey not only the plots of these novels, but the themes, characters, and everything in between.

Have any of you read the books above? If not, will you? What are some novels that are on your Summer TBR list?