Wednesday, August 31, 2016

waiting on wednesday: like a river glorious

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly feature hosted over at Breaking the Spine!


This week's pick:
Like A River Glorious (The Gold Seer #2) 
Rae Carson

release date: September 27 by Greenwillow

blurb: (SPOILERS for book 1): After a harrowing journey across the country, Leah Westfall and her friends have finally arrived in California and are ready to make their fortunes in the Gold Rush. Lee has a special advantage over the other new arrivals in California—she has the ability to sense gold, a secret known only by her handsome best friend Jefferson and her murdering uncle Hiram.

Lee and her friends have the chance to be the most prosperous settlers in California, but Hiram hasn’t given up trying to control Lee and her power. Sabotage and kidnapping are the least of what he’ll do to make sure Lee is his own. His mine is the deepest and darkest in the territory, and there Lee learns the full extent of her magical gift, the worst of her uncle, and the true strength of her friendships. To save everyone, she vows to destroy her uncle and the empire he is building—even at the cost of her own freedom.

The second epic historical fantasy in the Gold Seer trilogy by Rae Carson, the acclaimed author of The Girl of Fire and Thorns.


~~~
Why I'm waiting: 
 I really enjoyed the first book in this series! I am not usually a huge fan of Gold Rush-era historical fiction, and I find westerns quite boring, but the first book in this series, Walk on Earth a Stranger, was the exception to that rule! I really loved it, and I remember most of the major plot points, even a year later, which is the sign of something really great to me. I can't wait to see what happens in the next book :) 

what are you waiting on this week?

xx
Caroline

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

august wrap up

Hi everyone! Welcome to another monthly wrap up here at Stardust and Words. It has been a super busy month for me outside of reading, and also the olympics being on put a major dent in the time that I would normally spend with a book, but I love the olympics so much that I didn't even care. I did manage 11 books, which is pretty good, but only three reviews, which is less so. I hope you guys had a good August. I feel like I kind of hate August because it tends to be the absolute worst in terms of humidity... but FALL IS COMING GUYS!! SOON!!

1. Daughter of the Forest (Sevenwaters #1) – Juliet Marillier (4)

Lovely Sorcha is the seventh child and only daughter of Lord Colum of Sevenwaters. Bereft of a mother, she is comforted by her six brothers who love and protect her. Sorcha is the light in their lives, they are determined that she know only contentment.

But Sorcha's joy is shattered when her father is bewitched by his new wife, an evil enchantress who binds her brothers with a terrible spell, a spell which only Sorcha can lift-by staying silent. If she speaks before she completes the quest set to her by the Fair Folk and their queen, the Lady of the Forest, she will lose her brothers forever.

When Sorcha is kidnapped by the enemies of Sevenwaters and taken to a foreign land, she is torn between the desire to save her beloved brothers, and a love that comes only once. Sorcha despairs at ever being able to complete her task, but the magic of the Fair Folk knows no boundaries, and love is the strongest magic of them all...
 

2. Lunch Poems – Frank O'Hara (5)

Important poems by the late New York poet published in The New American Poetry, Evergreen Review, Floating Bear and stranger places.

Often this poet, strolling through the noisy splintered glare of a Manhattan noon, has paused at a sample Olivetti to type up thirty or forty lines of ruminations, or pondering more deeply has withdrawn to a darkened ware- or firehouse to limn his computed misunderstandings of the eternal questions of life, coexistence, and depth, while never forgetting to eat lunch, his favorite meal.
 





3. Mansfield Park – Jane Austen (5)*  

'We have all been more or less to blame ...
every one of us, excepting Fanny'


Taken from the poverty of her parents' home, Fanny Price is brought up with her rich cousins at Mansfield Park, acutely aware of her humble rank and with only her cousin Edmund as an ally. When Fanny's uncle is absent in Antigua, Mary Crawford and her brother Henry arrive in the neighbourhood, bringing with them London glamour and a reckless taste for flirtation. As her female cousins vie for Henry's attention, and even Edmund falls for Mary's dazzling charms, only Fanny remains doubtful about the Crawfords' influence and finds herself more isolated than ever. A subtle examination of social position and moral integrity, Mansfield Park is one of Jane Austen's most profound works.


4. Saving Francesca – Melina Marchetta (4) 

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.
 

5. Princess Academy (Princess Academy #1) – Shannon Hale (5)*

Miri lives on a mountain where, for generations, her ancestors have quarried stone and lived a simple life. Then word comes that the king's priests have divined her small village the home of the future princess. In a year's time, the prince himself will come and choose his bride from among the girls of the village.

The king's ministers set up an academy on the mountain, and every teenage girl must attend and learn how to become a princess. Soon Miri finds herself confronted with a harsh academy mistress, bitter competition among the girls, and her own conflicting desires.





 
6. I'll Love You When You're More Like Me – M.E. Kerr (3)

M.E. Kerr's beloved 1977 young adult classic tells the story of two very different teenagers, both struggling to stand up to their parents. Whether it's going to college instead of taking over the family funeral parlor, coming out in a town where homosexuality is considered akin to demonic possession, or choosing between a life of fame or normalcy, the young characters in I'll Love You When You're More Like Me bravely struggle to become who they want to be—even when they don't yet know themselves.

M. E. Kerr was a winner of the American Library Association's Margaret A. Edwards Award for Lifetime Achievement and the ALAN award from the National Council of Teachers of English. She has been described by the New York Times Book Review as "one of the grand masters of young adult fiction."


 
7. As You Like It – William Shakespeare (3)  

As You Like It is a pastoral comedy by William Shakespeare believed to have been written in 1599 or early 1600 and first published in the First Folio, 1623. The play's first performance is uncertain, though a performance at Wilton House in 1603 has been suggested as a possibility. As You Like It follows its heroine Rosalind as she flees persecution in her uncle's court, accompanied by her cousin Celia and Touchstone the court jester, to find safety and, eventually, love, in the Forest of Arden. Historically, critical response has varied, with some critics finding the work of lesser quality than other Shakespearean works and some finding the play a work of great merit. The play features one of Shakespeare's most famous and oft-quoted speeches, "All the world's a stage", and is the origin of the phrase "too much of a good thing". The play remains a favourite among audiences and has been adapted for radio, film, and musical theatre.

8. Nevernight – Jay Kristoff (4)

The first in a new fantasy series from the New York Times bestselling author.

In a land where three suns almost never set, a fledgling killer joins a school of assassins, seeking vengeance against the powers who destroyed her family.

Daughter of an executed traitor, Mia Corvere is barely able to escape her father’s failed rebellion with her life. Alone and friendless, she hides in a city built from the bones of a dead god, hunted by the Senate and her father’s former comrades. But her gift for speaking with the shadows leads her to the door of a retired killer, and a future she never imagined.

Now, Mia is apprenticed to the deadliest flock of assassins in the entire Republic—the Red Church. If she bests her fellow students in contests of steel, poison and the subtle arts, she’ll be inducted among the Blades of the Lady of Blessed Murder, and one step closer to the vengeance she desires. But a killer is loose within the Church’s halls, the bloody secrets of Mia’s past return to haunt her, and a plot to bring down the entire congregation is unfolding in the shadows she so loves.

Will she even survive to initiation, let alone have her revenge?

 
9. Along For the Ride – Sarah Dessen (4)*

It’s been so long since Auden slept at night. Ever since her parents’ divorce—or since the fighting started. Now she has the chance to spend a carefree summer with her dad and his new family in the charming beach town where they live.

A job in a clothes boutique introduces Auden to the world of girls: their talk, their friendship, their crushes. She missed out on all that, too busy being the perfect daughter to her demanding mother. Then she meets Eli, an intriguing loner and a fellow insomniac who becomes her guide to the nocturnal world of the town. Together they embark on parallel quests: for Auden, to experience the carefree teenage life she’s been denied; for Eli, to come to terms with the guilt he feels for the death of a friend.

In her signature pitch-perfect style, Sarah Dessen explores the hearts of two lonely people learning to connect.

 
10. And This is Laura – Ellen Conford (2)

Twelve-year old Laura is an ordinary person in a family of superstars. Her beautiful older sister is a talented actress, her older brother writes and performs music, and her little brother can recite every commercial on television from memory. Her parents are gifted, too—her mother is a famous author, her father a brilliant scientist. However, everything changes for Laura when she discovers that she has the ability to see the future. Suddenly, she has popularity, attention from her parents, even media coverage. It’s all new and so great—until her visions grow dark, and Laura realizes that her gift could turn out to be a curse!





 
11. Lock and Key – Sarah Dessen (3)

Ruby, where is your mother?
Ruby knows that the game is up. For the past few months, she's been on her own in the yellow house, managing somehow, knowing that her mother will probably never return.
That's how she comes to live with Cora, the sister she hasn't seen in ten years, and Cora's husband Jamie, whose down-to-earth demeanor makes it hard for Ruby to believe he founded the most popular networking Web site around. A luxurious house, fancy private school, a new wardrobe, the promise of college and a future; it's a dream come true. So why is Ruby such a reluctant Cinderella, wary and defensive? And why is Nate, the genial boy next door with some secrets of his own, unable to accept the help that Ruby is just learning to give?
Best-selling author Sarah Dessen explores the heart of a gutsy, complex girl dealing with unforeseen circumstances and learning to trust again.


what did all of you read and love in August?
xx
Caroline

nevernight: stardust reviews

Nevernight (The Nevernight Chronicle #1)
Jay Kristoff

☆☆☆☆

goodreads/b&n/amazon

In a land where three suns almost never set, a fledgling killer joins a school of assassins, seeking vengeance against the powers who destroyed her family.

Daughter of an executed traitor, Mia Corvere is barely able to escape her father’s failed rebellion with her life. Alone and friendless, she hides in a city built from the bones of a dead god, hunted by the Senate and her father’s former comrades. But her gift for speaking with the shadows leads her to the door of a retired killer, and a future she never imagined.

Now, Mia is apprenticed to the deadliest flock of assassins in the entire Republic—the Red Church. If she bests her fellow students in contests of steel, poison and the subtle arts, she’ll be inducted among the Blades of the Lady of Blessed Murder, and one step closer to the vengeance she desires. But a killer is loose within the Church’s halls, the bloody secrets of Mia’s past return to haunt her, and a plot to bring down the entire congregation is unfolding in the shadows she so loves.

Will she even survive to initiation, let alone have her revenge?


full review under the cut!

Friday, August 26, 2016

saving francesca: stardust reviews

Saving Francesca
Melina Marchetta

☆☆☆☆☆

goodreads

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.


full review under the cut!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

waiting on wednesday: vassa in the night

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly feature hosted over at Breaking the Spine!

This week's pick:
Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter

release date: September 20 by Tor Teen

In the enchanted kingdom of Brooklyn, the fashionable people put on cute shoes, go to parties in warehouses, drink on rooftops at sunset, and tell themselves they’ve arrived. A whole lot of Brooklyn is like that now—but not Vassa’s working-class neighborhood.

In Vassa’s neighborhood, where she lives with her stepmother and bickering stepsisters, one might stumble onto magic, but stumbling out again could become an issue. Babs Yagg, the owner of the local convenience store, has a policy of beheading shoplifters—and sometimes innocent shoppers as well. So when Vassa’s stepsister sends her out for light bulbs in the middle of night, she knows it could easily become a suicide mission.

But Vassa has a bit of luck hidden in her pocket, a gift from her dead mother. Erg is a tough-talking wooden doll with sticky fingers, a bottomless stomach, and a ferocious cunning. With Erg’s help, Vassa just might be able to break the witch’s curse and free her Brooklyn neighborhood. But Babs won’t be playing fair. . . .

Inspired by the Russian folktale Vassilissa the Beautiful and Sarah Porter’s years of experience teaching creative writing to New York City students.


~~~~
Okay, number one, I am obsessed with this cover. Number two, I am also obsessed with Russian folklore. Number three, I love that it is like magical urban fantasy?? In any case, I absolutely cannot wait for this one to come out! 

what are you waiting on this week?

xx
Caroline

Saturday, August 13, 2016

princess academy: stardust reviews

Princess Academy (Princess Academy #1)
Shannon Hale

☆☆☆☆☆

goodreads/b&n/amazon

Miri lives on a mountain where, for generations, her ancestors have quarried stone and lived a simple life. Then word comes that the king's priests have divined her small village the home of the future princess. In a year's time, the prince himself will come and choose his bride from among the girls of the village.

The king's ministers set up an academy on the mountain, and every teenage girl must attend and learn how to become a princess. Soon Miri finds herself confronted with a harsh academy mistress, bitter competition among the girls, and her own conflicting desires.




Full review of this wonderful story under the cut!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

waiting on wednesday: kids of appetite

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly feature hosted over at Breaking the Spine!

This week's pick: Kids of Appetite
by David Arnold

release date: September 20th


The bestselling author of Mosquitoland brings us another batch of unforgettable characters in this tragicomedy about first love and devastating loss.

Victor Benucci and Madeline Falco have a story to tell.
It begins with the death of Vic’s father.
It ends with the murder of Mad’s uncle.
The Hackensack Police Department would very much like to hear it.
But in order to tell their story, Vic and Mad must focus on all the chapters in between.

This is a story about:

1. A coded mission to scatter ashes across New Jersey.
2. The momentous nature of the Palisades in winter.
3. One dormant submarine.
4. Two songs about flowers.
5. Being cool in the traditional sense.
6. Sunsets & ice cream & orchards & graveyards.
7. Simultaneous extreme opposites.
8. A narrow escape from a war-torn country.
9. A story collector.
10. How to listen to someone who does not talk.
11. Falling in love with a painting.
12. Falling in love with a song.
13. Falling in love.


~~~
  
I absolutely loved David's debut novel, Mosquitoland, SO MUCH, it made me cry in all the best ways. (you can find my review here) So naturally, I have been waiting super (im)patiently for his next book to come out! I think that this one sounds incredible, and I especially love anything having to do with lists and codes and mysteries. CAN'T WAIT!

what are y'all waiting on this week?

xx
Caroline

Monday, August 8, 2016

top ten tuesday: rewind

HI EVERYONE! I am finally, finally back to posting top ten tuesdays! This summer, my schedule was super hectic, so I didn't get to post anywhere near as often as I wanted to, and that meant that TTT fell to the wayside. I missed it though! I am really excited to be back doing this week's topic, which is: "August 9: Top Ten Tuesday REWIND -- go back and do a topic you missed over the years or recently or a topic you really want to revisit -- I've made a handy spreadsheet to help (currently in the process of finishing it)" Since I haven't done any TTTs recently, I thought I would just go back to a couple of weeks ago and do "Ten Books Set Outside The US (I don't know about you but sooo much of what I read is set in the US and I love finding new recs of stuff set outside of it!)" Since I love traveling and reading about new and exciting places, this one is fun for me :)

1. Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta

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.

 
2. Wanderlost – Jen Malone

Not all those who wander are lost, but Aubree Sadler most definitely is on this novel’s whirlwind trip through Europe.

Aubree can’t think of a better place to be than in perfectly boring Ohio, and she’s ready for a relaxing summer. But when her older sister, Elizabeth, gets into real trouble, Aubree is talked into taking over Elizabeth’s summer job, leading a group of senior citizens on a bus tour through Europe.

Aubree doesn’t even make it to the first stop in Amsterdam before their perfect plan unravels, leaving her with no phone, no carefully prepared binder full of helpful facts, and an unexpected guest: the tour company owner’s son, Sam. Considering she’s pretending to be Elizabeth, she absolutely shouldn’t fall for him, but she can’t help it, especially with the most romantic European cities as the backdrop for their love story.

But her relationship with Sam is threatening to ruin her relationship with her sister, and she feels like she’s letting both of them down. Aubree knows this trip may show her who she really is—she just hopes she likes where she ends up.

 
3. Love & Gelato – Jenna Evans Welch

“I made the wrong choice.”

Lina is spending the summer in Tuscany, but she isn’t in the mood for Italy’s famous sunshine and fairy-tale landscape. She’s only there because it was her mother’s dying wish that she get to know her father. But what kind of father isn’t around for sixteen years? All Lina wants to do is get back home.

But then she is given a journal that her mom had kept when she lived in Italy. Suddenly Lina’s uncovering a magical world of secret romances, art, and hidden bakeries. A world that inspires Lina, along with the ever-so-charming Ren, to follow in her mother’s footsteps and unearth a secret that has been kept for far too long. It’s a secret that will change everything she knew about her mother, her father—and even herself.

People come to Italy for love and gelato, someone tells her, but sometimes they discover much more.


4. The Loose Ends List – Carrie Firestone

It’s a summer for first love, last wishes, and letting go.

Maddie has big plans to spend the last months before college tying up high school “loose ends” alongside her best friends. Then her beloved grandmother drops two bombshells: (1) Gram is dying. (2) She’s taking her entire family on a round-the-world cruise of dreams come true—but at the end, Gram won’t be returning home.

With a promise to live in the now without regrets, Maddie boards the Wishwell determined to make every moment count. She finds new friends in her fellow Wishwellians, takes advantage of the trip’s many luxuries, gets even closer to her quirky family, and falls for painfully gorgeous Enzo. But despite the copious laughter, headiness of first love, and wonder of the glamorous destinations, Maddie knows she is on the brink of losing Gram, and she struggles to find the strength to let go in a whirlwind summer shaped by love, grief, and laughter.

 

5. Passenger – Alexandra Bracken

Passage, n.
i. A brief section of music composed of a series of notes and flourishes.
ii. A journey by water; a voyage.
iii. The transition from one place to another, across space and time.

In one devastating night, violin prodigy Etta Spencer loses everything she knows and loves. Thrust into an unfamiliar world by a stranger with a dangerous agenda, Etta is certain of only one thing: she has traveled not just miles but years from home. And she’s inherited a legacy she knows nothing about from a family whose existence she’s never heard of. Until now.

Nicholas Carter is content with his life at sea, free from the Ironwoods—a powerful family in the colonies—and the servitude he’s known at their hands. But with the arrival of an unusual passenger on his ship comes the insistent pull of the past that he can’t escape and the family that won’t let him go so easily. Now the Ironwoods are searching for a stolen object of untold value, one they believe only Etta, Nicholas’ passenger, can find. In order to protect her, he must ensure she brings it back to them—whether she wants to or not.

Together, Etta and Nicholas embark on a perilous journey across centuries and continents, piecing together clues left behind by the traveler who will do anything to keep the object out of the Ironwoods’ grasp. But as they get closer to the truth of their search, and the deadly game the Ironwoods are playing, treacherous forces threaten to separate Etta not only from Nicholas but from her path home... forever.



6. Anna and the French Kiss – Stephanie Perkins

Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris--until she meets √Čtienne St. Clair. Smart, charming, beautiful, √Čtienne has it all...including a serious girlfriend.

But in the City of Light, wishes have a way of coming true. Will a year of romantic near-misses end with their long-awaited French kiss?






 
7. The Infernal Devices – Cassandra Clare

In a time when Shadowhunters are barely winning the fight against the forces of darkness, one battle will change the course of history forever. Welcome to the Infernal Devices trilogy, a stunning and dangerous prequel to the New York Times bestselling Mortal Instruments series.

The year is 1878. Tessa Gray descends into London’s dark supernatural underworld in search of her missing brother. She soon discovers that her only allies are the demon-slaying Shadowhunters—including Will and Jem, the mysterious boys she is attracted to. Soon they find themselves up against the Pandemonium Club, a secret organization of vampires, demons, warlocks, and humans. Equipped with a magical army of unstoppable clockwork creatures, the Club is out to rule the British Empire, and only Tessa and her allies can stop them...

 
8. One Paris Summer – Denise Grover Swank

Most teens dream of visiting the City of Lights, but it feels more like a nightmare for Sophie Brooks. She and her brother are sent to Paris to spend the summer with their father, who left home a year ago without any explanation. As if his sudden abandonment weren't betrayal enough, he's about to remarry, and they’re expected to play nice with his soon-to-be wife and stepdaughter. The stepdaughter, Camille, agrees to show them around the city, but she makes it clear that she will do everything in her power to make Sophie miserable.

Sophie could deal with all the pain and humiliation if only she could practice piano. Her dream is to become a pianist, and she was supposed to spend the summer preparing for a scholarship competition. Even though her father moved to Paris to pursue his own dream, he clearly doesn't support hers. His promise to provide her with a piano goes unfulfilled.

Still, no one is immune to Paris’s charm. After a few encounters with a gorgeous French boy, Sophie finds herself warming to the city, particularly when she discovers that he can help her practice piano. There’s just one hitch—he’s a friend of Camille’s, and Camille hates Sophie. While the summer Sophie dreaded promises to become best summer of her life, one person could ruin it all.

  
9. Carry On – Rainbow Rowell

Simon Snow is the worst chosen one who’s ever been chosen.

That’s what his roommate, Baz, says. And Baz might be evil and a vampire and a complete git, but he’s probably right.

Half the time, Simon can’t even make his wand work, and the other half, he sets something on fire. His mentor’s avoiding him, his girlfriend broke up with him, and there’s a magic-eating monster running around wearing Simon’s face. Baz would be having a field day with all this, if he were here—it’s their last year at the Watford School of Magicks, and Simon’s infuriating nemesis didn’t even bother to show up.
Carry On is a ghost story, a love story, a mystery and a melodrama. It has just as much kissing and talking as you’d expect from a Rainbow Rowell story—but far, far more monsters.

 
10. The Land of 10,000 Madonnas – Kate Hattemer

Five teens backpack through Europe to fulfill the mysterious dying wish of their friend.

Jesse lives with his history professor dad in a house covered with postcards of images of the Madonna from all over the world. They’re gotten used to this life: two motherless dudes living among thousands of Madonnas. But Jesse has a heart condition that will ultimately cut his life tragically short. Before he dies, he arranges a mysterious trip to Europe for his three cousins, his best friend, and his girlfriend to take after he passes away. It’s a trip that will forever change the lives of these young teens and one that will help them come to terms with Jesse’s death.





what's on your TTT list this week?

xx
Caroline 

how to: learn to love classics

We've all been there: you're going through your bookshelf, and you glance at those few, leatherbound classics that you've had for years. The thought goes through your mind: I should finally read those? And become, like, cultured? And a better citizen probably? But then you pull out those few leatherbound books, read a couple pages, and are instantly bored. Then you think, WHY can I not do this? If everyone else in the world loves Jane Austen, why don't you?

Well, I am here to help. I don't consider myself particularly well-read, but I am almost done with a double degree in English literature, so I have dabbled in many different time periods and mediums of classic literature. So I can definitively share with you these few secrets, if you want to get into a classic or two without wanting to rip your face off from boredom.

1. The newer, the better. The word "classic" has all sorts of ambiguity to it, and there isn't really a hard line where classics end and contemporary or modern begins. So my advice to the reluctant classic reader is this: start as late as possible. Pick up The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood (still living!), The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon, or Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston. These types of books are classics in their longevity without the confusion antiquated language, practices, or cultural references. "Classic" books from the 20's-50's, and even, in some cases, up the the 90's, are way easier to understand than books from the sixteenth or seventeenth centuries.

2. Try a new form. If you've struck out with classic novels, I have good news for you! The classics are not comprised of just novels! There are many different forms that you can enjoy a classic in. If classic novels aren't for you, you could try epistolary novels, such as The Coquette by Hannah Webster Foster or The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins. Or maybe you'd like books of poetry, such as Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman, Ariel by Sylvia Plath, or Lunch Poems by Frank O'Hara. Perhaps plays are for you! There is anything from the ancient works of Aeschylus, such as The Orestia, all the way to Death of A Salesman, by the more modern Arthur Miller, or Tom Stoppard's mathematical play Arcadia. There is also epic poetry, like Homer's Odyssey, Beowulf, or Gilgamesh. Or even short stories, such as Faulkner's collection called Go Down Moses, Flannery O'Connor's collection A Good Man is Hard To Find, or Hemingway's Hills Like White Elephants. The list goes on!

3. Branch out from your high school summer reading. I swear, when I was in high school, I remember thinking that I was going to claw my eyes out if I had to read another book by a dead white guy. But when I got to college, my eyes were opened to a whole new world. I started reading books by people who were not American or English! I started reading books written by women! I started realizing that classic literature can be amazingly diverse, if you dig a little to find it. So if you're discouraged because you can't relate to anything that is on your reading list, never fear! There is someone out there for you! Looking to get real about living as a POC in past America? Try Gwendoline Brooks or Charles McKay! Looking for LGBT+ writers who aren't defined by their sexuality? Try Frank O'Hara, E.M. Forster, Virginia Woolf or, hell, take a close look at Shakespeare's sonnets! Looking for books about POC women, written by badass women? Try Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs, Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys, or Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye. Point being, there are so many awesome writers out there for those of you who are bored by straight white male POVs.

4. Genres! Have you tried classic sci-fi? fantasy? mystery? there is something out there for you. Mary Shelley's Frankenstein is one of the earliest and longest lasting sci-fi novels, and Jules Verne and H.G. Wells are also well-known pioneers of the genre. As for fantasy, there are examples lasting back centuries, to the stories of King Arthur and Gawain and the Green Knight, going up to Horace Walpole's The Castle of Otranto, Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'Engle, P.L. Traver's Mary Poppins, and of course, the Narnia and Lord of the Rings books by Lewis and Tolkein, respectively. Mystery and action is also abundant, in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories, Wilkie Collins' The Woman in White or The Moonstone, and in Alexandre Dumas' The Three Musketeers or The Count of Monte Cristo.

5. If all else fails, watch the movie first? If you're really determined to read a classic like Pride and Prejudice, War and Peace, To Kill a Mockingbird or Great Expectations, sometimes watching the movie or miniseries before you read the book can actually be helpful. I would never normally recommend this, but if you are truly struggling to follow the plot, watching the movie can help clear up plot and character confusions, and leave you to focus on the meat of the story. I personally did this when I read Anna Karenina, because I was so lost when I first started reading that one! Watching the movie helped me understand what was going on, and then I was able to recognize the beauty of the writing and the strength of the characters easily.

6. Caroline's List of Classics for Reluctant Readers

(listed in this post)
1. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood 
2. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
3. The Coquette by Hannah Webster Foster
4.  The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins
5. Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
6. Ariel by Sylvia Plath
7. Lunch Poems by Frank O'Hara
8. The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon
9. The Oresteia by Aeschylus
10. Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller
11. Arcadia by Tom Stoppard
12. The Odyssey by Homer
13. Beowulf
14. The Epic of Gilgamesh
15. Go Down Moses by William Faulkner
16. A Good Man is Hard to Find by Flannery O'Connor
17. A Street in Bronzeville by Gwendoline Brooks
18. Collected Poems by Charles McKay
19. Room with a View by E.M. Forster
20. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
21. Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs
22. Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys
23. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
24. The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole
25. The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
26. Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
27. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'Engle
28. Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers
29. The Three Musketeers/The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandra Dumas
30. A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

(not on this list)
1. The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
2. The Hungry Tide by Amitav Ghosh
3. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
4. Much Ado About Nothing by Shakespeare
5. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
6. Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
7. Animal Farm by George Orwell
8. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
9. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgsen Burnett
10.  A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
11. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
12. The Scarlet Pimpernel by Emmuska Orczy
13. Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift
14. The Stranger by Albert Camus
15. North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
16. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
17. A Separate Peace by John Knowles
18. Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw
19. A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams
20. Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand
21. Evelina by Frances Burney
22. I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
23. The Awakening by Kate Chopin

I hope this helped you if you want to get into classics but don't know where to start!

xx
Caroline
80% Read the Printed Word!