Bonus Content, Favorites Lists

My Top 10 Favorite Classics

Hiya, fellow book-lovers! Welcome back to another Bonus Content Friday! This week, I’ve decided to share my favorite classic novels I’ve read over the years that I really enjoyed. One of the things I love most about this list is that I’ve included some picks from all over the world and/or those that have the ability to educate the reader about other cultures and ways of life. Some may ring a bell since they’re pretty popular, but others are lesser-known picks that I hope you will consider reading because they are fabulous! I don’t want to keep you in suspense any longer, so let’s jump right into this thing, shall we?

The Arabian Nights (New Deluxe Edition): Mahdi, Muhsin, Haddawy, Husain:  9780393331660: Books

This past week I actually did a re-read of the first half of The Arabian Nights and I remembered once again why I loved these stories so much! While the frame stories are capable of making the best of scholars’ heads spin, I greatly appreciate the complexity of this text’s structure, and there really is a little something for everyone in here: glimpses of Islamic religion, magic found at every turn, and some shocking happenings you aren’t expecting! In addition to these stories just being a barrel of monkeys to read, The Arabian Nights is loaded with insight about ancient Middle Eastern culture. The Importance of Being Earnest (9780486264783): Oscar Wilde:  Books

While I definitely wouldn’t call myself a mega fan of Oscar Wilde, I can’t help but smile anytime someone mentions The Importance of Being Earnest. I’ve read this play on more than one occasion and also seen the fabulous filmed version with Reese Witherspoon in it and each time, my love for this masterpiece grows stronger. If you’re looking for just a sliver of a play full of humor, witty banter, and a whole lot of English social satire, you’ll love The Importance of Being Earnest!

A Tale of Two Cities (Barnes & Noble Classics Series) by Charles Dickens |  NOOK Book (eBook) | Barnes & NobleĀ®

A Tale of Two Cities is the only work by Charles Dickens I’ve read, but I hope to read more by him at some point in the future. I read this novel in high school, and given that I’m not really one for history, I don’t think I quite realized how important of a work this really is at the time (though my English teacher did attempt to beat me over the head with how exquisite this work of literature is more times than I can count!). However, as I got older, I found myself having little flashbacks of the novel’s focus on the idea of personal and societal transformation. While the French Revolution aspect of A Tale of Two Cities is very topical, the smaller underlying themes of challenging the status quo, taking responsibility for one’s personal actions, and finding it within yourself to change who you are for the better are very much universal ideas that modern readers can still connect with today.

The Bluest Eye (Vintage International): Morrison, Toni: 9780307278449: Books

If there was ever a book out there that is so relevant to today’s social movements, it’s The Bluest Eye. The focus of this novel centers on what it means to be beautiful according to Western society’s standards and how this depiction tends to marginalize individuals who don’t conform to these requirements. In a time in America that is filled with discussions of race, diversity, and learning to accept individuals who aren’t exactly like ourselves, I couldn’t recommend reading this heartbreaking, breathtaking, and inspiring masterpiece by Toni Morrison. Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes: Revised  and Complete Edition (9781559363846): Kushner, Tony: Books

Angels in America was one of those reads that will forever stick with me because it taught me so much about topics I didn’t really understand at the time in which I read it. This relatively contemporary play was written as an education piece about the 1980s HIV/AIDS epidemic in the United States. I don’t want to say too much because it truly is a reading experience you need to have yourself to grasp its message, but if you’re looking for an emotional, riveting, educational, and diversity-filled read, I highly recommend you give this play a chance — you won’t be sorry you did!

Brave New World: Aldous Huxley: 9780060850524: Books

You didn’t think I was going to make it through this whole list without adding at least one dystopian pick, did you? Written in 1933, Huxley pretty much hit the nail on the head when it comes to society becoming significantly more reliant on technology as time goes on in Brave New World. I had so many emotions while reading this book, including but not limited to disgust, fascination, shock, alarm, and frustration. Many of these emotions stemmed from the fact that many of the aspects of society Huxley was satirizing in his novel are still present today, and I began to see some of the issues that are starting to come from our strong reliance on technology, particularly in the medical field. Brave New World is perfect for readers seeking an exhilarating dystopian novel that you can apply to the happenings of today.

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

While this novel is really more of a contemporary classic, I have no doubt that everyday readers and scholars will continue reading this novel for years to come. I’ll be the first to admit that The Kite Runner was an extremely difficult book to read due to its very mature themes and content, but it’s a story that no doubt needs to be told and heard by those willing to listen. Taking place in Afghanistan as the monarchy crumbles, two young boys from different social classes form a very unlikely friendship. Highlighting the issues surrounding power, identity, and social construct in Afghan culture, Hosseini’s The Kite Runner is a gripping, heart-wrenching, and inspirational tale you are sure to never forget.

Orlando is one of those books that while you’re reading, you’ll find yourself deeply confused as you struggle through each page, but in the end, after some thoughtful reflection, its purpose and meaning finally click. Over the course of 300 years, the reader has the opportunity to see Orlando experience life in society from the perspective of both genders — Orlando sporadically switches biologically between the female and male sexes as time passes. Some would say that this novel is one of the first to take on the topic of “gender fluidity,” but I would argue that it serves an even larger purpose: to make the point that gender should not dictate how one should experience life in any society.

Book cover for The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger

Ahhh. Let us discuss our dear ol’ Holden, shall we? Young adult novels weren’t necessarily a thing during the time in which The Catcher in the Rye was written, but I can’t think of a book that manages to capture all the angst, stumbling blocks, life lessons, and new experiences of your teen years than this one. Though the lives of teens these days don’t necessarily align perfectly with what Holden experiences, many of the overarching experiences he goes through are similar to the “growing pains” many young adult readers experience in their lives today. As if this doesn’t intrigue you enough, the ending will leave you SHOOK and there have been lots of attempts to ban this novel due to profanity and mature themes. If you’re looking for a book that’s through and through a coming-of-age story sure to make people talk, give The Catcher in the Rye a read!

Snow Falling on Cedars: Guterson, David: 8601400186572: Books

I had to round out this list with one of my all time favorite novels: Snow Falling on Cedars! While the overarching plot of this book surrounds a fictional murder case being unraveled on a fictional island outside Washington, Snow Falling on Cedars leaves the reader reeling from so much more than just the murder mystery. Given that this murder trial takes place following World War II, there is a lot of prejudice against people of Japanese heritage — an element that plays a huge role in the movement of this novel’s plot. Snow Falling on Cedars is a tale of struggling to be treated fairly in a society not ready to move forward from past conflict, pushing aside stereotypes to stand up for what’s right, and fighting against the odds for those you love.

While I don’t typically pick up classics to read in my free time, I sure have read quite a few over the years that have made a lasting impact! Do you have a favorite that didn’t make my list? Let’s chat about them below!

Congrats, everyone — we have at last reached another weekend! Take care, and I’ll see you back here next week for some more bookish fun! šŸ™‚

Bonus Content, Favorites Lists

Blast From the Past: My Favorite Childhood Reads

While I didn’t really start reading for fun until I was in the 8th grade, there are still so many books I remember reading with my family or at school that I look back on fondly. With so many kiddos (and adults!) being stuck at home this summer in need of entertainment, I couldn’t think of a better time to share some of my favorite childhood reads that have stuck with me through the years that you may want to introduce to the littles in your life!

Hearts will ache over 'Flowers for Algernon' story | Arts And ...

I’ll be the first to admit that this may be an odd choice for this list, as it does have some more mature elements to it that most young readers won’t completely understand. However, I couldn’t leave it off because this was a book that I remember reading with my grandmother in elementary school. I always say that reading with others is a great way to bond, and this definitely rings true when it came to my reading Flowers for Algernon. If you know a reader who enjoys books that are emotionally charged and gripping until the end, I highly suggest giving this book a try!

Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters.: Steptoe, John.: Books

Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters is a story I read in school, and I still remember every detail of it to this day. I appreciate the fact that it gives the reader insight into a culture they may not be as familiar with and provides a universal message that transcends both time and geographical region: kindness reaps reward.

The Trumpet of the Swan: White, E. B, Marcellino, Fred ...

The Trumpet of the Swan was another book I had the opportunity to enjoy with my family. The cast of chitchatting animals (an E. B. White specialty) was such a cute touch, and I loved that this book carried the overarching theme of working with what you are given, but not letting obstacles get in the way of what you’re striving for. I think this is a lesson we could all learn from, as it’s easy to get discouraged and want to give up when you continue to hit road blocks!

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie Big Book: Numeroff, Laura Joffe, Bond ...

I know what you’re thinking: EVERYONE loved this book as a kid, and you’re probably right! I remember it being read to me at school on numerous occasions, and I just thought it was such a cute one that it had to make this list. The other books in the series (If You Give a Pig a Party and If You Give a Moose a Muffin are two that come to mind, but there could be more now) are also sure to bring a smile to your face! Magic Tree House Boxed Set, Books 1-28 (8580001055886 ...

Whenever my class would take a trip to the school library, I would head straight to the Magic Tree House section. Every one of these books takes the reader on a brand new adventure, and I remember being so excited to see what setting Jack and Annie were going to be whisked away to next as the series went on. If you know of a young reader who loves books full of adventure, I’d highly recommend you read these to them. They are sure to be a hit!

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein, Hardcover | Barnes & NobleĀ®

I’m sure this is not the first time you’ve seen this book come up on a list like this, as it is just that good! Giving and giving selflessly to others is something people of all ages struggle to do, and I think The Giving Tree does an excellent job of explaining this lesson to its readers. The fact that this message could be so well explained in so few words makes this book that much more special and powerful. I recommend this book to literally everyone because the moral that’s at the forefront of The Giving Tree is timeless!

Rainbow Fish Big Book: Pfister, Marcus, James, J Alison ...

While the moral of selflessly sharing with others was a nice backdrop to this book, what I remember the most about The Rainbow Fish are the illustrations. The vibrant colors and the way the sparkly scales added texture to each page made this book extra eye-catching. I think it’s the perfect book to gift your little ones who are just starting to read on their own. It also makes for a great bedtime story for you to read to them! - Anne of Green Gables - Montgomery, L. M. - Livres

In addition to just enjoying Anne’s shenanigans she manages to get herself into, I loved how this book highlights the importance of family, friendship, and working hard to achieve your aspirations. I also appreciated the fact that Anne, like a lot of people, hasn’t had a cookie cutter life — an element of her characterization that many readers will find relatable in one way or another, even if they haven’t experienced exactly what she has. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom eBook: Martin Jr, Bill, John ...

The sing-song voice of this book is what really stood out to me as a child. The overall concept of using a coconut tree to help little ones learn their letters is so genius and by keeping the concept so simple, I think children are better able to understand the educational component of the book because it’s at the forefront of the story rather than being overshadowed by other plot elements. The vibrant colors of the illustrations were also a big hit for me (still a huge fan of all the neons, y’all!).

Charlotte's Web (Trophy Newbery) - Kindle edition by White, E. B. ...

I know I already have a book written by E. B. White on this list, but Charlotte’s Web is one of those books I remember so vividly from my childhood that it would just be so wrong not to include it here! White is well known for tacking tough topics in ways children can understand, and in Charlotte’s Web, he tackled the complex themes of friendship, sacrifice, and coping with death. While I wish I could say that I totally understood this message when I first read it, that would be a total lie. Ultimately, I was drawn in by the adorable talking animals, but I guess that would be a good (and super intentional) distraction to any young reader!

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr., Eric ...

I’m so happy to see that this book is still popular today, as it has a lot of things going for it, particularly for very young audiences. I had this book read to me before I could read on my own, and it was not only fun to listen to, but it also provides little ones with a some schooling along the way. If you’re looking for a book that focuses on helping littles connect objects with their meanings and learn their colors, this book would be a perfect choice!

Holes - Kindle edition by Sachar, Louis, Vladimir Radunsky, Bagram ...

I’ll be honest with you all: I had to read this book in 6th grade, and at the time, I just felt like I couldn’t connect with it at all at my age. However, after reading it a couple years later, I began to understand why it’s so well-loved. I also have to admit that I fell in love with the film long before the book (sorry, not sorry) but that shouldn’t take away from the fact that there were so many great things to appreciate about the book alone: well-constructed characters, a unique plotline, and the fact that the writing is beautiful and flowy, but still relatively easy for young readers to understand.

This list could literally go on for days, but I want to hear from you! What books do you remember loving from your childhood?

Bonus Content, Favorites Lists

If They Write It, I’m Reading It: My Top 8 Auto-Buy Authors

Do you ever find yourself reading a book just because a certain author wrote it? Whether it’s their writing style, ability to create the most relatable characters, or the insane plot twists that leave you reeling, you just can’t stop yourself from picking up their latest and greatest as soon as it’s released. I can totally relate, so I thought I’d share my current list of auto-buy authors with you all today!

Jennifer L. Armentrout

There’s no way JLA wouldn’t make this list, considering she’s the writer who got me into reading. I marathoned the entire Convenant series in less than a week, and from then on I was hooked on her writing style, characters, and the terrible (but also fabulous) cliffhangers she manages to throw readers at the end of so many of her books. I’m definitely a JLA superfan, and it’s likely if you ever ask me for a book recommendation, there’s a solid 98% chance I’m going to recommend one of her books to you if you haven’t read anything by her before– you’re welcome.

Ryan Graudin

One of the things I love so much about Ryan Graudin’s writing is that there really is something in each of her works for everyone. She’s hit on time travel, motorcycle racing, and her books almost always have a little dash of history thrown into her fantastical worlds. Regardless of which book of hers you pick up, one thing’s for sure: in addition to having unique overall concepts, Graudin’s execution of said concepts in each of her books is always spot on and keeps the reader on their toes from beginning to end.

Huntley Fitzpatrick

Huntley Fitzpatrick writes hard-hitting, emotional story lines for her characters to walk through while simultaneous creating these characters with some of the most charismatic personalities I think I’ve ever seen in YA contemporaries. There’s just something about the combination of the two that manages to lure me in every time. I can still remember My Life Next Door in vivid detail, and it’s almost always my go-to when someone asks me for a contemporary recommendation. So, even though you aren’t asking, give this book a try if you haven’t read it yet, and if you love it, then definitely check out some of Fitzpatrick’s other masterpieces!

Leigh Bardugo

I forget how much I love Leigh Bardugo’s writing until I pick up her latest releases (with the exception of Six of Crows duology because it still has me SHOOK years after I read it). In the moment, I love the adventures she takes her readers on, and the characters always have such unique voices and distinct backgrounds that influence how they became the way they are. And when the next book in the series comes out at least a year later, I somehow manage to know as soon as I start reading the newest book exactly where the previous one left off, no matter how long ago I read it, with all the smaller details falling into place shortly after. Pretty amazing, right? Yeah, that’s why she made this auto-buy author list– her stories stick with you.

Morgan Matson

There’s something just so sweet and charming about all of Morgan Matson’s books that keep me coming back for more. In addition to the romantic components, there’s always some kind of family and/or friendship dynamic at the forefront of all her stories. There’s also usually at least one super cute pet involved, which is totally an added bonus for all the animal lover (like myself) out there!

Mackenzi Lee

If you need a good laugh, Mackenzi Lee’s books are the way to go, let me tell ya! Her writing style is so quirky and fun, and the dialogue she creates between her flawed characters is hilarious (and kind of inappropriate at times, but I love it!). I have no idea how she does it while simultaneously targeting key social issues, but because of all these things, I will forever be picking up her books!

Jenn Bennett

This author is actually a recent addition to my auto-buy list! I received an advanced reader copy of her latest publication, Serious Moonlight, and since then, I’ve purchased her other two books and really enjoyed them. I love contemporary romances that have unique concepts and other elements that make them stand out from the crowd, and Jenn Bennett is now my go-to when I need to spice up my reading in this genre.

Sarah J. Maas

I can honestly say that there hasn’t been one book written by Sarah J. Maas that I’ve haven’t loved, even when she’s breaking my heart into teeny tiny little pieces and continually plotting how to do so over and over again every time she sits down to write. Don’t let that deter you from reading her books, though– I swear they’re so good and it’s totally worth it every time! Her world-building is off the Richter amazing and you can’t help but love each and every one of her characters (or, in some cases, love to hate them!).

Do you have an auto-buy author that didn’t make the list? Let me know below!

Bonus Content, Favorites Lists

Top 12 Eye-Catching Book Covers That Are Sure to Lure You In

We’ve all heard the saying “don’t judge a book by its cover,” but let’s be honest: a gorgeous cover is a sure-fire way to draw any avid reader in. Whether it be bright colors, metallic detail, or even something as simple as a unique font, we’re here for it! Here are some of my personal favorites that would be hard for any book lover to resist. And, if you’re like me and just HAVE to have these pretties on your bookshelf, purchase links are attached to all the photos!

#1: The Six of Crows Duology by Leigh Bardugo

Bonus: The pages of the hardcover editions are SPRAYED. So cool, right?

#2: The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

Hazel Wood (Hardcover) (Melissa Albert) : Target
Fun fact: This was one of the books I didn’t end up finishing (just wasn’t my cup of tea, but a lot of people love it!). I’m not too upset about buying it though because the cover is absolutely stunning with its metallic gold detailing and whimsical images!

#3: The Cursebreakers Series by Brigid Kemmerer The Cursebreaker Series 2 Books Collection Set by ...
This book series isn’t just pretty to look at– it’s one of my favorite series of 2020 so far! You’ll have to pick this one up in person to do it justice, but the pearly, iridescent lettering really makes these covers pop!

#4: Wicked/Son of a Witch by Gregory Maguire (Barnes and Noble Exclusive Edition)

Wicked/Son of a Witch (Barnes & Noble Collectible Editions)
I fell in love with the metallic lime green details and the metallic gold sprayed edges on this one!

#5: Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills

Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills
Not only are the colors on this cover as vibrant in person as they are in this picture, but the title is actually 3-D rather than just looking textured!

#6: The Shatter Me Series by Tahereh Mafi

This is one of the best series I have ever read, reveal me ...
I don’t know about you guys, but I think these covers get prettier and prettier as the series goes on! The best news? Regardless of if they’re in hardcover or paperback, the covers are equally as pleasing to the eye (yeah, pun intended).

#7: House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. Maas

House of Earth and Blood (Crescent City, #1) by Sarah J. Maas
STUNNING cover and a captivating read to boot? Yeah, I think this cover is worthy of the queen of fantasy herself! I also love the illustrations on the inside of the cover. They’re just as vibrant as the outside cover!

#8: My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick

This one just screams “happy happy happy” to me. The vibrant colors and images on the cover perfectly sum up what this book is all about, and just like with the words within it, I just can’t help but love its cover, too!

#9: Storm and Fury by Jennifer L. Armentrout

I could be a little biased here, given that this is one of my favorite books of all time, but I just love the textured look of the feathers and the font on this one!

#10: Save the Date by Morgan Matson Save the Date (9781481404570): Matson, Morgan: Books
I just think this one is so innovative! This cover also encompasses one of the most iconic (and chaotic) moments in the whole book. Love all the moving parts on this one!

#11: The Montague Siblings Series by Mackenzi Lee

In addition to the unique font, the little cartoon drawings in the background just make this cover so much fun to look at!

#12: The Passenger Series by Alexandra Bracken

These covers are full of intricate detail, from the images in the glass containers down to the reflection at the bottom.

Do you have a favorite that didn’t make the list? Let me know below! One thing’s for sure: there are too many stunning book covers to count!