Literary Pilgrimage: Outlander & the Highlands of Scotland

My mom and I have been watching the second season of Outlander lately and Scotland has been on my mind.  I am fortunate enough to have ventured to this beautiful country twice and fell more in love with every visit.

My first visit to Scotland was in November, 2013.  I spent a long weekend with my study abroad group in Edinburgh and we did a day trip to the Highlands.  My second visit was in April 2016.  This time, I was alone.  I did a three-day bus tour of the Highlands and Isle of Skye, followed by a few days revisiting Edinburgh.

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The Quiraing on the Isle of Skye.  It was a clear day, so you can see the mountains of mainland Scotland in the distance.

Now… Outlander.  Diana Gabaldon’s books aren’t exactly high-brow literature, but that doesn’t mean they’re not good.  I came to the series a few years ago–about a year after my first visit to Scotland.  The television show was just about to premiere and an extended relative recommended the books to my mom, who then passed the word to me.  Intrigued by the premise–a World War II combat nurse goes back in time 200 years–I ordered secondhand copies of the entire series from Amazon. Continue reading

Inbox // Outbox 2/6/17

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Strong Female Protagonist by Brennan Lee Mulligan and Molly Ostertag 

Continuing with my newfound obsession with comic books, I’m delving into this large volume that tells the story of an ex-superhero during her attempt to live a normal life.  I’m not super thrilled with the art, but hope the story will make up for that.

Grace (Eventually): Thoughts on Faith by Anne Lamott

I fell in love with Anne Lamott a year ago while at English L’Abri.  I devoured three of her books and haven’t touched any of her work since.  I’m looking forward to her sauciness and blunt honesty.

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

This book caught my eye while shelving at work this week and I brought it home.  I’m not sure if or when I will actually get to it, but dystopian classics are on the front of everyone’s mind these days with the political climate.  It’s been a while since I’ve read anything serious, so hopefully this will be one I actually get to reading.  Plus, the new Hulu show is coming out, and it would be nice to be familiar with the source material before watching it.

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Black, White, and Shades of Grey: Morality in Fantasy Literature

Who wouldn’t want to hear their favorite authors speak together on the same stage?

Recently, I was inspired by staff at Eventbrite about putting together a dream panel of authors I’d like to see at a conference.  Eventbrite is an organization that helps people create and share events that bring communities together.  For more information about their conference management tool, check out their website.

I love attending conferences, but have sadly never been to one that is book-related.  (That is likely to change now that I’m working as a librarian.)  Still, I assume that most events follow similar structures and that there is a great deal of freedom in what goes on in a panel.  That being said, I spent some time brainstorming what group I should bring together.  There are so many genres that I love and so many topics that would be interesting to explore.  I ended up settling on…

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Literary Pilgrimage: Jane Austen House, Chawton, UK

Jane Austen has a bit of a cult following.  While I may not be as rabid as popular culture depicts some of her fans (see 2013 film, Austenland, for an example), she’s one of my favorite writers.

My relationship with Austen’s work began when I was thirteen.  Having skipped after school basketball practice to go see the 2005 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice in theaters with my mom, I loved the story so much I went straight to the school library the next day to check out the book.  I loved the book so much that I read it three times in a row.

My fondness for Austen has only grown over the years.  I had read all six of her novels by the time I graduated high school and have revisited all of them since.  I had the pleasure of getting to study Sense and Sensibility in college.  As I’ve aged, I’ve come to understand her characters on a deeper level.  When I was younger, I identified with the playful and witty Elizabeth Bennett.  These days, I connect most with the sensible Elinor Dashwood and have developed a soft spot for Anne Elliot.

In 2016, I had the privilege of spending three months living in the English countryside.  When I arrived, I learned that my new residence was only a fifteen minute car ride from Chawton, the village where Austen lived from 1809-1817.  Naturally, I had to go.

My visit to the Jane Austen House Museum took place on a Sunday afternoon.  I went with a few friends, whose love of Austen ranged from casual movie-watcher to rabid book snob.  We were a diverse group, hailing from the United States, Canada, and South Africa.  Isn’t it wonderful that people from all over the world can come together through a love of literature? Continue reading

Inbox // Outbox 1/23/16

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The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher

I’ve been on the list for this at the library for quite a while.  I’ve never read anything by Fisher before and, in honor of her passing, am looking forward to exploring what she has to say.  In addition, I’ve been engaging with Star Wars a great deal lately and this fits right in.

Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson

This memoir has been on my library list for a while… I’m not really sure what to expect, but am going to give it a chance.

Darth Vader, Vol 1-4 by Kieron Gillen

This graphic novel series takes my current obsession with graphic novels and combines it with my Star Wars kick.  Vader isn’t my favorite character, but my brother told me these were good, so I’ll see how this goes.

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Literary Pilgrimages

I am a pilgrim, a wayfarer, an adventurer.  I am a sojourner, making my way through lands real and imagined.  I travel by multiple mediums.  My feet carry me across continents familiar and strange.  My imagination soars through the minds and hearts of people who have gone before, ferried by the pages of a book.

 

I am a reader.  I am an explorer.  Sometimes, the two combine and I become a pilgrim.

Merriam Webster dictionary defines a pilgrim as “one who journeys in foreign lands”.  Traditionally, pilgrims journey towards a sacred, often religious place.  One of the most famous pilgrimages in literature is Chaucer’s band of characters telling tales on the road to the cathedral in Canterbury.

I am a lover of pilgrimages.  My journeys, however, are literary in nature.  In them, I travel to a place that holds bookish significance–the house or grave of a writer, the location of a beloved text, the place that inspired a famous text. Continue reading

Inbox // Outbox 1/9/16

Inbox:

The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman

I’m halfway through the audiobook version of this and am doing my best to withhold judgement until the end.  I really WANT to like this book.  I just don’t know if I can.  The historical aspects are really enjoyable, but a couple of the main characters get on my nerves.  Plus, the reader is annoying–his voice trails off at the end of sentences and is hard to hear.

Saving Hamlet by Molly Booth

This was a fluffy, fun YA read.  Theater kid, Emma, suddenly finds herself promoted to Stage Manager in what is on track to become the worst production of Hamlet ever to grace the high school stage.  One evening, she trips and falls through the auditorium stage’s trap door and finds herself enlisted as an assistant at the Globe Theater in London… in 1601.  There’s not a lot of depth here, but my not-so-inner literature nerd loved all the Shakespeare.

Wayfarer by Alexandra Bracken

Bracken’s first book, Passenger, didn’t blow me away.  There have been quite a few YA novels about time-traveling pirates released lately and none of them have been as satisfying as I wanted them to be.  Still, I’m intrigued enough to keep going and hope to get to this in the next week or so.  (Probably when I finish the Hamlet book).

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Outbox:

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Ten Books I Wouldn’t Mind Santa Leaving Under My Tree

  1. The Princess Saves Herself in This One by Amanda Lovelace
  2. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
  3. The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
  4. Personality Types: Using the Enneagram for Self-Discovery by Riso & Hudson
  5. Finding God in the Waves by Mike McHargue
  6. Difficult Women by Roxane Gay
  7. Of Other Worlds: Essays and Stories by C.S. Lewis
  8. Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard
  9. The Man Born to Be King by Dorothy Sayers
  10. Traveling Mercies by Anne Lamott

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly link-up hosted at The Broke and the Bookish

Check out my biweekly book Inbox//Outbox

For more of my bookish adventures, add me on Goodreads!

Inbox // Outbox 12/19/16

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The Magician’s King by Lev Grossman

I recently finished the first of Grossman’s trilogy (see below for more) and immediately moved on to the second.

My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories

Christmas short stories by all my favorite YA authors?  YES, PLEASE.

Watchmen by Alan Moore

I’m on the cusp of a graphic novel binge and what kind of reader would I be if I skipped out on what is heralded as the greatest of the genre?  I’ve been hearing amazing things about this book for years.  Will it live up to the hype?  I’m about to find out.

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Inbox // Outbox 12/5/16

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Something in Between by Melissa de la Cruz

I’m really intrigued by this book because it’s about an extremely driven girl who, after winning a competitive national scholarship, finds out that she’s an illegal immigrant.  I’m a few pages in and, while I don’t find the protagonist’s voice super compelling at this point, am eager to keep reading.

This Day: New and Collected Sabbath Poems 1979 – 2012 by Wendell Berry

I just got this collection in the mail and can’t wait to sink my teeth in.  I’m currently working my way through the complete works of W.B. Yeats, reading a few poems every morning.  This is my next project.

The Magicians by Lev Grossman

I checked this one out of the library on a whim.  The reviews on Goodreads aren’t amazing, but several of my friends have given it high rankings… so I’ll see how it goes.

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Outbox:

The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes

I listened to this one on audiobook during my commute.  I found the composition of the book jarring.  Moyes jumps between two time periods, linking two stories together.  While I liked the two stories, the linking felt forced.  Also, the trial at the end goes on for WAY too long.

Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson

I’ve been tearing through Matson’s novels over the past couple of months.  This one fits the genre of YA summer romance perfectly, but is no less enjoyable for it.

Humans of New York: Stories by Brandon Stanton

Stanton’s book is a collection of pictures and quotes from his Facebook page, Humans of New York.  I’ve been a fan of his work for quite a while.  What I loved about seeing the stories in book form was the way that so many of them linked together.  It captures the diversity of what it is to be human while tying us all together.  While we all are different, on a deep level, we are all the same.

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld

I’ve heard good things about Sittenfeld’s modern day retelling of Pride & Prejudice.  I read the book in one sitting in the car and, while entertained, wasn’t blown away.  I liked some of the innovations, but a lot of the modern equivalents didn’t feel weighty enough.  Also, I didn’t actually LIKE any of the characters.

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My next Inbox // Outbox will be on December 19

For more of my bookish adventures, add me on Goodreads!