Top Ten Tuesday: Bookish Merch

So this week’s Top Ten Tuesday is all about bookish merchandise and since I’m always on the look out for bookish merch, I thought I’d participate and check out all the other bloggers’ lists as well.  I was originally going to include bookish merchandise that I own, but finally decided against in case this post mysteriously makes it into my husband’s web browser this Christmas season.

Husband: “Nicky, what’s this?”

Me: *wide eyed* “huh? what?”

H: “this” *points to my blog post in his browser*

me: *deer in headlights* “I dunno” *breaks into a mumble*

If you are not aware, Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted at That Artsy Reader Girl’s blog and it is fun to go check out other bloggers’ responses to the weekly prompts.  So without further ado, here are 10 bookish items I want in my life that I don’t have already.

Matilda Relaxed Tee

Matilda was one of the first Roald Dahl books I ever read and this shirt is adorable.

Coffee and a Classic Subscription Box 

I have a love hate relationship with subscription boxes but this one is in my future.

Hobbit poster

Because why wouldn’t I want to hang up a poster of the full book?  This is definitely an item I plan to buy.  I might even put this in the guest bathroom for those guests that forget their smart phones 🙂

Dracula Tee

A shirt for one of my all time favorite books? Yes please.

Hobbit locket

While I’ve been eyeing a sterling silver book locket for months, I had to include a picture of this one because I love Tolkien.

A… Book

Do I need an excuse to want another book?

Socks for my little one to run around in and tear up the house

A pillow to prop my my big head up when I stay up to 3am reading

This kickass mug

Ideal for coffee or booze.

This Ballcap

I love ballcaps and I love books.  Enough said.

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Messy bookshelves

It’s Shelfie Sunday and I thought I would start off this series with a topic I’ve been thinking about for a few days now.

While scrolling through Bookstagram recently, it hit me that while I may LOVE gazing lovingly at my bookshelves, they look nothing like those beautiful every-book-the-same-size rainbow organized shelves I see.

Sure I own some pop funkos and flowers that I display and I love decorating them for the holidays. And sure, I have some beautiful editions of books. But I display them alongside my well loved paperbacks and mismatched series. But I’ve also run out of room so I double stack my books wherever they fit. My organization makes sense only to me and now that I’ve resorted to double stacking, my books are less “organized” and more… let’s say (air quotes) “haphazardly arranged wherever the f they fit.” I’m in the market for a new shelf so I will be rearranging them back into a more cohesive system soon, but as of right now, we are stuffing books everywhere.

I get a lot of pleasure out of scrolling through bookstagram but I get the same pleasure out of walking around a library or a musty smelling used book store and just looking around. The same pleasure I get from my own shelves. I just love books and anytime there’s a stack of them somewhere, I look and I admire.

So despite my tacky arrangement of pop funkos, anime characters, and random memorabilia I’ve collected while traveling the world, I can honestly say that I believe my shelves have a lot of character. My shelves may not conform to the modern ideal of sleek shelves full of perfectly placed decor and hardback books, but they are beautiful to me and more importantly, they are full of friends both old and new, books I love. ❤️❤️

*As an afterthought I’d like to say that I just discovered the #messybooks posts on bookstagram and I’m in love*

So does anyone else suffer from messy books syndrome?

The most disturbing book I’ve read this year…so far

Hello fellow readers. Today I wanted to discuss a book that really disturbed me. I am still gathering my thoughts and I am unsure as to whether I liked or hated this book. The book in question is… the Dumb House by John Burnside.

A brief synopsis:

Young Luke is fascinated with the secrets of the human soul and how it relates to human language. He becomes obsessed with a story his mother told him as a child about the Dumb House, a palace where children were raised in complete seclusion and never hearing human speech. He decided to conduct his own experiment with children and creates his own version of the Dumb House.

My thoughts:

The book is told from Luke’s perspective and I have to say that it was very disturbing to be inside the mind of a psychopath. The book opens where it eventually ends and we go back into Luke’s childhood and his relationship with his parents. From the onset it is very apparent that his family environment is unhealthy. Without over analyzing, I saw that he was governed completely by his mother who haunts the rest of the story. His relationship with his father is almost nonexistent. As he grows older, his twisted tendencies go unchecked (you might even say that they were encouraged) and he takes it upon himself to begin experimenting on animals seeking answers about life and the question of where soul comes into play. His later relationships with other characters are twisted and when he performs his biggest “experiment” I was appalled.

As a human and especially as a mother I was completely disgusted and uncomfortable throughout the whole book. I found certain parts very difficult to read.

The writing was excellent. The sentence structure and language were well done and narrating the book from Luke’s thoughts were a great way to present such disturbing content. I was inside his mind the entire time and I was uncomfortable even while I kept reading. Beginning the book at the end and then working from his childhood to the end was probably the best way this story could have been told. While I would consider it a psychological thriller, it is not the quickest paced book out there. Nevertheless, even with the disturbing content and relatively slow pace, I found myself turning pages wanting to know what happened next and hoping it wouldn’t get any worse. It did.

All in all I found it to be disturbingly interesting though I probably won’t read this again. This is not a book I’d recommend to everyone but if you are looking for something disturbing to read that isn’t as gory as some other more horror type books than this might be worth your time (though I’d recommend checking out my warning below).

Warning ⚠️

This books contains elements of child abuse, possible child molestation, rape, exploiting of mental illness, and cruelty to animals.

If you’ve read this book please tell me what you thought. I’m still gathering my thoughts and can’t tell how I’d rate it but I’d love to discuss with someone.

Creepy (but not too creepy) books for fall…the classics

Greetings fellow readers! I am beyond excited we recently said goodbye to summer and hello to fall. Even though I typically veer towards gothic reads, I am still a mood reader but fall always tends to put me in an even more gothic mood than usual so I find myself reading a lot of more melancholy books this time of year. So today I thought I’d discuss some books that are creepy enough for this time of year but are considered classic literature.  Being the fan of Gothic fiction that I am, this is right up my alley and I had a lot of fun coming up with classic titles that embody the eery atmosphere that we all like to come across in books during this time of year.

1. Dracula by Bram Stoker

I love the format of this book and it remains one of my favorite books of all time.

2. Jamaica Inn by Daphne Du Maurier

Melancholy and full of suspense. The setting and the suspense make this story a great fall read.

3. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

I have a love/hate relationship with this one. Dr. Frankenstein is a character I want to reach through the pages and shake some sense into but it is fascinating and has very creepy parts.

4. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

Another all time favorite. Typical gothic fiction complete with mansion, brooding man and young female heroine.

5. And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

The book that kindled my love for Agatha Christie and scared the pants off 13 year old me.

6. 1984 by George Orwell

The paranoia in this book makes it terrifying. Definitely enjoyed this.

7. In a Closed Room by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Nothing at all like her other works (which I love). This one has ghosts and children. Spooky and sad.

8. The Mysteries of Udolpho by Anne Radcliffe

I am still reading this one but definitely worthy of being on this list.

9. Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier

You can’t get much more gothic and suspenseful than this book. A worthy classic that I loved.

10. Gothic Tales by Elizabeth Gaskell

I am currently reading and enjoying so far. This is a collection of shorter stories that are all creepy in a different way.

So that’s it. I decided to keep this shorter because I could have kept going on and on. If you have any creepy classics you think I should try please recommend them to me!

Gothic Book Tag

Greetings, all! While I will read a little of everything, my love has always been Gothic Fiction (and fantasy).  For years I devoured gothic type books without even realizing there was a Gothic sub genre beneath the all encompassing “fiction” genre.  I’ve always been drawn to brooding and moody period pieces (Probably the reason Dracula and Jane Eyre are two of my favorite books of all time) As a teenager I read Agatha Christie and read and reread every book Victoria Holt ever wrote under that pen name (her gothic historical fiction pen name) When I noticed a lot of recent activity in the Classics Club (games and tags) I was excited and when I came across the Gothic Book tag, naturally I was over the moon. So without further ado, here is the Gothic Book Tag:

1. Which classic book has scared you the most? 

This is hard because two books immediately come to mind.  In 1984, Orwell masterfully set the scene with intense paranoia and it really stuck with me. In And Then There Were None, there was a growing sense of dread that really affected me as a 13 year old reading it for the first time and I’m just as spooked every time I reread it.

2. Scariest moment in a book?

Again, I have two.  The final scene in And Then There Were None with Vera and the moment when the Martians start using their tripod looking machines in War of the Worlds.

3. Classic villain that you love to hate?

Dr. Frankenstein.  It is unclear whether he is the protagonist or the villain but I really feel that he brought all of the trouble on himself and I was so angry at him every time he interacted with his creature.

4. Creepiest setting in a book? 

It’s hard to beat Hell from Dante’s Inferno.  There are some really terrible images. There is also the lonely island in And Then There Were None.  The Jamaica Inn was definitely creepy and so was the castle in Dracula.

5. Best scary cover ever?

I used to own an illustrated copy of The Inferno that had a painting of people being tormented in hell but alas, I misplaced it years ago.

6. Book you’re too scared to read?

Might not be a “classic” but the book It by Stephen King is a little above my scary threshold. Plus I tend to like moodier stories as opposed to gory, violent books.

7. Spookiest creature in a book?

I find the tripod things in War of the Worlds extremely spooky.

8. Classic book that haunts you to this day?

Frankenstein because I’m still bitter about the way he behaved towards his creation.

9. Favourite cliffhanger or unexpected twist?

The whodunit in, yes you guessed it, And Then There Were None.

10. Classic book you really, really disliked?

I mildly disliked Villette but mainly because of the ending.  I also disliked My Cousin Rachel.

11. Character death that disturbed/upset you the most?

Dr. Frankenstein’s wife and family

12. List your top 5 Gothic/scary/horror classic reads.

  • Dracula by Bram Stoker
  • Jamaica Inn by Daphne Du Maurier
  • Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  • And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
  • Mistress of Mellyn by Victoria Holt

13. Share your scariest/creepiest quote, poem or meme.

I’m going to cheat here and say the entire Tell Tale Heart.

I had a ton of fun answering these questions.  I realize Gothic fic isn’t for everyone but there’s something about it I just love.  I hope you enjoyed this post and if you aren’t a member already I hope you go check out The Classics Club.

You can find my Classics List here.

Top Ten Tuesday ||Bookstores and Libraries

Hello friends! I’m sure you’ve all heard of Top Ten Tuesday but if you haven’t, it is a weekly bookish meme created by The Broke and the Bookish but now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. Basically every week has a bookish theme and bloggers then create lists based off that theme. While I don’t always participate, I always check out different posts and it helps find bloggers to follow. This week however, I could not help but participate because this is something I think about all the time. This week’s theme is My top ten bookstores or libraries I’d like to visit. I had a really hard time keeping it down to just ten so I may include 12!

1. Honesty Bookshop, Hay-on-Wye, Wales

Hay-on-Wye is one of several book towns I’d love to see in my day and this shop and town just look charming and delightful. I just hope I get to visit here when I eventually visit the UK.

2. New York Public Library

One of the couple on this list I’ve actually been to before but would love to see again. I grew up in New York so I know that NYPL is actually many libraries but there is the one branch that is the main one everyone thinks of and it is beautiful. It is also a National Historic Landmark.

3. Waterstones

I hear Waterstones pop up a lot when watching booktube videos and since I live in the States, we don’t have one here.

4. Shakespeare and Company, Paris, France

A bookstore named Shakespeare and company in Paris? Yes, please. Also the history of this place involves Nazis and the whole nine, so again, YES PLEASE.

5. Book and Bed, Tokyo, Japan

This is one of those places that keep popping up in my Facebook feed and it looks super neat. A library you can sleep at!!!!!! My work requires us to travel to Japan from time to time so I know where I’ll be spending a night next time!

6. The Strand, New York City

Another of the ones I’ve visited in the past. A huuuuuge bookstore I would love to rediscover this place as an adult as I was a child the last time I went.

7. The Library of Congress, Washington DC

Me cheesing as we pass the Library of Congress

I have been here, and in fact I was here last week for work. Sadly, we had to catch a plane and I was unable to explore to my heart’s content.

8. Cafébreria el Pendulo, Mexico City

This is a two floor coffee shop, restaurant and book store with beautiful greenery inside. This is one place I will definitely visit if I ever make it to Mexico City while in Mexico.

9. Hangzhou Zhonghuge, China

This is another of those that keep showing up in my Facebook feed and people keep tagging me in it as well. A stunning architectural labyrinth of a bookstore. While I’ve been to Hong Kong and Singapore, I’ve never been to China itself and I don’t know if I’ll ever be lucky enough to go, but if I dream it long enough maybe it’ll happen.

10. Powell’s Bookstore, Portland, Oregon

The largest independent bookstore in the world. It takes up an entire city block and I have been wanting to go here for years. I always thought the Strand was the biggest til I heard about this place. Since we live in California now, I’ve been nagging my husband for a road trip up the West coast culminating here at this bookstore. Maybe it will happen this year.

11. Brattle Book Shop, Boston, Massachusetts

This is a used book store in Boston where you can find cheap used books, but they are very well known for finding rare books, old books and first editions. I love the look of this place and I love Boston so I will make this one happen some day!

So I cheated and went with 11 instead of 10 but I couldn’t help it. I had so much fun with this theme. I love traveling and I travel every now and again for work so I hope I get so see more of these places. Have you been to any of these places?

The dilemma of traveling with books

Have you ever been packing for a trip and heard one of your friends or loved ones utter the words “You don’t need to bring that many books!”?  Well I’m here today to tell you, IGNORE THAT SH*T.

A week ago, three of my coworkers and I went on a week long work trip that required us to fly across the country to D.C. and for the first time EVER I decided to conform and I packed light. Like really light. I listened to those lunatics who always tell me I don’t need to pack so many books and so the night before I piled a bunch of books on the couch and agonized over which book I absolutely needed to bring with me. I ended up settling on two paperbacks plus the one I was reading on my kindle app on iPad. I packed one book in my suitcase and my iPad and the other book in my purse. I figured if I ran out of reading material at the airport that I would just buy one at the airport like I usually do. Unfortunately, while browsing the bookshop at the first airport I didn’t find anything worth spending full airport price for and I didn’t have time to shop at the layover airport. Well friends, let’s just say IT HAPPENED. Yes, THAT. The thing we all dread. With 10 hours of travel time I RAN OUT OF BOOKS TO READ. I was reading this really great series (more on that in another post) on my iPad and I finished the book on the plane. The plane had WiFi so I thought I’d download the next book because I NEEDED to know what happened next and the freaking thing wouldn’t download.

I looked around the plane in a panic trying to figure out wtf people DO on a plane when they’re not reading and I figured it out… they get up repeatedly to use the restroom and stand in the aisles with their butts in your face.  When we finally landed in D.C. I was able to download it during the hour and a half ride to our hotel but can I just point out how nerve wracking it is to actually run out of books to read???

In an effort to put all this behind me, I’ve decided to consider this a learning experience.  I think it’s safe to say I will never go against my book hoarding instincts again.  The next person who tells me not to pack so many books is sure to receive a penetrating stare or a swift kick to the shin from me.

So remember friends, when someone tells you not to bring any more books on a trip, just ignore them because you don’t need that kind of negativity in your life.