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Book Review | The Catcher in the Rye

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The Catcher in the Rye is a book that, for some unknown reason, sits on my shelves for years and years. Whenever I looked at it I would remember that I should probably read it, but I was always unsure if I really wanted to.
I had heard countless mixed things about it. People usually either love it and find it a powerful piece of literature, while others absolutely hate it. I didn't know where exactly I would rank on the love/hate scale.

I was actually surprised at how much I actually liked this book when I finally did end up reading it.

I think I decided to read it during the perfect time in my life. I was just feeling upset and frustrated with everything and everyone at the time I first picked this book up, and I instantly found a kindred spirit in the crazy, cynical Holden Caulfield... I'm not sure if that's a good thing or not...

He tells it how it is, and doesn't sugar coat anything in his narrative. If he thinks that someone is an idiot, he'll tell you exactly why. I actually found myself laughing out loud at some of the things Holden says, which doesn't happen often when I'm reading. His voice is refreshing, and I just couldn't hate him, despite the fact that he can be quite a jerk at times.

The Catcher in the Rye is a short read, but nothing really happens in it... there is only the faintest glimmer of a plot or story. It is mostly just Holden's stream of consciousness as he stalls in New York. It is fun and entertaining at first, reading all of his thoughts on everything that's going on, but after awhile, it all sounds the same and his cynicism gets kind of old.

I'm not one to criticize a notable, famous author, but I feel like this whole narrative could've been condensed into a short story or something. Even at 250 pages, it felt long and a bit dragged out at times.

I feel like I'm somewhere in the middle with The Catcher in the Rye. I don't really love it or hate it exactly.
I can definitely see how this book is considered a classic. Holden makes you think in between his whining and complaining. There are some very thought provoking themes on childhood and growing up that he brings up, which is all interesting.
While I probably won't necessarily read it again, I'm very glad I did.
I think that everyone should at least give this book a chance and take what they can from it.
“I'd just be the catcher in the rye and all. I know it's crazy, but that's the only thing I'd really like to be. I know it's crazy.” 
― J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

an open letter to the class of 2021

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Life is full. 
Just a short week ago, I was simultaneously studying for finals and frantically packing up all my earthly belongings, getting ready to move back home for the summer. 
I'm officially finished with my first year of college. It's truly crazy and surreal to think about how crazy fast my freshman year went by, how much I have learned about myself, and how much closer I am to launching myself into the elusive real world

Since I've been home, my friends and family have been asking me a million questions. So how was your first year of college? Does it feel weird to be home? And, to be honest, I don't really know how to answer.
College was a conflicting, strange time for me, and even now, I'm still processing what I thought of it all. 
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During the month or so before I left for college last fall I would pour myself over posts like this. I read many articles and watched many videos about how exactly to do college. What to expect, what to definitely bring with you, how to decorate your dorm room, how to survive on your own.
I guess I thought that after doing all this research I would feel prepared, but I didn't.
The college tips and hacks began to sound the same. No one had any new information to give, and no one seemed to have anything to say that would make me feel immediately confident in leaving everything and everyone I love.

This is my advise. These are the things I wish I could have told myself before I went to college. These are the things that I couldn't learn from the various teen lifestyle bloggers and vloggers.

Get out of your dorm room (even if you don't feel like it). This is serious! I cannot begin to express how many nights I spent hidden away in my room. I simply refused to go out. I didn't want to see people or do anything. (I'm pretty sure my roommate and her friends thought I was antisocial or something). But deep down, I really did want something other than school to occupy myself with. Sometimes an event would be going on and I would have force myself to go, despite how sad or stressed I was. Afterward I was always glad I decided to go.
It's good to have alone time, but when you're always alone without distraction it's easier to dwell on stress, loneliness, and homesickness. Go to events, join clubs, do your homework at the library. Just get out of your room and do something!

You don't need to pull all-nighters to get good grades. I am physically incapable of pulling all-nighters, it's just who I am. I can't do it. So I was very nervous about how I would be able to handle the amount of homework and assignments. It's true, there will always be late nights every once in awhile, but it is possible to keep up with everything and still get a good night sleep. Instead of staying up until 3 a.m., go to bed early and wake up early to finish editing your paper.  It's all about time management and keeping your priorities straight.

Call people by their first names. This may seem like a weird one. But when you first arrive at college, you will be bombarded with a million new people who have names you need to learn. It can be hard to remember everyone. If you can, though, try and call people by their names when you pass them on your way to class or when you see them across the food court. Showing someone that you've taken the time to remember their name can mean a lot, even if it may not seem like a very big deal.

Everyone else feels just as lost as you and that's the truth. Even all the teen lifestyle bloggers out there who are dishing out all of their sage-like wisdom don't know what their doing. I remember on one of my first days on campus, sitting in a dorm with a couple other girls just venting about how scared we were. There will be people who seem more confident than you, but remember that everyone's in the same boat. You're starting a new stage of life, and that's always frightening. Don't ever feel like you're alone, and don't be afraid to talk to someone if you need to.

Use your brain and be CRITICAL. The number one reason you're going to college is to learn. To learn about the real world and how to get your dream job, but also to learn about yourself and what you believe. This is a time in your life when you're really going to begin to develop your opinions and beliefs and make them your own. It can be exciting and scary and confusing. You should listen and seek to learn as much as you can from as many different people you can, but you should also learn be very critical about the information you absorb and take everything with a grain of salt.
I cannot stress this point enough. I have seen so many people who have taken whatever a professor or peer says without questioning it. Don't do that. Pray and think on what you learn, talk to your parents or pastor or someone you trust about things that confuse you. Be always wary of accepting something as absolute truth without thinking it through.
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Sometimes there are just some things that no blog post can teach you. Sometimes you just have to dive in and see what sort of treasure you'll come back to the surface with.
You'll probably learn completely different life lessons from your own experience. Everyone has different experiences in college, and I can only speak from my own.

With one meager year of college experience under my belt, I in no way consider myself an expert on college life. I don't feel like I'm qualified to enlighten any upcoming college students. In many ways I still feel like I did a year ago: completely lost, unsure of what to expect. I'm still working on following my own advise.
I will always be learning about myself, but I am extremely grateful for what college has taught me so far.

life as a mood reader

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I've heard the term "mood reader" thrown around several times, and I had never thought much about it. But as I've matured in my reading, as I've come to know who I am as a reader more, I have realized that I am in fact a mood reader.

I can't do TBRs. I just can't. I keep a list of books I'm interested in reading someday, but that's the extent of my ventures in TBRs. If I even try to construct an exact, numbered order of all the books I'm going to read in the next 5 years I go insane. I feel like I'm restricted and limited. I begin to get stressed out over just how many books there are in the world, and how little time I have in my short life to read them all.
I applaud the people who can be more organized in their reading life. But TBRs induce existential crises for me. It's just not healthy.

Instead of sticking religiously to a TBR like other professional readers. I choose the books I read one at a time. Whenever I finish a book, I immediately go to my bookshelf, or my aforementioned list of interesting books, to see what exactly I want to read next. What sort of story I'm in the mood for (hence the term mood reader).

There are several cons to mood reading. Sometimes I'll accidentally pick up a book that I wasn't really ready for, and my emotions will affect my ultimate opinion of the story. I'll end up hating a book I might've actually loved if I were in a different mind set.
And since I rely on my feelings, there are times where my emotions simply say no to reading. This is when I sink into the depressing feeling that there is no book in the world that will meet my specific desires. Defeated, I turn to Netflix and develop a massive, incurable reading slump.
These instances, thankfully, don't happen extremely often.

I feel like through being a mood reader, I have enjoyed reading even more. I don't feel an obligation to read all the time. It would feel like a chore to pick up a book simply so that I could mark it off of a TBR. And since I only read what I really want, I end up loving most all of the books I do end up reading.
Ultimately, I really love my mood reading habits. It can be tricky at time, but it has opened me up to countless books and genres I may have never read otherwise.

What about you? Are you a mood reader?

Book Review | Eleanor & Park

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I like to think that I am the type of reader who can read and love anything. And for the most part that's true. But I don't read a lot of contemporary books. I just have the hardest time finding contemporaries that I actually love. For some reason, though, I found myself actually craving a cute, fluffy, romantic, contemporary book to read.
I stumbled upon Eleanor & Park at my school's library. Since it has been on my TBR shelf for forever, and since I've read and enjoyed Rainbow Rowell's other young adult book, Fangirl, I figured I wouldn't totally hate it (like I typically do with contemporaries).

Guys. This book was all kinds of adorable. The relationship between Eleanor and Park was probably one of my favorite parts of the book. It wasn't the strange, unrealistic case of insta-love that I expected. In fact they can barely stand each other at the beginning. The development of their relationship is nice and gradual. They bond over a shared love for music and superhero comic books, becoming close friends before eventually starting a real romantic relationship. And if you're a helpless romantic (*cough* like me), you can't help but gush as you read it.

I also really enjoyed the setting. The story is set in the 80's, so it is filled with cultural references that give a cool atmosphere to the whole book. It makes you feel like you're reading a book based on an old 80's film, honestly.

I'm always surprised at how Rainbow Rowell is able to also incorporate some pretty heavy topics along with her cutesy romance. There are serious sub-plots that go on in this book, about bullying, working through bad family situations, etc. I don't want to spoil anything, but I will admit that, while this book starts off fairly happy and carefree, the ending was able to make me tear up. It left me with a mild book-hangover when I was done, which hardly ever happens to me with contemporaries.

The only thing that got on my nerves was that Eleanor could get kind of angsty. I tried to be understanding, since she she had a hard life. But there were too many times where her confidence would shatter and she would worry that Park didn't love her anymore because of her weight or whatever, whatever, whatever. It got a bit annoying. Which is probably why Park was my favorite character.
Park was so sweet and understanding and a total nerd. He genuinely cared about Eleanor and didn't want her to get hurt, even if it meant possibly losing her, and I just thought it was adorable.

I forgot how much I love Rainbow Rowell's writing, and now I'm finding myself wanting to reread Fangirl. She is so so good at hooking readers to keep them reading and interested until the very end. Even people like me, who have trouble finding gems in the contemporary genre will become invested.
“Eleanor was right. She never looked nice. She looked like art, and art wasn't supposed to look nice; it was supposed to make you feel something.” 
― Rainbow RowellEleanor & Park