Compartmentalizing my life

I’ve determined that I really like to compartmentalize my life.

I like to have separate friend groups, separate things I do with said groups (as I rarely mix them), separate places to do different activities, separate things I tell certain people but not others… the list goes on.

And I’ve also realized that I need separate places to share my writing and art. Venues separate from my family and friends.

I’m not a particularly “open” person in general. So when I briefly tried to share the occasional drawing on social media, where most people I know could see it, I couldn’t help but think to myself, “Wendy, why would you ever do this?? Abort mission!”

Long story short, I’ve decided to start another blog to share my (silly? comical? sometimes cynical?) drawings and maybe the occasional watercolor and I don’t know what else.

But the fact that this will be separate makes me feel better. Phew. (I know, I know, my neuroses are showing.)

My art blog is at here if you’re at all interested. I’ll be posting both here & there! 🙂

***

I’d love to know–
Does anyone else have the strong need to compartmentalize their life and keep things separate?

Thanks for reading!

xx bits of prose and whimsy

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Favorite Audiobooks

For the last few years, I’ve listened to quite a few audiobooks. They’re perfect to listen to before falling asleep or while doing things around the house.

(I’d definitely recommend looking into checking out digital copies from your local library–that’s how I listened to all of the books on this list!)

Here are some of my favorite audiobooks!

ast5-square-4001. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, Narrated by Jim Dale — Jim Dale has a deep, pleasant voice that he uses to create distinct voices for each character. He’s amazing at setting the mood for this magical story, in which the physical setting of a mysterious circus takes on a life of its own. AND he has an English accent! Nothing against American accents (because I, of course, have one), but I’ve (generally) found English voice actors much more pleasant to listen to for long periods of time.

b9hf-square-1536.jpg2. And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie, Narrated by Dan Stevens — Okay, so Dan Stevens is the actor who plays Matthew Crawley in Downton Abbey. Firstly, he’s very attractive so it’s kind of fun knowing that he’s reading the book to you. Secondly, he’s so fantastic at his different voices for all the characters that you sometimes forget it’s even him. Thirdly, his accent in general is fantastic. And, come on, Agatha Christie is the queen of mystery, and this is one of her very best. A group of strangers all meet on an island and they mysteriously die one by one. Add all that together and you get hours of edge-of-your-seat entertainment.

b9hi-square-1536.jpg3. Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie, Narrated by Dan Stevens — Well, obviously, after listening to And Then There Were None, I just had to listen to another one of Christie’s best novels narrated again by the good ol’ Dan Stevens. A train full of people becomes stranded in the snow as a passenger’s death occurs. The French detective Hercule Poirot is then put on the case to find out who on the train was responsible. Dan Stevens somehow manages a fantastic French accent for Poirot, along with a unique voice for every other character. The whole thing is great and I have a lot of feelings about the brilliant narration.

pride-and-prejudice-audiobook-carolyn-seymour4. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, Narrated by Carolyn Seymour — Finally a female voice on my list! (Still British, though…) Listening to this recording was how I first experienced this beloved classic. It was my first Jane Austen novel, and it prompted me to take a fantastic Austen Lit/Film college course. No matter what form you choose, Pride and Prejudice is a must-read classic, especially for the back-and-forth between Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy. If you have an aversion to classics in general, maybe try listening instead! If done well, a recording can make it a more lively experience.

atjc-square-1536.jpg5. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell, Narrated by Rebecca Lowman & Sunil Malhotra — It’s a whole other kind of awesome listening experience when an audiobook has dual narration! The recording uses a female narrator for Eleanor’s chapters and a male narrator for Park’s. This was the perfect way to absorb the loveliness of this Young Adult Contemporary that quickly earned a spot among my favorites. It’s a story, set in the ’80s, about teenagers Eleanor and Park as they navigate their own lives and find comfort in each other. A sweet, heartfelt, but deals-with-real-issues contemporary.

imgres.jpg6. Crooked House by Agatha Christie, Narrated by Hugh Fraser — Can you tell I love Agatha Christie? Here’s another by an English narrator who has narrated quite a few other Christie novels. Excellent, soothing voice. This story revolves around the sudden death of a wealthy elderly man, and suspicions rest on all those who reside in the mansion. Another twisted, unexpected tale with brilliant narration.


Those are just a few of my favorite audiobooks! I plan to make more lists once I’ve accumulated more favorites.

What are your thoughts on audiobooks? Do you have any recommendations for me?

Thanks for reading! 🙂

xx bits of prose and whimsy

25 Lessons in 25 Years

So, I recently turned 25 and, whilst having another casual quarter-life crisis, I’ve been reflecting back on decisions I’ve made and experiences I’ve had.

Here are 25 lessons (of varying importance & in no particular order) that I’ve learned in my 25 years:

  1. Most things don’t go as you originally planned, but Plans B, C, D or even E usually aren’t so bad. They might even be better.
  2. High school sucks and it feels like it will last forever, but it doesn’t. In fact, you’ll be able to laugh with friends later about how much it sucked.
  3. Mental health issues are always hard to deal with, but they’re made much easier when you let people help you.
  4. Punctuality might not be something that everyone can master.
  5. The job you think is “the actual worst” is most likely not. Things can almost always be more terrible.
  6. Having awful jobs will help you appreciate the better ones.
  7. Who you work with is just as important as what you’re doing.
  8. Finding and keeping at least one hobby that centers you and chills you out is super-duper important.
  9. You can, at any point, return to a hobby you had given up.
  10. Old friends are hard to beat, but you’re not required to keep all of them around just because you’ve known them for years. You’ll realize which friends you’ll always have room for.
  11. Recognizing that someone isn’t good for you, and acting accordingly, doesn’t make you a bad person.
  12. Not everyone is going to like you. This is sometimes hard to accept, but you’ll become more okay with it the older you get.
  13. You don’t always have to be agreeable and “nice.” Some things are worth getting angry and passionate and frustrated over.
  14. Trust your gut, it’s usually right.
  15. Being organized is important, and it does not come naturally to some of us. But it’s always worth improving on.
  16. Literally everyone is dealing with difficult stuff. Some people are just better at hiding it.
  17. College can be great, but thinking they’re the absolute “best years of your life” can make you feel stressed about appreciating it. The years after are different but can be just as great.
  18. Keeping up with college friends is so important, and sometimes all it takes is the occasional text or call.
  19. Starting in college, coffee will probably become one of your best friends.
  20. Even when experiences with dating turn out to be terrible, they’ll help you figure out your deal-breakers.
  21. Being single is usually really nice, despite what society tells you. You don’t need anyone to validate you.
  22. Most people don’t know what they’re doing, it’s not just you.
  23. It’s important to take risks because you will definitely regret things you didn’t do more than things you did.
  24. Sometimes all you need is a good book.
  25. Being able to laugh at yourself will make everything easier.

xx bits of prose and whimsy

Needing to Create

As a small child, I would cut and staple computer paper together and make tiny, lopsided books of my drawings. I drew people, bunnies, houses, and clouds. I painted wooden birdhouses and made things out of pipe-cleaners and popsicle sticks.

Creating something out of nothing was what I loved to do, and it kept me busy. I would tell people I wanted to be an artist when I grew up.

From my younger years through high school, I was always in art classes, whether in or outside of school. I honed my drawing skills and began painting. My favorite thing to draw were faces, and I loved making them as realistic as possible. I used shading and highlights to make them look just right.

Towards the end of high school, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my artistic abilities. I began college as a double major in studio art and political science. My painting class during my first semester was particularly inspiring. It taught me so much that I still refer to now.

After a year at that university, I transferred to another in my hometown. And while I loved my new school, I strayed from the arts (for the most part) and concentrated primarily on the social sciences.

And now here I am.

I am more than two years out of undergrad, taking a graduate-level English course, and still not knowing where exactly I, and my creativity, fit into things.

I’ve realized that naturally creative people will always have the need to create, and denying this side of myself will only make me unhappy.

I’m trying to decide what kind of creative life I want to live.

xx bits of prose and whimsy

Priority TBR ’17

One of my reading troubles in 2016 was that, at any given moment, I didn’t have a clear list of my most important books to get to. This problem prompted me to sit back, look at all the books I own, and come up with a list of the ones I want to prioritize this year. I’m not one of those people who will beat herself up over not getting to all of them, but I think it helps to have a clear list of top books to read. Here they are!

mistborn-cover1. The Mistborn Trilogy by Brandon Sanderson — This series has been recommended to me in person several times and by many Booktubers over the past few years. I’ve heard the world-building and magic system in this high fantasy series are both fantastic. I’ve never read anything by Brandon Sanderson besides a bit of The Rithmatist, so I’m curious whether I’ll fall in love with Sanderson’s books and writing style like so many others have. My goal is to read the first book The Final Empire and decide whether to immediately continue on or wait. This is a definite must-start series!

Bakewell_AttheExistentialistCafe_Final.jpg2. At the Existentialist Café: Freedom, Being, and Apricot Cocktails by Sarah Bakewell — For Christmas ’16, my dad researched and ordered for me a tall stack of well-rated books. Because he found just them for me, I want to read at least one of them this year. This non-fiction book is about Existentialism and features several key Existentialist philosophers. I’ve read and enjoyed Simone de Beauvoir, so I’m looking forward to reading more about her and the other philosophers. And yay to reading more non-fiction!

url3. Getting There: A Book of Memoirs by Gillian Zoe Segal — This is a non-fiction book I’ve mentioned before that a counselor recommended to me and (surprise!) I still haven’t started it. It compiles experience and advice from thirty diverse figures, such as Anderson Cooper and Hans Zimmer, on their roads to success. Maybe I can gather some words of wisdom and inspiration from their stories. It’s been known to happen.

4. imgresThe Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath — I think I’ve related to every quote by Plath I’ve ever read, including many from The Bell Jar. Like this one: “If neurotic is wanting two mutually exclusive things at one and the same time, then I’m neurotic as hell. I’ll be flying back and forth between one mutually exclusive thing and another for the rest of my days.” As with a few other books, maybe it’s the fear of relating too much that’s keeping me away? 2017 may be the perfect year to finally read it.

2ed5c5a2-f1be-4c69-aff9-1585e8e31c2c_1.9e3e3b9a51a94910945e59fa0ac6cd2e.jpeg5. The Tales of Beedle the Bard by JK Rowling — This is purely for fun and one of those “why haven’t I already read this?” books. I own it, it’s by JK Rowling, I love the parts I’ve read/seen in the HP series, and it’s really short. There’s truly no reason not to read it.

Cress-final-e1378337072559.jpg6. Cress by Marissa Meyer — This is the third book in the sci-fi, fairytale-retelling series called The Lunar Chronicles. I read the first two books a couple years ago but haven’t finished the series because, if you’ll recall, I have a weird thing about finishing series/things in general. I’ve pretty much only heard positive things about the rest of the series, so this would be a good one to continue/finish in 2017. (I haven’t decided whether to read Fairest after Cress, so if anyone has strong opinions about it either way, let me know!)

rebecca1.jpg7. Rebecca by Daphne de Murier — One of my close friends recommended this to me, and she’s had a good track record of recommending books that I’ve enjoyed. (Like the Parasol Protectorate series, an entire series I’ve actually finished! Crazy.) I’d like to see how I enjoy the Gothic Romance genre, since I think I’ve read only one other in the genre, Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë. And we can all use some more literary romance in our lives, right?

9974162ed0cf858575b96ade2b72eebe.jpg8. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz — I’ve heard nothing but good things about this YA contemporary. I’d love to include more diversity into what I read; this story includes racial minorities, as well as an LGBTQ+ romance, and I’m here for it. And the handful of literary rewards all over the book’s cover has got to mean something!

517mlmz7z2l-_sx323_bo1204203200_9. The Sandman, Vol. 1: Preludes and Nocturnes by Neil Gaiman, Sam Kieth, Mike Dringenberg, Malcolm Jones III — As someone who loves both graphic novels and Neil Gaiman, this is one I’ve been wondering about for quite a long time. It looks weird and fantastical and possibly disturbing. Overall, I know very little about it, which is often a good thing, but I’ll be sure to report back with my thoughts!

jk-rowling-cuckoos-calling-sequel-cover-full.jpg10. The Silkworm by JK Rowling — This is the second of Rowling’s Cormoran Strike mystery series, and after thoroughly enjoying the first book The Cuckoo’s Calling last year, I would like to continue the series this year. Mystery has been one of my most-read genres over the past year, and I will always support anything JK Rowling does because she is an absolute gem.

123fffe24deaf92115abe25407ef9788.jpg11. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë — Oh hey, another Gothic Romance novel! This is another classic I’ve heard great things about and I’m entire convinced I’ll enjoy it. And out of the three Brontë sisters, I’ve only read Wuthering Heights by Emily, so I’d love to see how Charlotte’s writing style compares! AND it’s in one of the beautiful clothbound classic editions, so for purely aesthetic reasons I’d love to crack this one open.


Those are my top books to read in 2017! What do you guys think of my list? Are any of these on your TBR? I’d love to hear!

Here’s to a fantastic reading year filled with fantastic books!

xx bits of prose and whimsy

Well, this year happened.

If we’re being completely honest, I’ve had a terrible reading year and a pretty lousy year in general. I’ve found that when things don’t go the way I’d hoped, it helps to analyze why exactly things happened the way they did. So, I’ll lay out some of the reasons why I had a not-so-stellar reading year.

  1. Changing & hating jobs – I had the worst year of jobs I’ve ever had, due mostly to my most recent hellish 6-month-long employment. Being miserable and bored and anxious at work, which turned into being anxious and unhappy after work, did not provide an ideal situation for burning through my TBR. I’m thankful that awful job is behind me and I hope that I’ll be able to recognize red flags for future jobs.
  2. Prioritizing stupid things – I got into the really bad habit of almost always choosing Netflix, or equally mindless pursuits, over reading. It’s not that I think watching TV is always bad, because it’s not. (After all, I’m watching Buffy for the first time and loving it.) But I’ll never get through all the books I want to if I choose watching a TV show over reading 90% of the time.
  3. Politics – Oh hot damn, this took up way too much of my brain space this year. I studied political science in college, so of course politics will always interest me, but my constant need for updates regarding the appalling election season was borderline masochistic. Then the election happened. This added up to my watching the news way too often, stressing about the future of the world, and reading countless articles rather than books.
  4. Not knowing what to read – Usually my to-read list at any particular moment is much more focused than it has been all year. For some reason, I just couldn’t narrow down what I actually wanted to read. I would read something, get through it, not be particularly riveted by it, and then have a hard time committing to my next book. I have about a dozen partially read books that I’m not sure if/when I’ll finish.
  5. Getting behind – This is one of those self-fulfilling prophecies. I would know I was behind in my reading, watching my Goodreads catch-up number get bigger and bigger, and would say “what’s the point? I’m already behind.” Well, this is just dumb. I could have easily narrowed the gap at any given time during the year, but I never did. I have a love-hate relationship with specific goals.

Those are some of the reasons why my reading hasn’t been so great this year, and I’ll be thinking of ways to improve in 2017.

Have you had a good reading year? Let me know! I’d love to hear what things you’ve been struggling with and what’s helped you get past them.

xx bits of prose and whimsy

The TBR Tag

Since my reading life consists mostly of (physical and virtual) piles of books I haven’t read yet, here’s a tag that deals with just that!

(BTW this fun tag was created a while ago by Rachel from A Perfection Called Books and Dana from Dana Square)

How do you keep track of your TBR pile?

I mostly keep track on Goodreads, since it helps me stay pretty organized. And I’m all about virtual organization, even when my real-life organization leaves a lot to be desired.

Is your TBR mostly print or e-book?

My TBR is mostly print, but I do have a couple dozen e-books sitting on my kindle. During my phases of using the libary a lot, I usually check out only e-books, since my alternative is having a stack of physical books racking up late fees once I’ve forgotten that they exist. But, in terms of books I personally own, the majority of them are physical books.

A book that’s been on your TBR list the longest?

imgresWell, apparently the first book I added to my Goodreads TBR list was The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath, a classic that I think I would fall in love with based on all the quotes I’ve read by Plath. But I do have other books that have been sitting on my actual shelves for much longer.imgres-1

For instance, Breaking Dawn by Stephanie Meyer has been sitting unread on my shelf since high school. As I’ve said in previous posts, I have a weird problem finishing series (or things in general) so this is another sequel that I’ve never read. (I actually never read the last couple chapters of Eclipse either but shhhhh.)

A book you recently added to your TBRimgres-2

One of the most recent books I’ve added on Goodreads was Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick because she is a delightful human and I need to read more non-fiction, and also memoirs/autobiographies, so this is perfect.

A book on your TBR strictly because of its beautiful cover

imgres-3So, beautiful/interesting covers definitely catch my eye and make me more likely to look into their summaries. For instance, I recently read Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt primarily due to its beautiful cover. Look at it. I mean, come on. (And the story was just as beautiful as its cover. Maybe I’ll write a review at some point.)

imgres-4But as for a book I still haven’t read… Let’s see, I’ll go with The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker. I know very little about this book, but I find the cover very intriguing. I’d say I typically judge more adult novels by their covers, since I don’t hear nearly as much about them compared to young adult books.

A book on your TBR that you never plan on reading

Harry-Potter-and-the-Cursed-Child-poster.jpgOK, gah, well, I might have to say Harry Potter and the Cursed Child… I’m not completely ruling out reading it, but right now I honestly have no desire to. As a huge HP fan, I’m worried by the things I’ve heard from people who have read it. I don’t want the story, which is not even written by JK Rowling, to change the way I feel about the characters I grew up with. Idk. If anyone has any strong feelings about it either way, I’d love to hear them!

An unpublished book on your TBR that you’re excited for

Vengeful by V. E. Schwab AKA the sequel to Vicious!! As far as I can tell, this has zero info as to the plot or release date, but I’m very pumped for it! Vicious held the #2 spot on my 2015 favorite books! I’m not usually one of those people to read new books right when they’re released, but I predict that this will be an exception. ALSO, whenever John Green publishes another book, which will hopefully happen eventually, I will be all over that.

A book on your TBR that basically everyone’s read but you

I’m gonna have to go with all the books from The Mortal Instruments series or The Infernal Devices series, both by Cassandra Clare.

picture11.png

infernal-devices-covers1.pngPretty much everyone I know has read one or more books from these series, and then here I am having read zero. I’m not really itching to start (even though I watch and enjoy the Shadowhunters TV series), but The Infernal Devices sound more interesting to me. I don’t know. I’d appreciate any thoughts about these series in particular and on whether they’re worth reading.

A book on your TBR that everyone recommends to you

mistborn-cover.jpgSo, I don’t have a book that I’m recommended all the time, but I definitely have had several people encourage me to read The Mistborn Trilogy, a high fantasy series by Brandon Sanderson. And I own them in e-book and physical copies. So I don’t know what’s stopping me…517mlmz7z2l-_sx323_bo1204203200_

I’ve also been told to read the Sandman graphic novel series by Neil Gaiman a handful of times when I tell people I’m into graphic novels, so this really needs to happen. Especially since I own the first one. So yeah, I’ll start it eventually…

A book on your TBR that you’re dying to read

urlI don’t know that I’m “dying to read” this, but I know I really need to read Getting There: A Book of Memoirs by Gillian Zoe Segal. It’s a collection of memoirs by semi-famous, successful people about how they got to where they are now. My counselor recommended it to me, so I’m planning to start reading it very soon.

How many books are on your Goodreads TBR shelf?

There are 625 books on my TBR shelf. I consistently add and periodically remove books, so this is pretty much ever-changing. But, yeah, a lot of books sound interesting to me. We’ll see how many I get to!


I know this tag has been going around for a long time, but feel free to do it if you haven’t already! I had a lot of fun with it. 🙂 Let me know if you have any thoughts on the books I mentioned or some books on your TBR that you’ve been putting off!

Thanks for reading!

xx bits of prose and whimsy