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

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

Self-doubt

Self-doubt is a close friend of mine.

We’ve stayed up together on countless nights, into the early morning, mulling over things I’ve done and haven’t done. Things I said I’d do but never did. The list just keeps getting longer.

Self-doubt has convinced me not to go to new places. Not to dedicate time to hopeless pursuits, things I might have been good at by now. It’s taught me that with its guidance I will stay safe. I will stay comfortable.

But if this is what it feels like to be safe, to be comfortable, I will find a way to keep self-doubt at bay. I will become comfortable with the unknown.

“The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” – Sylvia Plath

Office Work

Working in an office is not like it is on The Office. (Surprising, I know.) In my admittedly limited experience, working in an office means navigating people’s annoying personalities. It means trying (and failing) to understand why certain things are important to your boss and others are not. It means consistently toning down your outward frustration. It means being bored out of your mind sometimes and often wondering how the heck people work in an office for their entire adult life.

So, I guess it’s sort of like The Office, except without all the hilarious moments, ridiculous situations, and endearing personality quirks that help you get over the fact that you work in an office.

I work in a small office, by the way. This isn’t one of those cool, trendy, open-concept offices with mostly young people and modern furniture. I work with only three other people, all women, and I’m the youngest and only non-married person.

I’ve been stir-crazy lately. Again. I am 100% positive I’m not doing what I want to do. I work at a non-profit, and that’s about it for how it lines up with my own interests or with what I thought I wanted.

There’s nothing like a not-so-great work situation (along with some late-night motherly counseling) to get you motivated to really change things up.

I have some personal creative goals I’ve set for myself. In vague terms, I’ve promised myself I will draw more, write more, and really delve into what makes me legitimately happy. (And I will almost certainly be applying to master’s programs in the near future.)

I’m really trying to listen to myself now more than ever.

 

 

Reading Goals ’16 check-in

With the 5th month of the year halfway over (TIME, WHAT?), let’s see how I’m doing with my 2016 Reading Goals!

  1. Read 65 books — Okay, so, according to Goodreads, I’ve read a total of 12 books so far this year. Also according to Goodreads, I’m 12 books behind schedule. Am I embarrassed? A little. I’m not super proud of my current reading habits. I’m currently part-of-the-way through a handful of books, and have about a dozen books checked out from the library, so I will attempt to narrow that gap in the coming weeks. (Key word: attempt.)
  2. Read 8 classics — I’ve been stagnant for months on an audiobook of Agatha Christie short stories, so I need to check it out again from the library and finish it. Other than that… Some of my next possible reads are: Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier, I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith, Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfield, The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath, and several Agatha Christie mysteries I’ve snatched (with full permission) from my dad’s library. I honestly have so many classics to choose from, but, for some reason, they’re never high on my TBR.
  3. Reread the Harry Potter series — Yeahhhh no. Haven’t done this. I honestly don’t foresee myself reading the whole series, but I will absolutely try to reread the first 2 or 3 books by the end of the year.
  4. Finish 5 series I’ve already started — So, I’m almost done with the Parasol Protectorate series by Gail Carriger! I’m on book 4 of 5 at the moment. Other than that… I’ve read 2 out of 5 books of the Fablehaven series by Brandon Mull and started the 3rd a few months ago. I haven’t really been in the mood for it as of late, but it would certainly be possible to finish this series in the near-ish future. As I’ve mentioned previously, book series are typically my kryptonite, so I have probably a dozen other series that I’ve started but haven’t finished. A few are: The Hunger Games trilogy, of which I’ve read 2.5 books; The Darkest Minds trilogy, with 1 out of 3 read; The Lunar Chronicles series, with 2 out of 4 (arguably more than 4 with the novellas) read; and, brace yourselves, Twilight, having read the first 2 books, 80% of Eclipse, and none of Breaking Dawn. *[cue deep male, possibly British, voice] Will Wendy ever relive her early high school years by rereading and finishing Twilight? Stay tuned to find out on this season of Bits of Prose and Whimsy*
  5. Read 3 non-fiction books — So I’m currently reading Bossypants by Tina Fey, and finishing it will get me 1/3 of the way through this goal! And I have a bunch more on my TBR, so this will definitely happen. YAY.

Well, it’s been real. Clearly I’m not burning it up in 2016, but I’m not completely failing. Only mostly.

How is it going reaching your goals? Does anyone else have trouble with finishing series? Classics recommendations?

Thanks for reading!