Monday, May 25, 2015

If You Liked That, Read This!

Happy Memorial Day to you all, and a heartfelt thank you to all those involved in our country's military. If you're feeling inspired to read more about military heroes, you can find last year's Memorial Day post here. I'm taking the day to soak up the start of the summer season and my last day at home before moving into my new apartment. Big things are happening this week, people! First, though, I have a recommendation for you-- consider it the perfect way to kick off your summer reading list!

If you liked:

Read this:

If you are a fan of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, pick up The Awakening of Miss Prim the next time you're in need of a good read! Miss Prim is a woman who appreciates the simple things in life, and whose outspokenness is reminiscent of the feisty and fearless Elizabeth Bennet. Though she is considered an expert in several fields (and has a collection of PhDs to prove it), Miss Prim takes a job as a personal librarian in a an enchanting village in France. She soon comes to realize that this village is unlike any other; it's comprised of people who have sought a life outside the confines of modern society. Here, the fineries of classical education and old-fashioned neighborliness are appreciated and cultivated. The whole story seems like a nod to Austen (and maybe a little to Jane Eyre as well), especially Miss Prim's employer-- a man almost as frustrating as Mr. Darcy himself-- and I absolutely loved reading it. As someone who frequently daydreams about life in a simpler time, I fell into the world of this book and did not want to reemerge when it was over. 

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Recap: Books I've Read Lately

Hello, again!
It's been a long two weeks away from the blog, packed with big moments and preparation for the changes ahead. In that time, I've been reading lots of great books but haven't had even a spare moment to sit down and write about them. Let's catch up, shall we?

On May 8th, I graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst (insert tiny squeal of excitement here)! It was a million degrees and by the end of the third ceremony, I was a blistered, tired, happy mess. I'm so grateful that I was able to celebrate the occasion with my family, but even more grateful that they have been cheering me on continually over the past four years. (I'll take this opportunity to say: thanks, Mom and Dad!)

Post-celebrations, my boyfriend and I hopped on a flight to California for a weeklong getaway with my extended family. We had so much fun exploring, eating way too many of my grandmother's cookies, and soaking up the California sun. I even came back with a few freckles! (And I tried my hardest to come back with my grandmother's dog but she kept too close an eye on him.)

Next week I embark on the next chapter, which entails moving into a new apartment (yay!) and beginning graduate school. I think part of the reason why graduation hasn't sunk in yet much is because graduate school is coming up so fast; I already have homework to get done!

As all of these changes are happening in rapid succession, you might find that posts aren't quite as regular here on Top Shelf Text. I am doing my best to keep things on schedule, I promise, but bear with me as I work out my new routines.

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin // A definite winner, and a quick read too! This is the story of A.J. Fikry, a rather fickle bookseller whose life has been marred by the tragic loss of his wife. He's grumpy, very particular when it comes to books, and in need of saving. On the night that A.J. becomes a victim of burglary, he also becomes the recipient of a rather unusual package. In that moment, his life changes in infinite ways. I read this in about a day and loved every minute. If you read and liked either of these books, I'd recommend this one for you.

The Darwin Conspiracy by John Darnton // Told through the dual perspective of Darwin himself (in the 1800's) and an ambitious researcher searching for the truth two centuries later, this book has mystery, conspiracy, and all the best parts of academia. Darwin's daughter takes center stage when it's revealed in her personal papers that Darwin may not have been the upstanding hero (or genius) that we revere today. Not quite as fast-moving, but definitely a good one for a rainy day. I'd recommend for fans of Charlie Lovett.

The Female Brain by Louann Brizendine, M.D.  // Never have I flown through a nonfiction book so quickly. Brizendine explores the chemical changes that occur in the brain from conception all the way to old age, detailing what a woman's brain looks and acts like in each different hormonal stage of life. It explains different behaviors and perceptions between males and females, as well as lends insight into why a woman's perception of reality changes drastically with each stage of life. I'd recommend this for both women and men (yes, really!)-- as a resource for understanding the differences between the sexes. I do have a lot of background knowledge in neuroscience and human development, but I strongly believe that the information is accessible for those without experience in these fields. 

I read one more book in the past few weeks, but you'll have to wait until next week to hear about it, so check back in! I'm also starting to curate my summer reading list, so I'll take any and all recommendations!

Happy Reading!

Friday, May 1, 2015

Inspired: Ideal Bookshelf

The first thing I thought to myself when I stumbled upon the Ideal Bookshelf site was Ohhh, no.
Because you guys, I am in serious trouble. The prints on this website are a dream come true-- they will definitely be at the top of my wishlist for the holiday season this year.

The artist, Jane Mount, creates custom prints of her patron's "ideal bookshelf."
Excited yet? Me too!

 I thought this sounded familiar, but I didn't put two and two together until I realized that she is the illustrator behind My Ideal Bookshelf, a collection of interviews in which one hundred cultural figures were asked to compile their "ideal bookshelves," which Mount then painted!

This book is on my must-have list for my future coffee table book collection. I love getting a peek into other people's bookshelves!

Back to why I am gushing over this site-- I am dying to get my hands on one of these prints. There are a lot of pre-made ones on the site (I've featured a few of my favorites below), and of course you can order your own custom print too! This is a seriously thoughtful gift for the bookworm in your life, especially if you could manage to pick their ideal bookshelf without them knowing! And....and (!!!) you can then have the print screened onto a tote bag! Can you tell I am slightly obsessed with this idea? (You know I love literary-themed tote bags.)

Here are a few of the pre-made prints that I love:

Children's Ideal Bookshelf

Jane Austen Ideal Bookshelf

Harry Potter Ideal Bookshelf

Girl Stars Ideal Bookshelf


So cute, right?! I would have such a hard time choosing which books to put on my shelf, but obviously Harry Potter would be first on the list. I'd pick a mix of adult and children's literature, because so many of my longtime literary loves are from childhood!
Which books belong on your ideal bookshelf?