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Bookshelf :: Autumn

It’s a week for welcoming the new and clearing out the old here on A Style Study, as today I’m following up my December Manifestations with another one of my favorite series, Bookshelf! As some of you might remember, I kicked off this series last spring as a way to catalogue and share all the books I finished over the past several months. To me, the literature and other written media one consumes and enjoys is a huge part of their personal style, so I love giving you guys a peak at what’s been on my mind lately. Also…who doesn’t love a good book chat? I certainly do…

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With all that said, the past few months were definitely more of a “quality over quantity” time for me as reader. Even though reading always takes up a huge chunk of my life, over the course of the season schoolwork and other activities had eroded my bibliophile time to a spare twenty minutes here and there.  About a month ago, I was staring at my Goodreads counter thinking I’d barely have any material to talk about! God bless Thanksgiving break, though, because I was finally able to finish some long-term reads as well as pick up a few new goodies. All in all, I ended up with eight books completed, most of which I thoroughly enjoyed. Scroll below for a complete list with star ratings and brief reviews to peak your interest!

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The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

****

The Bell Jar is a dark, hauntingly composed story of a young woman in the throes of a mental breakdown. Although set in the mid-20th century, the novel touches upon many issues that continue to plague our present society, such as class stratification and stigma surrounding mental health. It’s not the most cheerful book, but if you’re in the mood for an intriguing read I’d highly recommend it.

In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware

***

Ruth Ware’s debut novel is a quick, easy read for whenever you need to loose yourself for a few hours. While elements of the plots definitely play on a number of suspense tropes (hello, Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train), there are enough twists and turns to keep you reading into the wee hours.

Heyday by Ben Wilson

****

This book literally took my months to get through, but not because it wasn’t good. On the contrary, Heyday offers a really interesting look at how the dawn of globalization played out in all corners of the globe, from the Australian outback to London and California. While definitely a dense read, all the incredible stories and little-known history is worth it.

Daphne du Maurier by Margaret Forster

***

Daphne du Maurier is one of those author’s whose novels and stories (ahem, Rebecca and The Birds) are world-famous, but whose personal life is something of a mystery. This biography published a little over a decade after du Maurier’s death aims to remove the iron curtain by providing an incredibly detailed look at her life. It starts off interesting, but after a couple hundred pages I found myself a little bored by the painstaking recount of what felt like every minor occurrence in Daphne’s (albeit fascinating) life. It’s still a well-written read, though, and if you’re looking for more info on this famous author, these pages are all you need.

Audrey at Home by Luca Dotti

*****

I’ve had this beautiful book for an embarrassingly long time, but only just picked it up over Thanksgiving break. I subsequently devoured it in two days, as I was postively enchanted by Audrey’s son’s recount of his childhood with his mother in Europe and all the stories and recipes that defined her post-Hollywood. Learning about Audrey’s wartime childhood in Belgium was totally unexpected, and I loved flipping through the pictures of her gardening and relaxing with friends. Oh, and the food? I’m planning on whipping up Audrey’s chocolate cake sometimes soon. As for the penne with ketchup (yes, a Hepburn-approved comfort food)…we’ll see about that.

In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan

***

I ordered this book on a whim a few months ago, and had high hopes once I started reading. True, the arguments and truths presented in here about the history of eating and the how food has changed over the years were insightful and totally unique from anything I’d heard before. But I also found myself getting lost in the nutritional jargon (which, oddly, was used to argue against nutritionism) and sheer wordiness of the text. So while I sticky-noted quite a few passages in here, I doubt I’ll ever revisit for a proper re-read.

The Vegetarian by Han Kang

*****

I bought The Vegetarian as a sort of present to myself, and oh. my. gosh. Definitely one of the most intense, whirlwind books I’ve read in a while, this book deserved all the hype it got over the past several months. I don’t want to spoil anything, but Han Kang, the author, is a true artist when it comes to creating a slow, agonizing plot line that unfolds beautifully in a mere 188 pages. This one, my friends, is simply a must-read.

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

*****

Last but not least, The Picture of Dorian Gray. I picked this up at random because I couldn’t resist the cover (see above), and had no idea what to expect from the story itself. Even looking back, I’m not even sure how to describe it except to say that it’s a book about vanity, pride, toxic relationships…it’s quite the ride. I’d recommend this book to pretty much anyone, but especially those who are perhaps hesitant about reading “classics.” The prose is some of the best I’ve read in a long time, but it’s also extremely readable and literally keeps you on the edge of your seat!

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And there you have it: my autumn bookshelf. To keep up with what I’m reading in real-time, be sure to follow me on Goodreads. I update pretty much daily, so I promise it’s worth it😉. Also, be sure to share…what’re you reading/recently read? I’m always out for recs, so toss ‘em my way below!

xx

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Breathe

Manifestations // December

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cc: Bauble Bar

T-G-I-…December?

Seriously, I’m so glad we’ve finally reached the twelfth month of the year. While not “terrible” by any means, both October and November were very long months that I’m ready to kiss goodbye. Starting with Thanksgiving break a couple weeks ago I’m looking forward to a calmer vibe in the weeks ahead.

Now here is where I proceed to pat myself on the back, because that last bit created a nice little segue into my December manifestation. As I hinted above, over the past couple months I’ve experience more than my share of anxiety and self-doubt. My struggle to believe in myself have always been my Achilles heal, and the first semester of senior year brought that out big time. Things reached a fever pitch last week, when stress over the future combined with school work and early holiday buzz sent me into a tailspin. Once my confidence got so shaken that I started feeling physically sick, I knew something had to change. All it took was one glance at a Hallmark Christmas movie, and I knew my December manifestation had to be BELIEVE.

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I started reading The Universe Has Your Back by Gabrielle Bernstein a few weeks ago, and one of her biggest messages is trusting that you are always being guided. Even if it doesn’t feel so great right now, something- whether you choose to think of it as the God, the Universe, Rudolph, whatever- is showing you your path. I’m going to try to embrace that attitude this month, and manifest more belief not only in the Universe, but in myself. I’m tired on the constant dialogue of what-ifs and should-haves that circles my head. As Gabby says in her book, joy- not pain- is our birthright. This season, I’m challenging myself to see past my fears and anxieties, and move instead towards a place of happy calm.

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I know, I know: “Happy calm” during the holidays? As a senior in high school? Even from my perspective, it sounds like a naïve goal. But I truly believe (see? I’m already doing it!) that that doubt is my fear-riddled, self-deprecating side talking. The part of me who can take a deep breath and trust both myself and the Universe is confident she can get there. I even have a few tips to see me through, like less screen time, mindful movement, and lots of making time for what I love. They’re small steps, but even in the past few days I’ve noticed how helpful they can be in reaching a place of peace. Another thing I’m doing is ruminating less over the future, and trying to concentrate more on the present. It’s not easy for a type-A girl like me, but like with all of this, I’m working on it.🙂

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  With that, I release you into the rest of your Tuesday! But first, tell me: What are your mottos/goals this December? Whatever they are, I wish you a magical holiday season, and hope you all find it in your hearts to just believe. And drink so hot chocolate too, of course.

xx

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Breathe, Inspire

What Did You Learn Today?

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It’s no secret that being a student is hard. Whether you’re in first grade or are a senior in college, motivating yourself to push through long weeks of classes and schoolwork can be a trying task at the least. Around my high school, this three-week period between Thanksgiving and Christmas break is always a particularly sluggish, as everyone channels their energy into “getting it over with” as quickly as possible. While I’m definitely guilty of this, I also try to remember the reason we go to school in first place: to learn and become better prepared for our futures. Lately, whenever I find myself getting fed up with it all, I try to remember all the genuinely interesting stuff I learned that day. For example? Today, I learned how to measure someone’s blood pressure in anatomy class. Yesterday, I found out that the only way to say “clockwise” in French is “dans le sens des aiguilles d’une montre.Call me a nerd or whatever, but I think that’s pretty cool.

Okay, your turn. Take a couple minutes and ask yourself what you learned today. This applies even you’re not in school: I genuinely believe that we spend our lives as students of the universe, and are constantly discovering new things from calculus formulas to how to not lose it when another driver is aggressively tailgating you (this, my friends, I also learned this week). So think about and tuck your answers away in your brain or even write it down for the next time you’re feeling “meh.” In my experience, there are few things more boosting than looking back on all the amazing lessons you’ve collected.

xx

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Live

Scents and Sensibility

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I was working my way through The Picture of Dorian Gray last week when I cam across this line: “He saw that there was no mood of the mind that had not its counterpart in the sensuous life”. This excerpt came from an entire paragraph describing the main character’s fascination with scents, and his mission to discover the properties “in violets that woke the memory or dead romances, and in musk that troubled the brain.”

Aside from being beautifully written, these prose immediately recalled for me the modern-day concept of perfume. I myself have four scents on my dresser, and I relish in adopting the various personas evoked by each. Wether I’m feeling light and girly or looking for something a little more demure, there’s something special about the transformational power of a good perfume. Inspired by this idea and the passage from Dorian Gray, today I’m sharing my scent collection, as well as collages and descriptions of the moods each bottle creates for me!

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Juicy Couture ‘Viva la Juicy’ Eau de Parfum

wild berries, vanilla, & jasmine

The first word the comes to mind when I smell Viva la Juicy is “girly.” This, quickly followed by other descriptors such as “fun,” “flirty,” and, most importantly, “pink.” It’s pretty strong, so I wear it lightly whenever I’m in need of a “night out with the girls” kind of mood.

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Ralph Lauren ‘Romance’ Eau de Parfum

woods, florals, & musk

RL’s ‘Romance’ always makes me think of crisp, fresh linens. Despite the heavier musk and wood notes, it’s very clean and minimal. Whenever I smell this I always imagine summery white dresses and vintage RL catalogues from the 90s.

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Chanel ‘Chance’ Eau de Toilette

citrus, hyacinth, jasmine, amber of patchouli, & vetiver

Of all the scents on shelf, I have to say ‘Chance’ has a special place in my heart. This perfume is carefree and elegant, the kind that trails behind you in a good way. I spritz this beauty on whenever I need a boost of vibrancy and some of that je ne sais quoi.

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J.Crew ‘No. 31’

damson plum, Bulgarian rose, & patchouli

Inspired by the first all-female art exhibition hosted by Peggy Guggenheim in the 1940s, J.Crew’s ‘No. 31’ is my smart lady scent. It’s definitely an LBD perfume, as I love wearing to school on occasion or for meetings and family dinners.

What are your favorite perfumes? What moods/personas do they create for you?

xx

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Breathe, Live

Silence

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“The quieter you become, the more you can hear.” – Ram Dass

Full disclosure: I 100% Googled this quote five seconds before writing this post. Yes, I know that’s technically cheating. But while this isn’t a phrase I’ve held close for very long, the events of the past few days have taught to deeply appreciate its meaning. As many of you may have read in last Friday’s post, I spent last weekend on a writers’ retreat with my school. It was a pretty small group (17 students plus 3 to 4 teachers), and we spent the whole weekend writing, reading, and simply being creative without the distractions of the outside world. As one might assume, this process involved a lot of silence.

Before this weekend, I thought I knew what “silence” was. All that time alone in my room, it was quiet and introspective enough, right? Um, wrong. During the retreat we had several hours-long writing/reading blocks, most of which were conducted in complete silence. We’re talking a bunch of teenagers in a small house with only the crackle of the fireplace for a soundtrack. It was bliss.

The thing about silence is that it frees up so much space in your brain. As the above quote drives home, the absence of external stimulation allows you to really tune into your own thoughts and energies. It’s as if someone finally gave you the keys to your own mind, and you’re exploring it all for the first time like “wow.”

Coming home from the retreat felt like emerging from a very deep sleep that leaves you both well-rested and tired at the same time. My hands were sore and my eyes were hazy, but my brain was still full of this creative energy that I’ve never experienced before. Even a few days later, I finding myself really driven to create stuff, from a new collage for my bulletin board to a series of essays and stories I started over the weekend. The only thing blocking me from doing all of this is exactly what I left behind on the retreat: screens and other excess stimuli. As a result, I’m trying to cutback on my time zoning out on the Internet or social media by reading more during the day, writing whenever I can (in a notebook, of course), and just generally embracing more silence. To be clear, this isn’t about swearing off technology and declaring 21st century living totally evil, but rather about embracing the creative tools I already have on hand. The result, I hope, will be work that I’m proud of, and maybe someday will share here, with all of you.

Have you ever had a radical run-in with the powers of silence? What was your experience like?

xx

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Inspire

Week in Review

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Oh. My. Gosh. Can this be real? After what feels like an eternity, we’ve finally arrived at Thanksgiving break. While I can’t wait to rest up and have some more free time, I’m actually really looking forward to this weekend, as I’m going on a writers’ retreat with my school. It’s a pretty small group (only about fifteen of us plus teachers), and I’m ready to unplug and my creative juice flowing again.🙂

What’re you up to over the next week? Can you believe Thanksgiving is already here?!

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Man Repeller’s ‘Office Apropos’ is always a favorite.

I really loved the feature on the daily writing habits of ten favorite authors. Haruki Murakami’s routine is for real.

Something tells me I’m not the only one who could use this: How to de-stress according to your astro sign.

Awesome photos of New York City then and now.

Love, love, loved this dress on Nicolette.

xx

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Breathe

To Get You Through a “Blah” Day…

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We all have those days. You know, the ones when you wake up and just don’t feel “right”? Whether it’s bloating that wasn’t there the day before or new muscle definition you’re not sure you’re down with, your body image self-worth take a serious hit. A lot of this is natural: Our bodies are constantly evolving (it’s part of what makes them amazing!), so it makes sense that we fall in and out of certain sensations. It becomes a problem, however, when we loose the ability to see past this discomfort not just for one day, but for weeks, months, years, and even a lifetime. I know what this feels (read a bit about it here), and I’m pretty sure many of you do, too. And while I’ve been working hard on changing my negative thought patterns, this week has been rough. Needless to say, then, I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw an email form the immaEATthat* newsletter in my inbox, announcing the kickoff of a five-day body image challenge. The activity for day one? Every time you have a negative thought about your body, type an emojii into the Notes app on your phone. The goal? Creating awareness of how many hurtful thoughts we subject your body to, and hopefully inspiring you to start making positive change.

To get myself back on the body love train, I’ll be partaking in the emojii activity today (albeit a few days late). Regardless of where you are with your personal body image, I hope a few of you will join me. Even when we’re in a really positive place, it’s always beneficial to check-in and reaffirm all the goodness.🙂

With that, have a wonderful Thursday! Be sure to check back here tomorrow for a quick recap/Week in Review.

xx

*Find more info on immaEATthat here.

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