Reading Taste Test · Reviews

Reading Taste Test | @jacksepticeye

Hello and welcome to a new thing I have been wanting to introduce on my blog for some time. I am always getting book recs and such from book blogs, bloggers, and friends who love reading a ton. While I LOVE the recommendations, I have always been curious to see if books recommended by those who are not known for their love of books would be just as enjoyable or maybe even a new favorite. So over the past few months as I watched youtubers or their other social media accounts who are not book centric and started to take some notes of books they mentioned. This month I decided to give jacksepticeye’s or Seán McLoughlin’s book recommendation a try.

This pick I came across in his video entitled, Jacksepticeye’s REAL Personality Revealed (Enneagram Test), who would have thought a book rec would have come from a title like that? lol. But, this just comes to show you that you can find books anywhere. Anyway, the book mentioned in this video is How to Think Like a Roman Emperor: The Stoic Philosophy of Marcus Aurelius by Donald J. Robertson. When I studied history for my degree I did take quite a few philosophy courses, but have not really touched it since then, a shame because I really liked those classes because they challenged your own thinking. So, when he mentioned this book, I knew it was one I was going to use in this series.

Description

“Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius was the final famous Stoic philosopher of the ancient world. The Meditations, his personal journal, survives to this day as one of the most loved self-help and spiritual classics of all time. In How to Think Like a Roman Emperor, cognitive psychotherapist Donald Robertson weaves the life and philosophy of Marcus Aurelius together seamlessly to provide a compelling modern-day guide to the Stoic wisdom followed by countless individuals throughout the centuries as a path to achieving greater fulfillment and emotional resilience.

How to Think Like a Roman Emperor takes readers on a transformative journey along with Marcus, following his progress from a young noble at the court of Hadrian—taken under the wing of some of the finest philosophers of his day—through to his reign as emperor of Rome at the height of its power. Robertson shows how Marcus used philosophical doctrines and therapeutic practices to build emotional resilience and endure tremendous adversity, and guides readers through applying the same methods to their own lives.

Combining remarkable stories from Marcus’s life with insights from modern psychology and the enduring wisdom of his philosophy, How to Think Like a Roman Emperor puts a human face on Stoicism and offers a timeless and essential guide to handling the ethical and psychological challenges we face today.” –goodreads.com

First Impressions

Even though I was already sold on this book because it is a topic I want to explore again I didn’t know too much about the book itself until I got my hands on it and read the above description. What stood out to me most was the fact that this book seems like a combination of a history, philosophy, and self help. On top of that it seems like the author is going to be taking ideas that many scoff at because they are “old” and revitalizing them though a modern lens. As someone who has studied history, you really can see a lot of parallels to old idea and civilizations and the modern day if you only took the time to really see the connections. Obviously, this is not to say the past is perfect in anyway, but nor are we perfect now. One thing for sure is that the past and present are connected.

What I Liked

While I really loved this book quite a bit, there are a few things that stood out the most while reading this book. The first being the authors ability to showcase ancient philosophy in a way that is easily understood. Not only was it easily understood, I liked how the author connected this philosophy to modern psychology. As someone who studied both of these a bit in the past, it really solidified my understanding as well as cementing the fact that this does in fact have a place in the modern world. I would like to make it clear that I feel like this book would still be easily understood and impactful if the reader does not have any background or previous interest in these fields. The authors plain language and explanations don’t come across as belittling or condescending, but like a friend talking to you and explain something new to you. Nothing is overly complicated in the slightest.

The second things that really stood out to me, I kind of already hinted at, but the authors way of telling the story of Marcus Aurelius or Stoicism was phenomenal. As someone who had no idea about either of these topics. Though his narrative way to telling the history combined with his friendly way of giving examples of how to bring these practices to your life it is an enjoyable read. It neither reads like someone knowledgeable talking down to someone or like you are in a lecture. When reading about ancient ways of thinking or individuals, this can often happen. But, Donald J. Robertson stands out in this regard.

What I Didn’t Like

I have to say I really don’t have anything specific to note in regards to dislikes when reading this book.

Overall

I am really glad that I came across this video by jacksepticeye because otherwise I would have never read this book. If you couldn’t tell already, I loved this book. I annotated it quite a lot. You would be hard pressed to find a page without a scribble or underlined passages. It was organized very well, the narrator/ author had a very clear and kind tone, and I learned quite a lot without feeling like I was attending a class or seminar. My personal opinion is this is a wonderful book and if you are interested in this topic, look further into this book.

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Hauls & Unboxings

Book Haul | February 2021

Hello and welcome to a bit of a book haul for February. This month was really great for my book buying and I am thrilled about that. I love when I read more books than add to my TBR. But, because I picked up so few books, I am really, really happy about the ones I did decide to add to my shelves. Anyway, here are the books I decided to add!


The Last Negros at Harvard by Jeanna Ellsworth and Kent Garrett, I picked this up at my local bookstore, but I had heard about it on twitter and thought it was a very interesting story. I really want to know the experiences of these very brave and intelligent men who attended Harvard during a time described as “between integration and affirmative action” in the description.

Infinite Country by Patricia Engel, this was my BOTM pick for February. It follow a very young family who have traveled from to the US from Bogotá and stay longer than their visa allows because they want what is best for their family. It follows them as they move from place to place and the stress and hardships that follow.

What Would Frida Do? by Arianna Davis, I am going to be honest here, I don’t know too much about Frida and I saw this on BOTM so I decided to add it to my box this month. This is a nonfiction book about the artist and I have heard that you can really read the passion the author has for this prominent figure. It seems to not just talk about her art, but her life as a whole.

Dark Archives by Megan Rosenbloom, I have had this book on my to buy list for a very long time and I finally came across it in the bookstore so I picked it up. This is a grim book, but I find it to be a very interesting topic. This book dives into the history of books bound in human skin. The author, who is a librarian, goes through the myths and legends and uses science to see if the books that are claimed to have been bound in human skin, really are.

This Little Dark Place by A.S. Hatch, I picked up this thriller for a series on my blog called, Someone Picks My Books. I don’t want to say too much, but I did post the review for this book already so you can find that here, Someone Picks My Books | Nicky from @cre8ive_nicky | This Little Dark Place by A.S. Hatch.


What book have you recently added to your shelves from the library or the store?

What book have you recently read?

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Reviews

Book Review | Journey to Jo’Burg by Beverley Naidoo

Book Review*Book given by the publisher via aWunderkind PR in exchange for an honest review*

Journey to Jo'burg: A South African Story Description: 

Mma lives and works in Johannesburg, far from the village thirteen-year-old Naledi and her younger brother, Tiro, call home. When their baby sister suddenly becomes very sick, Naledi and Tiro know that they need to bring their mother back in order to save their sister’s life. Bravely, secretly, they set off on the long journey to the big city to find Mma.

It isn’t until they finally reach Jo’burg that they see up close what life is like for black citizens across South Africa—and begin to really question the unfair and dangerous laws of apartheid. –goodreads.com 


What I Liked

This is a middle grade novel for children ages 8-12. This story following a sister and brother on a mission to find their mother and bring her home when their sibling is very ill and not getting better. I really liked that this story focuses on family connections and the young children determined to find their mother and help.

I also liked that this book opened up children to the lives of others and what they go through. One of the things that stuck out to me is the fact that these children walk an to school. I felt like this was something many children in this age range could relate to and it really brings the contrast to light. It would really help children understand that not everyone lives the same way.

I also liked that this book did not shy away from tough discussions, but did it in a way that children could understand. This book takes place during the apartheid in South Africa, which ran from the 1940s till 1990s. It was a time of extreme oppressiona and systematic racism. This book talked about the need of passes, the miss treatment of individuals regardless of their pass was right or if they were the right age. It also talked about segregated buses and the like. It did this through the eyes of the young children coming into the city for the first time so as the characters are learning about this injustice so are the young readers. 


What I Didn’t Like

Honestly, there was not something I can pick out that I did not enjoy about this book. I thought it was a very good way to explain the treatment black citizens in South Africa during the apartheid. It gave a peek into the world and framed it very nicely. It didn’t just show that their was unjust treatment, but also commented on it and a major event as well.


Overall Thoughts

If you are looking into a read that would help expose your children to this part of history, I would say that I think this is a good option to explore further. It was a quick read, the plot was well done and I felt like it handled the explanation of this part of history well for the intended audience.

5stars


Author Links


Book Information

Publication Date: December 30th, 2019

Publisher: HarperCollins

List Price: $6.99

ISBN: 9780062881793

Pages:112 pages


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To Be Read

To Be Read | January 2020

To Be ReadHello and welcome to my first post of 2020! I am excited that my first post is setting an intention for the first month of the year, my TBR for the month. This month I am keeping it pretty relaxed so I can add more books as I feel, but there are a few I really want to get to this month for one reason or another. So, on with the books!


This first set of books are ones I am really excited to jump into. Girl, Woman, Other is the first book I am reading for my Read a Shortlist Challenge. It was on the Shortlist and won The Man Booker Prize 2019. Where the CrawDads Sing is another one for a series I am going to be revamping this year ‘Someone Picks My Books’, I am so excited to be bringing it back, I truly have missed it. Mythos has nothing to do with a series or challenge, but I have been on such a mythology kick I want to read it now.

These next two books are also ones I am really excited about, but were so small they wouldn’t stand up with the rest of the books, so they get their own picture. The first book is Widows Weeds and Weeping Veils and it talks about 1800s mourning rituals, which is a bit dark, but I personally find the topic really interesting. The second book here is A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which is the Shakespeare play I am reading in January for my 2020 Shakespeare Challenge. I am really excited to jump into this Challenge and I created a goodreads group for it if you would like to join, it is called  2020 Shakespeare Challenge Group. Very original, I know.

Anyway here are the books I am very excited to get to in January! I really love how all over the place they are, works perfectly for my mood reading.


What books are you planning on reading this month?

What book are you currently reading?

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Hauls & Unboxings

Book Haul | Last One of 2019

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Welcome to my last haul of 2019, I still cannot believe I am writing that. Anyway, before the year finished up I wanted to post my book haul from the second half of December, I went a little over board with my holiday money and used my gift cards well. From this point on I am officially back on my Read 5, Buy 1, which if you want to learn anything about, you can do so here: Read 5, Buy 1 Series. Anyway, here are the books I added to my owned TBR! 


American Dirt was a hand me down from a friend, I am so thankful for! I have been seeing so many people saying great things.  Girl Woman, Other is a book I am very excited to get to, I feel like it is going to be heart wrenching and powerful, it was also awarded The Man Booker Prize 2019. Civil War Wives is a non-fiction I am excited to jump into, it was an area that was much overlooked in my education and I wish to explore it further. Were the Crawdads Sing has been recommended to me so many times I lost count. Some of these you will be seeing in upcoming series, so keep an eye out!

The Girls of Gettysburg is along the same line as Civil War Wives, I really want to dive into the lives of women who witnessed or partook in the Civil War. It really was overlooked and I know there is a lot to explore. Agatha Christie collection was from my Coffee and a Classic Box, sadly the last one I will be getting. I loved the box, but I needed to make some cuts and save some more money. I will miss it greatly. I will say, I am happy to end with this box because Agatha Christie is one of my favorite mystery writers. Last in this picture is Mythos, I have been on a huge myth swing as of late so I needed to add another one to my TBR.

Here is a Celestial Atlas I picked up and I am in love with. It is so beautiful with stories about all the constellations. Next is a very short book no mourning in the 1800s, I have always been intrigued with how society deals with this topic and how it has evolved so when I saw this I added it to my pile. It also gives me Caitlin Doughty vibes and I just love her books and her youtube channel called Ask a Mortician.

Here are a few more Shakespeare plays I am adding to my collection and for the 2020 Shakespeare Challenge, which I went on about in my post Blogmas | Goals | 2020 Shakespeare Challenge. If you want to join in on the fun I created a goodreads group or you can just follow along on my blog. In January I will be reading A Midsummer Night’s Dream.


What books did you acquire during the month of December?

Have you read any of these books? Do you think I will like them?

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Wrap Up

Wrap Up | Spookathon/October 2019

Monthly Wrap Up

Hello and welcome! This month I decided to put my readathon wrap up and my monthly wrap up together for a couple of reasons. The first being I didn’t want to post two wrap ups so close together and the second is that I don’t think I would have had enough in my posts on their own. But, either way I am going to fill you in on all of the reads I have read this month for general reading and readathon reading!


-Spookathon-

  1. Read a thriller– The Institute by Stephen King
  2. Read a book with red on the cover– Mapping the Interior, might I add this is a beautiful cover and an amazing story?
  3. Read a book with a spooky word in the title– Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde & Other Stories
  4. Read a book with a spooky setting – The Institute by Stephen King
  5. Read something you wouldn’t normally read– Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell, not halloween like at all so I wouldn’t normally read it this time of the year.

I might have used a few books to cover more than one prompt, but I did it! Not against the rules in my opinion!


Read 2
Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell (Images of America: Pennsylvania)Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell by Robert W. Sands Jr.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is one of my favorite nonfiction series of sorts and this one was no exception. Images used and their accompanying descriptions and stories added to a wonderfully framed narrative of both Independence Hall and the Library Bell.

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Mapping the InteriorMapping the Interior by Stephen Graham Jones

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was such an eerie atmospheric read, I can really see why it is compared to The Haunting of Hill House, but it is very much its own unique story as well. Even though this was such a sort story, I was attached to the main character very early on. Since this is so short I don’t want to say much, but if you enjoy horror I think you will really enjoy this.

View all my reviews


The InstituteThe Institute by Stephen King

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was another wonderful King novel. It is different from his other works, but it is just as creepy. It did not take me too long to feel for the young main characters. The horrors that they saw and had to live through is just heart wrenching. There were quite a few times my heart sunk when I thought something bad was going to happen or if I thought something wasn’t going to work out.

I don’t want to say to much because I feel like this novel is best read when you don’t know too much. It is well written and the plot is a roller coaster and unique. I also felt true emotion while reading this.

View all my reviews


Moby-Dick: or, The WhaleMoby-Dick: or, The Whale by Herman Melville

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is a very dense book, it was not 100% what I expected. I felt like it was going to be more of a tall tale, but it ended up being so much more explanatory of the progress of whaling. At times I just wanted it to get to the action, if that makes sense.

Other than this I can see why this book is a classic, it is an interesting tale, but keep in mind it is a product of its time.

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Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde & Other StoriesStrange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde & Other Stories by Robert Louis Stevenson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really love the Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde so I was really excited to read some more by this author. I was really happy with my reread, I enjoyed the story as much as I have in the past. The other short stories varied, but overall I enjoyed them as well. If you enjoy Jekyll and Hyde, I think you will enjoy the rest of these stories.

View all my reviews


Middle Mark Books 2


Beat the Backlist 2

Current TBR: 33

Backlist TBR: 0

I FINALLY FINISHED ALL OF THE BOOK I BOUGHT BEFORE 2019 STARTED!


Did you have any 5 star read this month?

Were you surprised by anything you read?

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Wrap Up

Middle Mark | May 2019

Middle Mark

So, this month I am reading big books, but also reading some smaller books in-between to keep up my momentum. I always need to pause a big book and finish a quick read or I end up getting bogged down, am I the only one who feels this way from time to time?

Anyway, this Middle Mark is mainly going to be a few of the small books, hopfully my monthly wrap up will have some of the larger books. Fingers crossed.

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Read 2

Ask Baba Yaga: Otherworldly Advice for Everyday TroublesAsk Baba Yaga: Otherworldly Advice for Everyday Troubles by Taisia Kitaiskaia

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Very adorable and helpful book. This advice centered book is a mixture of fun, thoughtfulness, and folklore. I plan on reading more from this author because the writing was lyrical, but not annoying. The advice was useful, but not full of itself.

I see myself picking it up again from time to time.

View all my reviews


Literary Witches: A Celebration of Magical Women WritersLiterary Witches: A Celebration of Magical Women Writers by Taisia Kitaiskaia

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a very cute and quick read. I really enjoyed how each section was set up. A little story create by the author, a little non-fiction blurb about the “literary witch” and then recommenced reading for each one. This truly is a wonderful celebration of women writers from a wide array of backgrounds and time.

This little blurb and short little story really gets you in the mood to explore these women and it is so wonderful that she gives you 3 or more recommendations. On top of that the illustrator, Katy Horon, has a wonderful style and you can see how individualized and meaningful each of the pieces are.

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Currently Reading 2

Stalin’s Daughter by Rosemary Sullivan

Stalin's Daughter: The Extraordinary and Tumultuous Life of Svetlana Alliluyeva

I picked up this novel while at my local indie bookstore. I am ashamed to say and admit I never knew Stalin has a daughter. I honestly just through he was so evil that I cannot fathom that he could be a father. I am currently about 74 pages into the book and I think is he is a horrible husband, horrible person, and I think he was a messed up dad already. Mainly because of foreshadowing and some comments here and there, but I am interested in seeing just how low he goes in his personal life.


The Stand by Stephen King

The Stand

I have finally started this huge book, I am not too far into it, but I can already see why it is a beloved book of his. It has a very interesting start and I normally don’t like apocalyptic  dystopian writings, mainly because YA was/is just pushed them way to much for me, but I will say that this one seems very different and I am curious to see how he pictures a world after our world collapses.

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What are you currently reading?

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Reviews

REVIEW | Jefferson’s Daughters by Catherine Kerrison

Book Review

18302455

Surprise I have a review! Also, a quick heads up. I received this book through netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Description

Thomas Jefferson fathered three girls: two white and free, one black and a slave. This book about Martha, Maria, and Harriet tells the fascinating story of their very different lives at Monticello and beyond, as daughters of one of our most brilliant and complicated Founding Fathers.

What I Liked

I have to say I really enjoyed a few things about this book. I like how Kerrison was not afraid to talk about slavery and shedding light and discuss the practice. I know a lot of authors write about the founding fathers they tend to or at least used to skip this part because of various reasons. Not only did she discuss it she showcased it right from the start. As many say, you must study the mistakes of the past to not make them again, so I am glad the whole past is being shown. Another thing I liked was how she introduced this story. She starts off with an informative introduction, but she also went back a few generations to set the “stage”. Not only did she talk about the birth of Jefferson’s daughters with Martha, she also discusses the lineage of Harriet to show that they truly were family by blood and not just in one way. For me that really sent a message. I myself am very close with my family and if I had half sister I could never imagine owning them. It just sheds more light on the mentality and the madness of the whole system. Lastly, I really liked the fact that I learned things I have never heard before.

What I Didn’t Like

One thing I wish I had seen in this book, but may not be an issue in the final edition, is the fact that there is a bibliography, but there are no endnotes or foot notes to explain which facts are from which sources. If I were  to research this topic more and look to this book for a direction, I will have a difficult time finding the document that is relevant.

Overall Thoughts

Over all I thought this was a wonderful book. It was eye opening and genuinely learned from it. Even if you are not a lover of history, I would say this book is still worth the read. It deals with social norms of the time and it really leads you to reflect and think about how some individuals can be as great as to write the Declaration of Independence, but at the same time break his word and refuse to free his own children because that would not be acceptable. But, is also shows you that even if you have a sibling and the circumstances are a little different your lives could be very, very different. Lastly, this is a well done book, you can tell a lot of thought and research went into it.


Book Information

Publisher: Ballantine Books

Expected Publication: January 2nd, 2018

List Price: $18.99 (Amazon.com)

ISBN: 9781101886243

Pages: 288 pages


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Reviews

Review | The Way Back to Florence by Glenn Haybittle

Book Review

The Way Back to Florence by Glenn Haybittle

*I received this book through netgalley in exchange for an honest review. *

18302455If someone asked me to describe this book I would say it is poetic, passionate, and fast paced. It went by way to quickly for my liking, I wanted it to never end. In this historical fiction novel you follow the lives of  Freddie, Isabella, and Oskar against the backdrop of  in Italy during World War II. What I enjoyed the most is that their personalities are distinct, they do not feel generic at all. Isabella is a strong individual, she puts herself in so much danger to help others as well as project art. I went to art school for a few years and for me personally art is culture. It is a way to show how a group or individual feels, but also shows what they see around them. Art is very important. Freddie is a pilot during the war. His does gruesome work and is faced with danger often. During this time he bonds very well with his crew mates and you experience his point of view of the bombing, which I found interesting to read. Oskar, whose story is not really described in the description so I wont say much, but he is also a very distinct character who has a very important non-passive role in this book. I felt that this novel described a lot of the various roles citizens could have taken during the war.

I could easily go on about this, I honestly REALLY enjoyed this. It has all of the elements of a historical fiction that I look for. It takes place during an active time in history, the characters are involved in the events in different ways, and I genuinely connected with these characters. For me a bonus of this book was that it took place outside of Germany, France, and Britain. For me personally I had not read a WWII historical fiction that took place in Italy so it caught my eye even more than a historical fiction normally would. Over all I would say if you enjoy historical fiction, art, WWII related books, and you enjoy reading about characters that feel like real people you need to pick this up. I give this book an easy 5 stars!

Description

In 1937 Freddie (English), Isabella (Italian) and Oskar (a German Jew) become friends at an art school in Florence where they are taught by the dictatorial but magus-like Maestro and his sinister fascist assistant Fosco. When war arrives Freddie returns to England to become the pilot of a Lancaster bomber. Oskar, now a dancer, has moved to Paris where he escapes the 1942 roundup of Jews and arrives in Italy with his young daughter Esme. Isabella remains in Florence where she continues to paint. Until she is called upon by Maestro to forge an old master painting, apparently at the behest of the Führer himself, and as a result is seen as a Nazi collaborator by her neighbours.
The murderous skies over Germany and a war-torn Italy in the grip of Nazi occupation provide the setting for this novel about the love of a separated husband and his wife and the love of a man for his young daughter. Freddie and Oskar both hope to find their way back to Florence. But Florence’s heritage of preserving the identity and continuity of the past has never before been so under threat.


Book Information

Publisher: Cheyne Walk

Publication Date: (This edition) July 06, 2017

List Price: $13.99

ISBN: 9780993286308

Pages: 490 pages


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Crochet, Crafting, Art & More

Bookstore Travels

A few weeks ago I drove a few hours to Princeton University and walk around the historic campus and downtown. To my amazement when we were walking around the downtown I found a cute little bookstore that I HAD to go into. Let’s just say I spent an hour in here easily.

The Bookstore: Labyrinth Books 

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What cause my eye first about this bookstore was the fact that they had 6 or 7 tables out front piled high with books. Not only were there so many outside they were ALL on sale! I don’t know about you, but I LOVE when books are on sale. It means I can buy more and not feel as guilty about spending money on them.

When I finally combed through all of the sale books I headed inside dragging my friend along. The inside was bright and beautiful. There were books on two floors. There were displays by subjects, new releases, ancient texts, and classics. What I liked the most was the wide range of non-fiction that I don’t normally find in my local bookstores. So jealous of people who live a reasonable distance away from this place. Here are a few pictures I was able to take inside the shop.


After spending about an hour in this store I ended up leaving with three gorgeous books. Still so sad I have to travel hours to get to this place!

The Haul:

 


I think I want to plan some more day trips to far off bookstores. On a side note, this campus is just as beautiful as the bookshop!

What is your favorite bookstore you love to visit?

 

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