Music Monday {12}

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On a Music Monday, I will introduce a couple of new songs that I’m enjoying with you all and put the Youtube video in so you all can check out the song. You can find the playlist on Spotify with all of these songs here.

1. Little Birds by White Arrows

I saw The Neighbourhood last week and this was the opening band and wow were they good. I love the lead singer, Mickey, has such a unique voice which is definitely one of my favorite things about them. They have a new single out, We Can’t Ever Die which I really love! Their album is also incredible – you can check that out here. I might do a feature about them soon because I’m really in love with them right now!

2. Shining by Vacationer

I found Vacationer through White Arrows on Spotify and I really like this entire album. I really like the heavy drums and bass in this one!

3. You Appearing by M83

And now for a completely different feel, one of my new favorite M83 songs. I love M83, and I’ve had difficulty forcing myself to listen to their other albums than Hurry Up, I’m Dreaming (the album I own) but I finally have and I love them all so much. I’m going to discuss them in more depth in another post because they’re so incredible.

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Music People Wouldn’t Assume I Like

That is one long title, but honestly I don’t know how else to title this post. Basically, in this post I’m going to share some of the music I like that a lot of people surprise I like. I enjoy a wide variety of music in many different genres, and this post is definitely going to reflect that.

Classical

After taking classical piano for ten years, I have listened and played my fair share of classical music. I’m a particular fan of pieces (to be correct, all classical music is referred to as “pieces” not “songs”) in the minor key, which makes them a bit more….depressing? Some of my favorite composers include: Johann Friedrich Franz Burgmüller, Camille Saint-Saëns, Frédéric Chopin, a bit of Phillip Glass, and then some simple Ludwig van Beethoven to finish off the list. If you’re someone who doesn’t usually listen to classical music, I recommend listening to the classical pieces I’ve included in the playlist at the bottom of this post while laying down with your eyes closed. Just go with it. Listen. Feel. Cry, even. Note: I’ve personally played both of the classical pieces I included and if you’re a classical pianist these pieces are some of the most fun and difficult pieces I’ve ever played in my life.

Bon Iver/M83/etc

I don’t really know how to describe this category so I’m just smushing these two together and calling it one. My dad introduced me to Bon Iver and I immediately turned it up (when you hear Bon Iver you will either get it or not) and couldn’t stop listening to his self-titled album. A month or two later I bought his other album, For Emma, Forever Ago and his EP Blood Bank as well as Come Talk To Me and now own almost all of Bon Iver’s songs. These are my soft nights jams because gosh I love him. Also rainy days.

As for M83, I discovered M83 on Pandora and then basically went on iTunes, listened to the :30 samplers and bought the album Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming (which, mind you, is two discs) and loved it. I’ll be making a post about this band and this album soon, because there’s a couple of really cool things about it I want to share. But basically, this album is amazing. And there are good songs on it other than Midnight City which seems to be the only one people play. (URG.)

Motown

My mother raised me on a steady diet of Motown, and often quizzes me on various Motown acts. (Basically, it’s her goal that I will be able to recognize them all before I leave the house.) As a kid, I adored Aretha Franklin, The Supremes, made up dance moves to The Temptations, and clapped along to The Marvelettes. If you’ve never heard of some of these, my heart is breaking inside and am now requiring you go listen to the songs I’ve included. Because your mind is about to be blown.

The Dixie Chicks

My dad is a folk singer, so I listened to my fair share of folk & country growing up. (Also, being from Texas helped in this category.) The Dixie Chicks were an early love of mine, and I still can sing all of the lyrics to Travlin’ Soldier and Long Time Gone. I’ve met Marty and she was one of the nicest people, and they’ve all done great things even though the band broke up. So, yeah. The Dixie Chicks are awesome. (I also thought they also had super cool hair when I was eight.)

Frank Ocean/The Weeknd

I’m putting these together, because I commonly recommend these to my friends and they’re always really surprised I like them. My dad also introduced me to Frank Ocean, and I absolutely fell in love with his album. I like just about every song, but some highlights are Lost and Forrest Gump, as well as Novacene which was an earlier single. As for The Weeknd, I first heard him when I listened to Ellie Goulding’s cover of High For This and really liked the song. So, I checked out the rest of his songs and w-o-w. I recently bought Trilogy, the three disc album of his, while I was in New York and I love it. I’ve put my favorite in the playlist.

James Blake

For some reason, not many people have heard of James Blake, and I feel like this is one of the saddest things I’ve ever heard in my life. His music is Electronica (whatever the heck that means) and it’s amazing. His voice is really great, and the song of a James Blake song is something you can either sit down and just listen to or jam out to with your friends. His album was one of the best purchases I ever made (and I bought it on sale. So I win.)

MSMR/London Grammar/St. Lucia/The xx

These are all grouped together on Spotify, and I can kind of get why, so I’m sticking them together too. MSMR is just plain cool, with the soulful lyrics and incredible music mixed with spot-on vocals. London Grammar makes my heart sing with Hannah Reid’s voice. Then there’s St. Lucia which is like an 80′s throwback and makes me dance. The xx is just… no words for The xx. You just have to listen, because that’s how I fell in love – it randomly came on my Pandora station.


Well, that’s it for the music people don’t assume I would like – but do! There’s a ton more, but this is some of the most questioned of it and also some of the stuff I most commonly recommend. Go listen to the playlist I’ve made on Spotify with a sampling of all of the artists/genres mentioned above and let me know what you like!

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Educating Myself on Literature

As some of you might’ve noticed, I haven’t been reading as much lately. Part of the reason for this is that I’ve been spending time on Tumblr, sleeping, learning to drive, and reading books for school. But during this time, I’ve been struggling with something that I need to share with all of you.

I want to read books that aren’t YA.

And I don’t really know what to do about that.

When I got back from Barnard, I had bought a slew of old literature (by old I’m specifically meaning the 1910′s to ’30s) and I was like “I’M GOING TO READ THIS” because I had realized that I was utterly uninformed on where my passion had come from. By this I mean that in my addiction to YA, which I adore and always will, I hadn’t read some of the “classics”. I hadn’t explored literature. And now, I crave it. But now I have an established book blog and I feel like I have to read YA or something will happen to me. I look at the stacks of books from ALA (yes I know that was last summer) and all I can think is “I NEED TO READ YA BECAUSE I’M SO BEHIND” *cue freak out and hair pulling out*.

But, my friends, this isn’t healthy. And I should read what I want to read. And what I want to read is a ton of beautiful poems by Edna St. Vincent Millay and get through this monster of an Emily Dickinson collection I now own and try to understand Ezra Pound and maybe finish this Edith Wharton book I have (??). So here’s my plan:

  1. I read whatever I darn well please whenever I darn well please.
  2. I am going to be okay with this.
  3. I will post updates about my feelings. Favorite poems/short stories. Thoughts. Whether or not my mind has been blown.
  4. I will thrown in a YA book every once and a while.
  5. Heck I might even review a CRAZY GOOD NONFICTION BOOK I’M READING ABOUT FLAPPERS GUYS IT’S AMAZING I’M LEARNING SO MUCH I FEEL SO SMART.
  6. Who knows? We’re going to see how this goes.

Sound good to everyone? Cool. (I mean really I can do whatever I want, but I’d like you to enjoy it too.)

Recently, I was chatting with Jen and she was like “WILLA GIVE ME RECOMMENDATIONS I CAN NEVER GET INTO POETRY” and I realized I had some. Wow. So, I thought I’d share. (Note: you don’t have to buy these. I recommend doing some reading online or in a library or go to a bookstore and read for an hour and find stuff you enjoy. Then purchase it.)

  • The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson - this has all 1,000-something poems she has written. Emily Dickinson is queen. Give her some time. (Check out 523 and 410.)
  • Complete Works of Edna St. Vincent Millay – not a household name like Dickinson but oh my sweet lord she is amazing. My favorites are: “Sonnet V”, “Menses”, “Song for a Lute”, “Deep in the muck of unregarded doom…” and “Sonnet IX”. (No like really go buy everything she has ever written it will make you think about life in a new way.)
  • Edith Wharton – I don’t have any to recommend because I haven’t gotten to her yet, but she is highly highly recommended to me from multiple sources. I own “Roman Fever and Other Stories”. She was also a super cool lady. (Go Wikipedia her.)
  • Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman – You can’t go wrong with some Uncle Walt. Song of Myself #46 is my favorite.
  • Articles by Lois Long – You can find these in the depths of The New Yorker. She wrote about nightlife in the ’20s in Manhatten. Another super cool lady.
  • “Her Lips Are Copper Wire” by Jean Toomer – A member of the Harlem Renaissance. Incredible writer.

And that super amazing Flapper nonfiction book is “Flapper” by Joshua Zeitz. Seriously. It’s mind-boggling amazing. I’M LEARNING SO MUCH MY BRAIN IS GROWING.

Toodles. *bounces to my vintage Edna St. Vincent Millay book that I like to smell a lot*

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Thoughts from Barnard

Most of you may have probably never head of Barnard College. But for those of you who have, props to you! For those of you who haven’t, let me give you some brief background before I launch into my thoughts and experiences at Barnard.

A Bit of Background on Barnard

The Barnard Lawn

Barnard is a liberal arts college for all women, and is one of the best all women colleges (and general colleges) in the world.  It is located in New York City in the area called Morningside Heights (116th and Broadway to be exact) right across the street from Columbia. Why is it right across the street from Columbia you may ask? Well, curious soul, this is because Barnard College is a college under Columbia University. What does this mean, you are now asking yourself? This means that just as a school might have a College of Engineering, Columbia has a Barnard College for all women. As a student of Barnard, you can take classes at Columbia, eat at Columbia’s dining halls, use their extensive facilities, and benefit from their research oriented programs, and graduate with a degree from Columbia. But, you will live at Barnard, be accepted into Barnard College, and will belong to Barnard College in many senses. You will be a Barnard Woman!

Back to the Interesting Tid Bits

The Barnard gates, photo from LearnStuff.com

Last week (June 23rd through the 27th) I had the pleasure and honor of attending a one week Liberal Arts Intensive at Barnard. I lived in Sulzberger Hall (affectionately called “Sulz”), ate at Hewitt Dining Hall, and took my class – Modernist New York City – in Milbank Hall. This was my first sleep-away camp, my first college camp, and definitely my first time living on my own in New York City (although I had been to the city multiple times before this!)

I learned innumerable lessons while at Barnard for that week. These are outlined in the handy-dandy list I have put together for your reading pleasure:

  • Community bathrooms are really NOT THAT BAD. Trust me. You get your own fancy stall for your shower, and you have some nice conversations at midnight with your floor mates. The best time to shower is between 2 and 3 AM, fyi! (Everyone is asleep. Except you, of course.)
  • Dining hall food gets old pretty fast, and it is very easy to just eat and EAT AND EAT it. But you shouldn’t do this. I recommend filling your one plate, and that’s it. Don’t get that second plate. Unless, of course, you missed Hewitt’s weird hours because you slept in too late and missed breakfast. In which case, get that second plate.
  • Be friendly to your roommate! Don’t hold back. My roommate and I immediately clicked, and it proved to be one of the best things about the week. Our escapades include: milkshakes at 10:45 at Tom’s Restaurant (they filmed Seinfeld here!), eating cheesy fries and sharing a milkshake on the steps of Columbia, shopping in SoHo and spending far too much money in Sephora, staying up until four AM with some other friends, and learning to hail cabs.

    Insomnia Cookies, my friends

    Insomnia Cookies, my friends

  • Insomnia Cookies, although delicious, should not be order as often as your think. I didn’t actually learn this while at Barnard, but it is definitely a reflection I have now. (Insomnia Cookies is a company in NYC and some other states that deliver cookies until 4AM. We ordered cookies at 1:30AM two nights in a row for studying fuel.)
  • Libraries are your new best friend. Also - Reading rooms reading rooms READING ROOMS. They’re silent. There’s nice tables. There’s a plug for your computer. Take advantage of these rooms. Especially if they’re the Butler Library ones (at Columbia) which are gorgeous.
  • For future Barnard students: THE 1 TRAIN IS YOUR BFF. (The 1 train goes straight up to Barnard and will save you. Just make sure you go in the right direction!)

I learned more than that, but that definitely seemed like a good start. Barnard was one of the scariest and also one of the most rewarding experiences of my life, and I recommend that everyone go to a college camp during their high school career. Find a college you’re interested in and go stay there for a week! Get to know the people, the school, and what it’s like to exist at a college. And, obviously, try out Barnard. It’s definitely my number one choice now.

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Hope you all enjoyed hearing about my trip to NYC!

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Book Review: Conversion

Novel: Conversion by Katherine Howe | Goodreads
Release Date: July 1st, 2014
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Format: ARC
Source: TLA 2014 (Thanks Jill!)

It’s senior year at St. Joan’s Academy, and school is a pressure cooker. College applications, the battle for valedictorian, deciphering boys’ texts: Through it all, Colleen Rowley and her friends are expected to keep it together. Until they can’t.
 
First it’s the school’s queen bee, Clara Rutherford, who suddenly falls into uncontrollable tics in the middle of class. Her mystery illness quickly spreads to her closest clique of friends, then more students and symptoms follow: seizures, hair loss, violent coughing fits. St. Joan’s buzzes with rumor; rumor blossoms into full-blown panic.
 
Soon the media descends on Danvers, Massachusetts, as everyone scrambles to find something, or someone, to blame. Pollution? Stress? Or are the girls faking? Only Colleen—who’s been reading The Crucible for extra credit—comes to realize what nobody else has: Danvers was once Salem Village, where another group of girls suffered from a similarly bizarre epidemic three centuries ago . . .
 
Inspired by true events—from seventeenth-century colonial life to the halls of a modern-day high school—Conversion casts a spell. With her signature wit and passion, New York Times bestselling author Katherine Howe delivers an exciting and suspenseful novel, a chilling mystery that raises the question, what’s really happening to the girls at St. Joan’s?

My good friend Jill who works as a publicist for Penguin pitched this book to me at TLA and basically told me it was one of the best books ever. So, obviously I took the ARC she gave me, and read it. (Although I did put it off a bit too much, I fully admit.) Jill was right guys. This book is FABULOUS. FAB-U-LOUS. It is thought-provoking, different, unique and something that would appeal to readers both teen and adult, in my opinion.

I honestly do not know how to describe this book. It has so many different elements. There’s a historical plot line of the Salem Village outbreak which was something I had never ever heard of and want to now learn more about. Also, there’s a lot on The Crucible which I haven’t read yet, which I wish I had done prior to reading this. (As The Crucible is based on the plot line we follow from Salem Village.) Howe did a fantastic job tying the historical plot line into the present day plot line and weaving the stories together. Bravo to Katherine Howe!

As for the present day narrative, this was definitely my favorite. (Although I did like the historical one, it just moved slower.) Coleen, the main character, was really interesting to read about because she’s very relatable I think. Especially for me, as a girl who goes to an all girls school and has a lot of academic pressures, I think this look into what’s it’s like to go to a school like that is really valuable and also truthful. What they decide caused the epidemic in the end is quite weird in many ways, but also makes sense? And the scary thing is I can see it happening at other schools. I don’t want to give too much away, so I’m going to leave it at that!

Overall, I can’t recommend this book enough. It’s a bit more of a difficult read than your standard YA book in my opinion because of the historical plot line, but it’s so worth the time and money. Conversion is one of my favorite books of 2014!

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Book Review: To All the Boy I’ve Loved Before

Novel: To All The Boys I’ve Lover Before by Jenny Han | Goodreads
Release Date: April 15th, 2014
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Format: ARC
Source: ALA 2014

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is the story of Lara Jean, who has never openly admitted her crushes, but instead wrote each boy a letter about how she felt, sealed it, and hid it in a box under her bed. But one day Lara Jean discovers that somehow her secret box of letters has been mailed, causing all her crushes from her past to confront her about the letters: her first kiss, the boy from summer camp, even her sister’s ex-boyfriend, Josh. As she learns to deal with her past loves face to face, Lara Jean discovers that something good may come out of these letters after all.

Unlike some people I’ve talked to, I’m actually a fan of this book! I read it in the course of two and a half hours, simply because I couldn’t put it down. However, I think the reasoning behind this inability to put it down was due to Han’s writing rather than the plot at some points.

My big take-aways: I HATE MARGOT (that’s all on that). Lara Jean was a bit annoying at times, but I think to be honest she was very true to her personality throughout the book. Her evolution was very natural, which I really liked. The whole fake boyfriend thing I was definitely not a fan of, simply because I really dislike that idea and plot. It just bothers me. However, I think that Han did a good job with it. She made it comical, which I really liked, and also allowed for Lara Jean and Peter to grow with each other. (Another plus!)

Over all, I really enjoyed this book. I’m not a big fan of Han’s The Summers trilogy (I think that’s what it’s called?) but To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before really redeemed her in my eyes. (Note: this review was also over on Lit Up Review in our Spotlight Book Club wrapup!)

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Let’s Chat: Gettin’ Twitter Savvy

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“Let’s Chat” is my Discussion series on Willa’s Ramblings, where I talk about things on all topics – life, books, music, and pretty music anything under the sun! Please let me know in comments or on Twitter what you think and let’s chat!

Today on “Let’s Chat”: How To Get Established on Twitter

The other day I was talking to a friend of mine who has a book blog on Tumblr about Twitter, and she mentioned that she didn’t have one. When I asked her why she just said she didn’t really get or understand why she needed one. I mentioned the connections I’ve made through it, and we proceeded to talk about how to get her on Twitter and into the network, and I realized it’s probably something a lot of people are curious about, so here’s a short set of tips!

1. Don’t feel shy about entering people’s conversations

I’ve made so many friends from doing this – it’s TOTALLY fine! Just be polite about it and add your thoughts. Most times people are totally cool about it. Share your thoughts, be nice, and have some fun talking to people!

2. Follow follow follow follow

At the beginning, I followed SO MANY PEOPLE on Twitter. Over time I’ve unfollowed people whose blogs I don’t read, and not I follow people I talk to or enjoy reading their blogs. Follow people and tweet them telling them you love their blog and start talking!

3. “What do I say to people??!”

Well, the one thing you have in common for sure is a love of books. So if they post a review of a book you love or one you want to read, let them know what you thought! Talk about books you’re looking forward to, ask questions about what they’d recommend – anything that strikes your fancy.

4. Allow your Twitter to be easily recognizable as part of your blog

Make your handle your blog name or something similar, use a photo that’s related to your blog, put the link in your bio – these things all make you easily recognizable!

5. Last thoughts:

Followers won’t all come at once. Don’t be jealous of how many followers other people have. Have a style of tweeting. Be professional!

What are your tips? Leave me yours in comments or on Twitter @WillasRamblings!

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