why you probably hate Shakespeare

Hello, everybody, and welcome back to Quote, Unquote!

Today I have a controversial topic. Well, it’s not terribly controversial, but in the literary world it can be. In my circles it definitely is.

What’s that topic, you may ask?


I love Shakespeare’s works. It was part of our curriculum last year, and I thought it was going to be awful at first, but I ended up a total Shakespeare fangirl. And I know a lot of people don’t really like Shakespeare or don’t even know how to like Shakespeare, but that’s what I want to fix in this post.

Now, my sister is going to be reading this and immediately rushing to the comments section going “SHAKESPEARE DIDN’T EXIST, AND IF HE DID, HE PROBABLY DIDN’T WRITE HIS PLAYS.” Yes, there is a large group of people who believe that very thing. My sister happens to be one of them. That’s a part of the controversy, but not the part I’m going to be covering today.

So here are some reasons you probably hate Shakespeare, and here are some ways around it.

why you should read Shakespeare

You might be thinking, “Okay, Liesl, you’re right, I do hate Shakespeare. I never liked it, and I don’t see why I should like it.” Why would you want to read Shakespeare if you hated it?

To that, I would encourage you to go back and reread a post I wrote a little while ago titled “four reasons to read the classics“. You can absorb so much from reading old literature. Long-ago language, customs, humor, and ways of life that have been all but forgotten can come alive in classic novels, stories, and plays.

Besides, Shakespeare is just plain fun. It can take a little while to learn how to understand it, but once you’ve picked up the slang that was used back then, you can figure out just how funny and inappropriate (scandalous, I know!) the renowned playwright actually was. I mean, one-liners like “I do desire we may be better strangers” (As You Like It, act 3, scene 2) don’t age. Toss that one out next time your friend is being particularly annoying.

I hope that I have sufficiently convinced you to at least give Shakespeare a chance. Now we’re going to dive into…

why you probably hate it

you never watched it

Shakespeare wrote plays. He did not write novels. And Shakespeare was never meant to be just read–no script was.

Any Shakespeare you have been exposed to has probably been in the form of words on a page. This isn’t the way the playwright intended it. You’re meant to be watching the characters slowly go mad or fall in love or die extremely dramatically.

And, honestly, wouldn’t you much rather be doing that? It’s way more fun (and quite a bit easier) to be able to pick up on what’s going on through the characters’ actions when you don’t understand all the ye olde English.

Also, each production puts their own unique spin on it. No two performances of the same script are going to be exactly the same. Some may even alter the script–my class watched a few performances where they cut out entire scenes to make it flow more smoothly. Every production brings something new to the table.

you were forced to read it

Shakespeare is the staple of every high school English class, most often Romeo and Juliet. And there’s nothing I personally hate more than being forced to read–it seems to suck all the fun out of it for me.

Now, there’s not much either of us can do about having been forced to read it in the past. But what if you wanted to? What if you picked up that copy of Romeo and Juliet or Macbeth from ninth grade English and dusted it off?

Reading (or watching, as we discussed) something that you’ve already read (however grudgingly) has benefits. You’ll at least be familiar with the story, having probably thoroughly dissected it for a grade, even if you don’t remember much. You might even be able to go back and find some old notes, or something that your teacher said might come back to you.

Plus, if you read it for school, chances are many other schools in the country have as well. You can look up example essays, study guides, plot summaries, and so much more. There will be a wealth of knowledge on the more common plays. All you have to do is ask–or Google, rather.

you don’t understand it

I get it. Language has changed a lot since the early seventeenth century. It’s hard to work your way through all of the “by my troth”s and the “prithee”s. You’re reading English, technically speaking, but it doesn’t feel like English.

This is where I’ve stumbled with Shakespeare versus a lot of other old texts. Last year I read Beowulf for school, and even though it was ancient, I could understand it because it had been translated into modern English. With Shakespeare, it’s already in English, so there’s no need for it to be translated, and English speakers can read them in their original forms–which is extremely difficult for anyone who doesn’t understand 1600s-speak.

There are tools to get around this. SparkNotes has something called No Fear Shakespeare where you can read the original text side-by-side with modern English. They’re available in print format–you might be able to find a few at your library–or you can pay for a membership to read it online. Or, if you’re cheap like me, you could find a free alternative like Shakescleare by LitCharts. This one is only available online, but it’s helpfully color-coded and quite easy to understand. It definitely takes a lot of the effort out of reading Shakespeare.

you never discussed it with anyone

I can confirm that watching and studying old, seemingly boring plays gets a lot more fun when you’re having heated debates about them. I often found myself defending my opinion about why Hamlet didn’t really love Ophelia quite…passionately in class. Our Shakespeare discussions were probably one of my favorite things about my junior year.

Find a play to watch with a few friends, and then have a discussion. Pick something controversial. A lot of Shakespeare is still relevant today–it’s pretty easy to tie in current events to the plotlines of this play or that one. I guarantee you that Shakespeare will be more fun when you’re arguing with your friends about the dumb things that Shakespeare characters did.

final thoughts

I hope that by now you’ve been persuaded to give Shakespeare a chance (or a second chance). If you need a springboard to get back into his plays, here’s a good article outlining the best plays for beginners.

And I can’t just leave without linking my absolute favorite performance of Shakespeare: Hamlet by Bob Jones University. Hamlet is my favorite play, and this performance absolutely does it justice. Give it a go, if you’re so inclined.

And with that, I shall exit, hopefully not pursued by a bear. Do you enjoy Shakespeare? Why or why not? Let me know.

Thank you so much for reading, and I will see you next Wednesday!


reading booktok books so you don’t have to

Hello, everybody, and welcome back to Quote, Unquote!

If you’re on the reading side of TikTok, Instagram, or even Pinterest, there are likely a few books that you just can’t stop being recommended. Those ones where it seems like everybody’s read them, and for some reason they all decided to make videos recommending them to you.

Well, recently I sat down and made a list of the most popular ones. And then I read them. Was it a mistake? Maybe.

In any case, here I am reviewing them from a Christian perspective with content warnings so you can decide for yourself whether you want to try them or not.

A quick warning before we begin: While I try to keep my book reviews on this blog spoiler-free, a few of the books in this post will have to have spoilers for the sake of content warnings. They will generally be broad, but if you want to be surprised, this is your last chance to click away.

At the end of each review, as well, I will be giving my opinion on whether you should read the book. This is only my opinion, based on what I personally feel comfortable reading. You might not be okay with reading a book with certain content, and that’s all right. Don’t feel like you have to read something just because I thought it was okay.

Are you ready? Then let’s jump in!

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson


The case is closed. Five years ago, schoolgirl Andie Bell was murdered by Sal Singh. The police know he did it. Everyone in town knows he did it.

But having grown up in the same small town that was consumed by the murder, Pippa Fitz-Amobi isn’t so sure. When she chooses the case as the topic for her final year project, she starts to uncover secrets that someone in town desperately wants to stay hidden. And if the real killer is still out there, how far will they go to keep Pip from the truth?

content/trigger warnings

This book has quite an extensive list, including but not limited to detailed discussions of rape, drugs, self-harm, and suicide. Racism is prevalent. At least one side character is a drug dealer. One side character is a lesbian. Underage drinking. Fairly strong language, but it’s not common.

should I read it?

Yes–if you’re not easily grossed out. The plot was engaging and drew me through the book–I could barely put it down. It was full of unexpected twists and turns that kept me on my toes, and I loved the characters. If you’re a fan of thrillers and mysteries, check this one out.

The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes


Avery Grambs has a plan for a better future: survive high school, win a scholarship, and get out. But her fortunes change in an instant when billionaire Tobias Hawthorne dies and leaves Avery virtually his entire fortune. The catch? Avery has no idea why — or even who Tobias Hawthorne is.

To receive her inheritance, Avery must move into sprawling, secret passage-filled Hawthorne House, where every room bears the old man’s touch — and his love of puzzles, riddles, and codes. Unfortunately for Avery, Hawthorne House is also occupied by the family that Tobias Hawthorne just dispossessed. This includes the four Hawthorne grandsons: dangerous, magnetic, brilliant boys who grew up with every expectation that one day, they would inherit billions. Heir apparent Grayson Hawthorne is convinced that Avery must be a conwoman, and he’s determined to take her down. His brother, Jameson, views her as their grandfather’s last hurrah: a twisted riddle, a puzzle to be solved. Caught in a world of wealth and privilege, with danger around every turn, Avery will have to play the game herself just to survive.

content/trigger warnings

A side character is in an emotionally and physically abusive relationship. Gun violence, murder, and attempted murder. A small amount of mild language, including the use of similar-sounding words. One side character who openly identifies as bisexual, and one side character who is sapphic. Alcohol use.

should I read it?

I read this book in one sitting. (Actually, that’s not true–I got up in the middle of it to eat some jelly beans.) The story was engaging and full of twists and turns that kept me on my toes. However, the writing was less than stellar. Given both of these factors, I would say a tentative yes, you should read it. (If you do, note that it is the first in a trilogy. I made that mistake and didn’t check out the other two from the library–and then suffered dearly for it.)

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamine Alire Sáenz


Dante can swim. Ari can’t. Dante is articulate and self-assured. Ari has a hard time with words and suffers from self-doubt. Dante gets lost in poetry and art. Ari gets lost in thoughts of his older brother who is in prison. Dante is fair skinned. Ari’s features are much darker. It seems that a boy like Dante, with his open and unique perspective on life, would be the last person to break down the walls that Ari has built around himself.

But against all odds, when Ari and Dante meet, they develop a special bond that will teach them the most important truths of their lives, and help define the people they want to be. But there are big hurdles in their way, and only by believing in each other―and the power of their friendship―can Ari and Dante emerge stronger on the other side.

content/trigger warnings

Alcohol use. A car accident resulting in broken bones. The main characters end up in a gay relationship, and homophobia and AIDS are frequently discussed. A side character has PTSD. A side character committed a transphobic hate crime in the past.

should I read it?

I personally loved this book. It was highly philosophical, with lots of deep thoughts about life and the world. The main characters’ friendship was so real and raw. I would say that yes, you should read this book, but only if you’re all right with discussions of gay issues.

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart


A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.

We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from New York Times bestselling author, National Book Award finalist, and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart.

Read it.

And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.

content/trigger warnings

Arson, disassociation, grief, and racism. Alcohol use and abuse. The main character has implied sexual intercourse.

should I read it?

This book is…poetic, but almost in a bad way. The writing style could be kind of info dump-y and pretentious, and sometimes it was hard to know what was going on. There was a great deal of entitlement. I liked it well enough, but I would say that if contemporary isn’t already your thing, you probably wouldn’t enjoy it.

final thoughts

These books aren’t for everyone, that’s for sure. But for you guys I will suffer through them. I may do another one of these in the future–I’ve got a whole list to work through. In the meantime, let me know–what do you think? Have you read any of these? Have I changed your mind about reading any of them now?

Thank you so much for reading, and I’ll see you next Wednesday!

the trope tag

Hello, everybody, and welcome back to Quote, Unquote!

I’m back with yet another blog tag today–a battle of the tropes. This one was created by Kenzie @ Featherwick Press, but I found it on the lovely Christine Smith’s blog. In this tag, all of our favorite tropes are pitted against each other in pairs to determine the Ultimate Winner.

But without further ado…let’s jump right in. And don’t be too horrified at my answers.

the chosen one vs. the mentor

Lots of classic books, mostly fantasy, have “chosen ones”. Think Harry Potter. While I appreciate the occasional necessity of this trope, it’s too often overdone. I’m tired of sixteen-year-old blonde-haired, blue-eyed MackKayLeigh being the only one that can save Dystopian Society #1156.

But the mentor? Yes. As long as they’re not problematic (I’m wondering how I ever liked Dumbledore in the first place), give me a good mentor any day. Old or young, grizzled or beautiful, give me a character to knock the protagonist back to their senses and gift the world with the top liked book quote on Goodreads.

The Mentor wins this round!

enemies to lovers vs. friends to lovers

I always found the enemies to lovers thing slightly…off. Maybe it’s my trust issues, but how do you know that they actually love you and aren’t just using you? I suppose that is one of the challenges most characters in this trope face. That on top of the inevitable betrayal I can see coming from a mile away discourages me from the beginning.

The one caveat to this is academic rivals to lovers, which can be done really well and I enjoy in certain settings. But the normal fantasy enemies to lovers is a no for me.

But friends to lovers. Ohhhh. Friends to lovers, man. Especially childhood friends to lovers? I squeal like a little kid every single time. Even when I know it’s coming, it delights me. Like, when they have inside jokes already but now they’re sappy? And they know everything about each other already? I CANNOT. I will simply CEASE TO EXIST. Every time something cute happens, I have to sit there and make dying pig noises before I can continue reading.

I think that this is the most fangirl-y I’ve ever gotten on this blog. If you didn’t know already, I’m a sucker for romance. Stuff like this makes me so happy.

Friends to Lovers wins this round by a mile!

matchmaker gone wrong vs. love potion

Given the fact that I don’t read much fantasy, I haven’t actually read a book with a love potion in it before. But the idea of manufactured love (or infatuation) is kind of iffy to me. I’m sure it could be done well, but I don’t know how comfortable I am with the idea of that.

I’ve never read a book with a matchmaker gone wrong trope either, but I have watched Shakespeare’s Much Ado about Nothing and oh boy do I have opinions. These two hated each other with a passion at the beginning of the play, but by the end of the play they’re suddenly in love? How does this work? It’s not even real love! Their friends just set them up!

I genuinely can’t decide between these two. I think that they’re both equally bad, but I’m going to say that Matchmaker Gone Wrong wins this round by default, given that it’s the only one that I’ve actually read.

trapped in an elevator vs. working with an ex

Again, I haven’t read either of these in depth, though I understand that they’re both common tropes in fanfiction. I’m going to answer this question from a writer’s perspective rather than a reader’s perspective.

I think that the “trapped in an elevator” trope has a lot of potential, especially as a major plot point like the climax. Or trapped in any small, enclosed space together, really. This trope works so well as a setup for something like a confession (of love, perhaps?). Even if they’re not lovers, the idea of two characters putting aside their differences for the sake of the common good is something I enjoy.

But working with an ex? The drama. The sheer pettiness. If there’s some good banter, I’ll take it every time. This trope doesn’t necessarily have to end in getting back together for it to be good, either (though when it’s done well, I enjoy that too). It could make for some uncomfortable yet hilarious situations. As long as it’s not too uncomfortable–secondhand embarrassment is real, y’all.

It’s a close call, but Working with an Ex wins this round!

mistaken identity vs. marriage pact

The first thing I think of when I hear “mistaken identity” is The Parent Trap. Romance isn’t the only application for this trope. I think it has a lot of potential, but sometimes it’s infuriating. Like, she (or he) is right there in front of you! Open your eyes, you doofus!

Whereas a marriage pact often fits neatly into the friends to lovers trope, and I’ve already squealed about how much I love that one. I read a true story about a marriage pact once, and it was so sweet. I think that when done right and when the characters actually love each other, the marriage pact can be really sweet and good.

So Marriage Pact wins this round!

kidnapped vs. the one that got away

Kidnapping brings to mind…questionable ethics. Sometimes it’s a “good” kidnapping, like stealing someone away in the middle of the night to go on an epic adventure or rescuing a child from an abusive family. But when it’s, like, a potential love interest? Not a fan. I think that for kidnapping, it depends on the situation.

Versus the one that got away. I’m not sure how I feel about this one. I think that it can be a good setup for all kinds of drama and wondering and pining and angst, which can do very well keeping me on the edge of my seat. I’m reminded of They Both Die at the End, except they both got away, so I’m not sure if that counts.

It’s tough, but I think The One That Got Away wins this round!

final thoughts

I want to say one last thank-you to Kenzie for the tag and to Christine for bringing it to my attention! And, of course, to you, my dear readers. Once again, thank you so much for reading.

What did you think about my answers? What would you have answered differently? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Until next Wendesday!

the once upon a time book tag

Hello, everybody, and welcome back to Quote, Unquote!

Today I’ll be participating in a fun tag co-created by Merie Shen of Imperial Scribis. This one has been sitting in my inbox for a little while now as I’ve been stewing over my answers, and I think it’s finally time to share them with the world!

Without further ado…let’s jump right in.

the rules

  • thank the person who tagged you
  • use the tag graphic above (optional) (I opted not to for this one!)
  • name a book for each of the following 12 categories
  • tag as many people as you would like

the fairytales

Cinderella: a book that changed your life

Does the Bible count? I mean, technically it did change my life, but I don’t think that’s the answer y’all are going for here.

This one took me a lot of thought, but I’d have to say Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli.

I read Stargirl in middle school. It was one of the first books that I read that could be considered YA romance (though it’s honestly debatable whether it’s YA or MG), and it kicked off my love for the genre. Pretty soon I was reading more and more of the genre, and that lead to me wanting to write it. I credit Stargirl, in part, with my love of writing.

Sleeping Beauty: a book that took you forever to finish

I received Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights for my birthday in December of 2021, started it, and didn’t finish it until last month. Whoops.

Technically speaking, I took a long break, but if you classify “taking forever to finish” as “the interval between which one started and finished the book being long,” I’d say fourteen months is a pretty long time. (In fact, it was almost exactly fourteen months!)

Also, can we take a second to appreciate the Penguin Clothbound Classics editions? One day I am going to own every single one of them. They are gorgeous.

A Thousand and One Nights: a book you couldn’t stop reading

I started Crumbs by Danie Stirling in the afternoon, and when my mom poked her head in my room to tell me to come help with dinner, I felt like I was waking up from a trance. I plan to post a book review very soon, so I don’t want to spoil too much, but this is the best graphic novel I have ever read. It was just so CUTE. And the art style was AMAZING. And I LOVED IT SO MUCH. I couldn’t put it down. AAAAHHHH.

Little Red Riding Hood: a book you recently read in an unfamiliar genre

I had to look way back in my reading log to find something that wasn’t contemporary, fantasy, memoir, or dystopian sci-fi, and the earliest deviation I found was from October of last year.

#MurderTrending was recommended to me by a friend who loves thrillers. I’m not super into them, but I’ll read them from time to time, and I had to admit that this was a fairly interesting read. It was certainly fast-paced and action-packed and kept me on my toes. It was a little bit too gory for my taste, but then again, I am unable to handle even the slightest amount of gore, so that might just be me. Overall, a pretty good book.

The Wild Swans: a book with your favorite sibling relationships

The entire Boxcar Children series holds so much nostalgia for me. The original series was twenty-one books (one of which I have been searching for for years), and they’re all chock-full of the siblings solving little mysteries.

They’re intended for a younger audience and published in the 1920s, so there isn’t a whole lot of plot (they just happen to discover a lot of lucky things), but I love it. Sometimes it’s nice to read something lighthearted, you know?

And I love Henry and Jessie and Violet and Benny (and, of course, their grandfather). Their dynamic is just so sweet. I highly recommend all of the Boxcar Children books.

Snow White: a book filled with beautiful prose

You know it already. I’ve ranted and raved about The Book Thief so often on my blog. This was the book that taught me how to write prose. The descriptions, the emotion, the phrasing—yes. Just yes. If you haven’t read The Book Thief yet, you are missing out spectacularly.

Rapunzel: a book that you procrastinated on reading after buying

There are several books that I have acquired years ago and still haven’t read. Dragon Rider by Cornelia Funke, Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson (although in my defense that thing is a brick), The Summer of Broken Things by Margaret Peterson Haddix…I could probably keep going. I need to get on that.

The Little Mermaid: a book that took you on a magical journey

Um…all of them?

I recently reread the WondLa series after a few years and ohhh boy. Ohhhhhh boy. I love these books so much. They’re such well-thought-out, well-written, all-around-amazing books with a teensy little bit of social commentary on humanity and nature.

I love the worldbuilding and the transformation of the characters, watching them grow up in just three books. I love the way the story never goes exactly where you expect it to. I love everything about this series, and I think that it’s a tragedy that it doesn’t get as much press as some of the more mainstream dystopian series.

The Frog Prince: a book that made you want to turn into a frog because you hated it so much

How about Apologia Exploring Creation through Chemistry?

Nah, just kidding. Chemistry and I have a mutual hatred.

It took me a while to find this book in my reading log, but once I read the synopsis, I was reminded why One Night That Changes Everything had the “would not reread” tag on it.

The premise was promising, but the characters were flat, the plot was unrealistic, and the writing was terrible. I put it down feeling completely dissatisfied and like I had just wasted my time reading it. Not a good feeling to walk away from a book with.

(I’m going to be honest—I hate trashing books like this. I’m terrified that the author is going to see it and be hurt. So if you’re Lauren Barnholdt and you are reading this, I am so sorry.)

Peter Pan: a book that reminds you of your childhood

My copy of The Wishing Spell is so beat up by now that the entire book split in half. I loved this whole series as a kid, probably because the bookish, introverted, overly geeky heroine reminded me of myself. I remember my mom getting this for me at a homeschool book sale (because of course) and being utterly absorbed in it for the rest of the day. Good times.

The Goose Girl: a book you had low expectations for but ended up loving

I am not particularly a fan of John Green. When I first read The Fault in Our Stars, I didn’t really get what all the fuss was about. It was slightly absurd and overly pretentious. So I wasn’t expecting to like Paper Towns, but I ended up falling in love with it.

It’s still absurd and pretentious, mind you, but the premise, the plot, the characters are all so three-dimensional. The high stakes kept me on the edge of my seat. I still reread it every so often, even though the long philosophical ramblings don’t really make much sense. (I feel like you either love or you hate John Green’s style. I’m not quite sure how I feel about it.)

Hansel and Gretel: a book that made you hungry

The Magic Cake Shop by Meika Hashimoto feels like a fever dream of mine. When I was a kid, elementary school perhaps, I used to check this book out of the library at least every other week. There was just something about it. Maybe it was the illustrations that looked somehow exactly like the illustrations in the American Girl books of the time.

I barely remember what happens in this book. It feels like something my fourth-grade brain made up, but I just asked my sister and she remembered it, so I guess not? Unless it was a shared hallucination.

Anyway, there was cake. Lots and lots of cake. I remember that. I mean, obviously.

Okay, I just checked, and our library still has it. I’m going to read it and report back to you.

the tags

Honestly, tagging people on blog tags has always been a struggle for me, so I’m going to just leave this open for whoever would like to participate. Let me know if you do! I’d love to see your answers.

Thank you again, Merie and Diamond, for this lovely tag! I had a lot of fun answering your questions.

Thank you so much for reading, and I’ll see you next Wednesday!

four reasons to read the classics

Hello, everybody, and welcome back to Quote, Unquote!

The classics are the bane of high schoolers everywhere. Austen, Brontë, Dickens, Carroll…they’re a standard of almost every curriculum. Many people grumble over reading them.

But there are valuable, legitimate reasons that you should read them. I’m here to show you the light.

1. they provide a glimpse into how life used to be

Not only can you ponder over the ways people used to live and what life was like way back when, it also provides a firsthand account of what moral standards used to be.

Take, for example, books such as Mark Twain’s classic The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. The book centers around slavery and often uses language that would be quite shocking to today’s reader. It’s been condemned for this, but at its core, the only reason that this would be considered offensive is if it was written nowadays by an ignorant author. The morals were different back then, and so there is nothing wrong with this, and it’s actually quite an effective way of demonstrating morality changes.

2. you will be able to understand references

Because the classics are just that, classics, they are often referenced in pop culture. Taylor Swift’s lyrics come to mind (as they often do)—in her song “New Romantics”, she sings, “We show off our different scarlet letters,” which is a reference to Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter. “Wonderland” from 1989 and “long story short” from evermore both have references to Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, and “cardigan” from folklore references Peter Pan. In “This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things” from reputation, she sings “Feeling so Gatsby for that whole year”, obviously referencing The Great Gatsby. Taylor’s lyrics are jam-packed with nuanced references.

There are obviously plenty of other songs that reference classics, but I’m obsessed with Taylor Swift and her gorgeous lyrics. My point is, pop culture often gains a new level of meaning once you’ve absorbed the classics.

3. they challenge your brain

People spoke much differently when these books were written than they do now. Oftentimes when reading the classics, it’s hard to determine what’s actually going on underneath the fanciful old language.

But don’t let that deter you! In a world where everything is dumbed down into abbreviations, slang, and shorthand, it’s rewarding to read something so challenging. Keep a dictionary nearby—a paper one, if you can. Look up unfamiliar words. It’s going to be worth it. I promise.

4. they can change your life

The books that challenge us the most are the books that most often stick with us. Classics can change your outlook. Many people, after reading books such as Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World and Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, admit to the book having changed the way they view life and society. These books are classics for reasons—they carry messages still valuable to us today.

final thoughts

Another benefit of reading classic books is that people will think you’re smart when you slip Jane Eyre or A Tale of Two Cities into conversation. And hey, if that’s the only reason you read them, at least you will have read them.

What are some of your favorite classic books? Do y or like to read classics, or do you find it difficult? Let me know.

Thank you so much for reading, and I’ll see you next Wednesday!

the new year’s resolution book tag

Hello, everybody, and welcome back to Quote, Unquote!

It’s been a while since I’ve done a blog tag, and I saw this one on E. G. Bella’s blog and decided to steal it.

Well, I don’t really have anything else to say, so I’m just going to jump right in. Let’s go!

an author that you’d like to read (that you’ve never read before)

Sara Ella, Joanne Bischof, and Nadine Brandes. Starting in September, these three ladies are going to be among my writing instructors, and I’d like to brush up on their books before I start. I’ve been meaning to pick up Coral (Ella) and Sadie on the Rocks (Bischof), and I’ve heard good things about Wishtress (Brandes). But I’d like to read all of their books!

a book that you’d like to read

Um, all of them?

I’ve heard good things about The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd, and I love bees, so that one is definitely on my list. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is a bookstagram classic that’s been on my TBR pile for a while. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, Six of Crows by Marissa Meyer, The Maze Runner by James Dashner, and Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alice Sáenz are also cult classics that I’ve been meaning to read for a while.

a classic you’d like to read

All of Jane Austen’s books! I’ve owned Mansfield Park for a while now but just…haven’t read it for whatever reason. It’s a little intimidating, not going to lie. And I have some beautiful copies of Sense and Sensibility, Persuasion, and Emma that I also haven’t read for whatever reason.

a book you’d like to reread

I reread the entire Harry Potter series every single summer. It’s honestly one of the highlights of my year, which I know sounds kind of pathetic, but there’s something comforting about hanging around outside rereading one of your favorite series.

a book you’ve had for ages and want to read

I picked up The Summer of Broken Things by Margaret Peterson Haddix at the thrift store a while ago, and it’s still sitting unread on my shelf. It’s got a beautiful cover, too—honestly, that might have been one of the reasons I bought it. Maybe I’ll post a review when I’m done.

a big book you’d like to read

Not so much “like to read” as “like to have read”, but A Patriot’s History of the United States. It is one of the thickest books I’ve ever encountered. I’m going through it for my junior year in high school right now, and I honestly can’t wait to be done with it.

an author you’ve previously read and want to read more of

Emma Lord is one of my most favorite contemporary authors, and she recently released a new book! I still haven’t read the book she released before that, so I need to pick both of those up at the bookstore.

a book you got for Christmas and would like to read

I received a book called Making Stuff and Doing Things from my grandparents for Christmas. It’s a compilation of zines with all sorts of things from making record bowls to doing your own bookbinding. I’ve thumbed through it a little bit, but I’d really like to read it cover to cover.

a series you want to read from start to finish

The Chronicles of Alice and Ivy by Kellyn Roth. I saw Kellyn speak at the YWW Conference, and she keeps posting little things about her characters on her Instagram story, so I want to support a fellow indie author and finally understand the jokes.

do you set reading goals? if so, how many books do you want to read in 2023?

I don’t necessarily set reading goals—I just like to see where the year takes me. However, I only started tracking my books last year, and I read over 120, so I know I can easily hit over 100. Maybe I’ll be a little ambitious and set a goal of 150 books this year, but I’m not necessarily going to be strict about it. I guess we’ll see.

any other reading goals?

I’d like to read more biblical nonfiction. I want to dive a little deeper into my faith and read more nonfiction, so why not combine those two? I’ve been pretty good about reading more nonfiction lately, and I think I’d like to expand that even more.

I also just want to have fun reading. I devoured books when I was younger. I used to come home from summer library trips and lie in the grass and just read two or three books at a time (usually Warrior Cats, heheh). So I’m not putting too much pressure on myself. I want to enjoy it like I used to.

Well, that about wraps it up! I’m not going to tag anyone here, but feel free to post this on your own blog (and let me know when you do!) or just answer the questions in the comments. I want to know what you’re reading in 2023!

Thank you so much for reading, and I’ll see you next Wednesday!

book review: Run by Ann Patchett

It seemed from this moment of repose that God may well have been life itself. God may have been the baseball games, the beautiful cigarette he smoked alone after checking to see that all the bats had been put back behind the closet door. God could have been the masses in which he told people how best to prepare for the glorious life everlasting, the one they couldn’t see as opposed to the one they were living at that exact moment in the pews of the church hall, washed over in the stained glass light. How wrongheaded it seemed now to think that the thrill of heartbeat and breath were just a stepping stone to something greater. What could be greater than the armchair, the window, the snow? Life itself had been holy.


Since their mother’s death, Tip and Teddy Doyle have been raised by their loving possessive and ambitions father. As the former mayor of Boston, Bernard Doyle wants to see is sons in politics, a dream the boys have never shared. But when an argument in a blinding New England snowstorm inadvertently causes an accident that involves a stranger and her child, all Bernard Doyle cares about is his ability to keep his children–all his children–safe.

Set over a period of twenty-four hours, Run takes us from the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard to a home for retired Catholic Priests in downtown Boston. It shows us how worlds of privilege and poverty can coexist only blocks apart from each other, and how family can include people you’ve never even met. As an in her bestselling novel, Bel Canto, Ann Patchett illustrates the humanity that connects disparate lives, weaving several stories into one surprising and endlessly moving narrative. Suspenseful and stunningly executed, Run is ultimately a novel about secrets, duty, responsibility, and the lengths we will go to protect our children.

my thoughts

I found this book at the thrift store with no dust jacket on it, so I looked up the synopsis on Amazon, and before I even finished reading the synopsis I knew that it was going to come home with me.

I love books that are set in one day—for example, The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon and They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera. Both books that I have read that were set in one day are some of my favorite books because they are so masterfully done. So I had high expectations for this book. I knew that it would be a little different because the two examples mentioned above were targeted towards young adults and this was more of an adult book, but I still expected it to impact me in the way those two books had.

What hit me first upon opening the book was the lack of paragraph breaks. Seriously, the paragraphs stretch on forever. They could be a bit info-dumpy, but for the most part, they kept me immersed in the story. Frankly, I was surprised by this—most of the time, books with long paragraphs are really good at allowing my mind to wander. But this one pulled me in.

The next thing I noticed were the characters. From page one you could see their struggles and desires so clearly. I loved the way Tip loved fish. Characters having a “thing” that they like to do, that their whole life centers around, is common, but I’ve never seen one so unique as ichthyology. Now I’m wondering why we don’t see things as unique as that ever.

I think that perhaps the best part about this book was that the plot twists just kept coming, and you never saw them before they hit you. Seriously, it was just blow after blow. This book kept me on my toes and wanting to learn more. I commend any book that can hook me in like that.

This book portrayed a lot of controversial themes such as racial equality, privilege and poverty, and religion, but I thought it did so very well. The characters would often quote speeches throughout the book, many by civil rights leaders, and I liked how there was “real-world” evidence sprinkled in the story.

Were there shortcomings in this book? Of course. Every book has them. Because this was written from a third person omniscient perspective, sometimes it was hard to tell who was narrating at any given time. Between that, the plot twists, and the long paragraphs, sometimes I got lost and had to go back and reread. I also thought that the ending was neatly wrapped up—a little too neatly for real life, perhaps.

Overall, though, I think that this book was a very thought-provoking read. Although it was outside of my normal genres, I am very glad that I brought it home to read.

my 2022 year in books

Hello, everybody, and welcome back to Quote, Unquote!

I love year-end wrap-ups like Spotify Wrapped and my Duolingo Learner Report, and since I’ve been keeping track of all the books I read this year, I thought, why not do a Liesl’s Reading Wrapped?

So here are my reading stats from this year! I hope you enjoy.

There we have it! Do you keep a reading log? How many books did you read this year?

Thank you so much for reading, and I’ll see you next Wednesday! (Wow…that’s going to be January, isn’t it? Where has the time gone?)

book review: Educated by Tara Westover

On the highway below, the school bus rolls past without stopping. I am only 7, but I understand that it is this fact more than any other that makes my family different. We don’t go to school. Dad worries that the government will force us to go, but it can’t because it doesn’t know about us. Four of my parents’ seven children don’t have birth certificates. We have no medical records because we were born at home and have never seen a doctor or nurse. We have no school records because we’ve never set foot in a classroom.


Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, Tara Westover was 17 the first time she set foot in a classroom. Her family was so isolated from mainstream society that there was no one to ensure the children received an education and no one to intervene when one of Tara’s older brothers became violent. When another brother got himself into college, Tara decided to try a new kind of life. Her quest for knowledge transformed her, taking her over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge University. Only then would she wonder if she’d traveled too far, if there was still a way home. 

my thoughts

Educated broke me.

The story is, quite honestly, horrific. Though its title promises content about Tara’s lack of education and quest to find it, most of the book focuses on the emotional abuse suffered at the hands of her father and physical abuse at the hands of her own brother.

The first time I finished the book, I set it down and just stared into the distance for a few minutes. I couldn’t believe that these things actually happen to real people.

The point is, this book made me feel things. It left an impression on me. That’s the most important thing a book can do, and for that, I applaud Tara.

One of the other things I liked is that though this book is long, it’s not packed to the gills with flowery prose and imagery. It’s down to earth, simple, almost cold. You can see Tara’s thought processes and emotions without having to dig too deep, and I thought that was super impressive.

Overall, I’d give this book 4.5 stars out of 5. Would I recommend it? Absolutely. But you should be tough and not easily offended to read it.

Trigger warnings: blood, car accident, child neglect, domestic, physical, and emotional abuse, gaslighting, slight gore, mental illness.

(This may look like an impressively long list, but please don’t be shocked that I would post a review of something like this on here! I’m not afraid to share the hard things–in fact, I think that they need to be shared.)

Thank you for reading, and I’ll see you next Wednesday!

an introduction to my full bookshelf

I’m a writer and a reader. And what is a writer and a reader to do without a bookshelf absolutely stuffed with books?

Recently, I went through the bookshelves in my room and entered them all into a database I made. When I tell you that was a feat…phew. I found out that I have one hundred and eighty (180) books in my room! I didn’t even know I could fit that many!

But since I love statistics and organizing things, I decided to share a few pie charts about all the books on my bookshelves. Let’s dive right in.

(Also, my bookshelves are organized by rainbow colors like the trendy basic bookstagram girl I am.)

breakdown by genre

Out of my 180 books, 141 are fiction and only 39 are nonfiction. That actually surprised me. I have quite a few books about authorship and faith on my bookshelf, and I thought I would end up with more. Though alongside the smart person books about faith and authorship is a Pokémon handbook and multiple Minecraft guides (I never got rid of the old ones. Those are going to be worth a crazy amount of money someday).

Here’s a breakdown of the more specific genres. I have a total of eight distinct genres in my database. Here they are in numbers:

GenreNumber of books
Historical fiction26
Magical realism2
Science fiction (sci-fi)4

Magical realism is the small slice without a number in between fantasy and memoir.

I’m surprised by this too. I’m not a huge fantasy reader, but I guess I have a lot of fantasy books in my shelves. I thought contemporary would be more up there, as I’m amassing more and more contemporary books lately, but I guess not.

“Uncategorized” refers to nonfiction books that don’t have a set genre, like the many books on writing that I own or my ancient Minecraft guides.

breakdown by target audience

“Uncategorized” here refers to classics like Harry Potter and Jane Austen. I figured that they had a target audience when they were published, but that has since been abandoned as they’ve grown in popularity.

Since most of my books were purchased when I primarily read middle-grade, that’s what I own the most of. I read much more young adult now, but I’m expected to buy them for myself, and since I’m broke, I don’t own that many. There are 51 MG books, 41 YA books, 10 adult books, and 78 uncategorized books.

breakdown by “classic” status

42 of the books on my shelves are considered classics by my standards. Timeless books, things like Jane Austen, Little Women, Walden and Civil Disobedience, and even the Harry Potter series went into this category. I’m kind of impressed that almost a quarter of the books I own are classics.

breakdown by cover type

This one was just for fun. I was interested in how many of my books were hardcover versus paperback. Turns out 137 of them were paperback and only 43 were hardcover, which makes sense.

And just for fun, here’s a picture of my bookshelves!

I did my best with the quality, but the lighting wasn’t so great. Forgive me.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this! What kinds of books do your bookshelves have on them?