In love with the cape coat

I’ve wanted to get a new cape-style coat for a long time, but my search was put off this year by persistent summer weather. I’m not complaining, considering it’s almost mid-October and temps are in the 70s, but it’s just lulling me in a false sense of cape-coat-less security.

I kind of want fall to come just so I know it’s actually there, and that I won’t wake up one morning next week to a foot of snow (that happened last year!). I want to be prepared! So I’m lusting after these cool cape coats:

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I think these are all perfect for fall, and I’m partial to numbers 1 & 6. May have to make a late fall purchase! Links here.


Reads & Recs: Books about ballet

I have a mini obsession with ballet. It’s mesmerizing to me, from learning about the craft of it, the history of it, and watching it. And since I’ve always wanted to do ballet but never took a class, I also would like to do that. But in the meantime, I’ll do what I like to do best: read.

Here are some books on my TBR list, about ballet:


Misty Copeland’s Life In Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina

Misty Copeland is one of the world’s most successful and recognizable ballet dancers, but she’s been through a lot to enjoy the position she’s in now. I’m reading her memoir now, and am blown away by her strength and passion.

Ballet Shoes, by Noel Streatfeild

I watched the film adaptation with Emma Watson in it a few years ago, and now I want to get my hands on the original book! It’s an eccentric book about three orphaned girls adopted by a mysterious traveler named Gum. The three girls eventually enter acting school, and learn who they’re going to become.

Bunheads, by Sophie Flack

Bunheads is about a 19-year-old dancer at the Manhattan Ballet Company, who has to decide between her commitment to ballet and a potential love. (I say—why choose? ;) )

Can’t wait to get into these! Have you read any and would like to give feedback or any recommendations of your own? Let me know below.


Utterly obsessed with the new, illustrated ‘Harry Potter’

Yesterday, the fully-illustrated Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was released, and due to timely pre-order, it came in the mail (via owl?) by noon. Once I opened it, I literally couldn’t pry my eyes from the page.

51MIi4p2YyLThere’s something about illustrations that always seem more real to me than actors’ portrayal. I don’t know if this is weird or not, but most characters from books that I see in my head are somewhat cartoonish, like they’ve been drawn or sketched.

To this day, I don’t see Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, or Daniel Radcliffe when I re-read the Harry Potter books; I see Mary Grandpre’s artistic renderings of the characters. That’s one of the biggest reasons why I was so happy to go through the moments in Pottermore (R.I.P.) and why I love the new, fully-illustrated Sorcerer’s Stone so much.

With stunning artwork by Jim Kay, there’s hardly a single square inch of this book that isn’t illustrated—it reminds me of old illuminated manuscripts from the Middle Ages. It’s full of magic and whimsy.

But more important, I think these illustrations offer more insight into the characters and the story. I think there’s something lacking in the films, some kind of disconnect between text and image. But here, the two are intertwined inseparably. Illustrations are utterly dependent on the text, whereas films take liberties and can reinterpret.

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Also, the art is breathtaking, but the previews released makes that statement redundant. I couldn’t believe my eyes at times when I turned the page to see yet another gorgeous rendering, and the use of color and detail are perfect.

Some of the detail in this book is astounding. Everything looks lifelike, but magical in the way you’d think Harry Potter would be. Little birds are drawn in the corners of books, ink splotches adorn the margins, and the text weaves around the artwork, adding to the entire words-plus-pictures experience. They are entirely harmonious with each other.

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Also, the artwork is unique from any other previous imagining. There is little to no borrowing from Grandpre’s work, the UK art, Pottermore, or even the films. It’s new, offering a fresh perspective that livens up these well-known stories. This may be Potter for an entirely new generation, one that may not have seen the movies yet.

I think it’s even better than the Pottermore art, which I absolutely loved. It’s so rich, and inviting, evocative and immersive.

As an object, it’s a thing of beauty, and perfect to read to your kids. Although I have to admit, my kids will have to have their own set, because these are going on a special, high shelf. This is a must-have collector’s item for any really enthusiastic Potter fan.



Fashion // Into the rose garden

Hey, today’s my birthday! 24 years old.

I put this outfit together and promptly squealed in delight. This outfit combines some of my favorite things ever: blush pink, floral print, and tutus. I felt like Carrie Bradshaw, and also like one of those ballerinas in a Degas painting. It’s a weird combination, I know. But I felt very happy and twirly.

If I were going Paris Fashion Week this year (dream/life goal), this outfit would be in my suitcase.

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tulle skirt c/o, sweater from H&M, floral oxfords thrifted


Wandering around a bookstore

One of the most therapeutic things I ever do is take an hour or two to wander around my Barnes & Noble. The best days are the ones that I don’t have much to do, anywhere to go, and nothing specific in mind. Especially when there are exciting new releases, I love to go and explore the shelves and see what stands out to me.

This is how I used to buy books when I was kid: there was no Goodreads or Amazon in my life, and no recommendations from friends. I had to pick books based on feelings, and yes, the covers. I try to do that more often: just wander around, pick books up and see what jumps out.

Today I did that, and I found some gems. Here’s what I bought:

I picked up The Golem and the Jinni from those New Releases tables, and the thing that first hooked me was, I won’t lie, the weight of the book. I think there’s something so much better about reading a physical book that feels good in your hand. When the binding is weak and the pages are light, I’m less satisfied with buying a book. I like it to feel weighty. And then I read the inside flap and decided to had to have it.

The first paragraph of the inside flap: “Chava is a golem, a creature made of clay, brought to life by a strange man who dabbles in dark Kabbalistic magic. Ahmad is a jinni, a being of fire, born in the ancient Syrian Desert. Trapped in an old copper flask by a Bedouin wizard centuries ago, he is released accidentally by a tinsmith in a Lower Manhattan shop.” Seriously, so excited.

The second was a must-have: The Occupation Trilogy, three novels written in 1968 about the Occupation in Paris during World War II. This won a Nobel Prize in Literature. I’ve been fascinated with learning more about the Occupation ever since I read Edward Rutherfurd’s Paris, so this seemed like the perfect place to start.

I’m really excited to get into these! What’s your favorite way to find new books?


Fall Days & Fall Nights

Every season of the year brings something new and exciting that makes me so happy I live in a place with four distinct seasons. After the heat and excitement of summer fades, there’s nothing I love more than to enjoy the crisp fall weather by either staying in for days at a time with a book, or going outside for those singular fall activities I can’t get enough of. Also I love crunching leaves. ;)

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Here’s my very, very brief checklist of the things I want to do this fall season:

go apple/pumpkin picking

There is no better way to soak in the crisp fall weather than going apple picking—braining yourself in the head with that long picker, eating more apples than you buy, and breaking all the rules by trying to climb trees (and only going up three branches) are all priceless experiences.

dress in jewel tones

Eek! I can’t tell you how excited I am for fall fashion! I already have my scarves lined up and ready, I’ve bought boots, I’ve bought dresses, I’ve bought stockings. I’ve put together some outfits I seriously cannot wait to put together and share.

For me, fall fashion means layering, wearing jewel tones like purple, burnt orange, reds and yellows, and boooooooots.

read scary books

Summer is always a reading slump for me; there are always a million other things to do! So to get myself back in the routine, and to get myself hype for Halloween, I like to read something slightly scary. This year, it’s going to be Libba Bray’s sequel to The Diviners: Lair of Dreams.

As a fantasy/historical/YA novel, it’s not exactly a horror story BUT Bray’s first Diviners book was easily the scariest thing I ever read, so I have high hopes for the sequel.

drink oktoberfest

BEER! Do I have to say more?

take photographs

This time of year, or really, whenever the seasons start to change, I love to go out wandering with my camera in hand. Everything slows down and you have this intense quiet time to yourself to think, reflect, and flex your creativity. I love it, and I get some beautiful photographs out of the mix.

be a tourist

Fall in New York City is not only freaking beautiful, but it has so much more culture and just as many activities as in the summer. PLUS, as an added bonus, the rooftop happy hours aren’t ridiculously packed anymore.

There are so many events and festivals, especially food-related (which are my favorite kind) and I can’t wait to try them out.


Cold weather = blankets and hoodies.

Why are we still obsessed with Helen of Troy?

I’m going to direct that question to myself: why am I still so obsessed with Helen of Troy? I read this book recently that tried to answer that question for me, and I think I have the answer.

The book is Helen of Troy: Beauty, Myth, Devastation by Ruby Blondell. It’s a critical analysis of the ancient Greek myth and literature surrounding the dazzling Helen of Troy, and what she meant for ancient and classical Greek society. The implications are, of course, what she means today.

16179837A while ago I shared this Margaret Atwood poem that imagines Helen of Troy as a countertop dancer, i.e. a stripper. The poem is a reminder that Helen of Troy, and what she represents, are still so incredibly relevant today.

So why is she so relevant? Why am I, like the rest of the world, obsessed with figuring out Helen of Troy?

Because she’s the most beautiful woman in the world, and thus she embodies the problematic nature of female beauty. The ancient Greeks knew that, and countless playwrights, writers, orators, and sophists used her as the embodiment of how they felt, and treated, women in their society. Ruby Blondell’s book sheds so much light on what Helen of Troy represented.

Blondell explores several Greek writers who included the character and “device” of Helen of Troy in their works; most notably Homer’s The Iliad and The Odyssey (obviously), Sappho’s poetry, The Oresteia, Gorgias’s Encomium of Helen, Euripedes’ Trojan Women and Helen, and Isocrates’ rhetorical speeches. Each writer deals with Helen in a different way, either defending her, making her a victim, making her a villain, or reducing her to something not worthy of living.

Blondell’s exhaustive analyses of each of these works comes to one conclusion: that for men, female beauty is both an asset and a risk. Beauty is essential for a wife, but beauty also makes a wife supremely untrustworthy, because she can always use it as a weapon. She can always use her beauty as a way to emasculate men, and make cuckolds of them. Therefore, Helen of Troy, the most beautiful woman who ever lived, is the ultimate example of what the ancient Greeks defined women as: literally a “beautiful evil.”


There’s this eloquent passage from the book’s introduction that adequately sums up why beauty is problematic for men—because they have to control it in order to reduce the risk of emasculation:

“Helen of Troy is the mythical incarnation of an ancient Greek obsession: the control of female sexuality and of women’s sexual power over men. As the most beautiful woman in the world, and the most destructive, she is both the most in need of control and the least controllable.”

I think these themes are still so extremely relevant today, to an alarming degree. We still have these ridiculous notions of female beauty, narrow beauty standards, and we have an image of this “ultimate woman” as if there were any such thing. Despite the strides we’ve taken, Helen of Troy is still here today.

Some men still feel compelled to control women, and control the power of female beauty. Even in such small instances as telling their girlfriends how much makeup they should wear, or not letting their girlfriends wear certain things so they’re not flaunting their beauty and making themselves attractive to other men. There’s still this philosophy of containment, that female beauty has to be controlled and limited so that it can be owned. Obviously, this mode of thinking and acting turns female human beings into objects.

Helen of Troy, as she is described in these works and a million others, could only have been created by men. Nowhere in classic literature is she understood as a thinking, acting individual with agency who is allowed to make mistakes. She is only a device used to promote misogynistic ideals. But she’s also experiencing something of a feminist renaissance, courtesy of works like Margaret Atwood’s, in which her beauty is still extremely problematic, but in which she takes back her story.

Having constructed female beauty as a threat, and imagined an absolute standard of beauty fulfilled by a single woman in whom that threat culminates, Greek men spent considerable energy attempting to analyze, contain, disarm, deny, or appropriate the power accorded to their own creation.

In this world, we can understand Helen’s story much more simply: a woman unhappy in marriage leaves her husband because she has fallen in love/lust with another man. Is it her fault that her husband and his brother killed hundreds of people to take back what they saw as her property?


I think it’s kind of ironic that the blame traditionally lies with Helen, when a modern lens will obviously come to the conclusion that Helen’s husband is to blame for starting a 10-year war to begin with, and for treating her (and her beauty) like a commodity. Thus, in this modern world, Helen has become an example of the negative effects of the patriarchy. And Helen is no longer abused for expressing unbridled sexual passion—for the most part.

Short answer: the reason I find Helen so ridiculously entrancing/interesting is because even in the society she “lived” in (mythologically), she still managed to break free and cause a whole lot of trouble. I guess that’s my third-wave feminist lens talking. ;)

Definitely check out this book if you want to learn more about 1. Greek mythology, 2. gender politics in ancient Greek culture, 3. classic literature, 4. a woman with growing cultural relevance (who never truly became irrelevant). I only read about half of the works discussed, and it’s so easy to just get lost in these pages.