Dark Academia Book Aesthetics 💀☕️ | Read and TBR

As described by Wikipedia, dark academia is an aesthetic centered on higher education, writing, the arts, and classic Greek and Gothic architecture, as well as romantic longing and death — think 19th and early 20th century at private schools in England; bitter black coffee; blazers; vintage jewelry; and dark colours.

Today I will be talking about some books I’ve read with this theme, as well as books I want to read.

If We Were Villans by M.L. Rio

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If this cover does not scream dark academia, I don’t know what does; that skull is making me think that this book will be eerie and mysterious. I haven’t read this one yet, but it has a really good rating on Goodreads and the plot sounds intriguing. The protagonist, Oliver, is an actor studying Shakespeare at an elite arts college. One of the actors in the play ends up dying, an the other actors have to convince the police that they didn’t do it. However, Oliver had gone to jail for 10 years for the crime, so it sounds like we as the reader have to figure out if he actually did it or not.

Vicious by V.E. Schwab

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Whoa, skulls on the cover again. I guess skulls are a thing for dark academia, which would make sense if death is part of it. I have read this book, and I feel like this might be a controversial opinion, but personally, I wasn’t a fan. However, there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that it exudes allll the dark academia vibes. This is the story of college roommates, Victor and Eli, who in their senior year start conducting experiments surrounding near death experiences. Victor goes to jail, and when he gets out, tries to find Eli, who is now his enemy. I guess jail is another dark academia thing, because both this book and If We Were Villans seem to have that going for them. 🤷‍♀️

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

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So this book is one I started ~ a year ago, haven’t finished, but plan to start over and complete. From what I’d read, it was really good! I think the intimidating part is that I own an e-copy but don’t own a kindle, so I had to read it on my phone, and given the fact that it is 771 pages in paperback, it was a little daunting to read on such a tiny screen 😬 but anyway, that’s besides the point! This book is about a boy named Theo who survives a tragedy that kills his mother. Theo clings to a small painting that reminds him of his mother, and that draws him in to the world of art. Ultimately, this book is about love, identity, and art – all at the forefront of dark academia.

Has anyone read any other good books with a dark academia vibe? Have you read any of the ones I mentioned? I’d love to know your thoughts 🙂

-Catherine


Library Series | 3 of the Most Beautiful Libraries Around the World

2020. What a year. Despite everything that’s changed in the last 9 months, at least one thing has remained the same: I am a sucker for aesthetically pleasing libraries and I will continue this series posting about different libraries around the globe. I’m not sure when it will be safe to travel to all of the beautiful places I’ve found these libraries in again, but at least daydreaming isn’t cancelled!

Admont Abbey Library – Admont, Austria

The first library that I’ve had my eye on is the Adamont Abbey Library in Austria. When I look at this photograph, I almost can’t believe that it’s real. This library was built on Adamont Abbey monastery, designed by architect Joseph Hueber in 1776 and has over 200,000 volumes today. In April 1865, there was a fire that caused considerable damage to the monastery, but the library remained unharmed.

Stift Admont Library //📍#Admont #Austria // ?
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Vennesla Library and Culture House – Vennesla, Norway

This library is very aesthetically pleasing to me, but in an entirely different way than Adamont Abbey’s is. I love how symmetrical the shelves here are; everything looks really clean and orderly, and as someone who appreciates order, this is very satisfying. It serves not only as a library, but as a cultural center where people are encouraged to gather. This library has a more modern feel, which is no surprise as it was built in 2011, and has won several architectural awards.

ARCHITECTURE TODAY: Norway Vennesla Library and Culture House

Klementinum National Library – Prague, Czech Republic

This library was built in 1772 for the Jesuit University; they have 20,000 volumes and some books are still there from that time. The ceiling frescoes depict Jesuit saints and allegorical motifs of education. According to Tripadvisor reviews, if you do visit this one, in order to preserve it, guests are not permitted to enter the library or take pictures of it, but there is a bell tower with a 360 degree aerial view of Prague that you are permitted to climb.

Is This the Most Beautiful Library in Europe?

If anyone knows of any other beautiful libraries around the world, or counties they would be interested in seeing featured in this series, please let me know!

-Catherine 🙂

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Who’s Dewey? | How Books Are Arranged in the Library

Does anyone remember the episode of Arthur when he and Francine were locked in the library? I probably watched that episode hundreds of times as a kid, so it’s no surprise that it’s one of the ones that sticks out the most in my head now. I mean, I don’t see why anyone would try to escape being locked in the library over night. They’re quiet, quaint, have comfortable couches, and I don’t know what the deal was in the libraries of 1996 when this episode first aired (maybe exploring libraries of the 90s will be a post for another day), but they definitely have Internet now – so, what’s the issue, Arthur?

Locked in the Library! | TVOKids Arthur Wiki | Fandom
This is the Stairway to Heaven Led Zepplin sings about, right?!

Another thing I remember about Arthur was that beloved ‘Library Card’ song. You know, the one that goes, “Having fun isn’t hard, When you’ve got a library card.” It’s so deeply engrained into my memory that I can’t even look at that sentence without singing it in my head. Well, anyway, a more unpopular line in that song is, “And don’t forget, The Dewey Decimal System is your friend.” If you’re like D.W., this is the point in the song, or post, where you ask yourself who Dewey is.

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Melville Louis Kossuth “Melvil” Dewey was an American librarian born in 1851 whose published work in 1876, A Classification and Subject Index for Cataloguing and Arranging the Books and Pamphlets of a Library, became what we know today as the Dewey Decimal System – aka the classification system by which libraries classify their books.

Each book at the library has numbers on its spine and is arranged by subject in numerical order:

The above represents the first set of numbers on the spine – the general subject area of the book. It is then broken down further by adding a decimal, followed by more sections of numbers that are representative of the book’s sub-section. Each sub-section then has ten more divisions of increasing specificity. Subsequently, more letters are added at the end to represent the author or editor of the book.

For example:

Term - Call Numbers
Fun Fact: the 4 in 43 represents that the book is about a planet; the 3 in 43 represents that the book is about the planet Mars.

Maybe this is why no one answered D.W. when she asked who Dewey was over and over at the end of the song – because there are so many sections upon sections of number and letter combinations, that if they explained every single one to her, they would be at the library all night, and considering the librarian didn’t even bother to check if Francine and Arthur were still around before closing up, I doubt she’d have been too pleased to do so.

One thing is for sure though, almost 25 years ago when the episode emphasized that having fun isn’t hard when you’ve got a library card, they were right – they were right then, they’d be right now, and thanks to our friend, Dewey, it’s a little easier to organize it.

nice Arthur Library Card Coloring Page | Coloring pages, Library card,  Coloring sheets for kids

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Review// Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

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Author: Gail Carson Levine
Series: Ella Enchanted #1
Genre: Fantasy
Release Date: September 1, 1998
Book Length: 232 pages 
Publisher: Scholastic Books
Review: 5/5

Goodreads Synopsis:

At birth, Ella is inadvertently cursed by an imprudent young fairy named Lucinda, who bestows on her the “gift” of obedience. Anything anyone tells her to do, Ella must obey. Another girl might have been cowed by this affliction, but not feisty Ella: “Instead of making me docile, Lucinda’s curse made a rebel of me. Or perhaps I was that way naturally.” When her beloved mother dies, leaving her in the care of a mostly absent and avaricious father, and later, a loathsome stepmother and two treacherous stepsisters, Ella’s life and well-being seem to be in grave peril. But her intelligence and saucy nature keep her in good stead as she sets out on a quest for freedom and self-discovery as she tries to track down Lucinda to undo the curse, fending off ogres, befriending elves, and falling in love with a prince along the way. Yes, there is a pumpkin coach, a glass slipper, and a happily ever after, but this is the most remarkable, delightful, and profound version of Cinderella you’ll ever read.

My Review:

Okay this was such a cute fantasy book! First off, I didn’t know that the movie was based on a book, and second, it had completely flown over my head until I picked up the book and actually thought about it that Ella Enchanted is a retelling of Cinderella (whoops!) – and honestly, I found this a lot more mystical and fun than Cinderella is.

Not to try and compare the book and the movie too much, but in the movie, Ella is played by Anne Hathaway who is definitely way older than the Ella portrayed in the book; it surprised me when I heard the narrator’s voice on the audiobook because it was very high pitched like that of a young child. However, once that initial shock wore off, I found the narration in general to be incredible! And although it doesn’t really have much to do with the actual writing, having such good, expressive narration really aided in how much I enjoyed the story. The story is told in Ella’s perspective, and I found her to be so adorable; it actually pained and infuriated me to the point where I sometimes had to pause the book whenever people took advantage of her obedience, especially Hattie and Olive. At the beginning of the book, Ella meets Prince Char. You do get the sense that she has a small crush on him, but I liked that that plot point was not the main focus of the book until close to the end. Additionally, I thought that all of the creatures: elves, ogres, fairies were written perfectly – I especially liked how they even had their own languages; it tied the book together so well.

Above all, what makes this book so good to me is that it transported me to an enchanted land, and even though I thought I’d grown out of fairy tales long ago, it was just so much fun to experience this in my mind; it made me feel like a child again. So if this book taught me anything, it’s that you are never too old for fairy tales; in fact, the older you get, the more magical it is to get to experience that feeling all over again when you thought you never would. 😊 

– Catherine

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Review// The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon

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Author: Mark Haddon
Series: Standalone
Genre: Fiction
Release Date: July 31, 2003
Book Length: 226 pages 
Publisher: Vintage Contemporaries
Review: 3/5

Goodreads Synopsis:

Christopher John Francis Boone knows all the countries of the world and their capitals and every prime number up to 7,057. He relates well to animals but has no understanding of human emotions. He cannot stand to be touched. And he detests the color yellow.

Although gifted with a superbly logical brain, for fifteen-year-old Christopher everyday interactions and admonishments have little meaning. He lives on patterns, rules, and a diagram kept in his pocket. Then one day, a neighbor’s dog, Wellington, is killed and his carefully constructive universe is threatened. Christopher sets out to solve the murder in the style of his favourite (logical) detective, Sherlock Holmes. What follows makes for a novel that is funny, poignant and fascinating in its portrayal of a person whose curse and blessing are a mind that perceives the world entirely literally.

My Review:

Christopher Boone is a 15-year-old boy with Asperger syndrome – the story is told from Christopher’s perspective and starts off with him investigating and simultaneously writing a book about the murder of his neighbor’s dog, Wellington. Though the book started off with this plot, I would say that it actually has very little to do with the murder of the dog and more to do with Christopher himself and how he views the world through his autism.

I found this book eye-opening, and after reading it I do feel much more emotionally aware. I can definitely say that it taught me something about people with autism and Asperger in particular; at times, it could get very overwhelming being inside Christopher’s brain – his mind is constantly thinking and racing. I felt for Christopher and all the struggles he faced day-to-day, but he also amazed me in many ways; I found all of his math problems, pattern identifications, and problem solving abilities really interesting. I also liked how it realistically portrayed people who had close, and not so close, relationships with Christopher, how they dealt with his Asperger’s, and how he responded to them.

One of the most amazing things to me about books are their ability to show me things from a different perspective and teach me something new, and with this story, I felt my mind and my heart open to something I’ve not had very much personal experience with, if even at all. I felt so many emotions while reading this and I’m really glad I picked it up; definitely recommend this book to anyone and everyone.

– Catherine

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