November Wrap Up

Happy December 1st! I can't believe it's already December. I'm so excited for Christmas but feeling a little nostalgic that the year is already ending. I won't lie, my days feel pretty monotonous sometimes, but I look back and see just how good this year has been. Cue all of my sentimental feelings about the end of a calendar year. 

This month I've gotten into a new routine of actually leaving the speech room for lunch. I have a few co-workers who also like to read during their lunch break so it's been nice to have some camaraderie in that. Overall, I finished seven books this month! Two historical fiction, two middle grade, one magical realism, and two contemporary fiction. It was a wonderful month of reading and I'm eager to round out 2017 with some incredible books. 

IMG_5891.jpg

Not pictured are I Was Anastasia (currently being loaned out) and The Alice Network (library book).

I absolutely loved Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance and was so fascinated with I Was Anasastia. If you like magical realism or historical fiction, definitely add them to your list! Many thanks to Flatiron Books, Doubleday Books, Berkley Publishing, and Ruth Emmie Lang for sending books my way! 

What was the best thing you read this month? Anything I should definitely try to read in December? Happy reading everyone! 

 

 

 

 

 

Book of the Month

If you've been following my book account on Instagram, I think you'll know how much I love Book of the Month. I was introduced after winning a giveaway this summer and now I'm HOOKED. I look forward to the beginning of the month so much more knowing that the new selections will be revealed. It saves money on new books and it really is like Christmas each time my box arrives. This post is not sponsored by BOTM in any way, I just love it THAT much. 

IMG_5854.jpg
IMG_5855.jpg
IMG_5852.jpg
IMG_5853.jpg

Happy reading!

Summer Reading Wrap Up

I've officially started back to work and as embarrassing as it is, I'm a little wiped after two days. It was a fantastic summer filled with just enough structure working part time, a trip to Mexico, and lots and lots of reading. I also made an instagram account specifically for books which has been the most fun experience ever. You can find me here. My goodreads goal is 70% complete thanks in part to summer reading and was able to finish 14 books on my break. Here are a few of them. 

My final list for summer included:

1. Insurgent
2. Exit West
3. Allegiant
4. The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley
5. Talking As Fast As I Can
6. The Hate U Give
7. The Happiness Project
8. Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine
9. Midnight At The Bright Ideas Bookstore
10. In The Woods
11. Crazy Rich Asians
12. Goodbye, Vitamin
13. This Is How It Always Is
14. Behind Her Eyes

Favorites included The Hate U Give, Midnight At The Bright Ideas Bookstore, and This Is How It Always Is. I hardcore struggled to finish The Happiness Project and In The Woods.I still like the more serious books and struggle with picking lighter summer books but really no surprises there. 

What was the best book you read this summer? You know I love chatting books!

 

The Hate U Give

Summer has been gloriously filled with slower mornings and lots of reading. Although I am savoring it as best as possible, I can feel myself starting to itch for a more consistent routine. I've been working part time at the most fun clinic but working two days a week is definitely not real life. It's a blast but I definitely do better with a more consistent schedule. I have gotten more plugged into the Bookstagram community which is the most fun and have gotten some really amazing book recs from it. One of which is the incredible debut by Angie Thomas, The Hate U Give.

From GoodreadsSixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil's name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: whatreally went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does or does not say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.
 

I've said it before and I'll keep saying it: It is truly SUCH a valuable time to have diverse books that challenge us to re-examine the lens we view our lives through. It is so easy for me to ignore the news and stay in my own little bubble. It's so easy to pass off problems if they don't affect me directly. It's easy for me to refuse to use my voice since I don't know enough about the given topic to contribute. I've been there and I can't stay there. I don't think any of us can afford to stay there. 

“That's the problem. We let people say stuff, and they say it so much that it becomes okay to them and normal for us. What's the point of having a voice if you're gonna be silent in those moments you shouldn't be?” - The Hate U Give

This book was heartbreaking and incredibly real. It was raw and tough to read at times but so very necessary. It taught me to delve a little deeper into empathy and understanding. I truly loved this book and cannot urge you to read it enough. Also read the acknowledgements because HELLO TEARS. Have you read this? Let's chat. 

Books of 2016

2016 was equal parts wonderful and hard, full and lonely. I finished grad school, we decided to stick around Fay town, and I started my first "real" job (!!). Through it all, lots of reading. 

Books of the year originally started in 2013 as a way to read more and keep myself accountable to something I loved doing. The idea was to read the number of books that correlated with how old I was that year. 21 books for my year of being 21, etc. You can read about previous years here and here

I've always been passionate about books and reading. Now more than ever, I see the importance in it. Reading teaches us to take on another's perspective, to agree or disagree. To engage in a story that's different than our own. Reading helps with that connection and I think it helps us build bridges in ways that most other things can't. And in a life that's so saturated with technology and ads and quick fixes, a physical book slows me down. For that, I'm grateful.

I've kept up my annual reading challenge but decided to bump up my goal to 40 books this year. 

 

I read several classics and finally worked my way through a few books that had been sitting on the shelf FOREVER. I'm slowly purging books and only keeping ones that I love! I still love thrifting books but I find the books I'm most excited to read most often come from the library.

All of that said, my 2016 list! In order they were read..

1. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle
2. French Women Don't Get Fat
3. The Interestings
4. The Alchemist
5. The Secret Garden
6. Scary Close
7. The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down
8. When Breath Becomes Air
9. The Things We Keep
10. The Kitchen House
11. Still Alice
12. For the Love
13. The Color Purple
14. Me Before You
15. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up
16. The Nightingale
17. The Shootist
18. Two Across
19. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
20. Carry On, Warrior
21. The Language of Flowers
22. Olive Kitteridge
23. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet
24. My Berlin Kitchen
25. The Dinner
26. The Westing Game
27. Number the Stars
28. But You Did Not Come Back
29. The Nest
30. The Dirty Life
31. The Boston Girl
32. A Man Called Ove
33. Calling Me Home
34. The Bell Jar
35. A Little Life
36. The Other Wes Moore
37. The Girls
38. The Astronaut Wives Club
39. Homegoing
40. Daring Greatly
41. Present Over Perfect
42. The Underground Railroad
43. Into Thin Air
44. News of the World

Favorites: Homegoing, The Nightingale, Calling Me Home. GIMME ALL THE HISTORICAL FICTION. 

Honorable Mention: A Little Life (still reeling from this book), The Underground Railroad, The Kitchen House

2016 was a solid year for reading and I'm already eager to get rolling on my 2017 booklist. Did you read any really great books this year? Will you set a reading goal for next year? Find me on goodreads and let's be friends!

Happy reading!

The Underground Railroad

Colson Whitehead's The Underground Railroad won this year's National Book Award and for very good reason. 

"Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. Life is hellish for all the slaves but especially bad for Cora; an outcast even among her fellow Africans, she is coming into womanhood - where even greater pain awaits. When Caesar, a recent arrival from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they decide to take a terrifying risk and escape. Matters do not go as planned and, though they manage to find a station and head north, they are being hunted.

In Whitehead's ingenious conception, the Underground Railroad is no mere metaphor - engineers and conductors operate a secret network of tracks and tunnels beneath the Southern soil. Cora and Caesar's first stop is South Carolina, in a city that initially seems like a haven - but the city's placid surface masks an insidious scheme designed for its black denizens. Even worse: Ridgeway, the relentless slave catcher, is close on their heels. Forced to flee again, Cora embarks on a harrowing flight, state by state, seeking true freedom.

As Whitehead brilliantly re-creates the unique terrors for black people in the pre-Civil War era, his narrative seamlessly weaves the saga of America from the brutal importation of Africans to the unfulfilled promises of the present day. The Underground Railroad is at once a kinetic adventure tale of one woman's ferocious will to escape the horrors of bondage and a shattering, powerful meditation on the history we all share."

It was a read I'd been looking forward to for quite some time and I was extremely excited to reach the top of the queue at the library. This book was incredibly well written and heavy in a way that takes your breath away. He does an incredible job of intertwining history with a story that sucks you in. It's grotesquely accurate in it's portrayal of our history as a country and it scares me to see how much we've regressed. Whitehead had the idea for this book 16 years ago but waited until he felt like he could do it justice. It's more relevant now than ever before. 

“The whites came to this land for a fresh start and to escape the tyranny of their masters, just as the freemen had fled theirs. But the ideals they held up for themselves, they denied others.” 

Books, especially this one,  are helping me to find the right questions to ask and to dig a little deeper into my discomfort. To realize the responsibility I have in this day and age, and to feel the weight of it all. To be challenged and pushed forward. 

I'll finish with these words by @athousandbooks:

"It's interesting to see what's happening in literature in 2016 juxtaposed with the current political climate. Books addressing the scourge of slavery like Homegoing and The Underground Railroad are bestsellers, plays like Hamilton are sold out, and yet deep down I think many of us have a sense that despite changes to laws, the collective mindset concerning race remains stagnant. Why is that? I don't think it's wrong to read these books on the beach or set them next to steaming cups of coffee and lunch or melt ice cream on their covers, but as we illuminate, let's also remember the dark tragedy of it all. When literature emits pain like heat, may we as readers feel its prick and do our best to remember the oven is still on."

A Little Life

7 months later...excuse me, is this thing on? I'll blame it on comps/praxis/finishing grad school/thinking we were moving/deciding to stay here/finding a job. In all that...STILL READING.

It took a while for my name to reach the top of the request list for this one which is really no surprise. I had been seeing this book all over and it's one people will be buzzing about for a while.

“He had looked at Jude, then, and had felt that same sensation he sometimes did when he thought, really thought of Jude and what his life had been: a sadness, he might have called it, but it wasn't a pitying sadness; it was a larger sadness, one that seemed to encompass all the poor striving people, the billions he didn't know, all living their lives, a sadness that mingled with a wonder and awe at how hard humans everywhere tried to live, even when their days were so very difficult, even when their circumstances were so wretched. Life is so sad, he would think in those moments. It's so sad, and yet we all do it.” 

Let me start off by saying I'm not sure if I've ever been so deeply heartbroken after finishing a book. I loved/experienced/suffered through 700 pages of absolute tragedy. I like sad books. In fact, I gravitate toward them. Fluffy, happy books never seem real, so I'm okay with the grief factor in a book. A Little Life was a roller coaster that took it to a whole new level. I hated the explicit depth of suffering Jude endured and I just wanted to yell, "COUNSELING! COUNSELING!" the entire time. That being said, I loved the stories and lives of JB, Malcolm, Willem, and Jude. A Little Life is both beautiful and absolutely heartbreaking. I wept the last 100 pages and went through AT LEAST half a box of kleenex. I loved this book and felt thoroughly depressed both while reading and upon finishing. It's a strange combination but if you've read it, I think you'll understand. 

I wouldn't recommend this book to everybody and if you are a sensitive reader, this book is absolutely not for you. However, it's one that will stick with me in the days to come. It's a devastatingly brilliant book but not for the faint of heart. Have you read it? Let's discuss. 

2016 reads (so far)

January is dwindling away (what!) and I'm still hopeful for snow in February. Really, I think we could all use a few snow days. I'm settling into a new normal and eagerly awaiting for my nights to be free from studying. Here's to hoping I pass the praxis and comprehensive exams the first time around (!!!) and can say that I'm finally done with grad school work. I feel both giddy and terrified. PRAY FOR ME.

Here are my January reads (thus far). I haven't read this many books in a month in a very, very long time. I'll go ahead and thank my extended Christmas break for that. I'm also still hopeful that I'll finish another before the month is over. One of my goals this year is to read more books we already have and donate the ones I impulsively bought for a quarter but will never actually read. I can't help it!!! I'm a sucker for cheap books. All the while, I'm still planning on hitting a book sale Saturday morning. Give and take, give and take. Want to be book friends? Follow me on goodreads !

books of 2015

2015: the year of being 23, second year of marriage and grad school, traveling, moving, adjusting to being a semi-adult in my college town, learning how to be more comfortable in my own skin. This year was a whirlwind. It was all of the feels and I am ready to welcome a new year. There is the possibility of so much change in the next few months and it makes me equally giddy and terrified to think of it. BRING IT.
 

This is my third year to keep this up and I can't wait until I'm 60 years old and doing the same thing. I have a January birthday so it just made sense when I came up with it a few years ago. The idea is that however many years old I am, that's how many books I read. I typically go over although the amount of books I read is nowhere near the surplus so many friends read in a year. Regardless, it keeps me on track and away from netflix/interwebs so much and keeps me sane in the torment of grad school (DRAMATIC, SUE ME). I read some amazing books and nerded out at really incredible (new to me) bookstores this year: Bookman, Bookwoman (Nashville, TN), McKay Books (Nashville, TN), Coffee and a Good Book (Van Buren, AR), and The Tattered Cover (Denver, CO). I am a book nerd through and through and PROUD OF IT. So if you want to talk about books or be in a book club or really just drink coffee...I'm in. There's me in a nutshell!

Without further ado, my 2015 booklist (in the order they were read). So many good books and many tears were shed this year. I LOVE IT. 

1. The Book Thief
2. The Shell Collector
3. I'll Give You the Sun
4. East of Eden
5. Everything I Never Told You
6. Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith
7. The Silver Linings Playbook
8. Brain on Fire
9. The Girl on the Train
10. The Goldfinch
11. We Are All Made of Molecules
12. The Opposite of Loneliness
13. Riding the Bus with My Sister
14. Little Bee
15. The House on Mango Street
16. Maniac Magee
17. We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves
18. Station Eleven
19. Eleanor & Park
20. Kitchens of the Great Midwest
21. Where the Red Fern Grows
22. Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women's Prison
23. The Year of Magical Thinking
24. A Homemade LIfe *reread*
25. The Zookeeper's Wife
26. On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
27. All the Bright Places
28. The Martian
29. Crossing to Safety
30. Fates and Furies
31. Infinite Home

HONORABLE MENTIONS: The Book Thief, Traveling Mercies, Where the Red Fern Grows (Wow, I never read this growing up and HELLO SO MANY EMOTIONS. I absolutely SOBBED. No regrets), Orange is the New Black, A Homemade Life (forever, I love you Molly Wizenberg), The Silver Linings Playbook.


TOP 3: Brain on Fire, Station Eleven, Kitchens of the Great Midwest

I think I've recommended Kitchens to at least 10 people. I laughed, I teared up. It's funny and bizarre and all about people and good food and LIFE. I need to own that book. I saw Station Eleven all over instagram but didn't think it really sounded like my kind of book. So different, incredibly written, and I loved seeing the stories come together as one. Technically post-apocolyptic but not incredibly depressing. Brain on Fire - WOW my goodness, could not put down. Maybe I was partly interested because it related to a lot of classes I had just taken (neuro, adult language disorders) but I thought this book was phenomenal. Cahalan does a fabulous job of balancing the medical information with the personal. LOVE. 

Overall this was a great year for reading. I'm ready to dive into the next year - hoping for 40 books! Any recs?

 

 Cheers to slowing down and reading more books! 

december reading list

It's hard to believe it's already December and another year is almost gone. A few years ago I decided my goal for the year would be to read as many books as I was years old. I've kept it up and this year is my third year to do it, making my goal 23 books. My 2014 list can be found here

My break officially starts next week and I could not be more excited. After this week I am officially done with grad school classes and will only have a clinic placement in the spring. PARTY TIME, PEOPLE!!!! And by party, I mean read a lot and finish gilmore girls. Here's what I'm planning on reading! What's the best book you've read lately? Any others I should add to my list? I've read some really great books this year so I'm interested to see if any of these snag a spot in my top 3 for the year. 

My break officially starts next week and I could not be more excited. After this week I am officially done with grad school classes and will only have a clinic placement in the spring. PARTY TIME, PEOPLE!!!! And by party, I mean read a lot and finish gilmore girls. Here's what I'm planning on reading! What's the best book you've read lately? Any others I should add to my list? I've read some really great books this year so I'm interested to see if any of these snag a spot in my top 3 for the year. 



stories of the year

books1 There is something about the new year that still makes me a little bit giddy. Although it really is no different and the days will pass as they always have, the idea of newness and a fresh start always manages to find a home in the back of my mind. Maybe it’s simply the feel of crisp whiteness against the slate of grey days. I don’t typically make resolutions but last year I decided to set a goal for myself. 21 books. 2013 was the year that I spent as a twenty-one year old and I wanted to read as many books. As a kid, I grew up at the library. I hung out during the summer programs and volunteered there as a teenager. Now I try to visit the book sale whenever I’m back in town. But somewhere in the midst of college, my love of reading was buried beneath a stack of assignments and final papers. Last year I knew I wanted something to change.

books22

I wanted to practice the discipline of making time for something I loved so much, something that was nourishing for me as a human. To intentionally make my way to home base with a warm mug and a story to slip into. In 2013 I learned how to better make time for myself and in 2014 I learned how to appreciate it on a whole new level. This year, the goal was 22 books. I ended up surpassing that number a bit but I feel the same way I did at the end of last year; there are stories worth living and telling and there is great value in sharing them. No set parameters or specific books I had to read. I just wanted to READ. Here is my adventure in books this year:

A Long Way Gone The Color of Water Bridge to Terabithia Where Things Come Back Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? Dear Mr. Henshaw The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society Wild The Tale of Despereaux The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team Peace Like a River A Painted House Everything I Needed to Know About Being a Girl I Learned From Judy Blume Walk Two Moons Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close Bud, Not Buddy A Homemade Life It’s Like This, Cat Bread and Wine Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl Where’d You Go, Bernadette I Am Malala The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears The Bite of the Mango The Rosie Project Tell the Wolves I’m Home Charlotte’s Web Gone Girl Little House in the Big Woods The Magician’s Nephew Little House on the Prairie Farmer Boy All the Light We Cannot See

This year included a variety. Newbery medal winners, stories from countries far away, books that made me laugh, and a few that made me weep. There are stories that will stick with me for the rest of my life, stories that I cannot wait to pass on to my friends. It has been an incredible year of adventuring through these and I am already so excited to start reading in 2015. There were so many incredible books this year but these three stand out the most:

IMG_2416

Cheers to stories worth living and telling. If you've loved any of these, I always enjoy a good book discussion over coffee. Happy reading, friends!