All posts by Beth Berger

About Beth Berger

Hi there! Finding Delight is a lifestyle and lifelong learning blog written and curated by me in Alabama. Along the way, I attempt to tackle the rough real world with books, budget-livin', brainpower and all the beautiful stuff you can find when you really look. Won't you join me? The true delight is in the finding out.

Reading Year In Review

My Top 10 Books of 2020

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

Eveningland by Michael Knight

Wolf by Wolf and Blood for Blood by Ryan Graudin

Castle of Water by Dane Huckelbridge

The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi

The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell

The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel

Brazil by John Updike

Real Life by Brandon Taylor

2020 Reading Stats

I read 68 books in 2020 for a total of 24,298 pages.

The shortest book I read was I’m Afraid of Men by Vivek Shraya (96 pages) and the longest book was 11/22/63 by Stephen King (849 pages).

My average book length in 2020 was 357 pages.

The most popular book I read was The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho and the book I read with the highest average rating on Goodreads was In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado.

The first book I read in 2020 was The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen.

My last read of 2020 was Absolutely Truly by Heather Vogel Frederick.

I read from many genres but tended to favor literary/contemporary fiction the most. And fiction books in general made up 80% of my reading. (A bit high for me!)

67% of the authors I read from identify as women, 30% men, and 3% non-binary.

How To Celebrate A Birthday When Stuck At Home

It can be increasingly challenging to find fun things to do when you are stuck at home. However, as we continue to battle the Covid-19 pandemic, it is important that we all do our part to take care of others – and that means staying at home when possible. However, that does not mean you can’t have fun – especially if you have to celebrate a birthday at home!

With that in mind, here are some great stay-at-home party ideas!

Start the day off by sleeping in

Getting out of bed in the morning is always difficult. So, a great way to start birthday celebrations at this time is to enjoy a few extra minutes in bed. Turn off your alarm clock and ensure you get all the rest you need! 

Treat yourself

Ordinarily, you may try to be careful about what you eat – especially after the holidays, which are full of delicious indulgences. However, your birthday (or the birthday of someone you live with) is a great excuse to indulge in some tasty treats. Don’t limit the good food until the evening – celebrate all day with a range of delicious meals. Cook your favorite breakfast, order take out for lunch, make the most of your extra time and bake a cake (or two) to enjoy! 

You could even take baking to the next level by hosting a contest with your partner, kids, or housemates! 

Schedule some calls

By now, you’ve probably attended your fair share of zoom parties. Although you might be getting a bit sick of them, this is a great way to connect with your friends and family if you cannot meet in person. If you can’t face yet another zoom quiz, there are plenty of fun alternatives that the whole family can get involved in. For example, you can turn popular games such as Pictionary or Bingo into virtual versions. Alternatively, there are a range of online games you can take part in – no matter where you are in the world. 

Play some games

After your Zoom calls, you might want to play some in-person games with those that live in your home. Whether that means you dust off your favorite board game or download a new game – the choice is yours.

However, you could also go for something a little different and set up a themed cornhole game. Cornhole worldwide (https://www.cornholeworldwide.com/themed-cornhole-games/) have a variety of cornhole games for sale – and they are sure to bring a smile to your face. Remember, to take plenty of photos for your grid!

Dress fancy (or not)

This is your birthday – so how you celebrate it is truly up to you. If you like to dress fancy on your birthday and head out for a meal – why not don your favorite outfit as you head into the dining room? Just because you are indoors does not mean you can’t look fabulous. However, if you don’t fancy getting dressed and would rather have a pajama party – what’s stopping you?

Have you celebrated a birthday in lockdown? What activities were a slamdunk for you?

P.S. A birthday book haul, and a great conversation starter. Plus, cute gifts for foodies!

Why You Should Invest Money Even If You Are On A Tight Budget

When you are on a tight budget, you have to think carefully about how every penny is spent. Once you have paid all of the bills and covered your essential expenses, you might not have a huge amount left. Ideally, you should be putting some money into savings, but have you thought about investing some as well?

*This post may contain affiliate links.

Most people on a tight budget assume that they can’t afford to invest but that isn’t always the case. In fact, you can get started with a relatively small amount of money if you go for options like Forex Trading, for example. If you have a spare $100, you have enough to get started and as you earn more, you can increase your investments. 

Investing can be one of the best things to do to improve your financial situation. Here’s why you need to find room in your budget for investing. 

It Generates More Income 

They say that you have to spend money to make money, and investing is a prime example of that. If you are able to make some sensible investment choices, you will eventually start generating income from those investments. That means that you have more money to play with each month, making it so much easier to stay on top of your finances. That extra money can go towards paying off debt or it can be put straight into your emergency fund, so you can avoid any difficult situations in the future. You should never underestimate how useful the extra income from your investments can be. 

You Get Long Term Returns 

Generating more income in the short term is beneficial, but you also need to consider the long term returns. Putting money into a savings account every month is a good way to prepare for the future, but investing is even better. All of that money you put into your investments will grow over time, so when you are older and you need to start thinking about retirement, you have money to fall back on. The earlier you get started, the more you will see your money grow. It’s better to start now with a small amount of money instead of waiting until you have lots of spare income. 

You Can Beat Inflation 

When you put money into a high interest savings account, you will see some growth. However, if the rate of inflation is higher than the interest that you get on your savings, your money actually loses value in real terms. Many people end up losing out because they put all their extra income in a savings account and let it sit there. Searching for the best interest rates and moving money around can sometimes be a good way to combat this, but investing your money can be an easier option. Your investments should grow faster than the rate of inflation, so your money never loses its value. 

So many people make the mistake of waiting until they have more money before they start investing. But even if you are on a tight budget, you can start with a small amount and still see the benefits!

The Best Apps To Help You Make DIY Festive Decorations

*This post may contain affiliate links.

There’s no better way to start feeling festive than to decorate your home in beautiful colors, ornaments, and of course, your Christmas tree. Before you spend a lot of money on brand new decorations, why not consider getting a little crafty? To help you get inspired, you’ll want to take a look at these great DIY apps. With ideas like these, you’ll soon create some gorgeous crafts.

1 . DIY Christmas Decorations

With the DIY Christmas Decorations app, you’ll get your home looking holiday-ready in no time. The application has lots of different ideas, including detailed step-by-step guides. There are so many craft projects to choose from, whether you’re looking to make miniature Santas, ornamental trees, or festive candles. Crafts vary from easy to advanced, and there are plenty of kid-friendly options so that you can make things as a family. DIY festive decorations can make great holiday gifts, (plus they give you something fun and creative to do during the lockdown)!

2. Craftgawker

Craftgawker is a great app that provides plenty of craft project ideas. You’ll find ample creative guides, along with lots of eco-friendly ideas. Craftgawker offers projects for various levels. Whether you’re a novice or an advanced crafter, you’ll find something to suit your needs. There are 41,000+ DIY projects and creative concepts, including lots of festive-themed projects. Craftgawker offers carefully curated content, so you’ll find high-quality work from the world’s best craft bloggers. Seen a craft project you like the look of? All you have to do is tap the picture, and you’ll find a handy craft tutorial.

3. Pinterest

Everyone’s old favorite, Pinterest is absolutely bursting with creative inspiration, including plenty of Christmas craft projects. All you need to do is perform a quick search for ‘homemade festive decorations’ and you’ll find plenty to get you started. Once you’ve finished your projects, you can upload them and get feedback from the craft community. Don’t forget to take advantage of the ‘Creator Chat’ board, where you can ask all your questions about creative projects. Whether it’s the Best wood for carving or finding earth-friendly materials, don’t be afraid to ask the creators for a few tips!

 4. Crafts Ideas 

Crafts Ideas is a free application that offers an extensive collection of the best DIY and craft ideas. Discover and save all your favorite crafts ideas, learn plenty of new things, and save money on your decorations. Lots of the materials used include old things that you’d usually throw out or recycle, whether that’s old papers, bottles, cardboard, or clothing. Want to turn the items you have laying around into something beautiful and functional? Then Crafts Ideas is the app for you. All instructions are detailed, and there are plenty of ideas for the whole family. These art crafts ideas include plenty of different themes, whether gardening, food, fashion, or home decor.

Once you’ve got into the swing of making your own decorations, you’ll improve your skills, and be inspired to attempt more advanced projects.

Happy Crafting!

Forget Netflix & Chill, It’s Time For Netflix & Inspire

The pandemic has introduced new ways of approaching your spare time and thinking about your health. As a result, you’ve probably been looking at ways of making self-isolation productive! If we’re brutally honest, Netflix and Chill has become a new way of life in many households. What’s not to like about it? You can sit back on the sofa all in the name of staying safe and healthy. 

But have you ever considered that Netflix could be a surprisingly effective source of inspiration? Don’t assume that your time spent watching TV has to be synonymous with laziness. In fact, you’d be pleased to discover that a lot of watchers are turning to the small screen for life inspiration, guidance, and a creative boost. Here are some shows to consider —

Lose yourself into the tidy world of Marie Kondo

Being at home for such an extended period, surrounded by all your stuff, can feel mentally exhausting. Clutter weighs on your mind, and it affects your mood dramatically. Did you know that sitting in a cluttered room can make you feel angry and sad? While if you were to sit in the same room in a decluttered environment, you are less likely to experience negative feelings. Nobody better than Marie Kondo can explain the joys of decluttering. If you are unsure how to start decluttering your home, watching Tidying Up with Marie Kondo can provide plenty of positivity. Kondo’s approach sparks joy in the household, which is all the motivation you need to get started. 

Discover the relatable Venus of Daegu 

Oh My Venus is a romantic tv show from South Korea that follows the journey of a young woman from Daegu, aka our Venus of Daegu, through her weight loss challenge. The show reflects on health rather than weight loss when it comes to beauty. More importantly, it also highlights the need for self-healing, both mentally and physically through exercise and mindfulness. If you’ve fallen off the track in your fitness journey, this show could be your wake-up call as you meet Venus’s coach, the inspirational character who makes health a priority in her life. Perhaps if you already have a healthy approach to fitness, the show can help you understand how some people can develop unhealthy and harmful habits. And for any fitness enthusiasts, it could even be the show that makes you want to become a health coach yourself. After all, as Oh My Venus reveals, watching your clients get strong and fit is the best reward.  

Bake your own creation

It came as a shock to fans when Netflix didn’t renew The Curious Creations of Christine McConnell. Yet, that doesn’t mean you can’t dive into McConnell’s world of quirky creatures and mind-blowing creative baking. McConnell is a talented Instagram influencer who uses her creative skills in thematic baking and styling. There’s something oddly inspiring about her Halloween treats, from a realistic chocolate and peanut butter bone to the mesmerizing house-shaped cake. But, what’s more exciting about this marvelous little show is that it awakens your inner child. Sure, it’s too late for Halloween bakes, but you could certainly apply McConnell’s tips to make a Christmas village cake, too! 

In short, it’s hard to understand why the phrase Netflix and Chill has become so popular when, in reality, it should be Netflix and Inspire. There’s so much to discover that you’ll be buzzing with new ideas after a few hours! 

If You Like That Book, You Might Like This Book || BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS pt. 4

Hi friends! Today, I’d like to offer you a few more book recommendations in the form of “if you liked this book, then you might like this other book.” I love when folks on Booktube, Bookstagram, and Goodreads include comparisons to other books in their reviews! It’s one of my favorite ways to find new reads! So, I started a bookish series here on the blog to do just that for YOU. (Here’s part 1! Here’s part 2! Here’s part 3!)

In each post, I recommend books that are similar to very popular books that are more well-known. Let’s get into it, shall we?!

If you liked The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware,
you might like The Winters by Lisa Gabriele.

If you loved Ruth Ware’s ability to concoct a setting so compelling it started to feel like it’s own character, you should check out The Winters which transports readers to the Asherley estate. The Winters is a creepy and spooky modern retelling of Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca set amongst the wealthy elite in the Hamptons. Much like The Death of Mrs. Westaway, Lisa Gabriele writes an enjoyable psychological thriller that plays out inside a grand house and includes all the twists and turns that go along with strange family dynamics, inheritances, and – of course – murder.

Synopsis: 

After a whirlwind romance, a young woman returns to the opulent, secluded Long Island mansion of her new fiancé Max Winter—a wealthy politician and recent widower—and a life of luxury she’s never known. But all is not as it appears at the Asherley estate. The house is steeped in the memory of Max’s beautiful first wife Rebekah, who haunts the young woman’s imagination and feeds her uncertainties, while his very alive teenage daughter Dani makes her life a living hell. She soon realizes there is no clear place for her in this twisted little family: Max and Dani circle each other like cats, a dynamic that both repels and fascinates her, and he harbors political ambitions with which he will allow no woman—alive or dead—to interfere.

If you liked The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, you might like Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin

If you tore your way through Suzanne Collins’s dystopian young adult novel about a group of teens representing their districts by fighting to the death on live TV, you should pick up Ryan Graudin’s historical reimagining in which the Axis powers of the Third Reich and Imperial Japan commemorate their Great Victory by hosting a motorcycle race across their conjoined continents. Wolf by Wolf includes everything you loved about The Hunger Games and throws in a dash of The Man in the High Castle for good measure — asking, “What if the Nazis won the war?”

Synopsis:

Yael, a former death camp prisoner, has witnessed too much suffering, and the five wolves tattooed on her arm are a constant reminder of the loved ones she lost. The resistance has given Yael one goal: Win the Axis Tour and kill Hitler. A survivor of painful human experimentation, Yael has the power to skinshift and must complete her mission by impersonating last year’s only female racer, Adele Wolfe. This deception becomes more difficult when Felix, Adele twin’s brother, and Luka, her former love interest, enter the race and watch Yael’s every move.

If you liked All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr,
you might like Castle of Water by Dane Huckelbridge

Ok, if you’ve read both of these books you may think this is a bit of a stretch, but hear me out. Anthony Doerr and Dane Huckelbridge are both incredible writers. The prose in both these books is so beautiful and breath-taking, without ever feeling heavy handed. While the plots are quite different, they are similar in that they constantly come up against odds — whether at the hands of war or a plane crash — and yet humanity flourishes. Not to mention there’s a lot of French language interwoven throughout Castle of Water, and that, combined with the writing style and haunting passages about a short-wave radio, made for a reading experience that gave me some serious All the Light We Cannot See vibes. If you liked one, I’m confident that you’d like the other!

Synopsis: 

For Sophie Ducel, her honeymoon in French Polynesia was intended as a celebration of life. For Barry Bleecker, the same trip was meant to mark a new beginning. Turning away from his dreary existence in Manhattan finance, Barry had set his sights on fine art, seeking creative inspiration on the other side of the world. But when their small plane is downed in the middle of the South Pacific, the sole survivors of the wreck are left with one common goal: to survive. Stranded hundreds of miles from civilization, on an island the size of a large city block, the two castaways must reconcile their differences and learn to draw on one another’s strengths if they are to have any hope of making it home.

If you liked The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth by Alexandra Robbins, you might like Another Day in the Death of America by Gary Younge

Both of these books are expertly researched, sociological looks at the lives of real teenagers in America. Robbins’s book covers popularity and psychology, while Younge explores gun violence. Quite different subject matter but the execution is similar in it’s careful reporting, meticulous interviews, and thought-provoking conclusions. If you are an educator of or advocate for teens, both of these books are must-reads.

Synopsis: 

On an average day in America, seven children and teens will be shot dead. In Another Day in the Death of America, award-winning journalist Gary Younge tells the stories of the lives lost during one such day. It could have been any day, but he chose November 23, 2013. Black, white, and Latino, aged nine to nineteen, they fell at sleepovers, on street corners, in stairwells, and on their own doorsteps. From the rural Midwest to the barrios of Texas, the narrative crisscrosses the country over a period of twenty-four hours to reveal the full human stories behind the gun-violence statistics and the brief mentions in local papers of lives lost.

I hope you enjoyed these new recommendations and I’m excited to bring you more posts in this series in the future! Do you have any book recommendations for me based on the eight books above? POP ‘EM BELOW!! xoxo

P.S. 3 spooky book recommendations, if that’s your jam!

Gift Ideas for People Who Are Difficult to Buy For

We all have people in our life that are difficult, if not impossible to buy for. If this sounds familiar, then you could already be dreading the Christmas shopping season. Whether you’re looking to find a gift for a family member or people in your friend circle, let’s explore some of the best options for people who are an absolute nightmare to purchase a present for.

A Gift Card

If you’re truly stuck for ideas and you have no idea what to purchase your friend or family member, then you could simply opt for a gift card. The big benefit of this choice is that you just need to find out what shop they tend to buy from. With so many small businesses struggling, now is the perfect time to support local cafes, book stores, and mom and pop shops. So it’s really a win-win as a purchase for that tough-to-shop-for mate. You’ll find that there are often festive spins on these gift cards that will be perfect for the season. 

Palettes

When shopping for someone who is difficult to buy for it is best to stay away from both jewelry and clothing. It’s possible that they only like specific jewelry whereas with clothing you have the added hurdle of finding the right size. Palettes can be a fun alternative and if you shop Dose of Colors you’ll find some fantastic choices. The benefit of palettes is that recipients likely will find at least a couple colors they are certain to love. 

Gift Baskets

Another possibility would be to purchase a gift basket for a difficult to buy for friend or loved one. A big benefit of a gift basket is that they’ll have a variety of consumable items to enjoy. This is also a great choice for the minimalists in your life who don’t want to clutter their home for years. You just need to make sure to know if the person you’re gifting to is gluten, dairy or alcohol-free

An Event

Or finally, if you want to be a little cheeky, you can consider purchasing a ticket to an event as a gift for someone. Events might not be running in the near-term, but there is still plenty to choose from down the line. Or look into virtual events!

Hopefully this gives you a little inspiration as we enter the holiday shopping season! What do you usually buy for the folks who are hardest to shop for? Leave your ideas below!

3 Spooky Books to Read this Halloween

With Halloween falling on a Saturday this year, it’s a great excuse to curl up with a truly terrifying tale! Grab a PSL, your favorite throw blanket, and a handful of fun size candies and make a whole dang day of it. To set the mood even further, I recommend popping on an Autumn Ambience video.

If you feel like binge reading a scary book this Halloween, here are three I would recommend…

The Girls by Emma Cline

The year is 1969, a cultural revolution is taking place, and sex, drugs and rock n roll are at the forefront. Enter a charismatic man (based on the likes of Charles Manson) who lures in young followers desperate to be a part of something larger than themselves and leads them into a life of deception, abuse and murder.

Evie, now in her 50’s, is looking back at her time in this cult as a teenager and the horrific crimes they committed that forever left an imprint on American history.

This is a perfect pick if you’re not especially fond of thrillers or horrors but still want a spooky read that will totally consume you on Halloween. You’ll fly through this one! And it’s that much scarier knowing the story, although fiction, is inspired by true events.

The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen

Now, if you ARE up for a thriller, this is an excellent one.

Our main character is a woman whose wealthy and hunky husband, Richard, has left her for a younger woman. After their divorce she went from living a life of luxury to sharing an apartment with her aunt and working a retail gig.

She learns of her ex-husband’s plans to remarry and the book takes off from here. However, the back cover copy warns readers to “assume nothing” and this is especially apt. There are so many twists and turns to this one and the less you know going in the better!

The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix

Author Grady Hendrix says in the intro that he wanted write a book that pit Dracula against his mom. Who can resist a premise like that?

If you prefer your scary books to be more on the side of horror and gore…with a pinch of humor thrown in for good measure… I highly recommend picking this one up this Halloween.

A group of southern women, fed up with the stuffy/WASPy book club they’re a part of, branch off and form their own group dedicated to reading true crime novels. Next thing you know a new neighbor is clamoring to join their club and he just so happens to be a vampire. This is a “blood-soaked tale of neighborly kindness gone wrong.”

Which of these would YOU choose? Will you be reading anything spooky this Halloween? Let me know in the comments below.

Enjoy the rest of your week, ghouls and goblins!!! 👻

Birthday Book Haul!

I’ve picked up a few new books that I’d love to share with you today! My birthday was last week and not only was I gifted with some lovely books, I also went on a little shopping spree myself. One of my favorite things in the world to do is shop for used books — at thrift stores, second hand book shops, garage sales, you name it. I love finding book bargains! However, the pandemic hasn’t really allowed for that particular hobby to take place. So, for my birthday I decided to treat myself to a haul from ThriftBooks.com. Here’s what I picked up…

The Night She Died by Dorothy Simpson –
This is a British mystery featuring Detective Inspector Luke Thanet. I thought this would be a fun one to read around Thanksgiving or Christmas time because nothing says cozy to me like a procedural murder mystery!

Brazil by John Updike –
For some reason I’ve never gotten around to picking up this modern classic even though it’s been on my list forever. I think I’m going to pick this one up as soon as I finish my current read. I just can’t resist the 90s charm of this edition’s cover.

Matilda by Roald Dahl –
Just a childhood classic that I couldn’t resist for the price. I love all the illustrations by Quentin Blake and I’m happy to have this in my “formative books from my youth” collection.

The Martian by Andy Weir –
Another book that’s been on my list forever. I’ve of course seen the movie but I hear the book is even better. 😉 (Hard to imagine!) I’ve been craving more sci-fi set in space since reading The Sparrow and giving it a solid 5/5 stars.

Call Me By Your Name by Andre Aciman –
I’ve also seen this movie… I’m not one of those people that feels like they have to read a book first. If anything, seeing film adaptations makes me MORE likely to pick up a book after the fact — usually encouraging me to read something I wouldn’t normally be drawn to. I feel like that’s the case with this one. The movie was so beautiful that I want to be re-transported to that world!

Kate: The Future Queen by Katie Nicholl –
I recently got it in my head that I want to have a little trio of books on my shelf — Diana, Kate, and Meghan — so that’s what this is for. When you’re thrifting your books on the super cheap, I feel like you can indulge in dumb whims. This is one of mine! LOL

Now let’s look at the books I was sweetly gifted…

The Honest Enneagram by Sarajane Case –
My mom sent this one over to me and it was something I had put on my birthday wish list. If you read my recent blog series on mental health practices based on enneagram types, you know I’m currently pretty obsessed. This is a fantastic resource!

This is Going to Hurt by Adam Kay –
Another gift from my mom! This one is a memoir by a junior doctor on the NHS front line. My mom knows I’m drawn to any media about medicine and I can’t wait to dive into this one. I hear it is equal parts hilarious and heart wrenching.

Real Life by Brandon Taylor –
Finally, Real Life was a gift from my brother and sister-in-law. This one looks AMAZING and comes very highly recommended by many of my most trusted reviewers.

Have you read any of these books? Thoughts? Have you acquired any new books lately?

P.S. Let’s be friends on Goodreads!