Category Archives: Books

The Book Drop: Subscription Service Review

I discovered The Book Drop totally by accident. I was researching a ton of bookstore websites to put together a website redesign proposal for a client. Looking over the Bethany Beach Books website, a tab marked The Book Drop caught my eye. I clicked on it. “Bringing the independent bookstore to you,” it said. Thoroughly intrigued, I dove in deeper to discover it was a book subscription service. Getting new books in the mail AND supporting an independent bookstore?! SIGN ME UP!

I’m wildly indecisive, so the idea of a small bookstore owner actually selecting my book for me really appealed to me. I decided on the Books for Tea and Coffee subscription which rotates every other month between historical/contemporary/literary fiction selections and thriller/suspense selections. You can read more about all the subscription options HERE.

Every Package Includes:

  • 1 hand-wrapped trade paperback book
  • A note about why the book was selected
  • Indie Next List which highlights new books that independent bookstores & booksellers LOVE

and Most Packages Include:  

  • A letter from the author
  • and an autograph (!) – either in the book or on a bookplate

You can select to pay month-to-month, or subscribe in 3 month, 6 month or one year installments. The 6 month subscription is just $99!

To give you an idea of what kind of books are selected, here’s a quick rundown of the last few months —

The Braid by Laetitia Colombani
Books for Tea

In this unforgettable international bestseller, three women from very different circumstances around the world find their lives intertwined by a single object and discover what connects us—across cultures, across backgrounds, and across borders.

A Noel Killing by M.L. Longworth
Books for Coffee

Christmastime in the South of France is as beautiful as ever, but when a shady local businessman drops dead in the middle of the festivities, Verlaque and Bonnet must solve the case while keeping the holiday spirit alive.

Silent Hearts by Gwen Florio
Books for Tea

A stirring novel set in Afghanistan​ about two women—an American aid worker and her local interpreter—who form an unexpected friendship despite their utterly different life experiences and the ever-increasing violence that surrounds them in Kabul. ​

The Winters by Lisa Gabriele
Books for Coffee

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.

Wunderland by Jennifer Cody Epstein
Books for Tea

An unflinching exploration of Nazi Germany and its legacy, Wunderland is a at once a powerful portrait of an unspeakable crime history and a page-turning contemplation of womanhood, wartime, and just how far we might go in order to belong.

Are you sold on this amazing book subscription? SIGN UP HERE!

P.S. To keep up to date with what I’m reading, be sure you’re following me on Goodreads.

25 Cent Library Book Sale Haul

25 cent library book sale - huntsville, al

Yesterday we headed to the main branch of the Huntsville-Madison County Public Library for their annual 25 Cent Library Book Sale. Library book sales have always been one of my very favorite ways to stock up on books. And one where EVERY book is priced at a quarter? I mean, sign me RIGHT up! In preparation, I perused my shelves to do a quick unhaul and came up with 8 books I could find a new home for. I didn’t set out to get exactly 8 to replace those with (I had told myself I could get up to 20!), but that’s where I landed. Mainly because it was too crowded to keep combing the stacks while maintaining my preferred bubble of personal space. Anwyho, here’s what I picked up!

The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields –
One of my tips for finding safe bets when looking through older books is to go for Pullitzer Prize winners. Not only is this one a winner but the idea of a fictionalized autobiography sounded intriguing to me. 

Rise and Shine by Anna Quindlen –
For some reason I’ve been picking up a lot of books that deal with the time on and around 9/11 from varying perspectives. The synopsis of this one drew me in so I thought I’d give it a go. 

The New Girls by Beth Gutcheon –
5 girls at a prep-school in the sixties seemed like the set up for a story I might enjoy. We’ll see!

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout –
Another Pullitzer Prize winner. Also, the sequel to this book came out recently and I keep seeing people reading it. Gotta read this one before I can get to that! 

Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri –
Here’s the thing…I KNOW I read and loved The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri. So when I saw this at the sale, I nabbed it. Then I got home and started thinking I may have already read this one too. I’ll have to go back and review my reading records. Either way, also a Pullitzer Prize winner so it can’t hurt to have a copy, right? 

The Empty Glass by J.I. Baker –
The cover of this one caught my eye. Historical fiction about real people is a fave genre of mine so when I saw Marilyn Monroe’s face plus the words “A Novel,” I knew it was probably coming home with me. 

Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert –
This is basically the sequel to Eat, Pray, Love! Also, after reading City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert a few months ago, I did a deep dive into the author’s life and came up wanting more. 

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld –
I’ve heard so many great things about this modern retelling of Pride & Prejudice and I gotta admit, I kinda want to dive into this one right away. 

Tell me in the comments below, what’s the best book you ever scored for SUPER CHEAP? 

P.S. Let’s be friends on Goodreads! 

P.P.S. Want more book hauls? Here’s another one you might enjoy peeping.

The Britney Spears Reading List

The Britney Spears reading list

In the year of our lord 2015, I listened to this podcast and became immediately obsessed with the idea of Britney Spears as a reader. In the podcast we learn that Britney read this book. But what other books might she read?

Then, over the next few years, Britney’s Instagram presence became a thing of wonder and true beauty. Those in the know wondered, what in the world would she post next? A minion meme? A Google image searched photo of an ice cream sundae? A goofy skit with her kids? It was truly the gift that kept on giving.

But, amidst the unintentional comedy (truly –what IS this?), it also offered us a rare look into what was going on in this sequestered pop-star’s life…and also, her bookshelves.

So because I am who I am, here are 15 books I found featured on Britney Spears’s Instagram. (Yep, that’s right. I did the scrolling so you don’t have to…although, why wouldn’t you want to scroll through her Instagram? It’s literally amazing.) Ok, here they are …

1. Uglies by Scott Westerfield

2. Ugly Shy Girl by Laura Dockrill

3. The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks

4. Plastic Tulips in the Winter by Denice Vickers

5. The One and Only by Emily Giffin

6. Heart of Miracles by Karen Henson Jones

7. Sex and the City by Candace Bushnell

8. Daring Greatly by Brene Brown

9. Anxious for Nothing by Max Lucado

10. Thrill! by Jackie Collins

11. Wake the Wicked by Christian Baloga

12. Country by Danielle Steel

13. The Goddess Inheritance by Aimee Carter

14. The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz

15. Astrology for the Soul by Jan Spiller

Feel free to borrow from this list whenever you find yourself asking WWBSR? aka What would Britney Spears read?

I mean, just look at this happy creature channeling Belle from Beauty and the Beast! …and then also eating a pyramid of fried rice? Idk, you guys. But I’m here for it because I think it encompasses how much Brit loves and appreciates life’s simple pleasures. And what’s a better simple pleasure than getting lost in a good book? Happy reading!

*Pirouettes away while singing “Work Bitch” but replacing all the work’s with “read”*

P.S. The @britneyspears account literally contains multitudes — so yes, I’ve also created a workout inspired by it too.

10 Daily Mantras Inspired by The Alchemist

mantras inspired by the alchemist

I recently finished The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. Have you read it? I mentioned it in this post about a couple who keeps copies of it on hand to give to friends when they inevitably end up talking about it. I’m happy to have finally checked it off my list!

It is definitely one of those books that you want to read aloud a la Scheherazade/1001 nights because it’s so parable-y and mysterious. And it is also one of those books that is HIGHLY quotable! I found myself wanting to doodle the best parts in cursive all over my notebooks.

But then I thought, I can do one better! I can distill some of the key messages of the book down from quote —> daily mantra! (If you’ve been around these parts awhile, you know I LOVE a mantra.) Here are the 10 I settled on:

1. I face obstacles without fear.

“Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself. And that no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams, because every second of the search is a second’s encounter with God and with eternity.” 

2. The right decision will reveal itself to me and always stand firm.

“If what one finds is made of pure matter, it will never spoil. And one can always come back. If what you had found was only a moment of light, like the explosion of a star, you would find nothing on your return.” 

3. I choose to see the good in each day.

“When each day is the same as the next, it’s because people fail to recognize the good things that happen in their lives every day that the sun rises.” 

4. I am only defined by the present moment.

“Because I don’t live in either my past or my future. I’m interested only in the present. If you can concentrate always on the present, you’ll be a happy man.” 

5. I don’t shine if you don’t shine. 

“That’s what alchemists do. They show that, when we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better, too.” 

6. I have confidence in my decisions.

“When someone makes a decision, he is really diving into a strong current that will carry him to places he has never dreamed of when he first made the decision.” 

7. Great achievements begin with ignoring the impossible.

“I see the world in terms of what I would like to see happen, not what actually does.” 

8. Failure allows us the opportunity to try again.

“The secret of life, though, is to fall seven times and to get up eight times.”

9. Live your own life!

“If someone isn’t what others want them to be, the others become angry. Everyone seems to have a clear idea of how other people should lead their lives, but none about his or her own.”

10. You won’t know how to do the thing until you do the thing.

“There is only one way to learn. It’s through action.” 

Which one is your favorite? Would you commit to saying it for a week to see how you feel? As an Enneagram 9, I think I’ll start incorporating #6, but #7 is also a favorite! 

P.S. You can read a whole series I wrote on mantras HERE — including 9 badasses who shared their favorite mantras with us and a 30 day mantra challenge!

My Top 20 Books of 2019

Here’s a look at the best books I read in 2019 (in no particular order)…

The Importance of Being Ernest: The Life of Actor Jim Varney by Justin Lloyd

Confessions of a Secular Jesus Follower: Finding Answers in Jesus for Those Who Don’t Believe by Tom Krattenmaker

Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

A Man Called Ove by Fredrick Backman

Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty

Grandma Gatewood’s Walk: The Inspiring Story of the Woman Who Saved the Appalachian Trail by Ben Montgomery

My Sister, The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

Still Alice by Lisa Genova

Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and Mother’s Will to Survive by Stephanie Land

The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Sing Unburied Sing by Jesmyn Ward

Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate

City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert

Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes

A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi

Less by Andrew Sean Green

Have you read any of these books? What were YOUR favorite reads of the year? Tell me in the comments below! I’d love to add new titles to my 2020 list. 🙂

Do I Have That Book CHALLENGE

Even though I regularly cull my book collection, I thought it would be entertaining to give this challenge a go! It was a fun excuse to comb through my shelves and remember some old favorites (as well as remind myself of a few books I should bump up on my TBR). Sharing here so you can take a peek at a little cross-section of the books I own…

Do you have a book with deckled edges? 

Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver

 

 

Do you have a book with three or more people on the cover?

Goths, Gamers, & Grrrls: Deviance and Youth Subcultures by Ross Haenfler

 

 

Do you have a book based on another fictional story?

1932 by Karen M. Cox

 

 

Do you have a book with a title ten letters long?

Blue Horses by Mary Oliver

 

 

Do you have a book that starts and ends with the same letter?

Sweating Bullets: A Story about Overcoming the Fear of Public Speaking by Dale Dixon

 

Do you have a mass market paperback book?

Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy

 

 

Do you have a book written by an author using a pen name?

The Aviator’s Wife by Melanie Benjamin

 

 

Do you have a book with the character’s name in the title?

Paula Spencer by Roddy Doyle

 

 

Do you have a book with two maps in it?

Grandma Gatewood’s Walk: The Inspiring Story of the Woman Who Saved the Appalachian Trail by Ben Montgomery

 

Do you have a book that was turned into a TV show?

The Flame Trees of Thika by Elspeth Huxley

 

 

Do you have a book that is written by someone who is originally famous for something else? (ie celebrity, athlete, politician, etc.)

What Happened by Hillary Rodham Clinton

 

Do you have a book with a clock on the cover?

An Edited Life by Anna Newton

 

 

Do you have a poetry book?

Head Off & Split by Nikky Finney

 

 

Do you have a book with an award stamp on it?

The Turner House by Angela Flournoy

 

 

Do you have a book written by an author with the same initials as you?

The Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook by Emily Ansara Baines

 

 

Do you have a book of short stories?

Eveningland by Michael Knight

 

 

Do you have a book that is between 500 and 510 pages long?

Nope 😦 

Do you have a book that was turned into a movie?

Atonement by Ian McEwan

 

 

Do you have a graphic novel?

Relish by Lusy Knisley

 

 

Do you have a book written by two or more authors?

The Innovator’s Advantage by Evans Baiya and Ron Price

 

 

***

19 out of 20 ain’t bad! How do you think you would stack up? Go check your shelves! Have you read any of the books above? Let me know in the comments below!

If you enjoy my blog content, please consider supporting what I do (and keeping me caffeinated). Thank you! xoxo ☕

Book Club: Hunger by Roxane Gay Pt. 4

Welcome back, Finding Delight Book Club members! Today is my final post about Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body and I’m turning it over to you. While it is great to read other people’s thoughts about a book and learn a bit more about an author and dive deeper into a subject with extended reading/listening watching … what I love most about book clubs is that it allows a space for tapping into your own feelings about a book and what it brings up for YOU. Sometimes this can be difficult when reading books by yourself. You read for entertainment and enjoyment, maybe you underline a passage that speaks to you or remark YAS! to a sentence that really rings true. But in a book club? We can dig a little deeper. So, shall we?

1. Roxane Gay highlights the way society treats fat people in unfair ways. People are quick to voice opinions and make remarks with little regard for compassion. We are constantly bombarded with messaging that being fat cannot be synonymous with being happy.

Explore your own battle with body image. How has mainstream media had an effect on how you view yourself?

2. In Hunger, Gay bravely recounts her story of sexual assault which occurred at a very young age.

How does this trauma play into her relationship with food?

3. This memoir highlights a common paradox, seeking body acceptance AND a physical transformation.

In what ways can we show kindness to ourselves and others when these two truths coexist?

4. Hunger isn’t always about food…

What else does the author hunger for?

5. Gay writes, “People project assumed narratives onto your body and are not at all interested in the truth of your body, whatever that truth might be.”

How would you describe the truth of YOUR body?

6. There are a lot of references throughout the book to damaging portrayals of weight/weight loss/fat shaming — gossip magazines, Oprah, The Biggest Loser — and we can surely call to mind many more that exist in mainstream media.

What media portrayals have you encountered recently that speak to body positivity and acceptance? Are you following any toxic social media accounts that you can remove in order to create a more loving feed/timeline for yourself?

Have you read Hunger yet? Pop any answers or thoughts that come up out of the exercises above in the comments. I’d love to continue the conversation. If you haven’t read it yet, but your interest is sparked, you can order it HERE or check it out from your local library. These posts will be here for you at any time — 

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 |

If you enjoy my blog content, please consider supporting what I do (and keeping me caffeinated). Thank you! xoxo ☕

Book Club: Hunger by Roxane Gay Pt. 3

As a preteen, Roxane Gay experienced horrific sexual trauma perpetrated by a group of neighborhood boys. Hunger is a memoir about how her body was used and exploited and what has happened to her body since. Her writing is candid and open about the reasons she’s gained weight as a result of her trauma. She also shares what it’s like to navigate a world that cares little for folks they deem overweight. 

This book has so much to say about sexual assault, trauma, how society treats larger bodies, and believing women’s stories. Here is some expanded material on these themes…

Be Bigger, Fight Harder: Roxane Gay on a Lifetime of Hunger

Roxane Gay’s Hunger Complicates Narratives About Being Fat

Smile Sweetly, Don’t Shout

14 Women Open Up About Size Prejudice

Believing Women Means Believing Their Pain

The Sickening Consequence of Doubting and Dismissing Women and Girls

Finally, one of my favorite things about Roxane Gay is that she’s a prolific reader! So, if you want even MORE extended reading after Hunger, there’s no better person to turn to than the woman herself…

HERE she breaks down her 2018 in Reading and Writing. So there’s a TON of material to pore through to find your next great read. Enjoy!

Stay tuned for Part 4! 

Book Club: Hunger by Roxane Gay Pt. 2

Part 2 for each book is typically where we dive into other works by the author of our current read. So, let’s get to it!

Roxane Gay is currently a visiting professor at Yale University as well as a writer and editor. If you enjoyed Hunger, you should absolutely pick up some of her other work…

An Untamed State

A novel about a woman kidnapped for ransom, her captivity as her father refuses to pay and her husband fights for her release over thirteen days, and her struggle to come to terms with the ordeal in its aftermath.

 

Bad Feminist

A collection of essays  spanning politics, criticism, and feminism. Through this collection, Gay reveals herself as one of our most interesting and important cultural critics.

 

World of Wakanda

Roxane Gay and Yona Harvey were the first black women to be lead writers for Marvel in this spin-off from the company’s Black Panther title. In it, Gay spins a Wakandan love story.

 

Difficult Women

A collection of fictional short stories that follow different women as they journey through a traumatic experience or something that sets them apart from the societal norm.

 

More on SOCIAL MEDIA: Twitter
More to READ: The Year I Learned Everything, We Do Not Speak of Graceful Things, On the Death of Sandra Bland and Our Vulnerable Bodies, and MORE.
More to WATCH: On writing tips, The Nickel Boys, and Pretty Woman.

Pictured above – Roxane Gay presenting “Confessions of a Bad Feminist” which you can watch HERE

📚📚📚

Got any thoughts? Leave ’em below! 

Part 3, coming soon!

Book Club: Hunger by Roxane Gay Pt. 1

Hello, fellow bookworms! Today I’m unveiling Book #7 in the Finding Delight Book Club. If you’re new to this series, I’m reading books and sharing about them with you here. I plan to post 4 times for each book. The current pick is Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay.

“This body is resilient. It can endure all kinds of things. My body offers me the power of presence. My body is powerful.”

Synopsis

In this intimate and searing memoir, the New York Times bestselling author Roxane Gay addresses the experience of living in a body that she calls ‘wildly undisciplined’. She casts an insightful and critical eye on her childhood, teens and twenties – including the devastating act of violence that was a turning point in her young life – and brings readers into the present and the realities, pains and joys of her daily life.

With the bracing candour, vulnerability and authority that have made her one of the most admired voices of her generation, Roxane explores what it means to be overweight in a time when the bigger you are, the less you are seen.

“Living in my body has expanded my empathy for other people and the truths of their bodies. Certainly, it has shown me the importance of inclusivity and acceptance
(not merely tolerance) for diverse body types.”

Initial Thoughts

Hunger is a gut-wrenching, vulnerable memoir that, at times, was super difficult to read. Yet, Gay’s wit and intelligence, coupled with short chapters, make it quite the page turner, nonetheless. You could easily devour this book in a day or take your time, letting the stories wash over you more slowly.

Gay recognizes all the ways in which our culture associates larger bodies with feelings of shame. She also shares all the ways in which her own body, and her relationship with food, have shaped her life and how she exists in this world. She shares stories of her life that speak to these themes, from her early childhood all the way to now as a bestselling author and sought-after speaker. While many of these experiences are painful and highlight all the ways our society could DO BETTER, they are never shared as an admonishment. Just stories, truth, as if Gay knows her audience are trusted friends.

I think anyone would benefit from reading this memoir. The writing is compelling. It’s a tough read, but the takeaways are so, so important. I saw one review online say Gay succeeds at “tough reporting from the inside out” and I couldn’t agree more.

“In our culture, we talk a lot about change and growing up, but man, we don’t talk nearly enough about how difficult it is. It is difficult.”

Read this if you’re interested in: body politics, women’s stories, feminism, society & culture

Read this if you loved: Priestdaddy by Patricia Lockwood, The Rules Do Not Apply by Ariel Levy, Sex Object by Jessica Valenti

Other books by Roxane Gay: Difficult Women, An Untamed State, Bad Feminist, Ayiti

Keep a lookout for Part 2! I’ll be posting it soon.