Category Archives: Books

Travel the World by Book

For many folks around the world, the last few months have come with a LOT of cancelled travel plans. Planned trips and vacations were put on hold. Spontaneous sojourns out of state aren’t happening any time soon. And searching flight deals on sites like Kayak just doesn’t give the thrill it used to.

It seems this summer is all about quenching your wanderlust in other ways. Ways that don’t require a passport or a suitcase.

Interested in traveling the world by book? Here are a few reading challenges/lists to help you do so —

50 States Reading List: Best Books Set in Every State

 

World Reading Challenge: Books Around the Globe 2020 
(and here’s 2019 & 2018)

 

12 Great Books to Feed Your Wanderlust

 

And here are a few books I’ve read and recommend for their power to transport you — 

International Travel:

AFGHANISTAN: Silent Hearts by Gwen Florio

ENGLAND: Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams

GERMANY: My Berlin Kitchen by Luisa Weiss

NIGERIA: The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi

RUSSIA: Lights All Night Long by Lydia Fitzpatrick

SINGAPORE: Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

Domestic Travel: 

ALABAMA: Eveningland by Michael Knight

ARIZONA: The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver

MAINE: Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes

MASSACHUSETTS: Until We Meet Again by Renee Collins

NEW YORK: City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert

WASHINGTON: Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford

 

Happy travels!

It’s totally possible to travel the world by book! Do you have any totally-transport-you book recommendations? Share them below!! xoxo

P.S. Need another way to choose a big stack of books? Check out this readathon.

If You Like That Book, You Might Like This Book || BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS pt. 2

Hi guys! Today, I’d like to offer you a few 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 thought it might be fun and potentially helpful to readers to start a new bookish series here on the blog. (Here’s part 1!)

Basically, I’m going to be recommending books that are similar to very popular books that are more well-known. Let’s get into it, shall we?!

If you liked A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman,
you might like Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

If Ove was the type of grumpy yet loveable character you can’t get enough of, you definitely should meet Eleanor. Eleanor is an out-of-the-ordinary heroine whose unconscious wit will remind readers of other favorite literary curmudgeons — even though she’s a fair bit younger than most. This book is smart and funny with the same feel-good, found-family vibes you loved in A Man Called Ove.

Synopsis:

Meet Eleanor Oliphant: she struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she’s thinking. Nothing is missing in her carefully timetabled life of avoiding unnecessary human contact, where weekends are punctuated by frozen pizza, vodka, and phone chats with Mummy. But everything changes when Eleanor meets Raymond, the bumbling and deeply unhygienic IT guy from her office. When she and Raymond together save Sammy, an elderly gentleman who has fallen, the three rescue one another from the lives of isolation that they had been living.

If you liked My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent,
you might like Lights All Night Long by Lydia Fitzpatrick

If you enjoyed reading Gabriel Tallent’s novel about 14-year-old Turtle Alveston, you should check out Lydia Fitzpatrick’s dark coming-of-age tale in which we follow 15-year-old Ilya. Lights All Night Long is a richly told story that explores ideas of belonging, home, and family and I promise you won’t be able to put it down.

Synopsis:

Fifteen-year-old Ilya arrives in Louisiana from his native Russia for what should be the adventure of his life: a year in America as an exchange student. But all is not right in Ilya’s world: he’s consumed by the fate of his older brother Vladimir, the magnetic rebel to Ilya’s dutiful wunderkind, back in their tiny Russian hometown. The two have always been close, spending their days dreaming of escaping to America. But when Ilya was tapped for the exchange, Vladimir disappeared into their town’s seedy, drug-plagued underworld. Just before Ilya left, the murders of three young women rocked the town’s usual calm, and Vladimir found himself in prison.

If you liked Me Before You by Jojo Moyes,
you might like Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes

If Me Before You made you realize you’re a fan of contemporary romances featuring a flawed and relatable heroine, Evvie Drake Starts Over is for you. Just like Me Before You, it is full of interesting characters who are sometimes annoying and make bad decisions but that’s real life and you love them anyways! Bonus points for being set in a small town in Maine with a retired professional baseball player as the love interest.

Synopsis: 

In a small town in Maine, recently widowed Eveleth “Evvie” Drake rarely leaves her house. Everyone in town, including her best friend, Andy, thinks grief keeps her locked inside, and she doesn’t correct them. In New York, Dean Tenney, former major-league pitcher and Andy’s childhood friend, is struggling with a case of the “yips”: he can’t throw straight anymore, and he can’t figure out why. An invitation from Andy to stay in Maine for a few months seems like the perfect chance to hit the reset button.

If you liked Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult,
you might like A Map of the World by Jane Hamilton

Both of these books tackle serious subject matter by laying out a fictional tragic accident and following all the twists and turns of the human heart and courtroom proceedings to reach their dramatic conclusions. While Picoult’s book offers a thought-provoking examination of racism and A Map of the World deals with disappearing rural American life — they both present gripping moral dilemmas that will leave readers asking important questions.

Synopsis:

The Goodwins, Howard, Alice, and their little girls, live on a dairy farm in Wisconsin. Although suspiciously regarded by their neighbors as “that hippie couple” because of their well-educated, urban background, Howard and Alice believe they have found a source of emotional strength in the farm, he tending the barn while Alice works as a nurse in the local elementary school. But their peaceful life is shattered one day when a neighbor’s two-year-old daughter drowns in the Goodwins’ pond while under Alice’s care. Tormented by the accident, Alice descends even further into darkness when she is accused of sexually abusing a student at the elementary school. Soon, Alice is arrested, incarcerated, and as good as convicted in the eyes of a suspicious community.

I hope you enjoyed these new recommendations and I’m excited to bring you round 3! Have you read any of these books? What would you compare them to?

P.S. You’ll notice a few of these selection on My Top 20 Books of 2019!

SUMMER TBR

Hi guys! Today’s post is going to be my SUMMER TBR! (TBR = to be read, aka a list of books I want to read soon.) I thought it would be fun to start posting seasonal TBR lists as a way to get excited about all the books I want to read over the coming months. And with the sun shining outside my window and a massive longing to ditch work and head to a beach somewhere, it’s safe to say summer is upon us!

So, without further ado, let’s jump into the TBR…

I’m going to start with my fiction picks and then jump into the nonfiction. This is a 60/40 split which I feel is pretty spot-on with where my reading preferences currently lie. I also incorporated lots of different genres so there would be a little something of everything I personally enjoy reading!

FICTION PICKS

Contemporary Fiction – 
Castle of Water by Dane Huckelbridge

Nothing says summer like a story set on a deserted island.

Science Fiction –
The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell

This is an older title that I’d love to get to this year.

Dark/Hard-Hitting Contemporary Fiction –
My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell

Ordered this one from Books and Crannies!

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

I love reading Horror in the summer — it’s a throwback to my youth when V.C. Andrews and the I Know What You Did Last Summer books reigned supreme.

Young Adult Romance – 
The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han

A little fluff in the summer never hurt anybody.

Historical Fiction –
The Aviator’s Wife by Melanie Benjamin

I loved this author’s book Alice I Have Been so when I spotted another of her titles at a thrift store I had to pick it up.

NONFICTION PICKS

Memoir –
In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado

I love reading memoir no matter the season and this one has been getting so much buzz.

Political Nonfiction –
Another Day in the Death of America by Gary Younge

This book was recently recommended to me and looks extremely powerful.

Mountaineering Nonfiction –
Dead Mountain by Donnie Eichar

Honestly my favorite nonfiction genre…so I had to include something from this category!

Historical Nonfiction –
A Magnificent Obsession by Helen Rappaport

…and rounding out my list with a dose of the British monarchy. Perfection!

Over to you! Have you read any of these books? What did you think? And I’d love for you to share some of the books you plan on reading this summer in the comments below! 

P.S. Check out some of the books I own. 

Reading Books Picked by a Librarian! (4 mini book reviews)

While my local library is reopening it’s doors tomorrow, during it’s closure they kicked off a service that I was all too game to try. Grab bags! That’s right, you could roll up to the parking lot for drive-by pickup and be handed a librarian-curated assortment of books. While there were several selections I simply returned with out reading, these are the four I decided to tackle. (Truth be told, I’ve been buying books a LOT more regularly in quarantine so I was not hurting for things to read when I got my grab bag. Had I been practicing any sort of book buying restraint I probably would have read ALL my librarians picks!) Let’s see how that librarian did, shall we?!

The four books I chose to read were —
The Lido by Libby Page – a feel-good contemporary fiction set in London
Solo by Kwame Alexander – a young adult contemporary written in verse
Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin – an alternate history young adult fantasy
The Death of Mrs. Westaway – a mystery thriller with a creepy setting

The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware

Synopsis: On a day that begins like any other, Hal receives a mysterious letter bequeathing her a substantial inheritance. She realizes very quickly that the letter was sent to the wrong person—but also that the cold-reading skills she’s honed as a tarot card reader might help her claim the money. Soon, Hal finds herself at the funeral of the deceased…where it dawns on her that there is something very, very wrong about this strange situation and the inheritance at the center of it.

Star rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Mini review: 

I love books (especially mystery-thrillers) where the setting almost becomes a character itself and Ware definitely creates that here. To meet her new “family” and work out the details of the inheritance Hal finds herself lodging at Trepassen, an aging English manor that holds many secrets. Much of the plot unfolds within it’s gothic, creepy walls.

Read if you like the movie: Knives Out, or any movie with a closed circle mystery

Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin

Synopsis: The year is 1956, and the Axis powers of the Third Reich and Imperial Japan rule. To commemorate their Great Victory, Hitler and Emperor Hirohito host the Axis Tour: an annual motorcycle race across their conjoined continents. The victor is awarded an audience with the highly reclusive Adolf Hitler at the Victor’s Ball in Tokyo. 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 race 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. But as Yael grows closer to the other competitors, can she bring herself to be as ruthless as she needs to be to avoid discovery and complete her mission?

Star rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Mini review:

If you think The Hunger Games meets The Man in the High Castle sounds like something that’d be up your street, this book is for you. It certainly was for ME. I’m excited to see what happens in book 2 of this duology.

Read if you liked the movie: The Hunger Games, or any fantasy/sci-fi film featuring a dark game

Solo by Kwame Alexander

Synopsis: Blade never asked for a life of the rich and famous. In fact, he’d give anything not to be the son of Rutherford Morrison, a washed-up rock star and drug addict with delusions of a comeback. Or to no longer be part of a family known most for lost potential, failure, and tragedy. The one true light is his girlfriend, Chapel, but her parents have forbidden their relationship, assuming—like many—that Blade will become just like his father. In reality, the only thing Blade has in common with Rutherford is the music that lives inside them. But not even the songs that flow through Blade’s soul are enough when he’s faced with two unimaginable realities: the threat of losing Chapel forever, and the revelation of a long-held family secret, one that leaves him questioning everything he thought was true. All that remains is a letter and a ticket to Ghana—both of which could bring Blade the freedom and love he’s been searching for, or leave him feeling even more adrift.

Star rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Mini review:

This was a really fun and quick read! Because it is written in verse the pages fly by. Our main character Blade is the son of super famous rockstar Rutherford Morrison. Blade is 17 going on 18 and grappling with first love, family dynamics, confusion about what to do with his life — all under the watchful eye of the paparazzi. Then, he receives some news that has him embarking on a journey that will forever change his life.

Read if you liked the movie: Lion, or any movie with an important familial quest

The Lido by Libby Page

Synopsis: Kate is a twenty-six-year-old riddled with anxiety and panic attacks who works for a local paper in Brixton, London, covering forgettably small stories. When she’s assigned to write about the closing of the local lido (an outdoor pool and recreation center), she meets Rosemary, an eighty-six-year-old widow who has swum at the lido daily since it opened its doors when she was a child. It was here Rosemary fell in love with her husband, George; here that she’s found communion during her marriage and since George’s death. But when a local developer attempts to buy the lido for a posh new apartment complex, Rosemary’s fond memories and sense of community are under threat. As Kate dives deeper into the lido’s history—with the help of a charming photographer—she pieces together a portrait of the pool, and a portrait of a singular woman, Rosemary. What begins as a simple local interest story for Kate soon blossoms into a beautiful friendship that provides sustenance to both women as they galvanize the community to fight the lido’s closure.

Star rating: ⭐⭐⭐

Mini review:

A really cute, feel-good book. The moral of the story is basically like “finding community and being around people to socialize and exercise is awesome for mental health” and now is just a weird time to be faced with that. My rating probably has more to do with being bummed about pools being closed this summer and less to do with the quality of the read.

Read if you liked the movie: A Man Called Ove, or any feel-good found family film

***

Overall, I’d say my librarian knocked it out of the park with these selections! While The Lido and The Death of Mrs. Westaway were books on my radar, I don’t think I would have picked them up myself without a little nudging. Wolf by Wolf I’d never even heard of and it earned a 5-star rating! It’s seriously such a well done dark games YA and I will shove it into the hands of anyone who enjoys that genre. And Solo was another I was happy to learn about and won’t soon forget. Nothing new here but it bears repeating — I LOVE LIBRARIES!

My next bookish post hitting the blog soon will be my SUMMER TBR. See you then! 

P.S. More library love. 

If You Like That Book, You Might Like This Book || BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS pt. 1

Hi guys! Today, I’d like to offer you a few 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 thought it might be fun and potentially helpful to readers to start a new bookish series here on the blog.

Basically, I’m going to be recommending books that are similar to very popular books that are more well-known. Let’s get into it, shall we?!

If you liked Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel,
you might like Blindness by José Saramago

If you thought Station Eleven was a stunning and powerful portrayal of humanity’s will to survive as a sickness sweeps the land, I think you should check out Blindness. This book stuck with me long after I read the final page. It is haunting and shattering, but honest and compassionate.

Synopsis:

A city is hit by an epidemic of “white blindness” which spares no one. Authorities confine the blind to an empty mental hospital, but there the criminal element holds everyone captive, stealing food rations and raping women. There is one eyewitness to this nightmare who guides seven strangers—among them a boy with no mother, a girl with dark glasses, a dog of tears—through the barren streets, and the procession becomes as uncanny as the surroundings are harrowing. A magnificent parable of loss and disorientation, Blindness has swept the reading public with its powerful portrayal of our worst appetites and weaknesses—and humanity’s ultimately exhilarating spirit.

If you liked The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls,
you might like Priestdaddy by Patricia Lockwood

If you enjoyed reading Jeannette Walls recount her heartbreaking yet oftentimes wacky childhood,  you should check out Patricia Lockwood who also explores how family and tradition shape her identity. Her book is wildly original and her family members are written so vividly they practically leap off the page.

Synopsis:

Father Greg Lockwood is unlike any Catholic priest you have ever met—a man who lounges in boxer shorts, loves action movies, and whose constant jamming on the guitar reverberates “like a whole band dying in a plane crash in 1972.” His daughter is an irreverent poet who long ago left the Church’s country. When an unexpected crisis leads her and her husband to move back into her parents’ rectory, their two worlds collide.

If you liked The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins,
you might like The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn

If The Girl on the Train made you realize you’re a fan of psychological thrillers with a dash of noir, The Woman in the Window is for you.  It is dazzlingly suspenseful and full of twists that will keep you reading long past bedtime. The movie adaptation starring Amy Adams, Julianne Moore and Gary Oldman is out soon!

Synopsis: 

Anna Fox lives alone—a recluse in her New York City home, unable to venture outside. She spends her day drinking wine (maybe too much), watching old movies, recalling happier times . . . and spying on her neighbors. Then the Russells move into the house across the way: a father, a mother, their teenage son. The perfect family. But when Anna, gazing out her window one night, sees something she shouldn’t, her world begins to crumble—and its shocking secrets are laid bare.

If you liked My Sister, The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite,
you might like Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams

Both of these books are witty quick reads that are darkly hilarious but serve up some pretty serious subject matter. While Braithwaite’s book falls more in the thriller category and Queenie is more of a hard-hitting contemporary — they are both disarming, political, and unexpectedly FUNNY.

Synopsis:

Queenie Jenkins is a 25-year-old Jamaican British woman living in London, straddling two cultures and slotting neatly into neither. She works at a national newspaper, where she’s constantly forced to compare herself to her white middle-class peers. After a messy break-up from her white long-term boyfriend, Queenie seeks comfort in all the wrong places…including several hazardous men who do a good job of occupying brain space and a bad job of affirming self-worth.

That was soooooo fun and I can’t wait to bring you round 2! Have you read any of these books? What would you compare them to?

P.S. How to make time for 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. 🙂