Positive Practices for Mental Health Based on Your Enneagram Type | Types 1, 2, and 3

During the last few months of lock-down/quarantine/(whatever you want to call it), I’ve done a lot of reading about the ENNEAGRAM. This isn’t necessarily a new obsession, I’ve been interested in it for the last few years. After working with my mom (who has done enneagram trainings for her job in pastoral care) to type myself as a 9 and reading Beatrice Chestnut’s book The Complete Enneagram, I’ve been consistently seeking out enneagram content.

But recently, I’ve really been exploring the idea of using the knowledge about myself that the enneagram offers to my advantage. Even though so much of the enneagram involves being faced with the aspects of yourself that aren’t so pretty (hi, I’m a 9…most commonly known for being lazy…yikes), it’s power comes from what you do with that information.

If you don’t know anything about the enneagram, there are a ton of great resources online to learn about the types and type yourself. I’d also recommend checking out Chestnut’s book (linked above) as well as The Honest Enneagram by Sarajane Case (who also has an instagram account and a podcast).

If you’re already up on this whole enneagram biz (and you love trolling IG for memes about your type LOL), I would totally encourage you to try taking it to the next level by identifying some of the downfalls inherent in your type and then adopting some positive life-practices to help you combat them. Doing so myself has been wildly helpful during an otherwise very stressful and scary time in the world.

To help get you started, I’ve identified some positive practices based on my readings about each type. I’m not saying these are the ones you should go with — they’re just ideas. They might not ring true for you and where you’re at or how you show up as an individual type. I just want to inspire you to find a few of your OWN practices based on your type!

Let’s start with TYPES ONE, TWO, & THREE — 

Enneagram Type One:

Positive Practice #1 – Take time for yourself to relax without any responsibilities.

Think: a solo afternoon outing, a solo night in, or solo weekend getaway. Ones put a lot of pressure on themselves to make sure things go to plan. But it can be stressful to be around other folks who have differing opinions about the right and wrong ways to enjoy whatever adventure or vacation you’ve mapped out in your head. Things will go a lot more to plan if you’re the only one you’re planning for. Give yourself that space every once in a while to relax without feeling like the world depends on you.

Positive Practice #2 – Set reminders that allow you to be patient instead of continuously following up.

Ones have an incredibly strong sense of right and wrong and are extremely self-disciplined. Others might not respond or take action to your requests as quickly as you may like. Because the one is also a great educator, they can view reiterating themselves and trying new approaches as helpful — when in fact this may have the reverse effect and cause the other person to shut down completely. (Which will stress a one out even more!) Instead, channel your love of planning and map out your follow-ups in your calendar.

Positive Practice #3 – Join a group that lets you display and discuss your emotions without fear of judgment.

Think: book club, film club, or any group that allows you to have conversations about the realities of humanity. Because ones are often uneasy with emotions, it can be beneficial to discuss things like how a book or movie made you feel in a group of people who are doing the same. This can help you identify emotions and emotional impulses better in your own life and help you feel more at ease about the messy aspects of being human.

Enneagram Type Two:

Positive Practice #1 – Set up a practice of asking others what they need.

Twos are known as “The Helper” for a reason — you love to help and you’re largely very good at intuiting what people need. That doesn’t mean it is what they want. And if they don’t, that’s not a reflection of you OR a rejection of you. You can and should still lean in to this “helping hand” side of yourself though. When the urge arises, do your best to make this your first step — state your intentions, “I’d like to help,” and then ask, “what can I do?”

Positive Practice #2 – Start a journal to document the “gifts” you receive every day.

Think: Gratitude Journal. Twos tend to place value on how what they’re giving is perceived, instead of looking to what they are receiving. You might not even recognize something as a “gift” because it is not something you would give or you wouldn’t give it in the same way. The more you can start noticing all that you are receiving in your life (by jotting it down in your journal), the better you will become at recognizing all the love in your world.

Positive Practice #3 – Invest your time in a service opportunity that is just for you.

This is something that is just for you — not something you know will garner public recognition or a lot of “likes” on your social media feeds. Think about your own interests and how you can give back within those worlds. Maybe you enjoy being around kittens so you sign up to foster or volunteer at a local animal shelter. The more you find fulfillment in something BEYOND just a general sense of helping, the more likely a two will resist the urge to call attention to themselves and their good deeds.

Enneagram Type Three:

Positive Practice #1 – Make time for one-on-one interactions with your loved ones.

Threes need to feel truthfulness, loyalty, and cooperation in their relationships. However, they are also fantastic multi-taskers who are always GO GO GO. Because of this, you might turn to big group outings or group vacations with your friends and loved ones to knock out that quality time all in one go. Resist this urge. Instead, slow down and really connect with the folks you care about without a bunch of other people and distractions around.

Positive Practice #2 – Schedule breaks throughout your day.

You are susceptible to burn-out and exhaustion because of a singular focus on your goals. Threes are super ambitious and value self-development — great qualities! But they also need to take breaks if they want to reach their full potential. Make sure you’re setting aside time during your day to step away from work and your personal to-do list — try the pomodoro approach or just set a few alarms in your phone to signal when you’re going to take a ten minute breather.

Positive Practice #3 – Get involved with a group project that has nothing to do with career advancement.

Again, threes are highly skilled multi-taskers so they might sign up for their office’s kickball league and think, “Cool, this will help my likability standings at work PLUS knock out a workout and be my weekly socialization time,” only to find they’re miserable every Thursday during the matches because they actually HATE kickball (and their co-workers who joined the team). If you’re going to focus so much of your energy on career, you should look for some outlets that are outside of work (and build relationships with people who have nothing to do with your next promotion) where you can take a little pressure off of that side of yourself.

Ok, enneagram-obsessed loves! I hope this helps you use the information about your type to your advantage. It might take you a while to settle on the practices you want to adopt, and that’s ok! Once you do, I know they’re going to have a positive impact on your life! xoxo

Keep an eye out for follow-up posts with ideas for the rest of the types! Thanks for reading!!! 

30 Day Photo Challenge

Now that I’ve been socially distancing for 4 months, I feel like I need something to shake things up. I need a way to see the the same things in a new light. I also know that I want to beef up my Instagram game AND practice photography.

Combine all of that together, and I settled upon the idea of doing a 30 day photo challenge!

I don’t know about you, but without travel, group outings, restaurant meals and summer vacation, my camera roll is lacking. When it comes to Instagram content, my creative juices are stagnant. Maybe a daily prompt would help? Worth a try!

So I put together a list of 30 prompts that could give me a direction each day for something to snap a picture of. Some days I might bust out one of my nicer cameras and others I’ll just use my phone. But my hope is that each day I’ll have a reason to get creative. Then, at the end of the 30 days I’ll have a nice little stockpile of photos I can use however I wish!

See the list of 30 day photos below. Will you give it a try?

  1. Something you couldn’t live without
  2. Watching TV
  3. Something yellow
  4. TBR stack
  5. Movies
  6. Something that evokes wanderlust
  7. The sky
  8. Something nostalgic
  9. Your pet
  10. Something vintage
  11. Something purple
  12. Flags
  13. Water
  14. Someone you love
  15. Favorite book
  16. Skyline
  17. Something orange
  18. Inspired by a quote
  19. Self portrait
  20. Favorite sweet treat
  21. Brand you love
  22. Something green
  23. An animal
  24. Inspired by your zodiac sign
  25. Favorite place in your home
  26. Something from your childhood
  27. Favorite food
  28. Something pink
  29. Something in your room
  30. Outdoor scene

Click HERE for a printable PDF with all the prompts!

But I want to hear from you! How are you shaking things up? Do you have any tips for thinking up Instagram content? If I was to do a round 2 of this challenge, what prompts would you include! 

P.S. 10 Brutally Honest Tips About Online Content Creation

The Smart Spend: Choosing The Right Options When You’re Making a Large Purchase

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Making a large purchase is always a daunting process. Even when you have a strong idea of what you’d like to buy, most people will feel some degree of stress when they’re considering where best to place their spending. Thankfully, there are loads of online tools that can help you to overcome challenges like this one. To give you an idea of where to start, this post will be exploring a smart process to go through whenever you’re buying an expensive product.

Gathering Your Options

The first stage in this process is going to involve gathering up all the options you must weigh. Creating a spreadsheet with links, prices, and the name of each product will take a little bit of time, but will make it much easier for you to compare them later on. It can be tricky to find all of the available options when you’re looking for products, but you can usually overcome this by looking at blog posts and other content that reviews and compares items. Alongside this, if you’re really struggling, you could also ask on forums and other online communities for advice or alternatives to the options you’ve already listed. Get all options on your spreadsheet.

Reviews & Information

Once you have a list of the most promising options available, it is time to start looking at specific reviews for each. For example, if you were looking for a diamond ring to propose to your other half, you could try this Ritani review to give yourself an idea of the quality of the products from this brand. You should do this for each of the items on your list.

Collecting the right information at this stage will also be key. As you look at the features of the items on your list, you will quickly develop an idea of what you’re looking for, and this will enable you to create another list. This list will comprise of features that are essential and those that you can live without, setting the stage for the next step in the buying process.

The Comparison

With an idea of how well-reviewed a product is and a list of the most crucial features, it should be nice and easy to assess and compare it with your alternatives. By rearranging your list to prioritize those that have the most essential features, you will be able to see which ones best meet your needs. Of course, you’ll also have to think about the price you’re paying, but this should make it nice and easy to isolate the option that will give you the best value you for money. This is much easier than just looking at a bunch of sales pages online and hoping you pick right.

With all of this in mind, you should be feeling ready to take on the challenge of choosing the right options when you’re making a large purchase. It’s all too easy to fall into the trap of making mistakes as you go through this process, and a lot of people find themselves buying the wrong items when they don’t assess the market well enough. What tips would you add?

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!

Fun Ways to Improve Your Vocabulary

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Having a broad vocabulary can be useful for a lot of things. It can help you to read, watch and listen to a wider range of materials and have a better understanding of the content. It can give you the tools that you need to speak and write more eloquently and get your point across in more creative and profound ways. It can also just be a lot of fun to know more words and how to use them!

You probably pick up a new word every now and then, but if you want to actively improve your vocabulary, try these tips–

Play Word Games

Playing word games is a good way to learn new words and start expanding your vocabulary. Many word games rely on you knowing the definitions of words, being able to rearrange letters to make words, or perhaps being able to find hidden words. There are some fun word game apps that you might find you enjoy even more than scrolling through Instragam. You can even use tools like Wordscapes answers that helps you unscramble letters. The more you use something like this, the less that you will find you need to “cheat” as your vocabulary grows.

Read More

Reading is always a great activity if you want to improve your vocabulary, and the more broadly you read, the more diverse the vocabulary you encounter will be. You might like reading novels, but you should also read non-fiction, news articles, opinion pieces, essays or anything else that you find enjoyable. As well as reading physical books, listening to audio-books will help you know how to pronounce new words. The more you read, the more your vocabulary will grow, especially if you commit to a diverse range of materials. A little bit of reading every day can make a big difference in your vocabulary.

Watch and Listen, too

Along with reading, you can benefit from watching and listening to diverse materials as well. Whether you watch TV dramas and movies, consume documentaries, or listen to the radio, podcasts or even music, you can learn new words. Just like with books and reading materials, you can explore lots of different media and find things that you enjoy. You can find plenty to watch and listen to for free online, by searching for videos on YouTube, from TED talks to comedy or informative how-tos.

Expand Your Circle

Finally, surrounding yourself with people from diverse backgrounds — both in upbringing and physical location — is a way to ensure you aren’t constantly hearing from people who look and sound like you. This will not only improve and build your vocabulary, but your ideas and views of the world as well.

You can improve your vocabulary in lots of different ways. Keep exploring the world around you to learn new words all the time!

P.S. How to put NEW language skills into practice. 

Feeling Trapped? Fighting “Quarantine Stress” in 4 Simple Steps

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The last few months have not been the easiest for anybody, and have brought on many challenges we did not expect to face. As a result, I’m sure we’ve all felt down and anxious at least once while in quarantine. Some are coping with working from home, while others have to manage the many responsibilities that come with school and entertainment options temporarily closed. Many have had to face these self-isolating months completely alone – something that might have taken a toll on their mental and physical well-being. Call it the dreaded quarantine stress, if you will. Here are some ways I have found useful to cope — 

Mindful Exercise

Staying fit and healthy while confined within four walls can be a challenge for many. However, moving, staying active, and exercising can have incredible benefits on our mental well-being – benefits that you should not be ignored! Maybe HIIT training and running for miles aren’t your thing, but other practices – such as yoga and meditation – can help you understand yourself better and fight stress. 

All this, while also toning your muscles and tuning your mind! While doing your make up and putting on your corporate dress might not be part of your routine anymore, starting your day with a Power Yoga session can be just as beneficial to boost your self-confidence!

Take Up a New Challenge

Boredom – especially when combined with feelings of anxiety – can be extremely detrimental. Keeping your mind busy and giving yourself a goal to work toward can be an easy solution to implement. Several challenges can work, but the one you pick should fit your preferences. Whether this is minimalism, vegetarianism, or working toward a zero-waste lifestyle, a challenge can help you focus your mind and energy toward a positive goal. 

Turn Your Home into a Sanctuary

Of course, you might have started to feel a little trapped within your four walls. However, instead, start thinking of your home as a safe place where you can retreat in turbulent times. Start by turning your garden, patio, or terrace in to a space for enjoying the sunshine during the day and get all that Vitamin D you need during this time. 

Indoors, add plants and swap the heavy curtains for a lighter version. These two simple additions can help you let in enough natural light and fresh air to create a much happier environment. Some companies, such as Kaya Hemp Company, create ethically-produced products that can help you craft a comfortable and healthy sanctuary all for yourself.

Build Relationships (Virtually!)

If you have had to face the quarantine alone, you might have struggled to find enough support from others. However, technology is on our side. Don’t skip a call with your loved ones or a catch up over the phone with your friends. Even just a quick chat can lift your mood and help you see things differently. Moreover, many people now have more free time to fill so you can deepen the relationships you treasure and rebuild the ones that you haven’t had time to cultivate before the restrictions.

I hope you found this useful, and maybe even a little reassuring? Have you created ways of combating quarantine stress? Share your tips in the comments! xoxo

P.S. Follow Kaya Hemp Company on Instagram HERE.

4 Ways to “Clock-Out” When You Work From Home

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Working takes a lot out of you, and a job can be very demanding some days. You must take the time to rest and recover so that you can return to your duties the next day full of energy and motivation. But it can be difficult to transition from a work mindset to a recovery mindset when working from home. 

Below are four of my favorite ways to “clock-out” after a long day of work and signal to my mind and body that work is over and rest has begun. Setting aside this leisure time right after I wrap up for the day is crucial for me to enter the rest of my evening in a state of calm. Then, I can return to my desk the next morning feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. 

1. Pull out the Coloring Books

One way to relax after a long day of work is to grab your favorite coloring books and put your feet up. Invest in a variety of books from https://www.pennydellpuzzles.com/coloring/ so you can mix it up and choose different designs to work on. You’ll be creating a masterpiece while allowing yourself to rest and relax. Coloring is an activity that’s fun and beneficial for kids and adults alike. It’ll take your mind off all the stress and strain from your workday almost instantly.

2. Take A Warm Bath

You may also want to put taking a warm bath on your list of ways to “clock-out” after a long day of work. It’s your chance to unplug from technology and relax your muscles and brain from thinking. Put some bubbles in your bathtub and grab your favorite book that you can get lost in for a while. You might also want to put on some soothing background music and meditate while you’re soaking in the tub. You’ll feel like a new person when you get out of your bath and you’ll feel in a calm frame of mind. It’s an excellent way to relieve any stress you’re feeling in your body as well.

3. Watch A Movie

Another idea for how you can “clock-out” after work is to watch a movie. Pick one based on what you’re in the mood for and will keep your attention. It can be entertaining to watch a favorite movie of yours or to pick a new one that you haven’t seen before. Make a delicious snack or dinner and curl up on the couch in your comfortable clothes and a warm blanket to help you relax. You may even end up dozing off or falling asleep if you’re that tired and worn out. Nothing wrong with a nap!

4. Go On A Walk

You may not think of exercise as relaxing, but it is if you choose the right activity. Going on a walk is an excellent way to burn a few calories, reduce your stress, and calm a racing mind. Call up a friend so you two can catch up about what’s been going on in each of your lives. It’ll be relaxing to spend some time in nature and have someone who cares about you on the other end of the phone. You’ll feel so much better after getting in some steps and being able to get anything that’s bothering you off your chest to your friend.  

But I want to hear from you! What are some ways you “clock-out” when working from home? Are there any aspects of working from home you’re struggling with?

P.S. Need one more “clock-out” idea? How about an at-home workout. 

Why It’s Never Too Early To Start Christmas Shopping

A lot of people can’t even start to think about Christmas until after Halloween has passed, whereas others start their Christmas shopping for the following year in the after-Christmas sales. My vote is for somewhere in between. It’s nice to get ahead of things, and when it comes to gifts, buying them earlier can allow for more planning — both in thoughtfulness and budget.

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When you like to put thought into buying gifts, leaving your shopping until the last minute should be the last thing that you want to do, yet, many of us still find ourselves shopping for Christmas presents as late as Christmas Eve. Although it’s nice to feel prepared with lists, not having a list can enable you to buy things that make you think of certain people as you see them or when you find them for a good price. 

If you do this throughout the year, or at least from June/July onward, you will be more than prepared come December. It’s never too early to start Christmas shopping!

So, let’s have a look at some of the ways it can benefit you: 

It’s Less Stressful

There will be no more scrabbling around last minute and much more time to relax if you shop all year round. You will be able to fully enjoy the magic of the holiday. And, that one person you can never figure out? Well, you’ll have plenty of time to sort it out and get it ticked off your list. You will also no longer have the stress of worrying if something will arrive on time, and you will have plenty of time to exchange if it’s not quite right or damaged. 

No More Increased Prices

Have you ever noticed that near Christmastime prices can shoot up? Or are much higher than the sale prices you spotted earlier in the year? That’s because you are paying for the convenience of shopping right before Christmas. You should most definitely take advantage of sales like Black Friday and any early Christmas sales, but don’t forget about sales that happen before Thanksgiving even rolls around and throughout the year. If you see something that someone would love, get it at a reduced price rather than buying later at full. 

Finding Unique Gifts 

You know those gifts that you can’t wait to give because you know it’s going to surprise the recipient? Well, shopping earlier means you have more time to plan and get it just right. If you shop earlier, you have more time to research and do the searching that is often needed for a unique present like personalized first christmas ornaments. If you’re not working from a list, then you have more freedom and may find something unexpected. Just because it’s not near Christmas, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get it ready. When it’s most definitely the thought that counts, finding the perfect gifts no matter what time of the year, can’t be missed. 

These are three very good reasons why you should shop at any time of the year for Christmas, and it’s never too early to get started. When do you normally start your Christmas shopping? Do you shop all year round and take advantage of the benefits above or are you a last-minute shopper? 

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.