2017 Reading List: American Gods by Neil Gaiman

We started a book club at my office. There are about 10 avid readers who are excited to read something new, get together during lunch, and talk about books. So this next book on my Reading List is not something I would have picked out on my own. Our first BarkleyREI Book Club book was American Gods by Neil Gaiman.

You may have heard of this book because of the TV show on Starz. But I hadn’t.

I was a bit dubious when I heard that this would be our first book. Our group has some diverse tastes and everyone likes a wide range of subjects and styles. I looked up the synopsis of the book and I could barely follow it. It seemed complicated and weird.

But wouldn’t you know it, it must be the most popular book in the country right now, because I had to put my name on a hold list for a digital copy from the library. There were 25 digital copies available and every single one was checked out. And I was 90th in line. I ended up getting a hold at the “real” library. Every book in the whole county was checked out. But at least I was next in line. Continue reading


2017 Reading List: Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

I picked up Me Before You by Jojo Moyes before I had ever seen the movie trailer or even heard of the movie. In fact, I just discovered there’s a movie as I’m typing this because I Googled the book to find the link to add to my post. That being said, when I picked up the book, I thought it would be some kind of superficial chick-flick type book; more of a beach read than anything. But I was pleasantly surprised to find that there was so much more to this book thank girl meets guy and they fall in love. Continue reading

Twenty seven


I turned 27 yesterday. It’s still hard to believe. It really snuck up on me somehow.

At what point do we stop caring about birthdays? I don’t really feel the need to celebrate my birthday anymore. I don’t need or want presents. I don’t need lavish attention or cake with candles. I do still like cards, but I’m okay if the day passes by with little fanfare.

Yesterday was the perfect day. I woke up and took Sadie for a quick walk. I had my coffee in bed while I read my book next to Jim. Then we went downstairs and Jim made pancakes for breakfast. Then I read my book some more. We went for a walk with Sadie around Hartwood Acres because the weather was beautiful, and it was so nice to get outside into the woods and see all the green. When we got home, I read more and finished my book (it was a good book). Then we got ready and met my parents and Josh out for dinner at the Hartwood Restaurant. I had an amazing goat cheese ravioli dish for dinner and a chocolate cream pie for dessert. They did put a candle in it, which was a cute touch, but unnecessary. Continue reading

2017 Reading List: Rising Strong by Brene Brown

I guess you could say I was on a small “self-help” kick there for a bit. After The Happiness Project, I read Rising Strong, by Brene Brown. I had read her book Daring Greatly a few years ago and liked it, so I was anxious to read this one too. I like these “self-help” -ish books that are more motivational and inspiring.

I’m not sure that this was the right time for me to read Rising Strong. I think this book would have more impact for someone who needed it, someone who had fallen and was struggling. The book is, obviously, about how to rise strong, but in order to rise strong you have to have fallen; you have to have been defeated.

Brene Brown outlines a process, in which she coins her own terms to talk about working through your emotions. She called it Reckoning, Rumble, and Revolution. It seemed like a complicated way to work through some things that take only seconds to get over.  Continue reading

2017 Reading List: The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

If you don’t already know, I love to find and read blogs. I love when I can connect with someone else’s life. I love to read their stories and gain insight from their experiences. At some point, I came across Gretchen Rubin’s website about happiness. Gretchen is a professional researcher and writer, and she had written a book called The Happiness Project. Ever since discovering her blog and hearing about her book, I’ve wanted to read it.

The Happiness Project is the culmination of Gretchen’s own personal year of experimentation whereby she attempts to make herself happier within her own ordinary life by making small daily changes. She sets up her year as a series of resolutions. She has twelve themes to correspond with each calendar month and within each theme, there are certain things she commits to doing to help her achieve the goal of becoming happier. She didn’t want to change her whole life, uproot her family, change careers or take drastic measures. She just wanted to see how a few small things would affect her overall happiness.

Continue reading

2017 Reading List: The Assassin’s Blade by Sarah J. Maas

I’m so invested in the lives of the characters from the Throne of Glass series that I couldn’t wait until September for the next book to come out. I placed a hold on a digital copy of The Assassin’s Blade, the collection of short novellas that collectively make up a prequel to the series. As soon as the book landed in my account, I raced through the stories, soaking up every detail.

Continue reading

How a simple book is changing the way I approach life


I’ve been thinking about my vision recently. My purpose in life. My manifesto. What do I believe in? What do I stand for? What do I value in life?

It’s a surprisingly difficult thing to articulate. I understand why brands and businesses have such a hard time writing their mission statement or describing their goals or their brand voice. It’s difficult to put into words what we believe in.

I just finished this book called Start With Why and it talked all about how successful leaders and businesses don’t just sell products, they sell a WHY. They sell their beliefs. They get people to believe what they believe and in turn, those people buy their products. Even though the book focused on businesses and business leaders, this is clearly important for regular people too. Individuals need a WHY.

Continue reading

2017 Reading List: Start With Why by Simon Sinek

I just finished a book called Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek.

At first I didn’t like it. When I read inspirational type nonfiction books, I unrealistically expect them all to write like Malcom Gladwell, who is my favorite. I love the way Gladwell tells stories, gives details, and really explains his point in a way that makes you think “oh my God, that makes so much sense.”

But Sinek is not Gladwell, so I was disappointed at first with the style of writing. Even after finishing the book, I’ll tell you that the style of writing is not my favorite. But the point he drives home is clear. His book was thought-provoking. His message was obvious. His argument, if you could call it an argument, makes total and utter sense.

Continue reading

2017 Reading List: Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas

I recently devoured Empire of Storms, book #5 in Sarah Maas’ Throne of Glass series. Devoured. Because that’s how I feel when I can’t stop turning pages and can’t put the book down because I am so hungry for the next chapter, the next scene, the next cliffhanger that will keep me up at night and thinking about it all day long. I feel as if I can’t get enough and I’ll never be satiated. I read books like these so quickly because I get obsessed but then I’m surprised and annoyed when I’ve finished it because I wanted the book to last forever.

Continue reading

2017 Reading List: Avenue of Mysteries by John Irving

I love to read books that my mom, friends and co-workers recommend. (I read an interesting blog post today about “the imitation game” but that’s a story for another time.)

Remember the last time my mom gave me a book to read? I was not disappointed. So when my mom handed me John Irving’s Avenue of Mysteries, I happily hefted it home and lined it up in my queue. But there’s a reason that it’s now mid-March and I’m just getting to writing this review – because it took me this long to finish it.

Continue reading