2017 Reading List: The Girls by Emma Cline

I’ve seen The Girls, by Emma Cline, on a lot of book lists lately. It’s been on the front tables of Barnes & Noble and mentioned by fellow bloggers. So I put it on my list to download and finally got the chance to read it.

This book is the story of a young teenager, Evie, who becomes infatuated with a group of girls who live together on a ranch as a sort of cult in 1969.

This book is really a depiction of Evie and her character. It is less about the actual plot and more about who this 14-year-old girl is and how she comes of age in a year, or a decade really, where children were introduced to some evils of the world at far too young an age.

Evie has a lot of struggles in her life. Her parents are divorced, her mother is dating men she doesn’t like, and therefore her mother doesn’t really have time for her the way she used to. Her friendships are fraying, if not broken entirely. She is preparing to go to boarding school for the first time in the fall. And through all this, she is trying to figure out where she belongs, who she can connect with, and how she can fit in. She doesn’t have a whole lot of role models or even friends to help her navigate. There is no one who is looking out for her- not even the girls whom she comes to worship with such wild abandon.  Continue reading

2017 Reading List: vol. 15

I was traveling for work this weekend so earlier last week, I downloaded another book for the trip – Everything I Never Told You, by Celeste Ng. I am not sure how to pronounce that last name, so don’t ask.

I had thought this book was a murder mystery thriller. The first sentence of the book is “Lydia is dead.” And it is described as a “page-turner.” But it was less mysterious and gripping than I wanted it to be. It was about family and race and fitting in (or standing out). It was about the dynamics between parents and children and between siblings.  Continue reading

2017 Reading List: vol. 14

I read somewhere, maybe on someone’s blog, that When Breath Becomes Air is a must-read in your lifetime. A life-changing memoir. Whoever told me I had to read it was right.

I read Paul Kalanithi’s memoir in one day. It’s short and I had a lot of time. But it is an incomplete account of an amazingly full and meaningful life that was cut far too short by a rapidly progressing lung cancer. The fact that it is unfinished makes it all the more perfect.  Continue reading

2017 Reading List: vol. 13

When I picked up The Darkest Corners, by Kara Thomas, I almost literally couldn’t put it down. Murder mysteries are my go-to when I’m seriously in the mood to read, or I have a long car ride or flight, because no matter how sleepy I am or how much stuff I have to do, I can always find time to read the book and I can almost always stay awake to finish it.

Since I had some travel planned for the 4th of July weekend, I figured this would be a good book to keep me occupied in the car. I also like to follow up a slow nonfiction book with a quick psychological thriller. It gets my heart pumping again.  Continue reading

2017 Reading List: vol. 12

After my BarkleyREI Book Club book, I jumped back into some nonfiction. I realized that I’ve been reading a lot of nonfiction lately, but I’ve been very into Ted talks and inspirational blogs, so I’ve discovered a lot of writers who I feel I can relate to, or who research topics that are really interesting to me.

So my next book, Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges, was written by Amy Cuddy who I discovered from her Ted talk about the “Wonder Woman pose.” Being an introvert myself, I was fascinated by the idea that our body language shapes how we act in a situation, and that I could make myself feel more confident by holding a confident pose for a few minutes.  Continue reading

2017 Reading List: vol. 11

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: vol. 10

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

2017 Reading List: vol. 9

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: vol. 8

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.

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2017 Reading List: vol. 7

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.

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