• Lists,  Top Ten Tuesday

    Top Ten Tuesday: Magical Realism Favorites

    Happy Top Ten Tuesday! Do you have a favorite genre? This is one of the most common questions I am asked – right behind my favorite books.

    I have a very black & white personality so it surprised me when I landed on an answer:

    Magical realism 

    1: painting in a meticulously realistic style of imaginary or fantastic scenes or images
    2: a literary genre or style associated especially with Latin America that incorporates fantastic or mythical elements into otherwise realistic fiction
    It all started with Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman. And these days I read one or two from this genre each month. It was tough to narrow it down to my top ten but here they are, in no particular order.
    1. Once Upon A River by Diane Setterfield – The perfect mix of mystery, lore and master storytelling combine to make this fantastic dark fairytale.
    2. Gingerbread by Helen Oyeyemi – A family recipe, a dark tale, and a teenaged daughter searching for the truth combine to tell an unexpected story.
    3. The Time Travelers Wife by Audrey Niffenegger – If you enjoy a good time traveling story, this one is for you.
    4. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz – Heavy on the realism with plenty of Latin lore mixed in throughout.
    5. Labyrinths by Jorge Luis Borges – If you enjoy this genre, this is a must read.
    6. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez – I read this book when it was released. After discovering how much I enjoy this genre, I’m rereading it this month.
    7. The Nix by Nathan Hill – Another one that is heavy on the realism while the tale of the Nix is woven masterfully throughout the story.
    8. A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab – This is the first book in a series of three. Heavy on the magic and highly imaginative.
    9. Beloved by Toni Morrison – Another must read for many reasons.
    10. Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman – Three siblings with different gifts navigate New York, love, and life. One of my very favorites.

    What is your favorite genre?

    If it’s magical realism, do you have any books that I need to add to my TBR list?

  • Lists,  Top Ten Tuesday

    Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Years of Favorite Books

     

    Welcome to Top Ten Tuesday! Today I’m looking back over the past ten years and picking a favorite book published in each of those years. It was a lot of fun to revisit some of my favorites and being tempted to reread a few old favorites.

    • 2009  The Help by Kathryn Sockett – This book sparked my passion for reading again. I loved the characters and the writing.
    • 2010  A Visit From The Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan – One of the first book recommendations I ever got from a friend on Instagram! This was before Bookstagram was even a thing.
    • 2011  Rules of Civility by Amor Towles – I read this book last year and it was fantastic. The characters were so well developed and the story arc was so well done. I actually enjoyed this book by the author better than his big hit, A Gentleman in Moscow.
    • 2012  The Light Between Oceans by ML Stedman – Our Book Club for Introverts April pick! I missed this book when it was published and I’m so glad I finally read it with my book club.
    • 2013  The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt – I finished this one last month and it found a place in my top 3 books of all time. I’m really excited for the upcoming movie as well!
    • 2014  Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng – After reading Little Fires Everywhere last year,I looked up other books by Ng. I was not disappointed and I may have liked this book even more than Little Fires.
    • 2015  A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara – ALL the trigger warnings here for this book. Also one of my favorite books last year; it emotionally wrecked me. I ugly cried multiple times.
    • 2016  The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead – This should be required reading. I read this book earlier this year and it is powerful.
    • 2017  Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate – One of the first audiobooks I listened to. The story, the characters, and the shifting timeline were all so well done.
    • 2018  Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens & There There by Tommy Orange – these tied for me. Crawdads was my favorite book of 2018 and There There is currently in the running for my favorite book of 2019. I couldn’t pick just one here!

    Are any of your favorites on this list?

  • Lists,  mental health,  Top Ten Tuesday,  Writing

    Top Ten Tuesday: Mental Health Awareness

    May is Mental Health Awareness month – a cause near and dear to my heart. So for Top Ten Tuesday, I have a list of ten books that highlight mental health, the need for it, or one that takes steps forward in removing the stigmas of mental illness and/or asking for professional help.

    1. Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty – This book highlights grief, loss, the stigmas of suicide and tackles all of it in an unconventional wellness retreat setting. While I definitely do not recommend a wellness retreat with a crazy director, the messages were not lost in the story.
    2. There There by Tommy Orange – One of my favorite books this year, this book highlights addiction, mental health, suicide, and the overwhelming need for better mental healthcare in the Native American community. It’s a must-read.
    3. The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan – This is a beautifully written young adult book that addresses severe depression, the aftermath of suicide, grieving, and healing. I have read this book twice.
    4. My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh – The definitive guide on how not to pick a psychiatrist. This is not a book to read while actively dealing with depression. But on the other side, it is one of the more accurate depictions of what it’s really like to struggle with severe depression and loss.
    5. This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel – This book takes on the stigmas of having a transgender child and highlights the importance of family and community support. This story can make you a better person.
    6. Stitches by Anne Lamott – Anne is one of my favorite writers. I read this book during an enormous season of change in my life. She addresses change, loss, and grief with both humor and candor. It’s a short book and I recommend it often to those in the midst of change.
    7. Normal People by Sally Rooney – I finished this book in a few sittings earlier this month. It tackles abuse, loss, suicide, depression, and asking for help through therapy and medication. I found this story to be very raw, honest, and helpful in addressing the stigmas around asking for help and what can happen when help is not received.
    8. Dry. by Augusten Burroughs – One of my favorite memoirs. Too often I feel that addiction is left out of the mental health discussion. There is an overwhelming need for understanding and education around what addiction is and how to support a loved one dealing with addiction.
    9. Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal – While this book will raise some eyebrows when reading it in public, it highlights the need for community, loss, grief, and the power of telling your story.
    10. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo – Despite the public uproar over throwing away your house, this book and method really did change our lives. I have become a big believer in less physical clutter = less mental clutter.
  • Bookish,  Lists

    2018 Books: favorites, surprises, misses, and reflections

     

    2018 was a lot of things but at the top of my list was re-discovering my love of reading. In January I set a goal to read 52 books in 52 weeks. Once I realized I was going to surpass that goal, I set a new goal of 75 books read for 2018 and I met that goal. Here’s the breakdown:

    • 75 books completed
    • 26,121 pages
    • Longest book – A Little Life, 720 pages
    • 38 audiobooks (I drive A LOT)
    • 30 five star books
    • 13 nonfiction books

    My Top 10 Books of 2018:

    1. Where the Crawdads Sing – Delia Owens
    2. A Little Life – Hana Yanagihara
    3. The Incendiaries – R. O. Kwon
    4. The Nix – Nathan Hill
    5. The Rules of Magic – Alice Hoffman
    6. Bitter Orange – Claire Fuller
    7. Bear Town – Fredrick Backman
    8. Heavy – Kiese Laymon
    9. Next Year in Havana – Chanel Cleeton
    10. Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows – Balli Kaur Jaswal

    For me, the top 10 list is always the hardest to write so here are a few surprise favorites that didn’t quite make the list but should be on your To-Be-Read list:

    The misses a.k.a the books other raved about that I didn’t love:

    • The Great Alone – Kristin Hannah
    • Still Lives – Maria Hummel

    Both of these were misses for me for the same reason – graphic domestic violence/violence against women to the excess and wasn’t necessary to the plot.

    My one abandoned book was Less by Andrew Sean Greer. I just didn’t get the Pulitzer award given to this book. And maybe I would have liked it more if it hadn’t had that hype before I picked it up to read.

     

     

    2018 was one of the hardest years of my life both personally and professionally. On the personal front, I’m happy that our family is bringing this year to a close and we are all healing and healthier. On the professional front, we will have to see what 2019 brings but I’m encouraged by the direction I am headed and so very thankful for my husband and his unrelenting support and encouragement.

    I am also thrilled to have reconnected with my love of writing here on my blog as well as other outlets and I’m looking forward to seeing where that takes me in 2019. In addition to that, the bookstagram community on Instagram is a wonderful and supportive place to find fellow bookworms and I am so happy to have connected with so many like-minded readers and writers.

    And last but not least… two communities I connected with late in the year, The Himalayas of Literature and Book Club for Introverts. Both of these groups have been highlights of 2018 for me and I can’t wait to continue with both in 2019.

    All in all, 2018 has been a year of goals met, lessons learned, new directions, and finding the things to be thankful even in the midst of the valleys.

    Here’s to a new year full of promise! Happy New Year!

  • Lists

    Top Ten Tuesday: Winter reads

    blur book close up coffee
    Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

    Happy Top Ten Tuesday!

    One of my very favorite parts of winter is that time seems to slow which means more time for reading.

    It is common to see descriptors for summer books: easy read, beach read, poolside read, summer read, etc. But you don’t see that as much for the other seasons which I find highly unfair because it’s not their fault that they aren’t summer.

    So now it’s time to put the spotlight on winter. Here are my top ten winter books:

    1. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis – This is a childhood favorite of mine. Not even knowing exactly what “Turkish Delight” was, I always hoped for some in my stocking.
    2. The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman – Interesting characters, a magical plot, and the value of having family make this a great read.
    3. Murder on The Orient Express by Agatha Christie – Another childhood favorite and who doesn’t like a cozy mystery in the winter?
    4. Skipping Christmas by John Grisham – This is really the only overtly Christmas book. It’s a quick read that is humorous. It sums up the madness of the holiday season and what happens when we resist.
    5. The Life We Bury by Allen Eskens – A great mystery with highly interesting backstories of the characters.
    6. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens – When you’re cold and tired of the snow, the rich imagery and descriptions of marsh life will warm you up.
    7. Educated by Tara Westover – This is the only memoir to make the list. It’s an amazing story of survival and the power of education.
    8. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte Who doesn’t need a little attic wife hilarity during the holidays? Also check out the book Texts From Jane Eyre – SO funny!
    9. Calypso by David Sedaris – Want to feel better about your dysfunctional family? Here you go… but with a healthy dose of laughter too.
    10. Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace – This is my “long book” for December. At over 1000 pages, I’ll be spending a lot of time in front of the fire with this book. So far, it’s amazing and I’ll write more about it tomorrow.

    Other than coffee or bourbon, my favorite accessory to read with is my weighted blanket. It helps tremendously with anxiety and pairs perfect with a good winter book.

    What are some of your favorite cold weather books?

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