• 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.
  • Audiobooks,  Bookish,  Lists,  Recommendations,  Top Ten Tuesday

    Top Ten Tuesday: the creepy edition

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    Photo by ramy Kabalan on Pexels.com

    Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

    Don’t hate me, I don’t love Halloween.  This week’s list prompt is a freebie list of Halloween/creepy books so I’m going with creepy. Here’s my top 10 in no particular order:

    1.Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders – Abraham Lincoln’s young son dies and is laid to rest in a crypt that Lincoln returned to several times (true story). Young Willie Lincoln spends a night in a purgatory of sorts with a cast of characters in various states of flux. Highly creative with lots of historical insights; this book was creepy and extremely entertaining at the same time. I highly recommend the audiobook!

    2. The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert – Think dark fairytales, a reclusive grandmother, and a granddaughter hunting for her mother who went missing; presumably in The Hazel Wood. This book was full of imagination and just dark enough to be creepy at times. The cover art is also a work of art in it’s own right.

    3. Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage – What’s not creepy about an adorable first grader plotting to kill her mom so she can have her dad’s attention all to herself. Her schemes are pure psychopathy and gave me the chills more than once.

    4. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte – Screams from the attic, a mysterious fire set in the house, and Jane left to figure out the mystery on her own while being pursued by Mr. Rochester a.k.a. Mr. Nothing to See Here.

    5. The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine – Be careful what you wish for. A homely, plain girl inserts herself into the Parrish life she believed she wanted. Except that Mr. Parrish was a monster.

    6. Good Me, Bad Me by Ali Land – What’s not creepy about the daughter of a female serial killer who turned her own mother into the police? The descriptions alone of living in that house are what nightmares are made of. The audiobook was fantastic!

    7. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold – A young girl is murdered and the book is told from her perspective. Creepy. And terribly sad.

    8. Pet Cemetery by Stephen King – This was my first Stephen King book and I used to read it under my covers with a flashlight. It would scare me so bad that I would go hide it under the couch in the other room so I could sleep.

    9. I Am Watching You by Teresa Driscoll – Two girls harmlessly flirt with two guys on a train. A year later and one of them is still missing. The plot twists were intriguing and kept you guessing until the end.

    10. Dark Places by Gillian Flynn – This was by far Flynn’s creepiest novels. Libby is the sole survivor of a family massacre in her own home. Her brother is convicted but questions still surround the night of the killings. Well written but one I will never read again.

    What are some of your favorite creepy books?

  • Bookish,  Lists,  Top Ten Tuesday,  Wit

    Top 10 Tuesday: Villains

    TTT-NEWTop Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

    Today’s list is all about villains. And not just the awful ones but also my favorites, best, worst, lovable, creepiest, most evil, etc. This took some thought because I tend not to dwell on the bad guys but here goes!

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    Photo by Rene Asmussen on Pexels.com
    1. Hanna from Baby Teeth (Zoje Stage) – My pick for the creepiest because a psychopathic 1st grader who is sweet while plotting to kill her mom is definitely creepy.
    2. Mary B. Addison from Allegedly (Tiffany D. Jackson) – Mary is in foster care after going to jail for killing a baby her mother was babysitting. Did she do it? Did she not? Either way her story was sad and made you love her for her resiliency.
    3. Adele from Behind Her Eyes (Sarah Pinborough) – Adele is a favorite because my goodness, she pulled off the plot twists of the year for me.
    4. Edward Rochester from Jane Eyre – Any man who has a crazy attic wife is going to be the brooding, sullen type. But offers to take Jane to the moon made him odd but endearing.
    5. Cathy Ames from East of Eden (John Steinbeck) – Any woman who destroys people for fun ranks up there as most evil.
    6. David Melrose from Never Mind (Edward St. Aubyn) – A father like this guy who does unspeakable things to his son ties with Cathy Ames for most evil. By the way, the Showtime series Patrick Melrose based on this book series was fantastic.
    7. Nurse Ratched from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest – This one seems obvious. Who hasn’t had a Nurse Ratched at some point in their school career? Ok, maybe not that bad but you know what I mean.
    8. Serena Joy from A Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood) – I am hesitant to call her a favorite but the balance she struck between heartless and cruel and trapped like the other women certainly made her a fascinating and complex villain.
    9. The White Witch from Narnia (C.S. Lewis) was one of the first villains I remember reading about when I was a kid. I have fond memories of this series and see her as one of the more harmless villains.
    10. Caillou from My Great Adventures – This one was a toss-up between the kid from The Giving Tree and Caillou but in the end, Caillou won out. What parent doesn’t see this kid as a villain? I know he was banned in our house a long time ago and I will still ban this book all day long.

    Who are some of your favorite villains?

  • Bookish,  Lists,  Personal,  Top Ten Tuesday,  Writing

    Top Ten Tuesday: Libraries I’ve Always Wanted to Visit

    TTT-NEW

    Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

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    Photo credit

    Is there a book lover who doesn’t love libraries? The smell alone gets me every time. My husband jokes that we should find a way to bottle that old book smell. He’s a very good sport about my book obsession!

    I know that my fascination with libraries around the world started with a visit to The Bodleian Library at the University of Oxford nearly 20 years ago. This list was easy to compile and I had a hard time narrowing it down to my top ten.

    1. Library of Congress – Did you know that they quit Twitter in January? Specifically, they quit archiving public Tweets. Too bad this didn’t become a trend in D.C.
    2. Hearst Castle Gothic Library – Everything about the Hearst family fascinates me including the books in their library.
    3. Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library – They house many of Margaret Atwood’s original transcripts along with Shakespeare’s first folio.
    4. George Peabody Library – It’s a gorgeous free public library and a music conservatory. Two of my favorite things: books and music.
    5. Boston Public Library – The first free public library in the U.S.
    6. Library bar at Electric House in Notting Hill – a bar and books? Yes, please. One of my favorite things to do is relax with a book and a nice bourbon.
    7. Morgan Library & Museum – I planned on visiting when I was there for work but unfortunately the weather was terrible. One day…
    8. New York Public Library – Obviously.
    9. Old British Reading Room, British Museum – another beautiful library that I would hardly call a “room”.
    10. Seattle Central Library – I can’t believe I haven’t made it to this library considering how many times I’ve visited Seattle. Next time for sure.

    Lastly, it would be very remiss if I didn’t mention my local library. It may not have the same beauty or architecture as the others on this list but I still love it and the contribution it makes to our community.

    Do you have a favorite library that you have visited?

  • Bookish,  Lists,  Top Ten Tuesday

    Top Ten Tuesday: Longest Books I’ve Ever Read

    TTT-NEW

    Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

    I was really excited to find Top Ten Tuesday and this is my first go at blogging about a list of all things bookish. This week’s topic is a perfect way to jump in because I love long books. I read plenty of shorter books but 400 + pages is my comfort zone because it that gives me plenty of time to enjoy the book and the characters. Here’s my top 10:

    1. I Know This Much is True – 897 pages – This was my first long book, not for a grade, and I read it shortly after graduating from college. It was a celebration of sorts because I no longer had to read pages and pages of textbooks. Wally Lamb is still one of my favorite authors.
    2. Insomnia – 890 pages – Fun fact: I have had insomnia for years and Stephen King managed to turn it into a wide awake nightmare for me.
    3. The Hour I First Believed – 740 – Another Wally Lamb book that I really enjoyed. I never saw the direction this book was headed until I got there.
    4. A Little Life – 720 pages – This book is in my top 3 of 2018. It’s heartbreaking and real. I still think about the characters in the book to this day. One in particular: Jude.
    5. The Iliad – 683 pages – I read this in college and wish I had paid more attention. This is one on my list that I would like to go back and re-read for fun instead of a grade.
    6. The Time Traveler’s Wife – 528 pages – One of the most creative books I’ve read. This is also one of the longer books I have re-read a few times.
    7. The Pact – 512 pages – I went through a Jodi Picoult phase but I’m only going to include this book in the list.
    8. The Alice Network – 503 pages – Another favorite that I have read this year. I wasn’t a huge fan of historical fiction until this book.
    9. Twilight – 498 pages – I read this entire series but I’m only going to include this one. I recently purged and donated a lot of books and this series was one of them. They only need to be read once, IMO.
    10. Beartown – 418 pages – On the shorter side but one of the most relevant books I have read this year. I read this one in a little over 24 hours.

    I have plenty of other long books that I could list but these were the ones that first came to mind. This was a fun trip down Goodreads memory lane!

    I’m currently reading The Pillars of the Earth and at 973 pages, it will take the top spot for longest book when I’m finished. So far, I’m really enjoying the writing and the character development.

    I read a lot of my longer books during the fall and winter. There’s nothing better than curling up with a quilt, coffee in the morning or bourbon in the evening and reading a good book.

    Do you like reading longer books during the fall and winter months?

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