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Thursday, May 21, 2015

Why the Library Should be Your New Best Friend.

1. Free. Books. Um, hello...why do we need to go any further than this? Why would you pay money for books when you can read them for free?

2. You can stay there and read all day long and no one will care.  If you want to stay in a bookstore and read all day (hello, heaven), you're sure to get side-eye and attitude from everyone working there. Which is understandable, since you're reading the books and putting them back, instead of, you know, paying for them. But the library? Stay as long as you want. Or take the books with you and go outside. I'd love to see you try to "borrow" a book from  Barnes & Noble and promise to bring it back inside when you were finished reading it.

3. You can request whatever books you want. Feel like reading but don't feel like browsing the shelves for what you want? No problem. Just go online and put in what you want to read. They'll let you know when the books you requested are there, and you just walk in and pick them up.

When a sure-to-be-a-bestseller is coming out, you can put your name on the waiting list instead of checking the library for it every day.

does anyone else remember this magic?

4. Some libraries deliver. As in, deliver to your door. Arguably the most amazing thing that has happened to me since moving to Orlando. It is Amazon without having to pay for anything. FREE AMAZON. Come on!

5. You can now rent library books on your kindle. THIS IS REAL LIFE.

6. It's the perfect place to find your new favorite book. While I love book stores with my whole heart, they are usually filled with brand new books--the ones that are currently at the top of the charts and the ones that came out within the last year.

That's great, but there are books that came out two or five or ten years ago that may just be waiting to be my new favorite book.

The library is full of books of all kinds: bestsellers and not so much, old books and new books and everything in-between. So just browsing the shelves could lead you to find a new favorite you never would have heard of.

Do you use your library? 

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Books I Read in May and Whether or Not You Should Read Them.

The Mountain Between Us by Charles Martin

Plot: On a stormy winter night, two strangers wait for a flight at the Salt Lake City airport.  Ashley Knox is an attractive, successful writer, who is flying East for her much anticipated wedding.  Dr. Ben Payne has just wrapped up a medical conference and is also eager to get back East for a slate of surgeries he has scheduled for the following day.   When the last outgoing flight is cancelled due to a broken de-icer and a forthcoming storm, Ben finds a charter plane that can take him around the storm and drop him in Denver to catch a connection.   And when the pilot says the single engine prop plane can fit one more, if barely, Ben offers the seat to Ashley knowing that she needs to get back just as urgently.   And then the unthinkable happens.  The pilot has a heart attack mid-flight and the plane crashes into the High Uintas Wilderness-- one of the largest stretches of harsh and remote land in the United States.  
As the days on the mountains become weeks, their survival become increasingly perilous.  How will they make it out of the wilderness and if they do, how will this experience change them forever?
Both a tender and page-turning read, The Mountain Between Us will reaffirm your belief in the power of love to sustain us. via Goodreads

Favorite quote: 

“I think when two people really love each other...way down where the souls sleep and dreams happen, where pain can't live 'cause there's nothing for it to feed on...then a wedding is a bleeding together of those two souls. Like two rivers running together. All that water becoming the same water. Mine did that.” 

My thoughts: I'm a huge fan of Charles Martin's books, so it's no surprise that I thought this one was beautiful. What did surprise me was how much it caught me off guard--it went in a direction I didn't expect at all, and I loved it.

Should you read it? Absolutely yes.

Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen

Plot: Peyton, Sydney's charismatic older brother, has always been the star of the family, receiving the lion's share of their parents' attention and—lately—concern. When Peyton's increasingly reckless behavior culminates in an accident, a drunk driving conviction, and a jail sentence, Sydney is cast adrift, searching for her place in the family and the world. When everyone else is so worried about Peyton, is she the only one concerned about the victim of the accident?

Enter the Chathams, a warm, chaotic family who run a pizza parlor, play bluegrass on weekends, and pitch in to care for their mother, who has multiple sclerosis. Here Sydney experiences unquestioning acceptance. And here she meets Mac, gentle, watchful, and protective, who makes Sydney feel seen, really seen, for the first time.

Favorite quote: 

“The future was one thing that could never be broken, because it had not yet had the chance to be anything.” 

My thoughts: I've talked before about how Sarah Dessen is my favorite, so whenever she has a new book, I buy it immediately. This one did not disappoint! She went in a darker direction that normal for her and explored what it's like to have a family member struggle with addiction and reckless living, and then have to live in their shadow. It was a beautiful portrayal of the realities of that.

Should you read it? Definitely!

The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson

Plot: For the past five years, Hayley Kincain and her father, Andy, have been on the road, never staying long in one place as he struggles to escape the demons that have tortured him since his return from Iraq. Now they are back in the town where he grew up so Hayley can attend school. Perhaps, for the first time, Hayley can have a normal life, put aside her own painful memories, even have a relationship with Finn, the hot guy who obviously likes her but is hiding secrets of his own.

Will being back home help Andy’s PTSD, or will his terrible memories drag him to the edge of hell, and drugs push him over? The Impossible Knife of Memory is Laurie Halse Anderson at her finest: compelling, surprising, and impossible to put down. via Goodreads

Favorite quote: 

“Until then we're going to keep making memories like this, moments when we're the only two people in the whole world. And when we get scared or lonely or confused, we'll pull out these memories and wrap them around us and they'll make us feel safe. And strong.” 

My thoughts: This was the first Laurie Halse Anderson book I've read. I've heard people rave over her books, but I wasn't a huge fan. The writing was a little too obscure for a YA story-line, I think. It was beautiful, yes, but it took me awhile to get through it because I just couldn't get into it.

Should you read it? I know I will probably be shamed for this answer, but I wouldn't put it at the very top of your list.

This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper

Plot: The death of Judd Foxman’s father marks the first time that the entire Foxman family—including Judd’s mother, brothers, and sister—have been together in years. Conspicuously absent: Judd’s wife, Jen, whose fourteen-month affair with Judd’s radio-shock-jock boss has recently become painfully public.

Simultaneously mourning the death of his father and the demise of his marriage, Judd joins the rest of the Foxmans as they reluctantly submit to their patriarch’s dying request: to spend the seven days following the funeral together. In the same house. Like a family.

As the week quickly spins out of control, longstanding grudges resurface, secrets are revealed, and old passions reawakened. For Judd, it’s a weeklong attempt to make sense of the mess his life has become while trying in vain not to get sucked into the regressive battles of his madly dysfunctional family. All of which would be hard enough without the bomb Jen dropped the day Judd’s father died: She’s pregnant.

This Is Where I Leave You is Jonathan Tropper's most accomplished work to date, a riotously funny, emotionally raw novel about love, marriage, divorce, family, and the ties that bind—whether we like it or not. via Goodreads

Favorite quote: 

“You never know when it will be the last time you'll see your father, or kiss your wife, or play with your little brother, but there's always a last time. If you could remember every last time, you'd never stop grieving.” 

My thoughts: This book was so inherently sad, and not in a sweet, sad story kind of way. It was a real, brutal story about life and death and family, and it left me feeling so sad. But I would also relate to the characters, and many times they reminded me of my own family. So I think that even though it's kind of a downer book (while also hilarious!), the author did the story justice by keeping things real and honest.

Should you read it? Yes. Maybe.

What have you been reading?

Monday, May 18, 2015

When You Don't Know What to Do, Do What You Know to Do.

How many times have you reached a point in your life where you just didn't know what to do? A few? A lot? Once a week? Every day? For me, it's all. the. time. 

When high school was drawing to a close and I was supposed to be registering for classes for the fall, I stayed in a constant state of I don't know what to do. Did I want to be a teacher? A psychologist? Something practical or something exciting? I had no idea, and I said so--a lot.

Most of the best life lessons I've learned from my dad haven't come from big, serious talks, but rather off the cuff remarks and just his life in general. While I was panicking about a major, he was in a constant state of calm--which says a lot considering he was the one who was about the pay for my semester(s) of I don't know at a private college.

One day, while I was flipping through the major options for the hundredth time, trying to find something that really stuck out to me, he said something I will never forget.

When you don't know what to do, do what you know to do. 

At the time, I think that I took it to mean I should pick a major based on what I already knew (spoiler alert--I did not), but that one sentence has stuck with me since. I don't know what to do has been more present in my adult life than it was in high school, and that advice is more applicable today than ever.

When you don't know what to do, do what you know to do.

I may not know how to solve every problem that comes my way, or how to decide the next steps to take, or which way to go when I come to a crossroads, but there are some things that I do know.

I know that waking up a little early to enjoy a good cup of coffee while wrapped up in my covers ensures I have a much better day at work.

I know that there are very few things getting lost in a good book can't fix.

I know that taking a step back and focusing on others instead of myself is necessary if I want to live a full life.

I know that making time to read the Bible centers me.

I know that compliments are free to give and an easy way to make two people's day at once.

I know that take-out and netflix with best friends is way more fulfilling that a night out.

I may not know a lot about the big stuff, but I do know a lot of the small stuff...and sometimes that is the big stuff.

What do you know to do?

Friday, May 15, 2015

it's a beautiful day to be thankful.

This week, I'm thankful for...

Concerts with my best friend. Sometimes you find out that Mat Kearney--who you loved and listened to throughout high school and college--is right down the road from you having a concert. And when you find this out, you drop what you are doing and go to said concert. 

And then sometimes the opener ends up being so good and hilarious that you make this face all night: 

Pool days. Summer has arrived, and I plan on taking full advantage of my rooftop pool for as many days as I can. 

Marriage. Someone was asking me about marriage last week, and the best way I could explain it was this: Even if I fail at everything in my life--if I lose my job and all of my friends and ruin everything around me--I know that I can come home and there will still be one person on my team, no matter what. And that's just the best feeling in the world. 

Country music. I love country music, and lately I can't get enough of it. I can't stop listening to this song. It is absolutely hilarious, but it's also very true. 

What are you thankful for this week?

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

YA Books You Need to Read This Summer.

Even in Paradise.

Even in Paradise is about an unexpected summer, unconventional true love, and fancy beach parties full of dancing and champagne under the stars.

Read this book if...

-You liked The Great Gatsby and stories along those lines.

-You like summer love stories that aren't cut and dry exactly like you would expect.

See it on Goodreads.

Paper Towns. 

Paper Towns is one of the best books I've read in a long time. The characters are hilarious, and it manages to be entertaining and light-hearted while at the same time covering the deep issues of figuring out who you are and what you want.

Read this book if...

-You like John Green. Really, that's the only reason you need.

-You plan on seeing the movie this summer.

-You like unique adventures.

See it on Goodreads.

We Were Liars.

It's so hard to talk about this book without spoiling things, but I will say it's a summer read that will keep you on your toes. You'll either love it or hate it, but I say it's worth a read either way.

Read this book if...

-You like mysteries that aren't just about figuring out who the murderer is.

-You like YA novels with sophisticated prose.

See it on Goodreads.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower. 
Sometimes you need to switch up your light-hearted summer reading and read something that really makes you think and ask yourself a lot of questions. This book will do that. 

Ps: This book has nothing to do with summer, except that the first time I read it was on a cruise in the middle of the ocean. So it makes me think of summer, even though the setting is in fall and winter. 

Read this book if...

-You like coming-of-age stories.

-You saw the movie. The movie was great, but the book is incredible.

-You're in the mood for a summer read that isn't just light and fun.

See it on Goodreads.

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants Series. 
I'm a sucker for reading books that make me nostalgic during the summer. This one will do that for sure. The older I get, the more I appreciate true friendships, and that's what this book is all about. 

Read theses books if...

-You like books that focus on the ins-and-outs of friendship

-You have a little bit of wanderlust.

See the first one on Goodreads.

The Truth About Forever. See also: Every Sarah Dessen book, ever.
Sarah Dessen is my favorite author, and her books are the BEST for summer reading. If you want to get real wild and crazy, I say you should try and read all of her books this summer. They're that good.

Read this book if...

-You like flawed characters you can relate to.

-You want a book that you will miss the second you finish it.

-You want to get lost in a summer that isn't all about happiness and having fun.

See it on Goodreads.

Happy to be Alive, Because.

Read this book if...

-You like to read my blog.

-You like summer stories set at the beach.

-You think sometimes the best love stories are those that have to do with friendship.

Learn more here.

Summer reading is my favorite, so I'm sure I'll have several more posts like this. Cheers to days by the pool losing yourself in a good story!

What's on your summer reading list? 

Thursday, May 7, 2015

At One Point, Your Favorite Book Did Not Exist.

Having dreams is hard work. Really, no matter what stage you're at. Whether you're failing or succeeding or chasing them, dreams and goals and hopes are hard work. And when they make things difficult, it can be easy to look around at others who seem to be successful and just decide you're not cut out for this.

But here's the thing.

At one point, things that you use now on a daily basis--iPhones and instagram and those sorts of things--were nothing more than ideas, if that.

There was a time when that life-changing idea that helped so many people across the world only existed in one person's mind.

At one point, your favorite book did not exist. There were no ideas, chapters, publishing contracts. It simply did not exist.

One thing that everyone who has ever succeeded has in common is that at one point, they had not succeeded yet. And then, they did. 

An idea and hard work and perseverance and a connection or two and some time and a little bit of magic later, their dream was a reality.

So maybe right now, your book doesn't exist yet. Your great idea still only lives in your head. Your big dream is too unrealistic, too expensive, too foolish.

If that's the case, you're on the right track. And you're in good company.

You don't know when it's going to be your turn. 

You never know when things are going to turn around.

Don't quit before you get there.

If there's a beautiful story living inside your head, what a shame it would be to quit before the world got a chance to read it.

What a pity it would be to give up before your big ideas have a chance to change the world.

So yes, dreams are hard, no matter how you look at it. And when they get to be too hard--when you're too tired or too broke or too overwhelmed or feel too small, you have to remember this.

These are words I grew up hearing my dad say over and over, words that reverberate in my brain when I'm tired and want to stop waking up early to write. Words that shoot (sometimes painfully) through my heart when I want to stop blogging and stop writing and find something else I like almost as much and just settle with being almost as happy.

If you don't quit, you can't lose. 

If you keep going, eventually you're going to make it. A week from now or twenty years from now or next month...if you keep going, you will win this.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

just write: never said hello.

never said hello poem

I’m deaf from all the words
that you never even said, 
hoarse from all the screaming 
that only happened in my head. 

my hands ache from all the punches 
from the fights that never were, 
my brain hurts from overthinking
answers to questions I never heard. 

these bruises make it pretty clear
it’s time to let you go. 
but how do you start to say goodbye, 
when you never said hello?

"The "what-if's" and "should-haves" will eat your brain." -John O'Callaghan

Friday, May 1, 2015

Spending May: A To-Do List for Adventuring Through the Month.

1. Play mini golf.

2. Call in sick and go to the beach. Or the pool, or a park.

3. Make your summer reading list. I've got some suggestions.

4. Go for a walk and take pictures of things in your neighborhood. Sometimes when you see something every day, you can forget how beautiful it is.

5. Celebrate Cinco de Mayo. Tacos and queso and guac, oh my.

6. Start a new show on Netflix.

7. Find a hammock (or at least a really comfortable chair) and spend the day reading. 

8. Have a movie night where you only watch movies that you actually own. Because there was a day before Red Box when you actually purchased movies.

9. Get a library card.

10. Dedicate a night to a project you've been meaning to get to forever. 

11. Every Monday, write down three things you're thankful for. Your week will be at least ten percent better because of this.

12. Invite your family (or friends that are family) over for dinner. 

13. Have a bonfire.

14. Make it a point to spend some time outside every day.

15. Have your own wine tasting party. It's cheaper, and you get to try wines that you know you'll like, instead of paying a bunch of money to pretend you like the wine that is literally described as having hints of pencil shavings and leather. Also, unlimited cheese. Yes.

16. Make your own ice cream. Look how adorable this ice cream maker is!

17. Plan your summer road trip.

18. Make grilled pizza. If you've never done this, I would be more than happy to share how we do it!

19. Spend more time in the sun and less time looking at a screen.

20. Bring a coworker coffee or breakfast and leave it on their desk with a note. 

21. Say yes to more. Ask yourself your reasons when your first instinct is to say no: Is it because you're afraid or don't think you're good enough? If that's the case, change your answer.

22. Say no to more. Did you say yes just because you feel obligated or don't want to upset someone? If so, change your answer. Life is too short to not have any time to yourself because you gave all of yours away out of obligation.

23. Learn to cook something new. 

24. Go to a theme park or a fair. If you live near a theme park, I highly suggest season passes. They're way more affordable than you might think!

25. Read these. And then write your heart out.

26. Make your own ice cream sandwiches.

27. Go see Pitch Perfect 2.

28. Find a sangria or summer cocktail recipe you really like. And save yourself a ton of money in the process.

29. Spend a day by the pool with no plans whatsoever. 

30. Watch a sunset over the water. Or at least by the water.

31. Make S'mores. Nothing says summer quite like burnt marshmallows.