Refreshing & Reliable Reads: My Book Suggestions

Hello World!

Well, somehow I’ve managed to be absent from my blog for over a month… going on 2! Eeek! (So much for that New Year’s Resolution, in terms of connecting digitally. :-P)

Lately, I’ve found myself completely engulfed in reading. I haven’t read this much in a LONG time. Normally, when I get in the mood to read, I find a book, devour it in a handful of days, especially once I get to the “meaty” part, and then find it’s hard to pick up a second book for fear of “ruining” the one I just finished. Well, that is certainly not my current predicament! Once I put down one book, I’m just itching to get the next one started!

This is, in part, thanks to my great group of girlfriends that are now all spread out across the US! (Oklahoma, Maryland, and me in Colorado!) In order to stay connected, as life has taken us in all different directions, we started a book exchange! On (or around) the 15th of each month we either march down to the post office, or down the hall to the other person’s office, and exchange a book that we want to share! It’s been a super fun journey and has given me a wide array of new stories and perspectives on life in just a few short months!

In addition to the book exchange, I had made another New Year’s Resolution to read 12 books… 1 for each month of the year! Well, folks, I have already read 6 books! (7 if you count the audio book I listened to!) And officially started my 7th (or 8th) last night! 🙂 And it’s only April 1st!!!! Wowza! At this rate, I may triple or quadruple my original goal! Eeeek!

So, I thought, since I was having such a great time reading all these books, and they are so eclectic, I thought I would share my finds with my digital world, in case you’re looking for a good book, too! So here are my unofficial reviews of the books I’ve devoured so far this year!

  1. Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick. First off, I LOVE Anna Kendrick! I mentioned in a previous post, how she is on my list of “dream Hollywood BFFs!” Her book was so funny and so real and so down to earth. She talks about her rise to fame and all the obstacles and successes that came along with her journey. This was the first book I passed along in my book exchange and I felt it was a fun book to kick off the year with!

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  2. Between Breaths by Elizabeth Vargas. Elizabeth Vargas, the ABC News anchor, has struggled with alcohol publicly throughout her career. In her memoir, Vargas chronicles her journey up-to, and through, alcohol dependency. As some of you may know, I myself do not drink alcohol. Neither does my husband, Tyler. We both have long family histories that are tangled with alcohol issues. It’s part of what brought us together in the beginning of our relationship, especially at a time when many of our peers were first discovering alcohol and it seemed that was they “only way to be cool.” Reading about Elizabeth’s struggles and triumphs was really eye-opening. Plus, I’m an “ABC girl.” It’s always been my news of choice… GMA, ABC World News Tonight, The View, KMBC 9 News (KC), KOCO (Oklahoma City), and now Denver7! It’s an interesting look into Elizabeth Vargas’ life.

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  3. How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie. This was my audiobook that got me through a handful of long commutes. A lot of the principles seem like common sense. And they are. But it was really enlightening to hear the stories connected to each lesson. Just having these small reminders to “smile,” to “show honest and sincere appreciation,” to “try to honestly see things from the other person’s point of view,” and to “talk about your own mistakes before criticizing another person,” along with countless other important reminders, really had me thinking of all the ways I interact with people. From my friends and family, to my students – I wanted to take each of these lessons and find ways to apply them to my daily life. This is certainly a book to have on the bookshelf and to refer back to it many times throughout your life!

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  4. The Twenty-One Balloons by William Pène du Bois. What a fun and whimsical story! I had read this one before, but it came to me as my 1st book exchange book. It’s about a man, looking for solace in his life after retiring from teaching school. He hops in a hot air balloon, hoping to fly around the world, however he ends up stumbling onto a secluded village that resides at the base of a volcano. This self-sustaining village is quaint and innovative and the man falls in love with their way of life! I won’t ruin the story for you, but it is fun to think about traveling the world in a hot air balloon and stumbling upon a hidden village! The book is a Newberry Medal winner from 1948… it’s a classic.

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  5. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. My second book exchange read. This one is all about adventure and finding your purpose in life and living up to it. It really had me thinking about my own path in life and all the forces that have helped to push me in the right direction. I am, at times, a little superstitious and believe “coincidences” to actually be “signs,” so this was right up my alley. Plus, as Amanda (who gifts me with books in our book exchange) warned me, it will make you want to pack up (or sell) all of your belongings and travel the world to make sure you are indeed on your correct path in life!

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  6. Talking As Fast As You Can by Lauren Graham. Ok. Guilty pleasure admission time… First, before being an avid reader, I have always been an avid TV-watcher… for better or for worse. It’s just who I am. I have many of “my tv shows” that I get hooked on, and I’ve been known to binge watch a few seasons of shows when I’m looking for a new one. It’s how I got hooked on Grey’s Anatomy 12 years ago, it’s how Tyler and I got hooked on The Walking Dead, Dexter, and Breaking Bad. I watched 90210 (the new one), Fuller House, Pretty Little Liars, Switched at Birth (I can’t believe I’m admitting all of this!) and most recently Gilmore Girls. I wasn’t a GG Fan when the series was originally airing. (Upon watching it I realized Rory is about 2-3 years older that I am, so I just wasn’t “in the same place” when it originally aired, but watching it now, I was totally right there with her and all the references of the times!) As the news of the reunion series got bigger and bigger, and some of my friends were commenting on it, I decided it was time to see what all the fuss was about. About 10 minutes into the first episode of the original series and I had already laughed and cried and swooned. I knew I was hooked. So, I proceeded to watch all 7 seasons, and then the new series. (In about 3 months time.) (There are going to be more “A Year In the Life” series, right?!?) And then I read Lauren Graham’s book. (I had a feeling I needed to be in the know on both the original series and the new series in order to read spoiler free…. yup, I was right! Anyways, just like GG, Lauren Graham had me laughing, crying, and swooning. It was a fun read and offered some fun insights into a show I have now come to love. And I really enjoyed Lauren’s writing style. It was fun and quirky, just like I imagine she would be in real life!

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    The idea for this picture came from checking out Lauren Graham’s Twitter! I’m not sure where it started, but her fans are creating the other half of Lauren’s face like this and I thought I’d give it a try! It’s harder than it looks, folks!    😛

  7. Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult. This was my first Jodi Picoult novel. And my favorite book so far this year. Breathtakingly beautiful and painful, all in the same breath. A very timely novel, based on the current “race relations” and social justice discussions occurring in our country, and it really hit me hard. The compassion Jodi shows and expresses through the three characters (written from each of their POVs) is astounding and eye-opening. I think this is the first novel that has even literally moved me to tears. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve certainly shed a few tears over other stories, but this one really caught me off guard and took my breath away. A book I could encourage everyone to read.

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  8. And now, I’ve started reading Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder by Arianna Huffington. This one has been on my list for a while and while I was waiting for my next book exchange book, I decided to pop over to our local library (the first time I’ve ventured there since we moved into our house this past summer!), to check it out! I’m about 40 pages in, and so far loving the lessons! Hopefully, I’ll come back soon with another update once I’ve finished it! 🙂

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Reading all of these books so far this year has really opened up my eyes and my mind to all these different perspectives and ways of life. I feel like they’ve really been fueling me as a person, and encouraging me to strive for “more” in all areas of my life – namely, more connection and authenticity – the two things I was really seeking to explore this year! So, if you’re looking for a good read, I would highly recommend any of these! 🙂 And I wish you Happy Reading!

Until Next Time

~*~ Megan ~*~

P.S. If you’re reading any great books right now, please share them! I’m sure after I finish Thrive, I’ll be looking for my next book!

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