Happy Wednesday! Its time for some books. I am enthralled in The Royal Runaway right now. It is has totally sucked me in and I will be sharing all my thoughts next Wednesday when I round up October’s reads. For today I am going to be sharing some books on my to read list right now. In general my to-read list is very very long and continuously growing but there are some that top my list right now. I did a post like this back in July and actually really liked writing it since it made me take a closer look at my Goodreads and my bookshelves. I also think it is fun to hear what books other people have been intrigued by lately.
I will go ahead and start off with the two non-fiction books I am dying to read. The first is The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs by Steve Brusatte. Despite being a scientist I was kind of surprised to be so interested in this one. This follows the evolution of the dinosaurs (yep talk about nerdy). I have heard good things about it and since I am really hoping to read a couple of science books per year I think it would be a good read. The other non-fiction book at the top of my list right now is Quiet by Susan Cain. I actually started it over a year ago and for some reason did not really get into it. Lately I have been thinking a lot about how people interact with each other and I think this would be something I should read. I have several friends who are very introverted and I think it always helps relationships to understand where other people are coming from.
On to fiction. The first is My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante. So far I have only heard good things about this one and it has been on my shelf for a few months now so putting it at the top of my list. It is the first of four books of two girls growing up in Italy. Next is The Summer Book by Tove Jansson. It is the current Life’s Library book and since they just announced the next one I am really needing to start this one! I probably know the least about this one, only that it is about a young girl and her grandmother. Lastly is Finale by Stephanie Garber. My friend and I are trying to read together since we have similar taste and this is suppose to be our October book. Yep I am behind on the reading for sure but am going to try to read it on the plane on Friday. It is the third installment in the Caraval series (which I have raved about before).
I would love to hear of any books that you are dying to read!
While I usually read more fiction than non-fiction, I do try to read at least one non-fiction book per month. Some of my favorite books have definitely been non-fiction! I am going to share my current five favorites. At some point I will do a non-fiction round up by subject but for now here are the ones that have really stuck with me:
The Sixth Extinction: Yes I am starting off with some incredible science writing. This is by far my favorite non-fiction book and has continued to be ever since I read it. Elizabeth Kolbert addresses the sixth major extinction that humans are causing through the lens of different environmental issues. I first read this as a freshman in college and it was one of the reasons I became a biologist.
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks: This is a brilliant book about the woman whose cells have been widely used in medicine. It is such an interesting read and an important one considering the impact this woman has had on science.
Educated: I talked about this one in my Favorite Books of 2018 post. But it is one of my favorites because it tells the story of a Tara Westover and her journey from a reclusive family in Idaho to a graduate student at Cambridge. I found it fascinating and highly recommend it (especially as an audiobook!).
Three Women: I have raved about this book for a while. It is just so different as far as non-fiction goes. It kind of reads like fiction which makes it easier to read but it is about the lives of three women their experiences with sexuality. It sounds a little strange but it is truly amazing and made me think! It was also included in my August Books.
Unbroken: This is the story of a man who faced some crazy struggles throughout World War II. During WWII his plane goes down in the pacific ocean and he goes through some serious mental and physical struggles as he floats on a raft for an insane amount of time. For some reason this story has stuck with me for a long time. I read it back in 2011 and still think about it. The perseverance and mental strength exhibited are incredibly inspiring.
While I love to read finding the time to do so can be a real challenge. In college I really only read during breaks because I was reading so much for classes that I never had the time. It was also just a busy time in general with endless homework and socializing (don’t get me wrong I absolutely loved college). Since graduating I have made a big effort to get back into reading and wanted to share some of the ways that I allot time for reading.
I am definitely a believer that if you really want to do something you can make the time for it. There are definitely ways to bring reading into your day despite a very busy schedule. I am in graduate school and it is honestly if anything even more crazy than undergrad. There is still lots of reading involved and I always could be doing something else. Here are some ways I try to make reading a daily habit:
Getting an hour in before bed and/or just after waking up. This has been the easiest way for me to get some reading in every day. Just by waking up an hour earlier or choosing to read instead of watch TV before by has really helped.
Spending the occasional weekend half day. I say occasional because I know that it is not practical for many people to have even half a day every weekend to dedicate to reading. I usually do this when I really just need some time for myself. It also usually happens when I am reading a book that I just can’t put down. Giving this kind of time does allow me to actually finish multiple books.
Audiobooks. If you really don’t have time this is probably the best option. Audiobooks are a great way to kind of multitask. I usually have an audiobook going for transportation and even sometimes at work. I can usually listen to an easy novel and follow the plot while still doing basic things.
Choosing the right book. This is a really hard one to articulate but I am way more likely to finish a book quickly if I am really excited about it. For me this means mixing genres and reading books that I just can’t put down.
Rereading your favorites. I find that rereading Harry Potter is so therapeutic and is often easy because I don’t need to be fully present (although I love it so often end up fully immersed). This is a good strategy if you have not been inspired to read recently and need something familiar (and that you know you will love).
Choosing to listen to a book via audio has definitely change my reading experience and my opinion of it drastically. Personally when I listen to a book I feel like it is easy for me to miss a lot so the person reading it really needs to be engaging and read true to the story.
Daisy Jones and the Six: This is hands down my favorite audiobook ever. Each character’s part is read by someone different and for me that really brought the characters to life. It is a whole different experience that is so worth it. I don’t often feel like I would listen to an audiobook again but I would for sure listen to this one many times.
Leaving Time: This Jodi Picoult novel was such a beautiful story. This is one of relatively few audiobooks that I really felt there for the whole time. I didn’t think I missed anything. I am pretty sure this had to do with the narrator. She just told it well and with emotion which really helps when listening to an audiobook.
The Caraval Series: So far I have finished the first two book as audiobooks from Audible and the library. I am about to start the second one on Libro.fm and I can’t wait. I think the reason I like these as audiobooks is that the narrator just has a great voice for this particular story and these characters. I feel like she really embodies how Tella and Scarlet feel. I have talked about this series in past book posts so I won’t go into the plot too much but I do recommend it as an audiobook!
Talking as Fast as I Can: Lauren Graham narrates her own book and of course it is amazing. She is hilarious and definitely does not disappoint in her autobiography. I do think actors reading their own books are so entertaining and really bring out all the feelings and stories.
Big Magic: Again, books narrated by their authors tend to be much better. Often this occurs in non-fiction but if you find fiction narrated by the author it is usually pretty good since they know exactly how things should sound and feel. Big Magic is such an inspiration and Elizabeth Gilbert does a great job articulating her story and how creativity has played a role in her life.
I wanted to end this post by talking a bit about where I get audiobooks. There are several great options. First I recommend making an Overdrive account with your local library. You just download the app and can borrow up to five or six audiobooks. This is a great way to borrow for free however I often have to wait for books I want to download. It also really does not work for extra popular books (it is always worth checking though). There is also Hoopla which is another library app that lets you borrow books. I can only download one at a time and only one a month.
The second audiobook option is buying them. The easiest and cheapest way to do this is through a subscription service. I started out with Audible a couple years ago. It is run by Amazon and a cheapish (14.95 per month for one credit which gets you one book per month) way to get just about any book. You do get some other things from that membership like two of their Audible originals. The way I am currently purchasing audiobooks is through the app libro.fm. This app allows you to support either independent bookstores in general or a specific one of your choosing. It works very similarly to Audible in that you pay 14.99 per month and get a credit for a book. It also has additional discounts for other books you purchase. I really like supporting independent bookstores so I switched in order to do that better.
Let me know if you have an good audiobooks that you have listened to lately!
This time of year is the best! I just love everything and probably talk about it way too much. Halloween is such a fun holiday and I love embracing October as that season. Give me all the pumpkins, corn mazes, costumes, witches, etc… A big part of what influences my mood are books. I love theming my books to get me excited and even more into that season. So here I am listing books that give me all the fall/Halloween feels. Most are mysteries but my criteria are just books I either love to read at this time of year or books that I always pictured set during October. I have not read a lot that would probably be on this list so I am just giving a disclaimer that I am only including books I have read or am reading now.
Harry Potter (any but especially the first book): It is true that I could read Harry Potter any time of year but the best time to read it is October through December. I just love all the holiday scenes and it goes perfectly with a cozy blanket and cup of tea.
Murder on the Orient Express: Agatha Christie is a fantastic writing and this classic story lives up to the hype. I first read it for a project in eight grade and it has been a favorite ever since.
Sherlock Holmes: I have loved every Sherlock Holmes mystery that I read. They are relatively short, interesting and great for October evenings. I also enjoy great detective stories in general!
Magpie Murders: A great murder mystery (involving a editor) that has great twists and is perfect for Halloween.
This month was not great at all for reading! I was really hoping to do better but I was so busy with work and with putting a lot more work into the blog so I fell very short on the reading side. I only finished three books.
American Royals (5/5 stars): I raved about this book on Instagram because it is amazing. I was totally sucked into the lives of the American royals. The book takes place in an alternate time where George Washington was made king instead of president. The plot follows the romantic lives of the three royal siblings and everything that comes with being right at the center of attention. The little details about history and how it changed slightly were a great touch.
Recursion (3/5 starts): So overall this was a really interesting read. The reason I rated it lower is that I had a very hard time getting into it and although it did pick up quite a bit I still had a hard time finishing it. I am not really sure why I guess it was just kind of slow and hard to follow at times. It is about this women who creates a memory chair that does much more that she intended. The story is about all that occurs once it has been invented. I am not even sure what genre this is to be honest. I will say that I listened to this one as an audiobook and sometimes I have a harder time following a book as audio.
Bringing Down the Duke (4.5/5 stars): This is another great romance. I am not usually drawn to romance novels but this month I just happen to read two! I really loved this one as well. It takes place in 1800’s England and it is the story of a girl and a Duke and getting women the right to vote. I won’t say too much because I highly recommend reading it. It is so good!
Hopefully October will be better although I already know it is going to be very crazy! Let me know what you have been reading lately!
Sunday and Monday were work at home days. I am in the middle of some big projects so I really needed some time to focus and get some things finished. I love being in the lab but it can be very distracting and I always end up doing a bunch of other things. I was also able to spend time planning out blog posts and brainstorming for the holiday months.
Tuesday’s are always busy with teaching and this one was no different. I will say despite arriving at 8:00am and not leaving until almost 6:00pm I did enjoy talking with all of my students. Aiden and I also went to Morty’s for lunch which was a great break in a busy day and they have some gorgeous views. They also have one of the most delicious veggie breakfast burritos! We also picked a ton of apples since our trees are loaded right now and the apples taste delicious.
Wednesday and Thursday were just busy work days. Since I am leaving for Vermont next week I am trying to get a lot done before I go. I did go to the SACNAS social and went to my professor’s presentation. We also started house sitting on Wednesday… hence the cat Instagram stories. Her cats are so cuddle and adorable and I am loving it. I stayed up way too late working on Thursday night yet the craziness was just beginning. I went to yoga in the morning with a friend who is in town for the weekend (from Seattle). I then worked until 12:30pm before heading down to Salt Lake City to pick up a friend who is visiting from Austin. We got coffee at this cute little place called Blue Copper Coffee Room. Then we made a Target and Trader Joe’s run before heading back to Logan. The leaves are changing color in Sardine Canyon and it is so beautiful! Our roommate is moving to Oregon so we stopped at her cookie farewell party before calling it a day.
It rained almost all Saturday (and it is continuing today and Monday). Since my friend is visiting we still wanting to show her around a bit so we went to the farmer’s market (yes it was still open despite the rain and cold). We got coffees and berries and then headed to Lucky Slice for a pizza lunch (great vegan pizza if you are ever in the area). It was so nice to spend the afternoon under warm blankets. We just read, napped and watched the rain/hail. To end the day we made a bread run and cooked some delicious food.
Vox article on Reese’s Bookclub. A reader suggested this article and it is a great look at the power of celebrity book clubs (particularly Reese’s). I highly recommend this article, especially if you follow her book club. It gives insight into how books are chosen and to how integral books are to Reese Witherspoon’s brand.
Mattel’s gender neutral dolls. I am so an board with this! It is such a great way to teach kids that is ok to be yourself (whoever that may be) and to accept others for who they are.
A video on Kate Middleton as a royal. I have never been that into the current British monarchy, aside for Kate and Megan’s outfits because they are always amazing, but I clicked on this video and was definitely intrigued by their influence and presence.
Instagram: @chloeiscrazy is hilarious and I definitely went down a bit of a rabbit hole watching her posts.
Clothing obsession: Mark and Graham sweater coat. I posted about it in my Favorite Fall Outerwear post and have worn it four out of the five weekdays this week. Also I do want to say that I actually bought this on Poshmark a few weeks ago (first Poshmark purchase!).
Reading: I am attempting to finish Thunderhead (the second book in the Scythe series). I loved the first one and still like this one but I am just having a hard time to get into it.
Podcast: I mentioned last week that I was looking forward to Bad on Politics with Grace and Becca and it did not disappoint. I can’t recommend it enough. They had Alyssa Mastromonaco on and she had amazing information to share about how the primaries work and about how to get involved in politics. I also tried hard to keep up with current events this week via NPR’s Up First.
I also can’t finish this post without mentioning some of my Trader Joe’s favorites. I am a huge fan and kind of go crazy every time we go since the closest one is in Salt Lake.
Things I am looking forward to next week:
I am not sure if any more info will be out this week but the next Atlantic-Pacific x Halogen collection is suppose to come out in October and I am beyond excited. Blair is one of my style icons and I have loved her collections so far.
Going to Vermont this week is definitely my number one. I can’t wait to see my family and I just found out that I get to see one of my best friends from college as well. I also am hoping for some gorgeous colors.
My friend from Seattle is actually visiting to defend her dissertation and I am so excited for her. Her presentation is Monday morning and we are going to celebrate afterwards, I can’t wait for both!
As you may have noticed I have been doing my very best to post every single day. It is a long story but in short I came to a point in my daily life where I just was not happy about a lot of things. I have been constantly stressed about work and about random life things. I needed something that I just enjoy doing that I can kind of release some stress in doing. I have been thinking a lot about this blog and about the kinds of things I want to be posting and I made a brainstorm calendar of potential posts. The calendar just started to quickly fill up. At first I thought it was crazy to try to post so much but I realized I was excited for every one of the post ideas and I realized that I need this in my life right now. For many it may sound counter intuitive to use something that keeps a set schedule as a way of releasing stress but for me it actually has been forcing me to do something I want to be doing.
I will admit that I am going to try my hardest but my life as a graduate student is incredibly crazy so I am not sure how long I will be able to keep it up. Travel has also historically been tough for me in that I have not been as focused on getting posts up so they usually fall to the wayside. I do have a trip coming up next week and while I am trying to prepare posts for that time I am not sure how it is going to go. I guess that will be a good test for myself!
So for the time being my posting schedule will be as follows. Mondays will be just a kind of random lifestyle post (i.e. seasonal fun, movies/shows I am loving etc…). Tuesdays and Thursdays will be style posts (with the occasional style post on Saturday as well). Wednesdays will be dedicated to talking books and Fridays will be either a travel/adventure post or another lifestyle post. Saturdays will generally be a day off but I do have a couple of style posts planned for a few Saturdays in the coming months. Sundays will be a summary of my week.
Happy Wednesday! Today I am excited to share my favorite YA (young adult) reads from the last couple of months. I am a big YA fan so I am hoping to get around to an all time favorites post. For now though, here are the best YA novels that I read in the past six or so months.
The Hate U Give: I am convinced that this book should be required reading in high schools right now. There is so much to learn from this account of a black teenager’s experience watching her friend get shot by the police. It is a perspective that is hard for me, as a privileged white-girl, to fully grasp and this book really helped. It is heart-braking, eye-opening and incredibly well written. If you read anything on this list, this book is definitely the one.
American Royals: On an entirely different note this is a very light hearted novel about the romances of American royalty. It spins the current state of our government in that instead making George Washington a president he was made king and the United States became a monarchy. The historical changes are fascinating and I highly enjoyed both the setting and the story lines. It centers around the royal children coming of age and their experiences with love. I was absolutely sucked into this one from the very beginning. If you want an easy but fun read, this is a great pick!
Scythe: So the Scythe trilogy has quickly become a favorite of mine as well. I found it when Aiden took me to Barnes and Noble for my birthday and I am a huge dystopian fiction fan so this series quickly caught my eye. It is set in a future where the government is largely artificial intelligence. The only thing humans still really control is who dies since the population is still out of control. Scythe’s choose who die and are the ones to kill them. This story follows Citra and Rowen through their journey as scythe’s apprentices. I am currently in the middle of the second book, Thunderhead and am still loving it.
Caraval: The other series that I have been very into in the last few months is the Caraval series. It is so magical and the author does an incredible job bringing the characters to life. I find myself so able to see and feel what the characters experience. I listened to both the first and second books as audiobooks and really enjoyed it. The series centers around two sisters and their relationship with a fantastical performance/game called Caraval. It is a fascinating story that had me hooked from the beginning.
As a kind of bonus I wanted to include some YA that I am excited to read in the next few months. I chose the top three on my list and tried to mix up genres a bit.
First is Turtles All the Way Down by John Green. I have always been a John Green fan and was just excited for this one when it was released. I am honestly not sure when I have not finished it yet. I got about 50 pages in a few months ago and then had to leave for fieldwork so it just kind of fell to the wayside. I am still psyched about it and hope to finish soon.
Next is The Royal Runaway by Lindsey Emory. After reading American Royals I really was feeling something similar so I took a deep dive into books (specifically romance) that center around royalty. I am also really wanting to read Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston. Yep anything with royals and a forbidden romance.
Last on todays list of to read YA is Endgame by James Frey. I am not sure I would have picked this out myself but I found it in my grandmother’s books and was intrigued. I read the back cover and am now dying for some time to read it!
That is all for today! I hope that you are having a great week and that you enjoyed today’s book list.
In all honesty the past couple of months have been absolutely insane. Our two roommates are both moving to Oregon so we are in the middle of trying to fill the basement apartment. Aiden has had some health stuff so that has also been at the top of my mind. Work is totally crazy as well. My to-do list is very long and only keeps growing. To say the least I have been incredibly overwhelmed! We do have a lot of thing planned for the next few months, some of which should be very fun. This past week has mostly been work with a few fun things thrown in.
Last weekend my uncle and cousin visited! It was absolutely amazing and I could not have asked for a better time with them. I did not take a single picture because I was just in the present and not really thinking about it! They came so that my cousin could check out USU and they also brought some vintage furniture of my grandmother’s. My cousin and I explored campus for a while and then picked up some bread from Crumb Brother’s. We took them to Le Nonne’s (on of the best restaurants in Logan) for dinner and then made an apple crisp with apples from our tree for dessert.
I always dedicate Monday and Tuesday to teaching so I spent lots of time prepping the lab, writing out the protocol and then teaching. In general it is the most stressful time of the week but it went pretty smoothly. Aiden came into work with me a couple times throughout the week and we got lunch at the Skyroom (on USU’s campus and Morty’s (both are delicious and reasonably priced). We ended the day on Tuesday my watching Chiddy Chiddy Bang Bang (a classic favorite).
I honestly don’t have a ton to say about the rest of the week. Lots of stuff came up with work so I ended up spending way more time that expected working. Friday was my favorite. I stopped working early and we had a great night making food and watching The Ugly Truth (such a funny rom-com, Aiden loved it too!). Yesterday (Saturday) I spent pretty much the whole day working but we did go on a nice walk and watched Friends while we ate dinner.
A few interesting articles:
12-year old singing ventriloquist. Aiden showed me the champions America’s Got Talent final this morning and we went down a rabbit hole watching this girl. She is absolutely amazing and I can’t get over it!
Clothing obsession: white sweater from Everlane. It is freaking amazing and I am obsessed.
I also gave Trunk Club a try this week. I thought it might get me out of my comfort zone but it kind of made me realize that I really just like shopping for myself (also I think I can find way better deals on things). Don’t get me wrong they did have some really cute things and I did keep 4 of the 15 items they sent. I just decided I probably won’t do a whole post on the experience so I wanted to mention it here.
Reading: 100% obsessed with the book Bringing Down the Duke right now. The romance definitely just sucked my in and it helped a ton that it is set around the movement to allow women to vote in the 1800’s in England. I highly recommend it!
Skin care: I am not that big into make up and skin product but my friend recommended Drunk Elephant a few months ago and I have been trying it out (I started with the littles kit). So far I really love it but I am not sure which products I will be repurchasing.
Oh also I am super psyched for Grace and Becca’s new podcast mini series, Bad on Politics! They host Bad on Paper podcast which is one of my favorite book podcasts. They are going to be discussing the 2020 election and they will be bringing on some great guests.
Other things on my schedule include lots of work things, shooting some really exciting posts and I have a friend coming to visit at the end of the week!