On My Bookshelf: Wild by Cheryl Strayed

Wild I’ve been looking for a book club for several years since I left a pretty awesome one in Los Angeles.  Finally a few people recommended that I use meetup.com to find one.  Well I went on and signed up for a few different groups.

The first one was reading the book Wild by Cheryl Strayed.  This was a book that I’d heard about and was on my “let’s read eventually” list so I decided to pick it up and give it a whirl.

This woman is absolutely insane.  First of all, I guess I wonder about how accurate her timeline actually is.  I think that for the most part, what she wrote about, did actually happen but I’m not convinced that it was in as short of a time period as she states.

Here is the goodreads.com synopsis:
“A powerful, blazingly honest memoir: the story of an eleven-hundred-mile solo hike that broke down a young woman reeling from catastrophe—and built her back up again.
 
At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother’s death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life: to hike the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State—and to do it alone. She had no experience as a long-distance hiker, and the trail was little more than “an idea, vague and outlandish and full of promise.” But it was a promise of piecing back together a life that had come undone. 
 
Strayed faces down rattlesnakes and black bears, intense heat and record snowfalls, and both the beauty and loneliness of the trail. Told with great suspense and style, sparkling with warmth and humor, Wild vividly captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her.”

Again, I think this woman is absolutely insane and it’s a miracle that she didn’t die with how unprepared she was.  Strayed does a wonderful job of describing the ultimate beauty and tranquility she experienced and I definitely want to walk the Oregon parts of the trail but after much training and making sure I have all the necessary equipment.

For the book meetup, we met at a local brewery/public meet house and it was a lot of fun.  I convinced a friend of mine to come with me so I didn’t have to go alone and we met with about eight other like-minded readers.  All in all, a good time was had and I will definitely be going to more meetings!

On My Bookshelf: Blogger Girl

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Blogger Girl

I loved this book! Blogger Girl by Meredith Schorr was probably one of the more fun books I’ve read in a long time.  I loved that it was all about a blogger who struggles with working full-time and dating and blogging as many of us do. From Goodreads.com: “What happens when your high school nemesis becomes the shining star in a universe you pretty much saved? Book blogger Kimberly Long is about to find out.  A chick lit enthusiast since the first time she read Bridget Jones’s Diary, Kim, with her blog, “Pastel is the New Black,” has worked tirelessly by night to keep the genre alive, and help squash the claim that “chick lit is dead” once and for all. Not bad for a woman who by day ekes out a meager living as a pretty, and pretty-much-nameless, legal secretary in a Manhattan law firm.  While Kim’s day job holds no passion for her, the handsome (and shaving challenged) associate down the hall is another story. Yet another story is that Hannah Marshak, one of her most hated high school classmates, has now popped onto the chick lit scene with a hot new book that’s turning heads–and pages–across the land. It’s also popped into Kim’s inbox–for review. With their ten-year high school reunion drawing near, Kim’s coming close to combustion over the hype about Hannah’s book. And as everyone around her seems to be moving on and up, she begins to question whether being a “blogger girl” makes the grade in her off-line life.”

This book just felt incredibly real to me.  I felt like I could completely relate to where Kim was in her life and the struggles that she faced.  I too want to be a novelist at some point but still have not gotten over the hump to getting there and instead am currently finding my voice through blogging. It was also fun because the novel is set in New York, where I just recently spent three years, so I recognized many of the places she was talking about.

I will definitely be reading the other two novels that Schorr has written!

What’s on your bookshelf right now?

On My Bookshelf: The Interestings

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I’ve been trying to find a book club in town for awhile and was excited to see that A Beautiful Mess was holding an online book club.  The book that was picked for the first month, January, was The Interestings: A Novel.  I had read some reviews about the book and was excited because it revolved around a group who had met at summer camp.

The story revolves around Julie-Jules as she becomes known as, who attends camp for the first time at fifteen, after her father passes away.  There she meets a group of five other teens, who name themselves “The Interestings”.  The book follows along Jules as she becomes closer and closer with siblings Ash and Goodman Wolf, Goodman’s girlfriend Cathy , Ethan Figman-the artistic genius of the group and Jonah Bay-son of a sixties folk singer.

This was a book that completely held my attention and proved to me, yet again, that the power of camp is unbreakable and the binds that we create at camp are truly remarkable.

Being Happy and Happier . . .

Gretchen Rubin

One of the books that I’ve been meaning to read for a long time is The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun .  I’ve seen it around for a few years and have dabbled around in looking at Gretchen Rubin’s website because I like the daily happy quotes she sends out but I just haven’t gotten the book.

Finally, I heard she was coming to Portland and decided NOW was the time.  But not only would I have to read her first book, she was touring around about her second book, Happier at Home: Kiss More, Jump More, Abandon Self-Control, and My Other Experiments in Everyday Life.

So I bought both books and read them.  And was super inspired!  Then I went and heard her speak on Tuesday night with some friends.  Well you know how you go to hear some authors speak and are just bored out of your skull?  Not the case with Gretchen Rubin!  She was a great speaker and really took the time to speak to people’s thoughts and concerns.

She talked about what she felt are her five biggest things to accomplishment:

1.  Get enough sleep!  Even if this means setting an alarm to fall asleep.

2.  Get some exercise–even just a bit every day can help.

3.  Cultivate a sense of smells-smells are a quick pick me up without all the calories!

4.  Cultivate shrines–create little areas in your house that are dedicated to things you are passionate about.

5.  Outer order contributes to inner calm.

Her big saying was from Samuel Johnson (I believe):
“The days are long but the years are short”

This is an expression similar to what we said at camp when I was Associate Director:
“The days go by like weeks and the weeks go by like days”

I’ve started doing some of what she’s talked about in her books: keeping track of my goals, giving myself gold stars (literal ones, I bought old school foil stars!) and trying to discover my passions.

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I would love to actually do a happiness project and perhaps meet with a group to accomplish that.

What are some things that make you happy?  Have you ever done a happiness project?

 

 

Literary Junkies

Pink Heels Pink Truck

Woohoo!  A favorite post of mine!  ***Contains Affiliate Links***

This Month’s Questions:
1. What are you reading right now? Tell us about it.

I am reading Forever Faithful by Karen Kingsbury, so far it’s an easy and good read.

2. Out of the 16 books that will be turned into a movie adaptation, which one are you most looking forward to seeing this year? (Article Link)

I’m going to go with Gone Girl.  Amazing book that I couldn’t put down!
3. What was the worst book you’ve ever read?

I’m not sure. . . . I try to find some good in everything or I forget right away!
4. What foods or beverages have you spilled on a book while reading? Anything good? Probably a lot of coffee!
5. Do you pictures characters as popular film or tv actors? Or do you create a whole new person in your head?

I create a whole new person in my head every time!
6. Out of all the authors you’ve read books by, who’s brain would you want to pick the most?

Oh man, this is a hard one.  I think any author would work for now.  I would love to write a novel or book at some point so I would love to talk to a real live published author!

Books ‘n’ Bloggers Take 2

booksandbloggersJAN14

I am so excited to once again be participating in another amazing Chaotic Goddess Swap!  This one is a Books ‘n’ Bloggers Swap.  It’s a great way to get to know a fellow reading loving blogger and get some new books out of it as well!

So signups are still open and I encourage any book lover to sign up!

Important Dates to Remember

  • Sign-Ups Close on January 14th, 2014
  • Partners Assigned on January 15th, 2014
  • Packages Ship between January 31st and February 1st, 2014
  • Swap Show-Off Post/Linky goes life on February 5th, 2014

Literary Junkies Linkup

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Literary Junkies

Being that I’m a huge reader, it seems silly for me NOT to do this!

This month’s questions:
1. If you could write a book, what would it be about?

I would write a love story for today, about what people like me in their early thirties are going through trying to find love in a crazy world.

2. If you had to read one book or trilogy for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Definitely Special Edition Harry Potter Paperback Box Set!  I am not a fantasy person but I loved the series and I get a ton out of it every time!

3. Who is your current favorite book character and why?

Oh so many but I loved reading Me Before You and I thought Louise was an amazingly written character with so much to say.

4. Is there a book you read every year during the holiday season? If so, what is it and why?

Nope, hasn’t been.
5. Do you have any books on your Christmas list? Name a few.

I don’t have a Christmas wish list but I do have a books wish list including:
Adé: A Love Story

The Secret Lives of Married Women (Hard Case Crime)

Just One Day

Just to name a few!
6. What is a book you read and loved that you didn’t expect to?

Definitely Collateral: A Novel by Ellen Hopkins.  I wasn’t sure that I was going to like that it was written in almost a poetic style but I could not put the darned book down!

50 Ways to Say You’re Awesome

50 Ways to Say You're AwesomeI was super excited to go to this event on Friday evening.  I’ve been reading Alexandra Franzen via her blog and email for awhile and am always getting useful information I’m also always on the lookout for fun events to go to in the Portland area.

My good friend Melissa and I met for dinner at Bamboo Sushi–great sushi, meh service-I’ll blog about that later on and then went to Salt and Straw because Melissa had never had–scandalous!

 

We then walked over to the bookshop and I was excited it wasn’t a normal reading.  Alexandra actually did more of a workshop utilizing her book as the starting off point.  We started with writing some poetry using a random page from her book.  Here’s mine:

“I want to dance to the beat of your brilliance”

I want to shine in the light of your power.

I want to lay in the warmth of your embrace.

I want to share the joy of you with me.

We then talked about where she got the impetus to write the book and she said it came from a conversation with a friend who said she was sick of hearing the phrase “you’re awesome” so Alexandra came home and in 20 minutes just pounded out a list of different ways to say it.

She then talked about the importance of thank you notes.  She said that she had always written them as a kid and fell out of the habit but then got back into it.  She said that it really changed her way of thinking.  So we wrote thank you notes using her method starting with the three “s’s” of gratitude:

1.  Surprising–come out of nowhere

2. Specific–really talking about examples

3.  “Something extra” action–a PS, a bottle of wine, a donation, a something.

I chose to actually write my letter to the veterinarian who recently put my cat down.  I had been wanting to make a donation in his honor and now I got to use my new thank you note writing skills.

I of course bought the book and she wrote a sweet message inside.  I also bought some little cards with phrases on them that I’ve been using to jump start my creative writing.  We’ll see how that goes!

On My Bookshelf: To Be Sung Underwater

to be sung underwater I read this book on my cruise and could not put it down.  From one of the first lines, I thought it was beautiful: “Judith Whitman always believed in a kind of love that ‘picks you up in Akron and sets you down in Rio'”.  What a line!

Judith Whitman is the main character and the book bounces between her present and her past, primarily her high school years in Nebraska.  In her current days, Judith is forty four, working in television (editing) and raising a teenage daughter with her banker husband.

When she was younger, her parents somewhat split up.  Her father left the northeastern town where he was a professor and moved back to his grandparents’ home in Nebraska.  In high school Judith follows.  There she falls in love with Willy Blunt.

Willy is everything she is not.  Willy is a carpenter from a farming family born and bred in Nebraska.  Judith is the studious daughter of a professor and very bright.

The love between Willy and Judith is very beautiful and very simple.  Initially it was Judith’s plan to stay in Nebraska to be with Willy and to build a life there.  In the end, she goes to Stanford and marries Malcolm, a slightly older man. Now, years later, she is disappointed with how her life turned out, she doesn’t feel connected with her daughter, is distanced from her husband.  She begins to to seek out people she knew in Nebraska, a place she had returned to once to bury her father.  What she discovers about herself and about those she loved changes her.

This book was so lyrically written that between the rocking of the boat and the rocking of the lyrics, it was a soothing book to read.  The story was incredibly engrossing and I felt myself in the novel.  It’s been about a month since I’ve read the novel and I still have the warm feelings thinking about it.  I also think I could read the book again and pull new meaning out of it.  Highly recommended!

On My Bookshelf: Me Before You

Me Before YouMy favorite part of vacation often is the amount of time that I have to read.  In my every day life, I’m often distracted by media, such as reading everyone’s awesome blog posts or checking in on people’s Facebook statuses.  But when I’m on a cruise, I have no access to technology or internet and can focus on whittling down my HUGE reading list.

I fluctuate between reading on my Nook or reading actual paper books.  I’ve also been reading kindle books via the app on my iPad.  I will always prefer paper books as I think there is something special about turning pages and the weight of a book in my hand but I am a fast reader and I went through 10 books on my 12 day vacation.  Therefore, it’s unreasonable to carry that amount of books in my luggage!  So I loaded up my Nook prior to leaving and was able to automatically cycle through books.

I read this book, Me Before You, primarily in Maui, where we spent a day sitting at the beach at a friend’s condo.  I was a little ambivalent about Jojo Moyes but had seen her written about on so many blogs and magazines this summer that I felt I had to give her books a try.

This book immediately drew me in.  The story is primarily told from Louise’s point of view, a Brit in a small town that at 26 is somewhat lost.  She recently lost her job at a cafe and has spent time looking with the help of the equivalent of the unemployment office in Britain.  She finds a position as a companion to a paraplegic.  She is very hesitant about accepting this positions as she does not want to wipe bums.  She lives with her parents and her grandfather who had suffered a stroke and she’s seen first hand what her mother deals with.  Her family is barely making ends meet and each of them working is the difference between surviving or not.

Will, the young man who is paraplegic is the exact opposite.  He is from a wealthy family who grew up with all the posh extras in life.  He worked a fabulous job with exotic travel and extravagant vacations.  Then he was hit by a car crossing the street in London and became stuck in a wheelchair.  He moves back in with his parents into a modified addition of their barn.  It’s a daily struggle for him function even with all the money in the world and he’s tried to commit suicide.  His parents are trying their hardest to keep him alive and hire Louise to basically befriend him although they don’t make that clear.

The story had many twists and turns and surprised me until the very end.  It also caused me to think about what I would do if I was in that position.  What if I knew that the quality of my life would not be what it is today?  Would I choose to live it still or would I end it?

I was pleasantly surprised when I got home to see that a publisher had sent me Moyes newest book, The Girl You Left Behind, and although it may take me going on another vacation before I can read it, it is currently sitting on my bedside table mocking me.