We are halfway through 2015. WHAT. That feels wild.
My goal for 2015 was to read 50+ books, and I've prioritized reading this year like never before. I guess it's paying off...because I've tackled 40 books already. That feels even more wild. Here's what I read this June! It was a busy month full of AMAZING books.
The Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan. // "Throughout the day I felt profoundly connected to the countless men and women through the ages who have at some time or other come to this realization about themselves: that life is a relentless sliding down, that eventually everyone finds himself in water up to his neck, and that the ability to have such realizations is what distinguishes men from beasts."
I found this national bestseller at B&N for like $5, and the cover design is beautiful, so I bought it. Yep, I'm a sucker like that. I thought this book would be really similar to the Titanic story (it's also about an ocean liner sinking, but in this case, due to a mysterious explosion), but I was surprised at how different the premise was. This book was one that I read in one sitting this evening and would definitely pass along-- it makes you think about the nature of humanity, the things we would do to save ourselves, and how selfish we ultimately are. It was a quick read, fast-paced and compelling and well-written, and definitely worth a read.
The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez. // "Because a place can do many things against you, and if it's your home or if it was your home at one time, you still love it. That's how it works."
This book was fantastic. The chapters bounce around to different characters, all people who have immigrated to the United States from various South and Central American countries for different reasons. This book is poignant, beautifully woven together, and dripping with the passion and struggle that comes with pursuing the American dream for the good of family. It opened my eyes to what coming here must be like for so many, and I couldn't put it down. I think Americans need to read more books like this one so the compassion and grace that drips from its pages will seep into our own lives and change the way we interact with the incredible people who have come to make a home here.
The Rescue by Nicholas Sparks. // "'That even though you rescued me, you were trying to rescue yourself, because of what happened to your father.'"
Yep, I read a Nicholas Sparks book. Not my usual style, I admit, although I read quite a few of his books back in the day! I was at my grandparents house and my grandma had given me a box of books she had read and didn't want anymore, so when they left me at their house to go to a dinner, this was the one I grabbed. I ended up reading it all that evening and was actually a little surprised that it didn't totally follow the cliche plot I had expected. It definitely wasn't a literary masterpiece, but as far as easy romantic fiction goes, it was pretty good. If you need a super light love story to read on a rainy evening, grab something by Nicholas Sparks and just relax.
The Crane Wife by Patrick Ness. // "There were as many truths - overlapping, stewed together - as there were tellers. The truth mattered less than the story's life. A story forgotten died. A story remembered not only lived, but grew."
I FINALLY renewed my library card (and found that I had $2.20 of fines waiting for me from high school...) and this was one of the books I picked up purely based on the intriguing cover design. If you don't judge books by their covers, you're a better person than me, because I totally do. This book was different than any other I've ever read, even from the opening lines. The writing is...enchanting (but that doesn't seem to fully cover it). The story immediately pulled me in poetically and mysteriously, like a cool breeze was nudging me through fog toward a glimmering and warm light. Sounds weird, but it was incredible. I loved this book from the start, and loved how it unfolded and how unexpectedly it concluded... definitely recommend this one!
All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. // "Could he, by some miracle, keep this going? Could they hide here until the war ends? Until the armies finish marching back and forth above their heads, until all they have to do is push open the door and shift some stones aside and their house has become a ruin beside the sea? Until he can hold her fingers in his palms and lead her out into the sunshine?"
This book was my choice for #collaboreads, so I'll just direct you to that post to read my thoughts in detail...this book was incredible and beautiful and I just can't write all my thoughts in this small space here!
If You Feel Too Much: Thoughts on Things Found and Lost and Hoped For by Jamie Tworkowski. // "You deserve the space to be human. Family chooses us but we get to choose our community. Our friends. Our support system. We are meant to be known, to be loved, to be in honest relationships where we can be carried and where we can help carry."
This book, written by the founder of To Write Love On Her Arms, wasn't what I expected it would be. I didn't expect it to be so much like a memoir, with old blog posts and letters and notes and stories pieced together from years of Jamie's life, broken up by chunks of years with different definitions. It was such an honest book, so open and transparent, so raw in sharing the pain and also the hope, in celebrating life and coming together in the darkness. I am a feeler, and so much of this book resonated with the way my heart reacts to the world around me. I soaked this one up in an evening and know I'll return to it to be reminded of ever-present hope and the joy that comes from living life alongside others and the beauty of community through the highs and lows.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. // "You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view... Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it."
This book is such a classic. I've been struck by how themes in this book and similar injustices and racism are still prevalent now, 55 years after this book was published. It was a necessary reminder that we still have so far to go and I want to be part of that fight for equality.
Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives by Gretchen Rubin. // "For a happy life, it's important to cultivate an atmosphere of growth-- the sense that we're learning new things, getting stronger, forging new relationships, making things better, helping other people. Habits have a tremendous role to play in creating an atmosphere of growth, because they help us make consistent, reliable progress."
This book was incredible. I'm a person who is pretty much obsessed with personality tests and self-reflection tools and self-analysis, so I absolutely devoured this one. I have always been awful at creating good habits and breaking bad ones, and this book was incredibly enlightening as to why that is. It gave me so many solid insights into my personality and how to play into my strengths to create solid habits that I will actually keep...it's just an excellent resource that is full of research and practical, manageable advice but reads easily. I haven't read anything else by Rubin, but now I want to read EVERYTHING. This book will absolutely be one I refer to over and over as I keep growing and learning!
The Art of Stillness by Pico Iyer. // "Writers, of course, are obliged by our professions to spend much of our time going nowhere. Our creations come not when we're out in the world, gathering impressions, but when we're sitting still, turning those impressions into sentences. Our job, you could say, is to turn, through stillness, a life of movement into art. Sitting still is our workplace, sometimes our battlefield.
A while back, I stumbled upon a TED talk called "The Art of Stillness" and fell in love with the way Pico Iyer talked about going nowhere. I love travel and adventure and exploring new places, but I also deeply love my solitude and times of stillness and quiet, so what he said affirmed my belief that the calm is so crucial in our lives. This book was just 65 pages and meant to be digested in one sitting. It's full of tranquil and stunning photography and a slightly more detailed look at the art of stillness than he presented in his talk, but both are wonderful and worth your short amount of time!
What have you read and loved lately? I would love your recommendations!