Thursday, December 26, 2013

How to Be a Hepburn in a Hilton World by Jordan Christy

       This book has been on my “to-read” list since my freshman year of high school and I’ve owned it since the Christmas of that year...no lie! So, I finally got around to it nearly six whole years later (!!!) and despite the slightly out of date pop culture references, which I must say were perfectly appropriate for my generation, I think my timing was perfect.
Christy’s manual for mastering the “art of living with style, class, and grace” provided a insightful, often hilarious commentary on a culture very relative to my collegiate life. From “stupid girls” to “having your cake and eating it too,” she manages to sufficiently cover speaking eloquently, choosing friends wisely, dressing to impress, accepting your body, and the value of a work ethic in under two hundred pages. 
Something I really loved about this book was that the author managed to make very strong, valid points without being preachy. Let’s face it, who wants to read a book that tears you apart simply for being a member of Generation Y? She acknowledges that we all make mistakes that are less than classy or admirable at times, but provides realistic suggestions for changing our ways and even inserts fun little recipes and quizzes throughout the book. 
While my high school freshman self might have emulated the senior girl who reviewed this book in the school newspaper (yep, it happened...I remember it clearly), I’m glad that I read it during a time at which it was more applicable and relatable to my life. Living like Audrey Hepburn is quite the aspiration, but I think I’m up to the challenge! 

“Class is not defined by our circumstances - it is our reaction to those circumstances that defines who we are.” 
Jordan Christy, How to Be a Hepburn in a Hilton World: The Art of Living with Style, Class, and Grace

Friday, August 30, 2013

The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp

      I like fairy tales and happy endings as much as anyone, but I love real stories, because life isn’t meant to be perfect. We have happy moments, we feel sadness, we experience loss. Things aren’t black and white, we don’t always find the right answers, and sometimes the voices of our hearts get lost in the chaos of the world.
Tim Tharp brings us the story of a boy and a girl whose differences yield a magical mutual attraction. Sutter, a somewhat jaded “party boy”, has done it all; drinking, dating, and breaking rules on the regular. He has no idea that waking up after a crazy night out in the yard of his classmate, Aimee, is the beginning of the journey to seeing the beauty of innocence and dreams. Together, Sutter and Aimee discover what it’s like to fall for the “wrong” person, to question the future, to compromise, and to want something that the world doesn’t seem to want you to have.
The Spectacular Now is full of deep insight, but the humor of Sutter’s first person account keeps it entertaining and makes you feel like you’re truly in the mind of his character. Sutter definitely had me laughing out loud to myself at many points while reading this book. Aimee is so different than the typical high school girl that is cast so often in young adult literature--in my opinion, she’s better. Slightly nerdy, very socially awkward, and full of butterflies and insecurities, she allows you to recall the unique path that you took through the excitingly terrifying world of high school and growing up (side note: when are we ever The actually “grown up”? I feel like I’ll be growing up forever, because there are always new things to learn...). Yet another example of a  great character is Cassidy, a popular girl who actually cares about the welfare of humankind and doesn’t make you want to roll your eyes and put her on mute. HALLELUJAH! Did We ever think there would come a day that we wouldn’t be rooting against, but that we’d actually be cheering for the pretty popular girl? Tharp really knows how to develop his characters in a way that makes your heart feel connected to them. 
It’s hard to know what to say about this book other than to highlight that it’s a must-read for teen and adult bookworms! The movie was also recently released (Shailene Woodley plays Aimee!) and looks incredible...the challenge now is to find one of the  theaters that’s lucky enough to be showing it! 



“She's different from the girls I'm used to dating. She doesn't get tired of my stories and jokes or expect me to start reading her mind. She doesn't want me to dress better or put highlights in my hair or serious up. I'm not a lifestyle accessory to her. I'm a necessity. I'm the guy that's going to crack open her cocoon. She doesn't need to change me - she needs me to change her. At least until her little butterfly wings get strong enough to fly away.”
 ― Tim TharpThe Spectacular Now



Monday, August 19, 2013

Tuesdays With Morrie by Mitch Albom

       If Albom’s word is worth anything (and the way that this book was written, I’m not doubting it’s authenticity), I’m willing to bet that Morrie Schwartz was one cool cat. I actually read this book for a class during my first semester of college. Required reading is usually dreaded, but the class itself was pretty neat, the book looked short and sweet, and I’d heard good things about it before, so I was excited to read this. Our class was a study on human virtues that had my brain on fire with thoughts and ideas all semester long. We used Tuesdays with Morrie to help spark conversation about self-pity, regrets, family, the ways of the world, emotions, money, aging, culture, forgiveness, and goodbyes--all of which Albom explores during his “lessons” with Morrie, his old college professor who is suffering from Lou Gehrig’s disease.
I think I related to Morrie because he reminded me so much of my Uncle Charlie, who passed away due to Lou Gehrig’s disease a few years ago. The attitude and outlook on life that they both carried matched up near perfectly, which tugged at my heart, but also made me smile. In a way, it was like a man that I had never met helped to connect me to a man that I admired so much. Uncle Charlie was a retired Presbyterian pastor who lived Queens, New York, so I didn’t see him often, but we kept in touch via letter and email, until he was unable to do so. He was one of those people that made you feel better just knowing he was out there in the world somewhere, his presence was magic, and the thought of him equally as wonderful. Soooo, to say that I teared up during this book is an understatement...I pretty much bawled during the last twenty pages and tears were on reserve in easily accessible ducts during the majority of the book.
This is such a genuinely honest portrait of loving life and others wholly and Morrie teaches us to let go of mistakes and be kind to ourselves, as well. He reminds us to embrace our feelings and emotions, but to stay positive through tough times and appreciate what we have instead of dwelling on what we lack. Morrie also dances like crazy until he’s no longer able to, and to me dancing is happiness, so that’s great...seriously, the visual of this little old man dancing makes me so happy. 



 

If approached with an open mind and heart, this book has the potential to impart so many valuable lesson upon readers, and if it touches you as deeply as it did me, you’ll be smiling and thinking fondly of Morrie long after the last page is turned.


“So many people walk around with a meaningless life. They seem half-asleep, even when they're busy doing things they think are important. This is because they're chasing the wrong things. The way you get meaning into your life is to devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning.” 
― Mitch Albom, Tuesdays With Morrie

Sunday, August 11, 2013

The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson


      I don’t really know where to start, except to say that I love this book dearly. I discovered it a few summers ago and have read it more than once since then. I feel like I’m caught in the awkward stage in between young adult and adult novels, and quite frankly, I may just stay there my whole life--I don’t feel the need to define my level of adultness. There definitely exist young adult novels that have lots to offer, buried among those that follow a cookie cutter storyline of typical teen angst and such. Who am I to judge amazing books them based merely on the genre that they’re classified as? Anyways, this book is something special.
Lennie Walker is a quiet, seventeen-year-old band nerd/book worm hybrid who has always lived contently in the shadow of her older sister, Bailey, who is bold, daring, and has a charming personality that naturally attracts attention. When Bailey passes away unexpectedly, Lennie discovers hidden secrets left by her sister and furthers the search that Bailey began to find their mother. During this time, Lennie also finds herself caught between Joe, the new student from Paris, whose love for music matches her own, and Toby, Bailey’s boyfriend, who shares Lennie’s sorrow. While one boy helps her remember, the other helps her forget, and she has to decide who she is without Bailey and what she wants and needs in life. 
The Sky is Everywhere is an amazing portrayal of self-discovery, learning to live your own life, and experiencing both love and loss for the first time. Also, there are so many quotes that I love from this book (I’m a very quote obsessed, so that’s a definite plus)! Nelson takes a tragic event and uses her incredibly well-developed cast of characters to creates a heartwarming piece. This book will definitely remain on my “all-time favorites” bookshelf for the rest of my life...yeah, it’s that good! 





“... if you're someone who knows the worst thing can happen at any time, aren't you also someone who knows the best thing can happen at any time too?” 
― Jandy Nelson, The Sky Is Everywhere

Monday, August 5, 2013

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein & Why I Love Dogs

      Told through the eyes of a dog named Enzo, this novel follows his owner, Denny, and his family through the ups and downs of their lives as humans. Enzo reflects on what he’s learned about the human condition and the world of reality, which can often be harsh. 
A really neat aspect of this book is the incorporation of race car driving, which is an important theme, but doesn’t feel tacky (hey, some people are really turned off by NASCAR). The bond between Denny and Enzo runs deep and true, as they have been together since Enzo was a puppy and go through the majority of daily events together, including watching racing on TV and planning Denny’s career moves. It’s also interesting how Enzo has such a strong presence in each area of Denny’s life--his career as a race car driver, his role as a husband and father, and his life as a human being. 
When a series of events shakes up their world, life for Denny and Enzo changes drastically and becomes a fight for truth and justice. Enzo’s humble perspective gives invaluable insight into the human mind, as well as the world we live in and the events we face throughout our lifetimes. Also, this book has an incredible ending...one of those “oh my gosh, that’s awesome” sort of endings that leaves your mind reeling and your heart glowing, long after you put the book down.
Anyone who has ever loved an animal or really even been part of a family will appreciate this wonderful story. I may be biased because I’m a complete dog person at heart, but dogs have a special way of making you feel unconditionally loved. They never hold grudges, seek revenge, or act selfishly. They forgive, happily give you their whole heart for their whole life, and are loyal beyond belief. Dogs are special creatures, without a doubt.
Pretty much the entire time I was reading this book, (which was about the time span of two days--it was that good!) I snuggled on the couch with my own dog, giving him lots of hugs and kisses on the top of his head, because somehow Enzo’s observations made me feel more connected to him. (see enforced snuggling below)



      You’ll definitely look at and think about pets differently after reading this book...and if you don’t have a dog of your own, I’m willing to bet that you’re going to want to add one to your family! 



“There is no dishonor in losing the race. There is only dishonor in not racing because you are afraid to lose.” 
Garth Stein, The Art of Racing in the Rain






Saturday, July 27, 2013

Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares


      I pretty much devoured the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series during my middle school years. I always thought the girls were so cool (c’mon, they were teenagers and I was just a middle schooler who still rode the bus every weekday) and loved keeping up with their separate, but connected lives. Maybe it was because once the world created between these four girls hit the big screen, all of the other infatuated middle school girls and I flocked to the nearest theater, in awe of the seance that was conducted in order to initiate the pants (and, of course, Blake Lively’s hair...I know for a fact that this is where my love of her started). I wouldn’t say it was my all-time favorite book series, but it was enjoyable, probably exactly what I needed at the time it was published, and it certainly made an impression on me . 
It shocked me when I discovered this book tucked away in a tiny island bookstore...I had no clue that there was a fifth book! Because I am who I am, of course I had to pick it up and complete the series. Apparently this book, whose existence jumped out at me and demanded my attention, had more surprises in store for me, because I loved it. More so than any of the other books in the series, this book sticks with me. 
All grown up and spread out across cities, states, and countries, the girls are consumed with missing each other, despite catering to demanding careers, maintaining personal relationships, and keeping afloat in their new lives as adults. Carmen has followed her passion for acting to New York  City and is engaged to be married. Lena is teaching art in Rhode Island and still regretting the way things ended with Kostos. Bridget is living with her longtime boyfriend, Eric, but can’t seem to shake her restlessness and settle down for good. Tibby has moved to Australia with Brian, her high school boyfriend, but the other girls barely hear from her...until she calls a meeting in Greece (ps, this series is also responsible for sparking my interest in Greece, because the movies always made it look so beautiful!). The three girls arrive to find their lives instantly changed, in ways they never expected. While trying to deal with their own lives and the dark parts buried deep beneath between the beauty of their friendship, the girls must discover their own paths and learn find solace in the sisterhood. 
If you read the first four books, you owe it to yourself to read this one, too. A more grown-up version of a truly remarkable friendship, Brashares fearlessly faces the harsh parts of life and the lessons of growing up. Through tears and memories, this book will leave you smiling and feeling even more connected to the four girls that you already feel like you grew up with.



“But I know this. We're ready to move forward again in our way. Together or apart, no matter how far apart, we live in one another. We go on together.” 
― Ann Brashares, Sisterhood Everlasting

Monday, July 15, 2013

Obsessed with Zelda Fitzgerald


I’m not totally sure where this obsession began, but I’m willing to guess that it had something to do with rereading The Great Gatsby, seeing Leo DiCaprio looking all vintage and classic on the big screen, and probably the fact that I’m slightly intrigued by the 1920-1940 era. Anyways, somehow I ended up reading two books back-to-back about Scott Fitzgerald’s wife, Zelda, and enjoying them both very much. I learned a ton and, though both are fictional, I was able to gather my own thoughts and assumptions about the person that Zelda was instead of blindly believing that she was as crazy as the media makes her out to be. 

Call Me Zelda by Erica Robuck
Told through the eyes of Anna Howard, Zelda’s psychiatric caretaker beginning in 1932, this book provides insight into Zelda’s mental health, her ability to connect to others, the desperate ups and downs of her relationship with Scott, and the lack of a steady relationship with her daughter, Scottie. Anna finds herself drawn into the tumultuous midst of the Fitzgerald’s problems, while simultaneously dealing with the stress, loss, romance, and tough decisions in her own life. When Zelda confides in her that her husband takes her personal diaries and publishes her ideas as his own, Anna finds herself wondering which of the pieces published under Scott’s name are actually a result of the hard work of his wife. The rare tender moments between Zelda and Scott that Anna witnessed from afar reminded me that parts of both of them were in love with each other and that their relationship wasn’t hopeless. I was totally fascinated by the behind-the-scenes life that Robuck gave Zelda and found myself questioning whether Scott needed Zelda more to be his wife or his muse. 



Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler
The Zelda that Fowler creates narrates this novel from her youth to her old age, speaking honestly about life as the wife of a famous, yet tortured author. From Alabama, New York, France, Paris, Hollywood, Long Island, and every place in between,  Zelda takes readers into the sometimes glamourous, sometimes heartbreaking world of the king and queen of the Jazz Age. Ernest Hemingway and Gertrude Stein are encountered in this tale of troubles and fame (think Midnight in Paris!), as well as other members of what has become known as “the Lost Generation”. This novel reveals Zelda’s struggle to forge her own identity in a world that viewed her as second to her noteworthy husband and often judged her behavior and decisions as scandalous. 




After reading these books, I did some additional research on Zelda and came to the conclusion, that I will just have to settle for never knowing exactly who this woman was. Both authors painted Scott in a less than flattering light...but there are two sides to every story! Regardless of what was fictional and what was pure truth, these books furthered my interest in not only the Fitzgerald's, but the time period that they lived in, as well. 



Insightful reading: 
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/heather-laine-talley/zelda-wasnt-crazy_b_3268211.html (long and definitely opinionated, but interesting, nonetheless!)

Books I want to read after reading Z and Call Me Zelda
Save Me The Waltz by Zelda Fitzgerald 
a vivid and moving story—centered upon the confessional of a famous glamour girl of the affluent 1920s and an aspiring ballerina—that captures the spirit of an era” (goodreads.com)
Beautiful Fools: The Last Affair of Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald by R. Clifton Spargo
In this evocative and meticulously detailed novel about the last romance of one of America's greatest literary couples, R. Clifton Spargo crafts an exhilarating portrait of the passionate yet tragically dysfunctional relationship between F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald...a vivid, resplendent, and truly human portrait of the Fitzgeralds, and reveals the heartbreaking patterns and unexpected moments of tenderness that characterize a great romance in decline.” (goodreads.com)

Zelda Fitzgerald: Her Voice in Paradise by Sally Cline
...medical evidence and interviews with Zelda's last psychiatrist, suggest that her insanity may have been less a specific clinical condition than the product of her treatment for schizophrenia and her husband's behavior towards her. Cline shows how Scott's alcoholism, too, was as destructive of Zelda and their marriage as it was of him.” (amazon.com)

Dear Scott, Dearest Zelda: The Love Letters of F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald
by Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald (edited by Jackson R. Bryer and Cathy W. Barks)
A collection of love letters between Scott and Zelda, as well as photographs, put together by “Fitzgerald scholars” with an introduction by their very own granddaughter, Eleanor Lanahan. 

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Judging books by their covers...literally


      Basically the most important, universal law of being a reader is to not judge a book by its cover. Everyone has heard this phrase and it seems like the most largely used cliché to warn against misleading appearances. That being said, I must confess that I totally do this...A LOT. I can’t help if a book catches my eye, captivates me and draws me in with a magical picture, incredible cover art, or simply an intriguing title. On the other hand, I can’t help turning away from a shelf stocked with books covered in anime figures, vampire fangs (yes, I read Twilight, but it was before it became a worldwide sensation #hipsterstatus), or over-the-top, hard to read fonts. I have nothing against these types of books or the people who read them, they’re just not my kind of reading material (please feel free to turn away if you see me in the bookstore, my arms overflowing with various lovey dovey, cutesy books you may consider “fluff”...I won’t take it personally). Everyone has their own preference in the world of reading, and I am pretty sure it’s an unspoken rule that we all respect that, as it should be. Even though we may not judge the readers of certain books, we’re all judging those covers hardcore, and I’m making the statement that (despite the opinion of George Eliot, or whoever coined that old saying) IT’S OKAY to do so.
Sometimes this practice works out wonderfully for me. Exhibit A: Mrs. Mike by Nancy and Benedict Freedman. The cover of this book would’ve never been enough to hook me, so I’m eternally grateful to my middle school English teacher for pushing it on me, because it’s one of my favorite books and I’ve read it over and over again. 


      Other times, however, it’s a total failure that leaves me feeling disappointed and empty...yeah, the emotions of a book-lover can be that dramatic. Exhibit B: Fireworks Over Toccoa by Jeffery Stepakoff. I read this book probably about three years ago, but it still sticks out to me for two reasons: 1.) I was so in love with the cover, the title, and the idea 



Every so often that story comes along that reminds us of what it’s like to experience love for the first time—against the odds, when you least expect it, and with such passion that it completely changes you forever...torn by duty to society and her husband--and the poor, passionate man who might be her only true love--Lily must choose between a commitment she's already made and a love she’s never known before. (thanks for getting me all psyched up, Goodreads) 

and 2.) because of how letdown I was after reading it. 

Actually just thinking about it makes me a little sad because I wanted to love it so much. Isn’t that tough, when you want to love a book more than it desires your love? I should probably mention that fact that I had recently read Nicholas Sparks’ The Notebook, one of my most favorite love stories ever, and surprisingly one of the only of his novels that I’ve liked at all. Maybe I was comparing the two books too much, maybe that’s why Fireworks Over Toccoa felt like The Notebook wannabe, a lesser version of a very similar romantic premise, yet such potential to be unique! I think I might have to reread it and see if distance or getting older makes me appreciate it anymore or if I can find some redeeming quality...
Anyways, enough of my babbling. The point is, I spent money on something I thought was going to sit on my shelf for years, a book I’d pass on to my dearest friends and family members, saying, “these words will change your life,” but it just wasn’t (insert subtle library plug here). Like I said, I’ve had the opposite happen, where a book with a subpar cover turns out amazing, but that’s always a pleasant, welcomed surprise. Who cares if you judge book covers, who cares if you don’t? Be open to suggestions from people about books they liked (you don’t wanna miss out on what could be your new all-time favorite book), utilize the library(!!!!), and remember that sometimes it’s okay to just appreciate the feelings that the words or artwork on the cover of a book makes you feel without feeling like you have to love that book more than anything.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams

     WOAH...my momma wasn’t kidding when she handed me this book and told me to expect a soap opera-esque read. Jumping back and forth from 1931 to the 1938 (which serves as the “present” time frame), Lily Danes reflects on her relationship with her former best friend, Budgie Byrne, and her ex-fiancé, Nick Greenwald, who she’s still pretty in love with. When Nick and his new Mrs. Greenwald (Budgie!) show up in the town where the girls spent the summers of their youth and announce their marriage, Lily is faced with a cruel reality and an inkling that something isn’t right. As she pursues the truth and grapples with the secrets of her past, she is reminded that nothing is as straightforward as it appears, and sometimes a second chance is worth everything. 
This book is without a doubt twisted and suspenseful, but still manages to be a light, summery read. The images of Seaview, Rhode Island, that were invoked in my mind made me feel a little less faraway from the beach and a little closer to the world and ways of life circa the 1930’s! Although the last fifty pages or so were slightly overly dramatic and felt abrupt, the story line was tied together nicely, overall. My biggest confusion came from the part of the story involving Kiki, a young girl whose parentage is questioned throughout and is difficult to make sense of when finally revealed.
Nick is a total  gem, and despite being married to Budgie, he is an absolute sweetheart to Lily without being disloyal to his wife. Even when things take a turn, Nick remains a complete gentleman, with good intentions...which made me very happy! I think the fact that he doesn’t cheat on the woman he is married to by law makes his relationship with the woman who has his heart even more special. The insight into him as a college student (shown during the segments of the book taking place in 1931) exhibits to readers a kind, loving, devoted young man, which adds to the suspense when trying to decipher what happened between him and Lily that led him to Budgie. 
This thrilling novel will keep you reading with sheer anticipation and charm--definitely toss a copy into your beach bag and dive into this exciting and romantic story right away!



"Serious about you. I'm crazy about you. Don't you know that? Mad for you. Drunk with you, made up of nothing but you. Since the day we met, there's not an hour gone by that I haven't thought of you."
― Beatriz Williams, A Hundred Summers 

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Why I Love Mindy Kaling & Her Awesome Book

I mentioned Mindy Kaling’s book Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) in my last post and because, as I said, she is my spirit animal, I felt that it was only right to devote a post solely to reviewing her book (and her general amazingness). 

Mindy is relatable, to say the least:

1.) She doesn’t dwell on being beautiful by Hollywood’s ridiculous standards. Mindy embraces her body with a proud “chubby for life” attitude and says that looking like Gisele Bündchen  is “right above ‘Learn to drive a vespa’ but several notches below ‘Film a chase scene for a movie’” on the list of things she wants to do in her lifetime. 

2.) Also, she eats (like a normal human being!) and talks about her love for food openly, so that’s awesome.

3.) She’s a hard worker. Mindy didn’t start at the top and wasn’t handed fame à la Kardashian style. She discusses personal failures, lessons learned along the road to success, and times that her own pride got in her way. She definitely wouldn’t have gotten to where she is today without persevering through hard times, which is totally admirable.

4.) She loves rom-coms. When Harry Met Sally and Sleepless in Seattle are two romantic comedies that Mindy cites as having watched since a young age and admits to loving such movies so much that she can suspend her “disbelief for the contrived situations that only happen in the world of romantic comedies,” a very important skill for girls everywhere to acquire. She also devotes an entire chapter of her book to “Types of Women in Romantic Comedies Who Are Not Real,” which is hilarious without undermining the sheer goldenness of this film genre...bravo!

5.) She, too, wants people to decide on a definitive definition for “hooking up”. Okay, basically since I first learned what human interaction was, I’ve wondered how to properly define the term, “hooking up”. I always remember adults saying, “Oh yes, let’s hook up for coffee!” and things like that when I was younger. So, until middle school, it was always innocent. And then middle school made it kissing, and high school added other pursuits, and then college turned it into going all the way. My friends at school and I instituted a pretty solid definition, just so we’re all on the same page: hooking up is kissing & “other pursuits”, but when I come home and catch up with my friends from high school, some of them define it as going all the way. Regardless, I have my definition and I’m sticking with it. Mindy’s may be different, but I totally agree that “if Europe could figure out a way to do the euro, I feel confident that we can [define hooking up].” 

6.) ...AND she doesn’t understand the culture of one night stands! I’m a commitment person, a relationship, “let’s get to know each other first” kinda person. That being said, I pass no judgement to people who enjoy one night stands and such. Basically, I 100% agree with her sentiment (surprise, surprise): 
Don’t get me wrong, I love hearing about it. Look, I don’t want to come off as prim or that I hate Samantha from Sex and the City or whatever. I would feel sad if I didn’t have my sexually-liberated friend there to tell me fun, frank tales of desires fulfilled. I just don’t get it at all.
So, this is what I’m like: If you come over to my house, I need to know your first and last name. I need to have your phone number and a person who we both know so you cant disappear forever in case you murder me. Ultimately, it comes down to this: How embarrassing would it be for me to be talking to a detective at a precinct after you tried to rape and murder me in my  home, and not be able to tell them your name or any information about you because we were having a one-night stand? I’ve seen Law & Order: SVU, I know how it works.” Well spoken, Mindy.
7.)I want a schedule-keeping, waking-up-early, wallet-carrying, non-Velcro-shoe-wearing man.” DUH. Her whole theory on men vs. boys is very enlightening.
8.) “Video games scare me because they all seem to simulate situations I'd hate to be in, like war or stealing cars” PREACH IT! I was beginning to wonder if I was the only one who got really bad anxiety from being virtually pursued by people with dangerous weapons and scary masks.
9.)A remarkable thing about me is that the time that elapses between a sad thought and a flood of tears is three or four seconds.” Once again, 100% me, and though I may have struggled to admit this in the past, I can fully accept this fact now that I know I  share this quality with Mindy.
10.) She was a good babysitter/nanny and actually enjoyed it! I love babysitting mostly because I love kids. As a side note, getting paid to blow bubbles, color with chalk, eat Lucky Charms, and watch Disney Channel without the horrible tax fairy stealing a portion of your money...um, YES PLEASE! 
11.) She knows the value of a best friend and how to properly appreciate those who are important in her life--her “Best Friend Rights and Responsibilities” list (pages 80-84) is spot-on. Like, obviously we have to sleep in the same bed when we’re together,  I will be nice, but honest, about your fashion choices, and I’d without a doubt take on the responsibility of  your child should something terrible happen to you. They’re all the “givens” of being in a BFF relationship that you never realized you already knew, parts of an unspoken, but sacred, agreement on with your bestie. 
12.) Speaking of good friends, mine often have to tell me that basically, “sometimes you just have to put on lip gloss and pretend to be psyched.” I don’t mean to be the party pooper, but I’m usually the one to fall victim to either sleepiness, eating chocolatey delight Special K out of a mug, or watching an old Audrey Hepburn movie or some indie flick when the time comes around to get ready to go out. My friends are completely aware of this and do a really impressive job of helping me to look (at least semi) presentable and get in proper mindset for dancing the night away. Thank you, my lovely ladies, for keeping me from falling into a sad life as a desolate hermit. 
11.) She’s funny, which is completely obvious (unless you’re a rock), but needs to be acknowledged nonetheless. Throughout this book, Mind’s sense of humor (is it weird that I’ve never met her, yet I feel like we are totally on the level at which I can shorten her name/give her endearing nicknames? #sorrynotsorry) made me feel like someone was physically tickling me and I giggled, and even full-out guffawed, frequently while reading. 
I could probably find endless reasons as to why I love Mindy Kaling and her charming book. Being that I was lucky enough to read this book on the beach, the atmosphere and overall experience created was obviously enhanced even more (as if that was even possible).  

I guess if you’re looking for hearty, dramatic reading material, this may not be your thing. That being said, if you don’t love this book and this woman, I don’t love you. That might sound slightly harsh, but I really can’t imagine someone not finding at least one reason to laugh in this book--basically that’s something I would add to my Best Friend Rights and Responsibility contract; “Must love Mindy Kaling”. 

Creating the Ideal Summer Reading List

Do your research
During this time of year, lots of magazines and newspapers publish lists with their recommended summer reads, usually chalked full of books with highly anticipated releases, as well as classic summer throwbacks (Judy Blume Summer Sisters, anyone?). Check out some of these lists and in addition to blogs (http://hellogiggles.com/originals/young-adult-education and http://www.thecollegeprepster.com/2013/05/college-prepster-book-club-firefly-lane.html
are some of my favorites!) and asking your friends for recommendations. Maybe even reach out to your parents or grandparents--my mom is an awesome book critic and gives the best suggestions! 
Don’t be afraid of YA 
A lot of time we tend to think that books classified as “young adult” are strictly for people under the age of sixteen and written with the intention of permanent residence in high school libraries. Sometimes, YA novels help us discover new things about ourselves or bring back memories from our own earlier days. Also, the genre is going through a huge growth spurt with authors like John Greene, Suzanne Collins, and Ann Brashares taking risks by dealing with tough stuff, therefore make their pieces more realistic to today’s society. It’s nice to have a mix of genres on your list to keep you from getting bored. 
Become BFFs with the library
Being the avid reader that I am, there’s something about walking into the bookstore, a place so warm and welcoming, a place tinged with the scent of fresh coffee and leather bound papyrus that makes me instantly happy, regardless of my mood previous to entering. That being said, I allowed the bookstore to make a pretty hefty dent in my bank account last summer...books are more expensive then we often realize! The library allows you to try out new authors and novels without financially committing--nothing is worse then that resentful feeling you get when you end up not liking a book you spent eighteen dollars on. 
Make a list
Goodreads is a book nerd’s dream come true. It’s a website that allows you to create lists of books you’d like to read, as well as classify books onto your own personal virtual shelves, such as “favorites” or “classics”. You can also search other user’s collections and connect with your friends--think of it as a social media site for book lovers! Another great feature is the app that lets you scan barcodes on books, which is awesome in bookstores and at the library.
Just start
If you're uncertain about whether or not you'll enjoy a book, just pick it up and start reading! There's no harm in getting a few pages in and deciding that it's not for you. I usually give a book about a chapter to hook me, and if I don't feel a spark after that (yes, a spark--reading is a love affair!), I put it down, feeling good about that fact that I gave it an honest chance. There are so many books and so little time, so find something you love!

Here’s a little preview of my summer reading list--check out http://www.goodreads.com/review/list/15850584-sara-chuirazzi?order=d&shelf=summer-reading-2013 for my complete list!

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell 
The story of two star-crossed misfits – smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you’ll remember your own first love – and just how hard it pulled you under” C’mon...it sounds like fictional gold to me.


Sisterland by Curtis Sittenfield
Identical sisters with psychic abilities return to their hometown of St. Louis in the midst of earthquake season. As they grew up,Vi embraced her abilities while Kate tried her best to suppress them and lead a normal life. When the girls receive a premonition about a devastating earthquake that’s quickly approaching, they must reconcile their differences and learn to face the truth of their responsibility to others and themselves.

Nantucket Blue by Leila Howland
After a tragedy separates best friends Jules and Cricket during their summer in Nantucket, Cricket finds herself working as a maid instead of soaking up sun in her summer paradise and questioning her friendship with Jules in the first place...and then, of course, falling for someone completely off-limits. 

The Engagements by J. Courtney Sullivan
Beach weddings, backyard weddings, castle weddings, weddings for passion, weddings for comfort, and swearing off weddings for life, this novel follows four unique couples through the ups and downs of relationships over a time span of one hundred years. This story also traces the history of diamonds in America and how they have become a symbol for our desire for everlasting love.


September Girls by Bennett Madison
Sam and his brother are spending the summer with their father in an isolated beach town that is unlike any other place. Time slows down and beautiful blonde girls who are attracted to him for no identifiable reason fill the town. When he begins to fall for one of the girls, one who is different than the others, she pulls away and he is faced with uncovering the secrets of the town and the girls who live there. 

Hemingway’s Girl by Erika Robuck
Hired as a maid for Hemingway’s second wife in Depression-era Key West, Mariella enters a world she’s never known. The admiration of a famous writer becomes leads to temptation and an invisible line that, once crossed, will put Mariella at risk of losing everything important to her. (I read Call Me Zelda by Robuck at the beginning of the summer and LOVED it--if you’re as intrigued by the lives of classic authors and their families as I am, also check out Z by Therese Anne Fowler!)

Everything is Perfect When You’re A Liar by Kelly Oxford
If you haven’t yet discovered this hilarious, one-of-a-kind twitter sensation (@kellyoxford), now is the time! I can’t wait to read her essays on growing up and life in general, which I have no doubt will be laugh out loud funny, witty, and to the point. As a side note, I may be a little behind with this one, but also be sure to check out Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me (And Other Concerns), which was perfect...Mindy Kaling is truly my spirit animal.