Summer Reads that Made Me Happy

Thursday, August 27, 2015

[the one where I share my favorites.]

“It is what you read when you don't have to that determines what you will be when you can't help it.” ― Oscar Wilde

Hands down, one of my absolute favorite things about college is no summer reading. Sure, you probably have a job / internship / volunteer opportunity / family / craft / Netflix series you could be devoting that time to instead, but there is something so liberating about getting to choose what you want to read for. your. self. 

1. Bossypants Tina Fey (autobiography, comedy)

Let me start off by saying that I think Tina Fey is a perfect person. This book makes you laugh, cry, contemplate your life choices, and really stop to think about human nature. Part biography, part life guide, Fey couples her expertise as a writer with her comedic genius to create a light-hearted but entirely profound read. Pairs well with road trips, airplanes (even though it makes you giggle), lazy days, sharing with friends.

2. How to Start Something that Matters ― Blake Mycoskie (autobiography, social entrepreneurship)

I laughed when I saw what Google considered to be this book's genres. To me, more than anything, this book was a how-to guide: how to run a company / movement that makes the world a better place. Mycoskie blends his own experience with stories of charity: water, method, and FEED projects to create a compelling narrative about companies that have a mission to improve the world, and how they manage to get others to join their movements. Pairs well with a sense of enthusiasm, a desire to make the world a better place, business majors and non-profit studies*, and how-to-guide-lovers.

3. The Smartest Kids in the World: and How They Got That Way ― Amanda Ripley (education reform)

As someone who is uber passionate about global education, this book was immediately fascinating to me. We were supposed to read it for one of my classes this spring semester, but alas, it fell to the wayside. I want your feedback on any of these reads, but I'd love to hear from you about this one in particular!! Pairs well with an analytical mind, an active sense of social justice, and any kind of interest in comparative education.

4. Brave New World ― Aldous Huxley (dystopian fiction)

Was I the only one who never had to read this as assigned reading? I guess so, but that didn't stop me from picking it up and absolutely loving it. It is a little confusing, so reading the Sparknotes to supplement what you already understand definitely enriches the whole experience. "Like other dystopias, this novel doesn’t simply show us a world that is different from our own, it shows us a world that is a mirror of ours, with the worst features of our world drawn out and exaggerated." Pairs well with, a stormy afternoon, a clear mind, a love for utopias-gone-wrong.

5. The Maze Runner series James Dashner (young adult, post-apocalyptic fiction)

Following the dystopian-future trend, this series grabs your attention from the get-go, and holding it to the every last sentence. I'm not kidding you when I say that I finished the first one in the middle of an airport and ran to the nearest bookstore to see if they had the sequel (The Scorch Trials, brilliant, really). Another perfect example of the movie not doing the book justice. If I were you, I would hurry up and read them before they decide to make the rest of the series into movies as well. Pairs well with an extended period of time, free of any commitments so you can read as much as you possibly can in a single siting.

6. Loving Frank ― Nancy Horan (biographical novel)

I think if you ask most people what their favorite book is, a handful of titles come to mind -- at least, that's how it was for me for the longest time. This book changed all of that: this novel is easily my favorite book of all time (*dramatic silence*). Although it's fictional in nature, Horan based the story on the lives of Frank Lloyd Wright and Mamah Borthwick Cheney, his mistress. There are many hints and connections to Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House, and for those of you who have read it, I would say that this novel picks up where the play leaves off. It is a beautiful but utterly tragic story of womanhood and dealing with the ramifications of our choices. Pairs well with a sense of adventure and rebellion, a stormy afternoon, a break up, a road trip, literally anything because it's lovely.

Happily yours,


*To be fair, I am neither of these, but I feel like it would sit well with these audiences because it's a light read, but a super profound narrative-turned manual. 

#SongCrushSunday: After A Few Weeks at Home

Sunday, August 16, 2015

This playlist doesn't really have a theme. It's more a compilation of songs that I picked up along the last few weeks that I've spent at home and with family.

1. "La Mer"  Chantal Chamberland

The French version of this Sinatra classic is absolutely stunning. Pairs well with a relaxed atmosphere.

2. "Cucurrucucu Paloma"  Lila Downs

This is a cover of a beautiful Celia Cruz song, with so much passion and emotion bleeding into the music. Gotta love beautiful Latina soul. Also, apparently, when Downs announced that she was going to record this track, musicians from all over the world flew out to record with her. Pairs well with a sense of drama.

3. "Chivalry is Dead"  Trevor Wesley

This kind of jazzy-Broadway, pop-blend came up on one of my Spotify "Discover Weekly" playlists, and it was an immediate hit. Love it! Pairs well with a need to feel suave.

4. "Ain't Worth The Whiskey"  Cole Swindell

My heart honestly breaks for the narrator of this song. I just want to belt it out and cry and console all at the same time. I love country #sorrynotsorry. Pairs well with feeling feelings.

5. "21"  Hunter Hayes

I like country part two. Hayes is such a cutie ― I'm very much a fan. A nice alternative for captions to T-Swift's "22." Pairs well with chasing the sunrise like we're wild and young, kids on the run.

6. "Cecilia And The Satellite"  Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness

This is probably the song that best encapsulates my taste in music. Don't really know what to say about it, but it's kind of odd, kind of fun, but definitely lovable ― me in a nutshell. Pairs well with wanting to learn lyrics and belt them out on a car ride.

7. "Come to Me (feat. Lauren Chandler)"  The Village Church

Since I've been missing church services from Richmond, my mom and I listened to Redemption Hill podcasts this morning. I played this song for her this morning in remembrance of the services there. I love Jesus, part one.

8. "Great Things (Worth It All)"  Elevation Worship

"I am weak, You are strong // You will always be my hope // And my soul will sing: 'You have done great things!'" I love Jesus, part two.

9. "Fix My Eyes"  for King & Country

The radio stations have changed a lot since the last time I was home, but K-Love has stayed the same, which means it was on in the car a lot. I love this song. Pairs well with an awesome sense of wonder and hope. I love Jesus, part three.

10. "Blessings"  Big Sean, Drake, and Kanye West

180 degrees from the last three songs and the country ones before those, but this song's how I bond with my brother and Haley and let loose. Pairs well with a thug attitude (or love for rap lyrics).

Happily yours,