On the bookshelf

Since moving to the city I find myself reading up a storm and really loving it. So it seems only right to share some of my good reads and spread the wealth!

“You have to digest life. You have to chew it up and love it all through.”
-Paula McLain, The Paris Wife 

What a book. Written from the perspective of Hadley Hemingway, the first wife of Ernest Hemingway, and set in the years that they lived in Paris, while the characters, places, and events are true, it’s still a fictitious novel. So much of the book is based off of interviews and biographies though that it’s hard not to believe it all and be totally immersed. Which I was. The things that this woman went through, all in the name of marriage and love, are so inspiring. She was quite a lady. And if you know anything about Ernest Hemingway, you know how the story ends, but that doesn’t keep you from wanting things to go differently. You can’t help but root for Hadley and maybe learn a little from her story too. Plus, what girl wouldn’t dream of being swept off her feet to live in Paris?? 

“Know your own happiness. You want nothing but patience; or give it a more fascinating name: call it hope.”
-Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

An all time classic. Any Jane Austen is really. Would I say that I liked it more than Pride and Prejudice? No. Nothing trumps P&P for me, but this is definitely worth the time to read. You can’t help but fall in love with the men in this book and they’re each so different that there’s someone for everyone. You’ll wish you were growing up in England in the late 1700s….minus the lack of plumbing maybe. Just be prepared from some period language that may be a little hard to interpret. I don’t suggest trying to read this on the subway or right before bed. Chances are you won’t retain much of it and if you do, props to you! You’re a more trained reader than I! It was certainly a book that required a good amount of concentration and focus from me but once I got the rhythm, the storyline will swept me up in romance and kept me invested. It’s simply beautiful. 

“All right… I’m glad it’s a girl. And I hope she’ll be a fool–that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool.”
-F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

Somehow I never read this book in school so when I started seeing falling in love with previews for the movie I knew I had to read the book first. And I did. Twice. It’s so easy to be engrossed in the love story of Jay and Daisy. You just want them to be together and be happy so badly but, in true Shakespearean fashion, that’s not the case. It’s also easy to start imagining what your own life would have been like as a socialite living on Long Island in the 1930s. It all seems so fabulous and decadent. I like to think that I was a free-wheeling flapper in a past life. Having a short bob hair cut, wearing plenty of fringe, dancing a mean Charleston, drinking champagne, and staying out until all hours of the morning. Seems like a great time to me! So much of New York City reminds me of this time period and there’s something very romantic about it all. This is definitely a book I’ll be reading from time to time.   

“The decisions of our past are the architects of our present.”
 -Dan Brown,
Inferno

Back in high school my boyfriend read this book called The DiVinci Code. He insisted that I read it too along with another book by the same author called Angels and Demons. Needless to stay, Robert Langdon and his intriguing life are still just as interesting to me as they were all those years ago. And this newest book is no different. Set back in Italy, this book is all based around the epic poem by Dante Alighieri which depicts his journey through hell. Once again, the aspects of this book that are real are captivating enough to keep you invested and maybe even help you brush up on your Italian art history. It definitely re-sparked my desire to visit there someday, or maybe even live there for a period of time. I would just love to see all the places that this book takes place in. There’s just so much culture and beauty and pasta…..but I digress. While I was a little unhappy with how this book wrapped things up in the end, it was still worth the time to read. 

“If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.”
Ernest Hemingway,
A Moveable Feast

A coworker of mine recommended this book to me after I had read Gatsby and I’m so glad he did. It’s a set of memoirs by Ernest Hemingway that focuses on his life in Paris, struggling to become the writer he would one day be. It chronicles his struggles, his loves, and his ever important relationships with other writers that had also settled in Paris at the time. This book is a really great read but I will advise that you don’t pick it up right after reading Jane Austen like I did. The language of the one book compared to the other requires a period of time to reset your rhythm. I got a quarter of the way through this book before realizing that I hadn’t really read any of it. Once I took some time away from it and started over, it was SO much easier to read and I really enjoyed it. There’s something lovely about Hemingway that makes you love him, regardless of his dastardly behavior.  

I don’t know if it’s this city or what but I’m very much on a 1930s kick it seems. There’s just something very appealing about these people, the lives they were living, the characters they created and the history of it all that I just can’t get enough of. And the book I’m working on now goes right along with that. So I hope you’ll bear with me. If you decide to read any of these books please let me know how you felt about them! I’d love to hear some other opinions. And if you liked them as much as I did, spread the love too. I can’t help but feel that word of mouth is a powerful thing for the written word these days. I also encourage you to maybe skip the E-reader. Let’s keep actual books alive! 

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Whether or not we realize it, people are always listening and judging the words that come out of our mouths

As a young girl growing up I was (and still am) in love with musicals. We only had 3 channels on our TV and most of our time was spend outdoors but when we did get the special treat of renting a video or two from the library my sister and I almost always went with a musical. There was always one musical we could absolutely agree on, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (what little farm girl didn’t dream of choosing a husband from seven backwoods men???), but on the times that we each got to choose our own I, without  hesitation, went with My Fair Lady. It’s still my favorite to this day. I love the music, I love the costumes, I love the story and Rex Harrison, but most importantly, I love Audrey. To me, she is perfect, not just in the movie, but in general. I remember watching her and being in total awe.

Now at the age of 25(almost 26, SSSSHHHHH) those feelings haven’t changed. I’ve read a biography or two and even have her pictures in my living room and I still admire her. There’s an air about her that just by looking at her I get the sense that spending a day with her would turn me into the lady I was meant to be. Lord knows I’m not the ladiest lady, and for many years I embraced that part of myself, even encouraged it. But this past year has made me start to consider changing that a little bit. Maybe there’s something to that ladylike thing that I’ve been missing out on. Maybe talking like “one of the guys” isn’t attractive to the right type of guys. Maybe seeing myself as more of an Audrey will encourage other people to see me as one too. Don’t get me wrong, I will always love being “one of the guys” and not being afraid to get my hands dirty and being able to fix the toilet seat in my apartment on my own. But I think it’s time that I find the happy medium of being a tom-boy and still presenting myself with a little more ladylike-ness.

Ironically, before I had really come to this realization, I purchased a book called How to Be a Hepburn in a Hilton World by Jordan Christy.  As someone who had never really gotten the whole Paris Hilton craze that happened a few years back the title alone was appealing to me. I never was, nor did I care to be, in the Hilton World, but I did always long to be a Hepburn. Come to think of it I might have been closer to a Katharine, but oh well.

Since I’ve been on a bit of a reading kick lately I decided it was finally time to pull this book off the shelf and read it! And what a great choice that was. Jordan writes as though she’s sitting right next to you and you’ve been gal pals for years. While many of her references to “stupid girls” aren’t in the public eye as much, i.e. Paris Hilton, Nichole Richie, and Girls Gone Wild, the message she’s trying to get across is still very clear. And unfortunately Lindsey Lohan has still managed to keep herself relevant in this category. I couldn’t help but feel a little glad when she mentions those girls and their antics though because of the fact that their scandalous behavior hasn’t been plastered all over the news for years. It makes me feel as though there has been a slight shift in the media over the last couple years…or maybe we’ve replaced foolish socialites with pregnant teenagers. It’s hard to tell. The point is, if I were to make this book a required reading for my daughters someday they may have some trouble relating to those specific examples. They won’t know what “The Simple Life” was or how many times LiLo was arrested (I hope!). That being said, they will know the opposite side of those examples, just like I did growing up. But anywho.

I really enjoyed reading this book! Each chapter is one piece of the puzzle that makes up a well spoken, respectful lady. From how to speak and what to wear (or NOT wear) to how to attract the right men and choose the best friends, it’s a great guide that’s written in the most down to earth way. Jordan doesn’t sugar coat things. She talks to you, says it like it is, and even makes you laugh a little. I can’t help but feel like she and I were raised with similar values on many levels. As I was reading each chapter it was as though my mother were reminding me of all the little lessons she had taught me growing up. It was all information that I already knew but I think I needed a little refresher on. Somewhere along the way I had gotten the idea that being ladylike just wasn’t for me and since relating to guys came easily to me I steered in that direction, a little too much. This book has helped me realize that it’s time to steer back in the other direction and that there’s nothing wrong with that. Being ladylike isn’t a bad thing! And it doesn’t mean that I can’t still relate to guys, it just means that I don’t have act like one to do so! Light bulb!

So as much as I’d love to go back to Audrey’s time and wear house dresses while riding mopeds, a la Roman Holiday, the times have changed and I’m not that girl. And that’s okay. I can, however, be a girl who speaks properly, dresses with self respect, doesn’t throw herself at men, and holds herself to a higher standard, for herself, not anyone else. And if you’re a girl who feels like you want to do the same than I definitely suggest this book for you. I know that whenever I need a little refresher course on getting my act together that I’ll be glad it’s on my bookshelf.

Go anywhere in NYC and you’ll see girls dressed like this. She’s timeless.

The journey is part of the experience – an expression of the seriousness of one’s intent. One doesn’t take the A train to Mecca.

I FINALLY finished another book! I had started one that I had a lot of trouble getting into. It was a tough read and as much as I was interested in the topic it just wasn’t clicking for me. So when another book came along, with a small amount of guilt, I surrendered and switched to reading it.

Over the summer I was loaned “A Cook’s Tour: Global Adventures in Extreme Cuisines” by Anthony Bourdain from one of the chefs at the hotel. He said it was a great book and thought I would really enjoy it. I’m happy to report that he was totally right.

If you like food, have a desire to travel, and don’t mind profanity, then this is a good book for you too! It’s an account of Bourdain’s adventures as he was filming his first show “A Cook’s Tour” for the Food Network. From Vietnam to Cambodia, California to Mexico, and a few other places in between, Tony (as he usually refers to himself) gives the reader a candid account of his personal feeling and opinions on the locations, the foods, and his disdain for making a t.v. show. It also gives a look into how he grew up as a boy visiting France with his family as well as his life as the chef of Les Halles in New York City.

One particular place that Tony writes about often in the book is Vietnam. I didn’t know much about Vietnam beyond what I learned in school and growing up in America I feel like that education can be somewhat skewed. So when I began to read the chapters on Vietnam I wasn’t really sure what to expect. The way Bourdain describes the food and the people and the culture…I’m hooked. Is it a tourist friendly place like Europe, not quite, but it’s certainly not the uncivilized jungle that many try to portray it as. It’s a country of people who have been through hell and back and are still growing and rebuilding. Oh and the food….sounds amazing. If I ever had the chance I think I would definitely go to Vietnam.

I can’t help but wonder if I would feel as inspired/comfortable to travel to distant lands as I do from reading this book, if I hadn’t gone to Egypt in college. Growing up (and a little still) I was an extremely picky eater. I didn’t like anything and certainly didn’t try new foods. When I went to Egypt it was like I turned into this fearless foodie who was willing to try anything and everything. It was liberating! Sure there were things that I didn’t like but there were also SO many things that I did. It was such a great experience that opened my eyes to traveling and exploring really different places.

But enough about me. Moral of the story, this book is a great read. It’s as if you’re sitting at a table across from Anthony as he regales you with the stories of his adventures. You can practically smell the food as he describes it. I will make one warning statement though. If you are a hardcore vegetarian/vegan/peta person, this book might not be for you. Although there is a chapter where Bourdain talks about his venture into raw food, there are many many more describing his deep love for all things meat. That’s just his nature.

what a silver fox

So if you love food and travel and candid reading then I think you’ll really enjoy this book. You don’t even have to be a chef or world traveler. Big thanks to Chef Brian for letting me borrow his copy….it may come back to you a little beat up but it was well enjoyed! 🙂

I’m choosing happiness over suffering, I know I am. I’m making space for the unknown future to fill up my life with yet-to-come surprises.

…this is just one of my favorite quotes from the latest book I read; Eat. Pray. Love. I haven’t seen the movie yet so I was excited to read the book first. Now, I started reading this book when I finished the Potato Peel Pie book…which was quite a while ago. It’s not a particularly hard read, in fact, I quite enjoyed it’s pace. But I still found myself being a little frustrating with my speed, or lack there of, in reading this book. Life clearly had a reason for this. {silly life} Over the past month or so it was as if I was reading the exact parts of the book that I needed to read at that very moment. And of course I didn’t realize this until after I finished it today.
As far as my recommendation goes, I can’t praise this book enough. I wasn’t really in need of inspiration when I started reading it, but still found myself being uplifted by so many parts of it. My copy is officially dog-eared a few times over. And while the author is a woman (Elizabeth Gilbert) it’s not an overly girly book. It really speaks to anyone who has felt lost, lonely, or in need of some guidance. It doesn’t throw religion on the reader either, which I liked. She writes about what worked for her and recognizes that there are many ways to finding oneself.
I’m sooo glad I read this book when I did and I hope the movie won’t be a huge disappointment (I’m talking to YOU Julia Roberts). I highly suggest it to anyone looking for a great read. Whether your in a good or bad place there is some really great stuff in this book. And if nothing else, maybe it will inspire you to look into traveling more or even learning a new language!

ciao bellas!

"Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad books."

That is from page 53 of the book I finished last night, “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. I know the title is lengthy but don’t let that deter you. I heard about this book from another blog I follow. I didn’t have a clue what it was about but I went to the library and brought it home, without ever reading a synopsis. In a little over 24 hours I had finished the book! I don’t think I’ve ever done that in my adult life.
The thing that made it so easy to read, for me at least, was that the whole book is written as a collection of letters to and from the characters. It made the flow of reading so effortless and enjoyable. It also inspires me to write letters! Why did we ever stop writing letters?? Curse you technology!!! okay, I fell better now.
The characters are so endearing and lovely. I became so invested in their lives, even though they are fictional. The non-fiction part of the book is the history and time-frame. This story is set in a post-WWII England and talks a lot about how the Nazi regime effected the Channel Islands. As factual as these parts are, the book still keeps an upbeat pace that won’t depress you.
I don’t want to spoil it for anyone so I suggest you read it! I could go on for hours but I will spare you all. If you do read it I would love to know what you think. I’m really quite open to others opinions and views.

Enjoy xoxo

being a reader

For a few months now I have been wanting to get into reading. My sister was always the reader. She had a huge collection of books and at one point even wanted to be a librarian (thank goodness she came around and chose physical therapy for a career). I was always more hands on and go-out-and-do. Nowadays I’m still pretty hands on but I would like to read more. Not just blogs and magazines but actual hard books! Now, I don’t like the idea of resolutions because they usually end up being broken so instead I will call it a good old fashioned GOAL! My goal is to be someone who reads!
For Christmas I was gifted some money that I received before the holidays so naturally I used it to buy other gifts. My father and Grandfather enjoy books so I made my way to Walden books for gifts. While I was there, with Peace Sign actually, I decided that I would purchase a book for myself as well, to ignite my goal! I chose “Eat, Pray, Love” after hearing such great things about it (and no I have NOT seen the movie yet). As I was checking out the woman at the register said “did you know that all our books are buy 4 get 1 free?” At first this didn’t interest me but I had a quick shift in thinking. Why get one book for myself when I could get three?! So back into the stacks I went. I took me a while to really find things I knew I could commit to reading but I did.
I wasn’t able to start any until after the holidays so when I decided that it was time to begin my goal I chose the lighter of the books I bought.

Chelsea Handlers books are the best. I have adored her as a comedian and love her show on E! so when she started writing books I was all about it. I used my opportune moment at the bookstore to buy her third book that I hadn’t read yet. It was a great starter book to warm me up.
Unlike her first two books, “Chelsea Chelsea, Bang Bang” isn’t focused on her sexual escapades and mishaps. It’s more a collection of stories from her childhood up to the last year. A lot of which involve her now ex-boyfriend Ted, who is also the CEO at E!, and her quirky family. It’s as though you were sitting across the living listening to Chelsea tell the stories to you personally. There are even a few candid photos that certainly enhance the stories.
I know it’s not a Pulitzer Prize nominee but if you want an easy and very entertaining read I highly suggest this book. It will literally have you laughing out loud so try not to read it in a library or any other place that requires your silence. If you have read it, spread the word. If you haven’t read it, try and get your hands on it and let me know what you think. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

happy reading! xoxo