winter break reading list

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Hello!

This past fall quarter, I wasn’t able to pick up a single book to read, what with school, extracurriculars, and social life. I couldn’t even make myself invest in an audiobook.

The cure? I read a ton of books over my winter break (or, rather, starting the day I finished my last final exam), and today I wanted to share what reads they were!

I ended up trekking to the Seattle Public Library with my friend Hannah (who’s also a bookworm ūüėć !) and we picked up a ton of books – we looked so ridiculous walking out, our handbags bulging with the many hardcovers. But hey,¬†indulge.

The first book I picked up was The Vacationers¬†by Emma Straub. I read half of this one earlier in September, but didn’t finish it because sorority recruitment started and by then, i18641982t was too late. I started from the beginning again and read it straight through.

One sentence summary from Goodreads: “An irresistible, deftly observed novel about the secrets, joys, and jealousies that rise to the surface over the course of an American family‚Äôs two-week stay in Mallorca.”¬†The Vacationers has some pretty mixed reviews on¬†Goodreads, and I really didn’t expect to like it as much as I did. Straub’s writing style is witty and funny, and the sass in some of her characters really shined through. I thought she did a fantastic job portraying¬†a dysfunctional family and exploring the nooks and crannies of the different types. I’m a huge fan of¬†The Vacationers.

The thing I love about winter break is that once you finish one book, you’re kind of on a grind and you’re allowed to pick up another book immediately. Keep in mind I was still without internet at this point, so it was the perfect time to binge-read A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara.

Going into this one, I had super high expectations: A Little Life was a National Book Award finalist and based on some book reviewers I follow, they had said this would be their favorite book of the year. 22822858

I’m not even going to tell you what it’s about because it’s one of those books to best go in blind. It’ll hit you full-force for sure. I’m not sure how I finished this 700-page book in the course of 6 days, because it is¬†emotional, filled with heavy topics, and will probably leave you a little distraught. It’s most definitely not for the light-hearted – brace yourself. It’s also one of the most depressing but beautiful books I’ve read because Yanagihara somehow – somehow –¬†captured the questions and many nuances of life that I’ve never even wondered about. I love how much¬†A Little Life made me think.¬†I would say it’s my favorite book of the year, but it was just so sad.

Following A Little Life, I returned to another of Emma Straub’s:¬†Modern Lovers.¬†My friend had enjoyed¬†Modern Lovers more than¬†The Vacationers, but personally, I still liked¬†The 27209486Vacationers more.¬†Modern Lovers follows two families who used to be linked by a college band, and now live just a few minutes from each other.

Straub’s stories always take a little while to sink and and become addicting, but once the reader gets past a certain point, the story is un-put-down-able.¬†Modern Lovers has Straub’s same wit and humor, as well as the detailed plot points that all tie in together in the end. For me, the characters were a little less nuanced than I liked, which is probably why I enjoyed¬†The Vacationers more.

My last book I read Рokay, I finished it after winter break ended, but I read the majority of it during my break Рwas The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. I love WWII stories, and I had only heard amazing things about it, like how it is comparable to All the Light We Cannot See, one of my favorite (if not my favorite) books of all time. You could say I had high expectations.

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The Nightingale primarily follows the plot of two sisters who grow apart during the war in Paris due to lack of family connection in the past, but the struggles of the war bring them together over time.¬†The Nightingale had its moments: the imagery, the heartfelt moments – but it was just okay for me. I didn’t feel all the emotions I wanted to like I did in¬†All the Light We Cannot See, and Hannah’s prose wasn’t breathtaking like everyone said it was. But overall, it’s still a decent story if you’re in need of a WWII historical fiction fix.

That’s all I read over my winter break! I’d say that’s pretty productive, right? Nothing like my history of reading voraciously, but I count it as a victory. I’m not sure when I’ll be picking up a book next – probably over spring break – but for now, I hope you all pick up one of these reads in the meantime!

Have a great week,

Jen

what i read in august

Happy September!!

Today I’m bringing you the books I read in August. August was a weird reading month for me; in past years, I’ve been able to finish 10+ books in August because it’s like the last final sprint before school starts back up, but I was¬†in school during August, and then when I went home, I wasn’t in the mood to read tons and tons of books like I usually do.

I made some more progress with my summer reading list that I made at the beginning of the summer, though! Check out what I read:

what i read in august

1.¬†Caraval by Stephanie Garber //¬†I ate this one up! This magical realism/fantasy novel reminiscent of¬†The Night Circus was fast-paced and really fun. It’s pretty heavy on the romance, but I enjoyed it. I can’t wait for the sequel! Look out for this one in January of 2017.

2. Our Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland //¬†I was totally in the mood for an angsty YA contemporary and this one delivered exactly that. While I think Sutherland tried too hard to mimic John Green’s style and the characters were a little wonky, this one was just what I needed for a quick fix of YA.

3. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling // I finally finished up my audio re-read of this series and I am SO SAD. But it was just in time for the newly released Harry Potter book that came out on July 31st!

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4. Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven // I never read Niven’s¬†All the Bright Places, but I decided to pick this one up by her because the premise was pretty controversial (read the summary here!). Upon finishing it, I felt pretty conflicted. I think it’s an important read but also some parts of high school and being a teenager just wasn’t captured correctly.

5. This Adventure Ends by Emma Mills // Talk about being pleasantly surprised! I wasn’t expecting to like this one as much as I did. Mills has a way with creating really well-developed characters, especially Sloane. This girl has SASS, y’all! Overall super cute and I loved the exploration Mills does. Definitely look for this one in October!

6. Summer Days and Summer Nights edited by Stephanie Perkins // I’m so happy I was able to pick this one up before the summer ended! If you didn’t know, Stephanie Perkins is one of my favorite authors ever, and she also edited the YA winter romance anthology,¬†My True Love Gave to Me. I liked a lot of the stories in this one, and the best part? The diversity of the romances!

7. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling and more // Really kind of disappointed about this one. I’m happy to be reading about the wizarding world again, but it just went in a direction that I didn’t like/expect – and it’s not because it was unexpected that I didn’t like it, I just didn’t think this story was even necessary.

8. Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy by Cassandra Clare and more // I had been meaning to read the novellas for a long time, so I’m actually kind of glad I waited for this bind up of all ten novellas to come out! These novellas were very cohesive and were great to read. Clare did a lot more exploration with side characters, which I love! And the appearance of some old characters made me all nostalgic again.

What did you read in August?

 

changing reading tastes

Hi friends!

I hope y’all are getting through the dog days of summer alright! Today is my LAST day of summer classes and as you’re reading this, I’m probably taking my exam or I already finished it! WHEW!

Today I wanted to talk about something that’s been prominent in my life lately. If you’ve been following my blog for awhile, you know that I’m a huge reader and that this blog initially started out as a Young Adult book blog. I started reading Young Adult fiction around 8th grade, and was a heavy YA reader for all four years of high school. I had never been so infatuated with something enough to want to talk about it with anyone and everyone – thus the start of my blogging journey.

But recently, especially after finishing freshman year of college, I’ve noticed something, something so slight that has actually been happening all year. I think I’ve grown out of the Young Adult genre. I didn’t think this would ever really happen. I mean, yes, you grow out of picture books at around 2nd or 3rd grade and move onto Chapter Books, and then you move onto the Middle Grade genre once you hit 4th or 5th grade. You grow out of Middle Grade fiction and move onto Young Adult – all that wonderful romance and teen angst stuff.

But growing out of the Young Adult genre? It seemed like an impossible thing. ¬†I think as young adults, we’re exposed to the Young Adult genre but also to the adult genre simultaneously with required reading at school (the classics). In high school, I read about 80% YA, 10% New Adult, and 10% Adult/Classics.

Now? Now, when I walk into bookstores, I’m always checking out the Adult bestsellers. I’ve been purchasing even¬†nonfiction books. Never in a million years did I think I’d be reading non-fiction for¬†fun.

There’s a lot of reasons why I’ve “grown out” of the Young Adult genre. Once I had started freshman year at college, it was really difficult to relate to a lot of the high school characters in YA books, especially in contemporary. Being back in the high school setting just didn’t give me the same thrill as it had before. In fact, it was actually kind of annoying and just boring to read about high school when my real-life environment had moved on. It gave me the mentality that I had to move on with my reading tastes as well.

It’s a little different with YA fantasy and sci-fi since there’s a lot less emphasis on high school, but even then, sometimes the main character’s narration just feels young or juvenile. It’s a sad but true reality of mine. It’s just more difficult to empathize with 17 year-olds after experiencing college for a year.

Another reason why I’ve “grown out” of the YA genre is something that hit me when I was at a networking dinner a few months ago. I was talking to a professional from a Big Four accounting firm (also my mentor) and another fellow student who was also networking. It was a networking dinner, so people were making small talk while also appearing professional in little groups. My mentor had started talking about these books with my fellow peer, books I had heard of but had never read. These books were adult classics, but mostly financial business-y books, so what did you expect? Of course I hadn’t read these books, I solely read YA!¬†I nodded along after they discussed each book. SO. AWKWARD. One of the most cringe-worthy situations you can get yourself into. Seriously. It went something like this:

“Hey, have you read xx?”
“I’ve heard of that book! I haven’t read it though. It seems great, I’ve heard awesome things!”
“Oh okay. You should read it. You’ll learn a lot.”
“Okay.”

…. And that’s it. That’s where the conversation ends. There I was, nodding along, saying I had¬†heard of the book, but haven’t read it. And then there was my mentor easily chatting up my peer who had read an abundance of business books. The sad truth is, if you want to relate to older adults who will further you personally and professionally (I’m speaking from a business major’s perspective, keep in mind! If you’re an English major, this is probably different), you’ll need to start reading the books everyone is talking about, i.e. the business books.

This is why I’ve recently picked up pretty much all of Malcolm Gladwell‘s books. That’s not all I’ve picked up though – I’ve also picked up a lot of Adult fiction. Another sad truth: a lot of adults who read for fun probably aren’t reading Young Adult fiction. Most likely, they’re reading Adult fiction.

I’m completely against the theory that the Young Adult genre is only for teens, but a lot of adults read Adult fiction more often than Young Adult fiction. As an aspiring business professional, I care about my career first. Therefore, I have the obligation to pick up the books that will benefit me the most next time I’m at a networking event.

Sure, I’ll still pick up YA every once in awhile – in fact, I had just read a super teen-angsty John-Green wannabe book that was just what I needed after reading a series of “intellectual” non-fiction/adult books. I think it’s important to have a great mix of genres under your belt because giving recommendations are always fun, but I think my ratios of reading genres are going to change drastically within the next few years. In fact, looking at the books I’ve read for 2016, only 65% of them were YA/MG. The other 35%? Either Adult Fiction or Non-fiction. Crazy, right?

What I’m curious to know is, do you think you’ll grow out of the Young Adult genre?¬†Have you grown out of the YA genre? I’m also curious to find out if, in a decade or two, once I’ve settled into a well-paying job and have free time and no one I need to “impress”, will I revert back to Young Adult as my go-to reads?

book rec: a man called ove

Hello!

I hope everyone’s having a great start to the week – I know I am! And whew, it’s been awhile since I last wrote a book review. I fell out of my book reviewing funk for a bit just because I wasn’t really reading anything¬†spectacular. However, I did manage to find the time to read¬†A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman. To put it quite simply, this story is about a grumpy old man who is living a pretty unhappy life¬†for the majority of the book, but manages to find love and comfort among his neighbors.

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I had heard fabulous things about¬†A Man Called Ove before I picked it up – in fact, that’s precisely why I picked up the book. The synopsis on its own doesn’t sound like it would turn out to be an amazing read, but Backman’s ability to pull the reader in is truly remarkable.

Ove is quite the character – he’s the true definition of a curmudgeon. He’s the neighborhood “Resident Adviser” – if you will – and makes sure everything in the neighborhood is in order, including the behavior of neighbors. Usually if the main protagonist is constantly negative, grumpy, or stingy, I will instantly dislike them. But Ove… Ove is different. Why? As Backman reveals Ove’s past every few chapters, readers learn that the surface layer of Ove is not all that makes up Ove as a human being. Ove is layered and complex, often even hiding his true, endearingly soft heart inside the hard outer shell.

I mentioned the flashback chapters of Ove’s life and I have to say, those were probably my favorite parts of the book. The reader is taken back to how Ove grew up with an inspirational father, his struggles with his career, and the meeting of him and his wife. Call me a softie, but the memories of Ove meeting his wife reminded me so much of the classic Nicholas Sparks romances about the old couples, aka romance in the 60s (and the really romantic stuff). It seriously gave me the case of the warm and snuggly feelings!

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When I turned the last page in¬†A Man Called Ove, I was struck with the importance of having people that care about you in your life. Some people – sometimes the most unlikely people – will get you through hardships in your life at your lowest of lows. As long as you know, deep down, what’s right and understand your own moral character, people will help, solely because there are other people out there who care and¬†love selflessly. Ove is a spectacularly lovable character also because of his ability to latch onto a moral compass that points north from the start, and hold onto that even until the end, even when his distaste for his neighbors bug that¬†crap out of him.

A Man Called Ove is a touching novel that tells the story of one of the most memorable characters out there. If you’re looking to branch into the adult fiction world or just need a read that will tug at your heartstrings, go for¬†A Man Called Ove –¬†you won’t regret it.

Have a fantastic week,

Jen

what i read in july

Hi friends!

I cannot believe it’s already August – where did this summer go?! I still have a good month and a half of summer, but… time is definitely cracking down.

Today I’m bringing you my July reads! July was a pretty good reading month since I finished¬†Jane the Virgin early on and finally made time to read. I also cracked down on quite a lot of audiobooks at work (perks of having an office job, right?) Additionally, I was able to knock off 2 books from my summer reading list!

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1. A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas | Goodreads

I first read this in May 2015 and¬†loved it. I decided to reread it in June and July because I was finally going to get to the sequel! However, the second time around, I just didn’t enjoy it as much… it might’ve been the fact that I was simultaneously watching¬†Jane the Virgin and so ACOTAR just didn’t captivate me as much as Netflix did, unfortunately.

2. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling | Goodreads¬†Sped through this one on audiobook! Jim Dale will always be my favorite audiobook narrator. If you didn’t know, this one is my favorite Harry Potter book in the series! I just love the Tri-wizard Tournament (and the Yule Ball).

3. A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas | Goodreads
This one was so disappointing for me; I definitely had my expectations WAY up there since this one has a 4.5+ rating on Goodreads. That’s¬†insanely¬†high, y’all. However, it was so LONG and it just felt like it dragged on for forever. I do have to say I loved reading about Rhys and Fehyre’s relationship develop, but other than that, I wasn’t invested into the fantasy aspect/conflict of the story like I should’ve been.

4. A Man Called Ove by Fredrick Backman | Goodreads
Loved this adult fiction! I’m so glad I finally got around to reading this one. I’ll have my full review up soon on this one, but just know that I loved it.

5. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling | Goodreads
A lot of people say this is their favorite in the series, and I think this one is good but not as great as the other ones in the series!

6. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling | Goodreads
No words needed!!

7. Blink by Malcolm Gladwell | Goodreads
I read Gladwell’s¬†Outliers in June and really enjoyed it. Gladwell has a way with using stories to prove his points for sure!¬†Blink was interesting but it wasn’t as captivating as¬†Outliers; I realized that Gladwell discussed a lot of stuff I learned in my Psych 101 class this past year.

In short, I flew through a TON of hours of audiobooks, and did my fair share of reading physical books as well (the books I read this month were quite chunky!). I’m currently reading¬†Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows now (don’t want to finish this series again!!)

What did you read in July? Did you also do a HP re-read for The Cursed Child that came out?!