Book Recommendation

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Hello, World.

I love when you read a book that is so good you just cannot put it down. For me, the most recent read in this category was Amy Poeppel’s Small Admissions. Light, but also grounded in real adulthood issues, this read had me so intrigued I basically read it in two days. I started it, but it took me a little while to get into because I just wasn’t in the mood to read. Honestly, it was nothing against the book, I just felt tired after work so worked on other things. However, on Friday after work, I sat down to read a bit before bed. Then I found myself doing the inevitable “just one more chapter…just one more page” shenanigans until it was 1 a.m. and I could barely stay awake. When I woke up on Saturday I just read until it was finished.

To summarize, the novel focuses on Kate, a young woman who suffers a terrible heartbreak before the novel begins. The breakup affects various relationships in her life – her sister, her best friends, etc. Going from an ambitious graduate student to semi-permanently parked on the couch, her family is desperate to get her out of the house. When she takes a job, after somehow landing it despite a disastrous interview, things start looking up.

What I found most enjoyable about the novel was the cast of characters. Since Kate becomes an assistant admissions director at a prep school in New York (for middle schoolers), Poeppel creates robust, self-involved, nauseating, overbearing parents who had me laughing out loud. The depiction of those pageant parents for prep school admissions was so hilarious and, given Poeppel’s experience in admissions, pretty accurate. I’ve always been so intrigued by what actually goes on in admissions departments and it was fun to get a glimpse, even if it was for middle school, which I never applied to, thankfully.

I’ve seen some reviews of this novel that critique it for being too light. A review on goodreads.com said that though the novel addresses many issues, it never really penetrates beneath the surface. I disagree. While a lot of the issues aren’t explored super in depth, I think it would be inappropriate given the book. The book has so many characters and alternates point of view, so I appreciated that Poeppel gave enough character backstory that she was able to give each character closure by the end. I loathe when storylines develop, but then they become too complex and the writer doesn’t leave enough time to really tie up all loose ends. However, with this novel, I felt like each storyline and each person got their proper ending without it feeling rushed or incomplete.

In terms of characters, I felt Kate was super annoying and overreacting initially. However, I realized that part of her unsteady, desperate behavior was the result of heartbreak and the other part was not knowing who she was, which would explain why she was so awkward and acted like nothing in her life really fit. I loved the confidence she gained as the novel moved forward. Given the timeline of the novel, I also understand why some people felt Kate’s development moved a little too quickly at one point. However, I appreciated the arc, and probably wouldn’t have liked pages and pages of Kate lamenting her breakup. My least favorite character was Vicki. She was so obnoxious and definitely didn’t have her friends’ best interest at heart. Actually, my favorite part about her was when she owned how selfish she is.

I liked how witty this novel was and am eager to read more by Poeppel! If you’re looking for an end of summer, quick read, this is it!

Truly,

Callie leigh

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What I’m Reading

Hello, World.

Summer is going so quickly (insert very panicked, on-the-verge-of–hyperventilating face). One of my goals for this summer was to get in a decent amount of “for pleasure” reading. While in law school, I read constantly. All the time. But, I read dense case-law related material, which is I also enjoy, but sometimes it’s nice to just get back into reading a book for fun, falling into someone else’s story or life and getting swept up in it. So, I wanted to share what I’ve read so far. The second book took me a little too long. I partly blame it on my mindless Netflix sessions and also on the lack of desire to read after work. However, on Thursday, I decided I was going to finish it before the weekend was over. And I did! You’ll probably notice both books have to do with Paris. Well, I’ve always wanted to go, and I think lately my wanderlust is getting the best of me. I inadvertently, perhaps subconsciously bought four (that’s right, more to come) books that have to do with Paris in some way. Now… let’s get to my reviews of the first two books.

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The first book I read this summer I picked up in Williamsburg before I flew home. My original plan was to read on my flights home. However, I quickly realized that was an ambitious plan. After finals and the joint journal competition (more on that to come), I was a wee bit tired and did not have the brain power to read a new book. So, instead, I watched movies and chatted with the woman sitting next to me, who is getting her Ph.D. in Florida, but was flying to CA to help her fiancé move to Switzerland (so so fascinating).

Lunch In Paris is the memoir of Elizabeth Bard’s swift and romantic love affair with a Frenchman. It’s the American girl goes abroad and doesn’t come home because she finds love kind of book. I loved it. I was very selective about what book I read first because I was so looking forward to reading something non-legal. I read the excerpt on Amazon and knew immediately I loved Bard’s style. It was conversational but intoxicating. It was to the point but romanticized. I am not typically a non-fiction guru, but I ate up the story of finding yourself someone new and trying to make the most of it even if it feels like an off balance tap dance for the first stretch.

While at some points I felt like Bard came off a bit condescending or superior… the minute I felt this, she was self-aware and vulnerable, speaking her truth of being a size 10, food-loving American in petite, food-savoring France. I laughed frequently but also related quite strongly to the feeling Bard shares of feeling like she has to ground herself in something in order to establish herself in her new home. For Bard, it is the French markets that lend her refuge. Bard also pays homage to said markets by including recipes at the close of each chapter, recipes rooted discoveries of new produce, new flavor mixtures, and new twists on old, American favorites.

I would give this book four out of five stars simply because it lagged in areas. However, I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys travel (it is the romance-based version of Under the Tuscan Sun or Eat, Pray, Love) or who feels or has felt uncertain in a new place. My final thought is this: I admired how Bard illustrated the relationship between herself and her lover. The areas of life they inherently understood about each other, the areas where cultural difference caused friction, and the areas where cultural difference caused growth. I enjoyed Bard’s exploration into preconceived notions and how they are dealt with while balancing the serious topics with light-hearted trip-ups on both [her and her lover] their parts. 9B1CD9EF-1B2B-441B-8EBC-286C1673BDAE.jpg

To be blunt, I bought this book for two main reasons: I loved the cover and the author went to William and Mary. A bit vain, I know. However, I’ll See You in Paris by Michelle Gable took me about three weeks. It’s a bit long and a bit slow, to be honest. Upfront, I want to say if you are someone who prefers gripping, quick-reads, this may not be the book for you. While the last 50 or so pages made me glad I stuck it out and finished the story, I wanted to stop about 200 pages in. I sort of guessed where the story was headed around page 60, and then had to get through 250 pages-ish of the groundwork for the story to get to its final pathway to the end. I guessed all but one plot twist that came at the end. That’s not typically a good thing while reading. I like to be kept guessing, and I certainly don’t want to guess what’s going to happen well before the writer fully lays the foundation.

However, it was rooted in historical tales, so I understand Gable wanting to give the reader a very thorough outline of the story. The other aspect to this novel I struggled with a bit was that it switched between 1973 and 2001. So, while Annie (one of the protagonists) was hearing the 1973 story in 2001, the reader was taken back to 1973 and hearing a more fleshed out version through the eyes of the participants. The problem with this was I often cared way more about the story occurring in 2001 and didn’t really want to know every detail of the 1973 story. Obviously, when stories track each other in this manner, they are meant to intercept, and they do, which made all the switches in time worth the reading. Still, I think the tale could be a little more abbreviated. It just lagged a bit too much in the middle that I was having trouble keeping it all straight and wanting to continue.

My opinion may be making you think this book sucked and isn’t worth picking up. I don’t want that opinion to come across because I did enjoy the ending enough that it made up for the lag. So, if you pick up this book, just know that when it gets slow, you just have to power through and you should enjoy the ending as I did. Recommending books can be difficult because people have different tastes! This book got so many reviews that said “I couldn’t put it down!!” whereas I felt like I couldn’t pick it back up at times. I will also say do not expect a journey through Paris. Paris is very much part of the story and important to the underlying story, but not until much later than expected. A majority of the novel takes place in Banbury, England, and the States.

Interestingly, once I finished the novel, I looked at Gable’s other two novels. I wanted to read more of her. So, though I struggled with aspects of the story and the length, I enjoyed Gable’s writing enough that I wanted more of it in my library.

What are you currently reading?

Truly,
Callie leigh

A Book I’m Picking Up

Hello, World.

Lauren Graham is releasing a new book in November! Who’s excited? I sure am! I already pre-ordered it, and I can’t wait for it to arrive. I plan to take it on my plane ride home to CA in December.Seeing that it comes out right near my first set of law school finals, I probably won’t get to it until Christmas break, but alas, I’m excited to read it. You can check out what it’s all about by clicking here!

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Let me know if you’re as excited as I am to get your hands on this gem.

Truly,
Callie leigh

Book Recommendation: Sweetbitter

Hello, World.

I have a book recommendation! I read a lot of different books, but I am totally in love with the novel Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler. I rarely read a modern book that I feel is really well written and has a compelling story. But honestly, being 22 in a new city, this story resonated with me. I will warn there are hard drugs being used frequently, but according to my roommate from New York, drugs are pretty commonplace in the City, and probably a lot of other places. But aside from the drugs, this book shares a story of a young girl trying to find her way in a new setting, and that alone made me ravish it. However, Stephanie Danler’s beautiful prose and mixture of prose and poetry really pulled me in. I’d get in bed and say, only 10 more pages before bed, and end up reading 35 or 50. The novel is beautifully written, and will make you crave good food and authentic conversation.

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I think most young women in their twenties have been with someone they know is bad for them, or has been attracted to someone they know won’t treat them right. What I love about this story is the vulnerability, but also the growth of the main character, Tess, who grows to be more confident and stronger in her pursuit of what she wants. I think it also speaks volumes to the impermanent nature of relationships, both romantic and platonic, that people form in their 20s! We all want to feel like we belong, like we’re working our way up, and I think this novel tracks this battle well, while also addressing the growth and sadness that comes with getting what we want and realizing it isn’t what we want. I don’t want to give too much away, but I will say this book is a must read. It got a rave from Jay McInerney, and I think that alone speaks volumes about the promise that Stephanie Danler’s literary career holds!

Have you read it?

Truly,
Callie leigh

Revisiting My Summer Bucket List

Hello, World.

As summer 2016 draws to a close, I wanted to revisit the bucket list I made for myself at the beginning of summer. Though summer still technically still has quite some time, I feel like summer ends once school begins, and I have Law Week, which is the beginning of the legal practice program beginning Monday. So, I’m excited to begin school, but I’m also reflecting on what I did with my two or so months of free time! I spent so much time relaxing at home, and enjoying myself.

Here is the original list that I posted. I did pretty well, but I will say I wish I read more. I got stuck on a dud of a novel, and even though I wasn’t enjoying it, I tried to finish it. While I did finish the novel, I wish I would have just quit it and moved on.

So I completed the following items:

Make S’Mores

Spend More Time Outside

Go to a Giants Game (2 actually!)

Watch Fireworks

Spend Time with Family

Go to Tahoe With Friends

Plan a Trip to Somewhere New (ish! My roommates and I want to explore a lot of new places in the next year)

I did not complete:

-Find a favorite white wine (or more specifically a sauvignon blanc). Maybe I will during the stressful months of law school ahead!

– Read 7 new books. I only read 3. I had a long list of summer reading I wanted to finish, but unfortunately I got so bogged down with the dud that I didn’t get as much reading in. I did read The Vacationers, The Nest, and Sweetbitter (my absolute fave).

What did you do this summer?

Truly,
Callie leigh

Summer Reading


 

Hello, World.

When I finish a school year, I usually take about a week to just veg. I don’t do a whole lot, other than get outside and relax because I don’t want to deal with a lot of really overly stimulating stuff.  However, something I am excited to do every summer is read for fun. Being an English major creates a sort of love/hate relationship with reading. I love reading, but I have to do so much reading when I’m in school, typically with books I don’t really care a whole lot about (like all British Literature class reading lists). So when I actually have time to read for fun, I want to take full advantage. I miss being able to just read a book that I want to read, and tell people about it. So this summer, I plan to read basically as much as I can. I was reading advice to 1Ls from faculty at William and Mary Law, and everyone essentially said that the important thing to do the summer before law school is rest, and read. Basically don’t overdue it, but read enough to keep your brain limber and ready to receive information. So, here are some books I’m currently planning to read:

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After You

I’m excited to read this because it is the sequel to Me Before You by Jojo Moyes. I loved the first book, and I’m interested to see how the sequel goes!

Outlander

I love this TV show, but I really want to read the first book!

Big Little Lies

This book was recommended by a few people, and I always see it at Barnes and Noble. The story line seems interesting, so I’m ready to read it.

The Vacationers

I’m currently reading this, and really like it so far! It seems like a popular beach read. I also really like anything involving family dynamics, and this definitely covers that.

The Nest

I’ve seen this book everywhere recently. Another family-based book, it sounds super interesting and I’m excited to start reading it.

Friday Night Lights

Hopefully I’ll get to this book, as I was inspired to read it after falling in love with the TV series. I want to read more about small town football purely because I find it fascinating and went to a high school heavily sports focused.

What are you reading?

Truly,
Callie leigh

Easy Summer Reading

Hello, World.

You know what I don’t like? Rigid summer reading lists. Every summer since my junior year of high school, I’ve made a list in early May of books I wanted to read over the summer. While making the list is fun, once actual summer arrives, I feel super limited in what I can read. Sometimes I’m just NOT in the mood for what’s on my list, but I feel like I have to get through the list. This often leads me to read less because I’m avoiding starting the next book on the list. This summer, I decided to have a fun, easy summer. Though I have to read two novels for my thesis project, the rest of my list is, well, nonexistent. I bought a ton of great books before summer started, and now I”m going to pick what to read to next based on what I’m in the mood for, not based on a stipulated list. So, I wanted to share some of my top picks for summer reading! Some of the novels I’ve read personally, and some are on my to-read list, but regardless, from what I’ve experienced or heard, I know all these novels are pretty light and quick reads.
Summer Reading
Me Before You | Leave Your Mark | Saint Anything (Currently Reading!) | Big Sur | Looking For Alaska | Americanah

Looking for Alaska by John Green inspired my institution of the life library in my own life. I buy tons of books, and add them to my shelves, hoping I’ll get to them eventually. I love reading, and I have so many things I want to read, so I just keep adding to my library. I’m also definitely one of those people that will have an in-house library in my home. Anyway, the above books are great reads that’ll make you think, but are also light enough to be enjoyable summer reads. Happy reading!

Truly,
Callie leigh

What I’m Reading

Hello, World.

I wanted to take a few minutes to share with you what I’ve been reading. As you may know, this semester I have 37 books on my reading list for class, honors projects, and book club. I can’t share all the books I’ve read so far, partly because it’d take forever, and partly because I don’t feel compelled to write about some of them! But I would like to share two of the books I’ve read this semester because I liked them a lot. If you want to know what else I’ve read, check out my goodreads page!

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Gone Girl is an absolutely insane novel, but also really well-written, captivating, and intriguing. Though the ending wasn’t exactly how I would have written it, I thought it was original and unique. I read this book for book club, which is a class in which I read the novel and watch the film, and then compare the two. I thought this was a good adaption, especially since the author of the novel wrote the screenplay for the film. It was fun to discuss how the author made changes to her own work, and her possible motivations behind them. The thriller aspect was new for me, and I really enjoyed it. I enjoy taking classes that constantly force me to step out of my comfort zone, and try a new genre! This was by far one of my favorite reads of the semester.
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The second novel I will be sharing here is Passing by Nella Larsen. I”m reading this for African American Literature, and my honors contract. It’s about racial passing, and the consequences and positives associated with that. I’d never read Larsen before, but I really enjoyed this novel. Though it’s definitely more academic than Gone Girl, I liked reading it because I think it sheds light on some major issues. Part of the reason I don’t mind having 37 books this semester, is because most of what I’m reading is actually really fascinating and great. I’m learning so much, and it’s amazing!

Other highlights: Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck, Beloved by Toni Morrison, and Richard III by William Shakespeare.

What’re you reading right now?

Truly,
Callie leigh

What I’m Reading

Hello, World.

I’m currently on Jan Term break, which is the week my college gets off in between January Term and Spring semester. I love this week off. I always feel SO motivated during this week because Jan Term is usually pretty chill, and I always get this weird reading bug when I get home. Halfway through Jan Term, my friend, Steven, came to visit and we went to this quaint little used bookstore near our college. I bought four books, and planned to read at least two over this break. I’m currently about a 100 pages into the first one, Me Before You by Jojo Moyes. People, this books is SO good. Honestly, I haven’t been this into a book in a while. I started it at about 9pm last night, and read until about 12am. Then I had a morning with my sister, then read for a couple hours. While my reading has slowed a bit, I have the hardest time putting the book down.

IMG_5648I’ve seen this book everywhere recently, and a lot of people who have great taste in books have recommended it. I was hesitant to jump on the bandwagon, and I wasn’t sure the storyline was one I could really get into. But then I found it in the used bookstore for a few bucks, and decided to give it a try. I’m SO glad I did!

The novel follows Lou Clark, a 26-year-old woman desperate to find a new job after losing her job at a local cafe. Out of acute desperation, she takes a job as a bit of a “social caregiver” to a young quadriplegic. Lou is rather inexperienced, and hasn’t ever gone too far outside her comfort zone. Since I haven’t finished the novel, I’m not sure exactly where it goes, though I have a few guesses. Honestly, this book is making me think hard. It’s making me think about life–quality of life, especially. What I like about this novel is takes a person whose had all his opportunities stripped from him, and juxtaposes him to a young women filled with potential who is letting her life just pass on by. I’m excited to see where this goes. I recommend you pick up a copy of this novel next time you’re at the bookstore.

I’m going to go read more!

Truly,
Callie leigh

Why Reading for Pleasure Is Important

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Hello, World.

Since I’ve been on Christmas break, I’ve gone to Barnes and Noble a few times with my mom and dad. Being at Barnes and Noble is always a bittersweet time. I usually try really hard not to pick out too many books because then I get so excited to read everything and anything and I can. I was there earlier today, and I picked out Big Sur by Jack Kerouac, Wild by Cheryl Strayed, Me Before You by Jojo Moyes, Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown, and The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls by Anton DiSclafani. All the novels sounded SO good, and my mom offered to buy me one of them, but I quickly said, “Oh, I’m going back to school, so I won’t have time to read them..” As soon as I said this, I sighed and became dismayed with this instinctual reaction. It always saddens me that I really don’t have enough time to read for pleasure during the school year. Usually, by the time I finish homework, cook dinner, and organize my email inbox, I’m too tired to read. This is really sad, since I used to read all the time, and always really enjoyed reading. Lately, though, I feel like I need to start making time to read more for pleasure.

I’m vowing to read for pleasure for at least 30 minutes a day. If this means I need to get up earlier or stay up later so be it. Reading for pleasure is so important! Reading in general is important, but learning how to really enjoy reading is important. I think taking the time each day to escape reality and enter another world and just be is highly valuable. Reading can be so rewarding, and I want to start taking the time to read for myself, and learn to love reading again. Sometimes I get so bogged down in reading for class that at the end of the day, I detest having to read anything. I vow to use my 30 minutes of rest each day to read! I’m hoping this will reconnect myself with reading, and I’m hoping it will ensure that I am growing my repertoire of read books. I made a challenge on Goodreads to read 45 books in 2015. I’m hoping that if I make time to read throughout the year this goal will be easily achievable.

I’m hoping you join me in devoting more time to reading for pleasure in 2015! Reading for pleasure can illuminate what you like, teach you lessons about so many things, reconnect you with the written word, and force you to get away from the little annoyances of life. Reading for pleasure can really enhance a person’s day. Sometimes taking the time to read for 30 minutes or so for yourself gives you time to just exist and be and enjoy yourself! Take the time to read for pleasure in 2015. Even as the temperature rises as spring arrives, curl up with a cup of coffee, and just enjoy reading!

Truly,
Callie leigh