Happy Monday! Here’s a good kick off to your week: a list of books you HAVE to read. Ladies, I’m talking to you. Bonus points if you’re in college. And they’re in no particular order, because all of these books are awesome. You’ll find a lot of quotes and excerpts from reviews on Goodreads, an incredible site with book reviews, author Q&As…heaven for book nerds like me.
1: Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert // Embrace the glorious mess, embrace the glorious mess. Thanks to Elizabeth Gilbert, I’m learning to do this slowly but surely. I read Eat, Pray, Love when I needed it the most and it has seriously changed my life for the better. From Goodreads: “In her early thirties, Elizabeth Gilbert had everything a modern American woman was supposed to want–husband, country home, successful career–but instead of feeling happy and fulfilled, she felt consumed by panic and confusion. This wise and rapturous book is the story of how she left behind all these outward marks of success, and of what she found in their place. Following a divorce and a crushing depression, Gilbert set out to examine three different aspects of her nature, set against the backdrop of three different cultures: pleasure in Italy, devotion in India, and on the Indonesian island of Bali, a balance between worldly enjoyment and divine transcendence.” I got this book to read on the plane over to Hawaii, but I couldn’t wait, so I started it when I went to Windy Gap for a week of volunteer work (about a month before my trip to Hawaii. Oops). I couldn’t put it down. Elizabeth’s stories and adventures were all I could think about, and I was in another world when I was reading. This book made me laugh out loud – Gilbert’s sense of humor is raw & laugh-at-life style. I had to put this book down every once in a while so I could cry – her revelations about herself and her self discovery reminded me of my struggles, but what was great was that through this book and through her story, I learned how to overcome them. I said these books are in no particular order, but this book is first because I think it should be a requirement for every girl to read. Seriously. Its that awesome. And my favorite quote: “You need to learn how to select your thoughts just the same way you select your clothes every day. This is a power you can cultivate. If you want to control things in your life so bad, work on the mind. That’s the only thing you should be trying to control.”
2: The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert // I’m sure you already know by reading up above that Elizabeth Gilbert is my freakin’ idol. After reading Eat, Pray, Love, I scrambled to find another book of hers that I could get my hands on. So, I found The Signature of All Things, and geez louise, you guys, this author has done it again. This book is TOTALLY opposite of Eat, Pray, Love, but it is so beautifully written. I read this one on my road trip out west with S and he teased me constantly. I would get all teary eyed and have to put the book down, or I would laugh uncontrollably and he would tell me I’m the biggest dork, or I would overwhelm him with stories and quotes and ideas from the book that I couldn’t NOT shout out to the whole entire world. From Goodreads again, because I can’t say it any better: “In The Signature of All Things, Elizabeth Gilbert returns to fiction, inserting her inimitable voice into an enthralling story of love, adventure and discovery. Spanning much of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the novel follows the fortunes of the extraordinary Whittaker family as led by the enterprising Henry Whittaker—a poor-born Englishman who makes a great fortune in the South American quinine trade, eventually becoming the richest man in Philadelphia. Born in 1800, Henry’s brilliant daughter, Alma (who inherits both her father’s money and his mind), ultimately becomes a botanist of considerable gifts herself. As Alma’s research takes her deeper into the mysteries of evolution, she falls in love with a man named Ambrose Pike who makes incomparable paintings of orchids and who draws her in the exact opposite direction — into the realm of the spiritual, the divine, and the magical. Alma is a clear-minded scientist; Ambrose a utopian artist — but what unites this unlikely couple is a desperate need to understand the workings of this world and the mechanisms behind all life.” This book is really not something I wouldve ever imagined reading. And some parts are so awkward and uncomfortable that I almost just gave up and put the book down. But that is what makes it so good. The fact that the character in the book is so raw and her stories are so intense – though it is sometimes uncomfortable, I will never forget this book. Ever. And if anybody has a way for me to meet Elizabeth Gilbert, let me know.
3: The Help by Kathryn Stockett // “You is kind, you is smart, you is important.” This is something everyone needs to hear, and this book is one that everyone needs to read. And the movie brings this amazing book to life, so I suggest you watch that too. A Goodreads review said, “Here is an illustrative tale of what it was like to be a black maid during the civil rights movement of the 1960s in racially conflicted Mississippi. There is such deep history in the black/white relationship and this story beautifully shows the complex spectrum, not only the hate, abuse, mistrust, but the love, attachment, dependence.” This book is important to read because it teaches you about friendship, acceptance, and love. I guess this review is so short because it leaves many people speechless. You’ll understand what I mean after you read it too.
4: Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling //
“People will almost definitely compare Kaling’s new book, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) to Tina Fey’s best-seller, Bossypants. It’s not because the two authors look the same (they don’t), or are on the same TV show (they’re not), it’s mostly because the two are well-known female television writers and actors. And Kaling knows the comparison will come, as she points out in the beginning of her book, noting that Fey’s book will be seen as better…Smart and funny, she writes with an honest voice. The book reads more like a letter to a friend than a memoir, and I liked that about it. Because the book isn’t really a memoir – sure, it’s true stories about her life – but it’s broken up into short essays, much like that of Sedaris (only much more conversational). She only mentions the humorous or thought provoking parts of her life, those that contributed to her career today. The book also has lists (or pliests as she calls them), essays that are mainly lists. (Like my favorite, ‘Best Friend Rights and Responsibilities.’)”
5: Bossypants by Tina Fey // A Peachy Sonder shares her review: “I really enjoyed “Mean Girls” but honestly had very little exposure to Tina Fey outside of her Sarah Palin SNL skits…This book is a witty and well-written peek into what it’s like to be Tina Fey. She shares intimately personal stories covering all topics, from her childhood to her marriage to her career, in a very light way and I didn’t find any parts of the book to be drawn out or trying too hard. Written comedy can be extremely difficult in my opinion due to the fact that you lose a comedian’s delivery skills! I felt that most if not all of the jokes in this book translated well and you can’t help but laugh out loud at certain parts. Her personality shines through and I enjoyed the feminist tones throughout the book. I highly recommend this book if you’re looking for something upbeat and easy to read. It was a great travel book for me, because I wasn’t feeling lost in the story if I let some time pass between readings. I was able to pick right back up where I left off.” Read more of her review here!
6: Gone Girl by Gillian Finn // Goodreads says, “On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy’s diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media–as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents–the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter–but is he really a killer? As the cops close in, every couple in town is soon wondering how well they know the one that they love. With his twin sister, Margo, at his side, Nick stands by his innocence. Trouble is, if Nick didn’t do it, where is that beautiful wife? And what was in that silvery gift box hidden in the back of her bedroom closet?” // If you haven’t read this book yet, you’re doing it wrong. I finished this book in two days because I couldn’t put it down!! It gave me chills! The movie is also great and follows the book pretty closely.
7: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood // Jordyn wrote a review about this book on her blog, The Fairy Princess Diaries: “The past year I’ve really focused on reading important works of fiction in the realm of women’s literature. I believe The Handmaid’s Tale belongs at the top of the list when it comes to impactful satire on feminism. The novel depicts a world in which women are subjugated due to religion and forced to live lives based on specified wifely duties. The story bounces back and forth between the main character Offred’s current role as a breeder (essentially) and her former life before the totalitarian regime took over. It’s encapsulating to read her account of life as it transitioned from that of a normal working mother who loved her husband and indulged in cigarettes to living in a society where she is not allowed to read, count or even walk to the market by herself. The story is riveting but more importantly the writing is beautiful.” To read more of her review, click here!
8: She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb // This book…wow, this book. It left me speechless. I cried. I laughed. I pulled all nighters reading this thing. I’ll let Gen Twenty explain: “This novel is a heartwarming look inside one young woman’s unforgettable struggle through life. While reading I couldn’t help but think, there is no way someone can go through everything she went through. Everything that could go wrong, did, and she truly suffered. This book is a story about Dolores Price who had endured many faces of abuse in her life. Starting with her father, then mother, her rapist and eventually, her husband. She goes through an abundance of trials and tribulations throughout the novel that many woman can relate to. There is an extremely sad edge to the story as Dolores plunders through life facing rejection, scorn and mistrust. While most young girls face the tough decisions of what outfit to wear to school or which boy to choose to take to the dance, Dolores faces intense problems such as: her weight, rape, an abusive father, unstable mother, sexual confusion, abortion and the constant hurting of not fitting in or belonging to anyone…I don’t think any man could portray a woman character with so much perspective and raw emotion as Mr. Lamb did. While the book does deal with major issues, it is not purely a depressing story. The story is written with plenty of tongue-in-cheek humor and the sassy, spunky character of Dolores keeps the reader wanting to more. This fascinating character will have you reading with a gamut of emotions. I believe any girl in their twenties should read this book because, undoubtedly, there is an issue that you can relate to represented in this novel. I was going through some rough patches in my early twenties, and while reading about Dolores’ story, I felt she was truly a character I could relate to and that she wasn’t just fictional.” For more of this review, take a look at the GenTwenty’s post.
9: Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon // Books & Other Happily Ever Afters says that Everything, Everything is a book you CAN’T miss! “The concept itself is completely unique and I’ve personally never heard of anything like it. Call me instantly intrigued…THE ILLUSTRATIONS OH MY GOD. The Yoon power duo. The gorgeous illustrations brought this book to life, y’all…Read this book if it’s the last thing you read this year. It’ll make you think everything, feel everything, love everything (in the book), and it will be your everything. This book just got added to my list of all-time favorites!” Read more here.