Thursday, November 17, 2016

The Best Cold Weather Activity....

Hi all,

I have a few fantastic book recommendations for you.  I imagine many of you will agree that with the rapidly cooling temperatures, its even more enticing reading weather.  Though personally, I find all weather and any day to be inviting for reading.  However, in terms of the winter making reading even more fitting, I am picturing curling up underneath a super soft blanket, a warm mug of tea or coffee in one hand, possibly the low lull of music or the hush of television playing in the background, and if one is lucky enough to have a fireplace, it is no doubt filled with a roaring fire.  Oh man.  I am already filled with romance and anticipation over the picture this is painting in my head.

Now, all you need is the actual book choice!  What will you read?  Here are a few recent items I have finished in the last few weeks which I would highly recommend checking out:

This book is super interesting.  Its actually required reading for all Harvard Business School graduates.  

Yes, some of it upon reading, you will nod your head in an "oh yeah, I kind of already figured that" fashion.  However, much of what these guys talk about are things that you may never have considered or thought about in much depth before.  Therefore, this is a worthwhile read for everyone.  Or at least for anyone who wants to get ahead in business, be effective with other people, have excellent social skills and be able to come across in a compelling way towards others (hence the title) should read it.  So I imagine, that's everyone.

The writing style is casual and conversational, an easy and enjoyable read.  I have breezed through it having finished it in 4 days or so.  Therefore, it wouldn't be a huge time commitment to read this one.

This one is inspiring and thought-provoking.  Upon reading it, I found myself feeling excited and filled with anticipation for what is to come as my life continues along.  However, this book can also serve to light a fire underneath you, if you let it.  Chris Guillebeau argues that human beings are actually happiest when they are seeking something.  A significant overarching goal to their life, if you will.  Or in other words, a quest of sorts.

No, this is not the same thing as say, losing 20lbs, or reading a lot of books, or learning to bake, etc.  This is a bigger, more meaty goal or quest, with more heft and weight to it.  The nature of a quest is that its difficult and time consuming, it will likely take quite a while to achieve the end result, but that it fills you with excitement.  A quest is something that keeps you up at night.  You want it, badly.  Something about it speaks to you, pokes and prods you, it simply refuses to leave you alone.

The author talks about how having something like this brings purpose, excitement and deep fulfillment to ones life.  He gives a number of examples and personal stories of quests in all different categories, along with ideas to come up with what your own might be. 

This was a fun fictional read.  Its the story of Nathaniel, a young a partially-rising star in terms of his writing (he has just had a book published and is a continued aspiring writer/intellectual).  This book follows the trajectory of his dating life, from his own perspective.  Yes, its fictional.  But its wildly fun, and I imagine there is a fair bit of truth in here when it comes to men and how they think about dating/women/relationships.

With his newly risen status of becoming a fairly accomplished writer, he seems to have his pick of a few promising women.  His gorgeous ex-girlfriend turned friend, a hotshot reporter, or Hannah who is regarded as "cool, smart and nice," who seemed to be his intellectual and conversational equal.

When one of these relationships grows more serious, Nathaniel is forced to confront the issue of what he truly wants at the moment.  For Nathaniel, its all about wit, intellectualism, lively banter and always-engaging, constantly analytical conversation.  However, what about romance, deeper feelings and relationships?  Maybe not so much...

I loved this book.  Flew through it in two days.  I highly recommend it.  Its currently an international bestseller.  Though I imagine it will appeal to women more, I can think of a number of men who would likely enjoy it as well.

This is a fun one, though I haven't quite finished it yet.  Its a memoir about friendship and post-graduation life on two very different sides of the world.  The book chronicles emails sent back and forth between two best friends for a year immediately post college with regards to each of them establishing themselves in the world.

Picking their way through the minefield of settling on a career that is somewhat fulfilling but that pays the bills.  Both regaling one another with mishaps and tales with regards to dating and relationships.  There is even some drama thrown in with regards to the friendships each of them are cultivating/navigating in their new lives abroad.  One of them is living in NYC while the other is in Asia.

While this one is no astounding literary wonder in terms of the writing or the topic matter, it is a really enjoyable read, both with regards to post graduate life (it will make you slightly nostalgic while also filling you with relief about being out of that phase of life) and in connection with navigating relationships and career exploration.

This one was decent.  I would only recommend it if you love chick lit or if you already like Emily Giffin.  Then, its a great read.  Otherwise, skip it.  I personally enjoy her books.  I don't read a lot of chick lit but when I do, she is one of the authors I have found whose style I feel to be especially "readable" and relatable.  She writes in a conversational, down-to-earth style that always results in flying through her books.  This one, her latest, focuses on two sisters.  Both on their relationship with each other, and on each of their respective personal lives.

I always like Emily Giffin books because I feel they are easy to relate to.  Yes, they are fiction.  But they absolutely mirror themes in the way real relationships and lives tend to go.  They often reflect the types of dilemmas that the best of us have absolutely found ourselves in.  I finished this one in two days.  Its an easy, light, entertaining read.

I discovered Natalie Goldberg by accident, buying her book "Writing Down the Bones" on a whim.  I was shell shocked by how awesome it was.  I expected a dry how-to regarding improving ones writing style.  Not at all what I got.  Her books are almost part memoir.  She blends captivating details from everyday life with tidbits of wisdom for how to spice up ones writing in such a way that the effect is poetic, engaging, visual, even sometimes romantic.  I often find myself picking up one of her books before bed, telling myself I will just read "one or two" of the short chapters and instead, I find myself reeled in and wanting to keep reading.

And last but not least, whoa.  My god, did this book pack a wallop.  It was incredible.  This one took me about 2.5 weeks to finish but it is without question one of the most powerful books I have read since I can remember.  It took my breath away.

The story (fiction) follows four men and the trajectory of their lives and friendships with one another.  First off, her writing is excellent.  She is a superb writer, on par with Patti Smith and a few other literary heavyweights.  And secondly, the story is just riveting.  We learn about these four fascinating men, their friendships wrought with contradiction and complications over the years (as most close relationships tend to be) as well as what happens to each of them as they go through life.  You will be gripped easily by this one.

The book eventually hones in and focuses on one of the characters more so then the others.  The story of Jude.  His life story is absolutely captivating.  Its horrific, tragic, and beautifully told.  Somehow, this woman (the author) is able to inhabit her characters to such a degree that is just mind-blowing.  While reading, one feels the entire gamut of emotions run through them.  Everything from being deeply emotionally moved, to outraged on a characters behalf, to horrified, to a rush of joy for a character.

One of the things I personally loved about this book was how she paints the friendships.  They are so realistic.  When a friendship stretches over a period of years, there will be moments when a friend will let the other one down.  When they might unintentionally hurt the other one, or even at times, intentionally.  Close friendships, just like a romantic relationship, become layered and complicated as the years go by.  I think this makes them all the more beautiful.

I am by no means suggesting that we should accept and expect ill treatment from those we love.  Or that its a part of a healthy relationship.  Not at all.  There are of course, behaviors that once exhibited, are dealbreakers.  But I also believe that within any close relationship, there will also be moments of anger, or feeling hurt or let down.  All of this is part of being human.  We do make mistakes and hurt those whom we love sometimes.  And it does not necesarrily mean that person is automatically a terrible friend or a bad person.  In fact, sometimes that person is an amazing friend who just made a terrible mistake.

There is a moment in this book when for example, one of the men does something AWFUL to another of the characters.  One of his supposed best friends.  Your blood boils with rage as you read it, picturing the scene easily.  And yet, this same man who did this awful thing to his close friend is actually a fantastic friend.  There are numerous moments throughout their friendship when he is unwavering there for his friend, both in spirit and literally.  He is loyal and clearly loves his friend deeply, despite that he did this truly horrible thing to him in one moment.

So, what I love about this book is the way it presents a friendship, in all its beautiful layers, splinters and complications.  To me, that its a realistic reflection on what a long term relationship really is.

If you only read one book from this list, make it this one.


  1. Thank you for sharing these, I've added a few to my wishlist !

    1. Of course!! Let me know what you think of the ones you end up reading. I would be really curious to know :-)