Spring Reading List, Books

Spring Reading List

I’m springing back into contributing content here with a new Spring Reading List! Like a lot of people right now, I’ve been working from home (and will be indefinitely), so taking short reading breaks throughout my day has been keeping me sane.

One of my goals this year was to start making progress on all of the books that friends and family recommend to me. This season, I’m looking forward to a good mix of hyped-up novels to keep me company while I’m stuck at home. There’s a solid variety of themes and genres to keep me on my toes and keep me entertained.

The following five books represent my foreseeable literary future:

  1. “Where the Crawdads Sing” by Delia Owens: This book has been recommended to me by multiple sources, and then gifted to me by my mom for Christmas. I love the setting of the swampy North Carolina coast- so romantic and intriguing. I also love a good murder mystery, especially one with a twist. Since I’ve already started this one (I’m about 100 pages in), I know it will be one that sticks with me.
  2. “The Institute” by Stephen King: A new Stephen King book that’s reminiscent of his old work?? Sign me up! I love a good Stephen King novel, and I was very excited to get this one. Some of his newer works didn’t have the pizzazz of his older stuff, but I read Mr. King’s last book, “The Outsider” and loved it. I’m very much looking forward to digging into this one and getting a healthy dose of horror to shake things up.
  3. “White Teeth” by Zadie Smith: Zadie Smith is a new author for me, and though I’ve heard and seen her praises being sung by many, I have yet to look into any of her books. I decided to start with her first novel “White Teeth”. The story takes place in London, one of my favorite cities, and spans generations of two friends and their families. I’m pretty sure this book will launch me into a search for more of Zadie Smith’s writing, based on the reviews alone.
  4. “The Three Musketeers” by Alexandre Dumas: A few months ago, I took a Castles and Wine Tour in France (more on that later) with my husband (more on that later too). I loved the French History lesson we received on the tour, and the guide recommended Alexandre Dumas for further (albeit fictional) reading. Despite it taking longer than any other book, I finally finished reading “The Count of Monte Cristo” this month. It was so dang compelling, and I couldn’t get enough of Dumas’s writing. So I bought “The Three Musketeers”.
  5. “House of Leaves” by Mark Danielewski: I won’t lie to you, I have tried to read this book and failed about three times. It’s hard to get into, but I’ve heard that it’s so worth it to push through. It’s my favorite genre (horror/suspense) and it’s written in a fun, wacky way, but I know it will be a challenge to reread what I’ve already started. This one is on my list purely as a challenge to myself to finally make it to the end.
Cat, Reading Nook

And here’s a gratuitous shot of our cat in my little reading nook for good measure. Tell me what’s on the docket for your spring reading list in the comments!

Winter Reading List | RebeccaWanderlusting

Winter Reading List

It is completely clear to me that it is now winter in Chicago.  This season always makes me want to curl up in a ball and read book after book, glass of wine in hand.  I’ve been looking forward to slowing down a bit and catching up on my winter reading list as the weather grows colder and colder.  Hopefully, I’ll be reading on some planes and some beaches as well, but more on that later!

I mentioned in my last reading list that I was trying to get through the books I already own before I start snapping up new ones.  I’ve made some serious progress, but I am in need of some fresh new literature as well.  I have to say, there were a couple of duds on my shelf that went straight into the donate pile, but I pushed through to finish them nonetheless (am I the only one that HAS to finish a book once I’ve started it??).  My winter reading list covers a wide variety of subjects, but they’re all ones I’ve been meaning to read or have heard really good things about.  Here’s hoping I can get to them all!

  1. “Sharp Objects” by Gillian Flynn – I’ve read both “Gone Girl” and “Dark Objects” and loved them both, so it seems only natural that “Sharp Objects” be on my list.  I love the way Gillian Flynn keeps your interest to the very end and that her twists and turns are so genuinely surprising.  I recently read a Buzzfeed article that noted this book as having a jaw-dropping twist and I can’t wait to see what it is!
  2. “You Are a Badass at Making Money” by Jen Sincero – The first book of this two book series (“You Are a Badass”) was on my last reading list.  I read it, loved it, and immediately told everyone I know to read it.  Jen Sincero is such a personable writer and her advice is sage.  I’m so looking forward to reading more of her tips and tricks as they apply to financial stability.
  3. “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” by Truman Capote – I have been on a real Capote kick lately.  I read “In Cold Blood” and was immediately obsessed.  I then watched Capote, the movie, and was even more intrigued.  So, obviously, I need to read his other well-known and renowned work, and possibly all the rest of his work after that!
  4. “Moby Dick” by Herman Melville – One of my upcoming goals for the new year is to read more classic literature and this one has been on my shelf for years.  I figured it (along with #3) would be a good place to start on my classic literature journey.  I do love everything related to the sea, so I’m sure I’ll enjoy this quintessential novel.
  5. “The Poisonwood Bible” by Barbara Kingsolver – I am surprised it has taken me this long to read this novel.  My mom has noted it as one of her favorites for decades, so I think she will be especially happy that I’m picking this one up.  I’ve heard so many good things about Barbara Kingsolver and I’m excited to finally read her work.
  6. “Big Little Lies” by Liane Moriarty – I, along with everyone else I know, instantly fell in love with the HBO series based on this novel.  How could you not feel a kinship with each of the characters?? The ending was so surprising, but I don’t think it will hinder how much I will enjoy the book.  I have a feeling this one might be a novel that I come back to time and time again.
  7. “Wilderness Essays” by John Muir – I picked up a beautiful copy of John Muir’s essays when I was in San Francisco.  Actually, I got it in the gift shop of John Muir Woods just north of San Francisco.  I’ve always admired Mr. Muir’s philosophies and I will happily read his thoughts and travel vicariously through his adventures.

Winter Reading List | RebeccaWanderlusting

Have you read any of these?  What did you think? What’s on your winter reading list?

Summer Reading List, RebeccaWanderlusting

Summer Reading List

I think I’ve made it pretty clear that I’m a big reader through the many book blogs I’ve posted over the years.  I mostly read as I’m on public transportation, and I have been working my way through the books on my shelf, one commute at a time.  I have been trying to read all of the books I already own before I start buying more in an effort to get rid of what I don’t like and refill with new books.  Over this summer, I’m looking forward to sitting down with a good book at the beach and en route to a couple of trips.  One of my goals for the year is to read more non-fiction, but I need to mix them in with some fiction to keep things interesting.  I’m looking forward to each of the books on my summer reading list and can’t wait to dig into them! Here they are:

  1. “All Over the Place” by Geraldine DeRuiter: I am so dang excited to read this book. I am a big fan of Geraldine’s blog, The Everywhereist, and I know that this blog will have me laughing in a publicly embarrassing way.  I love the way she writes.  She has a way of making even the most mundane events seem hilarious.
  2. “World War Z” by Max Brooks: This book has been sitting on my shelf unread for at least five years. I’ve seen the movie and now that there’s a sequel in the works, I figure it’s about time I finally read this popular horror novel.  I’m a big fan of the genre, so I’m excited to try out a new author!
  3. “You Are a Badass” by Jen Sincero: I’ve heard so many great things about this book that I finally just ordered it from Amazon. I know I’m a little behind the curve on this one, but I can’t wait to read it and take in all of the life lessons it has to offer.  A little encouragement and advice is always a good thing.
  4. “In Cold Blood” by Truman Capote: Recently, I read “The Lost Continent” and in it he visits Holcomb, Kansas where the murders of In Cold Blood take place. This tidbit in Bill Bryson’s book plus seeing the movie Capote with Philip Seymour Hoffman made me want to pick up this classic thriller immediately.
  5. “South and West” by Joan Didion: I have read the majority of Ms. Didion’s work, so when her new book came out earlier this year I bought it right away. I am a huge fan of her writing, and will happily read and reread any of her books.  This one in particular shows off her writing process, which, as a writer, I am very excited to read.
  6. “Into the Water” by Paula Hawkins: Last year, I read “The Girl on the Train” almost in one sitting on the plane to Iceland. It kept me on the edge of my seat and the ending completely took me by surprise.  I won’t spoil anything, but Ms. Hawkins previous book was great and I can’t wait to check out her next novel.

Summer Reading List, RebeccaWanderlusting

What’s on your summer reading list? What books do you recommend?

8 Books to Read This Summer

8 Books to Read This Summer

Is there anything better than sitting in the sun, glass of wine in hand, with a good book?  Probably not.  It’s no secret that I’m a bit of a bookworm, and I firmly believe that reading and vacations go hand in hand.  What’s a plane/train/bus ride without a good book to while away the hours?  The only problem is that there are just so many out there to choose from.  I enjoy a pretty wide range of books; old, new, non-fiction, science fiction, I will read pretty much anything that catches my interest.  If you’re like me in this regard, consider adding a few of these to your reading bucket list.  Some are older classics, some are new, some are genres you might not typically choose, but all of them are worth a read, I promise.

  1. “Something Wicked This Way Comes” by Ray Bradbury: This has to be one of my favorite books of all time. I love the way Mr. Bradbury writes; it’s captivatingly lyrical.  This creative thriller will have you hooked from the very first page.  “Something Wicked This Way Comes” is a tale of a carnival and its effect on a small town, told from the perspective of two boys. Read if: you like science fiction and you’ve always thought that there was something mystical and creepy about carnivals.
  2. “The Regulators” by Richard Bachman (Stephen King): I love most of Stephen King’s books, but this one is my favorite.  It’s a good summer read because it is equal parts terrifying and weirdly entertaining.  This story follows the odd happenings on a single street in the suburbs when one child’s favorite characters start to terrorize the neighborhood.  Read if: you’re ready to be sufficiently creeped out and enthralled all at once.
  3. “Play it as it Lays” by Joan Didion: This novel is a slice of 60’s Hollywood life from the view of a less than sane actress, Maria. The story is a little bit of an emotional rollercoaster, but, as always, Joan Didion does not disappoint.  She is the epitome of cool and this novel radiates her sophisticated demeanor.  Read if: you like your summer reads to be a little heavier than the average romance novel.
  4. “Why Not Me” by Mindy Kaling: First of all, Mindy Kaling is always a good idea. This book is hilarious and makes the perfect pick for a lighthearted summer read.  It’s chock-full of essays that range in topic from being dumped by a girlfriend to an explanation behind her soup snake relationship.  This one is sure to make you laugh obnoxiously enough that your fellow travelers will stare.  Read if: You’re ready to get a good ab workout in while you read!
  5. “In The Woods” by Tana French: This novel is insanely hard to put down. The plot sucks you in, makes you think you know what’s happening, and then turns that on its head.  The story revolves around two Dublin detectives taking on a case that is eerily similar to an event from one of their pasts.  Read if: You’re ready to get involved in a chilling mystery/thriller and have plenty of time on your hands to finish the book in one sitting.
  6. “The Rum Diary” by Hunter S. Thompson: Thompson’s books are always a wild ride, and “The Rum Diary” is no exception. Follow his Gonzo Journalistic exploits in San Juan, Puerto Rico from one stumbling drunk adventure to the next.  There’s just enough drama to keep it interesting, but not enough that it overtakes the fantastic prose.  Read if: You have a Mai Tai in hand and wish you were going to the tropics.
  7. “Hold Still” by Sally Mann: This autobiography details Sally Mann’s life as a photographer in Lynchburg, Virginia. Her relatable anecdotes and fascinating artistic tales are easy to get addicted to. Her love of the American South is clear throughout the book, and the photos that accompany the writing are stunning.  I didn’t want it to end! Read if: You’re interested in photography and ready to be totally convinced to visit rural Virginia.
  8. “Jaws” by Peter Benchley: “Jaws” is a classic, there’s no doubt about it.  If you can believe it, the book is even more thrilling than the movie, with its love affairs and mob activity added in with the ever-present killer shark.  It has all the ingredients of a great beach read, just so long as it doesn’t scare you out of getting in the water.  Read if: You like your monster stories with a little romantic drama on the side.

    8 Books to Read This Summer

What books are on your summer reading list?

7 Bookstores Worth Traveling To

7 Bookstores Worth Traveling To

If you travel often, there are certain things you look for in each city you visit.  For some it might be themed bars or local cuisine or perhaps museums.  For me, it’s bookstores.  It’s no secret that I’m an avid reader, so of course I always try to seek out a unique bookstore everywhere I go.  I love searching through each set of shelves and stacks to discover books that I’ve been wanting to read for ages, or books I never knew I needed.  Whether they’re new or used, fiction or non-fiction, I’m happy as long as there are plenty to sift through.  Though all these bookstores contain book selections for all types of bibliophiles, each shop has its own distinct style and flavor.  Here are my favorite bookstores I’ve visited so far that are worth an entire vacation planned around them:

  1. Atticus Coffee, Books & Teahouse, Park City, Utah: I was lucky enough to happen upon this delightful bookshop/café when I was visiting my best friend in Salt Lake City. We drove up to Park City one afternoon to explore and wandered into Atticus.  The small-ish store was chock full of charm, with half the space dedicated to books and gifts and the other half café seating.  I didn’t get to purchase any books because of limited luggage space, but I wanted everything.
    Atticus Bookstore, Park City, Bookstores Worth Traveling To
  2. The Strand Bookstore, New York, NY: The Strand is a bibliophile’s dream, boasting 18 miles of books in its selection. You could spend hours getting lost in the multiple floors of new and used books, gifts and assorted paper goods.  I bought more books there than I probably should have and had to beg Mike to let me put half of them in his suitcase to transport them home.  It was worth it.  The Strand is located in the East Village with a bonus kiosk in Central Park.
    The Strand Bookstore, New York, 7 Bookstores worth traveling to
  3. Battery Park Book Exchange, Asheville, NC: What is better than leisurely browsing through books? Browsing through books with a glass of champagne in hand!  Battery Park is the Café/Bar/Bookstore of your dreams, where you are free to sit and read and sip or wander the store with your beverage of choice.  I had two glasses of champagne while I browsed and came away with a beautiful copy of “The Sun Also Rises”.  The two-story store is located in the Grove Arcade mall in Downtown Asheville.
    Battery Park Book Exchange, 7 Bookstores Worth Traveling To
  4. City Lights Booksellers & Publishers, San Francisco, CA: This Beat Generation bookshop is full of history and good vibes. It is a 3-level mecca of books of all kinds, from the top floor, which is full of poetry and beat generation classics, down to the basement, where the science fiction books are housed.  The staff at City Lights are super friendly and happy to offer suggestions if needed.  We bought a couple of books (“Indian Journals” by Allen Ginsburg for me) and headed next door to Vesuvio Café to start reading.
    City Lights Bookstore, 7 Bookstores Worth Traveling To
  5. Kramerbooks & Afterwords Cafe, Washington, D.C.: Nestled into Dupont Circle, Kramerbooks red neon sign beckons to book lovers passing by. The bookstore/restaurant has an amazing selection of books catering to all tastes and genres.  I particularly enjoyed their large travel book section.  The restaurant has a beautiful patio to sit and read at.  That is where I enjoyed my newly purchased book (“Medium Raw” by Anthony Bourdain) with a delicious slice of their Apple Crumble Pie.
    Kramerbooks & Afterwords, 7 Bookstores Worth Traveling To
  6. Capitol Hill Books, Washington, D.C.: This gem is located in the Capitol Hill neighborhood (obviously), right next to The Eastern Market. This used bookstore presents itself as a treasure hunt through its haphazard shelves and stacks.  Its multiple rooms on two floors are a wonderful maze of every kind of book you could want.  If you can spare the time, it’s worth it to get lost in Capitol Hill Books for a few hours.
    Capitol Hill Bookstore, 7 Bookstores Worth Traveling To
  7. Myopic Books, Chicago, IL: I may not have to travel far to get to Myopic books, but it is absolutely worth a visit for bibliophiles visiting Chicago. It’s located in Wicker Park, right across from Furious Spoon (ramen – yum!).  Myopic has four floors of floor-to-ceiling shelves stocked with used books.  I personally love the basement level, which is where they keep the Stephen King novels.  I have spent many rainy days searching through the frequently updated selection here, and I can confidently say that is one of my favorite bookstores.
    Myopic Books, 7 Bookstores Worth Traveling To

Where is your favorite bookstore?  Have you been to any on this list?

Wanderlust, Travel Inspiring Books, Top Five Friday

Top Five Friday #11

5 More Travel Inspiring Books

I’ve touched on this subject once before, but books and travel are two things that I happen to be very passionate about.  I like to read about travel and read while I travel.  I read for travel inspiration and sometimes for travel validation (as in, YES! That’s it! That’s why all my money goes towards plane tickets and hotels!).  Whether the books are fiction or non-fiction, informative or not so informative, I’m happy if it is wanderlust-inducing.  Here are five more travel inspiring books to inspire your next adventure:

  1. “The Good Girl’s Guide to Getting Lost” by Rachel Friedman: I read this book on the way to and during my Washington, D.C. trip. I loved it so much.  Rachel Friedman writes in a way that makes you feel like she is sitting next to you, regaling her travel stories over wine.  The book tells of her travels to Ireland, Australia, and South America.  I loved the honesty she uses in her writing, it makes the whole story that much more relatable.
    The Good Girls Guide to Getting Lost, Rachel Friedman, Wanderlust, Travel Books
  2. “Footloose American” by Brian Kevin: This book details the adventures of the author as he follows the same path Hunter S. Thompson traveled through South America. In traversing through Columbia, Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Bolivia, Paraguay, Argentina, Uruguay, and Brazil, Mr. Kevin hopes to gain clarity and a new perspective on life in America.  Though it seems a little too factual at times, the adventures and mishaps he comes upon make it a fun read.
    The Footloose American, Brian Kevin, Wanderlust, Travel Books
  3. “American Gods” by Neil Gaiman: “Why is a theological science fiction book on this list?” you might ask. But, if you’ve read it you know that this book dances around the continental United States, detailing roadside attractions and doling out suspense.  It also deserves a place on this list because the author, a British man, traveled all over the U.S. by train and car to write this book with the knowledge he gained.
    American Gods, Neil Gaiman, Wanderlust, Travel Books
  4. “On The Road” by Jack Kerouac: Is it cliché that “On The Road” is on this list? Maybe, but it would also be weird if it wasn’t.  I read this book in San Francisco, which was pretty perfect considering that is where a lot of it takes place.  While at times Mr. Kerouac’s writing can lean towards pretension, the story is well-written and entertaining.  This book is a classic inspiration for travelers striking out on their own.
    On The Road, Jack Kerouac, Wanderlust, Travel Books
  5. “The Paris Wife” by Paula McLain: I read this historical fiction novel on the beaches of Miami.  It kept me so interested that I was sunburned by the time I was finished with it.  “The Paris Wife” is the story of Ernest Hemingway’s first wife, Hadley, and their time together in Paris, France.  The book is equal parts 1920s Paris glitz and wistful love story.  It’s an intimate and interesting look, fiction or not, into Mr. Hemingway’s private life.
    The Paris Wife, Paula McLain, Wanderlust, Travel Books

What are your favorite travel inspiring books?  Where have they inspired you to travel?

10 Wanderlust Inducing Books

Reading and traveling are two of my three greatest passions (writing is the third, and I’m doing that now, hooray!) so when they come together in travel related books I am one happy camper. Below are my ten favorite wanderlust inducing books.  I’m sure the list will grow and change, but for now, here they are:

1.      “A Cook’s Tour” – Anthony Bourdain: This is the first book I ever read that made me think “damn, I want to see the world.” Mr. Bourdain’s accounts of eating and drinking his way around the globe turned my wanderlust into a full blown obsession.

2.      “Wanderlust: A Love Affair with Five Continents” – Elisabeth Eaves: Fueled by want of the unknown, Elisabeth Eaves details her experiences in love and travel in this fantastic book.  I loved this one so much I lent it to another traveler to enjoy, never to see it again.  Of course I bought another copy.

3.      “The Alchemist” – Paulo Coelho: This gorgeously written tale paints pictures of sunrise colored deserts and one boys’s tie to his own destiny. Though it’s not wholly about travel, it inspires and encourages the reader to follow their heart and find beauty.

4.      “A House in the Sky” – Amanda Lindhout & Sara Corbett: Despite the harrowing content, Amanda Lindhout’s experiences should encourage us to keep traveling and learning about the world.  This inspiring story is at the very least a warning to travel safely, and at most a call to action to travel, learn customs and culture, help where needed and live fully.

5.      “The Rum Diary” – Hunter S. Thompson: Mr. Thompson’s  whimsical tale of life and travel through the Caribbean is a look at the islands through beer goggles.  It is a colorful account of another time in a distant land that’ll make you want to jump on a plane bound for the tropics.

6.      “The Sharper Your Knife, The Less You Cry” – Kathleen Flinn: Soon after being fired from her job, Kathleen Flinn decides to take the high road straight to Paris. There, she learns the delicate ins and outs of French cooking at Le Cordon Bleu.  This book sparked my love for Paris and made my mouth water at the same time.

7.      “Shutterbabe: Adventures in Love and War” – Deborah Copaken Kogan: A photojournalist’s tale of ambition, war and love around the world.  Deborah  Copaken Kogan’s vivid stories from each point on the map capture all the emotions that go along with the excitement of travel.  She fully engulfs you in her adventures and makes you yearn for your own.

8.      “Eat, Pray, Love” – Elizabeth Gilbert: I have a love/hate relationship with this book, but the bottom line is it made me want to travel more. All in all, it’s a fun read of one woman’s travels and fulfillment in three beautiful destinations.

9.      “Lunch in Paris: A Love Story with Recipes” – Elizabeth Bard: If #6 on this list sparked my love for Paris, then this one fanned the flame. Elizabeth Bard tells of how she immersed herself in French culture and cuisine with all the fanciful details along the way.  As an added bonus to the enjoyable read, the book includes the recipes mentioned in the story!

10.     “A Dead Hand” – Paul Theroux: This book is a fictional murder-mystery set in India, written by a travel writer. It paints a vivid picture of India and its inhabitants, increasing my desire to visit the beautiful country.
Travel Inspiring Books, RebeccaWanderlusting

Please share your favorite travel inspiring books in the comments, I look forward to reading them all and expanding my list.