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!

Monthly Memo: December | RebeccaWanderlusting

Monthly Memo: December

Hello, Hello, Hello!  Happy December and Happy Holidays, everyone!  This holiday season has been particularly crazy for me with all of the holiday parties at work, but I’m so excited to spend Christmas with my family.  I got my gift shopping done super early this year in anticipation of my busy work schedule and I have everything wrapped and ready to go.  I’m planning on heading back home on the 23rd so I can help make Christmas cookies and make a (chocolate peppermint) cheesecake to contribute to our potluck style Christmas Eve party.

Monthly Memo: December | RebeccaWanderlusting

On a less than upbeat note, I have some sad news to share in that Michael and I broke up.  It’s been a not very fun few months and I’m reeling a little bit in trying to figure out what the next few months will look like.  I’m currently looking for a new apartment, a studio, still in Chicago and hopefully still in the same neighborhood.  The silver lining is that I always loved living alone.   I have no doubt that I will feel worse before I feel totally OK again, but I think it’s ultimately for the best.

Unfortunately, with all that’s happening in my personal life lately, I’m feeling a little uninspired to write.  With that being said, I’m going to be taking a short break from the blog to get my stuff together and get motivated again.  I’ll be back at it in the beginning of 2018 with fresh, new content and plenty of new travel plans to share with you all.  I already have a couple of exciting trips planned for the year, and I’m sure I’ll plan some more along the way as well.  As I mentioned in my 27 in 27 recap, I’m headed to Mexico next month, which I am very much looking forward to.  It will be a much needed break from reality and a solid, relaxing vacation.

Thank you for your patience and your continued readership.  I hope everyone has a Happy Holidays and a wonderful New Year!

Monthly Memo: November | RebeccaWanderlusting

Monthly Memo: November

Hello Friends!  I can not believe it’s almost Thanksgiving already!  This November went by way quicker than I wanted it to.  Work has been crazy and will only get crazier until the end of the year (gotta love all those holiday parties!), and I just finished my writing class, which I loved!  The creative non-fiction class was through Gotham Writerswhich is a writing school based in New York that also offers classes online.  Obviously, I went the online route, which I truly enjoyed and felt like I got a lot out of it.  If you’re interested in taking some extra writing classes, I would definitely recommend them.

Monthly Memo: November | RebeccaWanderlusting

This year for Thanksgiving, I’ll be heading back home to Johnsburg for a few days to help my mom cook and do some Black Friday Shopping.  I’m planning on making a chocolate banana cream pie to contribute to Thursday’s feast, because it’s always a big hit.  I always use the Betty Crocker recipe from a cookbook my mom has had for years, and it’s so simple and delicious.  The trick is to let it set over night, and top it with freshly whipped cream and bananas right before serving it.

On Black Friday, my mom and I are planning on going to the mall near my hometown and getting a head start on our Christmas shopping.  I usually have to work the day after Thanksgiving, so this is a special year indeed.  After the shopping extravaganza, it’s tradition to meet up with the rest of the family for Friday Night Fish Fry.  I can’t wait!

Monthly Memo: November | RebeccaWanderlusting

In other news, we have officially had our Brody pup for one whole year this month.  I can’t believe how quickly the time flew by.  It seems like just yesterday we were staying up with him that first night to make sure he was comfortable.  We’ve had our ups and downs (like potty training and trying to cut his nails for the first time, yikes), but I wouldn’t trade him for the world.  He’s such a sweet, energetic little pup; we got really lucky when we got the call that he was ours.

Monthly Memo: November | RebeccaWanderlusting

Now that November is almost over, I’ve started the countdown to my birthday (t-minus 13 days!) and I honestly can’t wait to put 27 behind me.  More on that later, but I am so excited to start a new year with new goals and new projects!  I think my friends and I will be celebrating with a little staycation at a hotel somewhere in the city (if you have any recommendations, send them my way!)  Anyways, that’s all for now, folks!  Happy Thanksgiving!


How’s your November going?  What are you contributing to your own Thanksgiving feast?

Monthly Memo: Octoober | RebeccaWanderlusting

Monthly Memo: October

Hello from Toronto!  Actually, by the time this posts, Mike and I will be near Niagara Falls, hopefully on a boat.  I can’t believe this year is almost over, it seems like each month, especially October, is just rushing by.

Monthly Memo: October | RebeccaWanderlusting

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen that my friends and I threw a fundraiser at Bang Bang Pie and Biscuits here in Chicago earlier this month.  We screened short films by amazing female directors, had some really delicious food and beer available and held a raffle full of fantastic prizes, all for Planned Parenthood.  I’m happy to report the event went off without a hitch and we raised a large sum that we donated all to this wonderful organization.  If you live in the area, keep a look out for our next events! You can find us on all the normal social media outlets and at our website!
Monthly Memo: October | RebeccaWanderlusting
 That’s one of the reasons the last month or so flew by, it definitely kept us all busy!  I also started an online creative non-fiction writing class through Gotham Writers, which I’m loving.  I shared one of my essays/assignments on the blog last week and will perhaps share more depending on the upcoming assignments.
I’ve been trying to read more non-fiction this year (another one of my goals) and have just finished my thirteenth of the year – “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck”.  It’s one of the few self-improvement books I’ve read recently and I have to say, I liked it despite it having some bro rhetoric.  The main thing I took away from it though was that not everything needs to be an ordeal and our energy is so much better spent on things that are worthy.  I’ll share my favorite books of that category in a separate post soon, but I have to say, I’m enjoying reading the different perspective and taking the advice I like and leaving the rest.
Monthly Memo: October | RebeccaWanderlusting
How is your October going? What are you working on, what are you current hobbies?
Monthly Memo: September, RebeccaWanderlusting

Monthly Memo: September

Hooray, it’s finally Fall!  Though you wouldn’t know it with this 80+ degree weather we’re having in Chicago this past week.  We actually just had the hottest September 22 in recorded history.  Lucky us!  It’s been a hectic month so far, with work, family plans, weddings and other commitments.  We started the month at my cousin’s wedding back in my hometown, which was so much fun.  I was also just at a bachelorette party the other night for my friend whose wedding is next month; that will be four of five for this year.

Monthly Memo: September | RebeccaWanderlusting

I’m also working on planning a fundraiser for Planned Parenthood next month with my friends, a beautiful group of women that make up Moon Rise.  I can’t wait to see all of our hard work come together (Sunday, October 8 from 6pm to 9pm at Bang Bang Pie – come hang with us if you’re in Chicago)!  We’ve been planning this event for the past five or six months, so it should be a fantastic affair!  This will be our third fundraiser, the first two benefited the Empowerment Plan, an organization out of Detroit that employs formerly homeless woman to create sleeping bag coats for homeless men and women.

Monthly Memo: September | RebeccaWanderlusting

Last week I talked about creating a travel capsule wardrobe, which then inspired me to clean out my closet and get rid of a ton of stuff I never wear (most of which I’ll be donating to Goodwill).  This purge then sent me into a cleaning frenzy and now I’m on a mission to get rid of everything I don’t use or wear.  I did this before we moved to Logan Square, but I’m doing another round just to clear out unnecessary clutter.  I’ve shared this link before, but Caroline at Un-Fancy has been a fun inspiration for my clothing de-cluttering spree.

Monthly Memo: September | RebeccaWanderlusting

In terms of travel, Mike and I have been trying to plan weekend trips around the Midwest when we can.  I work about every other weekend, so when I have a full weekend off, we’ve been trying to take advantage of it.  Two Sundays ago, we checked out New Buffalo, Michigan  and had a blast going to the beach and walking around downtown.  This coming weekend we’re heading to Rockford for the weekend to tryout their breweries and explore.  The next Midwest destinations I have my eye on are New Glarus, WI and Cleveland, OH.

Monthly Memo: September | RebeccaWanderlusting

Outside of Midwest travel, the only other trip we have planned for sure right now is Toronto next month.  We’ve been chatting about Acapulco or Belize in the beginning of next year, but we’ll see what happens!  In the meantime, I’m just happy to be exploring any where.

What are your plans for the fall?  What was your favorite September moment?

Top Five Friday, Favorite Female Authors | RebeccaWanderlusting

Top Five Friday #21

Favorite Female Authors

I get inspiration for my writing from a lot of different mediums, especially books and magazines.  I happen to read quite a bit, so a lot of inspiration comes from the books I read on my commute.  I have many favorite authors, but I tend to gravitate towards female writers, as I relate more to their writing style and source matter.  Over the years, I’ve collected a few favorite female authors that I can always go to if I’m in need of a strong female voice for inspiration.  These women have helped me through hard times, got me through some writing block moments, and have inspired me to keep writing and finding my own voice.  I’ve compiled a list of these favorites, along with a book recommendations for each. Enjoy!:

  1. Joan Didion: Ms. Didion is a consistent favorite of mine and I am thoroughly enjoying working my way through her work.  I started with “Play It As It Lays”, a fictional tale of life in L.A., and most recently read “South & West” which was a fantastic account of her time traveling through the Southern United States.  I love the way Joan Didion writes, with such a cool demeanor and descriptive prose.  She will forever be one of my favorite writers and I am looking forward to the documentary that’s being made about her life.
  2. Deborah Copaken Kogan: I first read Deborah Copaken Kogan’s “Shutterbabe” when I was in high school and was instantly obsessed. I have since read this account of her time as a photojournalist through Afghanistan, Russia, Paris and beyond many times.  It’s so inspiring.  I’ve also read her novel “The Red Book” and loved that as well.  It’s an amazing reminder that an author can successfully write fiction and non-fiction, and write them both very well.
  3. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: This feminist genius quickly became one of my favorite authors after I devoured her novel “Americanah” in one week.  Her voice and characters are so strong.  I’ve also read “We Should All Be Feminists”, which is stems from her amazingTED talk, and some of her work for the New Yorker.  Chimamanda is an influential feminist voice, and I look up to her in more ways than one.  I have to say, I can’t wait to read and be inspired by more of her writing.
  4. Patti Smith: Patti Smith is a brilliant story teller and artist and I thoroughly enjoyed reading her accounts of New York living in both “Just Kids” and “M Train”, which I’ve just started.  The way she writes is thoughtful, honest and both ethereal and gritty at the same time.  As a woman and artist, she is an inspiration to those who are trying to find their own way within their mediums.  She is another strong female voice and I’m looking forward to reading more of her work.
  5. Tana French: This amazing Irish writer wrote one of my favorite books “In The Woods“, which is a psychological thriller set in Dublin.  I could not put this book, or its sequel, “The Likeness”, down until they were done.  Ms. French definitely knows how to write a gripping story and I love the depth of her characters.  She has a few more books that I have yet to read but have the seal of approval from one of my other favorite authors, Stephen King, so I am so excited to get a hold of them!

Who are your favorite female authors? Which books inspire you?


**Links are for your convenience, not my profit.**

Trying to Do it All, Lifestyle, RebeccaWanderlusting

A Note on Trying to Do It All

Nowadays, I think it’s very easy to feel like we need to be always be doing something of note.  Between social media, blogs, and books detailing the adventures and successes of others, there’s a pressure to jump in and make a name for yourself as well.  At least, I know I feel that way sometimes; the pressure of trying to do it all is definitely there.  The tricky part is knowing what to go for and finding the time to go for it.

Trying to Do it All, Lifestyle Post, RebeccaWanderlusting

As you probably know by now, I write this blog in addition to working 50 hours a week at my full-time job.  I’m not complaining, because I love both equally, but it does get a little tricky trying to plan for both.  For example, I work about every other weekend for my normal job, depending on when we have events and whether or not I need to be there for said events.  Sometimes I work two weekends in a row and am off three weekends in a row and sometimes I work only one weekend a month.  It really just depends.  Which, as you can imagine, makes it a little bit difficult to plan little weekend trips unless I know well ahead of time and can request them off.  It takes some of the spontaneity out of my travel plans.


But, as I said, I love both my jobs and I don’t think (actually, I know) that I would like to have a typical 9-5 Monday-Friday job.  I like that everything is up in the air, most of the time.  It only gets a little bit frustrating when I’m trying to plan for a project I need to get done in a specific time frame and I can’t nail down a weekend to go.  As a result of these circumstances, I’ve gotten very good at projecting which weekends will be busy and which weekends I can coerce Mike into checking out some new Midwestern destinations.  I’ve gotten better at planning larger trips well ahead of time so I can request the days off months in advance so someone can cover for me.  It takes some work, but I’m happy to do it.  It’s been awhile since I could truly say I like my day job.

Trying to Do it All, Lifestyle Post, RebeccaWanderlusting

While I do think it is entirely possible to have both a career and a successful side hustle/passion project, it certainly does take quite a bit of work and time-management.  Being passionate about both things in equal measure is key, and so is having a good support system behind you (thank you, Michael!).

Anyways… those are my musings for today!  I hope you can relate and that this particular post lets you know that yes, it’s hard, but you’re not alone in the hustle.


How do you deal with the pressure of trying to do it all? What tools and tricks do you use to be most productive?

Monthly Memo, August, RebeccaWanderlusting

Monthly Memo: August

Hello friends! Happy August!  Man, this month is juts flying by.  With work being so busy and our hectic schedule of weddings this year, I feel like I haven’t been able to slow down and enjoy the summer at all this year.  Which is fine, but I still have so much left on my Summer Bucket List that I want to accomplish! Like:

  • Taking a trip out to the Warren Dunes in Michigan
  • Going to the Logan Square Farmer’s Market
  • Doing one of the Architectural Boat Tours on the River & walking along the Riverwalk
  • Seeking out new rooftop bars to enjoy
  • Going to some of the street fests in the city

It might be a little too late for the street fests, but I’d like to get to the other few things before Fall begins.  We have three more weddings to attend before the year is over and, while I’m having a blast dressing up and dancing with my friends and family, I’m also having a hard time scheduling trips around these special days.  So much so that I was thinking about writing a post about making weekend trips out of weddings.  Is this something there would be some interest in? (Let me know in the comments).

Lifestyle, Monthly Memo, August, RebeccaWanderlusting

Besides, or maybe because, it’s been crazy busy this summer, I’ve also been crazy productive.  I just finished reading “You Are a Badass” by Jen Sincero and it was life-changingly good.  If you haven’t read it yet, I would 1000% recommend it for everyone.  She is so inspiring and the book itself is just one big push towards your biggest goals.  For me, it was another kick in the butt to put more time and effort into my writing.  I think it’s paying off too, because I was just noted as one of the top 10 travel bloggers in the Midwest to read by ALIVE Magazine!  So, that was a very happy surprise indeed.

Reading Ms. Sincero’s book was such a great experience, that I immediately went online and bought a few other books in the same vein to read on my commute to work (“The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck”, “Getting to Yes”, and “Furiously Happy”).

Lifestyle, Monthly Memo, August, RebeccaWanderlusting

As I mentioned in this post, I am going to be heading to Toronto in a couple of months with Mike and we are so excited to be taking this trip!  I’m having so much fun researching places to go and restaurants to try.  I’m hoping to get in a few more trips before the end of the year.

What about you? What have you been up to in August? What’s on your end of Summer bucket list?

National Emerald Club, Airport Anxiety, RebeccaWanderlusting

Dealing with Airport Anxiety

I have this problem with anxiety. It makes me overthink and do certain things I wouldn’t normally do, just to calm my brain. One of the main problems I have when traveling is the anxiety that comes with trying to make a plane, train or other mode of transportation on time. This issue wreaks havoc on my brain in the weeks before I travel. I don’t have enough fingers and toes to count how many times I’ve woken up in a panic from a bad travel dream. Past nightmares have included: Getting to the airport too late and missing my flight or getting to the airport on time but forgetting something critical (like my passport), etc.

The result is usually me arriving at the airport or station obscenely early. This is not a horrible problem to have (especially because in the best-case scenario) as you usually have time for a meal and to read a book, and if the airport is crowded (in the worst-case scenario), you have extra time to get through long lines at security.

Early airport arrival has been my consistent practice ever since I started traveling on my own. I’ve made a habit of wandering around the airport, getting a coffee or a mimosa (depending on my mood) and finding a good place to read.

National Emerald Club, Airport Anxiety, RebeccaWanderlusting

Recently, I was at O’Hare (ridiculously early as per usual) and visited the National Emerald Club Lounge. This lovely oasis in the sea of suitcase-wielding travelers is equipped with TVs, lounge chairs, free Wi-Fi and tablets to check your flight status. It’s a great place to recharge, both literally and figuratively, since the lounge has charging stations, too. For this particular visit to O’Hare, it was the perfect place to drink my coffee (there’s a Starbucks right next door) and wait for Mike to get to the airport to pick me up.

For someone who is through security two hours before boarding time, it’s a luxury to have these amenities readily available. The comfy lounge chairs are a great place to relax and read or check the news if you didn’t bring a book. And, if you’re not already a member, you can enroll in the Emerald Club loyalty program directly from the tablets. There’s a National staff member around on weekdays to help you if you have questions.

If O’Hare isn’t your home airport, you’re still in luck. National Emerald Club Lounges are located in each of the main airports with the highest volume of business travelers: Denver, St. Louis, Dallas/Fort Worth and Ronald Reagan National Airport in Washington D.C.

So, if you’re an anxious traveler (like me) and you happen to be in one of these airports insanely early for your flight, check out the National Emerald Club Lounge for a comfy resting spot to relax before you board.

National Emerald Club, Airport Anxiety, RebeccaWanderlusting

How do you fight pre-flight anxiety? What’s your go-to spot in the airport to relax before a flight?

Full Disclosure: This post was created in partnership with National Car Rental. All opinions are, of course, my own.

Monthly Memo, July, RebeccaWanderlusting

Monthly Memo: July

How in the world is it already July?!  These past couple of months have made up the summer of getting shit done (so far). I told Mike that as soon as we moved, which happened at the beginning of June, I was going to get down to business (to defeat the Huns 🎶 – Mulan!!). I wanted to get back on the ball with this blog and with getting back in shape and with just taking care of myself in general. It took cutting some things out and making some tough choices, but I feel like I’m getting there. Plus I’m finally traveling and making plans to travel again, which makes my heart soar.

Monthly Memo, July, RebeccaWanderlusting

As you may have noticed, I was in St. Louis for a weekend at the end of June, and I had a wonderful time taking an old-fashioned Pullman Train there and exploring the city.  The weekend after that, which was Fourth of July weekend, I went up North to our cabin on the lake for a few days to recharge and relax with Mike and my family.  I didn’t write about it, which just so happened to be one of the items on my 27 in 27 list!  It was wonderful to just chill on the boat and enjoy my family’s company.

Monthly Memo, July, RebeccaWanderlusting

I’m also planning a couple of trips for the next couple of months, including a quick trip to NYC to visit my beautiful cousin, Gracie (who wrote these posts about her time in Jordan).  Mike and I are also planning on heading to Toronto in the Fall, once work dies down a bit.  I’ve never been to Canada, so I’m very excited for that!

Monthly Memo, July, RebeccaWanderlusting

I also joined a gym in the neighborhood to help me train for the half marathon I’m running with my sister in September and I love it.  It’s on my way to work and they have so many great classes.  Working out helps clear my head which has helped immensely with my productivity.  I like to listen to podcasts while I run, and have been loving the She Did It Her Way interviews.  They’re each with female entrepreneurs and it’s so inspiring!

Monthly Memo, July, RebeccaWanderlusting

I’m learning to set limits for myself and time block my schedule and make things easier for myself.  One thing I’ve been trying to save some time and energy is Stitch Fix.  I just started this online stylist service and have received two boxes (of 5 pieces each) so far.  I have to say… I kind of love it.  They’ve nailed my style for the most part and it’s kind of a fun gamble to see what they send each month.  (I’m not even getting paid to say that, I just really like it).

It feels really good to feel like I’m back in a groove, and like I have things under control.  Thank you all for putting up with my inconsistent posting! I’m back on track now, which means you can expect 1-2 posts a week.  I have some exciting things lined up and I can’t wait to share them!

Monthly Memo, July, RebeccaWanderlusting

How’s your July going? What do you do to pull yourself out of a personal funk?