Posts in books
Reading Tips + 2018 Recommendations

If you've followed along with any of my What I'm Loving series, you know I read quite a bit. I didn't realize just how uncommon that was until I started talking about it online — now "how do you read so much" seems to be the number one question I get!

I've always been a reader — I was never a very social child, so that combined with a Little House on the Prairie obsession destined me for literary endeavors for life. As I've gotten older and busier it's taken more effort to keep up with, but reading is similar to any other hobby. Just like flossing or a workout routine, the more you do it, the easier it is to want to do it. Some people just don't find reading for them — which I totally get — but if you've made it a goal to read more I hope this list helps you out! At the bottom, I've included commentary on the three books pictured, as well.

Bring a book, always. A la Rory Gilmore, this is my favorite life tip. Anywhere I go where there might be downtime — riding BART, doctor's appointments, etc. — I always pack a book in my bag. It's pretty natural for us to pull out our phones out of boredom (which I still do often!), but replace that time with a book instead and you'll be surprised at how many pages you burn through.

Keep track. Every time I've moved, getting Bird settled has been first priority and getting my bookshelf settled has been second. Sure, starting a personal book collection in your 20's might seem impractical when there are probably a lot of moves left in life, but having a physical record of all the books I've enjoyed makes me so happy that I can't imagine it another way. I also started keeping a digital list of what I've read so far this year — after having to manually count up all the books I read for 2017 I knew I needed a more efficient system.

Be picky. I have the hardest time putting down books I'm not enjoying, but this is such an important tip! As much as I love to read, the wrong book can totally zap my motivation. I do pretty heavy research into reviews from Amazon and Goodreads before I buy anything, but that's not to say that there aren't still duds. While the first hundred pages are almost always slower, after that remember to be protective of your time; if you're not feeling it, don't be afraid to put it down.

Mix it up. There are so many great books in the world it's almost overwhelming. I've read nonfiction that's more interesting than novels, and fantasy books that are more intelligently-written than literary "classics". A good book will bring you in regardless of what the genre is, so read a lot of different things to see what strikes your fancy! This will keep books from running together, and also give you a great basis for what you want to read in the future.

2018 Recommendations So Far:

- This Is The Story Of A Happy Marriage. I love Ann Patchett, and relate to her journey in a lot of ways. This book is a collection of short stories, some unique and some that she's published in a variety of magazines. They're funny, serious, and thought-provoking, while getting to the heart of how all your life experiences shape your present day. I don't like short-story collections usually, but Ioved this. If you have trouble committing to novels because you can't stay focused on one storyline, this one is for you — and if you are looking for a novel, Ann Patchett has plenty of amazing ones, too!

- This Is How It Always Is. This book was a pure joy. I could not put it down towards the end, and the omniscient point of view helped keep monotony at bay. You really feel what the characters are feeling and understand what they're thinking — it feels very human and poignantly real. It's a serious subject matter with lightness interwoven throughout, so if you're looking for a book that entertains you while broadening your point of view, I'd recommend this one. I really can't describe what a delight it was to read, and I have a feeling it'll be included in my year-end favorites as well.

- The Great Alone. I just started this 2 days ago so it may seem like a weird one to include, but I promise it's not just because it went with the color scheme. This book has rave reviews (over four stars on Amazon is near-impossible), and Kristen Hannah's book The Nightingale is one of my favorites. I have a feeling that I'll end up loving this one (and I promise to report back!), so I wanted to include it to illustrate that it's okay to kind of hate a book at the beginning — it might even become one of your favorites later on!


Self-Help Mornings

Weekend mornings are one of my favorite times of the week. Our apartment has great morning lighting, and being able to soak up the quiet and read without distraction is such a delight. It seems like this is one of the only times of the week where I'm actually able to actually relax instead of pretending like I'm relaxing while re-reviewing my to do list in my head.

I've been on a "lifestyle improvement" book trend here lately and have been absorbing some great knowledge. I know Harley is sick of me spouting off inspirational quotes any time I'm feeling down, but reading about these concepts and success stories has me so passionate about creating my own! ----------

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck // As you can probably tell by the title, this book is very straightforward. Mark Manson's writing voice is entertaining and hilarious, and his no-nonsense attitude to giving advice is a refresher in a genre that can often be cliched. This was the first book in my recent improvement journey and was a great intro to the self-help world. The entire concept of the book is that you can only care about a finite number of things, so you should make sure the things you focus your energy on are important and productive. A good, quick read that will challenge your perspectives by encouraging you to care less to care more.

You are a Badass // Okay, I am obsessed with this book. This is one I could see myself re-reading regularly, which is something I never do. It's broken up into 27 chapters that range in length but are all manageably sized. My favorite part is that at the end of each chapter, there's a 'digest' that goes over the concepts and how to apply them. The headline at the front of the book really says it all; it's the guide on how to live your best life. Some of the exercises Jen has you do are hard, forcing you to confront all kinds of subconscious feelings and doubts. I enjoy this approach because it can be easy to focus on the quick-fixes that to feel better without addressing the deep, important issues that influence every aspect of your life. If you're looking for a book that gives you the confidence to chase your dreams, this one is it.

The Happiness Project // I haven't started on this one yet but I am so enamored with it's concept that I can't wait to give it a try. Gretchen Rubin, sitting on a bus one day, decides she's unhappy with her life. What does she do? She decides right then and there that she's going to change it and create the happiness she desires. She then divides up the next year of her life into month-long sections where she completely commits to a lifestyle change to find what works for her. This is such an empowering concept and I am excited to read about her story!


While I've certainly full on thrown myself into this new phase, I'm really excited about how it's helping me better myself! A lot of things in books like this may seem like common sense, but the execution of them is so easy to forget about. Like, duh, I'm supposed to always believe in myself to make the changes I know I can make, but it doesn't always seem that simple in our day to day lives.

Having authors who put these concepts into words and really believe them is an inspiration, and I know I'll pull from what I'm learning for years to come.

I'm about to move across the country, completely change my career to something I'm not yet qualified for, and leave all my friends and family behind. However, this is the life I know that I want for myself, and as long as I keep myself focused, determined, and working my butt off, I'll be able to create the best life I could possibly imagine (maybe one day I'll even get to buy all of my groceries at Whole Foods! That's what I call living your best life).