My Favorite Reads

46430830_895924280797219_6282832384274464768_n.jpgThese days I am often busy reading long, esoteric texts for school, but when I have the chance to read for fun I always relish it! Below are a few of my favorite reads, both recently and throughout the last few years. Have you read any of them? Please let me know in the comments below, and make your own suggestions!

Originals by Adam Grant
The subtitle of this book is “How non-conformists move the world.” It is all about how to foster and apply creativity, originality, and progress both in your personal life and in a larger setting (i.e. societal movements, corporations, etc.). It may sound dry but I promise it is far from it! Grant draws on lots of studies and research but his tone is super conversational and engaging. My boyfriend (this is not a drill folks! I have a real life boyfriend) read it aloud to me via Skype the past few weeks and I ate it up.

The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid
I finished this about three months ago and am still thinking about it. The story revolves around a young Pakistani man who studies at Princeton and is recruited to work at a large firm on wall street. He is succeeding and doing well for himself in America, until 9/11 happens and everything changes (but not necessarily in the ways you might think!). I finished this book in three days.

Back Talk by Danielle Lazarin
A collection of short stories about girlhood, coming of age, and womanhood. They are sharp, witty, and quick to read. I loved the character development and related to many of the women in the stories.

Self-Help by Lorrie Moore
One of my favorite short story collections I’ve ever read! I love the second person POV she employs in some of the stories and drew a lot inspiration from her for a few of my own stories.

The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer
Main character Greer Kadetsky is a quiet college freshman when she meets Faith Frank, the striking woman who has been a central pillar of the women’s movement for decades. She idolizes Faith and is drawn to work for her. She must also learn how to balance her love life, and try not to loose herself in the process. I devoured this book up! It is very modern and relatable.

Exit West by Mohsin Hamid
Hamid’s fifth novel, a finalist for the Man Booker Prize for fiction, deals with the
experience of modern-day refugees. But unlike many refugee novels, which focus on the journey itself, Exit West revolves around the struggles and realities of life before and after said journey. Main characters Nadia and Seid decide they must leave their war-torn home for a safer, albeit uncertain, future. They find a smuggler who shows them a ‘magical door’ that leads to an unknown Western country. They walk through and instantaneously emerge into an alien land, where they fight to cling to their love, their past and their sense of self. This was President Obama’s favorite book last year.

A Girl I Knew by JD Salinger
This is one of Salinger’s lesser known short story published in 1948. It is about a young man’s trip to Austria to learn German to be of use in his father’s company. There, he meets and befriends a beautiful, jewish girl who teaches him German. They are separated during the war, and I won’t spoil the ending but it is, well, a little heartbreaking. You can see why I love this one– I relate to the struggle to learn German!46387093_755016484845773_7015624886680813568_n.jpg

 

The Last Bookstore

img_2096Yesterday my friend Jessica and I spent some time exploring Downtown L.A. Honestly, I don’t think people give this city enough credit– it has its moments! Sometimes I find myself wishing I lived in a bigger, more traditionally structured city like New York or Berlin, but then L.A. pleasantly surprises me with something cool. We spent a large portion of the afternoon in The Last Bookstore, an incredible bookstore in the heart of DTLA where you can buy and sell books. There is a coffee shop inside, couches and chairs to relax, and even a few art vendors. I bought “This Side of Paradise” by F. Scott Fitzgerald to read over Christmas break. Below are a few photos if you’d like to see!img_2099img_2100img_2106img_2107^I feel lucky to have made even one friend like Jessica in this lifetime. I can’t express how much she means to me!img_2108img_2110img_2112img_2114img_2115img_2117img_2122img_2123img_2125img_2126img_2129img_2130img_2131img_2132img_2136img_2138^Christmas is in full swing inside the store!img_2140img_2145img_2146^”The Catcher in the Rye” is one of my all time favorites.img_2148img_2150img_2152img_2154img_2155img_2164^Trying to look intellectual…is it working?img_2165img_2166img_2167img_2168^A tunnel of books…casualimg_2170img_2174img_2177^I’ve been listening to Vince Guaraldi’s Christmas album non-stop, particularly the songs from “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”img_2185img_2188img_2197After this we headed to The Grove, an outdoor shopping area with lots of lights and festivity. What are your plans for the upcoming break? Be sure to get out an explore your own city one of these days friends!

Hidden in Plain Sight

IMG_0503.JPGSince the time I started thinking about college around age sixteen, I’ve been obsessed with the concept of finding “God’s will for my life.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the word vocation during my years in the christian community, and at my university in particular. In my mind, God’s will was this giant, life-altering thing that was up to me to decipher, and if I missed the mark, might as well just throw in the towel on the good life right now.

The thing is, up until a few weeks ago I wasn’t even allowed to legally drink alcohol in America, so how could I be trusted to discern God’s will for my entire life at age 21?! It seemed an impossible task for a flawed human like me. Couldn’t someone else just tell me what God wants for me?

Then when I arrived in Germany I started reading the book “Follow Me” by David Plath as part of my summer internship. Plath’s writing is filled with convicting, even radical, truths about the Christian life– truths moderns cultural Christianity often wishes it could just ignore. He writes:

“With good intentions, we try hard to use various methods to find God’s will. But what if God’s will was never intended to be found? In fact, what if it was never hidden from us in the first place? What is God the Father has not sent his children on a cosmic Easter egg hunt to discover his will while he sit back in heaven saying, ‘You’re getting colder…warmer…colder…’? And what if searching for God’s will like this actually misses the entire point of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus?…God has a will, and he has made it clear. From cover to cover in the Bible, God wills is to redeem men and women from every nation, tribe, language, and people by his grace and from his glory.”

Lightbulb! It’s so simple, why didn’t I realize it sooner? God has no specific will for my life. Yes he created me with unique gifts and talents, but he also created me with a functioning brain and free will. We don’t have to ask God to reveal anything to us, he has already revealed his will for all of us. We just have to ask him to help us align our lives to his will. His will is not something intended to be found, but rather to be followed.

I no longer have to stay up at night nervously asking God, “Do you want me to live in Germany or America? Should I major in Creative Writing or Journalism? Should I date this person or wait for you to show me someone else?”

The holy spirit lives in us and is constantly in the process of shaping us to be more like Christ. Therefore, our decisions should naturally be coming ever more and more in line with Christ’s decisions and our lives organically looking more like his. When you are in constant relationship with Jesus, you experience total liberation, ease and delight knowing that if you make a wrong decision he will check you. And if he does check you, stop at once, reassess, and keep moving forward. To be able to do that is a sign of true spiritual maturity and friendship with God. And who doesn’t want that?

I hope this was somewhat interesting and helpful! I would highly recommend reading “Follow Me” if you get the chance. Have a good one friends.

 

 

My Recent Reads

I’ve always been a voracious reader. In fact, my love of reading is what eventually lead to my love of writing. I enjoy all types of literature- fiction, non-fiction, fantasy, you name it! If reading was a sport, I’d win every time. Since my major requires me to take several english classes, I often have to read extensively for school work, but I also make a conscious effort to read for pleasure, no matter how busy life gets! Recently, I’ve read three books I thoroughly enjoyed, and I thought I’d share them with you today. 20910157.jpg
Yes Please by Amy Poehler
Amy Poehler has been one of my idols ever since I started watching the TV series Parks and Recreation. In her hilarious and whip-smart memoir, she recounts her childhood in Massachusetts, her love affair with comedy, and her career in the public eye. I loved reading about her long time friendship with fellow improv comedian and actress Tina Fey, as well as her thoughts on working for SNL and the screenwriting profession as a whole. Amy emphasizes the themes of female empowerment, not comparing yourself to others, and putting in the hard work to get where you want to go. This book is a must read- plus it includes pictures!

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Bossypants by Tina Fey
Tina Fey also recently released her memoir Bossypants. In this funny and insightful account of her life and career thus far, she shares about her experiences in the male dominated world of comedy and screenwriting, her thoughts on current culture, and her struggles as a new mother. Fey’s fast paced style and masterful story telling skills make for a quick and enjoyable read. This book also include photos- always a bonus!
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The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
I literally could not put this book down. It was glued to my hand. I’m pretty sure I read this 400+ page book in less than a week. It is the story of princess Kelsea’s rise to the thrown amidst the chaos of the dystopian world called The Tearling. It is set in the future, but The Tearling is technologically undeveloped, so it seems more like the primitive middle ages. The character development in this book is extremely well done- Kelsea is both likable and deeply flawed. It leaves the reader on a major cliff hanger, so be prepared to run out and buy the sequel!

And there you have it friends, a few of my recent reads! Will you read them too? What are you reading purely for fun these days? I’d love to know, I need recommendations.