Over the last few months, I’ve made a conscious effort to read more. As a child/teenager, I would spend so much of my time with my nose buried in a book, only stopping at short intervals for the essentials needed to sustain me (sleep, water and food). Reading is a simple pleasure that I’ve been craving on these cold, dark winter nights, and one that has allowed me to pass the time in such a relaxed, cozy, wonderful way.
I’ve been home sick the last couple of days, and there is only so much time one can spend in bed before even Netflix starts to get boring, so I decided to spend my time a little more productively, and write the first of what I hope to be many Book Club blog posts! Here you’ll find a list of my favourite books of all time - they vary from mystery novels to celebrity autobiographies to fantasy fiction to spirituality and self-development, and each one has impacted my life in a different way.
1. The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman
This book completely changed the way I look at relationships! The basic concept is that each of us has a different “love language” (or love languages - it’s possible to have more than one). The five love languages are:
-acts of service (i.e. folding the laundry)
-words of affirmation
What I found most interesting and eye-opening is that even if you are carrying out actions which satisfy the love language that resonates most with you, this does not automatically mean you are satisfying the love language that resonates most with your partner. Such a simple concept, but one that we can easily be ignorant of! If you are interested in learning more about relationships or improving your current one, I highly recommend this book.
2. The Girl in the Ice by Robert Bryndza
I picked up this serial killer thriller on a whim one day on my lunch break, while I was browsing the book store below my office tower. It had pretty great ratings on Goodreads (4 out of 5 stars, based on over 50,000 reviews), and I do love a good mystery/thriller, so I bought it after skimming the synopsis and reading a few pages. The basic plot is surrounding a beautiful young socialite who is murdered and found frozen underwater, and the lead detective on the case who connects her death to the murder of three young prostitutes, as the killer is closing in on her. Be warned - there are some pretty gruesome and disturbing details in here (definitely not suitable for children or teenagers, and might be too much for some adults), but it was a well-written and full of suspense - I could barely put it down, and read the majority of it in a few days.
3. You are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero
I actually got through most of this book on a train ride to Portland, Oregon in the fall of 2017. It was an easy read; uplifting, and full of lots of humour and real-life advice. Funnily enough, I read this book before I had experienced my own spiritual awakening/life restructuring, but I can now recognize how important many of the concepts that Jen talks about are - how our subconscious impacts our daily life, the importance of joy and living in the moment, the Ego (aka the “Big Snooze”, as Jen calls it), positive affirmations, love, forgiveness and the effects of the blame/comparison game.
If you’re feeling a little down on yourself, but looking for a book that isn’t extremely deep and takes you months and months to absorb, I highly recommend this one! I know lots of people that have read it and loved it, and I can definitely say that it positively impacted my outlook on life and how I approach things.
4. Saving Sophie by Sam Carrington
Another mystery/thriller! I can’t get enough of these, honestly. I bought this one at Powell’s Books while I was visiting my friends in Portland (side note - if you’re ever in Portland, you MUST go here. I easily spent the morning there by myself wandering from book room to book room, drinking coffee, and trying not to buy every book I saw. It’s a magical place <3). The basic plot of this revolves around Sophie, a young teenager living in the U.K. After a night out with her friends, Sophie comes home, but her friend Amy does not. The book is full of twists and turns, and is told from the perspective of Sophie and her mom, Karen, both of whom may know more about Amy’s disappearance than they’re letting on. This book is definitely not as graphic and disturbing as The Girl in the Ice, but some portions still sent chills up my spine! A great book to read for your commute, on your lunch break, or just curled up in your bed/reading nook at home.
5. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
If you’ve ever met me, you know of my love for Harry Potter. I could easily have put all seven of the books on this list, but I decided to go with my favourite, which is book #4 - Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. If you’ve never read any of the Harry Potter books, do yourself a favour and get on it, ASAP! They are filled with magic (both in the literal sense and in the way that J.K. Rowling tells each story), friendship, love, evil, humour, grief and bravery. Each book has something different to offer - I think the reason that the fourth book is my favourite is because it’s full of adventure, weaves so many different story lines together, and allows the reader a more in-depth look at a lot of the characters. It’s also filled with lots of different characters, and introduces creatures other than witches and wizards to the audience, providing yet another layer of magic to the wonderful world of Harry Potter.
6. The Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer
Ohh The Untethered Soul. I first read this in the spring of 2018, when I was feeling pretty scared, lost and uncertain about the future. This book totally blew my mind - it talks about things like energies (my fave - whether you believe in them or not, we all feel them), unconditional happiness, our attachments to things that provide us with stability and safety (i.e. jobs, relationships, physical appearance), our “inner thorns” (aka wounds), contemplation of death, and taking down the walls that we spend our lives building up.
I want to re-read this again one day soon, because I’ve heard you can get something new from it each time you read it. It’s not a difficult read, but it’s one that will make you THINK - so much of how we live our daily lives is a result of years and years of conditioning and learning of certain patterns. Becoming aware of why we are the way we are is the first step to achieving a deeper understanding of how we perceive our own lives, and this book definitely guides you to develop this awareness.
7. Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick
I have loved Anna Kendrick ever since I first saw Pitch Perfect, and my love for her has only grown over the years, so I was very excited when she came out with her own autobiography. If you’ve ever read her tweets or follow her social media accounts, you can expect the same witty, sassy, self-deprecating humour in her book, which is a “collection of autobiographic essays” that chronicle her life from childhood to present, and is peppered with funny anecdotes, awkward dating stories and lots of life wisdom.
This is another funny, light read that I was able to finish in the span of 5 or 6 hours (on the train back home to Vancouver, from Portland - I got a lot of reading done on that trip!). Highly recommend if you like Anna Kendrick and are looking for a beach book or something to occupy you on any sort of trip/commute.
8. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
This was one of the books that was part of a monthly book club that I participated in when I did the Vibrate Light Mentorship with Chloe Elgar. I had never even heard of it, but the cover and premise intrigued me, and my Mom mentioned she had read it “back in the day”. Once I started reading it, I resonated with it pretty quickly - the premise of the book revolves around a young Andalusian shepherd who sets off on a quest to find a great treasure, but along the way ends up meeting many people and going through various hardships and experiences which ultimately teach him about life and the treasure that can be found within. Just shy of 200 pages, The Alchemist is a short but richly detailed read, and one that I enjoyed immensely.
9. Is Everyone Hanging out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling
Mindy Kaling might be my spirit animal. I’ve loved her since The Office, and loved her even more when I started watching her show, The Mindy Project. Her book, Is Everyone Hanging out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) came out in 2011, but I don’t think I read it until around 2014 or 2015. Just like Anna Kendrick’s autobiography, Mindy’s is not short on laughs, and is full of her wonderful, self-deprecating sense of humour, as well as lots of stories about her childhood and her struggles to make it in Hollywood (and as an added bonus, she shares several hilariously awkward pictures from her childhood).
10. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
Surprise, surprise - another thriller! I couldn’t leave this one out - I read it in the fall of 2016, and remember this time in my life very fondly. I was working part-time as a medical/surgical nurse in the hospital, and part-time as a flu clinic nurse, so any free moment that I had, you could find me buried in this book (likely drinking a hazelnut coffee) and trying to figure out which characters were telling the truth and which were seriously out of touch with reality. If you haven’t read the book or seen the movie, the basic plot is surrounding Emily Blunt’s character, who is an alcoholic that appears to be increasingly losing credibility as a sane/functioning member of society, and may or may not have something to do with the disappearance of a girl that she would see daily from her commute on the train. This book was a page-turner, and one that’s more mysterious and intriguing than scary and disturbing.
11. Wild by Cheryl Strayed
Last, but certainly not least, we have Wild. I think I actually may have seen the movie before I read the book? Either way, I loved both - Cheryl tells her story in a way that makes you feel like you are right there alongside her as she treks along the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), battling her demons, and taking us through her past struggles with addiction, infidelity, and ultimately, her mother’s death, which led her on her journey along the trail.
I really resonate with people that take their struggles and use them to evolve, grow, learn and heal, and Cheryl’s story is nothing short of all of these things. It’s incredibly inspiring to see how she transformed her life based on a (somewhat reckless) decision to hike the PCT, as well as to read about the truly healing powers of nature and connecting with other human beings. If you’re looking for an inspiring yet real story that also has elements of real life hardships that a lot of people go through, I could not recommend this book more.
Thanks for reading! I hope to continue to write posts like these, once I’ve made my way through some more books :)