Life is all about balance, right? Well, it definitely applies to literature. At a few points this year, I found myself emotionally affected by books I was reading. The human experience can be some deep shit, and when you’re living it every day, you don’t always want it in your literature. Here Comes the Sun, Normal People, and A Little Life have all had profound effects on my moods and emotions, and I had to quickly proceed these books with fun picks that would distract me from literary chaos and that which exists in the real world.
For the first time in years, though, I recently had to stop a book in the middle of it and find something else as a distraction. Reading two books at once isn’t really a concept my brain understands, but it was something I desperately needed in November. After Kyle and I witnessed a tragedy outside our apartment, my mental health just couldn’t endure Yaa Gyasi‘s powerful and emotional second novel Transcendent Kingdom.
So I scoured available chick lit novels at my library while halfway through Gyasi’s book. I really wanted to continue it, but I knew my heart and brain couldn’t. Eventually I landed on a Jojo Moyes novel: Paris for One. Now, I had some trepidations about this pick. I’ve only read Moyes’ Louisa Clark series, which I loved, and The Giver of Stars, which gave me “meh” lit feels. My skepticism had less to do with her so-so latest book and more to do with the fact that Me Before You almost had me in tears on the subway. Yes, I would generally consider Moyes’ novels to live in the chick lit realm, but her books certainly aren’t devoid of sadness. (News flash: Chick lit isn’t all fluff!) Was this a risk worth taking when my mental health was already teetering?
Oh how I love to be swept away by a book. I love to feel the emotions of the characters, and I love exclaiming exasperation by their actions that cause as much harm to me as to them. I yearn to wander down the same streets they do, especially when that’s in a foreign land, and feel as if I’m peeking around the same corners as they. And there’s nothing like texting a friend constantly with the WTFs and the OMGs while the book is sweeping me away.
All of these things occurred while I read The Shadow of the Wind. The emotions that were felt during these 487 pages were immense and numerous, and the number of “what the f*%$” texts increased significantly as I neared the end.
The recipient of those texts, my friend Sabrina, had recently read this novel and had recommended it. She sold me with the following message after she finished it herself:
“And Shadow of the Wind is AMAZING! Love, loss, friendship, trust, Barcelona.”
“Need I say more?”
Actually, no, no you do not because that sounds darn right fascinating. Fortunately for me, this book had been sitting on my bookshelf for three years since Kyle and I moved in together (he also approved). And with that, I was transported to Spain in the 1940s, and I gladly didn’t return to the present for a splendid — albeit anxiety-ridden — two weeks.
There’s nothing like weekend getaways to quaint beach towns. I can so easily get lost in the quiet stillness and the views these places have to offer, and they’re the perfect escape from life in the city.
Enter: Sag Harbor, New York.
I’ve only ventured to the Hamptons one other time in my life. (Thanks to my BFF for taking me as her plus one to a work event four years ago.) So I was ecstatic to break away from home the last weekend in September to visit what I’d heard was one of the cutest spots in the region. And the reviews proved to be right. Sag Harbor was beautiful and cozy and everything I was looking for in a small beach town. I can’t say I expected to step into bookstores, but I was pleasantly surprised to stumble upon two that gave me all the literary feels. They were definitely a highlight of a fantastic trip.
Being from the Midwest, I always thought Chicago seemed so close yet so far away. It’s only a five-hour car ride from my hometown of Festus, Mo., and it’s silly that I only spent one day in Chi-Town of my 22 years that I lived in its neighboring state. But lo and behold, adulthood came, and two of my dearest friends, Layne and Nick, moved to DeKalb, Ill.
This past March I flew out to visit the couple, and they kindly indulged me with stops at four superb Chicago bookstores. (Let’s be honest: Nick enjoyed the perusing just as much as I did — if not more so.) We definitely shopped ’til we dropped, though that could also be due to the insane amounts of yummy food we consumed during our trip to the Windy City. Read on to see four must-see Chicago stops for bibliophiles.
I’ve been bitten by the travel bug. When I look back on 2018, traveling will best depict this year, and I have absolutely no complaints about that. Since January, I’ve had first-time visits to Italy; Portland, Maine; Sea Bright, N.J.; Boston; Baltimore; and, most recently, Montreal. Gah … #blessed.
Now in Boston, I was much too busy reveling in our win for independence (see: Beth living out a fantasy) to think about bookstores.
I know I know.
But I picked up my own slack in Montreal by visiting three lovely bookstores that had their own flair and charm and, of course, books on books on books.
Readers, it’s time to shop ’til you drop: Montreal style.
Many oooh and aaahs to be had at Montreal’s Old Port.
“The Creator made Italy by designs from Michelangelo.” Mark Twain knew what he was talking about.
Italy has been my dream destination for as long as I can remember, but the fantasy really took off when I completed an A-Z project on the country in sixth grade. I owe Mrs. Holdinghausen, a geography bawse, so much.
So you can understand my awe and shock when my boyfriend surprised me on our two-year anniversary with a trip to Italy. He told me this was my dream and gave me free rein to plan whatever I wanted. (He probably regretted this after walking over 60 miles in seven days.)
After six months of planning, though I tried to keep some spontaneity, we took off from Newark with my heart racing on Feb. 6. It was finally happening: I was going to Italy.
Traveling obviously gives me life and just perpetuates my wanderlust. For book lovers, one of its perks is uninterrupted hours of reading during long flights, especially of books set in your destination. As I embarked on my first Italian holiday, I had two novels in tow, and I was ready to immerse myself in this beautiful land, both physically and in my imagination. Unfortunately, one of those books was a chore to finish.
I had read a Goodreads comment that One Summer Day in Rome had a poor plot but intriguing details about the Roman landscape. At least I knew what I was getting into. The excitement of reading about landmarks and neighborhoods that I was about to or just explored wasn’t enough to bump up this novel’s excitement. I was looking for gelato and ended up with soft serve.