Monday, October 20, 2014

4 Books Worth Reading

Happy Monday!  Did you have a good weekend?  I spent mine getting things done around the house and devouring Lena Dunham's new book, Not That Kind of Girl.  I'm an avid fan of her HBO series Girls (in my dream world I would be Jessa) and the honest, raw way it depicts life for 20-something girls as they struggle to find their footing post college.  I certainly can relate to some of the complexities and disappointments the characters must navigate through in their work lives and love lives.  What I love about Girls is that it doesn't glamourize the character's lives; instead, it depicts each of them coming to terms in their own unique way with the realization that the idyllic world we picture post college isn't necessarily handed to us.  You have to really take an active part in creating the life you envision for yourself while at the same time maintaining a sense of humor, because the struggles are going to come.  Lena's book has a similar self-deprecating tone as her show, but she also mixes in lots of hilarious stories and embarrassing moments that make her both relatable and lovable. 

1.) Not that Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham

{Instagram snap- I know I did that horrible thing us bloggers are so guilty of- "creating" a vignette for a picture rather than just posting it as is.  But aesthetics matter to me!  So please forgive.}

Favorite quotes (I'm that nerdy girl that underlines things that stick out to her as she reads):

"Don't put yourself in situations you'd like to run away from. But when you run, run back to yourself."
"There's a certain grace to having your heart broken."
“I have the nagging sense that my true friends are waiting for me beyond college, unusual women whose ambitions are as big as their past transgressions, whose hair is piled high, dramatic like topiaries at Versailles, and who never, ever say ‘too much information’ when you mention a sex dream you had about your father.”

“Over time, my belief in many things has wavered: marriage, the afterlife, Woody Allen.”
Since I wanted to share my love for Lena's book with you, I also thought I'd share a few other great reads I've come across lately.

2. Wild by Cheryl Strayed

With the movie coming out this winter and Oprah popularizing this biography via her book club, I am sure most of you are familiar with the story.  Author Cheryl Strayed tragically lost her mother when she was only 22.  The grief of losing her mother nearly destroyed her as she was soon divorced from her husband and turning to heroin, promiscuity, and anything else to numb the pain.  After wandering aimlessly through her life for four years after her mother's death, she makes the impulsive decision to hike the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert to Canada, covering nearly 1,000 miles by foot alone.  Cheryl shares her struggles- both physically and emotionally- so candidly as she makes her trek that I found myself often in tears as I read along. She powerfully captures the terrors and pleasures of her journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her.  The trailer for the film came out about a month ago, and Reece Witherspoon will play Cheryl.  I cannot wait to see it!

Favorite quotes:

"I'd walk and think about my entire life.  I'd find my strength again, far from everything that had made my life ridiculous." -Cheryl Strayed

"I had to change.  Not in to a different person, but back to the person I used to be."

“I knew that if I allowed fear to overtake me, my journey was doomed. Fear, to a great extent, is born of a story we tell ourselves, and so I chose to tell myself a different story from the one women are told.  I decided I was safe. I was strong. I  was brave.  Nothing could vanquish me.”  

“Nobody will protect you from your suffering. You can't cry it away or eat it away or starve it away or walk it away or punch it away or even therapy it away. It's just there, and you have to survive it. You have to endure it. You have to live through it and love it and move on and be better for it and run as far as you can in the direction of your best and happiest dreams across the bridge that was built by your own desire to heal.”

“What if I forgave myself? I thought. What if I forgave myself even though I'd done something I shouldn't have? What if I was a liar and a cheat and there was no excuse for what I'd done other than because it was what I wanted and needed to do? What if I was sorry, but if I could go back in time I wouldn't do anything differently than I had done? What if I'd actually wanted to fuck every one of those men? What if heroin taught me something? What if yes was the right answer instead of no? What if what made me do all those things everyone thought I shouldn't have done was what also had got me here? What if I was never redeemed? What if I already was?”  

3. Women Who Run With the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes

Not to be hyperbolic, but this book changed my life.  I read it for the first time about 5 years ago, and recently found the audio book and gave it another listen.  According to author Clarissa Estes, wolves and women share a psychic bond in their fierceness, grace and devotion. This comparison defines the archetype of the Wild Woman, a female in touch with her primitive side and able to rely on gut feelings to make choices. The tales here, from various cultures, are not necessarily about wolves; instead, they illuminate fresh perspectives on relationships, self-image, even addiction.  I think it's a must read for any woman.

Favorite Quotes:

“It is worse to stay where one does not belong at all than to wander about lost for a while, looking for the psychic and soulful kinship one requires.”  

“Tears are a river that takes you somewhere…Tears lift your boat off the rocks, off dry ground, carrying it downriver to someplace better.”  

“Though fairy tales end after ten pages, our lives do not. We are multi-volume sets. In our lives, even though one episode amounts to a crash and burn, there is always another episode awaiting us and then another. There are always more opportunities to get it right, to fashion our lives in the ways we deserve to have them. Don't waste your time hating a failure. Failure is a greater teacher than success.”  

“How does one know if she has forgiven? You tend to feel sorrow over the circumstance instead of rage, you tend to feel sorry for the person rather than angry with him. You tend to have nothing left to say about it all.”  

"Mindful choosing of friends and lovers, not to mention teachers, is critical to remaining conscious, remaining intuitive, remaining in charge of the fiery light that sees and knows.”  

4.) Elements of Style by Erin Gates

 I had the pleasure of meeting Erin Gates, author and interior designer behind the popular blog Elements of Style, this past Wednesday in Houston.  She was in town promoting her new coffee table book, Elements of Style- Designing a Home & a Life.  The book not only includes gorgeous pictures of her design work, but also hilarious and honest stories of her personal life as well as her career.

{Erin and me at the signing.  She's fab! And tall.}

Sorry for the wordy post!  I have been wanting to share a few book recommendations for a while now, so maybe I'll create a series of it and do a new reading list post each month.

Any good books you've read lately?
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