reading

2016 Book Challenge Results

2016 Book Challenge ResultsHappy New Year!

I hope each of you had a wonderful night, ringing in 2017 with the ones you love. I love beginning the year anew, writing down resolutions and planning all of the exciting adventures ahead!

Every year, I aim to read as many books as possible to de-stress and to spark creativity in my own life. Now that I’ve started graduate school, my reading for pleasure has tapered off somewhat, but I always like to share what I’ve read each year and look for new suggestions in the year ahead.

Below are the books I read in 2016. (Click for recaps from 2011201220132014 and 2015.) You can keep up with the current list for 2017 by visiting the Book Challenge page at the top menu or by clicking here.

Books I’ve Read in 2016:

  1. The Mayo Clinic Handbook for Happiness by Amit Sood (1/6/2016)
  2. How To Talk To Girls At Parties by Neil Gaiman (1/14/2016)
  3. The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson (1/18/2016)
  4. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini (1/23/2016)
  5. Room by Emma Donoghue (1/31/2016)
  6. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button by F. Scott Fitzgerald (2/24/2016)
  7. Looking For Alaska by John Green (3/1/2016)
  8. Psychopath Free by Jackson MacKenzie (3/19/2016)
  9. Slumber Party by Christopher Pike (3/21/2016)
  10. The Pilot’s Wife by Anita Shreve (3/30/2016)
  11. So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson (4/13/2016)
  12. American Housewife: Stories by Helen Ellis (4/17/2016)
  13. This Is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper (5/7/2016)
  14. Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham (5/18/2016)
  15. Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand in the Sun and Be Your Own Person by Shonda Rhimes (5/22/2016) – 25 at 25 Bucket List: My Year of Yes
  16. The Giver by Lois Lowry (5/23/2016)
  17. Me Before You by Jojo Moyes (6/3/2016)
  18. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (6/27/2016)
  19. You Are A Badass by Jen Sincero (7/30/2016) – All Or Nothing Day: Creating A Life You Love
  20. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling (8/31/2016)
  21. All Is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker (10/5/2016)
  22. The Girl With The Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer (10/24/2016)

Any suggestions for 2017? Share in the comments section below!

2015 Book Challenge Results

keep-calm-and-love-reading-64Happy New Year, friends! I hope everyone has had a wonderful first few days of 2016 and that you are keeping on track with your New Year’s Resolutions. I have a few health and wellness goals this year (don’t we all?), but one of my annual goals is to make time for reading. 🙂

Reading a variety of genres and authors exposes you to new perspectives and can make you a better writer! Every year, I share my recap of what I read the year prior, as well as links to the blog posts that some of these books inspired.

Below are the books I read in 2015. (Click for recaps from 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014.) You can keep up with the current list for 2016 by visiting the Book Challenge page at the top menu or by clicking here.

Books I Read in 2015:

1. The Disaster Artist by Greg Sestero (1/12/2015)
2. The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick (1/29/2015)
3. How To Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie (2/3/2015)
4. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (2/9/2015)
5. The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides (3/21/2015)
6. The Time Keeper by Mitch Albom (3/22/2015)
7. Women, Food and God by Geneen Roth (5/18/2015)
8. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold (5/22/2015)
9. The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan (5/24/2015)
10. Why Men Love Bitches by Sherry Argov (6/4/2015)
11. Sex and the City by Candace Bushnell (6/6/2015)
12. Winkie by Clifford Chase (6/11/2015)
13. I’m Only Here For The WiFi by Chelsea Fagan (6/18/2015)
14. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (6/23/2015)
15. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath (7/6/2015)
16. Dating Up by J. Courtney Sullivan (7/24/2015)
17. Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling (9/23/2015)
18. The Mathematics of Love by Hannah Fry (10/1/2015) — Unique Holiday Gift Guide for All Friends
19. When The Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka (11/12/2015) — Adventures in Florida: Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens
20. Many Waters by Madeleine L’Engle (12/11/2015)
21. The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux (12/13/2015)
22. Eleven on Top by Janet Evanovich (12/29/2015)

Have you read any of these books? Any suggestions for 2016?

Share your thoughts and recommendations in the comments section below!

2014 Book Challenge Results

tumblr_static_bibliophileHappy New Year, and thank you for stopping by! 🙂 2015 is an exciting time for me at So It Must Be True, with health and wellness becoming one of the blog’s added focuses, as well as some brand new content. As a writer, I love to read in my spare time, and occasionally the books I read will inspire my blog posts!

Every year, I aim to read as much as I can, and I create annual recaps to share my book lists with readers!

While adjusting to full-time employment and a busy schedule, I haven’t had a ton of time to read for pleasure this year, but I am still happy to have enjoyed some great books! (Yes, I know I fell way short of my 50 book challenge, but hey – I really liked the books I did get to read!)

Below is a list of books I read this year, as well as any blog posts inspired by them. (Click for recaps from 2011, 2012 and 2013.) Let me know what great books you’ve enjoyed this year!

Books I’ve Read in 2014:

1. The Godfather by Mario Puzo (1/18/14)
2. Silent Dancing by Judith Ortiz Cofer (1/21/14) – The Stories We Tell Ourselves
3. I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts On Being A Woman by Nora Ephron (1/28/14)
4. The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd (2/20/14)
5. It Starts With Food by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig (2/25/14)
6. Divergent by Veronica Roth (3/30/14)
7. My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult (4/30/14)
8. Dirty Love by Andre Dubus III (5/22/14)
9. Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg (7/10/14)
10. The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz (8/2/14) – How I Met Your Mother, Toltec Wisdom and Letting Go
11. Bridget Jones’ Diary by Helen Fielding (9/3/14)
12. Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin (12/25/14)

Have you read any of these books? What are some of your favorite books you’ve read this year? What do you suggest for 2015?

Link Love Thursday: Let’s Go To Eataly!

Benvenuto a Eataly!Cute animals, Disney villains and pizza, oh my! This week, the Internet was filled with gold, and I’m excited to share with you in a one-day-late Link Love!

What great links have you come across this week?

2013 Book Challenge Results

tumblr_m7qyzcQjmC1r0tmr2o1_500Happy New Year, my dear readers!

For me, 2013 was a year of transition and change. I graduated from college, my home away from home, and took my first bold steps into the corporate world as a full-time marketing professional. In 2013, I began to take control of my own finances, moved into my first non-college-affiliated apartment, mastered the art of making delicious smoothies and even learned the basic fundamentals of football! It was a year of both opportunity and nostalgia, of love and loss, of letting go of the past and discovering new horizons.

What 2013 was not, however, was a year of abundant reading. Every year, I aim to read as many books as possible in order to de-stress and gain a little inspiration in the process. In 2013, the number of books I read dwindled from the previous years, although many were fantastic reads! (I even reviewed Jen Glantz’s book, All My Friends Are Engaged, on my blog!)

Below is a list of the books I read this year. (Click for recaps from 2011 and 2012.)

1. The Beautiful and Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald (1/15/13)
2. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (2/5/13)
3. It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini (3/1/13)
4. The Constant Princess by Philippa Gregory (3/11/13)
5. Going Bovine by Libba Bray (3/21/13)
6. Summer Rush by Gabrielle Upshur (4/3/13)
7. An Abundance of Katherines by John Green (6/7/13)
8. Fifty Shades Freed by E.L. James (7/18/13)
9. The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak (8/26/13)
10. The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen (12/5/13)
11. All My Friends Are Engaged by Jen Glantz (12/19/13) – Book Review: All My Friends Are Engaged

Hoping for more wonderful books in 2014! Any suggestions in the new year?

Link Love Wednesday: Millennials vs. Baby Boomers

iphone-5-apple-generations-sympathy-ecards-someecardsWhat do you get when you take a very full work calendar, a birthday and a series of federal and religious holidays? A blogger who forgets to post Link Love for a few weeks! 🙂 Hopefully today’s round-up of posts about topics ranging from Generation Y to jet lag won’t disappoint.

Read anything interesting lately?

The Weekend Five: Worst Girlfriends in Literature

Holly-Golightly-and-Paul-Varjak-paul-varjak-and-holly-golightly-24466180-601-400Falling in love can be a difficult experience, especially when the person you love brings a lot of baggage to the relationship. However, an extra dose of drama makes for a great story, one that makes us want to keep reading. Back in April, we talked about a few of the literary world’s most tortured souls (who happened to be some of the worst boyfriends in literature), but what about the ladies? This week, we’ll talk about five of literature’s worst potential girlfriends, and why you should steer clear if you ever pop into a literary universe.

The Weekend Five: Worst Girlfriends in Literature

1. Holly Golightly (Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote).
If you’re a long-time reader or we’ve met in person, you’ll probably know that I’m a huge Audrey Hepburn fan, and that Holly Golightly is easily one of my favorite literary characters. The film version is more of a rom-com than the actual book, but even if your only point of reference is the movie, you can see that beyond the Givenchy dress and the Tiffany jewelry, Holly is kind of a mess. Forget the whole call-girl thing – Miss Golightly can’t commit to one thing, not even her cat (“poor slob without a name”). She drifts from man to man and, while engaging to listen to, is more interested in a man’s money and prestige than anything else. (She’s also tied to a seedy racketeer in the Sing Sing prison!)

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2. Catherine Earnshaw (Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë).
I included Heathcliff on the worst boyfriend list, so it’s only natural that Catherine appears here — their relationship screams dysfunctional! When Heathcliff marries another woman, Cathy becomes completely insane, locks herself up and stops eating, even though she’s already married to a perfectly nice guy. She’s cruel to the man she loves because of their different stations in life, and she continues to haunt him even in death. Theirs is one of the most doomed love stories of all time, which is not something to aim for in a functional relationship.

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thesunalsorises3. Brett Ashley (The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway).
Lady Brett Ashley has a wandering eye and very little motivation. The socialite can’t stick to one man and at one point, winds up with a 19-year-old bullfighter. Although she is in love with Jake Barnes, the novel’s protagonist, she refuses to commit to him because his war injuries have rendered him impotent. When he asks if they could simply live together, she says no because she knows she wouldn’t be able to remain faithful. While her concerns are understandable (and at least she’s honest!), she doesn’t seem to have much luck with her other relationships.

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4. Alaska (Looking for Alaska by John Green).
Although Looking for Alaska is one of my favorite novels, I’ll be the first to admit that most of John Green’s female characters are manic pixie dream girls. Although beautiful and intelligent, Alaska is self-destructive and emotionally unstable. The main character Miles can’t help but fall in love with her, even though she has a boyfriend and doesn’t always treat him well. Alaska is a great character, but definitely not ready to settle down.

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5. Most of the female characters in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s books.
F. Scott Fitzgerald’s female characters are often selfish and superficial, and only with their male love interests for the money. From Gloria of The Beautiful and Damned, who has no ambitions other than acquiring her husband’s inheritance, to the famous Daisy Buchanan of The Great Gatsby, these characters have few accomplishments or positive qualities. (In fact, don’t date anyone from any of his books – they are all shallow!)

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Which female literary characters do you think would make the worst literary girlfriends?

The Weekend Five: Worst Boyfriends in Literature

f1b229fa2f08710e4aebcb63fc386dddIn the past, we’ve talked about our tendency to fall in love with fictional characters, regardless of how unrealistic our attachments to them really are. During my childhood, for example, I was especially enamored with The Fonz from Happy Days and Ricky Ricardo on I Love Lucy – both of whom were around way before my time. Today, in the era of fanfiction and copious film adaptations, it seems that more and more people have developed feelings for fictional characters, especially those in literature. (Ladies, does the name “Mr. Darcy” ring any bells?)

This week, we’ll talk about some of the literary male characters you shouldn’t fall madly in love with. These are some of the men in literature who would ultimately make the worst boyfriends/husbands.

The Weekend Five: Worst Boyfriends in Literature

1. Heathcliff (Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë).Before you say anything, I know… I talk way too much about Heathcliff on this blog. That’s because this brooding gypsy from the wrong side of the tracks is a magnet for drama, especially of the romantic kind. When the woman he loves marries a man of a higher station than his own, Heathcliff retaliates by marrying the man’s sister and ultimately becomes emotionally abusive and manipulative. There’s a lot more to the story than that, but would you really want to be with someone who treats everyone in his life poorly and is still obsessed with a relationship that never worked out?

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laters baby2. Christian Grey (Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James).
We could sit around all day and try to figure out what exactly constitutes this series as literature, but let’s face facts: Christian Grey is not the guy you want to date. Sure, he’s handsome and wealthy, and he has a penchant for saying things like “Laters baby,” but when it comes down to it, he’s extremely controlling and emotionally fragile. He purchases an entire company in order to secure a job for the girl he loves (against her wishes, by the way), and when she tries to end things with him, he basically stalks her until she gives up and decides to give the relationship another shot. Let’s also not forget that he has a pretty rough past that clearly affects the way he treats women. (The part that saddens me is that a lot of girls still think of him as a sort of Prince Charming, even if he’s kind of the opposite.)

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3. Edward Rochester (Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë).
At first, life with this man seems perfectly fine. But then you start to show signs that you’re a little crazy, and he decides to lock you in the attic. Then he has the nerve to start seeing someone else? Just say no to this one.

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Edward-376194_429619737081258_1836140990_n4. Edward Cullen (Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer).
First of all, Edward Cullen is more than 100 years old. He may look like he’s 17 (or closer to 25), but don’t let his non-aging fool you. Hint: If a guy warns you repeatedly against being with him, you probably shouldn’t be with him. To maintain a relationship with this vampire means giving up any ambitions you ever had, and remaining completely stuck in your teen years forever. It also means that you’ll be dating someone who might be able to read your mind (scary) and who sparkles in the sun (also scary).

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5. Harry Potter (Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling).
Throughout seven books and eight films, The Boy Who Lived is the king of angst – and for good reason. He’s a great guy, but Harry Potter simply does not have time for a relationship. Between hunting down horcruxes and trying not to get killed by Voldemort every year, Harry barely ever has time to take his final exams, let alone wine and dine anyone who isn’t an active member of the Order. Even when he and Ginny Weasley first dated, Harry broke things off because it just wasn’t “safe” for her. (And who can blame him? Anyone who tries to get close to Harry is just setting themselves up to become Voldemort-bait.) If you’re looking for a romance in Hogwarts, try a lesser-known character in Ravenclaw or Hufflepuff, because then you’re more likely to avoid being kidnapped by a Death Eater or possessed by an old diary.

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Readers: Who are your literary crushes, and which literary boyfriends could you do without?

The Weekend Five: Steps For Writing The Summary of a Romance Novel

smcoverLike many other young women my age, I’m not immune to the charms of a guilty beach read every so often. I may like to poke fun at romance novels, but I’d be lying if I told you I haven’t read Fifty Shades of Grey or any of its sequels. (Of course, I do like to pair these types of books with classical literature just for some healthy balance.) When my mom and I visit bookstores, we often go straight to the romance section to read and laugh at the books’ summaries, and over the years, we have picked up on a few key patterns in each of these books. Take a look at the list and see if there are any that you’ve noticed as well!

The Weekend Five: Steps For Writing The Summary of a Romance Novel

1. Give your characters bizarre, complicated or slightly exotic names.
Where is the fun in reading a story about someone named Mary Smith? In the novel I Was A Vampire Wedding Planner, some of the appropriate character names include Renaldi D’Aria, Katya Stern, Rex Fontainebleu, and Eden Lockhart. You can also create characters with interesting family titles, such as Adam Faramond, Earl of Rothbury, who is referred to by literally every combination of names. Make sure you include at least three of these character names in your summary so that the reader is aware of how serious this romance novel really is.

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2. Use phrases like “unbridled passion that matches his own.”
The more you allude to the fact that the book is teeming with sexual tension, the better. In fact, four out of five housewives in America recommend these books for exactly that reason. Why not take advantage of that in the book’s summary?

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9780425230220_p0_v1_s260x4203. Create a convoluted love story.
Love is never easy. In romance novels, nobody meets at the grocery store and has a regular courtship. The summary should discuss unwanted suitors, a male and female lead who seemingly hate each other, crazy inheritances, the requests of older relatives and more. Try to throw in as many subplots as possible as an added bonus.

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4. Be descriptive. Very descriptive.
This one is self-explanatory. Who says that you should save all the details for the book itself? Include them in the summary first so the reader knows exactly what he or she is dealing with!

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5. Setting is everything.
And in the world of romance novels, there are really only three major settings: Victorian era, the Wild Wild West and supernatural worlds (or our world, but with supernatural characters). You could also consider using a combination of the three to include vampires running around Victorian London with cowboys, but this may confuse your reader, who is usually only accustomed to one of these three.

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What are some of your favorites?

The Friday Five: Best Posts of the Week

As a writer and blogger, I have always felt that the only way you can create quality content is by reading quality content from other writers. Because I am subscribed to a lot of different blogs varying in subject matter, I constantly find interesting, funny and thought-provoking posts throughout the Internet. For this week’s Friday Five, I have gathered some of my favorite blog posts from the past seven days, now available for your viewing pleasure. 🙂 Enjoy!

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The Friday Five: Best Posts of the Week

1. Lessons From The Backstabber (The Utterings and Mutterings of a B.A.G. Lady)
The film Something Borrowed didn’t just inspire my own blog, but the blog of one of my close friends (with whom I watched the movie!) as well. Beth’s post about the chick flick takes a more positive approach, analyzing what lessons we can take away from Rachel’s (Ginnifer Goodwin) story line. The post is introspective and well-written, and will definitely give you something to think about.

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2. Motivating Mondays: Charlie Sheen (Stop Being a Loser)
Okay, so usually we don’t find the words “Charlie Sheen” and “motivate” in the same sentence, unless that sentence is something along the lines of “The recent antics of Charlie Sheen motivated the young boy to stop using drugs.” However, the ladies of Stop Being a Loser give the crazed actor a fun twist. Among his bizarre interviews, there are a few (dare I say it?) motivating quotes from Charlie Sheen. Go take a look — he may surprise you, tiger blood and all!

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3. George Lucas Strikes Back (The AV Club)
Before I introduce this link, I have to admit that I did enjoy the prequel Star Wars movies. (I know, blasphemy!) Like everyone else, I cringe any time Jar Jar Binks comes onto the screen, but for the most part I really liked Episodes I through III. Having said that, I couldn’t help but laugh while watching this trailer, entitled George Lucas Strikes Back, in which George Lucas is locked up for 20 years while an imposter releases the newer films, and seeks revenge for their poor quality. Star Wars nerds will feel a bit more at ease after watching this trailer, as if the old trilogy has been avenged.

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4. Literary Characters Who Should Be Tweeting (Flavor Wire)
Not only is this an awesome concept, but it gives me more ideas of books to read. (I can always use more — I’m running behind!)
I can think of a few literary characters of my own whose Tweets might be interesting: Elizabeth Bennett from Pride and Prejudice, the inappropriate nurse from Romeo and Juliet, everyone from the Harry Potter books, and the Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland. Check out the list and try to think of some of your own!

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5. Advice at 18 (The Frenemy)
I love this blog anyway, but this post really made me think. Like the title suggests, the writer includes advice that she would have given her 18-year-old self. I was 18 nearly three years ago, which doesn’t feel like very long, and I often wonder what I would have told my younger self if given the chance. Some of this is great advice period, no matter how old you are.

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What are some of your favorite reads from the week?