Tag Archives: Books

10 Reasons You Should Have a Library Card

10 Reasons You Should Have a Library Card

This week is National Library Week! It’s no secret I’m a total bookworm, but I am always amazed how many adults don’t belong to their local library!

In case you are one of the (apparently) many that’s doesn’t know the amazing-ness that is your local library, this post is for you.

Here are 10 reasons you should join your local library:

10. Are you more of a film buff than book nerd? Guess what, most libraries have a pretty large movie selection, including new releases and seasons of TV shows so you can binge-watch your heart out. Maybe you’ll even want to get ahead of the game and read the book before it comes out on the big screen. As they say, the book is always better than the movie.

9. Borrow Kindle books. Did you know you can borrow e-books from the library? They come in many forms for all types of e-readers, and even plain old PDFs if you want to read from a computer. Some libraries even have e-readers available to lend.

8. Free wi-fi. Sometimes you just need to get out of the house, or maybe your internet isn’t working. The library has free wireless, and many snug corners to tuck into unnoticed.

7. Borrow and renew books from the comfort of home. Thanks to modern technology you can reserve books online and they will put them aside for you at the front desk. If browsing isn’t your thing, you can spend less than 2 minutes in the library altogether and still benefit from it.

6. Buy discounted tickets and attend events at your local library. Many libraries have deals for their members where you can purchase tickets (for as much as 50% off!) to local museums, aquariums, and other attractions. My library also has free movie nights and guest speakers. A free date night or get together with friends.

5. Buy cheap used books. Most libraries have an ongoing used book rack, and use book sales to raise money throughout the year. I buy all my books at these sales and never pay more than $1.00 per book. Oftentimes, on the last day of the sale I can fill a whole box for $5.00. (I never said I had self-control at book sales.)

4. Free magazines. Not only can you sit and peruse current and archived magazines and newspapers, but my local library, and many others, have a free give-and-take magazine bin.

3. Great recommendations. Librarians have made it very easy to find books you might like to read. Missing Downton Abbey? Here’s a table of 20 books that you might be interested in. Librarians have gotten really good at connecting non-readers with book recommendations.

2. Don’t fear the late fee. Not only can you pay late fees online now, but my librarians don’t even ask me to pay fines until I’ve surpassed $10.00. No need to fumble for pocket change at the last minute.

1. The library is FREE! Books, movies, CDs, magazines and more at no cost to you!

There are many more reasons beyond these 10 as well. I haven’t even mentioned the children’s section (I’m not there often!), but I remember loving to go to the library when I was little. Today’s children’s sections even have awesome game centers and indoor playrooms. For adults, there are private study rooms to reserve and computer labs.

Have I convinced you yet? Go get your library card today!

This post is not sponsored by the American Library Association. But if they’d like to send me money, they can feel free. 🙂

The 10 Best Books I Read in 2013

Just like The 10 Best Books I Read in 2012, and The 10 Best Books I Read in 2011, I’m kicking off the new year by sharing the best 10 books that I read in 2013.

In 2013 my book count was on the lower side. (I blame you Netflix.) However, I still managed to get through 33 new ones.

1. What Are You Looking At? by Will Gompertz

Banish that boring textbook. If you enjoy art (me!), the history of art (me!) and an entertaining read (me!), this book is for you (and me, apparently). Or if you get dragged through the modern art section of museums and can’t figure out why some of that weird stuff is famous, well, this book is for you too. What Are You Looking At? is an easy read combined with (historically based) fiction to make art history come to life. It walks you through the progression of art movements and the philosophies behind them, helping you to understand those painted splashes and scribbles that are worth millions.

2. Drop Dead Healthy by A.J. Jacobs

Do not read A.J. Jacobs if you are uncomfortable snort-laughing. Alone. In public places. I’ve read all of Jacobs’ books and I think he is hilarious, yet informative. For this adventure in Drop Dead Healthy, he decided to spend two years exploring his physical health and learning about the human body. And we’re not just talking about the basics: going Paleo, treadmill desks, switching to non-toxic household products. Jacobs, per usual, takes things to the next level with adventures like exploring the benefits of barefoot running, watching baseball, and yes, even purchases a squatting toilet.

3. The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubins

I actually wrote all about this book here – but it’s making a re-appearance in my Top 10 Books of 2013. I’m an eternal optimist and I was excited to read The Happiness Project when it first came out, despite having to wait about eight months before it was available in the library. Once I finally got it I couldn’t put it down – and it was worth the wait! I love this book because it was not only inspiring, but logical. Many writers can encourage you to pursue your passions and other “feel good” topics, but only Rubins make you aware of the concrete scientific reasoning of why it’s a good idea.

4. Shadow Divers by Robert Kurson

This book was enthralling. Learning the basic dangers of deep-sea scuba diving was interesting enough, then this group of passionate adventurers found a mysterious German U-Boat that was sunk during World War II of the coast of New Jersey. Their dangerous detective work, as well as all the diving background stories, were so fascinating I had a difficult time putting Shadow Divers down. And, not that it was ever a dream of mine, but it’s solidified that I’m never going deep-sea diving.

5. Inkheart by Cornelia Funke

It’s no secret that I enjoy fantastical children’s novels (ahem, Harry Potter), and the Inkheart series fits right into that shelf. I’ve only read two of the three books, but am eager to wrap up the trilogy. Inkheart features a father and daughter who both love to read, only this particular father can read characters out of books. It may sound whimsical when it’s Pinocchio or a butterfly, not so fun when it’s a band of angry villains. Even LESS fun when he accidentally reads real people INTO books, like his wife.

6. Snowflower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See

As with most things in life, I tend to get into themes until I’ve completely overdone it and move on to the next. Last year I read a handful of stories that took place in China and Japan in the 19th and 20th century. Snowflower and the Secret Fan is a residual read from that period (ahem, obsession) of my life. This book follows the friendship of two girls throughout their lives. It will make you grateful for your good friends, and that foot binding is a thing of the past.

7. Mornings on Horseback by David McCullough

In an attempt to get my better-half to read some of my favorite books, I made a deal with him that I would read any book of his choosing if he did the same. Mornings on Horseback by David McCullough was his choice. While I love biographies, I tend to read them on people with highly unusual life situations (ex: Amish Runaways) or for because I’m already invested in the person (ex: Princess Diana). Not Presidents. While this book wasn’t exactly a quick read, it was quite interesting and no one can argue that Theodore Roosevelt was other than wildly unique and fascinating. This biography follows Teddy’s life from birth up to his decision to run for President of the United States.

8. The Fixer Upper by Mary Kay Andrews

Anything by Mary Kay Andrew’s will readily find its way into my beach bag, so picking up The Fixer Upper was a no-brainer for this DIY nut! With a predictable Rom-Com plot – strong power woman attempts to escape her problems by jumping into project (renovating an old fixer-upper) she has no expertise in and happens to meet a handsome single man along the way. Though wildly unrealistic from a real life DIYer perspective it was delightfully entertaining, akin to watching HGTV and eating oreos.

9. The Shoemaker’s Wife by Adriana Trigiani

I have a running joke with a friend that she only recommends me tragic books that make me want to cry. (Is it still a joke if it’s true?) Shame on me for expecting The Shoemaker’s Wife by Adriana Trigliani to be any different. An enjoyable love story, this book follows two Italian-American immigrants throughout their lifetime facing the trials of loss, war, poverty, and disaster, and the fruits of love, family, hope, and success. It will break your heart. Consider yourself warned.

10. Neither Here Nor There by Bill Bryson

I’ve read nearly all of Bill Bryson’s books, but over the years I fortuitously happened to skip this one. Fortuitous, because this year I stepped foot on the continent of Europe for the first time, and this book is Bryson’s reflection of a number of European cities and travel destinations while he makes his way through Europe for a number of weeks. Always providing a wry sense of humor, a brutal honesty, and a penchant for sarcasm, you’ll laugh out loud reading Neither Here Nor There.

There you have it, my favorite reads for 2013. I’m already a few books into 2014 – which is a lovely feeling. I hope you all had a great holiday season!

If you were to recommend me one book that you think I should read in 2014, what would it be? I’m always looking for recommendations!

Book Review: The Happiness Project

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The Happiness Project

“Happiness,” wrote Yeats, “is neither virtue nor pleasure nor this thing nor that, but simply growth. We are happy when we are growing.”

Recently I’ve read a new book. Well, new to me – this book has been on the bestsellers list for quite a while now but I finally just managed to getting get around to reading it.

From time to time I like to share reviews of books that I’ve read here on the blog, mainly because getting referrals from other people is usually how I hunt down my next read. If you don’t already follow me on GoodReads you can find me here.

I know, who has time for another another social networking site? But I think GoodReads is extremely helpful and how I find most of my future reads. I read pretty quickly, so when someone asks for a good book for [insert type of mood here], it’s my go-to.

Book Review: The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

If you’ve been reading my writing for any length of time, you should probably pick up on the fact that I’m an optimist and finding the “happy” in anything.

I enjoyed The Happiness Project because it’s not another feel-good, warm ‘n fuzzies book. (*Cough, Chicken Soup for the Soul)

It’s not soul-searching reading that will move you to tears either. (*Cough, The Last Lecture)

It’s simple, matter-of-fact, and doesn’t beat around the bush.

Since her past career was in law and she writes biographies, author Gretchen Rubin approaches the abstract subject of happiness with a methodical and organized approach. If anything she treats happiness with the distance and deliberateness one would use to complete a science experiment.

Yet, her abundant use of statistics, psychological analysis and famous quotations read almost as a prescription. Choosing happiness is not a sappy, rosy-eyed decision anymore. Choosing happiness is the logical decision and here’s why- it’s better for your health, your family, your career.

The Happiness Project is accessible to everyone. While I’d love to take a year of my life to study in Italy, India, and Bali (a la Eat, Pray, Love) that’s just not reality. As Ruben says, she wants to find happiness “in her own kitchen”, essentially, living her life quite similar to how she always has – just happier.

There are a few key takeaways I love about this book. If I were the type of person to put notes on my bathroom mirror (I’m not), this is what they’d say.

1. Embrace the four stages of happiness: anticipate, savor, express and recall.

2. The days are long, but the years are short.

3. One of the best ways to make yourself happy is to make other people happy; One of the best ways to make other people happy is to be happy yourself.

4. What you do every day matters more than what you do once in a while.

5. It’s easy to be heavy; hard to be light.

The Happiness Project is versatile and applicable to anyone. It’s not like you’re choosing a diet and have to give up your favorite foods. You can pick your own areas you want to work on. Because I happen to share Rubin’s love of children’s literature and writing, I certainly connected with her on a lot of her personal goals. But her methods would apply to anyone.

It’s quick easy read it and be read quickly over holiday weekend or could be read one chapter at a time. One chapter of the book is heated to one months of her project, So if you are a slow reader you won’t feel left behind!

Have you read the Happiness Project?

The 10 Best Books I Read in 2012

via petitecurie

I love to read. End of story. Pun intended.

In 2012 I read 56 books. While I was really pushing myself in 2011 to read new books, I languished in re-reading some of my old favs in 2012. But I did force myself to read a few new ones as well – this is my list of top 10 new reads in 2012:

The 10 Best Books I Read in 2012 - DesignLively Reading List

1. A Song of Fire and Ice series, better known as Game of Thrones – actually books 1-4 – A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords, and A Feast for Crows by George R.R. Martin

Winter is coming. God bless the readers that started reading this series in 1996. Yes, 1996. I was wearing stretchy pants when this mystical world created by George R.R. Martin came to be. It is part LOTR, part Wizard of Oz, part UnderWorld. This is not light-hearted reading. With an endless rotation of characters, thickening tangled plotlines, and, frankly, more violence than I’m used to, this is tedious reading. Yet, 3188 pages later, I’m still longing to get my hands on book 5.

The 10 Best Books I Read in 2012 - DesignLively Reading List

2. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

Okay, so I’m a year or two late to the party on this undeniable book. This is a story about the spirit of courage. This is the story of Louis Zamperini, an Olympic runner who survived. Zamperini was in the Army Air Corps, was in a plane crash, survived by floating on a raft surrounded by sharks in the middle of the ocean for 47 days, only to become a POW in Japan. He survived, barely, and came back to the U.S. with depression and a liking for alcohol. Zamperini’s life began again when he became a Christian after attending a Billy Graham revival in 1949. You might need a strong stomach for this book, it gets a bit graphic. But it’s gripping and rewarding.

The 10 Best Books I Read in 2012 - DesignLively Reading List

3. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford

This is a love story of a young Chinese boy and a young Japanese girl in Washington during World War II. This is also modern-day story about an estranged father (the young Chinese boy 40 years later) and his son. This book is pretty and sad. Drink this book with a nice cup of tea.

The 10 Best Books I Read in 2012 - DesignLively Reading List

4. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

Although her other books are wildly more popular, this was Jane Austen’s first published book. It may also be my favorite. It’s a bit more tongue-in-cheek than her usual love stories, and Mr. Tilney is the man of the hour. I’ve read it, watched the movie (Masterpiece Theater) and loved it! Catherine Morland is a bit awkward and gullible, and, to me, much more understandable than the strong-willed Lizzy or silent Eleanor. I feel like I know this girlish young character (maybe because she’s as big a bookworm as I am?).

The 10 Best Books I Read in 2012 - DesignLively Reading List

5. Elizabeth the Queen by Sally Bedell Smith

What can I say? It was the year of England. When we traveled there this spring, it was only a month before the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. Therefore, the bookshops all had spreads of Queenie books out on display. In case you didn’t know, it rains a lot in England. So into lots of bookshops we went.

After perusing enough Queen Elizabeth books to pass a few rainstorms, I was hooked. I ended up reading this one when we got home. It was insightful, and makes me like the old broad. Even if she refuses to smile. At least I feel like I understand her now.

The 10 Best Books I Read in 2012 - DesignLively Reading List

6. Pollyanna by Eleanor Porter

Goodness me, I grew up watching this happy-go-lucky, whipped-cream-with-a-cherry Hayley Mills cinema feature. Happily, the book was just as delightful. If you don’t want to smile and play the Glad Game all over again, don’t read this book.

7. The Petite Advantage Diet by Jim Karas

I KNOW. So lame is this that this book is even on my list. I don’t even believe in diets! Seriously, I love cheese. I love chocolate. Just hear me out!

When I saw this book in the library I didn’t pay any attention to it, just like any/all diet books I come across. But then I kept seeing it wherever I went. Over and over again. Finally I read the subtitle “specialized for women 5’4″ and under” and thought hey! that’s me! I’m short! Really, I’m 5’2″. Since the book was inescapable, I started skimming, and it was actually interesting. Jim Karas specializes in working with celebrities under the height of 5’4″ because, he says, there is a whole different foundational approach necessary to living with a petite frame. I know, it still sounds kind of lame, but it was really interesting if you’re a shorty life me. Just trust me!

The 10 Best Books I Read in 2012 - DesignLively Reading List

8. Stealing Rembrandts by Art security expert Anthony M. Amore and reporter Tom Mashberg

I was an art major. I live near several of the locations of the greatest art heists of all time. To me, stealing art is the most intriguing of crimes. It hardly ever pays off and requires so much forethought. Most interestingly to me, some paintings have never been found. I wonder whose walls they are hanging on. This is a collection of short stories about the world’s greatest art heists.

The 10 Best Books I Read in 2012 - DesignLively Reading List

9. War Brides by Helen Bryan

This piece of historical fiction follows the lives of five women whose lives coming together while they live in a small town in England during World War II. (Goodness, I didn’t realize I was stuck on a WWII theme here in my reading this year.) Friendship. Love. Intrigue. Children. War. Read this with a blanket and a cuppa.

Note: this book is available in the Kindle Lender’s Library for free if you are a Prime Member!

The 10 Best Books I Read in 2012 - DesignLively Reading List

10. In Defense of Food by Michael Pollen

Oh man, I know it. There are two food books in my top 10. But Michael Pollen, author of the famous Omnivore’s Dilemna, will make you forget you are reading something helpful and educational. This “eater’s manifesto” is about getting back to the basic’s of food. A food philosophy if you will. I’ll tell you what, you can get the basics of this book in just a few words: Eat Food. Not too much. Mostly plants. There you go.

Click here to see the 10 Best Books I Read in 2011.