January 5, 2016


I think I'm going to aim for 3 books a month in 2016, it feels like a reasonable number to finish while still pushing me to read more often. I would like to read 50 books total this year, so hopefully I can squeeze in additional books throughout the year. Luckily, this year I have a bit of travel on the horizon, which is always prime time to dig in to some books.


1. The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho -- I was given a beautiful copy of this book with a special meaning attached, so I am really looking forward to diving in deep and immersing myself in the books meaning. The main story of the book is a Shepard boy dreams of seeing the world, so he sets off on an adventure. Along the way, he meets a variety of characters who each teach him many lessons on life. "The story has the comic charm, dramatic tension and psychological intensity of a fairy tale, but it's full of specific wisdom as well, about becoming self-empowered, overcoming depression, and believing in dreams." (Publisher's Weekly). I am a big fan of Paulo Coelho, so this is my most anticipated book this month (or year).

2. Eating Animals, Jonathan Safran Foer -- This is my book clubs pick this month, and while it was not my first choice, I am warming up to the idea of the book. Eating Animals is part memoir and part investigation in to consuming animal products. Foer was a vegetarian for 10 years, but the birth of his child lead him to question the morality of our diets, where our food comes from, and what the cultural significance of food is. I love Foer's fiction, so this will be an interesting change from what I expect out of the author.

3. The Secret of Chanel No. 5, Tilar Mazzeo -- I found a single copy of this book at a random store, and was drawn first to the Warhol-esque cover, and then to the story. The book takes a long look in to the life of Coco Chanel, the history of Chanel No. 5, and why the perfume has managed to maintain it's popularity spanning decades. This will be my "fluffy" read for the month, but I am interested to learn a bit of history regarding Chanel!


1. Humans of New York Stories, Brandon Stanton -- If you follow HONY on Facebook, you will enjoy this book. It was a quick read, but unfortunately it mostly repeated people featured on the Facebook page. However, it was a nice catalog to look back on and definitely a good conversation piece for your coffee table.

2. Always Pack A Party Dress, Amanda Brooks -- While it was a quick and easy read, this book left a bit to be desired for me. First off, the author seemed to hit a series of fortunate events and/or knew the right people to get her start in the fashion industry. However, from there she definitely earned her place. I was also hoping for more scandalous stories, especially because she attended Madonna's birthday party in the 80s! The book was centered more on career advice than parties. Still, I enjoyed it overall and Brooks has excellent taste and writing style.

3. Daring Greatly, Brene Brown -- Confession, I only made it through a few chapters of this book. I felt that the topic can be pretty concisely discussed, and I didn't feel compelled enough to keep reading. Hopefully I do finish it at some point, because I did take some good life lessons from it. Mostly, that we cannot achieve great things while living inside our comfort zones. We must practice vulnerability in order to dare greatly. More on that topic later. The author did a TED Talk on that subject and it's great! I suggest watching it.

4. A Little Life, Hanya Yanagihara -- I purchased this book at the end of the month after honestly being intrigued by the cover photo. I also spotted it on several "Best of 2015" lists. Be forewarned, it's nearly a thousand pages. BUT, I LOVED THIS BOOK. Yanagihara so perfectly nails all the pain and suffering and truth that there is to the human experience, in a sharp contrast to love, friendship, hope, and all the good parts of life. While it was a heavy (very, very heavy) read, I felt less alone knowing that someone understood exactly how I feel. I don't even know what to further to say, because this book was so good. Truly stunning in both the writing and the story.

(The best part of A Little Life is that at the end it says "About the Author", and all it says is "The author resides in New York City". I'm not sure why I found that so funny, but it provided much needed comic relief at the end of the novel.)

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