Thursday, June 9, 2016

Summer Reads

When I was younger, there was almost never a moment when you wouldn't find me holed up somewhere in my bedroom reading my days away. Since as far back as I can remember, I would ride my bicycle to the library with my best friend, and go home and get started on my latest book obsession series. From The Babysitters Club to freaky murder mysteries, my interests have always been on constant rotation, but my love for reading never changed. I recently found a box of my old journals, drawings, and miscellaneous collections, and amongst it, I found a list of books I made for myself to keep track of what I wanted to read (since they were all Babysitter's Club books I am guessing I made it in elementary school), complete with little tiny boxes so I could check off the books I finished reading (if all of our items weren't currently packed in boxes I would share a photo of the list for laughs). As I got older, my social life grew, school work got more busy, and summer seemed to be my favorite time to make my lists and get caught up on all of the leisure reading I couldn't do during the school year. This habit continued well into college... and then over the last few years, adult life took over. Between a growing career, growing and caring for a baby, and all of life's labors, I somehow lost the time I had always previously found to read. 

A few months ago, after I found that old list, I started thinking about how stressed out I have been over the last few months and what a slump I was in. Between selling our house, looking for a new one, keeping up with business work, taking care of a baby, and everything else in between, I had felt for a while like I needed to find something that felt like my own again. Reading that list made me giggle about my 9 year old self, and it sparked something in me that I used to love so much - my passion for getting lost in a great story. I made a promise to myself that day that I would do what it took to allow that pastime back into my life; I needed it. 

Of course while I was pregnant, I read everything I thought I was supposed to read; all of the pregnancy milestone books, parenting books, baby books, mom books... all of it. Even after Raj was born I was always scouring the latest 'raising a baby' and 'raising toddler' books. That fulfilled my enjoyment of increasing personal knowledge, but somewhere along the way, it started to feel more like homework rather than a personal treat for myself. It doesn't take long before you start to feel like you are living and breathing motherhood all day and every day, and I started to realize that taking motherhood into the bathtub and relaxation time didn't truly give my mind much of a break. I started to think back to all of the books I used to read that made me so happy... sweet and silly love stories, thrillers, mysteries, and novels that you get so passionate about, you almost forget where you are sitting when you set the book down. Finding that again became my mission. 

One of my good mom friends, Bri (Bri's Glass of Wine), had talked recently how much she loves reading, and I remembered having a conversation with her once about how her and I shared the same interest for romance and suspenseful novels. I texted her immediately and asked her to think of all of the best books she has read over the last year and send me her list... she, being the amazing friend she is, did even better than that, the next play date I saw her at, she handed me a pile of books from her collection! The second I left I was counting down the minutes to Raj's bedtime because I couldn't wait to get started on my first one... 

Needless to say, its been about a month since this exchange and I have finished off about 4 great reads; and have since added about two months worth of books to my Amazon shopping cart!

I thought it would be fun to share with you the books I have read recently that I loved, and also to share with you the ones in my cart that are on the to-read list...

Recently finished:

by Colleen Hoover
This book had me hook, lined, and sinking; quickly. I was addicted from page one and the entire way through! Ugly Love originally caught my attention because I heard it was going to be made into a movie this year, and I always think it is so exciting to watch a movie after you have read the book (unless that movie is 50 Shades of Greay - side eye). I was so in love with the characters in this book, every single one of them, and this story had me involved and feeling every emotion imaginable. I finished this book in under two days, and that is with a toddler to keep up with during the day, and even though the next day I was running on 4 hours of sleep, it was so worth after I finished it! This isn't just a top book I have read recently, but is a top of all time.

by Nora Roberts
This was one of the books that my friend Bri loaned to me, and it is no surprise why she did. Nora Roberts is the queen of romance and I love that her books involve love mixed with a little bit of suspense. This was such a fun book to read and the perfect one to get me back into the habit of taking the time to dive into a great story. This book includes a big list of characters, but each one of them is so distinct that it makes it easy and fun to keep up with each of them. This one is great if you like a love story, but crave a little more to the storyline than just romance, because it has a great balance of both! Warning: do NOT watch the Lifetime movie version, its terrible (and nothing like the book)!!! 

"Taming Natasha" and "Luring a Lady"
(books 1 & 2 of the Stanislaski series)
by Nora Roberts
This book contains two of the first stories about the entire Stanislaski family (which actually includes six stories - 3-6 found below on my 'to-read' list - "Chasing Passion" and "Chasing Destiny")... I am always a sucker for a series, I love that they give you the satisfaction of keeping up with the original characters of the first book throughout the series of others, and this collection does just that. The Stanislaski family is one that you want to belong to, and each of the siblings will have your heart melted in a platter, which is why this series is so fun. Nora Roberts can develop such strong characters that makes it easy to fall in love with each one of them; don't you just love when authors can do that? I closed the book and though, "I should totally text Natasha and see how she's doing..." because you know, the characters and I are total besties. 

Below is the list of books I have been collecting and adding to over the last few weeks. I love to enter a book I have enjoyed reading into google or on Amazon, and look for lists for other books readers suggested to read after. I have found some of my favorite authors this way (like Colleen Hoover - seen above), and I suggest anyone who loves to read to do this if you are ever having trouble finding a new book after you have finished one.

To-read list:

If my selection of books aren't exactly your type, hopefully just the few tips I suggested will help you compile your own list. Reading has become such a treat for me, and I am proud of the fact that no matter how busy my day is, no matter what is going on, I find 30 minutes to an hour to sit and allow myself to have some personal time no matter what. It is hard to believe, but that has made such a huge impact on my mood, my days, and has helped me reconnect with myself. It has been such a gift to myself to revisit with this hobby of mine. Another reason I love it: I want Raj to grow up remembering his mom always with a book in her hand... not a cell phone, not talking about Facebook and texting all day, but reading. I remember vividly being a child and walking into my Papa and Nana's house, and there wasn't a time I didn't see my Nana reading while waiting for us with a huge stack of books right next to her. It is such a fond memory I have of her, one of the earliest memories I have, and I sometimes wonder if that is where I picked up my love for reading, and I hope to pass down the same love to my children. 

Happy Summer reading!! And if you happen to pick up any of the books I suggested, I would love to hear what you think!

With love,