A Beginner’s Book Club

Hello, readers.

Once again, it’s been almost a year (to the day!) since I’ve posted anything. I’m sure y’all are tired of hearing that I’m going to get better about blogging, so I won’t say it again and we can just pick everything back up like old friends.

As the most vocal, but by no means avid, reader among my friends, I frequently get asked questions like: “I’m looking for a new book, do you have any suggestions?” or “I just finished reading this book, what should I read next?” As much as I LOVE these questions–I feel so much pressure answering them! When I recommend a book to someone, I feel like I’m recommending one of my (hypothetical) children for a job. I want to make sure the book is something the person will love or at the very least something that will make them think differently. I welcome criticism about the books I recommend, but at the same time feel hurt and–yes, I’ll say it–offended! when someone says they didn’t like the book.

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My very large to-read list.

Surprisingly, this happened most often when I recommended books I hadn’t even read yet. I started telling people to read books on my to-read list so that someone could tell me first hand how it was, and when they came back with a less-than-spectacular opinion, I felt my heart break a little inside. I would immediately get defensive and say, “Ok, well, I’ll just have to read it for myself and decide.” And of course, as any book lover knows, it’s almost impossible to get to everything on your to-read list–especially when you are told that books on your to-read list aren’t worth reading.

I also found myself recommending the same books to different people without really considering the person just because I wanted to have someone to talk to about the book. A few years ago, ANYONE could ask me what book they should read next and I would immediately reply with fervor, “Have you read The Circle? You should read The Circle; it will change your life.” I just really wanted to talk to someone about this book! (By the way, have you read The Circle? You really should; it will change your life!)

So, to help combat my feelings of guilt and anger about my book recommendations, a few months ago I decided to start a small, all-online book club with some of my close friends and family. I didn’t really know how to start or what I was doing or if anyone would even be interested, but I bit the bullet and took a shot.

Book clubs are AWESOME. We’ve only had one meeting, and have only read 2 books together, but it has really changed the way I approach reading, reviewing, and recommending books. For a geek like me, it feels like I’m back in high school or college and I love that. It encourages me to approach the book from a more critical and analytical mindset because I know I’m going to be discussing it with a group of smart women (right now it is just women) with different viewpoints, mindsets, and life experiences. I read deeper and I feel deeper about what I’m reading.

I must say, doing all-online isn’t the best. The members live all over Texas and a few live out of state, so at the moment it is the most convenient way to meet up. But there is something to be said about a face-to-face coffee talk. Hopefully one day we can get there!

FullSizeRender-1The first book we read was Jodi Picoult’s Small Great Things. I saw it on a few must-read lists for 2017, and after my boss read it for her book club and enjoyed it, I knew it would be great first book for us. It centers on the trial of an African-American labor and delivery nurse who is charged with a serious crime after treating a neo-Nazi’s child (I know, too relevant). It deals with racism, both the obvious and not-so obvious kind, and makes you question your own actions and ideas. Book Scootin’ Boogie (or club) really enjoyed it and it led to an intelligent and meaningful discussion. I highly recommend it, especially amid today’s political climate.

FullSizeRender-2The second book we read was Jill Santopolo’s The Light We Lost. I had the pleasure of meeting and briefly working with Jill Santopolo for our book publishing week during the Columbia Publishing Course back in 2015. When I heard she was publishing a new book, it immediately went on my to-read list! It centers on the love story between Lucy and Gabe who met as seniors at Columbia University on September 11, 2001. We haven’t had a chance to discuss this book yet, but it was a great summer read and was nearly impossible to put down once I started reading it. Love, lust, loss–what more could you want in a summer book?

We haven’t officially chosen our next club book yet, but I have a few ideas in the works. If anyone is looking for a great way to meet people or a fun way to get through their to-read list, I highly recommended starting or joining a book club. The wine is a nice perk, too. 😉

Happy reading!

Adulthood Part 3: Making Magical Memories

As promised, here is the latest and last part of my Adulthood Series–and I have a feeling it’s the one the majority of you have been waiting for the most.

Ever since I was in high school, I wanted to do the Disney College Program. Everything about it called to me–you work for Disney, get into the parks for free, and make lifelong friends and connections. So as soon as I had a college semester under my belt, I subscribed to DCP emails to get updates on applications deadlines.

But, life happens. I was a double major and a triple minor. I was a college athlete. I had two jobs. Taking a semester off to vacation work in Disney (without any chance of getting college credit) was out of the question. Needless to say, I was sad as I entered my senior year–working for Disney would remain just a dream.

And then I read the fine print.

“MOM! I can do the Disney College Program the year AFTER I graduate!! Applications are open!! I don’t have a job!! I’m applying!!!”

“That’s cool, Alessa.”

Fast forward two months and I call my parents again nearly in tears after getting an acceptance email–I was going to live in Disney for 5 months.

A little background is needed here. When I had my interview and applied for the program, I put my preference for a position known as a “hopper.” As described on the website, and the application, and everywhere else you look for info on the DCP, a hopper is cross-trained in any combination of multiple areas (attractions, custodial, F&B, etc). and essentially “hops” around. Obviously this appealed to me–I could potentially learn a little about a number of things. So when my acceptance email arrived saying I had been chosen to be a hopper, I was overjoyed.

roomiesI arrived in Orlando bright-eyed and eager to start my job and meet my roommates. I knew immediately that I would get along with my roommates. They were all sweet, caring, and fun to be around. And they all loved Disney just as much as I did! I found out what positions they had-F&B at Hollywood Studios, Character Attendant at EPCOT, Merchandising at Magic Kingdom, and Attractions at Animal Kingdom and Magic Kingdom–and grew even more excited to find out what my first placement would be. One downside to accepting your program as a hopper is that you don’t know exactly what role you will have first until you arrive for orientation.

So I rushed to the orientation room to get my packet of info and opened it up:

Magic Kingdom-Attractions-Parking.

Parking?

My heart sank. I entered my apartment to my roommates excitedly unpacking and eager to find out my placement. “Parking,” I said, really trying to sound positive.

“Ohhhhhh. That’s…interesting,” was the general response. “I didn’t even know that was an option.”

Yeah, me either, I thought.

disneySince I signed on as a hopper, I held on to the hope that this was just a temporary position and decided to embrace the experience even though I was going to be spending (what I thought was going to be) a month working in a parking lot.

So I went through training, earned my ears, got my costume, and discovered rather quickly that my hours and time in parking lot were going to be long and unending. Most of my shifts started around 4 or 5 in the evening and lasted until 2 or 3 in the morning (except the occasional 5 am clock-out time–Yay for Christmas!). This meant that my dreams of spending all of my free time in the parks remained just that–dreams. I was too exhausted to wake up early to go in the morning and too afraid I would wear myself by going in the afternoon before work.

As October and November rolled around I realized that changing positions was probably not going to happen–the Magic Kingdom Parking Lot was going to be my Disney home. I’m not going to sugarcoat it and say it turned out to be the best job ever–it wasn’t.

But I’m also not going to lie to myself and say I didn’t have fun sometimes.

piratesI was still able to get to the parks on my days off and still managed to make memories with my roommates, and new BF (yes, I met my boyfriend in Disney World, be jealous) by the pool and in the parks when I could. I went to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, got to ride Star Wars with only three people on my ship, saw Fantasmic as many times as I wanted, rode Tower of Terror too many times to count, kicked butt in Toy Story Midway Mania, and got really cheap souvenirs. My friends and family got into the parks for free, I became an expert pin trader, and I sang Disney songs a cappella with a group of friends while waiting in line for Space Mountain. I rode all the kiddie rides I had never done before, enjoyed the EPCOT Food and Wine Festival (probably a little too much), rode Soarin’ as often as I could, and watched the Wishes firework show every single night.

ParkingMy job wasn’t the best, but I finished my shifts most nights knowing that I was one of the last people to see Magic Kingdom at night. I got to drive a long, snake-like tram and make corny jokes to guests over a microphone and force them to laugh. I had amazing managers, coordinators and co-workers. The CP’s I worked with in Parking were amazing, funny, outstandingly optimistic people and I know I wouldn’t have made it through my program if my co-workers weren’t such cool people.

So was my time working for Mickey Mouse everything I dreamed of? Not exactly.

But I did leave the Happiest Place on Earth with some pretty awesome souvenirs:

25 New pins for my collection

20 Lifelong friends

5 T-Shirts

4 New Mickey ears

1 Amazing, kind, loving, Disney Prince of my own

And countless, unforgettable, magical memories with Disney lovers just like me.

roomiers

Thanks for reading!

Adulthood Part 2: A Summer in the City

Well, so much for hoping a series would help me blog more regularly.

For those of you who read my post from almost a year ago, you know that I started a post-graduation series about my life after college. Clearly, one thing I didn’t consider was the fact that adulthood would be crazy, hectic, and put blogging at the very bottom of my to-do list. Even though it’s been nearly a year, I’m just going to pick up right where I left off. Luckily, the memories are still just as fresh as they were a year ago.

IMG_2717As I mentioned in my last post, I was accepted into the Columbia Publishing Course in New York City in April of 2015. This six-week long course teaches hopeful publishers the ins and outs of the publishing industry and includes two week-long workshops dedicated to book and magazine publishing. It’s intense, overwhelming, exhausting, and probably the most amazing experience I have ever had in my life. I met some of the most recognizable people in publishing, realized that publishing really was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, and made lifelong friends all while living in my favorite city for seven weeks.

But the true test of knowledge (and patience) came in the third week of the course. For a full week, we were split into 10 groups and charged with the task of creating our own publishing house–a name, a history, a backlist, and six new titles for our mock Fall 2015 catalog. Each group was told what type of publishing house they were (children’s, trade, academic, etc.) and let loose. Members of the group then decided who would play what role  in the publishing house (CEO, Publicity Manager, Business Manager, Editors, etc.) and started brainstorming ideas, many of which would get changed or knocked down by the panel of professional editors, publishers, agents, etc. leading the workshop.

By the end of the sleepless, exhausting week, my children’s publishing house, Rabbit Hole Books, had six very different books to present to the panel. As the CEO, I learned about people management, time management, and that sleeping is overrated. I was so proud and honored to work with the group of women I did–and I think we all walked away feeling proud of the work we did.

The next three weeks of the course focused on magazine and digital publishing and I was once again able to meet and learn from some of the biggest people in the industry. To cap off this section of the course, we were once again split into groups (this time of about 20 people) and told to create our own print and digital magazine from the ground up–stories, covers, PR campaigns, advertising–you name it, we had to do it. Once again the CEO, I learned that managing 20 people is much harder than 10 and that digital publishing is much more difficult than people realize. Our magazine, Cipher, a go-to guide for all things a sci-fi/fantasy fan could want, was ultimately a success and I couldn’t have been more proud of my team.

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MY NYC CPC ’15 BFFs.

After a career fair and a final reception, it was time to say goodbye to my CPC family. I left the city with two portfolios of work, 15 new books (oops), and countless memories with some new best friends. I graduated from the CPC knowing that I could make it in New York, New York (which means I could make it anywhere)–and this confidence was the most priceless souvenir I took home from my time in NYC.

With only two short weeks to recover, I said goodbye to the Big Apple and hello to the Happiest Place on Earth.

Until next time, happy reading!

Adulthood Part One: No More Homework (Almost)

Hello, loyal readers.

I know it’s been a very, very, VERY, long time. 2015 has been a pretty busy year (especially since the last time I wrote a post back in February…oops.) To keep all of you from reading one very long and very jumbled mess of what my life has been like for the past 7 months, I’ve decided to break it up into a series. Hopefully this will not only help you follow along, but will force me to blog regularly, too. Yay for killing two birds with one stone!

So what has happened since February?

Well, I am no longer a competitive golf player. After eight years of traveling with a team, playing in tournaments, and meeting some amazing girls, I walked off my last green as a college golfer and felt a strange mix of emotions. I had to say goodbye to a great coach, a wonderful team, and was forced to come to terms with the fact that I will have to start paying for golf now.

The 2014-2015 Trinity Golf Team.

The 2014-2015 Trinity Golf Team.

I made so many memories walking those fairways and greens and it hasn’t been easy getting used to not having practice on a regular basis (though I will admit that I enjoyed having my Tuesday and Thursday mornings back). I still can’t believe how fast four years went by.

With the end of golf came the end of college. Most people say that college is supposed to be the best four years of your life. A part of me really hopes that isn’t true. Don’t get me wrong, college was great, but if the best four years of my life happen when I’m barely 20, I’m in for a pretty boring life. Trinity was very good to me; I received an amazing education, met wonderful and intelligent professors, and made friends I know I will have for a lifetime. But when it came time to graduate in May, I was ready to leave.

I found out in mid-April that I was accepted into both the Disney College Program and the Columbia Publishing Course (more on these later…I promise!), so once I had the rest of 2015 planned out, I was ready to say goodbye to the red brick of Trinity and move on. Not to mention the fact that I spent the last eight years of my life reading, writing, and studying, so the sweet release from homework was one I was very much looking forward too.

It’s still very weird to think that I’m not a student anymore. For so many years school was what defined me. As my grandmother told me, “Alessa, I don’t know who you are going to be without school and homework.” IMG_2719I will admit, the first few weeks after graduation was really difficult for me. I didn’t know what to do with myself now that I wasn’t writing papers or reading textbooks all the time. But I quickly discovered that I didn’t need school to keep learning. In fact, for the first time in a really long time, I felt really at peace with myself. I didn’t have that nagging feeling that I was always behind, I didn’t have to sacrifice pleasure reading for dry textbook reading, and I caught up on many, MANY lost years of sleep.

After I graduated on May 16, I spent a few weeks at home unpacking and repacking my life to get ready to move to the Big Apple for the Columbia Publishing Course for the summer. My seven weeks in NYC were probably the best summer I’ve ever had.

But you’ll have to read the next blog post for that. 🙂

Thanks for reading!

The Final Round

As my loyal readers know, the majority of this blog is dedicated to my deep and unending love of literature and Disney (and Disney literature). But this blog is called “Books, Birdies, and Earl Grey” for a reason.

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Me, Brigette, and Maddie at a golf tournament.

My last post about golf was back in 2013 and at the time I thought I would be more willing to talk about my golf journey. As it happens though, golf has taken a back seat both on this blog and (all too often) in my life. These past few weeks, however, I have really been thinking about the fact that this semester is the last time I will play for a golf team–ever. For the last eight years, golf has been a constant activity in my life and now that it’s on the verge of being a much more difficult (and expensive) hobby to maintain, I realize exactly how much I’m going to miss it. From the hours spent on the driving range every weekend, to the 7 a.m. practices to the hundreds and hundreds of golf holes I’ve played, I’ve learned so much more than just how to swing a golf club.

My very first golf coach, Jeff Strong, came into my life at the perfect moment and was just tough enough to get me out of terrible habit–quitting. Before I played golf I had tried just about every kind of extra-curricular activity my parents could sign me up for: track, volleyball, basketball, softball, guitar lessons, piano lessons, band, tennis, fishing, hunting; you get the picture. I was the type of person that did something until I realized it was too hard to get by on natural skill and then I quit. I didn’t like to work very hard at things (except school, but that was different).

After my first few lessons with Jeff, he looked me square in the eye and said, “You can do this. You have potential. But you’re going to have to work at it. And I don’t teach people who don’t work hard.” I left that lesson feeling both good (I had potential!) and scared (Wow, this guy is serious). I guess that one slap in the face ended up being exactly what this former quitter needed to hear; within four months of my first golf lesson I was playing on the varsity golf team at my high school.

2014 tournament in Destin, Florida.

2014 tournament in Destin, Florida.

This lesson continued in college. Playing Division III golf brought on a whole new set of challenges. College was hard. Golf was hard. School was harder. I had to learn how to balance an even more difficult course load with the added pressure of being a college athlete. Luckily, I was once again blessed with an amazing coach, Carla Spenkoch, who not only helped me transition into the routine of college golf, but continued giving me what Jeff had for four years–the encouragement and toughness I needed not to quit.

The 2014-2015 Trinity golf team.

The 2014-2015 Trinity golf team.

I’d be lying if I told you golf was easy. In fact, anyone who tells you golf is easy is lying to you. It’s a game of patience, perseverance, and hard work–and sometimes you can put your whole life into it and still not come out a winner. But I don’t think God put golf in my life to teach me how to win. I think God gave me golf for the friendships, the life lessons, and the stability that I would not have gotten from anything else.

As I start this last golf season, I don’t know what role golf will play in my life after college. All I know is that I plan to make the most of it (and maybe, finally, place in a college tournament or two) and that the life lessons it taught me will be with me long after I stop playing the game regularly. No matter what–it’s sure to be a great final round.

Growing Older, But Not Up

“That’s the trouble with the world. Too many people grow up.”

–Walt Disney

Two weeks ago, I celebrated my 22nd birthday. This means I can fully appreciate everything Buzzfeed says is great about being 22 (pardon the profanity) and sing TSwift’s “22” with real gusto now (at least, I would if I liked TSwift even just a little). This week, I officially registered for what could be my last semester of school, applied for graduation, and sent in my resume for a professional internship with Disney Publishing.

All of this can only mean one thing: I’m one year closer to that terrible, horrible, no good, very bad thing called adulthood. Bills, jobs, taxes, actually paying for a round of golf–it’s a scary world! A (very small) part of me is looking forward to it, but for the most part I spend every day waiting for Michael J. Fox and Doc to appear and take me back to 2004 in a Delorean (1985 would work, too!) so that I can delay growing up for just a little bit longer.

One of the most common questions I get (more than I care to admit, actually) is why I love Disney so much: “Don’t you think you are a little old for that?” Most of the time I shake it off and adamantly and vehemently say, “No, I know many 22-year olds who still watch Disney movies while they drink Disney hot tea brewed in their Disney French press in a Disney coffee cup while wearing Disney slippers. It’s perfectly normal.” This is usually followed by an uncomfortable laugh and some variation of “Well, isn’t that cute.” This shouldn’t bother me. And for the most part it doesn’t. But my obsession with  love of Disney is based on so much more on just the movies or the princesses or even *shudder* Mickey Mouse.

December 2013. Proof that I still haven't grown up.

December 2013. Proof that I still haven’t grown up.

Loving all things Disney is the last somewhat socially acceptable way for me to hold on to my childhood. For an hour and half I can sit and speak and sing along to movies and songs I know all too well and feel like I am eight eight years old again. It’s the only thing I can do to help me forget that I am about to embark on a scary-wonderful journey and that life as I know it is going to change–hopefully for the better, but a change nonetheless. I can pretend to be Belle or Ariel or Jasmine and forget that I have my own new world to discover.

But most importantly, these movies (and everything else in the Disney universe) are reminders that even though I may be growing older, I don’t have to grow up.  Ironically enough, Disney’s blog website, Oh My Disney, seems to agree with me.I can face adulthood with a child’s imagination, a young heart, and teenage angst. I can conquer the world head on and know that it’s OK (even expected) for me to fail sometimes. If this is a good enough mentality for Walt Disney, it’s good for me, too.

So, a word of encouragement to some of my fellow college seniors. We are going to get through this. Adulthood is going to be awesome. It’s going to be scary; it’s going to be hard; and it’s going to shake us up, but if we all remember that adulthood doesn’t mean we have to lose our youthful outlook on life then this final semester and everything that comes after it will be amazing.

After all, to tweak a Walt quote, “Adults are only kids grown older, anyway.”

The Books that Built this Blog

Hello, dear readers. It’s been a while.

Many of my friends on various social media sites have been doing the “10 Book Challenge”–a challenge I have been both dreading and patiently waiting for. Ever since I have started to see these posts on Facebook and such, I’ve been really thinking about the 10 books I would choose that have really shaped me as an individual. I’ve been afraid that I would be asked to do the challenge before I was ready and I would make the (terrible!) mistake of missing a book. But, alas, I find myself ready to compile the list, but with no challenge to accept. So, I thought I would take it upon myself to do the challenge anyway.

So here they are: The 10 books that have shaped me as a reader, a student, and a person.

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas-Clement Clarke Moore:

I know this seems like an unusual book (or poem, as it were) to be on a list like this, but I truly believe that without this poem, I never would have become as in love with literature as I am. Not only is it about Christmas (who doesn’t love Christmas!?) but when I look back on my childhood, this is the first book I ever remember reading to myself. According to my parents, I had the entire thing memorized by the time I was four and would turn the pages at the right time without really looking at the book at all. This poem made me love to read; I loved the pictures the words painted in my head (the famous “visions of sugar plums dancing” comes to mind). While there isn’t much to this poem, it made a lasting impression on me in my formative years and I have never forgotten it.


The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore-
William Joyce:
Although another children’s book, I found this while perusing in Barnes & Noble about two years ago and it quickly became one of my favorites.Lessmore The story of Morris Lessmore and his flying books has become my story–I, too, am amazed at the wonderful places books can take you and truly believe that life is better with books in them. The story is happy, beautiful, and touching and delivers a deep message in such simple terms, it’s hard not to fall in love with this book. Anyone who loves to read would identify with Mr. Morris Lessmore and his wonderful flying books.

The Kingdom Keepers Series-Ridley Pearson:

Anyone who knows me knows that I love everything Disney. So when I stumbled on the first book in this series and realized it was about a group of kids who get to fight the Disney villains in the Disney parks at night, I was sold. While everyone else my age was navigating their way through Hogwarts with Harry, Ron, and Hermione, I was busy making sure Maleficent and the Evil Queen didn’t takeover the Disney parks with Finn and the rest of the Keepers. The last book came out this summer and I am unashamed to say that I saw the series through to the end. This series let me hold onto my childhood for much longer than I thought I would be able to and taught me that imagination, hard work, and creativity can solve almost anything.

mockingbirdTo Kill a Mockingbird-Harper Lee:

What top ten booklist would be complete with this masterpiece? This novel taught me more about racial inequality and injustice than any history book ever could. Lee’s ability to articulate deep and complicated problems–rape, racial inequality, injustice, loss of innocence, child abuse, domestic violence–through the voice of nine-year-old Scout still amazes me. This novel showed me that, as unfair and wrong as it is, ignorance and intolerance are sometimes the victors. This shattered my optimistic world view and is what made me start thinking critically about the society we live in. Why was this your only book, Harper Lee. WHY?

The Necessary Shakespeare-David Bevington:

When I was in high school, I didn’t really have an opinion on the Bard. I read him when I had to, didn’t particularly like or dislike him, and had a vague idea of his impact on English literature. And then I took my college Shakespeare class. My. Mind. Was. Blown. I fell head over heels in love with him (much like Gwyneth Paltrow, but I digress). I have always been a lover of words and wordplay and puns, so I was always told Shakespeare would be right up my alley, but I never truly appreciated any of Shakespeare’s work until I had this collection of almost everything the Bard every wrote. I could probably write a whole post just on my top ten Shakespeare works, but for now I will just recommend Sonnet 43. Wordplay, metaphor, imagery–beautiful. (Side note: The fourth edition has changed the cover from a painting of the Bard to a dashing image of Joseph Fiennes from Shakespeare in Love. The English major in me says “NO,” but the fangirl in me says “Ohhh yeeeeahh.”)

brooklynA Tree Grows in Brooklyn-Betty Smith:

I read this book during a family vacation to Colorado the summer before my freshman year of high school.   I have an incredibly vivid memory of driving through the mountains of Colorado while reading the diary section of the novel and bursting into tears (“Mama found my diary and made me change every ‘drunk’ to ‘sick'”).The semi-autobiographical work is written with simplicity, honesty, and innocence. Frances’s story of perseverance and hardship is heartwarming and tragic. Although it was published in 1943, the themes and story are all too relevant today. I don’t know if it’s because I was a young, naive, coming of age teenage girl who didn’t quite fit in when I read it or because this book is truly a masterpiece, but this book has left a lasting impression on me.

Wuthering Heights-Emily Bronte:

I was probably the only person in my high school English class who loved this book. I mean REALLY LOVED this book. I will admit, I did have trouble following the characters (Catherine, Cathy, Linton, Mr. Linton, etc.), but this love story touched me. Maybe it’s because I’m a product of the Disney fairy-tale era, but it was comforting (and jarring) to read a story of lovers who don’t have a happy ending, but at the same time had a love that endured forever. The imagery and language in this novel only makes the story more beautiful.

gatsbyThe Great Gatsby-F. Scott Fitzgerald:

Like Wuthering Heights, this novel changed my view of love. I spend the entire story wanting Daisy and Gatsby to be together knowing that it is impossible. Fitzgerald does an astounding job of creating the colorful and decadent world that Gatsby built for Daisy while making it painfully clear that the world will be destroyed. The complicated nature of love and money is portrayed brilliantly and I sympathize more with Gatsby every time I turn the page. The eyes of Dr. T. J. Eckleburg have been an imprint on my mind ever since I finished the book the first time, and I sometimes find myself standing next to Jay on the dock, yearning after a green light of my own.

A Thousand Splendid Suns-Khaled Hosseini:

I don’t think I cried so much over a book in my entire life. I read this novel in a two days–I was captivated by the story, the characters, and Hosseini’s language. Before reading this novel, I knew nothing of Afghan culture or society, and while I still don’t know very much, this novel gave me a deeper understanding of the culture–something I probably couldn’t get from any of the history books in the U.S. Hosseini’s ability to give every character a voice of their own is amazing. I immediately wanted to talk to someone about this book when I finished it, but no one I knew had read it. I hounded my mom for two weeks, and when she finally finished it and came to my room with tears in her eyes, I cried again.

Notes-from-a-tilt-a-whirlNotes from the Tilt-a-Whirl-N.D. Wilson:

This is the first and only book I have ever finished and immediately turned back to page one and read again. I was deeply moved and inspired by this book (as made obvious by the number of quotes I posted on Facebook while reading it). Notes has shaped my faith in ways that I cannot even put into words. I’ve come to appreciate the little miracles that happen every day and I am overcome with the amount of love and grace that God bestows on me. There isn’t a single Bible verse in the whole book-but it doesn’t need one. For fear of doing the book a grand injustice, I will simply leave you with one of my favorite quotes: “But why would any Christian claim that God has stopped talking? Did he speak the world into existence? Does matter exist apart from him? Is it still here? Are you still here? Then He is still speaking.”

So that’s it. The ten books that have influenced me the most. What are yours?

Happy reading.