What I Read in 2019

I am currently enjoying A Life in the Law: Advice for Your Lawyers, Legal Ethics Stories, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure Supplement, Contracts…kidding. I’m definitely not reading those for fun. But I am ~technically~ reading them for school. But that’s not why you’re here. You’re here for the juicy romcom, sci-fi, young adult weirdness that my Goodreads account is usually full of.

I hit my goal of reading 15 books last year. Usually I read close to 30, but there was no way I was going to have free time to read as prolifically as I usually do during law school. I set my goals lower and hit them, with help from a few audiobooks at the tail end of December.

Here’s a list, and rating, of all those books:

And a few I didn’t finish reading:

What’s currently on my nightstand:

And what I’m looking forward to picking up in 2020:

If there’s any book in particular you’d like me to write a full review on, leave a comment with the title below!

Reading Recap

It’s been a whiiiiiile since I did one of these posts. I know I did many many many of them when I first started the blog, but then they tapered off as I decided to write about other things.

Let’s get started!

I read 33 books in 2018. Ready for a rapid fire list? Let’s go!

  1. East of Eden John Steinbeck
  2. A Cold Welcome: The Little Ice Age and Europe’s Encounters with North America Sam White
  3. The Big Burn Timothy Egan
  4. Hemingway Didn’t Say That: The Truth Behind Familiar Quotations Garson O’Toole
  5. Dust Bowl Donald Worster
  6. I, Coriander Sally Gardner
  7. Feminism is for Everybody Bell Hooks
  8. Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are? Frans de Waal
  9. Gone Girl Gillian Flynn
  10. Modern Romance Aziz Ansari
  11. Astrophysics for People in a Hurry Neil DeGrasse Tyson
  12. The Malthusian Moment Thomas Robertson
  13. One Renegade Cell Robert A. Weinberg
  14. The Bell Jar Sylvia Plath
  15. The Fountainhead Ayn Rand
  16. The Radium Girls Kate Moore
  17. Hillbilly Elegy J. D. Vance
  18. Good Omens Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
  19. The Castle Franz Kafka
  20. Sharp Objects Gillian Flynn
  21. Fire and Fury Michael Wolfe
  22. I Felt a Funeral, In My Brain Will Walton
  23. Missing Microbes Martin Blaser
  24. Bandwidth Eliot Peper
  25. Columbine Dave Cullen
  26. The Girls Emma Cline
  27. Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls David Sedaris
  28. The Blood of Emmett Till Timothy Tyson
  29. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone J. K. Rowling
  30. The Sun and Her Flowers Rupi Kaur
  31. Educated Tara Westover
  32. It’s Kind of a Funny Story Ned Vizzini
  33. The Princess Saves Herself in This One Amanda Lovelace

Phew okay that’s a lot. Some of them I read so fast I don’t even remember reading them.

My favorite(s) from 2018: The Fountainhead; I Felt a Funeral, in My Brain; East of Eden; Educated; Hillbilly Elegy

Books I hated with a burning passion: Bandwidth, Hemingway Didn’t Say That, The Castle

I didn’t include any of the textbooks or scholarly architectural novels I read for class in the above list. I did include texts from my environmental history course, but only because I thoroughly enjoyed reading them and didn’t consider them “textbooks”. If I included all my school books, I would have hit 40. A whopping total!

While I read a lot of print books, I also enjoy audiobooks for when I’m traveling. My favorite audiobook from 2018 was Good Omens. It sounded like I was watching a movie rather than a book. As soon as I finished I picked up my dad’s paper copy of the book and read it again in one day flat. And then I made him read it. And then I recommended it to all my friends. I got a little starstruck…but it’s coming to Amazon as a tv series and I couldn’t be happier!

I haven’t read as many books in 2019…The year is almost halfway over but I’m only at 6 books, with 4 more that I’m currently reading. Oops! Hopefully summer will catch me all back up to where I want to be and I’ll have another nice long post for you all come 2020!

On My Radar

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Easter was yesterday, in case you don’t celebrate it. I had a fabulous time with my family at church and brunch. I am now having a not so fabulous time writing essays and studying for tests, so today’s blog post is going to be short and sweet.

Do audiobooks count as reading? 

Art lessons from Georgia O’Keeffe 

If literature’s complicated men were on Tinder

Proof that cats are liquid

One White House, many eggs, and decades of scary bunnies 

Peeps beer…who knew

Are you a “book spines face out” kinda person, or an artsy “titles face the wall” kinda person? I think I prefer being able to read my book titles, honestly. (Thanks, Mom, for the interesting read!)

What do you think the best Easter eggs are? I ran a Twitter poll (check it out HERE) and the winner was obvious: Reese’s eggs. I prefer M&M eggs. Good Housekeeping checked out tons of different eggs, and ranked them based off appearance, taste, and quality so you’re sure to get the best stuff in your basket.  #themoreyouknow

Happy Thanksgiving!

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While Thanksgiving isn’t one of my favorite holidays, I’ve always loved the idea of bringing all your family and friends together for a meal (or a flag football game). As the fall semester of my junior year of college draws to a close I am finding more and more things to be thankful for.

I am thankful for…

My wonderful, supportive family

All my friends, old and new

The opportunities I’ve been given at the University of Georgia

Will

My cat, Chocolate, and my dogs, Boo and Blue

Books, and the authors and editors that make them possible

The mentors I’ve had throughout college that are helping me figure my life out one baby step at a time, haha IMG_0736.jpgIMG_0735.jpg

What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving?

Thoughts About Self Care and Competition

A friend recently asked me “how often do you write?” To which I responded, “not enough.”

We’d been talking about how everyone everyone has been a little obsessed with Lady Gaga at some point. He mentioned that he liked how she’s unobjectively herself. I mentioned that I really appreciate that she’s learned how to be herself without having to be forceful about it (I wasn’t a fan of her during her meat dress faze, to say the least). You can be yourself without throwing yourself into a random party outfit generator each morning. You can be quirky and not have your outfit scream to the world that this is who you are. There is courage in doing that, yes, but there’s also courage in being firm in who you are without having to prove it to the world. And I think that’s where Gaga is now.

Getting back to the point: I was analyzing the evolution of her lyrics with my friend as we drove to dinner. Not to be cocky, but I could overanalyze anything. One could call it my hubris. But tonight, it worked out in my favor. My friend started asking me about my writing. Now, I love to talk about loving to write and all the plans I have for novels that aren’t going to go anywhere and how I used to perform slam poetry blah blah blah, but this conversation, for whatever reason, made me realize that I wasn’t doing what I loved as often as I thought I was. 

I created a motto for myself this school year: Do more of what makes you happy. By not making the time to write, am I not following my motto? By making the time to write but not writing what I am really passionate about, is that also breaking my motto? Sadly, I think so. It’s not that I am intentionally depriving myself of some mental need to obtain joy via the written word (*insert sarcastic eye roll here*), it’s that I am missing out on extra joy because I subconsciously internalize my want to produce literature. I don’t make time for writing, other than my blog, because I feel like there are so many better, more productive things to be doing. I could be studying for tests, or reading for bookclub, or calling my parents. I could do my laundry, cook real food for dinner, or vacuum. It feels like there are a thousand more important things in my life right now. But more important to whom?

That’s the catch right there.

I care how people perceive me. I overanalyze it to the point of lunacy. There’s this little voice in my head telling me that if someone caught me spending an hour a day writing for pleasure I would be stripped deserving the titles I have. If I spent an hour a day relaxing by planning out my next novel instead of preparing for Homecoming or reading over my UGA tour notes or creating guides for my next-to-impossible biology exams someone is bound to say that I don’t work hard enough for what I have.

I know I’m not the only one that looks at the things that make me happy and push them to the side because there are “more important” things to do. Part of this, from what I can tell, stems from how competitive my graduating class is. I remembering being in high school where people would brag about not sleeping for days, or using Adderall to stay awake long enough to do weeks worth of homework in a single stretch. I didn’t want to participate in things like that, so I did what I could to keep my grades up and still be a functioning human being. I got into college and that same thing kept going on and on and on. I’m even friends with people that still post on social media each time they’re up in the library past 2 am studying for a test. It’s a competition to prove that you’re the best student because you work the hardest, and it’s not healthy.

We, the collegiate millinials, have an unhealthy competitive edge (that’s probably going to lead us to early graves if I’m being honest). We care too much, and because we care we work to impress others (whether others actually care or not) rather than to fulfill ourselves. I am not asking everyone to become self involved workaholics. I am simply stating that doing self-fulfilling tasks with the fervor you put into your studies and extracurriculars would be a nice change of pace. So, instead of glorifying not sleeping or studying until you nearly collapse, let’s glorify doing things for not other reason than that they make us happy.

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Fun Things

It honestly feels like life is moving at fifteen mph above the speed limit.  It’s been one of those “please, for the love of everything sacred, slow down!” weeks. And it’s only Monday. But the good news is that the Internet is always helping me find cool ways to distract myself from how overwhelmed I actually am.

North Carolina Forest

Playlists Based Off My Summer Reads

Sadly summer is drawing to a close. I’m packing up all my things and getting ready to move into a new house in Athens. I’m really excited about starting back to school again this August, but I’m even more excited to finally get to see all my friends again!

The only way I manage to make it through the three hour drive from Asheville to Athens is either listening to music or podcasts. Luckily I’ve made three in anticipation of next week’s travels, and they’re all based off books I read this summer.

To check out each playlist, click on the title of each book and you’ll be linked directly to my playlist on Spotify.

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed

The Casual Vacancy by J. K. Rowling (check out my book review HERE)

The All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness

Here’s my running list of books read this summer:

Brisinger by Christopher Paolini

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? [Blade Runner] by Philip K. Dick

The Vagina Monologues by Eve Ensler

The Goldfinch by Donna Tart

The Great Passage by Shion Miura

The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner

My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs

The Casual Vacancy by J. K. Rowling

1984 by George Orwell

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi

The Complete Maus by Art Spiegelman

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed

Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness

The Color Purple by Alice Walker

Currently reading The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness

For more updates on the books I read check out my Goodreads account right HERE. I don’t read as much during the school year, but I do leave ratings on all the books I read and if they’re really great (or really, really terrible) I leave a review.

What are your favorite songs of the summer? Have you read anything good?

xo Bailey

The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling

Whenever I go to the beach I make sure to bring enough books to read. This summer, however, I knew I had a goal of twelve books as well as the May, June, and July books for the bookclub I’m in. That’s fifteen books for an entire summer, over half of what I usually read per year! Usually I have a daunting to-read list, but I didn’t know where to start this time.

I started off the summer with The Goldfinch, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, and the Inheritance Cycle. After that, I hit a wall. I spent a lot of my downtime at work surfing through Twitter instead of reading. Politics, even though I dislike them, have been interesting this year. Its like reality tv with all the drama and he-said-she-said gossip going on. That’s when I decided a book on small town politics might not be such a bad thing to read at the beach. I picked up The Casual Vacancy the day before we left for Topsail and didn’t put it down until I’d finished it three days after.

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The Casual Vacancy is a book about Pagford, a small town in England. The story revolves around the death of Barry Fairbrother, a member of the Pagford Parish Council. Barry is loved by everyone and loves everyone in return. He has a big heart, but politically that’s what gets him into trouble. Many years ago, Pagford and Yarvil were friendly neighbor cities, Yarvil being the bigger of the two with a large estate sitting between them. The estate sold lands to Pagford to make cheap housing. Decades later, the cheap housing has become government housing, and is costing Pagford quite a bit of money in the end. Barry wants to keep “the Fields” and the addiction clinic as part of Pagford. The other half of the council does not. When there is a casual vacancy because of Barry’s death, the entire town splits between pro-fielders and anti-fielders and those running for council find themselves the topic of discriminatory posts on the Parish Council website.

What did I tell you, politics with a side of reality tv show worthy gossip! If you like Rowling’s writing style for Harry Potter (this isn’t exactly the same, but it’s not far off) and are interesting in small town politics then I’d definitely give this book a go!

Blind Date With a Book – Title Reveal

Back at the end of July I went shopping with my friend DeAnna in Downtown Asheville, North Carolina. We visited one of my favorite bookstores named Malaprops. They have an entire wall dedicated to “Blind Date” books. Each novel is wrapped in brown packaging paper and instead of having a title or author written on the front, each book is characterized by adjectives. I picked out a book with the words magical, original, timeless, tender, and the phrase “love letter to childhood” written on the front.

blind date with a book

I made a post about my bookstore adventures in August (which you can view right here), asking you all what the title of the book could be. No one guessed the correct title, but a friend of mine did get the author right!

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The book is none other than…

Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury!

There’s a certain quality about this book that makes me wish I’d read it before heading off to college for my freshman year. Douglas Spaulding, the main character, is a twelve year old boy living in Illinois. And as all twelve year old boys do, he wants the summer to last forever. More importantly, he wants to remember this particular summer for forever. He decides to catalog all the events that occur to him and his brother Tom. He makes a long list of “rituals” and “reflections.”

Everything is starting to change for Douglas. The one electric car the town has is put away in the garage for the last time. The trolley he loves to ride will soon be replaced by buses. His best friend moves away. Summer was supposed to be a time for living and running through tall grass and being happy, but Douglas runs headfirst into a wall of change and doesn’t want to accept it.

This was me my freshman year of college. I loved life because everything was bright and shiny and new, but I was terrified for the exact same reasons.

Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine is a masterpiece of intricately woven, stunningly beautiful phrases. While the story line kept me engaged and interested, the real charm to this work is in the words themselves.