Hello readers of Curves, Curls, & Coffee! Happy Thursday. Another week, another iced coffee. I will drink iced coffee in below freezing weather.
So today I want to do a lifestyle blog! I’m trying to keep this like 70/30 of fashion/lifestyle. But my post about how I met Preston was a hit – so I thought maybe I would add this to the lifestyle side of the blog. Again, I made a Facebook page – so please like and share on there and my Insta – Links posted at the bottom!
Now, I don’t know about all of you people out here in the universe but I am a HUGE bookworm. I love love love to read as much as humanly possible. Now since I work, do theatre, have a boyfriend, friends, family, an iPhone, Netflix, and am an adult that sometimes has to do laundry and go to the grocery store and pay bills and stuff – that’s not always as often as I would like.
However….summer. Summer. Summer is that time for long lazy days at the beach, weekends away with the hubby, days by the pool with your friends, week long vacations and TONS of glorious time to get away from the electronics and the work and all those boring things and just read.
So, as an avid reader, I decided to compile a list of genres/sections of my recommendations of what to tote to the beach this summer or what your purse book should be. (What? Everyone doesn’t keep a book in their purse? Yikes…I’ll see myself out.)
Since not everyone has the same taste in books – I’m going to separate these so that hopefully even if The Notebook doesn’t appeal to you – The Hunger Games might.
*Side Note: I do not own or claim to own any of the book cover images!
1.) Biographies About/By Hilarious & Inspiring Women
2.) Books You Were Probably Forced to Read in High School (and probably didn’t) But Should Actually Read Again as an Adult.
3.) True Crime (mass murders, serial killers, and stories of survival)
4.) Books That How Could You Possibly Not Have Read Yet
5.) Romantic Feel-Good Tales
6.) Books for Teens That Are Equally as Important & Poignant for Adults
7.) Books That Fit in No Other Category But Are Too Good To Not Mention
Biographies About/By Hilarious & Inspiring Women
I’m big on biographies written by comedians…mainly because they are super funny. If it is a female biography/lifestyle book – I am usually chuckling a great deal by the end.
Bossypants by Tina Fey
Literally every single woman should have to read BossyPants. You know what, every single person should have to read BossyPants. It’s funny, smart, charming, a quick and easy read. It talks about her family dynamic, figuring it out in your early 20’s, marriage, her time on SNL, sexism in Hollywood, friendships, life in the spotlights, and being, well, a lady boss! Tina Fey is absolutely proof that women CAN BE FUNNY! This book is insightful, telling, honest, and never takes itself too seriously. This is a MUST have for anyone to tote to the beach. I was chuckling the whole way through.
Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang by Chelsea Handler
Chelsea Handler, famous female comedian, actor, and talk show host has a few books. Now while I’m not a huge fan of the show – I found myself giggling and laughing at her witty story-telling, relatable moments in trying to adult and not always doing so well, her modesty about her career, and the amazing story about trying to get a Cabbage Patch Doll. (but honestly, weren’t we all?) Chelsea Handler also has several other books – including Are you there Vodka, it’s me Chelsea, Lies Chelsea Handle Told Me, Uganda be Kidding Me and most notably, My Horizontal Life. I’ve read them all. Horiztonal Life & Are you there Vodka are my next two favorites and also definitely worth the read!
Yes, Please by Amy Poelher
This book is exactly like you would imagine Amy. Bright, witty, fast paced, a little sarcastic, and full of life lessons delivered in a way to make you chuckle. This is a must read for any Parks & Recs fan! It’s fast paced, full of personality, charm, and relatable. You feel like you’re just reading a super long letter from a friend full of zany antics, morals and values, and what it was like growing up Amy! Great read!
Whiskey Tango Foxtrot by Kim Barker
Yes, that is the Nato-phonetic alphabet for WTF. This book is also now a movie…starring – you guessed it, my personal idol – Tina Fey. Now, the fact that I am recommending this book and my Tina Fey lady-boner are totally unrelated facts, I SWEAR. But this book is the true story of journalist, Kim Barker, becoming an overseas correspondent in the post 9/11 Afghanistan & Pakistan and the ensuing “forgotten war”. She provides humorous antics about drunken tea parties, living in a foreign country, self depricating humor. It’s laugh out loud funny. Most amazingly, it also provides clarity to the corruption and pain on those countries during that time and provides sharp commentary on the not-so-glamorous side of journalism.
Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman
Fans of the Netflix series, Orange is the New Black, will certainly delight in the true tales of Piper Kerman’s time behind bars. Piper committed a VERY low level crime and gets sent to a low security prison for 15 months. Everything from dealing with Pennsatucky & Red to the warden to the SHU and every other antic and self preservation moment in between. This book will have you laughing, gasping, and watching Season 4 and saying, “This is the fictionalized part.” or “No, that’s true – that really happened!” This explores trying to stay sane and find the silver lining in a cell full of storm clouds. Definitely a good read.
Girl Walks into a Bar – Rachel Dratch
Why Not Me? – Mindy Kaling
Not That Kind of Girl – Lena Dunham
#GIRLBOSS – Sophia Amorouso
The Vagina Monologues – Eve Ensler
She Said Yes – Misty Bernall
Rachel’s Tears – Beth Nimmo & Darrell Scott
Books You Were Probably Forced to Read in High School (and probably didn’t) But Should Actually Read Again as an Adult.
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Great Gatsby is a beautifully tragic love story. It’s everything you could want in a romance – jazzy, flashy, 1920’s glitz, a life of pining and hope, a loveless marriage, secret affairs, tea parties, and a man with all of the shirts. I mean, forget 50 Shades of Gray where Christian buys her a car and everyone swoons… Can we just talk about Jay Gatsby? He LITERALLY bought the house across the water from Daisy’s house so he could stay close to her and throws these lavish, extravagant, loud parties in hopes that one day her curiosity will get the best of her and she will come to a party and they will be reunited. That’s ROMANTIC AF. But it’s got fight scenes, a naive narrator, lust, love, jazz, glitz, glamour, murder, heartbreak, tragedy, and hope. What’s not to like about this? #GatsbyRomance
The Diary of Anne Frank
This is a journal written by a 13 year old. You should be embarrassed if you couldn’t get through it in the first place. But this book, while a bit dated in the language and some lost in translation, offers insight, wit, charm, forgiveness, and hope of someone hoping every day will be another day of safety for her and her family. As a Jew during World War 2 in Holland – life was dangerous and yet she still found time for a bit of a crush, discussing how she planned to forgive those she could not understand, family dynamics, oppression, and hope. There’s also been so many adaptations of this…Plays, movies, etc. (I recommend the 2002 TV movie. POWERFUL).
Of Mice and Men by John Steinback
This is a classic that was pretty ahead of its time. This book deals with friendship, caring, loss and pain. George, a burdened tramp with a good heart and a sharp wit, Lennie, a kind giant who doesn’t know his own strength with a heart of gold, Curly’s Wife who is bitter and resentful that she will never be on the Silver Screen, Crooks who doesn’t see friendship because of his skin color, and many other characters. And spoiler alert: they kill the dog and it’s awful. The ending is even worse. Like, if you are not sitting in a chair with tears streaming down your face – what are you even doing with your life, you heartless monster.
Lord of the Flies by William Golding
I’m going to be honest. This book is F’ed up. Like seriously, truly, messed up. Like, this plane full of school children crashes on an island and like, only the pilot is dead, so this colony of little school boys rises up with two leaders (one clearly the ‘good’ and one clearly ‘the bad’) and how their troops divide and survive and then become pitted against each other. It’s literally insane. There’s a scene where like a 12 year old finds a pig’s head ON A SPIKE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE WOODS BECAUSE THE OTHER 12 YEAR OLD LEFT IT AS A WARNING SO HE WOULD SURRENDER. Like, let’s think about that. A 6th grader slaughtered and beheaded a pig as a sign of power. WHAT? This book is craaaazy. Definitely a compelling read and will have you gasping until the end.
The Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger
To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
Speak – Laurie Halse Anderson
Night – Elie Wiesel
*So personal bias, I have spent an odd amount of my life researching, reading, writing, and discovering things about school shootings, specifically the Columbine Massacre – so apologies in advance – there will be a few.
Columbine by David Cullen
This is one of the best books I’ve ever read. Easily in my top 5 of all time. This book provides what many accounts of this event do not – truth. It offers that the students were not bullied, or gay, or in the mafia. It explores the day of, the days leading up, the police handling, the aftermath of tragedy, what the boys’ plan actually was vs. what happened. It offers remorse and honor to victims and pays homage to the parents of the boys who lost children too. It’s HEAVY on facts, interviews, police reports, etc. but it doesn’t drag and it’s not dry. It examines not only facts, but remembers the human side of loss and grief. Read this book. Read it. Get it on Amazon. You’ll read it in a day.
Finding Me by Michelle Knight
This story tells Michelle Knight’s harrowing story of survival. In 2013, Amanda Berry famously escaped Ariel Castro’s house in Ohio after nearly a decade in this house at the subject of torture, rape, starvation, and abuse. In the house with Amanda Berry was Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight. Michelle Knight was his first captive nearly a year before Gina and almost two years before Amanda. She discusses his treatment, her abuse and life, tragedy after tragedy and returning to any semblance of a life. I will warn you about possible triggers – this book offers fairly explicit discussion of rape, torture, and abuse. It is not graphic or gory – but straightforward and honest. I was completely engrossed. I couldn’t stop reading. I even found myself talking out loud to myself because I couldn’t contain all of my thoughts about this.
A Mother’s Reckoning – Sue Klebold
This story is told from the perspective of Dylan Klebold’s (one of the Columbine shooters) mother. She discusses raising a beautiful, smart, kind, generous son with a goofy smile and a respectful demeanor. They describe the pain of losing not only their son in body, but also tarnishing their memory of him forever. This story reflects on her grief for her son, for her family, for the victims and their families, the community and an entire lifetime of tragedy. It is heart breakingly honest and reminds you that parenting is not always easy. She discusses what she wishes she may have seen and speaks to all parents about their children.
A Stolen Life: Jaycee Duggard
In the same respect as Michelle Knight – Jaycee tells her story of being kidnapped as a child and being held for 18 years as a captive. She was kept only a few hours from her home in a backyard tent for all those years…and was rescued. She discusses being forced to become a mother, horrible conditions endured, the abuse, her life a true slave not being allowed to speak or even live inside the house. This book also has a trigger warning of abuse and rape. But it offers raw, insightful, painful truth about survival, the human spirit and hope.
My Friend Dahmer by Derf Backderf
This story is from the perspective of the one person we didn’t even know existed. A friend of Jeffery Dahmer’s. It’s a graphic memoir (think Fun Home) of being a high school buddy of a pal that liked to goof off and made fart jokes and was a normal guy…that grew up to be Jeffery Dahmer. It does a good job at not making excuses or justification – it just humanizes a man who has gone down in history as a monster. For me it was a lot of eyebrow raising at what could have been prevented, gasping and cringing at the truly disturbing, and feeling weird having moments where Jeffery Dahmer was just a regular guy. It’s disturbing, unsettling, honest, and will make you think for a few hours…or days.
A Child Called It
Bind, Torture, Kill
Consequences: The Criminal Case of David Parker Ray
Books That How Could You Possibly Not Have Read Yet
I’m literally not even going to justify these with book descriptions. Honestly, if you haven’t read these – Trivia Crack is going to be very difficult for you as well as assimilating to 2016, you time traveler. I’m not saying that these are the best books every written* – they are just hypercritical to contemporary pop culture and relevance.
Harry Potter Series by JK Rowling
*I am going to make an argument that the Harry Potter series is the best series ever written. Consider this – this book exists wholly in a created universe. I can’t think of another series that even comes close to challenging the depth of this created universe. It has its own currency, government system, law, law enforcement, court systems, careers, stores, schools, rules, sports, entertainment, competitions, awards, authors, books, bands, racism and racial slurs, a class system, travel, standardized testing, celebrities, news sources, hotels, traditions, and languages THAT ALL CAME FROM THE MIND OF ONE WOMAN. It has complex relationships, a constant battle between good and evil both internally and externally, a hero that you can relate to, a strong female heroine, action, daring, bravery, fear, love, family, and heart. It is so complete that I think there is no better series and frankly few better books.
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins – This is dystopian novel featuring a strong female protagonist that goes against type and is cold and not easily related to and tough. She is grieving but left to keep her mom and sister alive. It’s about bravery, survival, cunning, and trauma. It’s the battle to continually do what’s right and trying to survive at the same time. And that’s just part of the first one. The second and third one are revolutions against the government, cleverness, more violence, revolution, power. I’m not normally a ‘dystopian’ kind of person. But I knocked out all three of these in like 12 hours. It’s great and engrossing. A clear homage to Battle Royale.
Twilight by Stephanie Meyer – *grumble grumble* While I personally am not a huge fan of Twilight, I feel it is worth mentioning. They are really relevant and big and movies and parodies and erotica (cough cough 50 Shades of Gray). These books created quite a cultural impact with their vampire/human/werewolf love triangles and internal war of Vampire vs. Vampire. Worth the read, if only for the pop culture references.
The DaVinci Code
50 Shades of Gray
The Fault in Our Stars
Lord of the Rings
The Maze Runner
Romantic Feel Good Books
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
Now a movie with Rob Pattinson and Reese Witherspoon – this is actually a pretty heart wrenching tale. It’s about a boy who after being orphaned and left with a large sum of debt – runs away to the circus and falls in love with the Ringmaster’s wife, the star performer and gentle blonde woman. The ringmaster is a violent, possessive man with charismatic moments so that you’re never quite sure how to feel towards him. But the love story between the runaway and the star performer blossoms as they fall more and more in love. It’s sweet, romantic, edgy, surprising, a quick paced read. Thanks Mabel for reminding me to add one of my faves to the list!
The Night Circus
This is a circus that comes and goes with no warning and in the blink of an eye is gone. It’s open only sunset to sunrise and has wonders that no one can truly explain…because it’s magic. Bailey, an excited child, is our ingenue as he enters the night circus for the first time. However, the two rivaling magicians have made a bet to have their two young proteges have a magical duel to the death, to see which is stronger. The two young proteges…predictably…fall in love. But the description of the magic and swirling place that your inner child could have only dreamed of comes to life. There’s amazing characters (my favorite are the twins Poppet & Widget), every single bit of magic and dreams that you could think of, a duel, a love affair, and a twisted ending.
The Last Song by Nicholas Sparks
Yeah, I know. Another Nicholas Sparks story. Blah blah blah. While the somewhat predictable nature of the author is still present – it is still a good read. It’s a more in depth look at the relationship of family. It explores not only the dysfunctional divorcee’s with the troubled teenage daughter and forgotten son…It also shows the dysfunction of upper class family that seems to have it all together but are bursting at the seams as well. With the romance being fun and easy and heart warming – a bit of tragedy strikes (damn you, Nicholas Sparks) and you’re tearing up all over again.
Alice I Have Been – Melanie Benjamin
This is a fictional look at Alice Liddell, the child that inspired the classic Alice in Wonderland. (I’m a sucker for re-tellings – Wicked, etc.) Alice is now an old woman and remembering the life she lived after Alice. We often forget that Alice came back from Wonderland and grew old. This story not only explores the relationship between Alice and Lewis Carroll – but also Alice’s whole life.This story tells of Alice falling in love, getting married, having children, visiting her dear friend Lewis Carroll, losing her parents and family, becoming a widow, passion and love and loss. It definitely refers back to Wonderland several times – but it is, at its heart, a lovely love story.
A Walk to Remember
Anything Nicholas Sparks ever wrote ever
Rape: A Love Story
Books I Read as a Teenager That Are Still Poignant and Worthwhile to Read as an Adult
The Truth About Forever – Sarah Dessen
A book I read as a teen that has stayed with me as my favorite book of all time and bounces around in the top 3. This story has everything. It has the death of a parent, a wild child, trying so hard to be perfect as a literal storm brews up. Macy finally is trying to make friends with a kooky group from her new job catering and her mother is too scared to let her grow after the death of Macy’s father. It deals with grief, and a beautiful and genuine love story for Macy and Wes, being a daughter, being a sister, being a friend, being a leader, and learning to live to be happy – not to fulfill a cookie cutter role. Amazing read. Funny, poignant, an important read for everyone.It’s also contemporary and a quick beach day read.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower – Stephen Chbosky
A famously teenage book. This book is all about self discovery. Charlie is left as a high schooler with no friends. He, by chance, becomes close to brother and sister duo Patrick and Sam. They take him under their wing and introduce him to a world of friendship, love, typewriters, and encouragement. He gets his first kiss, goes to a dance, and really experiences life. What is always murking below the surface of this typical ‘coming of age tale’ is Charlie’s oppressed memories, depression, and PTSD flashbacks. It’s called a cult classic for a reason. It’s honest, raw, genuine, intense, light, fun, and lets us remember exactly who we wanted to be in high school…back when we were infinite.
13 Reasons Why – Jay Asher
Poor Clay. He receives 13 tapes from his classmate Hannah…a week after Hannah committed suicide. The story revolves around Clay listening to Hannah’s story, seeing what she saw, and trying to understand the reason behind her suicide. This story discusses bullying, and growing pains, and depression, and hope, and what you can look for, what you can do, and really understanding. I read this book in like three hours. I couldn’t do anything else. It really looks at teen suicide as not one major event – but thousands of tiny events that build and build and build until it seems you can’t get out. *Trigger Warning* – There is discussion of bullying, suicide, and sexual assault.
Faultline by Janet Tashjian
This book is a very stark contrast and a big juxtaposition. This book is about a stand up comedian that gets abused by her boyfriend. The book goes from super funny, witty, and bright – to dark, boiling rage and fear and abuse. It’s almost uncomfortable to be laughing one page, to turn the page, and see Kip’s mood shift and you feel the tension in your stomach as you fear for Becky’s safety. It really shows that abusive boyfriends sometimes are sweet guys, with a good sense of humor, that your mom likes…and that doesn’t make them any less terrifying or violent and that is why it is sometimes so hard to read.
Number the Stars – Lowis Lowry
This story is the tale of little Annaliese and her friend Ellen during the Nazi invasion. Ellen is Annaliese’s best friend…and Jewish. Annaliese, naively, is helping her parents hide Ellen until she can flee the country. They run to the country, find out her parents are part of the underground resistance, have several close encounters with Nazi officers, and try to reunite Ellen with her parents. This is a coming of age tale as Annaliese realizes that she has to be mature and sensitive of her friend….or it could cost them both their life. One of my favorite books of all time.
What Happened to Goodbye
All Sarah Dessen books
How to Be Popular
The Mediator Series
A Series of Unfortunate Events
The Key is Lost
Books That Fit in No Other Category But Are Too Good To Not Mention
Dog Sees God by Bert V. Royal
Dog Sees God is one of my favorite things to read of all time. Well…technically not a book, but rather a play. This play has to do it if Charlie Brown grew up and got angsty and introspective. It’s like adult Peanuts…where problems are real and scary. The show opens with a now high school age CB burying Snoopy. This show sees the Little red haired girl as an arson in a mental institution, Vann as a huge stoner, Peppermint Patty is a clique-y mean girl with an overwhelming crush…Pigpen as a Germaphobic and violent bully. It’s poignant, edgy, discusses LGBT, violence, feeling. I would watch this show over and over. It’s equally as good of a read and made me laugh and cry.
The Book Thief – Markus Zusak
Liesel is a little foster girl in Nazi Germany. (I have a lot of Holocaust related books). She gets placed with a foster couple known as Mama and Papa. She becomes very close to Papa who begins to teach her how to read. As she doesn’t have access to money or resources, she resorts to stealing books from her myriad of strange friends. She befriends the Mayor’s wife, and Rudy, ….and the Jew hiding in the basement. It’s definitely got a few “Oh, Shit.” moments and moments that you’re saying out loud, “Liesel. Oh my god. Liesel.” There’s a little boy that yells at the leader of Hitler youth and there’s a scene where Liesel is sitting in the basement during an air raid and reading a book to the neighbors to try to keep them calm. There’s a scene where she describes Death gathering up all the children and they have a snowball fight in the basement. Liesel sees so much beauty and glimpses of being a child in a very scary world. She literally steals books from a book burning but only sees the joy of getting the book…not the oppression of the idea that it was almost burned. There’s something to be said about a very real, dark, and scary threat being told through the eyes of a naive and innocent child. Awesome book. Totally culturally relevant, historically telling, beautiful, innocent, and dark.
Theatre Geek – Mickey Rapkin
This book just makes my little theatre kid heart so happy. It is not quite a memoir…but a book written by the author following one summer at the Stagedoor Manor. Stagedoor Manor is THE most notorious theatre camp of all time. Robert Downey Jr., Zach Braff, Natalie Portman, Ansel Egort, Skylar Astin, Lea Michele, and like hundreds more celebrities are alum. This book focuses on the process of putting these shows on one summer. It talks about the girl who thought she wasn’t going to come back – but was able to come back and play Mrs. Loveitt in Sweeney Todd and the rehearsal process and the students doing A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and tons of other perfomances that summer. And it’s a summer camp so there’s lots of teenage drama and romances. If nothing else, you may totally appreciate how accurately he describes the absolute masochism of putting on a play. This is a great, fun, lighthearted book for the theatre geek that lives in all of us.
Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn
This book is messed up. You’ve probably seen the movie right? Also messed up. Yeah. This one too. It’s like this super intense mystery journey. It’s hard to explain. It’s a thriller with unending twists and turns. The characters (Amy especially) are rich, complex, and well detailed. The book is full of malice and suspense and drama. Gone Girl also faces the same trouble as Catcher in the Rye….your narrator is completely unreliable, so you’ll never know exactly what is true or if it is just what she wants you to know. I’m not a huge fan of the ending…but honestly, who is?
Fat Pig by Neil LaBute
This play is literally my life. Helen, a “very” plus sized librarian who loves books and movies and has a quirky and witty personality, meets skinny and handsome Tom at a cafe one day. They share a table…sparks fly…and they decide to go on a date. Tom, however, is having a lot of trouble dealing with publicly dating a plus size woman and he can’t handle the criticism of other people fat shaming her. The scenes are a stark contrast between loving, romantic scenes between Helen and Tom and these bitter, bullying, shameful scenes between Tom and his c0-workers. A must read for any plus sized lady that has ever been dumped or shamed by a lover for their weight.
Not Since Carrie
The Stephanie Plum series
The Little Princess
Phew. 68 books (give or take) to read this summer. I have read all of these books and I can definitely recommend them. So when you’re at the bookstore or cruising Amazon or packing for that weekend at the beach – throw one of these in your bag. You won’t regret it!
Personal question: Preston is of the mind that you should keep books in pristine condition. He doesn’t fold the corners, or ruin the dust jacket, or get thumbprints on the page, or even crease the spine. He likes the aesthetics of his books. I read books literally in the pool on a raft and they get a little damp and carry them in my purse and get sun tan lotion in it and crease the spine, hard. I think the content is not damaged by the outside looking damaged. What does everyone else do with their books?
So here’s the “end of blog” spiel!
I will do another (and bigger!) giveaway when I reach 1,000 followers! Help me reach that goal! I’m very close! So share this story, recommend it to your friends, post it on your page! When I hit 1,000 followers we will have another giveaway – maybe for a gift box? Or maybe a bigger gift card? We’ll see.
Subscribe for updates! Comment for topics you would like to see me cover! Like to help my self esteem! What do you think so far? More fashion? More lifestyle? Do you like the mix?
Question of the Day: What is your book recommendation to me, obviously?! I like all kinds of books – so please comment on here, my facebook page, my insta and tell me what kind of books I should try this summer!
Next two weeks are going to be fun here on Curves, Curls, & Coffee! Stick around!
Author’s Note: I read ALL of your comments and messages! They mean the whole world to me. I had someone privately tell me that it hurt their feelings that I didn’t engage with their comment. Your comments are changing my life. They effect how my mood goes! I cherish hearing from you all. Your thoughts, ideas, personal stories are invaluable to me and I always, always, always read them! Please continue to comment on the blog or on my insta! I adore hearing your thoughts.
Love all you wonderful ladies (and gents!) out there!