Holiday Reading List for Every Reader

Holiday Reading List for Every Reader

Does anyone’s reading spot ever look this idyllic? Mine certainly doesn’t. But here’s a list of books to cozy up with over the holidays. Even though your cozy may look like a floor covered in blankets, treats and strewn decorations and sound more like children screeching than Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney duetting. Happy holiday reading!

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Gifts for 'Mom' that are Better Than a Card

First, you need to know that Mother's Day is not for only biological mothers. It is a day for you to appreciate the person who mothered you. Sometimes that is your dad, your sibling, your aunt, uncle, grandparent, friend, teacher, neighbor, and sometimes that is you. So, these gifts are a way for you to appreciate that person who mothered you, whomever that may be. So, apply said filter to each of the following gifts.

I fully support and value the candle/lotion/bath bomb/face mask/perfume gift. 100%. I just wanted to make a 'gift guide' that had a little more to do with my specialty, writing.

You're probably thinking, "that will take way too much brainpower that I have reserved for CandyCrush(is that still what the kids play?)." I've broken it down for you, so it shouldn't be too overwhelming. And for those of us that just want to click, click, click and be done, I'll include some links to a few books that would make great gifts.

A List of Memories

Write them a top 5 favorite memories list. One of my favorite conversations to have with friends and family are the ones where we remember some of our most deeply imprinted memories together. These are often my favorite because I don't have a great memory and I forget a lot of the little moments in my life that others remember clearer than I do. So for your mother, make a list of 3-5(or more, go crazy!) of your favorite memories together. They will love reminiscing on them, I promise.

Tell a Favorite Story

If you'd rather not make a list, or you're like me and can't remember much, the following is for you. Write down a story they may not remember of an experience you had together. Describe what it means to you, the feelings you had and why this experience is important to you.

More Than a Photo

Choose a photo that you love of them or of the two of you. Print it on stiffer paper (or if you're me, glue card stock to the back) and on the back of the photo, write 3 things you learned from them. Or 3 of your favorite qualities they have. 

More Than a Card

Write them a letter, not just a card. Letters allow for space to say what you appreciate about the person, to tell stories, or to share insights. If you are already planning on sending them a gift, add a letter, maybe not just a card. If you don't know what to include in the letter, see my how to write a letter post.

I have read the following books and loved each one, all for different reasons though. If you click on the cover it will take you to Amazon where you can buy the book.

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
Every once in a while I read some historical fiction and it ends up being really great and I tell myself I'll read more of it and then I never do till months later. This is a great read, and I'm once again recommending it years after it was published but at least I'm staying on brand with that. I won't try to introduce it but if you click on the cover, Amazon has a nice little blurb for you.

Why Not Me by Mindy Kaling
I'm realizing I haven't reviewed any of these on my blog, which is sad, but also makes me feel good that I read all these books. If you love Mindy, you'll love this book. I didn't love her first book(sorry, Mindy), it just never really sounded like her and lacked direction, I felt. But this one is all about how she's a boss and made room for herself in her industry. It's funny, insightful, and poewrful, just like Mindy.

The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls
Jeanette's writing is captivating, image-inducing, and rich. You are there with her seeing and hearing and feeling all that she feels. It's an incredible story, but one that told by another writer would not be as magnetic. It tells of her childhood spent mostly homeless and in constant poverty.

The Magnolia Story by Chip & Joanna Gaines
When I first cracked this one open I was basically prepared for a written version of the opener to Fixer Upper. You know how it goes. "We take the worst house in the best neighborhood..." etc. BUT this book is so much more than that. It is a deep look at their relationship, their beliefs and their dreams. And it is wonderful. I feel like this book is both of their hearts on paper and it was just refreshing to get to know them better.

Still Alice by Lisa Genova
Again, came out years ago, and I read it years ago, just never wrote about it. They made this into a movie, which I never saw and probably never will because the book was perfect and I don't want to cross-contaminate. The story of a woman who has early-onset Alzheimer's written from her perspective. It is heartbreaking, eye and heart-opening, and I still think about this story often.

Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert
I know, her trendier book right now is Big Magic but I haven't read that one yet so back off. I read this one almost immediately after reading Eat, Pray, Love so I could find out what happened to her and the guy she met in the end. Well, let me tell you. This is not a story about them two. This is full of research on marriage, the history of it in countries across the globe, and the state of it currently. After getting divorced and then falling in love, her and this guy(don't remember his name) are put in a position where they can only live in the same country if they get married. I learned a lot from this book and it lead me to do a lot of research on my own regarding the history of marriage. I was surprised and delighted. At one point in it, angry, and had to step back to see why, but still delighted in the end. Turns out I did review this one.

Thanks for sticking around to the end. If you made it this far you are a hero. Let me know what ideas you have for Mother's Day in the comments here or on Instagram. Asking for a friend.


A Book I Read

I'm happy to say I am now part of two book clubs! I have decided that book clubs are difficult to start and difficult to maintain. But very much worth it if you can keep it up and running. Maybe we should start an AdriLars book club here on the blog? Would anyone be interested in turning these posts into more of a discussion? Let me know.

So for one of the book clubs I'm in we read Funny in Farsi: A Memoir of Growing Up Iranian in America by Firoozeh Dumas. I didn't know this book existed until Ash suggested it, which is actually the truth about most things I read. I may have been an English major and English teacher but I'm probably the worst-read English major and English teacher there ever was.

For full disclosure I will say that I didn't read the book with my eyeballs, I actually listened to it on Audible. I turn my subscription on and off all the time (which is probably not how they want you to use it, but oh well) because sometimes I like to listen but other times I really want to read the book so I can write notes in it and mark things. If you want to try it there is a link over on the sidebar right under the popular posts box.

This was one of the books I'm glad I listened to because Firoozeh reads it herself and it was so fun to hear her voice telling all the stories. So many hilarious things happened to her and her family living in America, I actually snort-laughed several times.

Some favorite quotes:
It's not what we eat or don't eat that makes us good people; it's how we treat one another. As you grow older, you'll find that people of every religion think they're the best, but that's not true. There are good and bad people in every religion. Just because someone is Muslim, Jewish, or Christian doesn't mean a thing. You have to look and see what's in their hearts. That's the only thing that matters, and that's the only detail God cares about.
I truly believe that everyone has a story and everyone's story counts.
Is that boy from your country?” she asked me. “Why, yes,” I wanted to tell her. “In my country, which I own, this is National Lose Your Child at Disneyland Day.” “No,” I told her. “He’s not from my country.

Firoozeh has such a sarcastic sense of humor, which speaks to my wannabe-comedian heart. On a more serious note the book addresses the racism and discrimination that she and her family and thousands and thousands of other immigrants have faced living in America.

It made me question myself. It has added to a list of events, texts, and experiences that have made me think about my own racist tendencies, how I think of others and how I treat others. I asked myself if I had ever treated people the way that people treated Firoozeh and her family. And the answer, unfortunately, was yes. I feel I have a long way to go in order to be the accepting, kind, Christ-like person I want to be. I'm learning that it is important to question myself constantly and make efforts to change.

Has anyone else read this book? I would love to hear your thoughts. Feel free to post them here, comment or DM me on instagram or email me directly as well.

I definitely recommend reading this book if any of the above strikes a chord with you. Here is the link to the book on Amazon. Turns out it is also on sale!

A book I read

Sometimes I wonder what I would do if I were given a limited amount of time to live. I think everyone probably wonders that sometimes. Unless you are prone to existential crises in which maybe you put a lot of effort into not wondering about that. I'd like to think I could begin to live every day as fully as possible and soak in every little moment. I'd never be angry, annoyed or frustrated. Only grateful, content and joyful.

I read When Breath Becomes Air and following Paul's path through his diagnosis, fight, and eventual passing away was a lesson in focus for me. He takes his readers, although it doesn't feel like he's speaking to an audience but rather to himself, into his mind as he works through his experience.

The book was thought-provoking as I was reading it but was even more transformative afterwards. It left me thinking for a long time after about not only my own life but the lives of those around me.

Some favorite quotes:
Most ambitions are either achieved or abandoned; either way, they belong to the past. 
Science may provide the most useful way to organize empirical, reproducible data, but its power to do so is predicated on its inability to grasp the most central aspects of human life: hope, fear, love, hate, beauty, envy, honor, weakness, striving, suffering, virtue.
You that seek what life is in death, Now find it air that once was breath. -Baron Brooke Fulke Greville
The last quote on there, from which the title of the book comes, has been hitting me hard recently. I've believed in eternity and souls and God for quite a while. But it's now making me question the purpose of pursuits, trying, and effort in earth life. But those are much too heavy of thoughts for such a light, short post.

This is probably a book I'll read every once in a while to get me thinking. I would 9/10 recommend the writing and 10/10 recommend that you read it regardless of form, just for the content. Here is a link to buy the book on Amazon.