Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Summer Reading 2014

It's summer!!!!

Sunscreen?  check
Beach Towel? check
Long Island Ice Tea? check
Bocce Ball? check
Man with Evian Natural Mineral Water Spray? Well...
Book(s) to read? ummm...


That's a terrible question to face. If you need an answer, here's a list of a few books I've read and definitely recommend, and several that I want to read this summer.

The Language of Flowers: Read about it here. This book started my love affair with flowers. Just read it.

Me Before You: A page-turning sweet romance and tear-jerker that really makes you think. I just found out that this is going to be made into a movie as well. Three cheers! I said this in a previous post, but I'll say it again -- my favorite scene from this book will probably be one of my favorite scenes ever from any book: Lou and Will dancing together at a wedding, all eyes on them, almost like normal lovers. Almost.

What Alice Forgot: it's a light and funny read, but actually deeply touches serious themes like infertility, estrangement, losing best friends, and re-building a family. Another page-turner, too.

Divergent: I know, I know. I am way late to the Divergent bandwagon, but I'm glad I finally read book #1 of the 3-part series. I already looked up the DVD release date for the movie adaptation (it's August 5th, if you care) and have planned a movie night with my fraands. I'm pretty much in love with Four and his love for Tris. Gosh. I really only like the book because of their romance. So that's that.

Disclaimer: I haven't read the following (yet).

The Vacationers - Basically, the "it" read of the summer. There are 74 holds on it at the DC public library, so I'll guess I'll read it never. It's about an American's family two-week vacation in Mallorca and how their stuff* hits the fan.  Who's up for a good family drama?

Longbourn - a re-telling of Pride and Prejudice from the servants perspective! Downton Abbey fans unite.

The Engagements - A Diamond is Forever and a story following 4 couples. I don't know much more than that except that everyone I know who has read it, liked it.

Eleanor and Park - Remember your first high school love? That's what this book is about -- first love and how to navigate it. And it's set in 1986. It's another young adult book that's going to be made into a movie.

If I Stay - I saw the preview for this when I went to see The Fault in Our Stars. I think I'll pass on the movie (yes, again another YA book-turned-movie.... I'm seeing a trend) but the book could be good. The main character is in a coma and has to decide to come out of it or not. And of course, there is a boy waiting for her if she does. Choices, choices.

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail - another book being made into a movie. This time with Reese Witherspoon -- what's not to love? I get the feeling this is a book like Eat, Pray, Love which I think I liked. A lot of people have already read Wild, I know. I'm so behind.

The Interestings - everyone's reading it. I feel like I've seen this book in every coffee shop window I've passed. It's about talented kids who grow up -- some achieving their dreams and some not -- and the ties that bind.

Walking with God Through Pain and Suffering - The title pretty much sums it up. And I know this isn't exactly a "beach read," but it's from Tim Keller, so you know it's going to be awesome.

The Lowland - a sweeping family saga spanning from India to America. I could be wrong, but this book reminds me of Cutting for Stone, a book I really enjoyed.

The Supper of the Lamb: A Culinary Reflection - the foodie in me has always wanted to read this book from Robert Farrar Capon, who just so happens to be an Episcopal priest. Jesus + food = a winning combination.

The Little Way of Ruthie Leming: A Southern Girl, A Small Town, and the Secret of a Good Life - I've been told this book is very good. It's about a man and his family leaving the big city for the slower pace of small town life.

The Prince of Tides and The Great Santini - the two most cherished novels from Pat Conroy, my new favorite author. All of his writing is haunting, beautiful, a love song to the low country of South Carolina, and will stick with you always.

That's about all I've got. Well, for now. That's the good thing about books -- there's always more to read. What have you been reading?? I'd love to know!

*A lady never curses.

(Here was the summer reading list from 2013, in case you are curious. I didn't really love MWF Seeking BFF and I couldn't get through The Paris Wife, although I think most everyone I know liked it.)

Tuesday, June 10, 2014


I went to Charleston two weekends ago for a friend's bachelorette party. Allie and I have been friends since first grade, and it's such a huge honor to be a part of her wedding in July. She was THE BEST bachelorette --- dancing with anyone who asked her to dance, running into the Charleston fire department and throwing on a helmet and jacket and jumping on a firetruck without thinking twice about it, going along with all our little games we planned for her, and not once being sad about the fact that it rained for two days of the trip. In fact, I think I was the only one who was sad about the rain. But I mean, I sort of have a sun addiction so it was probably for the best that the weather wasn't cooperating. Gotta protect the skin... I'm learning this slowly. Here are a few pictures:

The bride-to-be and me. We used to roll ourselves up in foam bed pads and secure them around our bodies with bungee cords, and then climb trees and stare at people. Glory days.

Some of my high school (and life) besties. #HighlandPark4ever

We had matching tanks, of course. 

Below, I'm wearing genie pants. My friend Courtney is a high school counselor and says that this style is all the rage for the 14-18 year-old crowd. Cool. I'm 10 years older. Same thing? 

This is all of us on the porch at Cru Cafe where we had dinner one night. I've been reading Pat Conroy novels in anticipation for this Charleston trip and if you've ever read a Pat Conroy novel, you know that food, and the preparation of it, is a central and defining element to his writing. In fact, my dad was here last weekend and we were discussing Pat Conroy. I just finished Beach Music and when I mentioned this to my dad, he said that he will never forget a scene from that book that describes in beautiful detail a meal shared in Rome near the Pantheon: the peeling of an orange, olive oil, and truffles. I knew exactly what scene he was thinking of. I'm tempted to post the text from it, but it's not really the point of this post so I will refrain. (Wow! I'm showing restraint!) In Conroy's South of Broad, which takes place in Charleston, he often mentions the cuisine of the south in mouth-watering detail, and it was with this in mind that I was crazy excited about my first low country meal in Charleston at Cru Cafe: local swordfish with wild mushroom Anson Mills grits, taso gravy, truffle arugula, and tobacco onions. I so wish I could describe the meal in typical Conroy fashion. I won't even try. But it's worth writing home about. It was perfect. 

Here, Leen and I are making carrot cake. This has been a tradition since our freshmen year of high school. We'd all gather at one of our houses to watch the Bachelor, and if we were at Leighton's house, her mom would always bake us her famous carrot cake. She'd hide a quarter in the batter, and if you received the slice that had the quarter, then you won a prize. Ever since then, we've nearly always made this cake when we all get together. It's one of my favorite traditions.

Allie and the fire truck. She's basically a model. 

Speaking of South of Broad, here it is. The white church in the background, St. Michael's Church, boasts the oldest bell tower clock in America. History is cool, man. 

After reading Conroy's novel about growing up in Charleston, I couldn't believe I was actually walking through the streets of this historic neighborhood south of Broad Street. I loved it. While the girls were shopping on King Street, I fast-walked down King to Tradd Street and over to Meeting then to East Battery, and then back up Legare Street. As I drooled over the homes, I realized (with glee) that Charleston feels pretty similar to Georgetown. Except Charleston has palm trees, and the waves from the Cooper River hitting the sea wall splashed my legs as I walked along East Battery. And at one point, I saw porpoises. Oh, and, for the first time in what feels like forever, I saw families dressed in their Sunday best leaving church together on Sunday morning. Be still my heart! It was then that I realized I've been away from the south for too long. Georgetown is charming, but it most certainly isn't the south.

Charleston rolled out the red carpet for us as we celebrated our dear friend. I can't wait to see her married in just a few more weeks!