- originally published September 17, 2016 -

… So you can probably tell that I don’t update this blog too often. But I’ve decided that whenever there is something that I want to say that won’t naturally fit in a social media post, I will write it here. (What else should I write about?!)

Last year, I wrote about some of the books that I had read and it was so fun to hear everyone’s responses and ideas for what to read next. So here is a list + mini-descriptions of some of the books I’ve read this year (there are others, but these are the best ones, in no particular order.)

The Language of Flowers, by Vanessa Diffenbaugh- This was one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. I felt like a kid again, reading something profound but not too complex, unable to put it down (although it is a book for adults). It was a story that felt so very real but painted beautifully. Also, a must read for anyone who loves flowers. Thank you to my friend Jessica for recommending this!

Through Gates of Splendor, by Elisabeth Elliot – I am always coming across these awesome quotes from Elisabeth Elliot, so I decided that I should read one of her books, and this was the one at the library at the time. It’s an intense memoir of the difficult loss of her husband while on the mission field. Her perspective is incredibly honest.

Mary Oliver Poems – I won’t list out all of the books that I read because one day I literally checked out about 6 of her poetry collections (surprisingly none of them included the typical quotes that I always see from her everywhere), and they were all wonderful. So, if you’re looking for inspiring, modern, beautiful, nature-esque poems, find a Mary Oliver book. Here are some of my favorite quotes from the poems I did read:

What I want to know, please, is what is possible, and what is not. If it is not, then I am for it.” -The Garden, White Pine (yes, yes, and yes.)

the old gold song / of the almost finished year…” – Fall (because, I mean, what a cool way to talk about fall)

The violets, along the river, are opening their blue faces, like small dark lanterns.” – Yes! No!, White Pine

I’ve knelt there, and so have you, hanging onto what you love, to what is lovely. The lake’s shining sheets don’t make a ripple now, and the stars are going off to their blue sleep, but the words are in place – and the fish leaps, and leaps again from that black plush of poem, that breathless space…” -At the Lake, White Pine

“…What if the brook slid downhill just
past your bedroom window so you could listen
to its slow prayers as you fell asleep? What if
the stars began to shout their names, or to run
this way and that way above the clouds? What if
you painted a picture of a tree, and the leaves
began to rustle, and a bird cheerfully sang
from its painted branches? What if you suddenly saw
that the silver of water was brighter than the silver
of money? What if you finally saw
that the sunflowers, turning toward the sun all day
and every day — who knows how, but they do it — were
more precious, more meaningful than gold?” –
 How Would You Live Then? 

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me, and Other Concerns + Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling: So I was obviously way behind on this, but I finally read the Mindy Kaling book. Hilarious. And then we were visiting our friend Anne in Texas on the way to Oklahoma, and she had ‘Why Not Me?’ sitting on her bookshelf. Part of the magic of reading a book is remembering where you read it, why, and who recommended it to you. I think these stories are part of what makes reading and sharing books with friends special.

When Life Turns Upside Downby Brannah Bibbs: this book was written by my friend Brannah who lives here in Alexandria. It’s a story all about growing up and figuring out life. She introduces the reader to instantly lovable characters that are very real, and you grow attached to their stories more and more in each chapter. It was so fun to read her debut novel, and I have no doubt we will be hearing more from her as an author in the future!

To the Lighthouseby Virginia Woolf: My memory of reading this book revolves around a rainy, coffeeshop day while waiting for the bus from NYC to DC this past May (while/after filming the “Bells” lyric video – see, it all goes together!). I will be honest and say that I knew I needed to read this book because of the title (lighthouses and I are great friends) – but I also knew that it was going to be a very deep and thoughtful read that makes one think about life, which it was.

A Little Bit Wicked (Kristen Chenoweth autobiography): My friend Lauren and I were browsing the biography section of a used bookstore (ya know, per usual) when she mentioned that she had recently read a Kristen Chenoweth autobiography, and that it was really funny. She let me borrow the book and yes, she was right. I think it’s fun to read about the childhood/young adulthood of successful entertainers – and this one did not disappoint.

I’d love to hear your recommendations on what to read next!