9 books I’ll be reading this summer

Since I’ve started working in the children’s department of a library, summer reading is just about all that I can think about.

summer readingOf course, most of those thoughts are centered around children’s books and programming, so I thought it’d be a nice idea to give myself a break from the endless piles of picture books and focus on some picture-less books that are actually written for adults. Don’t get me wrong, I love children’s lit, but there are only so many repetitive rhymes and cartoonish illustrations that one can look at.

Being surrounded by all kinds of books has made my to-read list grow longer and longer every day, yet I’ve been struggling to give myself actual time during the day to chip away at that list.

If you follow me on Goodreads, you may notice that I’ve only been adding books to my Currently Reading section but not completing them for the past few weeks… whoops.

So, I thought it’d be a fun idea to get together a list of books I’ll be reading during the upcoming summer months, and that hopefully it can motivate me to cross them off my list. Follow me on Instagram, as I’ll be posting more updates on my progress there!

my summer reading list

summer reading list

(all of the descriptions come from Goodreads, aka my fave place to find new books and keep track of what I’m reading)

A Man Called Ove by Frederik Backman

This is the May pick for my Air Force spouses book club, so I better get this one off my to-read list!!

a man called ove“Meet Ove. He’s a curmudgeon, the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. Behind the cranky exterior there is a story and a sadness. So when one November morning a chatty young couple with two chatty young daughters move in next door and accidentally flatten Ove’s mailbox, it is the lead-in to a comical and heartwarming tale of unkempt cats, unexpected friendship, and the ancient art of backing up a U-Haul. All of which will change one cranky old man and a local residents’ association to their very foundations.”

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

I’m cheating a bit by adding this to my list because I’m halfway through it already, but MY GOODNESS, this is a fantastic book.the hate u give

“Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.”

Exit West by Mohsin Hamid

exit west“In a country teetering on the brink of civil war, two young people meet—sensual, fiercely independent Nadia and gentle, restrained Saeed. They embark on a furtive love affair and are soon cloistered in a premature intimacy by the unrest roiling their city. When it explodes, turning familiar streets into a patchwork of checkpoints and bomb blasts, they begin to hear whispers about doors—doors that can whisk people far away, if perilously and for a price. As the violence escalates, Nadia and Saeed decide that they no longer have a choice. Leaving their homeland and their old lives behind, they find a door and step through.”

Greenglass House by Kate Milford

This is a middle grade novel that I’m SO excited to read. My friend Morgan saw it on my Goodreads shelf and got it for me for my birthday!

greenglass houseIt’s wintertime at Greenglass House. The creaky smuggler’s inn is always quiet during this season, and twelve-year-old Milo, the innkeepers’ adopted son, plans to spend his holidays relaxing. But on the first icy night of vacation, out of nowhere, the guest bell rings. Then rings again. And again. Soon Milo’s home is bursting with odd, secretive guests, each one bearing a strange story that is somehow connected to the rambling old house. As objects go missing and tempers flare, Milo and Meddy, the cook’s daughter, must decipher clues and untangle the web of deepening mysteries to discover the truth about Greenglass House-and themselves.”

March: Book One by John Lewis

march book oneTechnically, this is a graphic novel, but hey, it still counts to me!

“March is a vivid first-hand account of John Lewis’ lifelong struggle for civil and human rights, meditating in the modern age on the distance traveled since the days of Jim Crow and segregation. Rooted in Lewis’ personal story, it also reflects on the highs and lows of the broader civil rights movement.”

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

This is one of those classic books that I can’t believe I haven’t read yet. Everyone is talking about it again since the Hulu series came out in April! handmaid's tale

“Set in the near future, it describes life in what was once the United States and is now called the Republic of Gilead, a monotheocracy that has reacted to social unrest and a sharply declining birthrate by reverting to, and going beyond, the repressive intolerance of the original Puritans. The regime takes the Book of Genesis absolutely at its word, with bizarre consequences for the women and men in its population.”

No One Can Pronounce My Name by Rakesh Satyal

no one can pronounce my name“A humorous and tender multi-generational novel about immigrants and outsiders – No One Can Pronounce My Name is a distinctive, funny, and insightful look into the lives of people who must reconcile the strictures of their culture and traditions with their own dreams and desires.”

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert

big magic“Balancing between soulful spirituality and cheerful pragmatism, Gilbert encourages us to uncover the “strange jewels” that are hidden within each of us. Whether we are looking to write a book, make art, find new ways to address challenges in our work,  embark on a dream long deferred, or simply infuse our everyday lives with more mindfulness and passion, Big Magic cracks open a world of wonder and joy.”

chimamanda ngozi adichieDear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

“A few years ago, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie received a letter from a dear friend from childhood, asking her how to raise her baby girl as a feminist. Dear Ijeawele is Adichie’s letter of response.”


Are any of these books on your list? Have you read any of my picks? Let me know what you think of my list in the comments below! I am also always open to more book suggestions 😉

Thanks for reading!

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Summer snaps – day forty seven

#weirdattemptsatpoetry

Days off include indulgence:

sitting on the dining room bench

cats in my view

– curled up and snoring –

on the table I have

smashed avocado toast

with crunchy salty flakes.

Coffee from a trip to Canada

– no apologies for the cream and sugar –

ripe plums sliced for snacking

phone playing witty podcasts.

All the while,

lists on my mind –

things to do

things to do

— THINGS TO DO —

 

But for now –

sweet indulgence.

Summer snaps – day forty five

Two posts in one day? Well, aren’t you lucky!

We celebrated our two year engagementiversary (that’s a word now, get used to it) by eating dinner at a local Irish pub, since we got engaged in Ireland! We’ve decided that going to an Irish pub will be our new August 6th tradition.

We went to the Dublin Pub in the Oregon District in Dayton (one more restaurant off of our list!) and loved it! Ben drank a Guinness, I drank Jameson & ginger. Ben got a super spicy chicken sandwich, and I had the bangers and mash. The taste of the dish brought me right back to eating dinner with friends at pubs in Dublin two years ago. We will definitely be back before next year and can’t wait to try more of their delicious pub fare!

The lost photos of Ireland 

Two years ago, I was lucky enough to spend the summer living and interning in Dublin, Ireland. It was an unforgettable few months and I miss the city every day! If I could live there again, I’d do it in a heartbeat. Being surrounded by the beautiful green countryside, friendly people with great accents, and a city full of life was incredible – I felt so alive in Ireland. But anyways, enough of me professing my love for the country.

After my program ended, Ben came to visit me for a week and we took trip allllll the way around the coast of Ireland, stopping each night at a B&B in a different town. It was magical. And what made it even more magical was that he proposed to me right in the middle of the trip, on August 6th, at the Cliffs of Moher! It was a complete surprise and he even hired a photographer to capture the moment. (another anniversary in August!)

Ben Margaret- 9
Credit to http://michellebgphotography.com/

I loved having those photos of us, and I took photos with my DSLR the whole trip as well – it’s so nice to have those to look back on, and to have prints of them around the house. Like all millennials, we have lots of phone pictures too, but the quality of those just can’t compare. On top of all of those photos, that took me so long to go through, it turns out that we have even more Ireland photos – from Ben’s camera!

Continue reading “The lost photos of Ireland “

Summer snaps – day twelve

For a little self-care this Sunday, we went to get Ben & Jerry’s. The shop is right by the historical Patterson Homestead, so we (me, Ben, and his mom who’s visiting for a short time) decided to walk around the beautiful grounds of the home. I’m so glad the weather cooled down this evening – it’s been SO HOT lately!!

Also, here’s your daily cat pic. Just because.

june 12-13

Summer adventures, continued

Some noteworthy that have happened since my last blog post:

Day trip to Connemara and Galway with friends

This included a lot of sitting on a very bouncy bus, with stops at a peat bog, Kylemore Abbey (so beautiful it looks fake), an hour long cruise from Killary Harbor around Ireland’s only fjord, a tiny little town where I got a handmade leather wallet, and an hour in Galway city (where we could’ve spent a lot more time!). Overall, it was a good trip! (PS – I haven’t edited all any of the photos from my nice camera, so a lot of these are just quick phone snapshots!)

 

Spent time drinking delicious tea and reading

Some days after work, I spent some time sitting in Bewley’s Cafe or in the friendly, hip Accents Coffee & Tea Lounge, sipping on tea and reading. While I’ve been here, I finished Looking for Alaska by John Green. It was a quick read and was well written for a young adult novel (his debut novel as well!), but I had a hard time connecting with the characters. I didn’t really like any of them, and felt annoyed with the narrator (a 16/17 year old boy) most of the time. The ending of the book was the kind that gave me goosebumps because it closed out the story so well, and the story itself was pretty gripping, but I just didn’t come away from the book with a great overall feeling. John Green gets a lot of praise for being a great YA lit author (and a lot of hate/criticism, some of which I really agree with), but this book just didn’t live up to the hype for me. It’ll be interesting to see the movie version of it! I am now reading It’s Not Yet Dark by Simon Fitzmaurice. It’s already incredibly moving and powerful!

 

Went to Longitude Festival with my friend Sara

My boss was kind enough to let me take a half day on a Friday to go to the Longitude Festival out in Marlay Park! My friend Sara and I had looked at tickets for it earlier in the summer, since we both love Bastille and they were playing on the main stage, but had decided back then that the tickets were too pricey. One week before the festival, we impulsively decided to go! Bastille doesn’t tour around the US very often, so this was a great opportunity to see them. We left Dublin via coach bus around 2pm, and spent the day watching new (to us) bands perform and getting excited about Bastille. The set-up for the festival at the sprawling Marlay Park was awesome – there were different stages tucked in random wooded fields and there were tons of delicious food stands. It was forecasted to rain that day, but it was barely even cloudy – we lucked out! Bastille was excellent (aside from the tall annoying man standing in front of me) and they’re even better live than they are on their album. I also discovered Hudson Taylor, a brother duo from Dublin who perform folksy-indie original songs that make me very happy to listen to! It was a long day, and we got back to Dublin around 11:30pm after a lot of walking, but it was definitely time and money well spent!

 

But wait, there’s A LOT more!

Solo travel day: Bray & Greystones

Ever since I started thinking about what I was going to do this summer, I knew that wherever I ended up, I wanted to do a little solo traveling for the first time. I’ve traveled by plane on my own to and from college, but I’ve never traveled on my own to a place where I don’t know anyone. I’ve always had someone waiting for me at the end of the trip. I wanted to experience more independence than ever this summer by traveling to a place where I have no connections.

I didn’t end up with the time (or money, really) to spend a whole weekend away, or even one night in a different city, so I chose to go on a day trip within County Dublin. The actual city centre that I’ve been spending most of my time in is pretty tiny compared to the rest of the county! There’s a lot to see, and it’s not too difficult to get around the area. So I planned to take the DART (Dublin Area Rapid Transit) on Saturday morning out to Bray (and maybe Dun Laoghaire and maybe wherever else looked interesting from the train) for the day!

20140716-014007-6007684.jpg

On Saturday morning I woke up a little later than I planned, which is probably just what my body really needed. I took my time, since I had no one to meet, ate a good breakfast, packed up my purse and made sure my camera was charged up, and headed on my way to the nearest DART station. It was unfortunately a very overcast day that looked as if it could turn to rain at any second, so I made sure to bring a raincoat and a plastic bag to cover my semi-waterproof camera bag if needed. The Lansdowne Road station was about a 15-20 minute walk away from my apartment, and is right next to the stunning, glass-covered Aviva Stadium, where they play rugby. Apparently, it’s shaped like a giant rugby ball! (Is that the right term? Can you tell I know nothing about rugby?)

I topped up my newly purchased LEAP card (like a SmarTrip card in DC or a Charlie Card in Boston) at the station, and went through the (open, but I paid) faregates. The station was pretty empty when I got there! That always makes me a little bit nervous, but it was an open air station, and soon a few families came onto the platform as well. I had no idea what side of the tracks to stand on because the signage was a little confusing, so I ended up standing on the wrong side of the tracks, and watched the train I had aimed to take pass me by! The next train wasn’t coming for another 25 minutes – that reminded me a little of being at home on the DC Metro!

After I awkwardly made my way over to the right side of the tracks, I waited another 20 minutes or so, and finally the right train came by. Getting on was a little confusing, because you have to press a button on the door to open it once the train is fully stopped. I kind of stood there expecting the doors to open automatically, until I looked at the other people around me easily getting on the train, and I followed suit. The DART trains look a little old from the outside, but on the inside, they are clean, spacious, and have very comfortable seats. Remembering a recommendation from my boss to sit on the left side of the train for the best views, I found a seat, and the train started to move.

The sun started to shine and the clouds parted the minute the train pulled out of the station – no exaggeration! I took that as a good sign for the rest of the day. I definitely didn’t mind the view from the train. We passed gorgeous beaches, green grassy fields, and even went through tunnels in the hills. I felt like such a silly tourist taking photos out the window with my phone through the entire ride, but I couldn’t resist! I wanted to get off at every stop and explore, but knew I wouldn’t have the time for that. I had read about the Bray Cliff Walk from a guide book, and settled on taking the train to its second to last stop to check it out. At 11:39 on the dot, I stepped off the train in Bray, found a tourist map to get my bearings, and started exploring!

But wait, there’s more!

A little update – with photos!

What would a blog post be without a ton of photos?

I’ve been taking quick snapshots almost every day I’ve been here – of things that catch my eye in the city, of cafes I’m starting to love, of my lunch, a latte, or just anything I think would be worth sharing with those I love back home. I have been uploading them in big chunks to Facebook, but am realizing that there’s a lot of my time here in Dublin that hasn’t yet been recorded on my blog! Instead of slowly back-tracking and writing blog posts on things that happened two weeks ago, I’m just going to do a serious photo-dump, complete with lots of captions. Be warned, the photos were all taken with my iPhone, so they’re not great quality. Hopefully it will give you (whoever you are) a bit of an idea of what my month in Dublin has been like so far!

One thing that I had been really looking forward to trying out was the Dublin Unitarian Church. Here are some pictures from my first visit:

Following the Sunday morning church visit, I did a little tourist-ing at the Old Jameson Distillery, and ate lunch in St. Stephen’s Green.

But wait, there’s more!