gift guide 2012: books

My mom gave me great advice yesterday. She said the best gift is something frivolous (lipstick, handbag, ridiculous kitchen goods) and a good book. Here’s my favorites from 2012.

Extremely Close and Incredibly Loud, Jonathan Safran Foer

This book had me laughing and crying on the same pages. I couldn’t put it down, because I fell in love with the main character. While some complain it was hard to read, the curiosity and innocence of the main character stole my heart and reminded me that working with kids is truly a gift. How Safran Foer did it, I’ll never know.

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And other Concerns) Mindy Kaling

Mindy writes in the opening that her book is not better than Tina Fey’s. I would beg to differ. She is funny and wise, a gift that rarely coincides. I loved her witty writing and refreshing take on life. Similar to Bossypants, I love that Mindy also struggled through her 20’s just like the rest of us, and made it out on top. The rest of us can only hope that survival equals a book deal. Girl power!

Every Last One, Anna Quindlen

This is not  a book I would usually read, as the protagonist is a mother of 3 in her 40s. Somehow Quindlen managed to create a deep bond between the main character and I, only to tear my heart in two. One of those books that stays with you long after the final page has been read.

Heaven is for Real, Todd Burpo

One of my girlfriends in Philly recommended this book to me. It’s a true story about a boy who “dies” during surgery and goes to heaven, able to recount specific details to his family and friends. Inspiring to read, even through the dramatized passages.

The Hunger Games Trilogy, Suzanne Collins

Apparently Collins stole the idea behind this book from someone else: guess what? I don’t care because I skimmed through these three babies in only a few days. Definite beach reads but totally worth it. #teamgale

Bonne lecture ;)

 

 

toulouse and southwest france

Sometimes when life is spinning by you, all you need to do is book a ticket to France. I was invited to a wedding in a 13th century abbey in the south of France this summer, and somehow I couldn’t refuse.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plus, I had some friend therapy seeing my old rommates from our little yellow kitchen. We rented an apartment and fell in love. We had our very own French appartment and our French friends in town from Paris for the wedding even stayed one night and cooked us dinner. It was so cozy: my Scot even brewed me his very British tea in the evenings before bed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Toulouse was our home base for the week. We listened to jazz at Toulouse plage, had a few rounds at the local student bars, took walking wine tours and generally traipsed about the city visiting museums and vintage books shops, tasting local treasures.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We took a few days trips, one being to Carcassonne, the Medieval walled city, and the other to Lourdes, France. Lourdes was an absolutely amazing experience. I have never seen such beauty in devotion, and it is something to appreciate no matter what you truly believe in.

And of course, watching the marriage of our friend was simply amazing. In true French fashion, we  huddled in an tiny, ornate chapel somewhere in Southwest France. The reception was in a restored Abbey just a few miles down the road. The champagne, dancing, and brunch the next day in a huge country chateau made it a weekend I will never forget.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Talk about therapeutic. No matter what the price, sometimes it takes a wild adventure to make you realize that even if you don’t shave your legs everyday and sometimes you daydream during important conference calls and you love a little too much just when you should be guarded, that’s really living.