Okay, after making that title I realize that’s a huge commitment…

First, some scenes from a Monday night hike. I decided to hike the Bubbles in Acadia, which somehow I’d never done before. It ended up being the perfect amount of strenuous for lugging around a 5 month pregnant belly.

I have a terrible sense of direction and was worried about getting lost/stuck outside- the sun still sets fairly early around here so I always try to be off trail by sunset especially if it’s not a trail I’ve been on before. So, I did the hike to Bubble Rock/South Bubble, and went back down to where the trail split to do North Bubble.

There is a smoother way to do this using the other trails nearby, but…I didn’t feel like experimenting. One of my goals this summer is to become more familiar with different routes so I’m not always going the same way up a mountain.

On to the favorite books list. These are seven books of a variety of genres that I think everyone should read, or at least put on their radar. I have all of them as hard copies because I love the comfort of seeing them on the shelf and pulling them out whenever I want.

My Favorite Books of All Time

Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux. The first time I was introduced to this story, I was 5ish and watching Wishbone on PBS (seriously need to find out how to watch these so my kiddo will know how amazing this show was). There are so many things I love about this story- the mystery, a haunted soul that terrorizes others, the tangled love stories, and most of all, a human being trying desperately for one shot at experiencing love. That’s what really melts me at the end of the story. To me, it’s about a man who throughout life experiences mistreatment and hate, which becomes his way of handling life. When he finally does find someone he loves, he handles it with violence and ultimatums (it’s not cool, but for someone who’s been in solitude for so long, he doesn’t know any different). Only at the end does something click and he lets go…which also means he lets go of his chance at companionship (I don’t want to spoil the ending even though this story has been around for hundreds of years at this point…).

100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. A couple of my good friends in college were Spanish majors, and they talked about this novel extensively. My senior year I read the English translation. I was warned by someone who read both the English and Spanish versions that the experience is slightly different and some things just don’t translate as beautifully, but…I don’t speak Spanish, let alone read it in the context of a complex novel. One of the main reasons I love this story is the magic realism (where things that are magical/out of the ordinary are accepted and treated as normal). The other reason is I love stories that follow a family or families through a few generations- if you read this, you’ll be thankful for the family tree at the beginning of the novel.

It Starts with Food by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig. Another post-college read, this was recommended by a co-worker who was starting her first Whole30 at the time. My views towards food were still very skewed at this point after leaving college with a mostly dormant eating disorder ready to rear it’s ugly head at any moment. I was still a believer in calories in, calories out, and still drank heavily to avoid everything/one.

This book tackles our food believes with a tough-love approach, and explains the affects different food has on our body through the chemical breakdown process, how our hormones respond, and what that does to our moods. Sometimes it feels a little dense when you get into the real science-y parts, but it’s definitely worth the read, even if you aren’t thinking about doing a Whole 30 right away.

Sense and Sensibility by Jane AustenOne of the highlights of my life as an English major was getting to take a class all about Jane Austen my junior year. We read her major novels and a few that were not as popular, but Sense and Sensibility still came out as my favorite (which may or may not have something to do with Alan Rickman playing Colonel Brandon in the film…). I think at different points in my life I’ve identified as Elinor and at others Marianne. I also don’t have a sister, so the relationship between the Dashwood sisters and how they grew up in the same home but had such different personalities always fascinated me. Oh, and did I mention Alan Rickman is in the film version?

East of Eden by John Steinbeck. love East of Eden. It’s another one of those stories that follows different families through a few generations. It also mirrors the Abel and Cain story in two generations of brothers who are vying for their father’s love and affection. There was a lot in this story that is heartbreaking and bleak (like a lot of Steinbeck’s work) but it leaves you with a sense of hope at the end.

Born to Run by Christopher McDougall. My first year out of college, I read this on my Kindle (at the time I had begun training for my first ever marathon). I was fascinated by the story of the Taharuma and the American runners who went to South America to join in the race. McDougall also paints a great picture of human anatomy, our history of running, and what our bodies are really capable of. To this day if I feel my back slacking on a run, I will use the visualization technique of pretending there is a rope around my chest pulling a huge tire behind me- instantly improves my form (and takes my mind off of being tired for a bit).

 

Mama Gena’s School of Womanly Arts by Regena Thomashauer. A couple years after college, I did a lot of really tough digging deep work to sort through some issues that had finally become too big to ignore. In addition to counseling and reading stuff by Brene Brown, a friend recommended this book. It’s one of the best “get your groove back” books I’ve ever read- to the point where if any of my lady friends are having a tough time, this is what I recommend. It helped me come out of my shell as a person, and it’s one you can revisit at any point in life.

I’ve left out several books that deserve mentions, but I think I’ll save them for a future post :).

What’s your favorite book?

Do you have a summer reading list?

Do you have a good sense of direction?

Favorite Books of All Time (& Some Hiking Highlights)