Books I've Read & Places I've Loved: November 2018

Like July, November was a month where I accidentally took a break from writing. I say accidentally because I got to the end of the month and realized that I had barely posted anything, and when things were posted, I forgot to share them like I usually do. This month was one of many ups and downs. I had my first college breakdown (my writing teacher had said that if it didn’t happen during weeks 3-5, we should all expect one before Thanksgiving. He was right), had a mini crisis when it came to this blog, and tried my hardest to expand my social circle while still staying on top of everything else. November was a little crazy, but it was also really good.



This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel
I think it’s official- I will read anything recommended to me by my cousin. I should always keep in mind that anything recommended by her will result in me crying, but that’s neither here nor there. This book is spectacular. It revolves around a family of seven, with four boys and a child who was born a boy but discovers she’s actually a girl. This book goes in directions you don’t expect, and this book makes you think about how not even the black and white is black and white.

I recommend this book for: Fans of Celeste Ng (author of Everything I Never Told You and Little Fires Everywhere). The writing is very similar, and Frankel has the ability to wrap readers in the lives of the characters and make them feel like they are part of the story.
If this book seems like a little too much right now, try:
Everything I Never Told You (Celeste Ng). Like I said, the writing is similar and the story is still deep, but in a different way that may seem more approachable.


The Drama Department’s Fall Show - You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown
I wasn’t expecting to get involved with the the drama department so quickly, but when a friend called to ask if I could help with house management, I jumped at the chance and said yes. This month I spent hours in a headset doing my best to keep up with unfamiliar- yet still extremely familiar- territory. I loved helping backstage, and it reminded me of how much I love tech people and being involved with a production in any way possible.


Sacramento, CA
I realized towards the end of Thanksgiving Break that I hadn’t taken any pictures of my time back home, so here’s the picture I took in the Walla Walla airport to show how small it is. Going home for a week was exactly what my tired soul needed. It was so nice to burn candles, eat home cooked food, and play music without using headphones. I got to play card games and watch movies with my family, and I got to spend a day with friends I hadn’t really spent time with in over a year. I have a whole post going up next week about what it can be like to go home when you’ve been on your own for a couple months, but the main thing to take away is that I was really happy to go home, even for a short while.

November was a month of inner turmoil. I had that breakdown, started the process of changing my major and adding another minor (more on these later), and spent most of my time trying to figure out how to be a little happier with my circumstances. But I also took time to remember how blessed I am. I go to a good school and I am lucky enough to be surrounded by good people doing good things. This month may have been a little strange, but I’m still very happy to be where I am, even when it isn’t perfect.

Books I've Read & Places I've Loved: October 2018

Before we get to this month’s summary, I feel the need to let you know that tomorrow is my 19th birthday and I’m really excited about it. In other news, this was a really good month for me. I continued the process of adjusting to college and have settled into new routines. I picked up some new hobbies (swing dancing is one of my new favorite things), and still had time to read some new books and go to a couple of new places.



Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton
Last month, during the week of the Kavenough hearings, I posted something on my Instagram story about believing survivors. My cousin saw it and mentioned that I’d probably like this book. I bought the audiobook right away, and I listened to it everyday for a week while working. This book made me think about my own childhood, and maybe even gave me an insight into what some of the people around me were thinking and going through ten years ago.

I’d recommend this for: Fans of Brené Brown. Even though both women have their own distinct voice and they don’t talk about the same ideas, there is something that feels familiar.
I wouldn’t recommend this for: People who aren’t in the right place in their lives to listen to someone else’s vulnerability and see if any of it is applicable to them. And that’s okay! This book is pretty darn honest, and if you can’t appreciate it I’d wait a little bit. I also wouldn’t recommend this if topics like alcohol, infidelity, or eating disorders are triggering for you.


Daring Greatly by Brené Brown
My mom has been talking about this book for forever, and when I was a Freshman in high school she used to read me parts of it when I’d be having a particularly bad day. After reading Love Warrior, I decided to give this one a try for myself. Whenever my mom would read me sections, they were always about perfectionists and perfectionism (shocking, I know). Because of this, I expected the majority of the book to also be like this, but boy oh boy was I wrong. Apparently, most of the book is about shame, and this became a book I didn’t know I needed.

I’d recommend this for: Anyone who, like me, needs a book about how shame affects our daily lives and how we can overcome it.
I wouldn’t recommend this for:
People who aren’t fans of Brené Brown. I still think everyone should read this book, but if you don’t like the author then you won’t be able to hear what she has to say.


A Man Called Ove by Fredrick Backman
I have become the girl who really only reads books recommended to her by her mother and her cousin, and I am very much okay with that. My cousin sent me this book as a graduation gift, and for whatever reason I kept putting it to the side to read something else. I am so, so, so glad I finally picked it up. When I started it, I wasn’t so sure since it seemed pretty slow, but it quickly picked up speed. Every chapter brings you deeper into the minds of the main character, and every chapter brings you deeper into the world of the other characters. This book made me cry (and when you’re cleaning bathrooms that’s not helpful). This book made me understand a lot of things a little bit more. This is definitely one of my favorite books that I read this year, and I’m happy it’s the last book I read while being eighteen.

I’d recommend this for: Everyone. E-v-e-r-y-o-n-e.
I wouldn’t recommend this for:
See above.


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The Barn Party (Adventist Halloween party)
One of things I’ve always found humorous about SDA culture is the universal agreement that if a gathering of more than, hmm, fifteen people should occur in the month of October it must be called a “Barn Party” (barn optional). This particular barn party was held in the middle of October, and I almost didn’t go. I was snuggled up in my bed when Annaliese asked me if she could draw some whiskers on my face with eyeliner. I rolled my eyes, but it was actually a really good night.


Howard Tietan Park
One Friday morning, I got up at 6:30 to go watch a hot air balloon stampede with my roommate and another friend from high school who also ended up in college with me. It was very cold, very colorful, and very fun. I’ve always wanted to go see hot air balloons, and I have on more than one occasion googled flights to Albuquerque to see the giant hot air balloon festival in New Mexico. I’d still love to do that someday, but this stampede, with these people, in that park was one of the best ways I’ve spent an early morning.


A Little Hotel Near My School/Downtown Walla Walla
As I’ve mentioned before, Family Weekend happened to fall the weekend before my birthday. My momma came up for the weekend (and is also staying for tomorrow too! Yay!!), and I left school for a few days to stay in a hotel with her. We ordered food and watched Gilmore Girls and I was able to fully relax for the first time since leaving home. It was the perfect way for me to spend my last weekend of being eighteen, and I’m really going to miss her when she goes back home tomorrow.

This month was a beautiful one. It was really weird not being around my family all the time, and at times the lack of familiar faces was overwhelming. But there were so many mornings where I woke up happy, and there were many, many nights where I went to bed smiling. I’m so thankful to be in this place, with all these new people, doing all these new things. This month felt like a really good start for the rest of 2018 and the rest of the school year. I hope all of you had a good October as well. If not, here’s to a wonderful November.

Books I've Read & Places I've Loved: September 2018

Well... That was September. This month was full of beautiful change, tearful goodbyes, and funny memories that will last a lifetime. I read some books, went on some hikes, and tried to make some new friends. This month I moved to a new state, into a new room, with new people around me all the time. My introverted-extrovert self was challenged every day of the last two weeks, and I already have lots of new stories to tell and things I can write about. You can expect those to pop up very soon, but for right now here are the books I read and the places I loved in this month of September:



Sea of Strangers by Lang Leav
I know I read some last month, but in general I haven't read a lot of poetry this year. For whatever reason, I find myself being drawn to memoirs and fiction a little more. Still, poetry is very important to me, and reading it helps me write it. I also figured that reading a book of poetry would be a fairly easy way to get used to reading for fun while in college. I picked up this book because I liked the title, but the inside pages didn’t live up to my expectations. The writing felt very adolescent, and that is something I was trying to get away from when it comes to poetry. Still, there are pieces of this book that I did like, and there are some lines that went underlined.

I recommend this book if: You're just getting into poetry and want some prose scattered throughout to balance things. 
I don't recommend this book if: You want to read about love, but you don't want the prose or one sentence poems. Instead, try reading something by Pablo Neruda. He's one of my favorites. 


Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
For my week of orientation I was part of a book club, and this was the book that was chosen. I got the audio book, and started it the Thursday before I left (I know, I know). I listened to it while I finished packing, while loading up the car, the morning before I left, and on the drive up to Washington. I finished it in my dorm room just in time for the first meeting on Tuesday. This book is intense at it’s best and heartbreaking at it’s worst. It was written by a lawyer who’s entire job is getting innocent people off death row, so you can imagine what I mean when I say it’s intense. There is one story that flows throughout the book with other stories dotted here and there, and it is all wrapped up really well. I would definitely, definitely, definitely recommend this book.

I’d recommend this book if: You’re angry with the criminal justice system and want someone to show the light that can shine through the darkness.
I wouldn’t recommend this book if:
topics relating to racial tension, domestic violence, mental health, or sexual harassment/abuse are triggering for you.



Hidden Falls, CA
This month I tried to soak up as much of California as possible before heading off to college. The first day of the month saw me up near my grandparents house on a hike I've only done a few times, but always enjoy. I also realized again how awkward I can be when it comes to taking pictures, but that's okay because we're working on it. 


Folsom Lake, CA
My grandmother's birthday is right at the beginning of September, and it happened to be a really beautiful, not too hot day. We went hiking by Folsom Lake, and got to go out to some of the "islands" that are usually covered by water. The "lake" is actually a dam, and some of the water had been drained recently, and the little strip of land that connects the islands wasn't under water like it usually is. We walked around and took pictures on the rocks, and hopefully made some good memories for my Grandmom on her birthday. 

The Atlas - College Place, WA
Towards the end of my orientation week, the nearby, student-run coffee house (literally, it’s an old house turned into a coffee place) opened up again and had an open mic. I brought my poetry notebook with me just in case I decided to do something, and, sure enough, I wound up reading this poem up front. I was nervous, especially since I’d never read a poem in front of that many people before, but I’m really glad I did it, and hopefully I’ll do more in the future.


A Coffee Shop With a Name I Can’t Remember
Whoops… It was a really nice place, though! On the first day of Fall, I went into downtown with the other two people who came from my high school. We found a coffeeshop and I ordered a chai to celebrate the beginning of one of my favorite seasons. That whole day was good for my soul, and this coffee shop was the perfect place for it all to come together.

September was definitely a month of change- some good, and some not so good. This month I started college which brought so much new along with it. This month was certainly an adjustment period, and while that can be really uncomfortable it’s important (and necessary) for the beauty to follow. Yesterday I was rereading Letters to a Young Poet (which I first read back in August of last year) and came across this quote: "Therefore... love your solitude and bear with sweet sounding lamentation the suffering it causes you. For those who are near you are far, you say, and that shows it is beginning to grow wide around you… Your solitude will be a hold and home for you even amid very unfamiliar conditions and fro there you will find all your ways.” (Rainer Maria Rilke) As I go into October (my favorite month of the year), I’m going to try to remember that quote, and if it helps you at all I hope you will too.

Books I've Read & Places I've Loved: August 2018

Oh August, what a month you were. I read a lot, went back to my high school to say hi to a few people, and felt the beginning of college creep closer and closer. I also wrote a lot, which was a refreshing change from July. But without further ado, here's a closer look into what my August was like: 



Swan by Mary Oliver
When I was thirteen years old, my mom took me to see Mary Oliver at a poetry reading. At the time, I didn't really like poetry all that much, and I couldn't see the point of going to watch someone read their poems out loud (oh, young one, how much you will change...). I went anyway, and even though I didn't totally understand everything that she was saying, I liked how Mary Oliver read her poems, and I liked how simple yet deep they were. A little while ago, I got this book of her poems. I read in a only a couple of days, and I once again was astonished at how simple yet deep her words are. Mary Oliver is able to reach the deepest part of the reader's soul, and through that she brings peace and comfort. Just like nature does. 

I recommend this book for: Lovers of poetry, espcially poetry about animals, nature, and finding the beauty in everyday things. 
I don't recommend this book for: Those who prefer poetry that is obviously deep. For you I recommend Give Me a God I Can Relate To


In Conclusion, Don't Worry About It by Lauren Graham
Back in April, I read Talking As Fast As I Can, but when I was buying that book, I discovered that Lauren Graham had another book coming out that was specifically written for high school graduates. Being a soon-to-be high school graduate, I preordered the book. I got in April, but it had been sitting on my bookshelf until a couple of weeks ago. Like in her memoir, Graham uses her words to encourage, to make others feel less alone, and to let them know that whatever happens, it was supposed to happen that way. It's only around 40 pages,  This book is full of little tidbits of wisdom, and pocket-sized comfort for bad days. 

I recommend this book for: The new high school seniors, the class of 2018, and anyone else who just went through a giant life change. 
I don't recommend this book for: Those who are looking for something longer (if this is you, I recommend Talking As Fast As I Can), or who don't like Graham's writing. If this is you, but you still want something inspirational in the form of a memoir, try Bossypants


We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
Back in December, my teacher who also ran the book club recommended this to all of us. The way she described it made it sound interesting, so I kept my eye out for it. We Were Liars is a a book that attacks the image families present to other people, and it does it a mysterious way. This book doesn't feel like a mystery at first, but after the first two parts, you quickly start to realize that not everything is as it seems. If you like mysteries, I'd definitely put this on your list. 

I recommend this for: Fans of Celeste Ng. The writing is similar, but still distinct enough that each author has their own voice. 
I don't recommend this for: Anyone who doesn't like mysteries. If you still want a fiction book that you can get lost in, try To Kill a Mockingbird


 I took this picture from their  Facebook Page

I took this picture from their Facebook Page

Bayside Church
I was raised in Seventh Day Adventist schools and churches, and had never gone to a church of another denomination for a service. But a couple weeks ago, Annaliese asked me if I wanted to go to a non-denominational church with her. She said the music was good, and I'd been trying to find something to do on Sunday anyway, so I said yes. It was one of those mega churches, so there were lots of people, and there were drums and lots of lights, which I didn't see much of in church growing up. I actually really liked it. Since it was non-denominational, there was less theology and more Jesus, which I think is what church needs to be anyway. 

My High School
The school I graduated from has an alumni football game at the beginning of every school year. I was never on the football team (or any team, for that matter), but a few of my friends were, so I went to watch them and to see some of my other friends who are now Juniors and Seniors. It was a bittersweet experience for me. I loved seeing people I hadn't seen since June, but it was definitely strange to go to my high school campus and know that I won't be back for a really long time. They've already started school, and some things are different. I'm happy for everyone that is still there, but it's certainly a weird experience to know that your time with the school is now over. Still, seeing people was really good. I'm going to miss everyone very much, and you can bet that I'll be trying to get a few of the seniors to join me in Washington ;-). 

This month was a good one. I used the motivation I'd regained to write a bunch of future posts for my first quarter of school. I read a lot, started writing in my journal again, and did a couple really good things with really good people. I know that at the beginning of the summer I superstitiously thought August would be the worst month, but that couldn't be further from the truth. I have throughly enjoyed the month of August, and I hope all of you can say something similar. Here's to September, who knows where I'll be this time next month. 

Books I've Read & Places I've Loved: July 2018

Well, July is over and my oh my what a month it was. This month felt a lot like June at the beginning, with the theatre internship most evenings and mornings spent watching The West Wing and struggling to write in my journal. Once tech week for the theatre hit, however, everything picked up. I saw opening night of The Music Man, and felt an overwhelming pride for how far I've seen the actors come. I went to France and Luxembourg, and that was really good for so many reasons. As you'll see, I didn't read anything, but I did a lot of other good things. 


This month, like June of 2017, I didn't read anything. The first part of July was intense, and I felt bogged down by a lot of things, including reading and writing. I didn't post anything to this website the last couple of weeks, and fill that extra time with reading. So what did I do instead? I made myself live. I finished my internship with a theatre, and I went to France and Luxembourg. I got out of my own head. I forced myself to sit and not think about anything except for what was right in front of me. I have books ready to be read in August, but honestly I'm very happy that I didn't read anything in July. 



Paris, France
I had been wanting to go to France (and Paris in particular) since I was twelve. I'm so excited to write about my experiences in the three cities I went to, but for now I'll just say that Paris is beautiful, but it's beautiful in different ways than what I was expecting. Cobblestone streets aren't as common as I'd thought, but pigeons that follow you everywhere certainly are. The city doesn't smell like cherry blossoms or daisies or roses, it smells like a city. 


Marseille, France
Marseille was probably my favorite part of the trip. A city in the south of France, Marseille is known for it's soap, which I found random yet delightful. While there, my mom and I went to a market place that had been set up right across from our hotel, where we bought souvenirs for everyone back home (and for ourselves, too). Speaking of hotels, our room had a terrace, and we spent part of both our nights there sitting outside and observing the goings on from above. It was truly a beautiful place, and I would go back in a heartbeat. 


Dommeldange, Luxembourg
When thinking of things we could do while in France, I kept wondering if there was any way we could leave and go to a surrounding country for a little bit. I remembered learning about Luxembourg in Sophomore year World History (it's capital is Luxembourg City, which is very helpful when you need to learn all the countries and capitals), and figured that since it's such a small country, it wouldn't be hard to pop over for 24 hours. So my mom and I took a train, and spent one night in a Double Tree hotel while we watched TV in English for the first time in a few days and ate pizza. It was an odd way to spent our time in a new city, but it was fun nonetheless. In the morning we went for a walk in the nearby neighborhood, and it was quite beautiful. The walls were colorful and there were lots of flowers. To me, it actually felt a little bit like England, except almost everyone spoke German. 

I came into July feeling very unmotivated with this blog. I've had it for over a year and a half now, and somewhere in June I lost my love for it a little bit. So I took a two week break and focused on two other things that I love- theatre and traveling. I needed to get out of my own head so that I could step back, see this blog for what it is, and come back feeling like I actually had things to write about. August is going to be good. I have posts read to go up that I am very proud of (some of which I have been working on since March). My motivation for this blog that I love so much is back, and I'm excited to see what the rest of this year has in store. 

Books I've Read & Places I've Loved: June 2018

Remember last June when I didn't read any books and basically hid from the world all month? I'm very happy to say that this wasn't the case this year. Sure, June had it's ups and downs like every month does, but overall it was still a better month than June of 2017. This month I started an internship and got to spend lots of time with theatre oriented people who love many of the same things I do. I also read a book that gained a permanent place on my bookshelf. 


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Bossypants by Tina Fey
I've mentioned this a couple of times since October, but this year I really wanted to read more memoirs. I definitely haven't read enough of them yet, but this summer I wanted to change that. Last time I was at Barnes & Noble, I picked this one up. Bossypants was released in 2011, and I've been hearing about it almost ever since. I love Tina Fey, and after watching all of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, I decided to give her book a try. I finished it in only a few days, and I loved it. It made me laugh, and gave me much of the same information from Jenna Fischer in The Actor's Life, only with a more humorous take. 

I recommend this book for: Fans of Tina Fey, memoirs written by comedians, or both. 
I don't recommend this book for: Anyone who doesn't like any of the above, and anyone who doesn't like Saturday Night Live



Stage Right Productions
This month, I've been working as an intern for a nearby community theatre. I'm the intern for their production of The Music Man, and so far it's been a really good experience. There's still a few weeks to go, and they're going to be busy weeks, but I'm excited for them. I'm going to miss this internship when it's over, and I'll always be thankful that I had it. So far I've learned a lot that I wouldn't have learned otherwise, and it's all information I needed to know in order to grow and progress. 

This has been a month of adjustment to a simpler life style and a slower life pace. I've spent a lot of time watching movies that have been in my Netflix List for forever (should I rename this Books I've Read, Things I've Watched, and Places I've Loved? Haha, nah...) and journaling. June has been a very reflective month, and I think we all need one of those every once in a while. Here's to July, I hope it's a good one for all of you.