July. The month of the Fourth of July and my birthday. Also the month of the year that seems to fly by the fastest.
Linking up with Leigh Kramer to share the things I’m loving this month. Head to the link-up to get some great recommendations.
Just One Day – Gayle Forman. In high school, I remember spending an entire summer afternoon reading If I Stay, another Gayle Forman book about a girl in a car accident, and crying for nearly the entire book. Going into this book, I expected similar emotional manipulation. This story is about Allyson, a rule-follower who spontaneously decides to spend just one day in Paris with a mysterious street actor, and spends the entire next year getting over the experience. Beware: much boy angst and wanderlust for Paris ensue. This book wasn’t particularly deep, but when I read the ending, I might have actually stared, open-mouthed, at the book and said aloud, “That’s the end?,” so I guess I got my emotional manipulation after all. Overall, an enjoyable read that made me remember why, as a teenager, I could read for afternoons without stopping.
Dear Committee Members – Julie Schumacher. This book, by a writing prof at the U of M, was a clever story told in the letters of recommendation and business correspondence of a fictional writing professor of a small university. After working in a professor’s office and overhearing many conversations about inter-department politics and budget cuts, I found this book additionally amusing. The writing is smart, funny, accessible, and though sometimes it’s hard to find an overarching plot in the letters, the end is surprising and makes the entire book work.
Rules of Civility – Amor Towles. This is possibly my favorite kind of book: an exploration of different, fascinating characters where nothing particularly explosive happens but little events keep uncovering new revelations. Rules of Civility follows Katey Kontent, a young New Yorker, and the vivid people who shape her life in 1938. The story felt like a book version of Breakfast at Tiffany’s, with a sharper, less flaky narrator. The writing was clear, with clever descriptions and simple flair. Simply put, I loved this book.
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks – E. Lockhart. This YA book, about a girl who hates being underestimated and tries to infiltrate a boys-only secret society, is fun. It has a few traces of interesting social critique, but it wasn’t a stand-out for me.
Found – Micha Boyett. I stumbled across this in the library, and what a serendipitous gift as I lived out a quiet, seemingly unremarkable month. This was a gentle, grace-filled book about prayer and motherhood. I’m not a book underliner (especially in library books), but this book made me want to be one with lines like, “Stability is not something you do,” and “The antidote to exhaustion is not necessarily rest. The antidote to exhaustion is wholeheartedness.” Loved it.
Real Sex: The Naked Truth about Chastity – Lauren F. Winner. Why do I feel the need to clarify that one can read books about sex without having sex? Now that we’re clear, this book. It focused on chastity, or basically doing sex within God’s intentions. It did more than toss out a few verses from Paul; Winner went deeper into the theology of the body and sex, busted common myths, and shared her own story. Though I didn’t agree with all of her ideas, and I’m curious how her thoughts have changed now that she’s no longer a newlywed, I’d recommend this for the fascinating conversations it sparked and ways it made me question my unconsciously-held ideas.
Persuasion – Jane Austen. My dad claims that all Jane Austen novels/movies are exactly the same: sisters lacking money search for men. There is minor disaster and someone has a scandalous history. It ends happily. That isn’t exactly true… though this one did have all the major ingredients. It also had a little more rawness. Austen nails the descriptions of pining after lost love, perhaps because this novel supposedly based on her own lost romance.
Hector and the Search for Happiness. What a delightful movie. Hector, a bored psychiatrist, goes on an international journey to learn more about happiness (and find it for himself). He learns that happiness is such things as “being loved for who you are” and “avoiding unhappiness is not the road to happiness.” It’s tender and funny and insightful. (It’s also rated R for a few f-bombs and some implied sex, but I didn’t think it was too offensive. My mom recommended it to me, if that tells you anything.)
The Minion Movie. I have great friends who take me to children’s movies on my birthday. It was exactly the kind of silly you expect from the Minions. Nothing deep, but all kinds of cute. I still want a minion of my own.
Sleepless in Seattle. I got to introduce an uninitiated friend to this movie, which I feel is one of my callings in life.
The old Footloose. I prefer the new one, honestly. Is that heresy?
A little FRIENDS, and when I needed a something new, a little of The Vicar of Dibley. Alice, particularly her story about I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter, makes the entire show worth watching.
Dan + Shay – Nothin’ Like You
Tried-and-true favorites like NEEDTOBREATHE and Ellie Holcomb. I need something new – any thoughts? What are you loving this summer?
Still jamming on salads in a jar, especially one with ranch, salsa, rice, chicken, corn, guacamole, cheese, lettuce, and crushed torilla chips. The perfect summer lunch (and a cheaper Chipotle substitute).
Mail. Few things make me feel more loved than getting cards.
This Instagram account, a guy who records his adventures as a third wheel, is hysterical.
Free outdoor yoga classes. A park down the road from my apartment offers free yoga a few times a week, and I’ve been trying to hit them when my schedule is open. Though one time I stumbled into a PiYo (pilates and yoga fusion) session and thought I might die, the other sessions have ended with me feeling incredibly relaxed.
These realistic-looking images of Disney princes. Yessss.
Skype, the savior of long-distance relationships (and it’s free!)
Freshly updated dressers. I spent one evening spiffing up a beat-up dresser. All it took was a sample size can of paint of interior paint – just enough to cover the drawers – and some new drawer pulls from World Market.
Working with kids at the park. Pros: my job includes tasks like going off a massive zipline into a pool, playing laser tag, and giving piggyback rides in the pool. Cons: my job includes tasks like dealing with kids with selective hearing or ones that cry because they can’t get their shoes on, and I have been asked by children when I am going to replace both my phone and my car. At least it’s different every day.
Celebrating the Fourth of July at the cabin, complete with an extra day off, naps in the hammock, sparklers off the dock, and terrifying tube rides from my brother. Don’t trust 18-year-old boys to drive their older sisters.
Visiting my longtime roommate and friend. I got to hang out at her house, cackle at ridiculous Backstreet Boys and N’Sync music videos, craft, and drive around Minnesota’s Iron Range. I miss having her around!
Gearing up for a sweet friend’s wedding with a bridal shower. I can’t believe that someone I became friends with on my first day of college is about to get married!
Celebrating my birthday with dear friends. I got an evening full of surprises, complete with a visit from a faraway friend, dinner at Eddington’s with lots of breadsticks (a classic for us), the Minion movie (because nothing says 22 like animated movies), and cupcakes with candles. I felt so loved.
Hanging out with my family for another lake weekend. We ate a ridiculous number of peaches and spent many hours on the water. I swam all the way across the lake and failed at getting up on one ski. It was perfection.
What have you been into in July?