30 Before 30

This July, I decided to make sure to read 30 books before I turn 30 (at that time a year and a half away). I was inspired by one of the many posts on ‘books to read in your twenties’ pinned to Pinterest. My original inspiration has since been swallowed up by copycat posts and may be lost to the island of things that used to be on the internet. 20140107-100117.jpg

For many people, 30 books may easily be read in one year, or even a few months or weeks. My schedule doesn’t allow for as much binge reading as I used to do as a kid. I work full time, spend long hours improving my health and the health of others by running my health coaching practice, and I have many various hobbies including cooking and lots of crafting. And as I haven’t been able to get into audiobooks to listen to whilst cooking or crafting, reading time is at a premium. The majority of my reading happens in bed, either at the end of my day, or during the day if I’m under the weather. I am not pushing myself to read 30 new-to-me books, or setting a list that I must accomplish. Simply reading through 30 books will do it.

My resolve set, I went to my book case to see if I had anything I was in the mood for.

1. My Life in France – by Julia Child

Luckily, this book had been passed on to me a few years ago, and I had never got around to reading it. What a joy! I mean, who doesn’t love Julia Child?!?! Her descriptions of her experience in France as a new wife and an American living abroad are fantastic. Reading this book made me want to go to France, learn French, and add butter to everything I cook. It is a memoir in the voice of Julia Child, so there is personality plus! I felt so uplifted and motivated after reading this book. I was really refreshing. I also couldn’t help narrating my own life in my head for a few days afterward!

A must-read for anyone who is a fan of food, France, travel, unlikely protagonists, or Mrs. Child herself.

2. A Game of Thrones – Book One of A Song of Ice and Fire – George R. R. Martin

I am one of many who fell in love with the HBO series “Game of Thrones” immediately. My room mate had read all of the books, and after two seasons of the show, I became increasingly eager to find out what happens to the characters next. Since our room mate’s copy was on loan at the time, my boyfriend bought us each a copy of A Game of Thrones, so we could read it at the same time, but at our own pace. He didn’t make it all the way through the book. I think if I wasn’t already familiar with most of the characters, I wouldn’t have either. George R. R. Martin published this book in 1996, and his writing style was clunky and awkward for me. The majority of the writing deals with events between characters, and there is very little description of the setting and the appearance of the characters. In this case, I was grateful to have seen a visual representation of the book before reading the actual text.

3. A Clash of Kings – Book Two of A Song of Ice and Fire – George R. R. Martin

Because I was determined to gain insight into the future of GoT characters beyond the third season, I marched on to the second volume of ASoIaF. I was pleased to learn many details that were left out of the HBO series, and extra-pleased that the writing seemed to be a bit better.

4. A Storm of Swords – Book Three of A Song of Ice and Fire – George R. R. Martin

Things started to get juicy with this book! In fact, I have recommended to multiple people who couldn’t make it through the first book, but love the TV series, to start here and read books 3-5. This book is so long that in some countries it is split in two volumes! The first half covers the events in HBO’s season 3 of Game of Thrones. The second half…. YES! All of the awesome future events that I was waiting for! At last! It was fantastic. I read late into the night. I moved on to the next immediately!

5. A Feast for Crows – Book Four of A Song of Ice and Fire – George R. R. Martin

Better writing, more excitement, MUCH more to contain in order to not spoil the plot for my TV-series-only-viewing boyfriend. Luckily I have my room mate to spill my excitement & frustration with! More characters die, more are introduced, it’s the George R. R. Martin circle of life.

6. A Dance With Dragons – Book Five of A Song of Ice and Fire – George R. R. Martin

This one was tough to get through. Not because it wasn’t awesome. It. Was. Awesome. So awesome in fact, that I tried to savor every last page and stretch it out as long as possible. If you work your way through the Song of Ice and Fire series, I recommend taking your time with books 4 & 5 especially. So much happens to so many characters, you may need to double-back to remind yourself of past events. Savor A Dance With Dragons because it could be ten years before George gets around to finishing the next book! (But seriously, I hope not.)

7. There’s More to Life Than This – Theresa Caputo

My boyfriend and I are obsessed with Theresa Caputo’s show The Long Island Medium, on TLC. (Ok maybe I’m a little more obsessed than he is….) The title of the show basically gives you a clue as to what the series looks like: out-of-this-world Long Island woman with fake nails and gigantic hair, gives messages from the afterlife to the living. Every episode is a tear-jerker, and they just make me feel good. I have suffered two huge and unexpected losses in the past two years, and as part of my healing process, I have educated myself on what happens after death. I have a very scientific brain, but I am also very open to possibilities and believe that there are many forces at work around us that we can not prove scientifically or make complete sense of. I believe in reincarnation, and I believe that between lives our spirits hang out and participate in some of the activities here on Earth in Spirit form. Theresa’s book left me with two lingering ideas: 1. The soul chooses when to be born and when to die, and frequently, it chooses a death option that would be the least harmful to their family. This point resonated with me because both of the recent deaths in my family have been “freak” events. I was left wondering why they happened to someone in my family. But now I believe that their souls chose to leave in a way that was not anyone’s “fault” in order to leave the family just in grief and not in grief and feud. 2. I feel the need to examine my spirituality and belief system. Theresa was raised Catholic, and she brings in a lot of religious ideas and figures from her religion. She does try to express that what she sees and feels from the other side is filtered through her Catholic lens, but it is really more universal. Still, she is unwavering on her portrayal of God as a singular force of good and light of which our souls are a very small part of. This was not the first time I had read this theory. I was left with a lingering sense of wondering what I believe and what I am willing to open my mind to.