A Year of Books in Review (Princess Belle Version)

Though I’ve done a few “Look Like a Princess But Don’t Act Like One” blog series recently, it occurred to me that a lot of so-called Disney Princesses don’t always act princessy (in a good way).

Take Belle from Beauty and the Beast, for an example: she thought she didn’t care about boys like Gaston and would have preferred reading about romance in novels instead until she met someone who gave her a library. To be fair, she wasn’t born a princess but I guess eventually became one since she won the heart of a prince.

And while I LOVE that feeling of knowing I look fabulous in an outfit, I do think that being into books can be very sexy. To put it into perspective, I want to look great on a date but I think it’s even better when you can discuss and share something you read while on the date.

I have never done so much leisure reading in my life until this past year.

Some of the books I’ve read I’ve already written about in previous blog entries earlier this year (especially the Fifty Shades of Grey series) so I’ve taken that into consideration and have listed the books I’ve read with brief reviews on each of them:

Screen Shot 2015-11-12 at 8.03.18 PMWhat Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty

I liked the storyline and this concept of looking at things from a younger version of yourself (though not by choice if you had a 10 year memory loss like Alice). Though the last memory she was left with was when she was 29 years old so it did make me think of how I view my life as a current 29 year old. Coincidentally, I have had quite the revisiting of the past decade this year (minus a memory loss incident) so in a way I was able to relate a bit. I wasn’t as big of a fan of the constant interruption in the story with the letters to the doctors or to the ex-lover by the other characters.
Click to buy What Alice Forgot

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Do Cool Sh*t (Quit Your Day Job Start Your Own Business & Live Happily Ever After) by Miki Agrawal

I myself have started my own business at the age of twenty and still continue to operate it today. So I loved reading about a fellow entrepreneur who also started young (not surprisingly, Miki Agrawal and I had quite a lot in common).

So whether you are thinking about starting your own business or have already done it, I think this is a good read if you can appreciate people writing about their experiences of taking chances and following through with them. If the title of the book wasn’t of any indication, the tone in which the book is written in is very casual so you won’t be yawning or dreading about reading some sort of business manual.

Click here to buy Do Cool Sh*t

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When you Lunch with the Emperor by Ludwig Bemelmans

I mentioned in a previous blog posting that I took this book with me to Paris because I thought it was appropriate that the author is the one who illustrated and wrote the Madeleine books (the one about the little French girl dressed in yellow, not the dessert).

This one is actually about the author’s real life experiences too, as it illustrates his life before he became a writer. As he comes from a family of hoteliers he naturally got started in the hotel business too.

I love how it was his dribbling on the back of menus of customers that came into the restaurant that got him started on his career as an artist (which came first before the writing eventually accompanied it). It really goes to show that you never know where exploring your creativity could take you.
Click here to buy When You Lunch With the Emperor

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Fifty Shades of Grey Trilogy by EL James

I wrote several different blog entries on these books and did watch the film at the cinema (I read the books because I wanted to read them before watching the movie).

It’s one of those books that I still sometimes like to leaf through random parts of because it’s just a guilty indulgence for me.

In spite of its popularity, I know it’s also received a lot of criticism. And I think that it really depends on what you like – just like how it is with sex! Not everyone likes the same thing. Though not everyone is into sex either (it’s just something a lot of people happen to be into)

Click here to buy Fifty Shades Trilogy

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Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

This book was gifted to me by my sister as a birthday gift this year (I still have quite a few birthday gifted books to work through at the moment). And when she gave it to me she explained that it was written by an asian  female author which seemed to be the primary reason for her choosing this book for me to read. I can only imagine what it was like to raise children together or in the midwest during the 70’s as a white-asian couple. Though the choices and mistakes people made along the way in the novel could happen to anyone, regardless of the race.  It’s one of those books that makes you think about the kinds of consequences one can have on others.
Click here to buy Everything I Never Told You

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Get the Guy by Matthew Hussey & Stephen Hussey

I’ve also written several blog entries in reference to Matthew Hussey and my experience of attending his seminar and 5 day retreat this year, giving me the opportunity to travel to Chicago and San Diego for the events.

Some people turn to God, drugs or retail therapy when they’re going through a rough time. For me, the insightful videos of his did it (in addition to reading this book and others mentioned in this blog entry).
Click here to buy Get the Guy(First Edition)

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All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

It’s evident from the moment you pick up the book that it’s quite the lengthy novel as its the thickness of a Harry Potter book. Thankfully, each chapter is actually short. As the two main characters don’t actually meet each other until well about three quarters of the book, it really does make the book seem all the more lengthier. That frustration of people not knowing what really happened to their loved ones when the war was over was there at the end of the book as was the case with a symbolic item mentioned throughout the book. If you want a feel-good book, don’t read this one.
Click to buy All the Light We Cannot See

Screen Shot 2015-11-12 at 8.31.10 PMThe Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

While I ended up loving the book, I also was quite taken by the brief biography of the author and ended up doing some research about her on my own thereafter since my curiosity was stirred. It makes you appreciate the novel on a different level and it makes one realize that a lot of fictional stories out there are often drawn from/inspired by the non-fictional events of the writer’s life. In some ways, it might be fair to say that what I mentioned in my previous blog about what Elizabeth Gilbert said about how it’s better to write for yourself rather than for others might ring true. I can see how writing The Secret Garden was probably therapeutic for the author.
Click to buy The Secret Garden

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10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing my Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works –A True Story by Dan Harris

I definitely did not expect to read a book about mediation written by a news anchor. And it’s for the very reason of the implication in the title of the book itself – I always imagine news anchors to be ambitious and hungry for the juicy stories, chasing them at all costs in spite of the dangers (I always think about that when I see weather reporters out there in deadly storms or in war zones). So one usually doesn’t associate that type of person with being Zen. According to his experiences scribed in the book, it sounds like the road to getting a hang of meditation was indeed quite rocky.
Click to buy 10% Happier

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The Girl Who Came Home:
A Novel of the Titanic
(P.S.) by Hazel Gaynor

Though the historical event of the ship sinking was indeed a tragic one that did bring out quite the number of casualties, the love stories paralleling the grandmother’s and the granddaughter’s does have a happy ending and with a surprise in this novel – which I liked. The switching back and forth between modern times and the past wasn’t annoying for me as the stories for each side unfolded organically.

Click here to buy The Girl Who Came Home

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Chicken Soup for the Soul by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, & Amy Newmark

I think this wins the award for my favorite book of the year. I love that each chapter is a different true story and my favorite one is titled “All the Good Things.” In fact, it inspired me to do this on-going project of writing out my own list of things I like about my friends and gifting them with the list I wrote about them (I’ve done about 20 of them so far). When you think of people saying all these nice things about you at your funeral, it makes me want to make sure that I have had the chance to let people know while they are still alive (or while I’m still alive). I personally have experienced having all these people I didn’t know at a funeral come up to me and tell me about the stories that the person being remembered at the funeral had told them about me and I want to leave behind the same kind of legacy.
Click to buy Chicken Soup

Picture 5Letters to the Man I Have Loved by Mirtha Michelle Castro Marmol

I can relate to Mirtha’s experience of scribing the experiences and emotions I’ve felt at times from men that I have loved in my life. Whether it’s the butterflies you feel from that happy high you get from being in love or the heartaches that have come afterwards, it’s one way to let it all out. Though she also wrote about her nephew and other men that she was not romantically involved with as well, so I liked that unexpected element.
Click to buy Letters, To The Men I Have Loved

Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 8.12.57 PMBig Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert

I wrote my previous blog entry on this book so it might seem a bit repetitive for me to write about it again. But after reading so many books this year and often becoming curious about the authors of them, I understand why I enjoyed reading this book so much as it does draw from Elizabeth Gilbert’s experiences. I recently got warned (out of genuine concern/care for me) about writing personal things about me online. And while I agree that you should take a second look before you press the “post” or “publish” button I do think personal stories ARE what engage people’s interest. I’m sure it’s one of the reasons why her famous work Eat Pray Love did so well.
Click to buy Big Magic

Screen Shot 2015-11-15 at 12.11.34 AMWinter Garden by Kristin Hannah

This one is about two daughters who are very different but each of them vying for love from their Russian mother who appears as cold as the winter garden outside their home that she likes to sit in. The one hope left is this fairy tale their mother used to tell them and the unfolding of the truth behind the fairy tale comes a bit delayed in the book for me. Though once the mother actually starts to get into telling the “fairy tale” it does become difficult to not want to find out what happens.
Click to buy Winter Garden


Screen Shot 2015-11-18 at 4.32.54 PMThe Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology that Fuel Success and Performance at Work by Shawn Achor

You can also view a Ted Talk by the author on this topic (I’m finding that I like checking out the author speaking in videos so I can imagine them speaking to me as I read their books). I own a business where the objective is to make the person feel better afterwards so for me the concept of making someone feel better leading to better physical performance has always been there (and that is one form of success) but it’s always nice to see things being backed up scientifically and in different scenarios.

Click to buy The Happiness Advantage


For book storage ideas, here’s a blog posting I did a few months ago on a super easy DIY book shelf project.

Happy Reading!






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