Favorite Books of 2018 + What I Want to Read

Happy Book Lover’s Day! I love anything that celebrates books and reading. This year has been pretty different for me in that I haven’t really read as much as I normally do. But this year has also held a lot of changes and transitions, so I’m sure that has a lot to do with it. I wanted to share with you some of my favorites that I’ve read already this year, as well as a few titles that are on my “to-read” list!

Book Lover's Day
Photo by Alisa Anton on Unsplash

Favorites of 2018

Everybody, Always // Who doesn’t love Bob Goff? I mean, really. This book was everything and I just want to be Bob’s best friend.

Little Book of Hygge // I loved this little book and it definitely made me want to hop and plane bound for Denmark. The concept of hygge – coziness and connection and comfort – is one that I strive for in my life all the time, but it was fun to read about a place and a culture that prioritizes and celebrates this too!

The Sacred Enneagram // Like basically everyone else lately, I absolutely love the Enneagram. I am Type 9, but also tied with Type 6 in my results from quiz at the Enneagram Institute. I absolutely loved this book and how it connected traits from each type to our faith journey and how it can help us grow in our identities as we grow in our relationship with God as well.

Sweet Laurel Cookbook // I’ve been a little cookbook-obsessed this year and this one is not only beautiful, but the recipes are absolutely delicious! My favorites have been the German Chocolate Cake, Baked Churros, and Vegan Caramel. Everything is free of refined sugar, gluten, and dairy and absolutely delicious!

What I Want to Read

The Life-Giving Home

The Life-Giving Table

Come Matter Here

Begin Again

Happy Reading!

Eight Years

Last Friday, The Vampire Diaries ended its eight year run on The CW. Why am I writing that here? Because the show’s ending is actually very bittersweet for me personally.

(Which does seem a little funny and almost embarrassing to admit, truthfully.)

The Vampire Diaries played an important role in my life. I came upon the show not long after discovering the Twilight series and both franchises helped to alter the course of my life, believe it or not.

Full disclosure, admitting my fangirling nerdiness to you in this moment feels very strange, but bear with me.

As I think back to the past eight years that I was a fan of this show, it’s truly incredible to think of the ways in which I have changed in that time. At the time, I was a freshman in my first year of college. I was naive about the world and thought that I had my future mapped out. I was a freshman education major who was obsessed with pop culture and yearned for a career in journalism – covering my favorite celebrities, books, and films. It wasn’t much after this that I stumbled on the world of fansite blogging and found the way that I could write articles on the things I loved while also keeping myself on the more realistic path of teaching.

It opened the door for me to learn and fall in love with writing and blogging. Through Twitter, I found other women who loved the same books, movies, and TV shows that I did and our friendship has lasted through marriages, pregnancies, and endures still today.

After joining a Twilight fansite as a contributor and learning as much as I could, I launched a site that centered around The Vampire Diaries. It was short-lived, but it was a stepping stone towards launching my second site for the Divergent series. From there, I found myself running headlong into a life that was glamorous, exciting, and wholly unexpected.

I visited film sets, attended Hollywood premieres with a press badge, and interviewed celebrities in the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills. I became obsessed with social media notoriety, with the names of those that followed me on social media, and finding a way to make this life my reality for as long as possible.

Throughout all of it, I pushed God out to the wings and kept my distance. I didn’t want to ask Him what my future really looked like because all I saw were the bright lights and glamour that I thought could keep me satisfied. I decided to pursue a master’s degree in mass communication and I thought I was set. Until it all came crashing down when I entered a season that led me to lose six family members in two years.

I’m not the same person that I was eight years ago.

And I have God to thank for that.

I do feel incredibly honored that God would allow me the chance to live out my dream like He did over the past eight years. He didn’t have to. I wasn’t even in the practice of communicating with Him at the time back then, but He still knew my heart. He knows all of my hopes and dreams. Though a career in journalism or social media marketing never quite panned out, that time still represents a period of my life that I will never forget. God granted me the opportunity to live the live I had always wanted – and then led me to the life that would sustain me far better than the other ever would have.

Wreck My Life

Wreck My Life by Mo Isom Aiken

Sometimes it just amazes me at the ways in which God orchestrates certain things so that they all come together at exactly the right moment for exactly the right people. It’s pretty much been the story of my life for the past couple of years but it’s also how I feel about Mo Isom’s book, Wreck My Life. This book and Mo’s incredible story came to me exactly when it needed to and left me truly inspired and encouraged by each and every word.

Up until recently, I really wasn’t familiar with Mo Isom or her incredible story, I actually just happened on this book one day as I was scrolling through Twitter. Annie Downs, another (amazing) Christian author, tweeted that everyone should check out Wreck My Life and mentioned something about a launch team. It grabbed my attention and I saw that to apply for the launch team, you just had to send Mo a direct message on Instagram. So, I snapped a quick selfie with the caption “this is my excited face” and sent along my information. I’ll do anything for a book, apparently. A few days later, I got a selfie back from Mo and she said that I was a part of the Wreck My Life launch team so clearly my not-so-inner dork prevailed….

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Low Country Shenanigans- YALLFest 2013

It’s been a trip in the works since May when Veronica Roth was announced as the keynote speaker but finally the time arrived for me to head down to Charleston, SC for YALLFest 2013. YALLFest in a Young Adult Book Festival created by bestselling authors Kami Garcia, Margaret Stohl, and Melissa de la Cruz. This year’s festival included 50 fantastic authors with New York Times Bestselling Authors Veronica Roth and Rae Carson as the keynote speakers. I attended with my friends Sarah and Jenna who I have known for over three years but had yet to meet in person until now.

L TO R: Myself, Sarah, and Jenna

The day began early at 6:45am as we stood in line to receive our wristbands for Veronica Roth’s signing line. They were only giving out 500 and we needed to get lower wristband numbers so we wouldn’t miss out on Tahereh Mafi and Ransom Riggs’ Coffee Talk session. We love them. Luckily, we were issued wristbands below #50 so we were able to head straight up to the signing line after the keynote speech was over.

Meeting Veronica Roth was actually very cool for me. Although I’m still a little perturbed with Allegiant‘s ending, I really am a big fan of her series. Having created my fansite Divergent Nation (now merged with Divergent Lexicon as of Oct ’12) in June 2011, I’ve been a part of the Divergent fandom almost since its inception and yet I had never met Veronica Roth! She told me loved my site (and my shirt!) and said she was bummed that she was not able to make it to the Divergent set in May when I, along with many other fansite reps, descended on Chicago. Success!

Getting my book signing by Veronica Roth!

Following Veronica’s signing, we headed around the corner to Coffee Talk with Ransom Riggs and Tahereh Mafi. Both are New York Times Bestselling Authors and happened to married to each other. If you follow them on Twitter, you know they are hysterical. Let me just tell you that they are SO entertaining in person!
Watching these two talk and hearing their crazy stories makes me seriously want them to get their own reality show. Immediately after the panel, we followed them down the road again for Tahereh’s signing. Her line was huge but I finally got to introduce myself to her since I also run a Shatter Me fanpage which she happens to follow on Twitter. They are both super sweet to talk to! (Fun Fact: When Jenna was going through security at Charleston International to go home, she went through with Tahereh and Ransom!)

Tahereh Mafi and Ransom Riggs

From there we had lunch and were planning to go to Ransom’s signing but he contracted food poisoning 🙁 We called it a day on YALLFest and we back to the hotel to rest before doing more sightseeing.

I honestly can gush enough about this trip! YALLFest was fantastic and Charleston has to be the prettiest and classiest city around. We’ll definitely be going back next year!

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