Need a new book? Pick up one of these

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There are so many good books I’ve read over the years that I’d love to recommend to you all, so I thought I would do a roundup here (inspired by Mackenzie’s list from last week, definitely check it out for further recs!). Now that I’ve started blogging, I plan to continue my monthly book posts, but just consider the below a list of my favorites from the past, oh, two years?!

Nonfiction:

I love nonfiction books (I always say this is because I was a sociology major!). Here are a few of my somewhat recent faves…

Bringing Home the BirkinSuch a cool story about a man who makes a living purchasing the elusive Birkin bags–and other Hermes products–and re-selling them online. It had me hooked!

The Happiness Project: I had this on my bookshelf for the longest time before reading it and am glad I took the plunge! Gretchen Rubin always leaves me feeling inspired.

The Woman I Wanted to BeDVF’s personal story and background is incredibly moving and she has accomplished so much in her career–you don’t have to live and breathe fashion to appreciate this book.

Mad Women: A good book and a great conversation starter! A fascinating take on what it was like to be a woman at an ad agency during the 1960s.

Modern RomanceNot to be confused with Modern Lovers, ha! This one actually does include sociological research and is an interesting take on dating today.

I Was Told There’s Be Cake and How Did You Get This Number: Sloane Crosley is hilarious. I told a friend to read these and she didn’t love them as much as I did, but I loved the short anecdotes and reflections on random situations.

MWF Seeking BFF: Ok, I outlined this one in my first July book post, but seriously, go read it!

Fiction: 

There have been so many good fiction releases in recent years that it’s hard to keep up! Just a few must-reads below… 

One Plus One: This was actually the first Jojo Moyes book I read and I thought it was a sweet story and definitely funny!

Big Little Lies: I’ve gotten into mysteries more in recent years–let’s be real, who hasn’t?! Lianne Moriarity doesn’t disappoint!

The UnderwritingAddicting- a friend recommended this to me last fall and I read it in a day. That good. I can’t wait to pick up the next books, as this is going to be a series.

…and even more on my Goodreads! What books have you enjoyed lately?

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Journaling

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This is a different kind of post, so bear with me!

I love blogging, but as you can probably tell, my blog isn’t so much a diary of my everyday life as it is a place for me to share with you all the things I love. When I studied abroad in Scotland my junior year of college, I kept a Tumblr filled with pictures and more personal entries, but I password-protected it and only shared the link with close friends and family. In grad school, my classmates and I were encouraged to keep gratitude journals as part of one of our courses, and I visibly freaked out at the idea. Writing something down seemed so permanent, even if no one else would ever see it.

However, as someone who loves to write, I’m thinking that maybe I should give journaling another chance. Not as part of a class assignment and not to share with others, but just as a way to reflect on life here in DC in my mid-twenties. As a writer, I love creating things for others to read, but I am honestly just as satisfied keeping my ramblings to myself. Maybe I’ll give this a try…

Do any of you keep journals? How often do you write in them?

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Reading and Reviewing: August

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Another month of fun books! While I absolutely loved my grad school curriculum, it is so nice to be able to read for pleasure without feeling guilty! As much as I enjoyed our assigned texts, they weren’t quite like the books I cover below 😉 Still working on The Singles Game (moving has kept me from reading much this week!), but I will include it in my September roundup!

The Hopefuls, by Jennifer Close: I was hooked right away! I loved Girls in White Dresses and The Smart One, which I read in years past, so I couldn’t wait for Close’s next release to arrive. The story focuses on two couples, Beth and Matt (the main characters) and their good friends, Ash and Jimmy. Both husbands have large political aspirations which ends up causing conflict in more ways than one. The four are inseparable while living in DC, but as the couples follow each other across the country for Matt to assist Jimmy with his campaign, fights break out and Beth and Ash’s friendship is also tested.

The beginning of the book managed to weave together parts of DC and NYC life in a way that felt like the author had read my mind while writing! I laughed out loud at the descriptions of DC, such as women wearing socks and sneakers on the subway (#guilty), and I also loved reading about the various Safeways that everyone here jokes about (the Social Safeway is in my new neighborhood!). There’s a huge place in my heart for J.G. Melon and Dorrian’s, and reading about these NYC haunts made me get emotional! 😉 But I also started sobbing when I read the author’s description of living in NYC as a 20-something after 9/11, because I thought of a former magazine editor of mine (who is around the same age as main character Beth) and had told me about how her life and relationship changed greatly after that. I like how the book touched on complex relationship dynamics (both with regard to friends as well as romantic partners) and was very “real” while also being a fun read. I totally recommend it!

The Perfect Neighbors, by Sarah Pekkanen: I have loved Sarah Pekkanen for years–she wrote a brief but hilarious monthly column in my hometown magazine (where I interned twice in college!). When she started writing novels a few years ago I was thrilled, and I couldn’t wait to pick up Perfect Neighbors, which looks at the (somewhat secretive) lives of a group of women living in an idyllic neighborhood. One review I spotted on Amazon called out the book’s Desperate Housewives-esque nature, and as a fan of the show, I couldn’t agree more! Definitely recommend this as a beach read!

In Twenty Years, by Allison Winn Scotch: When I heard that this book was about six former Penn students, I had to read it, and for something that comes across as a beach read (at least from the cover!) it actually had a lot of depth. The book focuses on a group of 40-year-old friends who reunite over a decade after losing a member of their group, who somewhat suddenly passed away only a few years out of school. While some of the reviews I read on Amazon were negative, I didn’t think the storyline was boring in the slightest and tore through the book in only a couple of nights. It made me think a lot about my own time in college both on a deeper level but also literally–although I was at Penn as a grad student and not as an undergrad, I still could picture all of the places and characters Scotch mentioned, which made the book extra interesting! Definitely recommend whether you’re fresh out of college or an older adult–you’ll be able to relate!

Modern Lovers, by Emma Straub: I read The Vacationers (Straub’s first book) while on a plane last summer and basically did the same thing with Modern Lovers (I flew through 280 pages of the book during my wait in the gate and two-hour flight!). My friend who started the book around the same time had warned me that it’s a quick read, but in a good way (we also both put off ordering it until this month for some reason but then were eager to dive in!). I had been anticipating Straub’s second novel since I’d heard about it months ago, and Modern Lovers, which tells the story of a set of college friends, now living in Brooklyn with their teenage children, did not disappoint. It’s a book that I enjoyed but also would recommend to adults of any age–the whole premises behind the book is examining relationships among those both young and older.

Rich and Pretty, by Rumaan Alam: I honestly was sort of confused by this book before I sat down and looked at the reviews on Amazon before I placed my order. The name seemed kind of silly, for one (it reminds me of Pretty Little Liars or something for teens!) and also it was written by a man?! Confusing. While the book didn’t get the best reviews on Amazon compared to some of summer’s other big releases, I enjoyed it and found it interesting to read about two close friends who had known each other for over 15 years but were suddenly facing major adult milestones. I think the book was also more interesting to me because of its setting in NYC. Honestly, so many people are reading it that I don’t regret joining the party!

Love and Miss Communication, by Elyssa Friedland: I purchased this book in a used bookstore (love them) near my grad school campus this past spring, and I only finally got around to reading it BUT I’M SO GLAD I DID. This light read tells the story of Evie, a social media and internet-addicted lawyer who ends up losing her job due to her excessive time on online. Between getting fired and soon after discovering some disappointing findings about her ex on Facebook, she decides to quit the internet for good (well, at least for the bulk of the book). Meanwhile, Evie is also struggling to get into a new relationship, dealing with an illness in the family, and trying to make a positive impression on her new employer. There are certainly some unexpected (and kind of unnecessary) twists throughout, but overall this book had me laughing as well as cringing–and it’s definitely a good read for anyone who thinks they could never say adios to Instagram. Compared to other books I’ve read about similar “social media diets,” this one takes the cake. It kept me interested for all 360+ pages and had likable characters (for the most part!).

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Back to School Links

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I realize that many of you college students have already moved in (maybe even weeks ago!). My undergrad classes always began after Labor Day, which meant that I was always one of the last left at home. If you’re still prepping for back to school or have some downtime before classes and clubs kick into gear, check out these links!

Love that Domino.com posted a dorm-related link! If you need to scratch that DIY itch, you’ll appreciate these ideas.

Need a new school tote? This one looks adorable (herringbone = swoon) and functional (could easily double as a work bag down the road)!

This PBTeen banner would make the perfect addition to a dorm room (loving the leopard piece!)

Don’t forget to join your college’s Free & For Sale group on Facebook to score some great decor and clothing deals!

How cute are these state-themed pillows? Get one for where you go to school or to represent your home state. I guarantee you’ll get tons of compliments! This college survival kit is also adorable (do they make any for real life?!).

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Apartment Necessities

This post isn’t super glamorous, but not all apartment must-haves are that exciting. However, whether you’re moving in on your own for the first time or unpacking boxes in your third apartment (which is exactly what I’m doing this week!), I hope this post will serve as a helpful resource! What else would you add to this list? Oh, and in case you’re wondering, the adorable herringbone throw pictured below is from Target of all places!

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The graphic above is pretty self-explanatory, but honestly all three of these things (though not quite related to one another!) are certainly useful to have on hand. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve used Goo Gone to remove one of those darn TJ Maxx labels from an otherwise cute mug or picture frame (it really works, people!). Wine glasses may seem like a given, but I’ve noticed that often they get overlooked! Just go with inexpensive ones because many of mine have broken due to an overcrowded dish rack, etc. Lastly, having a throw blanket on hand is perfect for last minute guests or movie marathons on the couch. One of my friends has the coziest throw that I’m absolutely obsessed with and borrow every time I visit her in NYC!

What are your top three apartment essentials?

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Looking Forward to Fall

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I’m gonna let you guys in on a secret. It may ruin my credibility as a blogger, but I have to tell ya. Ok I’m kidding, this isn’t a huge scandal, but before I started college in New England, I wasn’t a fan of fall (but now I love it–so don’t worry, I’m right there dreaming about Pumpkin Spice Lattes and apple picking and chunky sweaters and scarves with the rest of you. Whew!).

Growing up, fall was always kind of blah. Going back to school? No thanks. Although, I’ve actually always loved school, so that was likely more about not wanting to deal with transitions.

However, I absolutely loved my freshman fall at college (I think that and my senior spring were my two favorite semesters, funnily enough). The classic New England scenery certainly and the colorful trees that surrounded my college campus in Maine were picture perfect and the season grew on me and is now a time of year I truly love. Now that I’m living in a new city, I’m hoping to make more of an effort to do some fun DC things, such as these…

  • Go antique shopping with my mom. This may not seem like solely a “fall” activity, but the summer has been so hot that standing outside treasure hunting will be a little more enjoyable when the temps are cooler. I can’t wait to check out the flea market in Georgetown as well as the antique shops in Kensington!
  • Bake for my office. In grad school I always loved bringing in treats to my coworkers (mainly so that I wouldn’t eat them all myself!), and I hope to do the same for my new office. Turning on the oven will hopefully sound a little more appealing in a few months!
  • Go pumpkin or apple picking. There’s nothing like embracing your inner child and visiting a local farm to get into the fall spirit. There are tons of places for this in the DC area that I went to growing up, so it would be fun to go back as an adult.
  • Learn to knit. This has been on my to-do list for awhile, but once the weather is cooler and I won’t feel as bad about spending time inside, this is something I’d like to learn how to do! Who knows, maybe I’ll have a scarf completed by winter…

What’s on your to do list once the weather gets cooler?

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Framing Wallpaper

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I love changing up my gallery wall, so purchasing prints can become an expensive habit! When I lived in New York, I ordered a few wallpaper swatches that I ended up framing (although I can’t remember the company from which I ordered at the moment), and they looked super cute. I came across Spoonflower on Instagram (actually on one of my favorite accounts, @pineapplesandcoffeecups, to be specific!) and I loved the patterns that Adriana snapped. I decided to explore the site myself and realized that these designs would also be great for framing. First of all, there are tons of patterns to choose from, and second, an 8 x 8 swatch is only $5 (you can order larger sizes, too, but this is really all you’ll need for framing, especially if you have an 8 x 10 matted frame with a 5 x 7 opening). I am thinking about ordering a few of these once I get my gallery wall going in my new place! Here are some of my faves below, would love to know which ones you like!

Ginger jars

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Scalamandre-esque zebras

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Lips (like Lara Stone’s!)

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Banana leaf 

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I think this one is my favorite!

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Junk in the Trunk

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My mom keeps several old trunks in our house that were from her childhood home–one is used as a coffee table in our basement and I love the look. I purchased a greenish-brown trunk in Philly (it’s prettier than it sounds, promise!) and used it in my apartment there, but lately, my eye has been on classy, shiny trunks. Above are a few of my favorites. I LOVE the PBteen version (shown below) but the Target one (while still a splurge) seems a little more realistic, not to mention that it also looks easier to clean (I feel so adult taking that into consideration, haha). Which ones do you like?

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Tips & Tricks, Take 3

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From the Everygirl: “4 Things to Know When Building Your Social Circle,” by Sarah Seung-McFarland. Love love love this article on making friends as an adult. I agree wholeheartedly with all of these points, it’s as if I wrote it myself!

From My Domaine: “You’ll Land the Job If You Leave This Accessory at Home,” by Kelsey Clark. Do you think wearing your bling to a job interview sends a bad message? Intrigued by this article!

From Domino.com: “Before & After: Gray Malin’s Guest Room!” by Shani Silver. Need some home design inspo? Check out what Gray Malin (!!!) did to his own guest room.

From The Washington Post: “Amy Schumer, Ryan Lochte and other celebrities who use dating apps,” by Emily Yahr. Did y’all know that Amy Schumer and Hilary Duff use dating apps?! (Clearly this is groundbreaking news or it wouldn’t be in the Post…).

 

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Design Fangirling

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Just a few things I’m obsessing over at the moment (the above chair/blanket situation included)…

HGTV Magazine. Love reading it, and the campaign dresser styling in the latest issue made me want to scream–in the best way (but I didn’t, because I was reading the issue on a plane and didn’t want to freak anyone out…).

Emily Schuman aka Cupcakes & Cashmere now has a home line for Lulu & Georgia (a site I absolutely LOVE). She also has a few items available at Nordstrom (oh my goodness, that marble lamp!).

I came across this ginger jar tray on Etsy and it’s the. cutest. thing. ever.

Speaking of ginger jars, how cute is this wrapping paper?!

Target has the best home decor. I spotted these insanely affordable lamps in Lauren Nelson’s home tour (which is giving me tons of inspiration as I plan out my new apartment decor) and think they’d make a great addition to any room!

Ahhh, I’m in love with this floor mirror and tray table. Ikea, people!

Any design finds you’d like to share? Have a happy weekend, all!

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