Friday, April 18, 2014

Amazon's 100 Books to Read in a Lifetime

When I first started this blog, one of the things on my 25 before 25 list was to read all of the books on the Newsweek's Top 100 List. I later changed that to half realizing that the task was tremendously ambitious when books like Middlemarch, War and Peace, and Anna Karenina were on there. I read 49 of them and gave up. I hated most of the books I read. I abandoned the list in an effort to read books I actually wanted to read. 

Recently, my friend Carolann sent me a new list - Amazon's Top 100 list. Thinking this might be more of an accurate reflection on what the world is reading since the list is based on readers' picks, rather than book sales, I decided to check it out to see how many I've read.

Note: The books aren't ranked, rather, they're listed alphabetically 'to ensure that no book is deemed more important than another.'

  1. 1984 by George Orwell
  2. A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking
  3. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers
  4. A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah
  5. A Series of Unfortunate Events #1: The Bad Beginning: The Short-Lived Edition by Lemony Snicket (I have this on my Kindle)
  6. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
  7. Alice Munro: Selected Stories by Alice Munro
  8. Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
  9. All the President’s Men by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein (I have this on my bookshelf)
  10. Angela’s Ashes: A Memoir by Frank McCourt
  11. Are You There, God? It’s me, Margaret by Judy Blume
  12. Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
  13. Beloved by Toni Morrison
  14. Born To Run – A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen by Christopher McDougall
  15. Breath, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge Danticat
  16. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
  17. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
  18. Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
  19. Cutting For Stone by Abraham Verghese
  20. Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brene Brown
  21. Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Book 1 by Jeff Kinney
  22. Dune by Frank Herbert
  23. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  24. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream by Hunter S. Thompson
  25. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
  26. Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
  27. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
  28. Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies by Jared M. Diamond
  29. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
  30. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
  31. Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri
  32. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
  33. Jimmy Corrigan: Smartest Kid on Earth by Chris Ware
  34. Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain
  35. Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
  36. Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  37. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
  38. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (I loved this book and was sad to hear of Marquez's passing yesterday at the age of 87).
  39. Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich
  40. Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl
  41. Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
  42. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
  43. Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie
  44. Moneyball by Michael Lewis
  45. Of Human Bondage by W. Somerset Maugham
  46. On the Road by Jack Kerouac
  47. Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen
  48. Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
  49. Portnoy’s Complaint by Philip Roth
  50. Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen
  51. Silent Spring by Rachel Carson
  52. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
  53. Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin
  54. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
  55. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon
  56. The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X and Alex Haley
  57. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  58. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
  59. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  60. The Color of Water by James McBride
  61. The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen
  62. The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson
  63. The Diary of Anne Frank by Anne Frank
  64. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (no interest)
  65. The Giver by Lois Lowry
  66. The Golden Compass: His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman (loved this book)
  67. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  68. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  69. The House At Pooh Corner by A. A. Milne
  70. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  71. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
  72. The Liars’ Club: A Memoir by Mary Karr
  73. The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 1) by Rick Riordan
  74. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
  75. The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler
  76. The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 by Lawrence Wright
  77. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
  78. The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat: And Other Clinical Tales by Oliver Sacks
  79. The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals by Michael Pollan
  80. The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
  81. The Poisonwood Bible: A Novel by Barbara Kingsolver (may be my favorite book ever)
  82. The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York by Robert A. Caro
  83. The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe
  84. The Road by Cormac McCarthy
  85. The Secret History by Donna Tartt (I have this on my book shelf)
  86. The Shining by Stephen King
  87. The Stranger by Albert Camus
  88. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway (really want to read this after reading The Paris Wife)
  89. The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien (read this in college, excellent book)
  90. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
  91. The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
  92. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle: A Novel by Haruki Murakami (highly recommended to me)
  93. The World According to Garp by John Irving
  94. The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
  95. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
  96. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  97. Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand
  98. Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann
  99. Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein
  100. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

So 33 out of 100. I won't say I plan to read all of them. Some, I just have no interest (Diary of a Wimpy Kid, The Fault in Our Stars)...but I definitely plan to read some of them and I'm glad I have a new book list to choose from. I've just about finished all of the books I bought at last year's library sale so I think a trip to the library is in order...that is, until I make it to another library book sale!

How many have you read?

Thursday, April 17, 2014


Feeling... productive.

Reading... still working my way through Sherlock Holmes and The Five Love Languages. My friend Carolann just sent me I am Malala so that's up next.

Drinking... water...and way too much of it. Note, drinking through a straw will cause you to drink absurd amounts of water.

Listening to... The Norah Jones station on Pandora. It's my favorite. Now playing, Of Monsters & Men.

Watching... I've been catching up on my DVR this week. Lots of Parenthood, Growing Up Fisher, Parks and Rec and Big Bang Theory.

Anticipating... a trip home and my next dress fitting with Mom!

Wishing for... a solid 10-miler this weekend that will give me a good feeling going into Nike next week.

Seeing in DC... The Cherry Blossoms are gone and winter has seemingly returned, but my goodness they were unbelievable.

Loving... that wedding planning has come to a stand still for the time being.

There you have it!
Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Five Stages of Injury Recovery

Stage 1. Denial
Stage 2. Anger
Stage 3. Bargaining
Stage 4. Depression
Stage 5. Acceptance

I didn't go through any of these symptoms when I first hurt my knee. What started back in June as a 'holy-sh*t-I-blew-out-my-knee' moment turned 'I-feel-fine-let's-start-training-for-a-marathon' turned 'holy-sh*t-I-blew-out-my-knee-again'...lather, rinse repeat...eventually turned into being sidelined.

I stopped running in October when I dropped out of the Marine Corps Marathon. I didn't actually see a doctor until November and I didn't start PT until December. I probably could have sped this whole recovery process up by about 2 months if I had just gone to the doctor, but I didn't. I knew something was wrong and I thought rest would be just fine. I was complacent.

I never went through any of the five stages of injury oddly enough, until I actually started running again at the end of February.

I skipped the Denial stage. Well, kind of. It took me a really long time to finally admit to myself that I wouldn't be able to run Marine Corps despite knowing for awhile that I shouldn't be running the race.

I was never really angry either, just frustrated. I was diligently doing my PT exercises and I HATED the freaking elliptical. Even when I started running again, I was really frustrated that I didn't feel great on my first run.

Here's a dose of denial for you: I honestly thought that my first run back would feel amazing. I thought I would feel on top of the world and that I would be so happy to be running again that nothing else would matter.

In reality, it felt so had. I felt uncoordinated, unbalanced, and despite all of my cross training, so out of shape.

Enter bargaining: Well, if I balance cross training with running and PT exercises, I'll be back to my usual running in no time! Running a 10-miler in 5 weeks will be easy! A half in 8 weeks? No problem! Just be a good little patient and keep up the XT and PT.


I still don't feel great. I'm finally starting to feel good on my runs but the first two miles are always tough, no matter how good of a warm up I do.

Depression. Saturday night, I sat across from The Pilot and told him that I was scared I would never love running again. I was scared I would never have a good run again and might never run a marathon again.

(Note: I know that you don't have to run marathons to be a runner but I freaking love the marathon and every part of me is itching to toe the line of another 26.2.)

Sunday morning, I woke up and ran 8 miles. It was the best I've felt post-injury. I didn't feel great, but I felt pretty damn good. My knee is still a little bit twingy and I was more sore after those 8 miles than I've been after 18, but I know that my body is just relearning how to do this again. I'm being pretty damn smart about this recovery and while I'm so much slower than I've ever been before, I know that my focus right now just needs to be on putting one foot in front of the other and when running finally starts to feel great again, I can start thinking about trying to get faster.

So, those are my five stages. It's been a long road to recovery but I'm a lot luckier than most people. I didn't need surgery. I wasn't in a boot. I wasn't sidelined for a year. I could run, I chose (at the advice of my PT) not to, in order to really build the strength I needed to prevent another running injury and ultimately, I'll be a better runner because of it.

It wouldn't be right to write a post about running without, in some way commemorating last year's Boston Marathon. I wrote this post reflecting on the tragedy and every word of it rings true today.Watching the news yesterday, my heart broke all over again for those who lost their lives, their family members, those injured and wounded, and those who ran. For everyone running Boston this year, especially those who ran last year, I hope and pray that you have the best race of your life next week. 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Wedding Things VIII: Wrapping It All Up

Our wedding is in five months!

One of my favorite bloggers, Jenn, got married this weekend and it wasn't until she wrote this post on all of the things about her wedding that she's looking forward to, that our own wedding finally started to feel real.

In the last month, we've just about finalized all of the details. We worked out all of the details with our florist, hired transportation and reviewed the first mock up of our wedding invitations. My sisters (and college bff) ordered their bridesmaid dresses and aside from some final paperwork, we finished Pre-Cana. I had my hair and makeup trial and my dress is coming along (slowly, but surely).

Everything left is little details. Designing our programs, making our play and do-not-play lists, finalizing and sending out invitations, getting our marriage license...little details.

It still doesn't quite feel real, and it feels soooo far off. Everyone has told us that our engagement would fly by and it really hasn't, at all. I guess that's a good thing, but I'm just really excited to be married and to celebrate being married with all of our friends and family members.

Wedding planning has been great. It's been so much fun and so easy and I'm so excited to see how everything comes together.

I probably won't write another wedding post for awhile since just about everything worth writing about is done! According to my checklist, we're way ahead of schedule. I'd like to keep it that way, so I'll definitely be checking off some more things in the next month or so, but I'm really feeling like everything is taken care of.

The things I will be working on in the next few months? Some DIY work for our centerpieces, finalizing our invitations, and designing our programs. Oh, and booking our honeymoon of course! There isn't really much else that can be done until around July when we hit the two month mark, and that's great!

This is exactly how I wanted wedding planning to go. Smooth. Easy. Our conversations have shifted from wedding planning back to normal life and that's perfect. I find myself only thinking about the wedding a handful of times a week, rather than on a daily basis and that's awesome.

I'm so excited for the spring and summer months and for the moment when our wedding finally doesn't seem so far away!

Monday, April 14, 2014

A Perfect DC Weekend

This weekend was incredible.

It was absolutely perfect. The weather was unbelievable. Forget spring, we went from snow right into summer. With temperatures in the low 80s all weekend, DC was amazing this weekend.

On Friday, The Pilot and I got home from work at the same time and headed out to grab a quick bite to eat before I headed to a Yoga for Runners class with my friend Laura. The class was just what I needed going into the weekend and afterwards, The Pilot and I grabbed some froyo and called it a night.

We slept in a little bit on Saturday and I made scrambled eggs for breakfast. Then, we headed out to pick up some Bikeshare bikes and made our way through the masses of DC tourists to the Tidal Basin for a paddle boat ride among the cherry blossoms.

The cherry blossoms are absolutely amazing this year and I'm glad that we took the approach of seeing them from the water this year, instead of attempting to make our way through the crowds on the Tidal Basin.

Selfies on the water
Black Ops heading to the White House
We were on the water for an hour and had so much fun! Floating on the water between the Washington Monument and the Jefferson Memorial with the cherry blossoms in peak bloom were prime cause to sit back, relax and talk about how much we absolutely love this city.

After our boat ride, we headed to the Washington Monument to meet up with my cousin Jen who was in town. We spent some more time on the Mall before wandering over to Sweetgreen for lunch. While we were there, one of my friends emailed me and asked if we wanted his tickets to that night's DC United game, so we hopped on a pair of bikes and headed over to Dupont to pick up the tickets, stopping for Shake Shack along the way.

We stopped off to take Peyton out and then headed to the game.

I had gone to one DC United game before we moved here (almost 4 years ago) and I think the stadium has gone way south since then. RFK Stadium desperately needs to be knocked down. Aside from the fact that the place was falling apart, they had maybe 5 concession areas open in the entire stadium. On top of that, everyone in the stadium was SMOKING! I was shocked to see that and when I checked on my phone to see if that was allowed, I saw that smoking is prohibited in the stands. The fact that that rule isn't at all enforced was crazy and it made for a less than enjoyable experience. United beat the NY Red Bulls 1-0.

Post-game, we headed out to Dupont to meet up with some friends at GBD. Aside from the fact that my beer was terrible and my food never arrived, we had a good time and stayed out way too late.

Sunday morning, I slept in and then dragged my feet around for ages before I finally convinced myself to get out the door for my 8 mile run. I was really nervous to get this run in. The Pilot came along with me for the first half of the run and we decided to go out 2 miles and back 2 miles so that at my furthest point in the run, I wouldn't be more than 2 miles from home in case I needed to stop.

My favorite spot on my run: Gravelly Point {via}
Well, I didn't. I finished the run and I felt better than I have in months. For the first time, I finally feel like I'll be ready to toe the line at Nike in 2 weeks. I came home and stretched, foam rolled and iced for what seemed like hours.

We grabbed Jimmy John's for lunch (my guilty post-run pleasure), took Peyton for a super long walk, ran some errands and headed to church. We made dinner together and then relaxed on the couch, finally putting our feet up after a long, busy weekend.

That was my weekend! How was yours?
Have you ever been paddle boating?
Ever been to DC during the cherry blossoms' peak bloom?