I am writing this post from one of my favourite places: Starbucks. I will admit that I am a big fan of Starbucks as a whole, but there is one particular Starbucks, located 2 blocks from my apartment, that is my favourite. It is my place. My place to be relaxed. My place to be inspired. My place to be the epitome of a hipster by blogging on my macbook in a coffee shop. And if that wasn’t enough, this particular coffee shop is in a book store. It’s heaven wrapped in heaven (like a bacon wrapped scallop).
But why am I talking about my top blogging spot in a post that in its title clearly states it is about books? I wanted to paint a picture of the importance of surroundings. Of situations. There is really no difference between writing at home or writing 2 blocks north at my Chapters-based-Starbucks. But somehow I am more focused, more motivated and more creative here. What I write is better. And I honestly think this is the case when reading as well. Reading a book in the perfect place with the right beverage can take it from good to great. Ordinary to extraordinary. So here are reviews of the books I’ve read lately… But instead of just saying if they’re good or not, if you should read it or skip it (Spoiler: I only included books worth reading) I am going to tell you where & how to read it. I want only the best book experiences for all of my fellow fanboys & girls.
by Grace Helbig
As someone who, every day, feels like she is a little kid pretending to be a grown-up, the title of this book appealed to me on many levels. I could use some tips; I really don’t want my parents or any of my coworkers to find out I’m a fraud in the “adult” department. Plus I know Grace from various YouTube related vlogs, podcasts, etc. and figured anything that came out of her brain would be hilarious. Little did I know that this beautifully designed, excellent quality book (seriously, the paper it’s printed on is so hefty & shiny) was full of excellent advice… mixed amongst the sarcasm & curse-words.
I have slowly made my way through this tome by turning it into a coffee table book. Seeing as it’s a collection of commentary, advice and life lessons there is no overlying story arch. This means you can pick it up when you have 5 or 10 minutes to spare. I recommend having it in your living room as a way to find inspiration, laughs, the ability to waste time, and conversation starters interspersed in your every day life. But if you are sitting down for a good solid read my beverage-of-choice would be wine in a coffee mug. Because you’re at home and there is no need to keep looking so put together ?
Gods Behaving Badly
by Marie Phillips
This book is a hoot. As a fan of the Percy Jackson series, I was enthralled with the idea of Greek gods in the modern world. But this book is not Percy Jackson. Oh no. The situations & content is much more adult… like Aphrodite working as a phone sex operator, for example. It’s an interesting take on the worth of humanity… why we, as the general masses, are important even to self-centered gods.
Get out into the world to read this one. Be somewhere where you can feel the presence of the gods… ok, I know that is super cheesy but I really think that this book lends itself well to being surrounded by people. They don’t have to be people you know… ideally they’ll be strangers who won’t interrupt your reading but provide the opportunity to people-watch while pausing to ponder what the heck is happening in this crazy tale. While it would make a fine beach read I am inclined to recommend finding a well-situated park bench, perhaps under a giant tree on the edge of a popular promenade. Or maybe grab a blanket and spread it out on the grass (if you live somewhere that has grass this time of year) while watching joggers jog and children frolic. If you are reading this post when it first goes up and you live in a place anywhere like where I’m from it will look like the north pole outside your window. Maybe outdoor isn’t in your cards at this moment. Either hold off and wait or find a pleasant indoor location with some hustle & bustle! Perhaps a busy public library or a public building with tables or stairs meant for sitting. And brew yourself up some black tea… Earl Grey or English Breakfast to honor the London setting of the novel.
by Zoe Sugg
I’m always curious how it will go when someone who is famous for one thing (such as YouTube) tries to branch out into another facet of media that is somewhat related but also not at all (like literature). It could be a success or it could be a total flop that everyone pretends never happened. I love Zoella on YouTube. I think she is gorgeous & smart & incredibly charming. I also find her blog posts well-written and informative. So I gave her book a chance. It was worth it if you have the time and penchant for light-hearted fluff-filled YA novels. Girl Online was an entertaining, although basic & easy, read. Its target audience is obviously much younger than myself but that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy the lighthearted humor & predictable-yet-enchanting love story. But what most excited me most wasn’t the romance or the case of mistaken identity. For me it was so nice to see an accurate portrayal of anxiety. Zoe has been very open about her personal struggles with anxiety and made sure to capture the effect it can have on your life within the pages of her first novel.
For this novel, I recommend brewing some green tea (nice and relaxing… no caffeine to amp up that anxiety) and snuggling into bed. I lit a few candles and plugged in my fairy lights to make the ambiance as peaceful and whimsical as possible, because this book focuses on an adorable protagonist who never lacks wonder in the world. It’s a quick read (I think I breezed through it in a day) although be warned: it has the potential to keep you up until you finish. It’s not that I didn’t see the “big twist” coming… there are more than a few not-so-subtle hints… but because it’s so cute you just want to get to the big reveal!
An Abundance of Katherines
by John Green
I just realized the 3 of my 4 books were written by YouTubers… that wasn’t on purpose but YouTube has obviously had an influence on my life & preferences. Anyways… after unexpectedly loving The Fault In Our Stars (read about how I wanted to hate it in The Fault In Our Stars: An Unromantic’s Review) I was inspired to read more John Green books, as well as find out more about him & his vlogbrothers costar Hank Green. What I discovered is that these brothers are charismatic, geeky and media geniuses (I’m weirdly obsessed with Hank Green right now). And that I really enjoy John Green books. They approach romance in a matter-of-fact, realistically awkward way that hits home with anyone who isn’t living in a fairy tale.
An Abundance of Katherines is particularly special for its ability to develop relationships through character development, rather than only getting dynamic characters by making them fall in love. The witty, sarcastic humour is reminiscent of coffee. You could drown it in cream like Colin, who “liked the idea of coffee quite a lot—a warm drink that gave you energy and had been for centuries associated with sophisticates and intellectuals.” But this book, to me, is coffee served black. Maybe a bit of it is the bitterness Colin feels towards his many past Katherines, but mainly I feel it suits the cut-and-dry logical thinking of the protagonist. I mean, he’s trying to make a math formula to predict relationship outcomes (btw I LOVE the math sprinkled throughout the novel!). Take this one with you to the coffee shop because: (1) They’ll have great coffee. (2) The cover might inspire conversations with other fangirls. (3) Anyone reading a book with footnotes (yes there are footnotes and they are the best part) and an appendix breaking down a complicated math formula is begging for someone to see & think they are incredibly cultured & smart.
How about you? Read any good books in any perfect places lately? Leave your book recommendations (with novel, place & drink) in the comments so I, and our fellow bibliophiles, can share the experience! Happy Reading!
Love & Luck,