Book – 30 Before 30: How I Made a Mess of my 20s, and You Can Too by Marina Shifrin is a fantastic read. Marina details her journey attempting to and succeeding in achieving 30 goals before turning 30 years old. Some goals were bigger: “Getting a Dog”, “Visit Russia”, and “Live in a Different Country”, while others were easier to accomplish: “Eating a Meal Alone” and “Take a City Bus Tour.” For any millennial working through their mid 20s, or for any age seeking to create their own bucket list, this book is a fun beacon of light in all the stresses adulthood can bring.
I was so inspired by Marina’s list that I decided to create my own! I will admit I stole some of her goals, specifically “Getting a Dog”, “Eating a Meal Alone”, but some of my other goals include: “Baking an Obscene amount of French Macarons” (Because why not?) and “Taking a Roadtrip Through the 6 States Most Abundant in Cacti” (and of course buying a ton of new houseplants along the way). Because of the format of the book, it was easy to browse for chapters that were most relatable to me, but I still found myself reading through each section. Marina’s humor is a great addition to this memoir, and I really enjoyed her writing style. Her parents emigrated from Russia and it was interesting to see how that heritage has influenced Marina in her life and partaking of the 30 before 30 project, especially in her goal to travel to Russia. An easy but fun read for anyone!
Books – As someone who’s recently become cactus-obsessed, our library’s collection of related gardening books has been a life-saver. I logically anticipated a plant massacre, due to my lack of green thumb. My first 3 cacti (who survived a rocky road trip from California to Illinois) have flourished, and I currently have 17 cacti and succulents. I’m a bit of an addict. The following books helped me learn how to properly care for these often finicky plants, and I recommend them to any cacti newbies.
Happy Cactus : Cacti, Succulents, and More by John Pilbeam
This is my favorite book of the bunch. The title is adorable; don’t we all want our cacti to be happy? I love love, LOVE this book. The photos, pictures, and huge variety of plants included in its pages is spectacular. Each plant has its own spread detailing physical characteristics, watering, soil, temperament, and vital statistics galore! It’s a great read to showcase a lot of the great varieties of cacti and succulents out there, and gave me inspiration for future purchases.
How to Train Your Cactus : A Guide to Raising Well-behaved Succulents by Tonwen Jones
A very cute book with beautiful illustrations. I also love this title because I feel like I do have to train my plants in a sense. I have to train them to accept the light they are provided, and be friendly with all of their many plant friends in my collection. This book details each plant with brief description and then delves into “training notes.”
How to Window Box : Small-space Plants to Grow Indoors or Out by Chantal Aida Gordon
This book is great for those who don’t have a lot of space or light to properly care for plants. Window boxing is a fun and crafty way to still have the garden you’ve always wanted! If nothing else, the photos alone are Instagram worthy and great inspiration!
Books – Tattoos can be intimidating, choosing a design that’s going to be ingrained on your skin for years and years to come; it’s more than a little scary, considering the involvement of stabbing needles. Welcome to the world of DIY temporary tattooing! No pain involved, easy to remove, but still a way to showcase your creativity in body art. Temporary tattoos remind me of childhood, picking out a fun design, perhaps a pirate, or festive holiday image. Now, there are so many more options in temporary tattooing for all ages, many conveniently found in the following books!
They both include templates in the back that you can scan to a computer and use to to create your own tattoos via special transfer paper. It’s just like the tattoos I used when I was younger! They recommend websites and different types of tattoo transfer paper to buy, and have a lot of good recommendations for the application and care of your temporary works of art.
With so many different types of mediums and application, there’s something for everyone. Some are only meant for a night, a fun party costume that isn’t going to keep its composure for an extended period. Then there are longer lasting art techniques like Henna, and the transfer printed tattoos. I’ve experimented with henna before, both on the skin and as a natural hair dye. It’s tricky to pipe out the intricate designs, but after allowing the henna to dry on your skin and washing it off, it’s amazing to enjoy the art as it lasts.
Book – As a lover of all things sweet, Year of No Sugar by Eve Schaub sounded like the worst thing imaginable. A whole year? No sugar!? How awful! Once I got over my initial shock, however, I immediately grabbed the book and started reading.
Eve was inspired to start her Year of No sugar project after reading books by obesity and sugar experts, including Dr. Robert Lustig. Though Eve and her family led a relatively healthy lifestyle, she soon discovered sugar was in nearly everything they ate. And so the project began. The first few chapters introduce the planning of the project, as Eve consulted with her husband and two daughters on how the year would run out. I loved the idea of doing this project as a family, having that support system to get through it together. I can imagine the kids dismay, learning how their lives would be affected, and dealing with social pressures outside of the home with all things sugary and sweet. Instead of going completely cold turkey, Eve and her husband finally decided on the 1 Dessert a Month rule. Also, the two daughters could make their own decisions when it came to offerings of sweets at school, sleepovers, and other functions, as long as they were open to their parents when they did choose to indulge.
Eve is an honest, funny, and wonderful writer. She managed to mix science with her own experiences without making my brain explode. I appreciated her point of view, with the added input of her husband and children as they embarked on a journey not for the faint of heart. Check out Eve Schaub’s newest memoir, Year of No Clutter. One book at a time, Eve is conquering my biggest vices.
Book – Coloring books are not just for kids. There are a ton of drawing and art books out there for adults meant to help relax and embrace your creativity. The following are just a few that our library offers, from drawing to painting, to Zentangle and more.
Drawing Calm: Refresh, Relax Refocus with 20 Drawing, Painting, and Collage Workshops inspired by Klimt, Klee, Monet, and More first and foremost has an impressively long title. Written by Susan Evenson, this book is perfect for getting your artistic juices flowing. The projects are relatively simple and each is inspired by a specific work of art. My favorite craft from the collection is very simple. You tear apart pieces of tissue paper, lay them on a sheet of watercolor paper and then brush over soaking them with a paintbrush and water. Leaving it to dry, you then peel off the tissue paper and are left with a beautiful stain from the shapes that can be used to write on, color a pattern in sharpie and anything else you can dream up.
Paint Yourself Calm: Colourful, Creative Mindfulness Through Watercolour by Jean Haines is strictly dedicated to watercolor techniques. I love using watercolor paints because they’re so multi-functional. You can create something abstract or detailed, blending colors, and changing the intensity with just a drop of water. Simply browsing through the images in the book can have a calming effect!
Florabunda Style : Super Simple Art Doodles to Color, Craft and Draw
by Suzanne McNeill is a great book if you love drawing floral designs. The designs in this art book are simple, beautiful, and easy to follow, and McNeill also introduces fun crafts projects. Check out McNeill’s book on Zentangle art The Beauty of Zentangle : Inspirational Examples From 137 Tangle Artists Worldwide
, and explore the maze-like designs. Happy doodling!
Book – A thrilling fantasy novel set in a dystopian society where the outbreak of disease is wiping out the population, and the remaining are left starving. The Shatter Me series by Tahereh Mafi. The Reestablishment promises to fix the crumbling society but the threat of war lingers in the air for any who attempt to rebel against the powerful organization. In this mess of a world, we meet Juliette. Juliette was taken from her home and imprisoned by the Reestablishment. Juliette has a gift, or rather a curse. Her touch can kill. The last time she reached a hand out to someone, he died. She’s never experienced the comfort of being embraced in her mother’s arms, never known the love of family, a friend, anyone. The Reestablishment wants to use her as a weapon, but Juliette swears she will never hurt another person. But Juliette must make a decision on which side to stand on–to be a weapon with the Reestablishment, or a warrior fighting for the rebels.
A blend of romance, fantasy, and rebellion, I highly enjoyed this series. Juliette’s gift is so interesting to learn about. Initially, we meet her as a prisoner who would rather die than hurt another person through her touch. As the series unfolds, Juliette’s inner struggles lead her on a path she never expected. I could never decide if I actually like the main character through her development across the series, though nonetheless enjoyed the story as a whole. It reminded me of the X-men movies, which are definitely worth a watch. There are currently three books in the series, and author Tahere Mafi promises three more, the first to arrive in March 2018.
Book – I love author Sophie Kinsella, my favorite books by her being The Undomestic Goddess, Remember Me? and I’ve Got Your Number. They’re great romance reads with just the right amount of comedy and cute. But young adult novel Finding Audrey is definitely at the top of my list, still containing some of that romance, but centering on a young teen. Fourteen-year-old Audrey rarely leaves her house, and wears sunglasses everywhere she goes, even indoors. Since an incident occurred at her school, Audrey has become homeschooled and agoraphobic. She suffers from depression and anxiety that cause her to hide from everyone but her family. She avoids all eye contact and wears her dark sunglasses at all times. This is how Audrey lives, in fear of the next thing that will set off her nerves. That is until she meets her brother’s best friend, Linnus.
Linnus sees Audrey and he doesn’t follow the rules. He walks unknowingly into her sacred safe space that no one is allowed into. He takes Audrey by surprise but she finds herself curious to understand Linnus’ intentions. Slowly their comfortability grows, and the two become friends. Linnus pushes Audrey to move out of her comfort zone. But finding her way in this new world of possibilities is overwhelming for Audrey. Her past has lead her to a life behind closed doors, fearful to venture into the outside world, scared of judgement and the unknown. Linnus doesn’t judge her; his friendship helps Audrey to come out of her shell and give the outside world a second chance.
This is one of my favorite young adult books. Also on my very specific booklist of agoraphobia/anxiety-related fiction is Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall.
Book – The Selection Series by Kiera Cass is my #1 guilty pleasure reading. It’s “The Bachelor” (Dating competition) meets The Hunger Games (Caste system). America Singer lives in a society divided by castes. Each member of the kingdom is assigned a number based on their relatives. A One can afford all the luxuries and never have to worry about lack of shelter, food, or money. Eights are the lowest, the handicapped, drug users, those who have nothing. It’s rare for someone to rise about their status to a higher number. America is lucky to be a Five, meaning she and her family are artists who make money by performing for others, though they still struggle to support themselves.
Enter “The Selection.” Thirty-five girls are chosen to compete for the hand of the prince. All the young women of age are invited to apply. It’s a fairytale, the chance of finding true love with the prince. Participants also receive financial support for their families during their time in the competition. America has already found the (secret) love of her life, but reluctantly submits her application and is chosen. On arrival to the royal castle, America finds that Prince Maxon is not at all what she expected. As she forms friendships with the other applicants, America struggles to decide what she really wants. Will America stay true to her love back home? Will life in the royal castle change that stubborn, proud girl who first entered it’s gates? With the additional threat of rebels attacking the castle, will America be able to find what her heart desires?
I really love the character of America; she fights for what she believes in no matter the consequences and is fiercely loyal. We have the entire series in print at the library, as well as in Ebook on a pre-loaded Kindle available for 2-week Checkout. Visit Goodreads for a complete list of the series order.
Movie – As someone who’s claustrophobic and terrified of drowning, this movie made me tense. However, I always love a good shark film. In 47 Meters Down, we meet Lisa and Kate, two best friends on holiday in Mexico. Lisa just broke up with her cheating boyfriend and they’re hoping to escape it all. Then two handsome gents invite the friends to go cage diving with the sharks, promising the experience of a lifetime. From the get go, things seem a little shady, but Lisa and Kate know this is a one time opportunity. The red flags are there every step of the way, yet as in any creature feature/sharky shark film, all logic must be ignored.
I enjoyed all the scenes featuring our great white friends, though there weren’t nearly enough, in my opinion. The psychological aspect of the film was unexpected and added yet another layer of uncomfortable tension, but was really well done.
The whole situation is terrifying to me: a limited air supply with a very real risk of getting the bends swimming to safety. Swim to the surface too fast, and the pressure increase will be too much for your body to handle. Definitely not a good predicament to find yourself in when there are sharks circling hungrily nearby. This definitely solidified my desire to never tank dive–not that I was so determined to do so anyway. A good film, not enough sharks. There really are never enough sharks.
For another shark escape adventure, check out The Shallows, with actress Blake Lively.
TV Series – It seems to me that the TV series Girls has become an obsession in the world of millennials, and just in general. It’s one of the most realistic portrayals of mid-twenties life that I’ve seen in a television show. Sure, certain aspects are clearly dramatized, as in any popular series, but it just feels real.
Lena Dunham stars as the main character, Hanna, but is also an executive producer, which is pretty impressive. The series follows a group of budding adults: our starring character, Hanna, her best friend, Marnie, the bubbling Shoshana, and eccentric Jessa. They each have such distinctive personalities; it’s fascinating to see how they change and grow as the seasons progress. They’re in that phase of their lives where they’re cut off from their parents, struggling to pay rent, while also trying to maintain friendships, romantic relationships, and holding down jobs to support themselves. The experiences can be crude, disturbing, and intensely sexual, but it’s also though-provoking and something good to reflect on. It deals with difficult topics including: mental illness, drug use, sexuality and the daily struggles of life.
I turn to The Office when I need some comedic relief after watching Girls, which often makes me think too much about my own 20’s life. It presents characters that feel like people I might know and provides a good example of how relationships change after college. I really enjoy this series as a whole. As an added bonus, Adam Driver stars in the show, albeit as Adam, an often disturbed/disturbing love interest. I adore Adam Driver as the angsty Kylo Ren, so it’s always a pleasure to see him on screen.