Mrs' Top 5 Books of All Time!

When I’m deciding how many stars a book I’ve read deserves, I use the five books listed below as my base. These are the five books that have impacted me the most in my 25 years of reading and the stories I consider to be five out five stars.

Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White -- A true children’s classic, I’ve read this book more than 50 times. I even had a small rubber piglet named Wilbur that I carried around in my pocket for longer than I care to admit. It is the first book I remember picturing vividly in my head as I read. I would daydream about living on a farm and imagined that all the animals I encountered could talk to each other. That spark it ignited in my imagination is still present and I am constantly comparing the feeling I get from books I read now to the feeling that Charlotte’s Web gave me.

Last Days of Summer by Steve Kluger -- I’ll be honest. This is literally the only book I read in it’s entirety in high school. The story of a young boy and a famous baseball player is told wholly with news clippings, telegrams, letters, and even ticket stubs. I was intrigued by the fact that the author wasn’t simply telling me what a character’s thought process was, what they looked like or how they acted. It felt as tho the characters themselves were telling me who they were through their letters, and events they went to and participated in. I was instantly drawn to the unique writing style that felt more personal than even some biographies that I’ve read. I haven’t found many stories told in this way since, but I am always looking.

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen -- I can’t quite remember the specifics of why this book left such an impression on me. It ticked off a lot of things that I like in a story. I am a sucker for stories told from the point of view of a character who is getting older and reflecting on all his or her adventures in life. I love love stories between not only two people, but between people and their animals too.  What I do remember is that for months after reading this book, I longed to be reading it again. Every book I picked up following this book didn’t get finished for a long time because it didn’t move me the way Water for Elephants did.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern -- This book had my imagination on fire in a similar way to how it was when I first read Charlotte’s Web, but also in a completely deeper and more striking way. The world in The Night Circus was magical in a way that felt real. It was dark, edgy, sensual and provocative. There were worlds within worlds that made me thoroughly believe that the world I am in, is not the only world there is. It had me looking at the most ordinary objects with a curiosity that I had not known since I’d read The Littles or Charlotte’s Web. It had me believing in magic so strongly that I am still convinced it exists.

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr -- This was the book that made me realize how much I enjoy historical fiction. I love learning about a time in our history through the lens of a fictional story and I especially loved learning more about WWII. But what really hooked me was how Doerr described scenery, smells, sounds, and emotions in such a beautiful and innocent way even while the sad and devastating war plot was always lurking in the background. I forced myself multiple times to put it down and read it slower because I knew it would be one of those books that I would crave reading, long after I had finished.

Lazy Sunday Reading with Mrs: Fates and Furies

Fates and Furies by Lauren GroffOverall: 4 stars (out of 5)

Recommended: Yes!

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Lauren Groff’s writing style in Fates and Furies is unlike anything I’ve ever read before. She uses what’s called “third person omniscient point of view” and I found this particularly effective at making the novel feel more intimate. Because the narrator (and subsequently me as the reader) knows the thoughts and feelings of all the characters, I felt like I wasn’t just reading about them, I was them. Their thoughts and feelings were my thoughts and feelings. I got lost in the story more than I have in any story I’ve read before this one. Simply saying ‘I couldn’t put it down’, does not adequately describe how much I enjoyed this book. There was a physical need I felt to be reading this book when I wasn’t. My mind craved being in the character’s minds.

I prefer to be transported into a reality far from mine when I read a book or watch a movie. Surprisingly, the fact that the novel didn’t transport me was what I loved most about it. It was a real love story. It was not told through a filtered lens. It was raw and uncomfortable with happy and sad endings. It was dramatic, passionate, and full of secrets. I could have been reading about my own love story, or yours.

If you’re looking for a book to read this summer, I highly recommend Fates and Furies!

Creating a Meaningful Life: Learning to Meditate

meditationI think I have hit my stride with meditating. Finding my focus has become something I can do relatively easily, and I am able to concentrate for longer and longer stretches of time. The newest trick I learned is that when I find myself starting to get lost in thought, I simply think to myself “thinking” or “wandering” and that brings my awareness back to the meditation and my breath and I am able to let go of my thoughts. I’ve also learned that focusing on the feelings and sensations in different parts of my body makes me feel lighter and helps me concentrate. So I think I can safely say that the habit of meditating at least once a day as been formed. I really enjoy it and look forward to it every morning and night. The only thing I haven’t seen a huge shift in, is my ability to handle stressful situations or not become angry over petty things. I had hoped that the somewhat simple act of meditating once a day would help transform my mind, but I am beginning to see it might take more than that. My next goal is to use shorter guided meditations (3-5 minutes) when I am stressed, feeling anxious or feeling angry to help curb those feelings in the moment. Eventually, I hope, it will become second nature for my mind to steer itself away from those negative feelings.

During the last week, I explored guided meditation a bit more and at the moment it is my preferred method of meditating. I also added meditating into my nightly routine because I really see a difference in how quickly I fall asleep and how deeply I sleep when I have meditated before bed. I plan to keep up the guided meditations in the coming week and to try out ‘in the moment meditation’ when it is needed. I am in the final stretches of cramming for my CA real estate license exam, so ‘in the moment meditation’ might be tried out a lot. Wish me luck!