Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Book Review: The Girl on the Train

"I've lost control of everything, even the places in my head," thinks Rachel Watson, as she tries to decipher the events that take place throughout Paula Hawkins' debut thriller. Rachel is the main narrator of three revolving women who take the reader through Paula Hawkins' The Girl on the Train

Not only do the differing narrators offer perspectives on a single event that the reader would not get with traditional storytelling, but the characters themselves are intriguing and interesting in their own right. Rachel, the main narrator, is unreliable and a bit of a drunk who recently went through a messy divorce. She becomes fascinated with a couple that she sees in her old neighborhood each morning when she takes the train into work, and that is where the novel really begins.

The second narrator is Megan, one half of the couple Rachel is fascinated by on her morning commute. Megan's narration delves into her life and how different it is from the way the literal "girl on a train" sees her each morning. The third narrator is Anna, who is Rachel's ex-husband's new wife. She lives in Rachel's old neighborhood, and the three narratives clash and intersect in interesting ways throughout the novel.

Without diving into too many details, the novel centers around Megan's disappearance coupled with Rachel's reaction and subsequent actions surrounding it. Rachel's alcoholic tendencies skew her memories and make her characterization both interesting and intensely frustrating. 

The character's narration of the events can be a bit repetitive at times when the narrator is constantly reminding the reader that she does not remember what happened because of her drinking. Rachel says, "I went from being a drinker to a drunk, and there's nothing more boring than that." This standing in place and lack of progress can be felt by the reader a few times through the novel.

Paula Hawkins' writing style is engrossing and pulls the reader into the story. I read this book on a single plane ride, and was riveted through most of it. The mystery gets deeper and the story casts a wide net by the end of the book, involving many different characters. 

I would recommend this book to anyone looking for something fun and easy to get into for some light reading. I found myself drawn to the story and I did not want to put this book down. However, the memory of reading it has not stuck with me the way so many other books have.

You can check out what other users though on Goodreads here.

Have you read The Girl on the Train? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

7 Things I Have Learned From Reading Books

Image sourced from

Everyone has their own experiences with reading. Their own favorite books, and their own lessons learned. According to my Goodreads account, I've read 111 books since I started keeping track of my reading habits.

Here are a few lesson I've learned from those books:

1. Neil Gaiman's The Ocean at the end of the Lane taught me to never judge a book by its cover. "Nobody looks like what they really are on the inside. You don't. I don't. People are much more complicated than that. It's true of everybody." Understanding people is an ongoing process, not something anyone can make a snap judgment about.

2.  I have learned the value of a good friend from Mindy Kaling's Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? She says that, "One friend with whom you have a lot in common is better than three with whom you struggle to find things to talk about." 

3. From the Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera I have learned that I need to find myself in continual growth and practice. The idea that, "There is no perfection only life" is present throughout the book as the characters try and try at finding their perfect selves. 

4. Christopher McDougall's Born to Run taught me that, "You don't have to be fast. But you'd better be fearless. When training for my first marathon I understood that whatever may come, I just had to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Image sourced from 

5. Patience and slowing down are also something I've had to learn. Donna Tartt's The Secret History says that "It is better to know one book intimately than a hundred superficially." Tartt's writing style requires a patient mind and I've learned to slow down and really absorb the books I'm reading and the world around me.

6. From David Sedaris I learned that there is no real growing up. In Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls he says, "As a child I assumed that when I reached adulthood, I would have grown-up thoughts." But there is no magical stage when we all grow up. It happens slowly, it sneaks up on you, and the ways in which we do not grow up at all can take us by surprise.

7. Joan Didion's Slouching Toward Bethlehem taught me to never forget my roots, "We forget all too soon the things we thought we could never forget. We forget the loves and the betrayals alike, forget what we whispered and what we screamed, forget who we were."Understanding where our present state developed form and how we became who we are is as important as moving toward the future.

What lessons have your favorite books taught you? Can you relate to any of mine? Let me know in the comments!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

My 3 Favorite Recent Book Releases

Picking out the next book I read is one of my favorite decisions. The possibilities are endless, and the options nearly unlimited. Having so many choices can be an amazing luxury, but it can also make finding the right book difficult amid an endless supply.

If you are having trouble finding the right book to read, I have put together a list of my favorite three new books.

Here are 3 of my favorite recent book releases: 

1. Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed 

I cannot tell enough people how much I love this book. You may be familiar with Cheryl Strayed from the recent movie Wild starring Reese Witherspoon as a younger Strayed hiking along the Pacific Crest Trail. Her autobiographical account of the journey was transformed into the film.

This book is a collection of advice columns from the anonymous Dear Sugar column that Strayed wrote for several years. The writing is absolutely beautiful, and Strayed's poignant, funny, scathing, and ultimately touching advice made me cry on several occasions. 

The topics range from family, love, career, and all other aspects of life. Strayed touches everything with grace and a touch of wit.

A little taste of her writing style; 

"But the reality is we often become our kindest, most ethical selves only by seeing what it feels like to be a selfish jackass first."

2. In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex by Nathaniel Philbrick

This nonfiction historical recounting of the sinking of the Whaleship Essex through a whale attack and the subsequent journey and survival attempt of the twenty-one crew members that were onboard. This was the real-life inspiration for Herman Melville's Moby Dick.

The story was gripping. I read this book in under twenty-four hours. The journey, and the deep dive that Philbrick takes into the history of the whaling industry had me hooked. 

Ron Howard is turning the book into a movie starring Chris Hemsworth.

Watch the trailer here:

Amy Poehler's memoir chronicles her life coming up in the Second City improv group through her present life as a single mom. Her and Tina Fey are two of the funniest and smartest women writing and working in popular culture, and it shows in this book.

Her writing ranges from personal writing on her love life, to how she balances her personal life with her work life. 

The book itself is intercut with glossy images that add to the points Poehler makes in her short, essay style of writing. The points made are often funny, helpful, and most often, some combination of the two.

A little taste of her writing style;

"I think we should stop asking people in their twenties what they 'want to do' and start asking them what they don't want to do." 

What were your favorite recent releases? Have you read any of these? Let me know in the comments!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

4 Ways to Read More Often

Image sourced from Huffington Post

Our spare time is more compressed than ever before, and according to this survey, 32% of Americans did not purchase any books in the past year.

Why should we read more? 

  • Reading allows us to immerse ourselves in a new world
  • Uncover knowledge we did not have before
  • Expands the mind 
  • Leads to self-improvement and higher awareness. 

Here are 4 ways to get more reading into your day:

1. Carry a book with you

Keeping a book with you allows you to use the small moments throughout your day when you have a few moments to read. We spend a lot of our time waiting, and instead of spending that time on our smartphones, we could be reading.

E-readers are also a good way to carry a book with you. Apps and mobile devices make it simpler than ever to read more often while out of the house.

2. Set aside time in the morning or at night

Taking an extra fifteen minutes in the morning when you first wake up, or at night before going to bed are great ways to clear your mind and get a little extra reading in for the day.

I personally prefer to read at night because it helps to me to relax before going to sleep. 

3. Try Audiobooks

Audiobooks are a great way to consume literature without having to physically read a book. Especially for people who have a long commute, audiobooks can be a great way to use a long drive more productively. 

4. Keep a reading wishlist

Keeping a list of what you want to read next can help keep you motivated to read. Updating your wishlist or participating in an online reading community keeps you involved and excited about reading.

Here is a link to my personal Goodreads account, where I keep my own reading wishlist.

I keep a list with all the books I want to read next. Part of the joy of finishing one book, is starting a new one!

Image sourced from Business Insider

Do you have a difficulty finding time to read? How do you find time in your day? Share your thoughts or reading tips below!