Our Favorite (and not so favorite) Books March 24, 2016 08:00

I've recently seen a graphic which states that 'successful' people read every day, and 'unsuccessful' people watch TV everyday.  I must be somewhere in the middle because I love to read, but I also appreciate a good TV show (who doesn't need that mental break sometimes!).  But for today, we'll all pretend that we're on the 'successful' side of things (because, you're reading this right now so you fit right in!) and talk about books.  

At UPstudio we are avid readers... so much so that we have to limit what books we read and when so that we can focus on other things, because once you're in to a book, it's hard to take a break to get out - you have to finish!  MB is in a book club so she's in a slightly different boat, with deadlines for reading some books where as I read mainly for pleasure with no deadlines. We both are local library supporters, MB checking them out on her kindle and I go more old school and check out the real books. (Luckily we have an express library right across the street from our office, makes it super easy.)  These are just our personal preferences, but it boils down to the same thing:  we read a lot.  From guilty pleasures to chick lit, fiction and non fiction (and sometimes, science fiction), theory and silly, we love them all.  

There's just something beautiful about books and bindings and stacks in bookstores or libraries.  My husband will tell you that the first thing I did when we moved into our house 5 years ago was organize our books by color.  I would argue it wasn't the first thing I did, but it was done pretty quickly.  (worth it though, right?):

Especially as the weather is getting warmer, books seem to fit in to life a little more easily.  Who goes to the beach without a book to keep them company?  To help you prepare for your upcoming vacations, or maybe to add to your already established book list, here are a few of our favorites:

  • The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins / The Divergent Trilogy by Veronica Roth - let's put it right out there.  Both of us are fans of a good teen fantasy series.  We read the Divergent series at the same time so could discuss all the good and bad (book 3, we're looking at you) together.  Confession: we were both known to stay in the parking garage an extra 5 minutes to finish a chapter before coming in to work.  Worth the read for both of them, but in my mind, The Hunger Games wins. (I also read The Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld and would put this one nearer to the bottom of the list... still entertaining but written on a much younger level) (If you want to commit to a lengthier series and are okay with a little bit more sci-fi, The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare was also a great read, but 6 books strong.)
  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald - Such a classic that can either be read purely for pleasure or with a lot of insight of a failed American Dream.
  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury - Another classic about a man who goes against society with his stash of books in a time where books are outlawed.  Instead of reading, people watch television that they are so engrossed in, they forget to have actual relationships with people outside of television.  A tale of human errors on a large scale.
  • The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand - Give yourself some time with this one, but it's worth the long read.  The story of an individual who chooses not to compromise to fit into societal conformance, and stays true to himself.  (Plus, he's an architect, so, admittedly biased.)
  • Say Goodnight Gracie by Julie Reece Deaver - I've read this book more times than any other in my life, mostly in middle and high school, but it's one of those nostalgic books that really struck a chord.  A story of love and loss and life.  Bring your tissues.
  • Bitter is the New Black by Jen Lancaster - I genuinely thought I was funnier after reading this book.  I LOVE Lancaster's point of view and her snarky comments in this autobiography of her life affected by the economic crash.  Her older autobiographies are all worth a read, while her newer ones are slightly less enjoyable (maybe it's the fact that you know she's doing things just to write another book?)  She's also recently written a few fiction novels which are fun and light reads.  
  • Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follet - This book has everything from history to drama to romance, all in the setting of building a cathedral.  This is another long book, but definitely worth the time to read.
  • If you want to read some good historical fiction we would recommend All The Light You Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. Such a good book set in the WWII era. On that same note Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay, another great book also during WWII. Both are beautifully written, but bring your tissues.
  • If you love a good thriller you should try Gillian Flynn's other books (because everyone has read Gone Girl already), Sharp Objects, and Dark Places. Where does Gillian come up with these stories? #crazy. They suck you in so quick and you're hooked. Personally I liked Dark Places the best.
  • A couple books we aren't huge fans of: Wild by Cheryl Strayed ended up being a great story, but not a lot of substance, she didn't really have a revelation on her journey, she didn't change. Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver was written well (I had to look up words constantly) but lets be honest, its essentially all just a big global warming argument. Lastly, Me Before You by Jojo Moyes left us conflicted, it was a good story, but morally we are torn on the ending, wish we had avoided that one. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, loved the book, but it could of easily been 300 pages shorter, things just drug out.

(A quick sidenote:  some of the books listed above have since turned in to Hollywood productions.  We strongly recommend reading books before seeing movies or watching a TV series - this way your mind can explore and imagine characters as it wants to without having a preconceived notion.  Plus, the books are just usually better!)

We would love to hear what's on your list of favorites too!