The Book Chat 11.07.13 Non-Fiction

This week’s Book Chat topic is non-fiction. I am a huge non-fiction fan. There was a certain, pretentious point in my life, when that was all I would read. Currently, I mostly read novels, but still like non-fiction sprinkled in here and there. The non-fiction I usually read these days is for purposes of learning something more yoga or spiritual related, or vegan/health/nutrition related.

One of the most life changing non-fiction books for me has been Mark Epstein’s Going to Pieces Without Falling apart.

Mark_Epstein_MD_Going_to_Pieces_Without_Falling_Apart_large This book intertwines concepts of Buddhism and psychology in order to further explore wholeness.

I received this book as a present when I graduated with my Bachelor’s degree. I ignored it for about three years, then finally decided to give it a try. I am so glad I did and the timing was perfect. I realized I would not have been ready for it, when I was 21 years old. I would not have received the full benefits of the book because I was not emotionally or psychologically prepared to yet, my ego would have gotten to much in the way and I would have glazed over most of the information.

I started reading it at a time of great transition in my life, I had been through a series of humbling situations and I was ready to make changes. This book helped me truly examine my previous motivations and life focus. I started to question my intentions and begin to shift them in a more positive direction. This also helped paved the way for me to begin viewing and doing yoga from a more holistic perspective, as opposed to a “exercise only” one.

The book really opened my heart to more positivity and paved the way for some much needed healing. I highly recommend it to anyone who is looking for a different perspective on wholeness, or who has trouble coping with stress and anxiety (as I did).

What is your favorite non-fiction book?

The Book Chat 09.26.13 Banned Books Week


In honor of Banned Books Week, this week’s Book Chat topic is on Banned Books.

I do not believe in censorship. I always had a hard time understanding why books with controversial, heavy topics would be banned, especially in places of learning. I think those are the most important places where these books should be; in a safe and educational environment where the topics can be discussed and understood, as opposed to staying taboo.

The first time I realized that certain books were bad was when I was in high school, and I went to my school library in search of Mein Kampf, written by Adolf Hitler.  I had just learned in my history class that he had written an autobiography and was so interested to read his memoirs and maybe gain some sort of insight into the psyche of someone who catapulted such terror.


The librarian at my school was pretty aghast when I asked for the book and I it struck me as strange that it would not be allowed in a school. I was seeking information and understanding, and what better place to find that, than in a school setting.

Till this day, I still have not read Mein Kampf, I guess now that I am an adult and am allowed to get it from wherever I want, I should.

One of my favorite Banned Books is actually the poem, Howl, by Allen Ginsberg. I first read this in a Modern American Literature class as an undergrad. This kicked off a phase for me of reading but Beat generation authors. It fit so appropriately with my angsty, pretentious, post-adolescent phase of life. However, even though I get annoyed looking back at my younger self, it was such a time of self-discovery and learning. I really appreciate those years, and the books that defined them.


What is your favorite Banned book?

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The Book Chat 09.19.13 Books Everyone Should Read

This week’s Book Chat Topic is A Book You Think Everyone Should Read. I am cheating again and re-posting from a very similar topic previously blogged: books every young woman should read:

The second link up topic for the Preview to Summer Blogger Book Swap is “Five Books Every Young Woman Should Read.”

link up

tucker max5. I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell– Tucker Max is not anyone I aspire to be like or admire, but I do appreciate and respect his unbridled, candid accounts of his exploits and adventures. Reading this gives you a great look into the minds of some men, and how women can sometimes come across to them. I won’t say that all men are like Tucker Max, but I think many, many, at certain stages in their life are and it is eye-opening for women to realize how they are perceived and subsequently treated, because of the way they act.

WildTP_Books-330 4. Wild-This account of a young woman who hikes the whole Pacific Crest Trail alone is inspiring and motivating. It not only discusses the bravery it takes to head out on a hike for months, alone, but it also addresses how much courage it takes to confront yourself and wrangle, plus make peace with, the demons of the past and present.

skinny_bitch 3. Skinny Bitch– There is undoubtedly better books that give a great scientific overview about the importance of what we eat and the effects that it has on our health. However, Skinny Bitch breaks it down in simplistic terms that everyone can understand and relate to. I can not express how important I think it is for everyone, but particularly young women, to understand how what they eat impacts their health, physical appearance, the environment, the economy, the world, etc.

awakening 2. The Awakening– This book completely challenged the way I thought, when I first read it in a Feminist Literature class, as an undergrad. It challenges gender roles and discusses how harmful they can be in society, particularly in the oppression of women. I think it is so important for us to ask ourselves, am I making choices because this is what I want to do, or what I think others want out of me?

the_collected_autobiographies 1. The Collected Biographies of Maya Angelou– This is technically 6 books, in 1, but I could not possibly pick. Maya Angelou is one of my favorite authors, and a remarkable, admirable woman. She has lead an extraordinary life filled with education, dance, performance, teaching, travel, humanitarian work, plus all of life’s ups and downs along the way. She shares this life with us through her beautiful prose and majestic imagery. There is definitely something everyone can take away from it.

Click here for more posts on this topic.

The Book Chat 09.12.13 Favorite Book Covers


This week’s Book Chat topic is Favorite Book Covers. I blogged about this before during the Preview to Summer Blogger Book Swap, so I am cheating and re-posting:


On this week’s link up to Preview to Summer Blogger Book Swap, we are answering the following questions:

bookcover21. Do you judge a book by its cover?

I would love to answer no to this question, but my honest and shallow answer is yes, I do. I definitely will not count a book out because of it’s cover, but often, that is the first impression you get of a book and what draws your interest and piques your curiosity about what the subject matter may contain.

2. How important is cover design to you?

It is fairly important. Again, besides recommendations, it is what is first going to make me curious and interested in a book.

3. Share your favorite book cover.

ShanghaiGirls_cover When I first saw the cover to Shanghai Girls, I immediately picked it up to find out what it was about. The cover is stunning and once I finally read the book, I realized how fitting it was. It truly exemplifies the period of modern fashion, independent women and beautiful girls in Shanghai.

4. What book surprised you the most, despite its unappealing cover design?

I would not call this cover necessarily unappealing, but it did surprise me. The cover lead me to believe the book was about a new, trendy diet. I thought it was geared to the modern woman, who was always on the go and I would find suggestions about how to eat healthy, even with a busy lifestyle.

I was very surprised to find this book was an introduction to veganism. I learned more and more about the effects of factory farming, environmentalism and how what I consume effects important factors on a world wide scale. This book started my journey into veganism, a positive, but unexpected outcome.

skinny_bitch5. In your opinion, what makes a book cover intriguing?

I think a mixture of being aesthetically pleasing and relevant to the text. I like covers that cause me to be intrigued by the book, curious, but not confused as to what the heck the cover picture has to do with the blurb I am reading on the book flap.

What is your favorite book cover? Click here to read more posts on this topic.

The Book Chat 09.05.13-Controversial Topics

This week’s Book Chat topic is book’s that tackle controversial or tough topics.


I read Chaz Bono’s book Transition, for this very reason. The book is about Chaz’s journey from discovering his sexuality when he was younger, to realizing he was not identifying with his gender, to making the decision to begin the process into gender reassignment.


I was hoping for further insight into transgenderism. I was hoping to further my own understanding of the psyche behind such a process. I work as a high school counselor and encounter diverse situations. I am always looking for good reading material to help me empathize and understand each student I come across, and, if I feel it can help, pass along that book to a student who may benefit from it.

I admire Chaz’s courage in being true to himself, and sharing his story with the world. I appreciate that he told his own story, and cannot fault him for who his parents are and the privilege he was born into. However, I felt that his journey was a relatively smooth process, fueled behind his upbringing, celebrity status, wealth and fame. Gender reassignment is terribly expensive, yet he was able to start the process without much adversity. Overall, he had a strong support system of family and friends, who made the transition much easier for him.

I may be terribly ignorant or coming from a place of judgment, but his journey did not seem as realistic at what others transgender individuals, who do not have familial support or financial backing, encounter in their journey.

I do appreciate his advocacy and openness, but I rolled my eyes more than once when he talked about how the media was making this a tough process for him, or when he talked about entering yet, another rehab center (paid for by his mom). I am sure those were both true issues for him to contend with, but again, it just did not feel like that could resonate or help someone else who was going through or thinking about gender reassignment. It was hard to sympathize with “celebrity” issues, when I am sure there are some transgendered individuals who face much bigger obstacles than the paparrazi following them around.

This book was interesting, but not what I was looking for. If anyone has other suggestions about books on the subject, pass them my way.

Check out other posts on this topic here

The Book Chat: 08.29.13 School Assigned Reading


This week’s Book Chat topic is school assigned reading. I took a bit of a different approach to this topic. By far, my favorite books that I read while in school as assignments were Catcher in the Rye and I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. I have already done book related posts on both of those books (you can click here and here to read those), so I thought I would post about what I am currently assigned to read.

The following are books that I am reading as part of my yoga teacher training.

1. The Yoga Sutras of Pantanjali. This book is packed with amazing amounts of wisdom. It is comprised of insightful bits not just about yoga, but also about living your life in general, relating to other people and being introspective about yourself. I have read it twice through already since the training started, and I still feel like I have only scratched the surface of it’s knowledge base. I know it is a book I will come back to again and again, and still find something useful for myself.


2. Yoga Mind Body & Spirit by Donna Farhi.

I love Farhi’s approach to yoga, she emphasizes that it is not just about the body, but as the title implies, about the connection between the mind and spirit have with the body.

She gives great details about pose break downs as well, that have helped me understand poses that I have previously struggled with.

I have skipped around in this book, based on what has been assigned, but I do plan on reading it cover to cover, once the training is over.

donna farhi

3. Juvamukti Yoga by David Life & Sharon Gannon

This book is not assigned for me to read, but it was suggested by one of my yoga teachers, to help me with my final research paper. I am about halfway through the book right now. Gannon and Life take an interesting and different approach to yoga, and I am still digesting how I feel about that. I will reserve my full opinion until I am finished with the book, but it is definitely an interesting and thought-provoking read.

Jivamukti Yoga 280

What were your favorite assigned school readings?

Check out other posts from this week’s Book Chat here.

The Book Chat 08.15.13 Favorite Memoirs

This week’s Book Chat topic is our favorite autobiographies and memoirs.


I became a huge fan of autobiographies while I was in high school, particular works by anyone from old Hollywood. It was through these books, that I learned about so many classical movies and musicals. I would seek out the movies and recordings after reading about them (thank-you, public library!), and it was through this that my love for musical theater was born. This is just another example of the amazing gifts reading can offer.

However, by far, my favorite memoirs are by Maya Angelou. The Collected Autobiographies of Maya Angelou is one of my favorite books on my shelves.


I find her life incredibly fascinated. She tells her story so honestly and doesn’t hide her flaws, mistakes and lessons. Through the books, the reader follows her from a streetcar conductor in San Francisco, single mother, pimp & prostitute, actress, dancer, performer in nightclubs and musicals, civil rights activist, friend with Malcom X, organizer of marches for Martin Luther King,  writer and organizer in Cairo and Ghana, screenplay writer, director, poet, etc., etc. etc.

Her adventurous life is described in her poetic imagery and beautiful language. Her words flow almost like lyrics and I always feel inspired to write after reading her works.

Have you read any of Maya Angelou’s works? What is your favorite memoir?

Check out other posts on this topic by clicking here.

The Book Chat-08.08.13 Catching Up

I am so glad that The Book Chat is back! I definitely enjoy the weekly topics and checking out other posts.


This week we are catching up with what we have been reading. Currently, I am reading the second installment of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, A Clash of Kings.

9439055247_5d3e0fc2e1_oI totally jumped on the Game of Thrones bandwagon over this summer, and tore through all 3 seasons, on dvd. Like many people, I became obsessed with the show and clamored to see what would happen next. Even through the gasps, shouts and tears shed (those who have seen the last season know when I cried), I still am invested in the characters and story line, and NEED to know what happens.

I bought the first four books and planned to read them as I watched the series.  You guys, I have to be honest, I am having a hard time getting through this book.

I am not sure if it is because I already know what happens (since I watched the second season), but I cannot seem to get through this book as fast as I thought I would. I am about 200 pages in, and am just not excited about reading it.

This seems like a cop out excuse, but I think part of the reason is because of how fat it is, and difficult to hold. I typically read in bed, and after a while, this book starts hurting my hand, and I just give up and go to sleep.

I am tempted to give up on it, and jump to book 4, because I want to know what happens next.

What would you do? Do you ever give up on books? 

Check out the other Book Chat posts here.

The Book Chat-07.18.13 Young Adult Lit

I am not ashamed to admit that I am an adult who loves reading Young Adult Literature.

At first, I made the excuse that, “I work with teenagers, so I need to read things they would like, so I can make recommendations.” 

And while, yes, I do try to cultivate a love of reading in my students, that is not the only reason I love YA. There is definitely something appealing and universal about the tumultuous time called adolescence.

While reading about the conflicts and issues one has as a teenager, I am reminded about how those problems seemed like THE biggest deal at the time, and they truly were. Friend issues could completely ruin your life, having a crush on someone who did not reciprocate those feelings was devastating, adding in family problems to the mix and your life feels like it is going to end. Being reminded of how simple those problems all seem now as an adult looking back, makes me believe that problems I currently feel are huge, will probably seem trivial in another ten years.

One of my favorite YA series is the Jessica Darling series by Megan McCafferty.

jd series This series follows the main character, Jessica Darling, from high school to a career after college. She is smart, witty, hilarious, sarcastic and has universal struggles with family, friends and boyfriends. Her love of karaoke also makes her amazing. Her flaws and conflicts make her very relatable to readers of any age. Those who are currently going through similar struggles can absolutely relate, those of us who may or may not have made similar mistakes Jessica made, cringe, reflect and remember what is was like to have been in that oh-so-confused mindset. There is interesting plots along the way, it was a series I flew through a missed when it was over.

Check out other posts on The Book Chat here.


What is your favorite Young Adult series?

The Book Chat 6.27.13-The Great Outdoors

This week’s topic on The Book Chat is The Great Outdoors.

I love books that are set in the outdoors. I enjoy camping, hiking, back packing, etc. and enjoy reading anything of that nature.

One of my favorite books set in the outdoors, is Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster by Jon Krakauer.

200px-Into_Thin_Air I am a pretty big fan of Krakauer, I especially enjoyed Into the Wild and looked into his other works. Into Thin Air tells the story of when Krakauer climbed Mt. Everest as a member of a team. A storm erupts during the expedition, and 8 people ended up dying and left many more stranded.

I actually read this book during my 1st backpacking trip, which may not have been the best idea. The book was incredibly suspenseful and terrifying. It is definitely about a trip that has gone way wrong, and the first time I ventured off into the wilderness, may not have been the best time to read this book.

However, I still highly recommend this book. It gives a first hand account of what it is like to climb Mt. Everest, and also discusses some of the historical and social implications associated with this phenomenon. 

What is your favorite book set in the outdoors?