Friday, December 31, 2021

Books I Devoured in 2021

Image credit here.

2021 has been a crazy year. Normally around this time I look back on all of the albums I couldn't get enough of, but to be honest, I wasn't overly impressed with music this year. (Or maybe I've just been reading too much, oops.) Here are some of the books that stuck with me this year (titles not necessarily published in 2021). And, if you're curious, my comprehensive 2021 reading list can be found here.

Beautiful World, Where Are You by Sally Rooney

I first got a taste for Sally Rooney's fiction when I brought Normal People on a family trip to Michigan some years back. (I mention this only because I feel like I will forever associate the book with that trip and the plane ride. 💖) To me, Normal People and Rooney's debut, Conversation with Friends, have a similar style and subject matter, but Beautiful World, Where Are You feels like a departure. To me, it seemed a bit lighter, less tortured, though there's some definite navel-gazing and requisite existentialism going on. The book follows the lives of two friends and the emails they send to each other, with Rooney eventually weaving the stories into one in the later chapters. You can definitely feel the author grappling with her own literary success through her character, Alice. It was an interesting read, and I liked the epistolary device used throughout.

The vibe: A little contemplative, a little world-weary, but also focused more on the complexity of jealousy and joy in friendships and relationships in your twenties 

Read if: You've enjoyed Rooney's previous works, or if you are looking for a character-driven novel that also asks big questions about society and success

Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid

I positively devoured this book! The story explores the lives of Emira, a babysitter, and Alix, the mother of the child Emira babysits. The main plot point is an altercation that takes place at a grocery store when another shopper assumes Emira (who is black) kidnapped the child she babysits (who is white). Although I imagined the novel to be a little more high-stakes/action-y or political than it actually was, something kept me turning the pages. Like Beautiful World, Where Are You, this story explores the perspectives of both of its leading ladies. Maybe I just really like that back-and-forth dynamic? The writing in this one is less dense than Rooney's, making for a quick read. And that cover! To be honest I think the cover is what caught my eye initially. Such a fun age? Such a fun cover! (You can lob tomatoes at me now.)

The vibe: Easy, breezy, beautiful, CoverGirl reading, with an interesting contrast between Alix, the "girl boss" mommy blogger-type, and Emira, a twentysomething who is guarded, growing, and finding herself

Read if: You've ever been a babysitter or nanny, or you want a quick read that touches on the dynamics between employee and employer 

Open Book by Jessica Simpson

I have to admit, I'm not a Jessica Simpson fan. Or at least, I wasn't before I read this book. It's not that I was a Jessica Simpson hater, she just wasn't really on my radar. But I had heard good things about Open Book, and I enjoy a celebrity memoir every now and then, so why not? Well, folks, this one did not disappoint! I don't know what I was expecting, but I was pleasantly surprised. I really admired Simpson's candor, and she shed light on experiences that can be difficult to discuss (addiction, divorce, body image). There were also passages about her faith and family relationships, which were just as interesting. I think anyone who has the guts to write something as revealing (and, at times, heartbreaking) as this deserves props, even if I can't relate to all of her experiences.

The vibe: A refreshingly honest recollection of a life spent in and out of the limelight

Read if: You like Jessica Simpson or, like me, have a vague but growing interest in celebrity memoirs

Severance by Ling Ma

By now, it's embarrasingly obvious to me that a lot of my interest in reading a book is based on how gorgeous/intriguingly designed its cover is. (And also, horrifyingly, what kind of typeface is used for the copy? If the font bothers me, I seriously will put down the book. Fun!) So I'd be lying if I said the millennial pink memo vibes here didn't play a factor. Regardless, Severance was such a unique read. At times it felt academic, and at others, claustrophobic. The book was written before the pandemic, but its focus on a fever that ushers in an apocalypse was a little...too prescient? And yet, so intriguing. This book is simultaneously a creepy dystopian and commentary on capitalism. (I know, just go with it.) Definitely a very specific read, but not one I regret.

The vibe: The Walking Dead, if the zombies were more mundane, and not at all bloodthirsty, mixed economics class?

Read if: You want a heaping helping of race, class, and society with your dystopian thriller

I'm Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid

Creepy, creepy, creepy. I can say with ease that this is the creepiest book I've ever read. It's only this year that I've started venturing into reading thriller-type books at all, having previously preferred witty and gentle YA works, reading nothing more upsetting than The Fault in Our Stars. Who is she? WHO EVEN KNOWS. All I have to say is: Thanks, Kaylie, for recommending this one, because it scarred me for life. It was a great, fast, can't-put-it-down read, but so! Scary! As in, I started feeling paranoid in my own house. And that ending....*deep sigh*. Do not read this if you're faint of heart. Do not read this if you like happy books. Do not read this if you thought Courage the Cowardly Dog was scary (which, wow, it really was). There is no way I will be watching the Netflix adaptation of this book. I'm simply here to say: Creepy, creepy, creepy!!

The vibe: U T T E R  D E S P A I R

Read if: You like fast-paced, psychological thrillers that keep you guessing

Several People Are Typing by Calvin Kasulke

And finally, folks, we have this dandy. Several People Are Typing is a book I flirted with buying several times whilst on trips to Barnes & Noble, but couldn't quite pull the trigger. It's written entirely in the format of Slack messages (look up the workspace app Slack if you're not familiar), and focuses on Gerald, an employee who has accidentally found himself stuck in the Slack interface. As in, his consciousness has been uploaded into Slack. Y'all, the dude is trapped in the app. And it's pretty dang hilarious. I borrowed this from the library and finished it in two days. It's a witty, lightning-fast read and made me snort-laugh many, many times.

The vibe: Workplace humor coupled with a bit of romance and existential dread

Read if: You've got a weird sense of humor and also can relate to the specific dynamics of working in an office

And that's all, folks!

I hope you enjoyed this post, because I had a ton of fun writing it. I may do more book recommendation posts in the future, seeing as I am reading myself out of house and home.

If you have any recommendations for what I should read next, please feel free to leave me a comment! I am always looking for new books to enjoy. That's it, that's the post. I hope to have more to say on this blog in 2022, lol.

Happy New Year,

Sunday, September 5, 2021


 Today I turn 28. This morning I woke up and on impulse, drove to my parents' house for breakfast. (Not me crying at "Wake Me Up When September Ends" on the drive over.) This morning was especially nostalgic because my parents are moving in a few weeks, and they're in the process of boxing up all their belongings. I am now two residences removed from this house, but I spent a good 15 years here, and it's crazy to think that it's not going to be in the family anymore.

Yesterday Peter and I went thrifting and I got my cartilage pierced. Tonight, we're going to a concert for my favorite band and I COULD NOT BE MORE EXCITED!!

27 was just a crazy year. I met my husband, got engaged, and got married all in the span of like nine months. It's wild to me how much has changed from 26 to 27, and I can't even imagine what it will be like going from 27 to 28. I hope that this year holds a lot of fun creative projects, and that it brings me closer to the Lord in my walk with Him.

My old birthday posts can be found here (I can't believe I've been doing this for so long on the blog): 27, 26, 25, 24, 23, 22, 21.

Still feeling like a smol emo child,

Saturday, July 31, 2021

The Honeymoon Adventures, Pt. 1

This post is going to be about my honeymoon, but I have to preface it by saying: waking up on your wedding day is a weird feeling. The night before mine, walking through the ceremony with family and friends at the rehearsal dinner, I was more nervous than I have ever been. The next morning, though, I pulled on a pair of checkered pants and ate toast at a local diner with my parents, somewhat subdued, even though it was The Day. Then when the wedding was over, it was finally time to travel.

For our honeymoon, Peter and I ventured to Savannah, GA and Asheville, NC.

Our honeymoon was a supreme road trip, up from central Florida over to Savannah for a night, then continuing onto a remote cabin just outside of Asheville for the remaining nights. Because of all the driving, there was also a lot of music, and because there was a lot of music, I decided to write down my favorites from the songs that we played. I have included the tracks in a playlist at the bottom of this post!

The hotel we stayed in Savannah was called the Hyatt Regency, and it was right on the water.

Our room had a view of all the boats down along the river, and right below was (the aptly named) River Street. Because of all the traveling, we were too tired to explore Savannah extensively upon arrival, but we brought food in from Olympia Café, a fantastic Greek restaurant. 

The next morning, we sleepily emerged from our hotel room to go look around downtown Savannah.

I did not know, but Savannah is something of a walking town, so we walked the streets to get from place to place. We happened upon an adorable breakfast spot called Goose Feathers Café, and settled in at the window seat. I got a cup of orange juice and something called an Eggel Bagel(!) with avocado.

I wish we had had more time to explore Savannah before heading to our cabin in Asheville, and I definitely want to go back. There were a lot of cute shops we spotted on our walk that morning that weren't open before we had to leave for the next leg of our journey. I would definitely recommend Savannah, even though we experienced precious little of what it had to offer.

Please ignore the dumpsters lolol.

Our travels took us over a large bridge and through dense woods, and eventually we arrived (up the side of a mountain - big deal for a FL gal) at the cabin in North Carolina. The cabin had an adorable front porch, a loft bedroom, a hot tub outside, and a hammock. I already miss it, and the crisp mountain air that is infinitely preferable to the constant humidity we have here near the coast.

We spent a lot of time in the cabin cooking (Peter), reading (both of us), and eating store-bought macarons with abandon (me).

I could definitely see myself living in a cabin someday. It was just so green and peaceful - save for the times that the tree branches surrounding the house would creak so furiously against the roof that we thought someone was trying to break in. Save for that. 

 I have more adventures from our time in Asheville to share, but I will save them for the second part of this post, which I hope to finish drafting next week.

Until then, here is the playlist of the songs I jotted down from our honeymoon travels (basically a love letter to The Spring). I made an Acoustic Erin Spotify where you can listen to them, and will be updating it with more honeymoon tunes next week. I hope to add more playlists for y'all to listen to as time goes on. I also started a blog Instagram, which you can find here.

And now an interlude from my husband, who will be writing fun footnotes to my posts for the time being (click here to read the first installment).

~Peter's Paragraph No.2~

Hello all! Recently, I became interested in flash fiction. "What is that?" you ask. Well, it's short fiction stories, usually 3,000 words or less. I started writing some in the hopes to get published on a small-scale website, but then I thought to myself, "Why not make a website of my own?" This has been something Erin has been encouraging me to do in the recent months and I realized creating a flash fiction website would be a good hobby to have. So, yours truly has created The Creative Anecdote, a website of flash fiction that believes in paying for creators' works. The prizes may be cheap, but hey, it's being funded by me right now. If you like the idea, please follow us on Instagram (@thecreativeanecdote) and join our mailing list on our website. Just by doing that, you are supporting something that helps support others! Love you all. 

And there you go, that is the post! Have you guys ever been to Savannah or Asheville? Where have your summer travels taken you to?

Missing the woods,

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Marriage, Blogging, & Everything Else

I never quite know how to awkwardly side-shuffle from stage left back onto the blog when I've been gone for any length of time, I am. If anybody's out there, ~salutations~. Also if it's just me, hi, I love your work.

I got married in June, and wedding plans consumed my life for months before that, but now I've been spat back out into my new normal life, which includes 300% more cuddles but still my requisite amount of anxiety.

Side note: It's funny to me how fast my actual wedding went by. I know people are always saying that, but it's true. There were so many bright moments from that day (being tossed in the air multiple times during an impromptu mosh pit at the reception among them) but it's crazy that that was already over a month ago. 

I plan to share more about the wedding and honeymoon in a separate post, but for right now, I'm dipping my toe back into the blogging waters to see if anyone's still swimmin'.

I feel like a lot of the bloggers I used to love reading stopped posting content around 2019. Some of my favorite reads are still here (God bless), but to me it feels like blogging has been left behind. Which I don't completely hate - I feel like there's something inherently slow-paced about it, something decidedly old fashioned that might not be as popular in our fast-paced lives. It takes time to read or write a blog! It takes devotion! It used to be my Saturday morning ritual to run three miles, fix a bowl of oatmeal, then sip my coffee while reading and commenting on my favorites. That took hours.

Regardless, I will always have an affection for blogging. Something always draws me back in, no matter how long I've been away.

Offline, behind the scenes, I've been thinking and praying about what I want this space to be. I have thoughts of writing more long-form essay content or short stories, of creating a mailing list, of sharing more snippets of my daily life. My husband might even make his own blog - but for now he has contented himself with the addition of what we lovingly call "Peter's Paragraph," which, starting with today's entry, you will see added to the bottom of my blog posts (scroll to the bottom).

I sometimes still struggle with perfectionism when I come to this space, but my favorite blogs are authentic, unapologetic, and the writers say what they feel without any preamble. People like that inspire me to write even if I'm only writing for myself - which, in the end, isn't a bad place to be.

And, what's this?! A bonus Jonas? Don't look now, it's....Peter's Paragraph (which we invented on the honeymoon as a kind of joke but look where we are now).

~Peter's Paragraph~

Greetings all! My wife let me infiltrate her blog with whatever I want to say (LOL). Thus, “Peter’s Paragraph” was created. The best authors know how to use the paragraph as an outlet to let their ideas flow. That is why we see paragraphs that are pages long and some as short as one word. However, paragraphs in school are taught to be 3-5 sentences. This elementary objective limits writers from being creative and reaching their true potential. As a result, I would like to relate the paragraph to life… There are people telling us that we have to be this or that (3-5 sentences long for example), but our potential is truly greater. It is up to us to determine if we want to live in the parameters defined by others or create the parameters ourselves.

Bam! And just like that, the blog post is over. If anyone is following along, how has your summer been? Are you reading any good books? I would love new recommendations, as always!

Hello goodbye,