BEST BOOKS OF 2018

In between the 6 course meals, holiday movie marathons, and tears of joy laughter with family and friends, I always try to find some time for myself during the Holiday season. One of the best and easiest ways for me to do this, in simply by having a book handy which I am excited to read. Really, any book will do, either a new one you can’t wait to dive into, or one you’ve read before, loved, and want to enjoy all over again. Hand up if both of these lists are exploding for you and you don’t even know where to begin!

Before the holiday craziness started, I spent some time browsing my bookshelf and my “want to read” list in order to come up with a short list of books I would add to my “Best Books of 2018” list. These are the types of books that I stuff into my bag for that “moment to myself”. I get a lot of requests for book recommendations, so I thought this would be both thoughtful and helpful. Whether you’re looking for your next best read, or thinking of gifting a book, I think this list might be of some help to you.

First things first; a few questions I get asked when sharing these lists:

How do you decide which books to include on this list?  Well, I really do read a lot of books during the year, so picking only a few to add to this list is actually quite a difficult process for me. One way for me to figure it out is by checking my Goodreads app or my “Books Read Journal” (yes, I have a journal where I write down the title, author, and personal rating of each book I’ve read). This gives me an idea of books I’ve loved based on rating, and reminds me of books I’ve read which I may have forgotten about. I also like to do a glance through my bookshelf to see which ones pop out at me. In most cases, the books that I really loved stay at the top of my mind and I can automatically recommend and add to this list. It’s a very honest process, naturally.

Are these all books that you’ve read this year? Although the answer should be yes, it’s actually, NO. It sometimes take some time for me to decide if I really enjoyed a book and if it’s one I would recommend. Sometimes I reread books and the second time around I find I love it; or hate it. Generally, I try to share books which I’ve read in the recent year, but, sometimes I can’t help myself. There are so truly amazing books out there which I cannot let go of, and those are the ones I will share with you every single year (such as, Kristin Hannah’s Nightingale).

Is there a place where you track books you’ve read or want to read online for us to access? DEFINITELY! I always update my Goodreads app with the latest and greatest on my lists. Find me by searching “ThePrettierLife” in users.  I use the iPhone App, but you can also access Goodreads from any internet browser (www.goodreads.com). I have three main lists on my page: “Currently Reading”, “Want To Read”, and “Read”. I’d say all three are great places for new book inspirations.

So, ladies and gentleman; the BEST BOOKS OF 2018 List

  1. The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah
  2. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
  3. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
  4. The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware
  5. The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris
  6. My Lovely Wife in the Psych Ward by Mark Lukach
  7. Sarah’s Key by Tatiana De Rosnay
  8. The Little Book of Lykke by Meik Wiking
  9. The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine
  10. All We Ever Wanted by Emily Giffin

So tell me; have you read any of these books? Were you planning on reading any of them in the near future?

If you ever have any questions about these books, or have any suggestions for me, please send them my way! I’m always happy to talk books!

XOXO

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Kristin Hannah, Book Review

BOOK REVIEW: THE GREAT ALONE

“It had been an amazing trip north on the mostly unpaved ALCAN Highway. Their first true family vacation. Days driving in bright sunlight; nights spent camping beside raging rivers and quiet streams, in the shadows of saw-blade mountain peaks, huddled around a fire, spinning dreams of a future that felt closer every day. They roasted hot dogs for dinner and made smores for dessert and shared dreams about what they would discover at the end of the road…” – The Great Alone; Kristin Hannah

There hasn’t been a single book written by Kristin Hannah which I have not fallen in love with. The authors latest and greatest; The Great Alone fits into that category with ease.

This time, Kristin takes her readers into the world of wilderness and beauty of Alaska. A compelling story of growing up surrounded by a different than usual world; varying personalities; and challenges no one should ever have to face on their own.

Without giving too much detail away, it’s a story of deep unconditional love + loyalty.

BOOK REVIEW: ALL WE EVER WANTED BY EMILY GIFFIN

“People make time for what matters to them” – Emily Giffin

Picking up this book, I knew I wouldn’t be able to put it down or get it out of my mind until I finished it. Just like that, I finished the book in two straight days, and I’m still thinking about it. It’s not surprising, as all of Emily Giffin’s books do that to me; the story pulls me in and I can’t stop reading to find out what will happen next.

All we ever wanted in a non-fiction story told from the viewpoints of the three main characters:

  • Nina: The wife of Kirk and the mother of Finch. Born and raised in a small town, before moving away for college, and then falling in love and marrying Kirk; and into the Nashville Elite.
  • Tom: Just a Nashville boy who fell head over heels for a beautiful girl at a bar. The pair had a daughter, Lyla, who Tom is now the sole guardian of, and struggling to keep up with the teenage drama which comes with growing up.
  • Lyla: It all starts with Lyla – just living out her teenage girl ways until she finds herself in a troubling situation.

 

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The overall plot of the story entices readers on learning one of life’s most important lessons; that sometimes thing’s aren’t what they seem. Each of the main characters face their own fears and come to life-changing realizations. Without saying too much.

 

Personally…

When I pick up books like this; a mix of lifestyle drama and potential romantic engagements, I usually don’t assume that I will learn a lesson along the way. This changed with this book; I think Emily told a great story and defined a very important message with her story. Now that I think about it, she often does that in her books; without being too pushy and aggressive, the reader is able to read between the lines and figure it out. I love a good non-fiction story as much as the next person. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who asks about it.

BOOK OF THE MONTH: ON HITLER’S MOUNTAIN

Being able to sit down with a warm cup of coffee or tea, and a book to read is one of my favourite things to do. I actually think that I would be able to read all day everyday; if theres a job like that out there, someone please let me know!

My most recent literature adventure took me into 1939 Germany; and more specifically, the life of one particular family on Hitler’s Mountain; Berchtesgaden. For as long as I can remember, I have taken great interest in the events of the Second World War, and only in recent years, have I started venturing out to read about the perspectives of surrounding countries during this difficult time. This book, takes us through those difficult years of war from the perspective of a young girl, as she discusses her, and her family and friends daily routines during the wartime.

I don’t like giving too much away about the plotline, but I do want to say that the storyline involves just the right amount of history, intertwined with a personal story. As the reader, I was able to learn about the realities of wartime in Germany, but also, the atmosphere based on the feelings and thoughts of a young child.

For anyone who is interested in reading about the Second World War, I would definitely recommend this book to you. It definitely sets a different perspective on the events which occurred, and specifically, the lifestyle of the German population during this time.

LIFESTYLE P S Y C H O L O G Y

December is here, and I know I’m a bit late on the post, but it really only recently began to feel like winter around here.  I think this is one of my favorite months, possibly because of the beautiful decorations everywhere, the family time, and of course the snowy scenery! There are so many exciting events that happen especially in this month such as all of the shopping events that occur, holiday get-togethers and Christmas parties. There can be so much opportunity for happiness this month it can really become overwhelming at times.  Just like during Thanksgiving we give thanks for all of the blessings in our lives, I find this to be an equally important time to give thanks and feel blessed for what life has given us.

Individual lifestyles are becoming more and more chaotic, especially in the North American culture, which in turn is having an effect on both our social skills and health. Although I believe we are all strong and driven in our own ways and that each one of us learns to just keep going and pushing through daily schedules, the importance of slowing down and taking a step back is really beginning to find it’s validity on me.

In order to remain sane and basically regain myself and my focus in this chaotic time, I turn to books I like to categorize as “Lifestyle Psychology”.

I started the #HyggeSeries a few weeks ago, and although I haven’t posted in a little bit, I am still a true believer in the matter and have been implementing its practices as often as I can. Within the #HyggeLifestyle collection, I have also spent some time focusing on two other theories: Lagom and Lykke, which both entice their readers to re-evaluate aspects of their lives to become more relaxed, happy, and fulfilling. If you’re interested in learning more about these theories, have a look at my post here.

In addition, I have a list of books which I like to reach for, such as:

  • Seven Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change by Stephen R. Covey
  • Unfu*k Yourself: Get Out of Your Head and into Your Life by Gary J. Bishop
  • The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo
  • The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck by Sarah Knight

Not only do these books give me motivation, inspiration, and advice, but also are able to put a smile on my face. At first I was a bit sceptical about reading these types of books, simply thinking, “will they just tell me what I already know?” or “what if these books just give me more unrealistic goals and ideas?”. WELL, when I started reading them, I made sure to take a certain perspective on the information that was being given, and to take notes on things that I thought I could implement into my life; realistically. It all started making sense, and these books became one of those guiding principles in lifestyle choice; and not only for me, but MANY others (as you can see walking into any bookstore, there is always at least one of these books sitting in the main display).

So, the moral of the story is, it’s okay to just take a break sometimes, it’s important to rethink your lifestyle strategy, and make a plan for a happier life – especially since there is always room for improvement in te category of making yourself happier!

THE H Y G G E MANIFESTO #HYGGESERIES

864000EE-8170-4D84-B531-A0C9098211C1This week’s #HYGGESERIES post will be a simple one. Today I will tell you about the 10 general rules to follow when attempting to implement Hygge into your life.

1. ATMOSPHERE –“Turn down the lights”

2. PRESENCE “Be here now. Turn off the phone”

3. PLEASURE“Coffee, chocolate, cookies, cakes, candy. Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!”

4. EQUALITY“WE over ME. Share the tasks and the airtime”

5. GRATITUDE  -“Take it in, this might be as good as it gets”

6. HARMONY – “It’s not a competition. We already like you. There is not need to brag about your achievements.”

7. COMFORT “Get comfy. Take a break. It’s all about relaxation.”

8. TRUCE “No drama. Let’s discuss politics another day.”

9. TOGETHERNESS “Build relationships and narratives.”

10. SHELTER “This is your tribe. This is a place of peace and security.”

These points are taken directly from my trusted Hygge source: The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way to Live Well, and I definitely see the potential in each one of them. Truly, each point can be connected to one another, as they all thrive together to build to one main idea of health, happiness, and a cozy comfortable lifestyle.

 

BOOKS, BOOKS, & MORE BOOKS!

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Reading and Writing have been two of my favourite hobbies since I’ve been a little girl. Now that I am older, my collection and interests have developed into something much more than just a few novels I read and reread. Considering the fact that I am an absolute Indigo addict, I regularly receive various updates from my friends at Indigo letting me know of new releases, and great books to add to my list, both based on books I have read, as well as books from other categories I haven’t tried. Of course, my wishlist standard is 100 books on average, at any time. But, I’ll tell you more about the great store called Indigo some other time…

Today, I am here to tell you about my love of reading, and a few great books I have read that I highly recommend. I have chosen five books, each from a different category, in hopes of capturing a little bit of everyone’s interest. I won’t go into detail on the events of the books, but I’ll just try to give you an overall view of why I loved it and would recommend it.

My Lovely Wife in the Psych Ward by Mark Lukach

I picked this book up for two main reasons – I am an avid believer of raising awareness about Mental Health, and I admire writers who are able to write out and share their memories and feelings. Mark’s story touches a part of my own personal life, and in reading through the chapters, I was able to really connect and come to terms of the importance and support of this topic, on a grander level. The way that Mark presents the various situations he encounters really puts a perspective on the realities of mental health, and I think that is so important for truly everyone to understand. Mental Health is becoming less of a secret these days, but that doesn’t mean that we are actually educated on the topic. Of course, I am not saying that after reading Mark’s story you will be a genius on the topic, but you will be able to see a specific perspective on the matter, which is also incredibly important.

Other books in this category I would recommend

  • When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
  • My Secret Sister by Helen Edwards & Jenny Lee Smith
  • A Train in Winter by Caroline Moorehead
  • House Without Windows by Nadia Hashimi

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The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

After reading The Girl on the Train, when it was first released, I told myself that I must find more books like that. Of course, with the popularity of The Girl on the Train, many books within the same category were brought forward – it’s almost like The Girl on The Train became a category on its own for a while.  The Woman in Cabin 10 is definitely something that fits in that category; not a difficult read, and definitely a page turner. The story provides just enough detail for the reader to create his/her own image of the surroundings and situations, which is one of the best things about these psychological thriller type books.

Other books in this category I would recommend:

  • The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
  • The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena
  • The Girl Before by JP Delaney
  • Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

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The Alice Network by Kate Quinn

The World War Two era is one that is close to my heart, so naturally, I am drawn to books and stories from these times. The Alice Network is a split between present day and World War One/Two. Kate tells a captivating story of the hardships and realities of earlier days in Europe. I think that it is SO important for people to be aware and have knowledge of what life really looked like during the Wars in Europe. There is such an incredible amount of respect and honor that needs to be recognized the brave men and women who fought for their countries in the resistance groups and of course in the armies. I am working my way through books on stories from World War Two, from the perspectives of individuals in varying countries in Europe who were (or were not entirely) affected by the events. It is insanely incredible to read these stories and have knowledge of these events, and I think that even if you do not have the interest of becoming a teacher on this topic, it would be beneficial to have a general idea of these “reality check” stories.

Other books in this category I would recommend:

  • The Nazi Officer’s Wife by Edith Hahn Beer
  • Night by Elie Wiesel
  • Sara’s Key by Tatiana De Rosnan
  • The German Girl by Armando Lucas Correa
  • Goodnight from London by Jennifer Bobson
  • Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky
  • Fires of Autumn by Irene Nemirovsky
  • The Paris Architect by Charles Belfoure
  • All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doers

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The Rome Affair by Karen Swan

In between reading books on the realities of World War Two, I like to sneak in a romantic/fun novel. My husband bought this book for me for my birthday, and let me tell you, he hit the jackpot. The way Karen tells the story is so genuine and intriguing, that I can honestly say I read this book in two days. Of course, with many of these types of novels, the endings can mostly be predicted, but honestly, it doesn’t matter. When I was reading this book, I honestly felt as though I was right there with the characters, seeing it all play out. I do not have any other books by Karen, but trust me, they are sitting in that Indigo Wishlist just waiting for the right moment.

Other books in this category I would recommend:

  • The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney
  • The Affair by Santa Montefiore
  • Commonwealth by Ann Patchett
  • The Best Kind of People by Zoe Whitall
  • Baby Proof by Emily Griffin
  • Hedge Fund Wives by Tatiana Boncompagni
  • Vanity Fair by Megan Caldwell
  • In this Moment by Karma Brown

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The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

The Nightingale is an absolutely beautiful story which takes place during the Second World War, and told from a woman’s perspective; dealing with the life, realities, and secrets of the woman of the war. Now, I have saved the best for last – my husband also bought this book for me for my birthday, and so he is to blame for my complete and utter love for all books written by Kristin Hannah. After I finished reading this book, I think I say there staring at the last page now knowing if I should cry because it’s over, or cry because it was the most amazing book I have read.  After having that kind of impact, I purchased another one of her books; same reaction, so I purchased another (not believing my luck), and yes, same reaction. Kristin is able to bring out all of my emotions in a single book, each and every single time. From happiness to sadness and everything possibly in between.

Other books by this author I would recommend:

  • Winter Garden
  • Firefly Lane
  • Night Road
  • Home Front
  • True Colours

I could go on for days tell you all about the great books that I have read, or the books that I want to read, but I think that I have left you with some ideas to ponder in the meantime. I hope that my post will provide you with some insights, and inspire your next book of choice!

Looking for some more motivation to get reading? Check out fellow Blogger Jennifer Gall at Something Simple for some more book recommendations and inspirations! Her post Inspiration in the form of words is now published on her blog!

Find more regular book recommendations on my instagram @claudiawiercinski