1 Christmas Surprise

So…I don’t have an actual surprise I can reveal in honor of the last day of 12 Days of Book Lists. But I can reveal the books I’ve read during these 12 days. Yay. These are the books I have read from December 14, 2014 to December 25, 2014 (in no particular order):

Everwild by Neal Shusterman
Everfound by Neal Shusterman
Champion by Marie Lu
Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
Destroy Me by Tahereh Mafi
Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi
Fracture Me by Tahereh Mafi
Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin
The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

Yes, I read a lot of YA fiction, but that’s because I needed to catch up on the most popular YA series’. I also read a productivity book (The Power of Habit), which was pretty good. I think I’ve mentioned most of these throughout 12 Days of Book Lists, so if you want to learn more about them you can look through the other days. I enjoyed and would recommend each and every one of them. Currently, I am reading The Evolution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin and Eat that Frog! by Brian Tracy.

By taking part in 12 Days of Book Lists, I have been able to revive my interest in books. I think I am going to talk about books some more on this blog. But for now, back to being productive. I am planning on starting a New Year’s Resolutions Guide tomorrow, so look forward to that!

What books have you read this month?

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2 Winter Memories

We’re almost done with 12 Days of Book Lists! This week and a half has flown by. Today I am going to share with you two holiday memories. I don’t have a holiday that I celebrate during the general holiday season, so these are pretty much just things I remember doing frequently during winter breaks.

2. Hot Chocolate
I have lived in the south for the majority of my life. So snow is a very rare occurrence in my life. I generally get to experience snowfall every other year or so. Whenever it did snow, my siblings and I would go outside and play for a bit. And then everyone would go inside and drink some hot chocolate. Lately, I’ve had more of a stay inside and read kind of snow-personality. But hot chocolate is still a thing. Hot chocolate is always a thing. Also, during homecoming week this year, it was really freezing. I think we got flurries at some point. And that was in fall. Saturday morning, before the homecoming game. Most freshman participated in the long standing tradition of the Freshman Cake Race, in which freshman run (more like walk in a penguin huddle) a half mile and get cupcakes at the end. I think the wind chill that morning was something like 15 degrees Fahrenheit. To some people that’s not that bad of a temperature. But I live in Georgia. That’s pretty much the minimum temperature. And it was November 1st. Afterwards, my floormates and I had a hot chocolate party because we were dying from the cold. Hot chocolate=bonding.

1. After Christmas Sales
So in the wee hours of the morning on December 26th, my mom forces me to wake up and go to WalMart, and various other stores, to shop at the after Christmas sales. I’m not complaining because I do usually get a lot of things. Everything is usually 50% off, and since my mother is south-Asian, we must take advantage of all the sales. My mom is now an extreme couponer, but this “tradition” has been part of every one of my winter breaks that I can remember. We also have to go shopping on December 31st and January 1st because that’s when Christmas merchandise that is still in stores is usually 75% off. It is very tiring and stressful. But it is the one thing that I will always remember about the holiday season.

What are your favorite winter memories?

3 OTPs

Today is OTP day! I’m so excited. It was very hard to narrow my favorite literary couples down to three, but I did it. And I am very happy with my decisions.

3. Leo and Calypso from The Heroes of Olympus
Leo and Calypso both had to go through the torture of ultimately unrequited love before meeting each other. When they first meet, they annoy each other to no end. But they finally fall in love. Leo almost literally goes to the ends of the Earth to find Calypso and try to set her free from her imprisonment on a lonely island.

2. Cress and Thorne from The Lunar Chronicles
Cress and Thorne are so cute together. Cress had a celebrity crush on Thorne. But then she gets to meet him! Not just that, but they save each other’s lives multiple times, and Thorne ends up returning her feelings.

1. Juliette Ferrars and Aaron Warner from The Shatter Me trilogy
Juliette and Warner are by far my ultimate OTP. They are perfect together. Their relationship changes dramatically between the first and last books. Even though this is a dystopian/sci-fi trilogy, it is very much about the characters. This relationship is one of the major facets of this story. They are just so good together. They help each other grow to unparalleled strength, and they love each other so much their questionable pasts.

What’s your OTP?

4 Holiday Movies

There are only a couple more days of 12 Days of Book Lists left! Today’s list includes movies. I don’t actually celebrate any holidays during holiday season, so I don’t actively watch very many holiday movies. So these movies are those that I remember watching multiple times of childhood winter breaks.

4. The Santa Clause
The Santa Clause is a fun movie I guess. It has its funny and heart-warming moments. The last movie was kinda weird though, but that’s just me.

3. How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Dr. Seuss stories have a special place in my heart. And the corresponding movies do a surprisingly well job at evoking the outlandishness of his books. How the Grinch Stole Christmas seems to be the one that has most effectively stood the test of time.

2. Home Alone 2
I really love the first couple Home Alone movies, as most people do. But the second one was definitely my favorite. I especially love the whole plotting/scheming process.

1. Elf
I have never met anyone who does not enjoy Elf.

What are your favorite holiday movies?

5 Book (and Productivity) Bloggers/Vloggers

It’s is another day of 12 Days of Books Lists! Today I am going to be revealing my 3 favorite productivity blogs and my 2 favorite Booktubers.

5. A Life of Productivity
This is Chris Bailey’s current blog. It was formerly A Year of Productivity, in which he told the tales of the year that he devoured all that he could about productivity. The productivity experiments are definitely my favorite. And I’m looking to start experimenting with productivity myself.

4. Study Hacks
Cal Newport’s Study Hacks blog has morphed into an academic productivity blog, but it was previously devoted to student study hacks and time management methods. The archives are very extensive and the school-related posts are very organized. It is incredibly easy to spend days on this blog. There are so many tips and tricks and methods for students that it’s sometimes overwhelming.

3. Live Your Legend
Live Your Legend is Scott Dinsmore’s website. His tagline is “Change the world by doing work you love.” Compelling, right? The best part about this website is the huge variety of free toolkits and workbooks. I recently completed the 2015 New Year’s Resolutions workbook and the 27 Questions to Find Your Passion workbook. They both allow for much introspection and insight.

2. PolandBananasBOOKS
Christine is probably my favorite Booktuber. Her energy is infectious and her reactions to books and trailers are hilarious. I really love her book talks. Her vlog channel is also really funny, especially the videos with her sibliings.

1. Ariel Bisset
Ariel is so smart. She has some great insights on topics and is really good at verbalizing her thoughts about relatively complex concepts.

Who are your favorite bloggers/vloggers?

6 Books for Non-reader Friends

Today is day 7 of 12 Days of Book Lists! If you, or one of your friends, doesn’t read, I would recommend for you to pick up these books. You won’t regret it.

6. Outcasts United by Warren St. John
Outcasts United is a great tale of a real life story about a refugee town in Georgia that gets transformed by a soccer coach. It’s a fairly quick read, and it’s pretty easy to get through. It is also pretty relatable, but at the same time eye-opening.

5. The Giver by Lois Lowry
The Giver is the classic dystopian novel. Most people have to read it for school at some point, which causes them to naturally be skeptical of its entertainment value. But it is also a book that most people I know love, regardless of whether they are avid readers. It is also a really short books and is part of a quintet, in case you are craving a more satisfying conclusion. But it is perfectly acceptable to read it independently, if the thought of reading four books causes aversion.

4. The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
The Power of Habit is a productivity/psychology/business book that is very insightful regarding how much of human life is based off of habits. It is also a good book for those who never finish the books they start because all you really need to read is Part One (chapters 1 through 5). The rest of it is anecdotes and research, which can honestly get a little boring.

3. The Tattoo Coloring Book by Chronicle Books
Who doesn’t love a coloring book? This is a great book for those who will not read at all, even if the book is a gift. Coloring is something that does not require a lot of attention and can be done while watching TV or something. Reading is not requires, so stubborn friends can still claim the title of “non-reader”.

2. Everything is Going to be OK by Chronicle Books
This book is a picture book of sorts. Each page contains various pictures with uplifting quotes. This is a great coffee table book, and also allows the maintenance of the “non-reader” status.

1. Why You’re So Awesome by Knock Knock
This book is a great gift. It is a fill in book in which the gifter write things about why the gift receiver is so awesome. Everyone I know would be touched to receive this, even if they don’t care for books.

Which books would you recommend for non-reader friends?

7 Books I Always Recommend

Today marks the halfway point of 12 Days of Book Lists! I now present the 7 Books I Always Recommend. I’ve just now realized that the majority of these books have been adapted into movies. So if you’ve watched any of these movies, definitely check out the corresponding book. Even if you hated the movie. It’s worth it.

7. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
Ender’s Game is one of my favorite books ever. I would recommend it to anyone from middle grade on. If you like sci-fi or psychological thrillers, Ender’s story is one you will enjoy immensely. Or if you’ve seen the movie but haven’t read the book, READ THE BOOK. The movie was okay, but it doesn’t even come close to the magnificence of the book.

6. Angels and Demons by Dan Brown
I actually watched the movie version of Angels and Demons before I read the book. This does not happen to me very often. The movie was great. I might not have thought so if I had read the book first. But that’s because I am super-critical of book-to-movie adaptations. The movie was good, however, it left out huge story arcs. If you enjoyed the movie, or have read any of Dan Brown’s other marvelous books, or like National Treasure-type adventures, I would highly highly recommend this book. I’ve reread it a countless amount of times, and it is still remarkable every time. I have heard that the facts are not completely reliable, but the book is still very entertaining and complex.

5. The Kite Runner By Khaled Hosseini
The Kite Runner is so so so so so good. I’ve also reread this at least five times. I think every single person should read this.

4. Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
Kurt Vonnegut was a genius. His writing style has a perfect combination of humor and irony and complexity. If you’re looking explore the writings of Kurt Vonnegut, I would start with Slaughterhouse Five. It can be confusing because the protagonist is unstuck in time. So if you get easily confused, this might not be the best book to read. You don’t really get the full picture of the story until you finish it, which is a beautiful writing tactic. It is also a book that everyone should reread once they’ve read it. Once you know the whole story, revisiting it allows you to understand the implications of the characters’ actions on the established future. Definitely read this if you like sci-fi, especially if you enjoy space-time theories such as string theory.

3. Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank
Alas, Babylon was one of the first apocalyptic books. Though it was meant to inform the governments of the Cold War of the possible effects of their actions, Alas, Babylon can be a wake up call to readers of any time. I first read it for school, but once the story started picking up, I read the entire book in a couple of hours. It’s that good. It is one of my most favorite books, so I think everyone should read it.

2. Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality by Eliezer Yudkowsky
Since most of the public has been exposed to J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, or at least watched the movies (though I do know at least three people that haven’t even watched the movies), I think HPMOR is a great addition to this list. This incredibly popular fan fiction explores how Harry’s first year at Hogwarts would progress if his aunt had married a distinguished professor instead of the brutish Vernon Dursley. They would have treated Harry well and instilled in him the values of education and science. In this epic retelling, Harry is not an idiot first-year, but a genius rational who wants to optimize the universe. It can also be confusing at times, but it is incredibly funny and incredibly wonderous.

1. World War Z by Max Brooks
So…World War Z. This movie sucked. So much. I watched the movie first, and thought it was thrilling, but the logic was screwed up and the production was also screwed up and the story was also screwed up. If the movie was off-putting to you as well, give the book a chance. The movie is nothing like the book at all. The book is written in a really cool way. The narrator is a journalist who is going around the world after the Zombie War has passed to collect stories about the War from its start to its finish. It shows the amazing ways that the human race can come together to fix our problems, and how our thirst for innovation and survival can save us from almost anything.

Which books do you find yourself recommending?