I buy books like some women buy shoes

When I started my list of 101 things to do in 1001 days, number 77 was to write down all the books I read. I’ve always wondered how many books a year I read. In 2012, I read 52 books. That’s an average of one a week, but it doesn’t really work that way. Usually, if a book is good, I’ll finish it in about 2 days. If I’m not really into it, but I’m determined to get through it, it might take 2 weeks.

The 52 books on the list are from number 16 to number 68. Here is my top ten. They’re not in order of preference, but in the order in which I read them.

1. Knit one, Pearl one, by Gil McNeil

This is the third book in a series. The first book was originally called “Divas don’t knit”, but the title was later changed to “The beach street knitting society and yarn club.” Yeah, makes no sense. Anyways, the books follow Jo, a single mother in England who leaves behind her glamorous job to live by the sea and open a yarn shop. The story is about everyday things that happen to regular people, but the writting is terrific. I’ve read each of the books several times.

Knit One Purl One by Gil McNeil1

2. Girls in white dresses, Jennifer Close

This is one of those books that has several stories going on, and you kind of wonder where the story is going. It doesn’t take long to get involved with the girls and their stories. I felt like I was reading about my own life when reading parts of this book (not all of it!). I couldn’t put it down.

10047589

3. The lost girls, J. Baggett, H. Corbett and A. Pressner

I normally read fiction, but this book is the true story of three friends who quit their jobs and take a trip around the world. You can tell it’s real life, because not everything works out the way they plan it. Sometimes they fight, and they even rip the top off their rented van! If you like to travel, you’ll enjoy this book for sure.

Lost-Girls-Cover-1-196x300

4. Wildflower Hill, Kimberley Freeman

I love, love, love this book. I bought it because it was pretty, but I fell in love with the stories. It’s about a ballet dancer who suddenly can’t dance anymore and who moves to the house her late grandmother left her. The book alternates between the granddaughter’s and the grandmother’s stories. Sometimes, with books like these, I get so caught up in one story, I don’t want to switch to the other one. However, both stories in the book are so captivating, I couldn’t wait to read them.

10002296

5. The dowry bride, Shobhan Bantwal

I’ve read all the books by this Indian-American author and I can’t get enough. My favourites are the ones that take place in India, like The dowry bride. A young bride wakes up one night and hears her husband and mother-in-law planning to perform a bride-burning because her parents failed to pay her dowry. She runs away and hides out in the home of a man who is related to her husband, but who is kind and understanding. Her husband tries to find her and have her arrested for leaving him. It’s a glimpse of a culture so different from mine.

The_Dowry_Bride-300ppi

6. The Hunger Games (trilogy), Suzanne Collins

I remember hearing about The Hunger Games, but I had no idea what it was about and I wasn’t really interested in finding out. Then I saw a preview for the movie. I was hooked. I had to know more. I prefer (like most people) to read the book before watching the movie, so I bought the first one, thinking I would buy the other ones after I saw the movie. Yeah, not so much. I stayed up all night reading that first book, then got up as soon as the bookstore opened to go get the other two. If you haven’t read these yet, if you think they’re just for kids or if the idea of teenagers at war against each other in a fight for survival bugs you, get over it and read! You won’t regret it.

hunger_games_trilogy

7. The Dovekeepers, Alice Hoffman

By far, my favourite book of the year. Maybe my favourite book of the past ten years.

The Dovekeepers is set in the year 70 C.E. It tells the story of four extraordinary women in Jerusalem who do what they must to survive in this harsh world of war, for the Romans are determined to overpower the Jews. The desert and King Herod’s palace are the main settings for this incredible story. Four women, Yael, Revka, Aziza and Shirah, all come to live on the mountain for different reasons and form a sisterhood of sorts while working in the dovecotes. They all have secrets which could threaten their very existence. It is based on the true story of 900 Jews holding out for months against the Romans on a Judean mountain. Two women and five children survived and this is what the author imagined their story to be.

It is written so beautifully that, although it takes place in a time in history where savage customs reigned and women were not the equals of men, it is impossible not to be captivated by the incredible will these women had to survive and create a better world for their children. It doesn’t feel like a history lesson, it doesn’t leave you sad. It is a book you cannot put down and want to share with everyone you know. You want them to feel that extraordinary sensation of having discovered a wonderful secret, a mystery unraveled. I have not been touched by a book like this in a very, very long time.

10950924

8. On the Island, Tracey Garvis-Graves

I bought this book one day because I wanted to buy one, and I couldn’t find anything. I picked it up and thought “This’ll do.” It’s the story of Anna, who is 30 and T.J., who is 16. They get stranded on a desert island. I wasn’t sure I would enjoy it, because I thought it might be weird, depending on how the author approached the relationship between them. Turns out, it’s a wonderful story of love and survival. I could not stop reading it!

15506110

9. The Help, Kathryn Stockett

My friend lent me this book and I put it on a shelf, not particularly interested in it. One day, I had nothing to read so I picked it up. Am I ever glad I did! I enjoyed the way the story was told from many different points of view. So many strong women had things to say in Jacksonville in the sixties, but some of them could not, because they were black. Enter Skeeter, a white journalist who opens everyone’s minds and hearts. The movie is also good, but the book is better!

200px-Thehelpbookcover

10. Room, Emma Donoghue

I wasn’t sure about this book. The narrator is a five year old boy named Jack and Room is his home. He lives with his mother and sometimes, at night, after Ma hides him in the wardrobe, Old Nick comes to see her. His mother was kidnapped by Old Nick 7 years ago and Jack was born inside Room. He’s never been Outside. He doesn’t know Outside is real, or that people actually go to the store or wear shoes, because he’s never done these things. He is living a nightmare, but he doesn’t know it. It’s worth a read, but it takes a while to absorb it all.

room-by-emma-donoghue

What were your favourite reads of 2012?

Be The Change Challenge

You know how everyone’s always posting motivational and inspirational quotes everywhere? Ghandi said this, Mother Teresa did this. Yes, they did. They were amazing. But posting a quote about being the change without actually doing anything about it, well that doesn’t make much sense, does it?

I’ve decided to do something about it. I am going to be the change.

A few months aga, my friend Julie and I did a 30-day yoga challenge. We did this for fun, because we wanted to do it together and because we are a little bit crazy. It was a challenge, yes, but it was also amazing and I learned a lot about myself doing it.

Starting September 1st, I am going to be participating in another 30-day yoga challenge, this time with a different goal than “Just to see if I can!” I know I can, so I’m going to use what I have to give back.

My teacher Megan, who is kind of a rockstar, is very generous with her time and her talent. With her and a group of 30ish people, I will Be The Change. The Be The Change Challenge is an event created to help victims of sex trafficking in India. We might not be able to prevent this, but we can raise awareness and help people who suffer more than we can ever imagine. Our first-world problems don’t seem so important when you think about it.

Through the organization, Off the Mat, Into the World, The Be The Change Challenge is an opportunity to help people from the country that gave us yoga. How often do I practice? How often do I take it for granted? I want to use the gift I have been given to help others.

This challenge is about more than yoga and asking people for money. I can’t tell you what it’s all about though, because I have yet to discover it. I’m excited about the discoveries to come, the challenges, the laughs, the friends, the community.

If you would like to donate to the cause, please visit my fundraising website. Help me help someone who needs to know they matter.

And remember, being the change is easier than you think. Maybe you can’t donate, but you can give yout seat up to someone who needs it on the bus. Maybe you can smile to the annoying person in front of you in line. Maybe you can spend time with someone who’s lonely. Think about if you were sad or needed help. How would you like people to react? Do that. Be the Change.