Resources for Free Reading Material During Quarantine [Updated: 3/31]

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Obviously, a global pandemic has always been a threat, but COVID-19 seems to have just caught everyone off-guard with how terrible it’s been. It’s scary, and people are struggling with being laid-off or losing their jobs, being quarantined, having to homeschool their children and deal with so many other stressful situations right now.

One of the ways I’ve been dealing with anxiety is through binge-reading. I wanted to put together this list of resources to help you guys find some books and magazines to get your mind off of things.

If you know of any other apps or websites that I haven’t listed, please let me know in the comments or email me at readyourselfhappy@gmail.com so that I can add them to this list.


Your Local Library

While a lot of libraries are closing their doors to their physical collections, many are still offering all of their digital resources. Libraries differ between branches but check the website of your local library to see what resources they provide. My area’s library offers free online access to tons of magazines, the New York Times, and language learning programs.


Overdrive/Libby & Hoopla

If you have a library card, you have access to a ton of ebooks, audiobooks, comic books, movies, music, and tv shows through these two apps. They’re absolutely free and you just log in using your library card information.


Publishers Weekly

Publishers Weekly has temporarily opened up their digital issues to everyone. Out of all these resources, this is probably the one that I’ll be taking the advantage of the most since I’ve always wanted a subscription to Publishers Weekly but can’t afford it on my budget.


Scribd

Scribd is letting people sign up and have access to all of their ebooks, audiobooks, sheet music, and more for 30 days. Scribd is a great resource that I personally use every single day, so if you’re not already a subscriber, definitely take them up on this!


Tor.com

Tor.com is a publishing house that offers tons of short stories on their website. Here’s a link to all of their available fiction. Tor.com is one of my favorite publishers and they put out some amazing science fiction stories.


Podcasts

If you want stuff to listen to, podcasts are a great free resource. There are a ton of different ways to find and subscribe to them, such as through Spotify, the Apple Podcast App (or any podcast app for that matter), iTunes, and Scribd are examples. There are tons of podcasts for every taste. My personal favorite right now is Working Classless.


Project Gutenberg, Open Library, & Internet Archive

These are three great resources for reading classic literature or any books that are in the public domain, and they’re all entirely free.


Audible

Amazon’s Audible is offering some content for free. All of the content is hand-picked for children ages 0-18.


Neil Gaiman

One of my favorite authors, Neil Gaiman, is offering a ton of free content on his website, such as short stories, essays, audio content, and more.


StorylineOnline

This YouTube channel features a ton of videos of celebrities reading children’s stories. It’s the perfect way to entertain your kids while school is closed.


Goodnight with Dolly

Starting April 2nd, Dolly Parton is going to be reading bedtime stories via YouTube as part of her Imagination Library.


Kirkus

For book news and reviews, you’ve probably heard of Kirkus. They have made of all their digital issues free.



I’m sure that I’m missing a lot of resources, but I wanted to get this list out as quickly as I could. As I come across new resources or hear about them from you guys, I’ll update this post.

Again, I hope all of you are taking care of yourselves. Hang in there. We’re all in this together.




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An Example of What Bipolar Disorder is Like

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At least as far back as high school, I’ve dealt with severe depression, anxiety, and mood changes, but it wasn’t until this past year that I was finally diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

The diagnosis didn’t lead to a cure for the disorder since there isn’t one, but it’s allowed me to notice the symptoms and triggers for the manic or depressive episodes that define the disease. Seeking professional help for it has also led to being on medication that I, in all honesty, should have been on decades ago.

Unfortunately, we’re still getting the medications worked out. The types of drugs and the amount vary for everyone, and we haven’t quite found the right mix for me yet, despite going as far as doing genetic testing to try to figure out the best combinations. The medication has certainly helped to a certain degree, but I’m still having manic and depressive episodes that are severe enough to interrupt my normal day-to-day activities.

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This past week has been a rough one, and also a perfect example of what my bipolar disorder is like. Therefore, I thought this would be a good opportunity to write about what I experience every time I go through a manic and depressive episode.

Everything started out fine this past week, and I even managed to complete nearly a full week at work (which has been rare for me lately). Then the hypomania kicked in.

Hypomania is different from mania, although it can also lead to full-blown mania. Bipolar mania tends to get out of control, sometimes even requiring hospitalizations. Mania lasts for a week or more, can lead to terrible decisions (think out-of-control spending, increased drinking and drug use, and making poor sexual choices) and is something that, thankfully, I’ve only experienced twice in my life.

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Lasting for just a few days however, hypomania actually feels great much of the time. During the hypomanic days that I experienced this past week, I was incredibly productive, highly motivated, excited about everything, talkative (which is strange for me, because I’m usually really quiet), and didn’t sleep as much. I experience hypomania frequently, and it always leads to a period of depression.

It’s a strange feeling to be hypomanic. One the one hand, it’s wonderful, because I no longer feel depressed, I have less anxiety, and I can get so much done. On the other hand, however, I know that it can lead to an actual manic episode. I have trouble knowing when I’m hypomanic, which is why I’m thankful for my boyfriend, who has taken the time to get familiar with the disorder so that he can help recognize the symptoms even when I can’t.

So, for two to three days, I felt great. And then yesterday happened.

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Yesterday I woke up feeling shattered. I didn’t want to get out of bed, my anxiety was about as high as it could get, and I felt worthless. I had to call out of work which was necessary but made me feel guilty and even more upset.

My entire day yesterday consisted of beating myself up mentally, binge-eating, trying to escape into Fallout 4, and napping. So much napping.

My boyfriend did what he could to try to cheer me up and to make sure I was eating and drinking water, lighting stress-relieving candles around me and putting my cat on my lap when I was feeling particularly bad (quick tip – purring cats make you feel better). Despite all this, I just felt like absolute trash all day.

Depression isn’t something that you can smile your way out of or ignore the pain of. There’s nothing worse that you can say to someone suffering from depression than “snap out of it” or “It’s not that bad – deal with it.” It’s a mental illness that can lead to physical pain and make normal life impossible to carry on with.

Being bipolar is difficult. There are any number of things that can trigger either a manic or depressive episode. The worst thing I’ve been dealing with lately is that it appears that my job is a trigger for depression, which is terrible since it’s the best-paying job I’ve ever had, and I desperately need the medical and mental health benefits that I receive from it.

While these manic and depressive episodes are different in everyone, and can even vary for me, this was a great example of what living with bipolar disorder feels like. As I learn more about coping with this disorder, I’ll share what I learn with you guys. As of today, I’m still struggling with the depressive part, but I know it won’t be too long before I’m on another upswing.

Bipolar disorder is one hell of a mentally exhausting disease.


Are there any questions you would like to see answered about living with bipolar disorder? Leave them in the comments for me and I’ll answer as many as I can!




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A Brief Guide to Mindfulness Meditation

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Meditation is a relatively easy and completely free activity that has an incredible effect on your moods, anxiety, and stress levels. I discovered this about a decade ago, during a challenging summer when I was really depressed and randomly picked up a few books on Buddhism and meditation to read.

A few years later, I found this wonderful meditation group on my university campus that I went to once a week. I had never received guided meditation before, and being in a relaxed atmosphere gave me a lot of positive space to grow my meditation practice.

Over the years since then, I kept up my meditation practice, until I moved to another state three years ago. Prior to that move, my practice had definitely been faltering. I had swung into another deep depression, and whenever I’m feeling that way I have trouble motivating myself to do even small tasks.

Meditation has been on my mind a lot recently because my mental health these past two or three months has been terrible. Even with anti-depressants and bipolar medication that is helping more than anything else I’ve taken, the stress of my job combined with general life stuff has had me feeling unmotivated and deeply unhappy.

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Which is why I’ve started meditating again. I wish I had never stopped, but it’s interesting to see how different my mind is during periods when I’ve meditated than when I haven’t. During long periods when I forgo meditation, I find that it takes less provocation to set off a panic attack or wild mood swings. However, when I meditate regularly, even when it’s just fifteen minutes a day, it’s obvious that I’m handling stress better, have more patience, and find myself having fewer high-anxiety days.

There are so many different ways to meditate, and how you meditate really comes down to what you get the most benefit from. I tend to focus mainly on mindfulness meditation, where I simply follow my breath. I’ve also used walking as a form of meditation, although that’s no longer possible where I live. Some people prefer guided meditation or meditating on an idea or feeling. There’s religious-based meditation and even people who use music or sports (such as running) to give them feelings similar to meditation.

Essentially, there’s no right or wrong way to meditate. 

Today, I want to give you guys a quick lesson on how I meditate. It’s very simple, although it isn’t always easy. The instructions below will lay out the basics for you, and I’ve provided some additional tips and advice afterward.


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A Simple Mindfulness Meditation Guide
For Beginners

First, start by finding a comfortable, quiet place to sit. It doesn’t have to be anywhere fancy, I usually meditate on my couch or floor. You can do it outside if you want, or in your bed. Just make yourself comfortable.

Set a timer for however long you want to meditate. I usually aim for 10-15 minutes per session, but you can do as little as five minutes or as much as an hour (or more). When you’re first starting out, I recommend keeping it to just 5-10 minutes, and then gradually increasing the time as you get more comfortable.

Now, you’re ready to start meditating! Close your eyes and begin to move your focus to your breath. Some people find this easier to do while silently saying corresponding words to yourself, such as “breathe in/breathe out” or counting your breaths until you get to ten and then starting over. Personally, I either focus on the rise and fall of my chest as I breathe or use the “breathe in/breathe out” method.

Any time a stray thought comes forward, just gently acknowledge it and go back to your breath. Try not to get frustrated when this happens – it’s inevitable. Even people who have been meditating for years have trouble keeping their thoughts entirely at bay.

When your timer goes off, slowly bring yourself out of your practice. I usually take a moment or two to appreciate how relaxed my body feels while slowly opening my eyes. Take as long as you can before getting up and carrying on with your day. Trust me, once you feel how relaxed your body is even after a short meditation session, you’ll want to!


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Things to Remember

  • There’s no need to get into a full-lotus position or sit in front of an altar of crystals or statues. For this kind of meditation, the only important thing is that you’re in a sitting position that you can comfortably maintain for the duration of your practice.
  • It’s okay if you can’t turn off your thoughts! Meditation isn’t easy and it takes years of practice to be able to empty your mind of all thoughts. I’ve been meditating for years and I still find random thoughts popping up every time I sit. When this happens, just acknowledge the thought and go back to your breath.
  • If it’s hard for you to focus on your breath, try guided meditations. There are tons of free resources! My favorite app is Headspace. You can also just search guided meditation on YouTube or find CDs at your local library. I’ve seen guided meditations for five minutes all the way up to a couple of hours. Find what works best for you.
  • While you can meditate anywhere, some people prefer to set up a little meditation area and find that it helps them maintain the habit. If you have space and think this will help, go for it! It’s easy to set up a nice meditation area. Grab some cushions, candles, plants, or whatever else reminds you of relaxation.
  • Most cities have meditation groups available, so if you’d like to find a meditation group or class, do a Google search of your area or check Meetup.com.
  • If you have pets, prepare to have them invade your personal space. Over the years, I’ve lived with cats and dogs and it never fails that once I sit down to meditate, they become fascinated and walk over to plop down into my lap or start sniffing at me. Just like those stray thoughts, try to ignore it!

As I said before, meditation is really important to me. If you give this lesson a shot, let me know if it worked for you! This is a topic that I love, so if you want to see more meditation lessons, just let me know!


Do you have a regular meditation practice? Tell me about it in the comments!




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Autumn Colored Books – #SixforSunday

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This is the second time this month that I’ve discovered weekly prompts hosted by other book bloggers. I love that this is a thing and will take any chance I get to participate in the bookish community.

This morning I was reading Sarah Withers Blogs and came across her list of autumn-colored books. The post was part of another blogger’s weekly prompts, from a lovely blog called A Little But a Lot.


Autumn has always been my favorite season. The temperature becomes chilly yet cozy, the color of the changing leaves is enchanting, and the season is perfect for cuddling up to someone you love with a cup of coffee and a good book.

Now that I’m living on the coast, I feel like I miss out on autumn a little compared to what I experienced every year while living in Asheville, NC. Autumn in the Appalachian Mountains is stunning, and if you’ve never experienced it, I recommend planning an autumn vacation there one day.

 

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There are so many book covers that reflect autumn colors, and here are just a few of my favorites!


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The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon

Goodreads | Amazon

I have a tendency to read a lot of fantasy in autumn, so it’s no wonder that The Priory of the Orange Tree was the first book that came to mind. The shades of orange that make up the sky along with the dark red of the tower roof are reminiscent of autumn leaves. I’m actually hoping to read this massive novel this fall, so it’s doubly fitting to be the first in this list.


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Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows #2) by Leigh Bardugo

Goodreads | Amazon
Read my review

One of the animals I frequently associate with autumn is crows. They’re lovely, intelligent creatures, and I have a particular appreciation for book covers with crows on them. It’s not only the crow on the cover of Crooked Kingdom that reminds me of fall, but also the color scheme itself.


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The Fireman by Joe Hill

Goodreads | Amazon
Review coming soon!

I’m sorry if this is morbid, but the cover of The Fireman reminds me of a bonfire, and bonfires are best in the autumn. The book is actually about a virus that causes humans to spontaneously combust. I read this book requently and enjoyed it, so there will be a review coming soon!


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The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Goodreads | Amazon
Read my review

Neil Gaiman’s writing is usually best read in autumn and winter, but The Graveyard Book should be required reading every October. This is my favorite book from one of my favorite authors and is set in a graveyard. I re-read this book every year near Halloween, and encourage you to do the same!


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An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson

Goodreads | Amazon

This cover screams autumn to me. The colors, the raven and its feathers, and the main character’s gorgeous dress. It’s beautiful.


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Hallowe’en Party by Agatha Christie

Goodreads | Amazon

Is this one a bit too obvious? Oh well. I’ve never heard anyone talk about this book, but I recently bought an ebook copy for my Kindle and want to read it in the next week or so. I don’t think I need to explain why this cover reminds me of autumn…


What are your favorite autumnal book covers? Let me know in the comments!




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10 Fantasy Series I Want to Read

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Fantasy has been my favorite genre of literature since I was a child. I love whimsy, new worlds, magic, swords, and so many other classic elements of fantasy.

It’s the genre that I read most frequently, but there are so many fantasy series that I still need to read. Here are the ten that I’m most excited about!



The Mistborn Series by Brandon Sanderson

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I discovered my love of Brandon Sanderson at the very beginning of 2019 when I read the first two books in the Stormlight Archives series, The Way of Kings and Words of RadianceAlthough I can’t imagine loving anything more than the Stormlight Archives series, I’ve heard that the Mistborn series is the favorite of many Brandon Sanderson fans. I know it’ll probably take me a long time to get through, as it’s a seven book series and Sanderson tends to write long books, but I know it’ll be worth it.


The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan

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The first book in this series, The Eye of the World, came out in 1990, and I’m surprised that I’ve never read this. There are fourteen books in this series, and it’s high fantasy, so I have a feeling I’ll really enjoy it.


The Witcher by Andrzej Sapkowski

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Out of all the series on this list, this is the one that I’m most surprised I haven’t read yet. I was never a gamer growing up, but all of that changed when a friend introduced me to The Witcher 3. The game literally blew my mind. The landscape is gorgeous, the story is fascinating, the gameplay is exciting, and you can play the game over and over again and still not see everything. I purchased a PS4 just so I could buy and play this game. I have the first few books in the series, and I have absolutely no idea why I’ve been putting it off. I know I’m going to enjoy the series immensely.


The Broken Earth by N.K. Jemisin

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I keep hearing really good things about this fantasy/science fiction series, and it has some post-apocalyptic elements, so I really need to read this. Plus, I keep hearing that N.K. Jemisin writes beautifully, and I want to experience that.


Legends of the Condor Heroes by Jin Yong

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Back when I first started this blog, I did some research on Chinese literature because it’s something that interests me. (psst, Meonicorn over at The Bookish Land did a great guest post on Chinese literature!) I came across this series and kept seeing the author referred to as the greatest Chinese fantasy writer. There’s a new translation of this series coming out starting with the first book, A Hero Bornbeing released in September. I requested and was lucky enough to receive an ARC from the publisher, so there will be a review coming within the next month!


Shades of Magic by V.E. Schwab

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I recently read V.E. Schwab’s Vicious and adored it, just like I loved her middle-grade novel, City of GhostsThis series deals with parallel universes, which is a topic that I’ve always loved in fantasy, so I can’t wait to read this series!


Caraval by Stephanie Garber

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Last year on Black Friday, Book Outlet had a massive sale and I bought a copy of Caraval, the first book in a trilogy. It’s been sitting in my TBR pile all this time and I haven’t found time to read it yet. The third and final book in the series, Finale, was released back in May 2019, and now that the whole trilogy is out it might be fun to binge through the whole thing.


The Witchlands by Susan Dennard

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I’ve always had a soft spot for witchy fantasy books, so this is an obvious addition to the list. I first heard about this series from a few of my favorite fantasy-loving booktubers, and this is one that I definitely want to read sooner rather than later.


The Kingkiller Chronicle by Patrick Rothfuss

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This is one of those books that literally pop up in every single fantasy recommendations list. It’s a modern classic, and I know I’ll be reading this soon – I just bought a copy, so look for a review sometime in the next month or so!


The Magicians by Lev Grossman

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Booktuber Chelsea Palmer introduced me to this series, and it sounds amazing! While most of the fantasy I read is high fantasy, this is urban fantasy, so it’ll be a subgenre that’s relatively new to me. It also sounds really dark, which is always a win for me!


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Want some more fantasy recommendations?

Six of Crows | Roar | Furthermore | An Ember in the Ashes | The Light Between Worlds




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How Two Little Comments Destroyed Me

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I’ve written before about how I have a speech impediment, specifically a lisp and rhotacism. I wanted to talk a little bit more about that today, and about how two little comments led to my becoming severely depressed.

While I did experience some bullying about the way I talk in middle school, I didn’t encounter it much in elementary school. I think that was due to the fact that I grew up on an island and most of our families knew one another or we were related as cousins or neighbors.

I’m very thankful that I wasn’t bullied in elementary school, because gosh-knows how much harder that would have made things. I still find it hard to believe that I used to get in trouble for talking too much in class. That definitely wasn’t a problem that I ran into during middle school or high school.

When I think back to the beginning of my experiences with depression and anxiety, my brain always settles on two distinct comments that were made to me regarding the way I talk. Both comments were made almost in passing, but they have stuck with me for the past twenty years, and I doubt I’ll forget them anytime soon.


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“If you learned to talk better and lost weight, you’d be really pretty.”

I was told the above statement, word for word (yes, I still remember it that clearly), by another student in my fourth-grade class. I don’t remember what we were doing or why she said it to me, but it was the first time I felt different from my peers. I’d been in speech therapy since kindergarten, along with a few other students from my class, but by the fourth grade, I was the only one left taking it.

I’ve always struggled with my weight and was definitely a chunky child. I wasn’t embarrassed about my size until this comment and a few other moments between fourth and sixth grade that made me self-conscious about my body for the first time.

If someone said the above statement to me today, I would tell them to fuck off and would promptly forget about it, as I’ve learned to love myself as an adult. As a ten-year-old though, being told you’re not pretty because of your weight and speech impediment is a huge deal, and the comment stuck around at the forefront of my thoughts for far too long, all the way to college.


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“If you don’t learn how to talk right, you’ll never get married or find a job or be successful. So try harder!”

Thinking about this statement makes me furious now that I’m in my early thirties, but for all of my teenage years, I couldn’t get this thought out of my head.

My sixth-grade speech therapist told me this. And I believed her. Instead of telling one of my parents what she said to me so that they could speak to the school about it, instead of telling my regular teacher, I simply took her statement in and internalized it. She was an adult and a teacher, so who was I to argue?

More than the first sentence I talked about, this second one had a huge impact on my childhood and teenage development, and I wish I could go back in time to tell my eleven-year-old self to not believe a word she said.

I spent years feeling like a complete failure before starting on anything. I would take failing grades on school projects just so I could avoid standing in front of the class to present my book report or project. I talked to no one, having just a handful of friends and never really branching out. I never dated in high school because I believed that I wasn’t worth it and felt that no one would be interested in me anyway because I was fat and talked weird.

I had severe depression in middle school and high school, and no mental health care. I don’t know if I even tried to tell anyone about how I was feeling. I just believed that I wasn’t good enough and never would be. I fantasized about suicide, but thankfully never attempted it. I loathed going to school and would fake being sick just to stay home and get lost in a book or The Sims, where I could pretend to be someone else.


tim-mossholder-SR8ByN6xY3k-unsplash.jpgIt wasn’t until college and my early twenties that I started to realize everything I’d believed as a teenager was wrong. I started dating and realized that not only did the people I dated not care about my speech impediment, they actually liked the way I talked. I learned that I could be fat and still be loved. I took job after job that forced me to talk to people (think tour guide or call center) and no one made fun of the way I talked!

Coming to terms with all of the time I wasted as a teenager believing that I wasn’t deserving of appreciation or love still hurts to think about, but I’m so thankful that I broke out of those beliefs and was able to become a successful adult. I still suffer from depression and anxiety, which I’ll be dealing with my whole life on and off, I’m sure (on top of being bipolar), but I now feel confident that I can handle it.

It almost sounds silly to think that two small comments can have such a huge impact on someone’s life, but, as cliched as it sounds, words really can hurt, especially when you’re young and you haven’t learned how to defend against them.




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Roadtrip Books to Satisfy Your Summer Wanderlust

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It’s July, which means that summer is in full swing here in the Northern Hemisphere.

Summer is a time when most people start to feel at least a bit of wanderlust. Road trips, vacations, summer break – it’s all about getting away, relaxing, and living your best life.

Today, we’re focusing on road trips.

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Road trips have always been a part of the American landscape. There are countless books, television shows, and movies about jumping into a car with your friends and driving to the other end of the country.

Taking a road trip has always been on my bucket list, although it hasn’t happened yet. For myself, as well as many others, taking a road trip can be cost-prohibitive. Most of us would also need an insane amount of vacation time to take so the time needed off from our jobs.

Thankfully, when you can’t take a road trip yourself, we can live precariously through the following novels.

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On the Road and The Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac

I felt like starting this list off with my two favorites. I’m a huge fan of Jack Kerouac’s writing and have always been intrigued with the Beat Generation. I first read these books back around 2011-ish and fell in absolute love with both novels.

On the Road is the novel Kerouac is most well-known for, and it can be argued that it is the quintessential American road trip novel. The novel is a fictionalized account of his own travels across America.

The Dharma Bums is about two men who search for Zen while traveling from San Francisco to the mountains of Washington state.


Travels with Charley: In Search of America by John Steinbeck

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I want to read this book so bad. I love two of Steinbeck’s other novels dearly (Of Mice and Men and The Grapes of Wrath). Travels with Charley is a non-fiction account of John Steinbeck’s own road trip with his poodle, Charley.


The Cruise of the Rolling Junk by F. Scott Fitzgerald

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If you’re a fan of life in the 1920s, this book is for you. Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda took a road trip from Connecticut to Alabama, and this is his account of that trip.


Mosquitoland by David Arnold

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Aside from the exquisite cover, this book should definitely be on your TBR. It follows the story of Mim Malone who takes off on a Greyhound bus after her family collapses. On the way, Mim meets a cast of interesting characters while also dealing with her own struggles.


The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe

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In the 1960s, writer Tom Wolfe joined Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters for a cross-country road trip in their bus. LSD, adventure, colorful characters, and more, make this one of the most influential road trip books in American history.


Blue Highways by William Least Heat-Moon

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This is one of the books that I’m most intrigued by on this list. I’ve always been the kind of person who likes to drive around on back roads and discover new places and scenes. When I was in college, a friend and I would drive around for hours and found so many amazing places (and a few terrifying ones too!). In this memoir, William Least Heat-Moon writes about his journey on those backroads, going to small towns that most people pass over.


Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson

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While most people think of the film adaptation when they hear this title, the novel is definitely worth your time. A road trip to Las Vegas fueled by copious drug use, this book details a different side of the American road trip.


Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson

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This contemporary young adult road trip novel is one that will pull on your heartstrings. Amy and her mother are moving across the country, and Amy has to drive their car. However, she’s reluctant and terrified, as her father died in a car crash. Amy enlists the help of a family friend named Roger, and they take this journey together.


Going Bovine by Libba Bray

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Let’s end the list on a slightly absurd note. I recently purchased this book after becoming obsessed with the premise. A 16-year-old boy is told that he is going to die, and he sets off on a cross-country road trip with a death-obsessed dwarf and a garden gnome to try to find a cure.


What are your favorite road trip books? Let me know in the comments!




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Why You Should Declutter Your Digital Life

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In today’s society, it feels like we’re expected to be on top of everything – from the best new bands to current events to all the new book releases coming out. There’s so much going on around us, however, that it’s easy to get lost in all of the digital noise.

The first time I heard the term “Fear of Missing Out” (or, FOMO), I realized that many of my habits were built around the fact that I wanted to feel well-educated on such a wide variety of topics that my online life was cluttered with hundreds of constant updates. There was no way I could ever possibly keep any of it straight!

One of the best things I’ve done for myself in years is to completely declutter my digital life. This is a tip that many bloggers might benefit from, along with anyone else that relies on digital content or social media for their careers.


What Should You Declutter?

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The first thing I focused on in my digital declutter was my Feedly account. If you don’t use Feedly, it’s an RSS reader that helps you keep track of blogs and websites.

At one point, I was following nearly a thousand blogs and websites. No, I’m not kidding. It was a hot mess. Due to FOMO, I was subscribed to blogs that I was only mildly interested in. Hell, most of the blogs I had subscribed to I never actually read at all!

Instead of logging on and learning all kinds of new and exciting things, my mind was getting bogged down by the sheer quantity of what was before me.

Our brains aren’t able to process non-stop, excessive information. It’s much better to focus on just the things we really love, rather than trying to spread our minds too thin.

I cut the number of blogs and websites I followed down to 100, and in the future, I plan to limit that even further to 75, possibly even 50. Ever since I unsubscribed to those hundreds of websites I barely looked at, my time spent on Feedly has become far more productive.

There are all kinds of online accounts you can declutter:

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Pinterest
  • YouTube
  • Email newsletters
  • Instagram

Those are just a few examples. If your mind is overworked by social media, do not be afraid of the unsubscribe button!


The benefits of doing a digital purge of things and sources you no longer need are plenty: less stress when you’re logged in, more free time to focus on things you enjoy doing, and more brain space to just focus on the things your truly interested in!


Have you digitally decluttered your life? How did you feel before and after? Let’s start a discussion in the comments!!




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The Five Best Adult Magical Realism Books

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Magical realism is a genre that creates a bridge between reality and the slightly whimsical.

It differs from genres such as fantasy and science fiction by being firmly planted in our world, our reality. In magical realism, we recognize the world in which the story takes place, but there’s an element that is slightly unusual or magical.

One of the reasons I’m personally so drawn to magical realism is that I’ve always had a deep appreciation of surrealist art, and magical realism is its literary equivalent.

Magical realism is wonderful for people that don’t want to take the plunge into fantasy quite yet. Here are five of the best adult magical realism novels.



The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

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Read My Full Review Here

The Night Circus is a beautifully written novel about a traveling circus and a magic competition. While some people think it’s a story that moves too slowly, I enjoyed the atmospheric setting and the whimsy that Morgenstern created.


One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez

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Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude is considered the first magical realism novel. Released in 1967, it still defines the genre. The story focuses on seven generations of the Buendia family, whose patriarch founded the fictional town of Macondo.


White is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi

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Read My Full Review Here
(Note: This review was the very first for this blog!)

White is for Witching is a creepy story about a sentient, magical house. Mysterious things happen, and one of the house’s residents, Miri, seems to be falling down a deep hole of discovering the house’s secrets. It’s a beautifully written novel.


Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie

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Salman Rushdie is one of my favorite writers for quality of his prose. When I read The Ground Beneath Her Feet, I felt as though I was reading some of the most lyrically beautiful writing in the world. Midnight’s Children is about a man named Saleem, who was one of 1,001 children born at midnight on the eve of India’s independence. All of the children are endowed with special gifts.


The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

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Similar to One Hundred Years of Solitude, The Time Traveler’s Wife is widely considered a classic of the genre. It’s a story about love lasting throughout time. The couple in the story, Henry and Clare, try to lead a normal life while Henry is pulled back and forth throughout time.


What is your favorite magical realism novel? Let me know in the comments below!




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Is Your Anxiety Harming Your Relationships?

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I read this amazing article on the blog Wit & Delight today, written by Jackie Saffert. It made me reflect on my past relationships and how I reacted to the failure of those relationships.

Jackie Saffert writes about her own relationships and personal issues with anxiety,

It wasn’t until a week later that I understood the actual truth of it all: it’s not that I was too much. It’s that we weren’t right. I realized that when it’s right, me occasionally displaying anxiety won’t make the man I’m with shut down, roll over on his side, face the wall instead of me. When it’s right, if I’m feeling anxious, he’ll ask, “Are you okay?” He’ll hold me. We’ll work through it together, instead of shutting down apart.

and,

I adjusted myself to fit their lives—their schedules, their emotions, their timelines for what they could offer and when. I watered down anything about me I deemed might be too much for them. And if it all went wrong? I instinctively determined it was because of something I had done.

These aspects of her relationships can apply to many of my own early relationships, particularly in terms of “watering myself down” for my significant others. I was constantly terrified that my anxiety and depression were causing literally all of the problems in my romantic relationships. There was one relationship in particular where I felt that it was my anxiety and depression issues that caused it to fail. I blamed myself and beat myself up about it. It took me a long time after that relationship to understand that it wasn’t just me that caused it to end. 

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Jackie’s article brings up a really great point, however, that if the relationship was truly meant to be, anxiety or any other type of mental illness wouldn’t be enough to cause relationship issues. 

My current relationship is a case in point. My boyfriend has been incredibly supportive of my mental health struggles, and not once has it caused any problems between us, even when I was too depressed to go into work for several days. This is due to the fact that we’re right for one another, and something like anxiety isn’t going to end our relationship.

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My boyfriend has been nothing but supportive of my struggles, even going to doctors appointments with me, helping me keep track of how various medications are working, and holding me when I just need to relax in his arms.

What she says about adjusting herself to fit the lives of her romantic interests is something else that I want to talk about. I’ve done this so much, and looking back, I wish I hadn’t. You should never have to hide any part of who you are in order to keep a relationship happy. If you find yourself doing that, you might want to take a step back and consider if your relationship could be better.

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Embrace who you are and what you want to do. Never “water yourself down” to make a significant other happy. If you two were meant to be happy together, you won’t need to.



What do you think? Let me know in the comments!




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My Love/Hate Relationship with Audiobooks

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Until recently, I only read physical books or ebooks. The few times I’d attempted to listen to audiobooks were disastrous, and within a few chapters I’d give up on it entirely.

It baffled me a bit – after all, I love podcasts and audiobooks aren’t that different. For whatever reason, however, I found that I was unable to focus on the story I was listening to and I would quickly get bored and go pick up a physical book.

In 2018, I made a goal of getting through at least one full audiobook. It’s definitely a very modest goal, but one that was difficult for me. To give myself a higher chance of success, I chose to listen to one of my favorite middle-grade books, Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book, narrated by Gaiman himself.

Not only did I finish listening to it, but I found that I had enjoyed it! I was proud of myself for actually finishing an audiobook, and decided that I wanted to give it another go.

Obtaining audiobooks was a bit tricky at first. I signed up for a free trial of Audible, which is how I listened to The Graveyard Book, but I didn’t want to pay $15 a month for one book. While watching booktube videos about great audiobooks, I kept hearing about Scribd, which is significantly cheaper and allows you to listen to however many audiobooks you want to each month.

Through Scribd, I ended up listening to quite a few audiobooks: The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey, The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas,  The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee, among a few others.

What I started to realize is that the reason I had never enjoyed audiobooks is that I just hadn’t found the right ones yet. The narrator plays a huge role for me in my enjoyment and understanding of an audiobook. When I find a narrator I love, I end up having fun with the experience.

I’m looking forward to listening to a ton of audiobooks in the future. Next up will be Sadie by Courtney Summers.


If you have any recommendations for great audiobooks that I should listen to, please let me know in the comments! I would love some suggestions!




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