Book List

I’ve always been a fan of reading and I think that can be attributed to my teachers and my cousin Tan who use to have me and my cousins read during our the various play times we had together. I remembered how we just loved reading Goosebumps and my friend Nick would always bring over the newest edition and I would draw the cover page on this sheet of paper where I drew all the other Goosebumps cover pages, ahh the weirdness of childhood. Anyways, I want to keep an annual history of the books I’ve read in the year and perhaps provide recommendations to others looking for books to read. It might surprise people who went to school with me that I like to read because I was always the class-clown growing up but I do truly love reading a book. One childhood memory I have of reading is that I was reading one of the Harry Potter books by this pond near my house and you could see the highway from there. I was pleasantly reading and then out of nowhere, I hear a “STUPID NERD!!” and then I looked up and saw a couple of guys driving past and laughing at me. It was a little jarring because, at that time, my sense of self associated more with the guys in the car than that kid just reading Harry Potter quietly by himself. From that moment, I decided that I would never make fun of a kid for reading a book again because I knew exactly how it felt to be ridiculed for just doing something you like.

Below are some books I’ve read throughout the years that I enjoyed enough to write them in this little webpage.


The Man Who Planted Trees by Jim Robbins

The Wisdom of John Muir compiled by Ann Rowthorn

In Search of Mycotopia: Citizen Science, Fungi Fanatics, and the untapped potential of mushrooms by Doug Bierend

When the Rivers Run Dry by Fred Pearce

The Banana Slug by Alice Bryant Harper; photographs by Daniel Harper

The Committed A Novel by Viet Thanh Nguyen
I promised myself that I would read more fiction this year after seeing a TikTok about Mental Pruning. This is the sequel to Nguyen’s awesome book “The Sympathizer” and it just gets more awesome from here! Think of it like the 2nd season of Ted Lasso. Nguyen takes an amazing deep dive into the topic of colonialism and the duality of growing both as a Vietnamese and an American/French person. As the man of two mind’s mom says, “You are not half of anything but twice of everything!”

How to Attract Wild to your Garden by Dan Rouse
I wish I would’ve found this book earlier when I was trying to find different habitats that I could build to bring all the lifeforms to my garden! It has a lot of information I already knew but the best thing was the section on hibernaculums which is basically a place where animals and critters go to hibernate. The one in the book was specifically geared towards reptiles and amphibians. This came at a perfect time because we’ve been getting frog noises coming from our pond and I wanted to make sure they had a safe spot for the winter. To create a hibernaculum all you have to do is basically dig a hole below the frost line and then put some drain pipes for entry/exit and then fill it back up with rocks, bricks, branches, logs, and leaves. I really hope adding this hibernaculum will bring more specifies of wildlife!

THINKING 101 by Woo-Kyoung Ahn
This was a book I heard about after the author was interviewed on Armchair Expert which is a podcast that my wife and I listen to, well mostly her, I just listen when we’re on really long car rides. I’ve always been a fan of how our mind works and this book is really great about going over some of the fundamental ways that our mind “thinks” like confirmation bias where if we get one thing correct, we keep trying to “confirm” that our initial assumptions were correct. This is going to be kind of long but I think the epilogue is a fantastic summation of the book and here is some of it below:
” I believe a better world is a fairer one, and in order to be fair, we need more unbiased thinking.
For starters, each of us should be fair to ourselves. We shouldn’t be underconfident which can happen when we selectively search for reasons to perpetuate our insecurity (chapter 2) or use all of our creative energy to come up with the worst possible interpretations of our misfortunes (chapter 6). It’s also not fair to ourselves to be overconfident, ignoring our limitations and putting ourselves in situations that we can’t handle (chapter 1). The decisions we make for ourselves should be as impartial as possible and based on statistical principles and probably theories, because they provide the most accurate predications (chapter 4). Knowing how we can fall prey to anecdotes, framing, and loss aversion allows us to outsmart people who try to outsmart us by exploiting those techniques (chapter 5). We’re not being fair to ourselves if we don’t sufficiently take our future into consideration, but it is equally unfair to sacrifice our present for the future (chapter 8).
And we should be fairer to others — and better thinking is fairer because it’s less biased. If you want to claim that a group of people are special because they are good at something, it’s never enough to show that they are good at that thing, because a different group of people could be also good or even better at it. Providing equal opportunities to everyone is the only proper way of testing such a hypothesis (chapter 2). Once we realize there are always multiple possible causes for an event, we can assess credit as well as blame more fairly (chapter 3). And the road to a more equitable society is much more direct when we ask people what they need and want instead of assuming that we know already (chapter 7). When we can anticipate other’s shortcomings, such as the ubiquitous planning fallacy (chapter 1), and have a Plan B in place, we can be more patient with them — especially those who haven’t ready this book!”

wabi sabi: The Japanese Art of Impermanence by Andrew Juniper
As I get older I’m relating more and more to the concept of wabi sabi. According to this book, the term wabi sabi is extremely difficult to explain in words and the Japanese tend to tell a story to explain the concept. My definition of wabi sabi is that it’s an acknowledgement and reverence for the fact that life is impermanent and all beings (animate and inanimate) should be celebrated as they go through their life journey. This perspective has made life a lot easier to move through, especially when something doesn’t go as planned. For example, we just purchased this gorgeous (and expensive!) Japanese cedarwood sake set from Kiriko Made and the first time we used it, it instantly cracked at the top of the sake bottle. Usually I would be extremely angry and would talk about going back and returning it for a new one. But through the lens of wabi sabi, I embraced this “flaw” in the sake bottle and accepted that it is now changed from our use and it will probably develop a few more cracks in its life and that’s okay. And just like us, it’s okay to have cracks and breaks as you move through life – they are memories of your beautiful journey.

the soil will save us by Kristin Ohlson
This book was different from my other soil books, which I liked, and discussed what other communities and farms are doing to change the way that we’ve thought about agricultural farming and the relationship it has with the soil. Traditionally, farmers have used a lot of fertilizers to help grow their crops and it was “working” in the beginning but as their soil is getting completed degraded, they are having to use more and more fertilizer for the same yields and it’s becoming unsustainable. This book delves into several case studies throughout the world of people trying “new” things (they’ve been used by indigenous people for centuries) to help save the soil and all of the amazing living things that call it home.

Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari
FREAKING LOVED THIS BOOK!! I’m a big fan of the future and all of its endless possibilities and this book did a magnificent job of laying out what we have been in the past, where we are currently, and how our current path is leading down a certain destiny. He talks about really great stuff like how technology is progressing to the point where humans of the future could have significant biological advances due to medical technology and bio-engineering. He also envisions AI’s and algorithms potentially gaining rights like corporations currently do and how as more AI’s start taking over human jobs then what does that “unemployable” class going to look like. A really, really intriguing read.

Be Water, My Friend: The Teachings of Bruce Lee by Shannon Lee
Bruce Lee was a little before my time so Jet Li and Jackie Chan were my martial artist heroes but reading about Bruce opened my eyes to how philosophical and ahead of his time he was! My favorite stories from the book was his epiphany to be like water when he got angry and decided to punch the water in frustration and saw that water takes the punches and then reverts back to whatever it was doing. It is necessary to be able to flow and adjust to things so that life can be more manageable and you’re not always expending a lot of energy. There was also a great story about a master and pupil where the pupil is always questioning the master because he had preconceived ideas about the topic. The master then poured him tea and he said stop but the master kept going and told him that his mind was like the tea cup, it was already filled with water and he cannot take in anymore therefore he must empty his mind/cup if he wanted to take in the master’s lessons.

Dead Wood: The Afterlife of Trees by Ellen Wohl
This book was fantastic in describing the history of the surrounding nature that the trees were located in and of course telling how the trees support so much life after its death. The book followed 3 different trees and their life cycle and gave a beautiful history of it’s young days, at maturity, and in its death. I’ve always been interested in dead trees but this really opened my eyes to what kind of impact that a dead tree has to so many living beings. One thing I never thought about was how much dams was affecting the migration of dead trees to the ocean. A lot of ocean life depends on the dead trees to provide food and shelter but the dams block these trees from ever going into the ocean and this is having serious consequences that we have not even been able to recognize yet.


I swear I read at least one book!! Just not the best at updating and I’m writing this in 2023 so a lil too late…


Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know by Alexandra Horowitz
I picked this book because I wanted to understand my doggo Brooklyn on a deeper level and try to comprehend why she does the things she does like rolling in dead animals. I mean I love stinky food as much as the next Asian person but I definitely don’t rub fish sauce all over my body but then I’ve never tried… The main thing I got from this book is the concept of the dog’s “umwelt” which is their perception and experience of the world in their own eyes. It implores that to understand your dog better, you need to understand how they see the world. For example, their sense of smell is extraordinary compared to ours and it’s comparable to our sense of sight – everything goes through the nose first for the doggos. So when we go on walks now we spend a lot of time letting Brooks sniff whatever she wants rather than pulling her along. I would highly recommend the book to anyone who has a dog – I truly feel that it has made me a better dog parent.


Currently Reading: Delivering Happiness: A Paht to Profits, Passion, and Purpose by Tony Hsieh
Currently Listening: The World Until Yesterday by Jared Diamond

Mythology by Edith Hamilton (audio book)
I’ve always been a fan of mythology from the first time I heard of the stories in elementary school and absolutely loved the Disney movie Hercules even though it was “washed” to a younger audience. This is a great start to any beginner who is interested in the classic tales as it covers all the majors ones like the Odyssey, Hercules, the Trojan War, and the backgrounds of the Gods, along with the minor ones like Icarus, the story of Persephone, and Cupid. I really enjoyed listening to the stories and the reader definitely brought the stories to life in my mind – highly recommended read for mythology enthusiasts and beginners!

“Love cannot live where there is no trust.”

“One good thing, however, was there – Hope. It wa sthe only good thing the casket (Pandora’s Box) had held among the many evils, and it remains ot this day mankind’s sole comfort in misfortune.”

“The power of good is shown not by triumphantly conquering evil, but by continuing to resist evil while facing certain defeat.”

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
This book was very similar to the Book Thief where it was set in WW2 with two main protganist of a boy and a girl. The girl in this story starts as a blind teenager who lives with her craftsman father in Saint-Malo where her father works for the local museum. The boy is a white haired, orphaned small boy who is intellectually gifted and gets chosen to participate in Hitler’s youth super academy. The tale follows both children as they grow up in the war and the story circulates around the central Sea of Flames which is a cursed gem rumored to give eternal life to the bearer but will kill all their surrounding friends and families. The book is beautifully written and a absolutely amazing to read – it won the Pulitzer Prize!! I would highly recommend this book if you liked reading the book thief as the same patterns flow through like fatherly/daughterly love, innocence in the war, young love, the innate and moral good of children, and the struggle to maintain sanity through the war.

“Open your eyes and see what you can with them before they close forever.”

“There is the humility of being a father to someone so powerful, as if he were only a narrow conduit for another, greater thing. That’s how it feels right now, he thinks, kneeling beside her, rinsing her hair: as though his love for his daughter will outstrip the limits of his body. The walls could fall away, even the whole city, and the brightness of that feeling would not wane.”

“What mazes there are in this world. The branches of trees, the filigree of roots, the matrix of crystals, the streets her father re-created in his models. Mazes in the nodules on murex shells and in the textures of sycamore bark and inside the hollow bones of eagles. None more complicated than the human brain, Etienne would say, what may be the most complex object in existence; one wet kilogram within which spin universes.”

“We all come into existence as a single cell, smaller than a speck of dust. Much smaller. Divie. Multiply. Add and subtract. Matter changes hands, atoms flow in and out, molecules pivot, proteins stitch together, mitochondria send out their oxidative dictates; we begin as a microscopic electrical swarm. The lungs the brain the heart. Forty weeks later, six trillion cells get crushed in the vise of our mother’s birth canal and we howl. Then the world starts in on us.”

Diaphanous: very sheer and light; almost completely transparent or translucent
Extirpation: to remove or destroy totally; do away with; exterminate
Salvos: a simultaneous or successive discharge of artillery, bombs; a round of cheers
Anthracite:a mineral coal containing little  of the volatile hydrocarbons and burning almost without flame; hard coal
Sherry:a fortified, amber-colored wine of southern Spain or any of various similar wines made elsewhere
Murex: any marine gastropod of the genus murex, common in tropical seas, certain species of which yield the royal purple dye valued by the ancients; purplish red
Deference: respectful submission or yielding to the judgement, opinion, will, etc., of another
Whelk: any of several large, spiral-shelled, marine gastropods of the family Buccinidae, that is used for food in Europe
Inure: to accustom to hardship, difficult, pain; tough or harden
Indolent: having or showing a disposition to avoid exertion; slothful
Pallid: pale; faint or deficient in color; lacking in vitality or interest
Laconic: using few words; expressing much in few words; concise
Corsair: a fast ship used for priacy
Sobriquet: a nickname
Lapidary: of or relating to the cutting or engraving of precious stones
Biopsy: the removal for diagnostic study of a piece of tissue from living body
Immanent: remaining within; indwelling; inherent
Sycophant: a self-seeking, servile flatterer; fawning parasite
Redolent: having a pleasant odor; fragrant
Distend: to expand by stretching, as something hollow or elastic
Surfeit: an excessive amount; to indulge to excess in anything


See Me by Nicholas Sparks

I was disappointed by this book because when I read Sparks, I’m planning a love story that will pull at my heart strings not some quasi-thriller with a terrible plot and shallow characters. If you’re a Sparks fan, I would recommend passing up on this book as there were no memorable moments and quite boring to be honest. The book is about a female lawyer who meets a reformed bad boy who is currently going to school. The past is coming back to haunt the lawyer and the boyfriend steps in to help and yes, it really is as boring as it sounds.

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson (audio book)

This was my first biography and I thought it was going to be all about Steve Jobs and his upbringing and while it did do that, it had a lot more beef to it. The book was a great history lesson about the computer industry and how Jobs was in the epicenter of it all and made a lot of innovate changes that pushed the envelope. Whether you like Apple or Steve Jobs in general you should definitely give this book a read/listen if you’re a fan of business and the computer industry. It was really interesting to hear about Steve Jobs and his searing stares along with his ability to make people believe in the impossible with what the other states as his “Reality Distortion Field.” I really enjoyed the book and learned a lot about the industry, Jobs (that’s a given), the development of Apple, and the genius of a man who was able to integrate technology and design. Jobs might not have created a lot of things like the GUI or music player but he perfected them by finding the sexiest-looking, lowest common denominator for the user.

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

“The best way to predict the future is to invent it.”

“Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me. Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful… that’s what matters to me.”

“You have to be burning with an idea, or a problem, or a wrong that you want to right. If you’re not passionate enough from the start, you’ll never stick it out.”

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children & Hollow City by Ransom Riggs

The story is told by Jacob who grew up listening to his grandfather’s fairy tales of how he grew up with these peculiar children with incredible abilities. The book is different from others in that it incorporates vintage photographs into the story line and these photographs, at times, seem to stir the direction of the book. Jacob then goes on to discover these X-Men kids and travel into their world of time traveling and defeating an enemy called the hollows and wights. It’s a trilogy and I’ve been recently disappointed by both the Maze Runner and the Hunger Games so I’m hoping the third book is not a total disaster! The first two books were very intriguing and delightful to read, of course they are young adult books so don’t expect anything too amazing but I found them enjoyable.

“I used to dream about escaping my ordinary life, but my life was never ordinary. I had simply failed to notice how extraordinary it was.”

“Laughing doesn’t make bad things worse any more than crying makes them better.”

detritusany disintegrated material; debris.
lanai: a veranda, especially a fully furnished one used as a living room.
sconcesa bracket for candles or other lights, placed on a wall, mirror, picture frame, etc.
immemorialextending back beyond memory, record, or knowledge
minderChiefly British. a person who looks after something (usually used incombination):
acridsharp or biting to the taste or smell; bitterly pungent; irritating to theeyes, nose, etc.:
cavort: to behave in a high-spirited, festive manner; make merry.
cairn: to behave in a high-spirited, festive manner; make merry.
topiary: (of a plant) clipped or trimmed into fantastic shapes.
Mollycoddlea man or boy who is used to being coddled; a milksop.
vis-à-visin relation to; compared with; face-to-face
coteriean exclusive group; clique
gourmanda person who is fond of good eating, often indiscriminately and to excess.
provenderfood; provisions.
timbre: the characteristic quality of sound produced by a particular instrument or voice; tone color.
balustradea railing with supporting balusters.

The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod
A self-help book that implores you to wake-up every morning like it was Christmas morning by using the Life S.A.V.E.R.S. It’s a great quick read as it’s only a 146 pages and I started to practice the principles that it teaches. The author basically died in a car accident and came back to life and instead of feeling sorry for how his life was, he took action and did something about it! He provides a concrete plan with easy to follow steps to set the tone for your day and your life. The book is filled with quote gems and it’ll help with your “I’m not a morning person” attitude.

“Our outer world will always be a reflection of our inner world. Our level of success is always going to parallel our level of personal development. Until we dedicate time each day to developing ourselves into the person we need to be to create the life we want, success is always going to be a struggle to attain”

“5-Step Snooze-Proof Wake Up Strategy
1. Set your Intentions the Night Before.
This is the most important step. Remember: your first thought in the morning is usually the last thought you had before bed, so take responsibility for creating genuine excitement for the next morning every night before bed.
2. Keep your alarm clock across the room.
3. Brush your teeth.
4. Drink a full glass of water
5. Get dressed for exercise or jump in the shower.”

S = Silence
A = Affirmation
V = Visualization
E = Exercise
R = Read
S = Scribe

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd
She did it again!! Another powerful book with two strong female protagonists who fight through the struggles of being a woman and a slave in the early 1800’s of antebellum America. The story follows the lives of Sarah Grimke and her waiting maid Handful and their journey to find their calling and freedom. Like a typical Kidd book, it has powerful images, startling events, and beautiful female leads that exemplifies the courage and strength of women. It’s truly an exquisitely and gorgeously written book, please read it as food for your brain.

“If you must err, do so on the side of audacity”

“Be careful, you can get enslaved twice, once in your body and once in your mind”

“History is not just facts and events. History is also a pain in the heart and we repeat history until we are able to make another’s pain in the heart our own” – Professor Julius Lester

Chattel: a personal possesion
Spinster: an unmarried woman who is past the usual age for marrying and considered unlikely to marry.

The Richest Man in Babylon by Samuel Clason
If you love Aesop’s fables then you’ll love this book. It starts of descriping Babylon as one of the richest and wealthy ancient cities and there lived a man named Arkad who was the most financially wise and rich. The story tells about his financial teachings along with other beautiful financial gems like saving 10% of your income, avoiding debt, and investing in what you know. It’s easy to see that, like mathematics, financial principles have not changed for thousands of years and anyone can become rich if they have the discipline and desire to become wealthy. I highly recommend this book as a building brick for your financial foundation.

“The Five Laws of Gold
I. Gold cometh gladly and in increasing quantity to any man who will put by not less than one-tenth of his earnings to create an estate for his future and that of his family.
II. Gold laboreth diligently and contentedly for the wise owner who finds for it profitable employment, multiplying even as the flocks of the field.
III. Gold clingeth to the to the protection of the cautious owner who invests it under the advice of men wise in its handling.
IV. Gold slippeth away from the man who invests it in businesses or purposes with which he is not familiar or which are not approved by those skilled in its keep.
V. Gold flees the man who would force it to impossible earnings or who followeth the alluring advice of tricksters and schemers or who trusts it to his own inexperience and romantic desires in investment.”

Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki
I love me a good personal finance book and this was a quick and nice read – I finished it in a few hours. Kiyosaki’s book teaches financial principles through the lessons he learned from his real father “poor dad” and his mentor father-figure “rich dad.” What I got most from the book is that if you want to be wealthy then you need to build and constantly grow your knowledge of finances. He also focuses on the importance of building your asset column rather than your liabilities where some people might misappropriate a liability for an asset like their home. Overall, I would recommend the book as a starter but Dave Ramsey’s The Total Money Makeover is a better book to help build your financial foundation.

“…build and keep your asset column strong. Once a dollar goes into it, never let it come out. Think of it this way: Once a dollar goes into your asset column, it becomes your employee. The best thing about money is that it works 24 hours a day and can work for generations.”

“The single most powerful asset we all have is our mind. If it is trained well, it can create enormous wealth in what seems to be an instant.”


The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd (Audio Book)
I’ve read 2 books by Kidd and they have both been excellent! She’s become one of my favorite authors and I’m definitely a fan and going to read the most recent books she’s written. The Mermaid Chair is a lovely story about a middle age woman who goes back to her childhood home to take care of her mother who is dealing with internal demons. She starts to slowly discover the reasoning for her mother’s antics and learn the real truth about her deceased father while falling in love with a monk at the nearby monastery. It’s an amazing love story and I’m a sap for romance! If you love Nicholas Sparks then you’ll love this book – Kidd has an incredible talent in using her words as the paintbrush for your mind.

“All my life I’ve thought I needed someone to complete me, now I know I need to belong to myself.”

“You can go other places, all right – you can live on the other side of the world, but you can’t ever leave home”

Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks (Audio Book)
Nicholas Sparks is one of my favorite authors and this book exemplifies why I like his writing. Filled with beautiful and deep characters, a twisting plot, loving relationships, and of course the thrilling ending that is the M.O of Sparks’ novels. The story is about an abused wife running away from her husband to a small town where she meets a wonderful widowed father with 2 lovely children. The person who read the audio book was incredible with all her voices and emotions and really brought the book to life! If you’re a Sparks fan then definitely read this one.

“I’ve come to believe that in everyone’s life, there’s one undeniable moment of change, a set of circumstances that suddenly alters everything.”

“Every couple needs to argue now and then. Just to prove that the relationship is strong enough to survive. Long-term relationships, the ones that matter, are all about weathering the peaks and the valleys.”

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini (Audio Book)
I absolutely loved the Kite Runner and this book was just as amazing with the depth of its characters, controversial moments, sacrifices, and the human experience. It tells the story of two girls with different upbringings who eventually get married to the same man. The tale is incredible heart felt and listening it on audio book really brought out the authenticity of the Afghan girls. I found myself enthralled in the story line and praying that the girls would finally escape their abusive husband. I highly recommend this book if you’ve read The Kite Runner and if you haven’t, then read it anyway because it’s a fantastic story not just of Afghani life but of the struggles of human life.

“A society has no chance of success if its women are uneducated…”

“Of all the hardships a person had to face, none was more punishing than the simple act of waiting.”

“You see, some things I can teach you. Some you learn from books. But there are things that, well, you have to see and feel.”

The Devil in the White City by Erick Larson
The book entangles the story of the World’s Fair in 1892 and that of serial killer H. H. Holmes. I found the book a little boring but if you love history then it would be fabulous read – I only like history to an extent and this was on the borderline. It was a good read in that I learned a lot about the history of America and didn’t know so many of the things we know today stemmed from that iconic fair. The part of the serial killer was a boorish and didn’t interest me at all – it was quite mundane, in my opinion. I wouldn’t recommend reading this book unless you’re interested in American history.

“Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men’s blood

Total Recall: My Unbelievable True Life Story by Arnold Schwarzenegger (Audio Book)
Arnold’s American Dream story is one of the most intriguing, unbelievable, encouraging, and astonishing out there. Here is a guy from a poor Austrian village who goes on to become a world renowned body builder, real estate mogul, respected business man, elected politician, and of course, the most awesome action movie star. I’ve always loved his movies and reading about his story made me respect him more for his vision, perseverance, work ethic, entrepreneurship, business acumen, and total commitment to his goals. If you’re looking for a wonderful story about the American Dream then look no further than this book.

“If I can see it and believe it, then I can achieve it.”

“it’s not what you get out of life that counts. Break your mirrors! In our society that is so self-absorbed, begin to look less at yourself and more at each other. you’ll get more satisfaction from having improved your neighborhood, your town, your state, your country, and your fellow human beings than you’ll ever get from your muscles, your figure, your automobile, your house, or your credit rating”

Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters by Dr. Meg Meeker
I started reading this book because it was recommended by Dave Ramsey and I wanted to see what ways I could help Alexis and myself build a greater relationship. If you’ve ever seen those YouTube videos of military dads returning home to their daughters and they just burst out crying and running – that’s the kind of relationship I want to have with Alexis. I highly recommend this book to any fathers out there because it gives you insight on what your daughter will struggle through as she ages and implores you to be strong and ALWAYS be there for her, no matter what. It’s also filled with great stories about other father’s endurance, grit, and unconditional love for their daughters.

“But love isn’t just about feeling good. It’s about doing what you don’t want to do, over and over again, if it needs to be done, for the sake of someone else. Love is really about self-sacrifice.”

“Dad, it’s not optional: your daughter needs you to be her hero.”

Panacea: remedy to all difficulties/problems
The Annunciation: when the angel Gabriel tells Mary that she will carry Jesus

The Remains of the Day
by Kazuo Ishiguro
No idea how I stumbled upon this book but it’s a short story about a Butler in the 1950’s who is from the golden generation of his profession which is dying out. He is invited by his current Lord to take the Ford out for a stroll to the English countryside and as he does so he relives the experiences of his past as a Butler. The book is very beautifully written with a great flow and discusses topics like dignity, working relationships, and professionalism in your line of work.

“What is the point of worrying oneself too much about what one could or could not have done to control the course one’s life took? Surely it is enough that the likes of you and I at least try to make our small contribution count for something true and worthy. And if some of us are prepared to sacrifice much in life in order to pursue such aspirations, surely that in itself, whatever the outcome, cause for pride and contentment.”

Convivial: merriment, a good time, friendly
Surreptitious: by stealth
Slovenly: untidy or unclean in appearance/habits

The Martian by Andy Weir
If you are part of and/or love the STEM fields then you’ll absolutely love this book. It’s about a mission gone wrong as a Mars astronaut gets stranded on the lonely planet after his team is hit with a sandstorm. He must use his ingenuity, resourcefulness, and sheer grit to find a way to communicate with Earth and set-up a rescue mission that takes several sols to conjure. The first few pages makes you feel like you’re reading a problem out of a chemistry book but it definitely picks up after Mark Watney settles down into his temporary home, the Hab. A true tour de force that will keep you on the edge of your seat and make you keep turning those pages! A big recommendation for all science fans.

“If a hiker gets lost in the mountains, people will coordinate a search. If a train crashes, people will line up to give blood. If an earthquake levels a city, people all over the world will send emergency supplies. This is so fundamentally human that it’s found in every culture without exception. Yes, there are assholes who just don’t care, but they’re massively outnumbered by the people who do.”

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Beautiful, beautiful, beautifully written book. The story is about a girl who goes to live with foster parents after her mom is accused of being a communist in WWII Germany. Her foster parents are Hans and Rosa Hubermann and they grow to love her as much as she loves them. The book is filled with gut wrenching moments and hilarity as well like the Jesse Owens incident. If you love to have your emotions stirred and torn apart then you’ll really enjoy this book.

“When he turned the light on in the small, callous washroom that night, Liesel observed the strangeness of her foster father’s eyes. They were made of kindness, and silver. Like soft silver, melting. Liesel, upon seeing those eyes, understood that Hans Hubermann was worth a lot.”

The Scorch Trials & The Death Cure by James Dashner
What a disappoint end to such a great start!! This series is identical to the Hunger Games where the first book blows you away then the second feels like a diluted version of the first and the third book is a complete run-around disaster. This series will be my last trilogy series as they’ve let me down too many times but maybe I should just read the first book and forget the 2nd and 3rd. Either way, the Maze Runner book was great but the trilogy itself was insufferable.

The M
aze Runner by James Dashner
The books reminds me a lot of the Hunger Games where teenagers get stuck in an enclosed “Maze” but rather than fighting to the death they’re been working together for 2 years trying to find a way out of the Maze and get back at the people who put them there. If you loved the Hunger Games series then you’ll absolutely love this book – I started reading and couldn’t put it down!

“If you ain’t scared… you ain’t human.”

The Longest Ride
 by Nicholas Sparks
I’ve been a fan of Nicholas Sparks every since seeing “A Walk to Remember” as a teenager and have started to read his books with enthusiasm. As with his other books, Sparks blends the old generation with the new seamlessly with a tale of love that transcends time and shows a common bond between all lovers regardless of age or upbringing. The story entwines the love story of a college student and a bull rider with a world war 2 veteran with his beautiful wife. Typical of a Spark’s novel, the story is filled with moments of endearment that will make you smile and wish you had that kind of love and an ending that is amazing!

“Trust people, until they give you a reason not to. And then never turn your back”

Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain
I was always interested in the life behind the kitchen doors ever since I saw “Waiting” with Ryan Reynolds and Anthony Bourdain explains the journey and lifestyle in such an exquisite way where it feels like it’s just you and him chatting over a few beers. I first saw Bourdain through his television saw and admired his straight talk and no bullshit approach – his book is the same way. This book is fantastic if you’re an aspiring chef, love cooking, a foodie, or just have any interest at all about what you’re putting in your mouth then pick up this book and read it!

“your body is not a temple, it’s an amusement park. Enjoy the ride.”

“No one understands and appreciates the American Dream of hard work leading to material rewards better than a non-American. ”

The Secret Life of Bees – Sue Monk Kidd
Fantastic and heart warming book set in the American South during the earliest stages of the Civil Rights Movement. It tells the story of Lily Owens escaping her abusive father with her care giver Rosaleen with the guidance of only an old photograph from her deceased mother. The story is filled with great stories of life, sacrifice, and motherly love. I highly recommend for all moms and daughters.

“You know, some things don’t matter that much, Lily. Like the color of a house. How big is that in the overall scheme of life? But lifting a person’s heart—now, that matters. The whole problem with people is—”

“They don’t know what matters and what doesn’t,”I said, filling in her sentence and feeling proud of myself for doing so.

“I was gonna say, The problem is they know what matters, but they don’t choose it. You know how hard that is, Lily? I love May, but it was still so hard to choose Caribbean Pink. The hardest thing on earth is choosing what matters.”

“If you need something from somebody always give that person a way to hand it to you.”

The Fault in Our Stars – John Green
Extremely touching book about two cancer patients who find each other at different stages in their disease and slowly start to fall in love with one another. They start to share their views of how cancer effects them and the people around them. Young Hazel Grace has re-read her favorite book, An Imperial Affliction, a million times and shares the book with Augustus Waters who falls in love with the book as much as Hazel. Their lives start to intertwine around the book and their disease. Great quick read and opened my eyes to the struggle of cancer patient, the effects on their family/friends, and the power of young love.

“There are infinite numbers between 0 and 1. There’s .1 and .12 and .112 and an infinite collection of others. Of course, there is a bigger infinite set of numbers between 0 and 2, or between 0 and a million. Some infinities are bigger than other infinities. A writer we used to like taught us that. There are days, many of them, when I resent the size of my unbounded set. I want more numbers than I’m likely to get, and God, I want more numbers for Augustus Waters than he got. But, Gus, my love, I cannot tell you how thankful I am for our little infinity. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. You gave me a forever within the numbered days, and I’m grateful.”

“Pain demands to be felt”

Into The Wild – Jon Krakauer
This book is a fantastic read for anybody interested in nature and connecting with the outdoors. It follows Chris McCandless life about how he yearns to travel to Alaska and experience The Wild. The book explores his interactions with the many people he crossed paths with along with a short story from the author that correlates his young adulthood adventure to Chris’s.

“make a radical change in your lifestyle and begin to boldly do things which you may previously never have thought of doing, or been too hesitant to attempt. So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservation, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future. The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun. If you want to get more out of life, you must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life that will at first appear to you to be crazy. But once you become accustomed to such a life you will see its full meaning and its incredible beauty.”

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