Reading

Spring + Summer Book Roundup 2019

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If anything has changed in my reading life this year, it’s my need for fiction. After several years of consuming 2-3 non-fiction books to every 1 fiction book, I knew I needed to pull back. So, bring.on.the.fiction!


I need characters, engrossing plot lines, complicated relationships and addictive page-turners in my life.

Maybe you’re feeling the same? Or maybe you just have the goal of reading a couple of good books this Summer by the pool. I’ve got some great recommendations for you! I’m only mentioning books I’ve read recently and enjoyed. I’ve started several lately that have since been abandoned. 


And yes, I am all about stopping a book if I’m not loving it. If by the first 100 pages I’m feeling bored, it’s time to put it down. Zero guilt! Trust me, life is too short for boring books.

Hope you find your next book bestie!


Non-Fiction

  • Never Unfriended: The Secret to Finding and Keeping Lasting Friendships by Lisa-Jo Baker

In this follow-unfollow era, cultivating adult friendships can feel heavy. Lisa-Jo dives deep and points us to love our friends as Jesus would.

  • The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are by Brene Brown

Brene is a queen, we know this. If you’ve never read any of her work, this is the one to pick up. Also, check out her Ted Talk for a more formal introduction to Queen Brene.

  • The Next Right Thing: A Simple, Soulful Practice for Making Life Decisions by Emily P. Freeman

I’ve shared about this book since I was on the launch team in March. It has been a lifeline through this season of change, tough decisions and waiting.

  • The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery by Ian Morgan Cron, Suzanne Stabile

Ya’ll know I’m obsessed with all things Enneagram. Well, this is THE book to read first if you are jumping on the bandwagon. I promise, it’s not a cult or just another personality profiler. So much deeper and life changing!

Fiction

  • Still Life by Louise Penny

Half whodunit, half soap opera - this is the first in a long line of books surrounding the life and times of Chief Inspector Gamache. So many rich details and left me craving croissants.

  • The Storied Life of A.J. Filkry by Gabrielle Zevin

This book was delightfully charming. I can’t share too much without giving it away, but I loved the characters and was sad when I finished it.

Currently Reading:

  • Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

  • Atomic Habits by James Clear

TBR (to-be-read) Pile:

  • Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Marie Semple

  • The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

  • Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty

  • Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney

  • The Path Between Us: An Enneagram Journey to Healthy Relationships by Suzanne Stabile

I warned you about my need for fiction in my life! I’m excited to dive into this list over the Summer and will let you know what I love. If we’re not connected on instagram yet, I’ll be sharing more book reviews and recommendations soon. Connect with me here:

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Happy Reading, friends!

Best,

Erin

2018 Book Roundup! | #EAPREADS

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It has been way too long since I shared a rundown of my recent favorite books! Let’s do a 2018 roundup. My hope is you’ll glean a couple of suggestions and find a new book bestie.


You can check out more details on some of my Winter and Spring 2018 reads below:

WINTER

SPRING

One thing I do to keep reading a priority is sign up for the GoodReads annual Reading Challenge. Every year I choose a goal to reach towards and track my books in the GoodReads app. Last year I read 33 from my goal of 30 books! Woohoo! 

This year, my goal is to read 50 books - eek! I almost reached this back in 2017, so I’m willing to give it a try again. The idea is that even if I don’t reach it, I’ll be motivated to always have good books in rotation.


Wondering what to read? Never underestimate the power of asking friends on social media or checking out those ‘what other customers bought’ sections on Amazon. Choose a book you already love and google similar books as a place to start!

I tried to categorize the best I could, but some books seem to cover several genres:

Non-Fiction

What To Do When It’s Your Turn by Seth Godin

Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek

The Obesity Code: Unlocking the Secrets of Weight Loss

Of Mess and Moxie: Wrangling Delight Out of This Wild and Glorious Life by Jen Hatmaker

Everybody, Always by Bob Goff

The Memoir Project by Marion Roach Smith

It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way by Lysa TerKeurst

The Wondering Years by Knox McCoy

A Million Little Ways by Emily P. Freeman

Preach to Yourself by Haley Morgan

Stretched Too Thin by Jessica N. Turner

Personal Growth

Rising Strong by Brene Brown

Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives by Gretchen Rubin

Emotional Agility: Get Unstuck, Embrace Change and Thrive in Work and Life by Susan David

Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis

Fierce Faith by All Worthington

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Fiction

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

Superfudge by Judy Blume

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

How to Stop Time by Matt Haig

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

Ramona Quimby, Age 8 by Beverly Cleary

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

Memoir

The Actor’s Life: A Survival Guide by Jenna Fischer

Educated by Tara Westover

Becoming by Michelle Obama


Home/Simple Living

The Joy of Less: A Minimalist Guide to Declutter, Organize, and Simplify by Francine Jay

Cozy Minimalist Home by Myquillyn Smith

The Nesting Place by Myquillyn Smith

Lagom: The Swedish Art of Balanced Living by Linnea Dunne

The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living by Meik Wiking

A Simplified Life: Tactical Tools for Intentional Living by Emily Ley

Overall, I’m happy with the variety I reached in 2018. But my big goal is to read more Fiction in 2019! 

Do you keep reading goals? I’d love to know what’s on your literal or digital bookshelf!

Comment on this thread with your 2018 favorite or tag me on IG :) The hashtag #EAPreads also has lots of my favorites!

Best,

Erin

Come Hang Out on Instagram!

My Spring Book List! | #EAPReads | Hampton Roads Family Photographer

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With Summer right around the corner, I am so excited to start working on my Summer Reading List! I keep a digital bookshelf on my GoodReads app of what I want to read, so whenever I have a moment, I put a title on hold at the library or drop it in my Amazon cart. This really helps me manage what I'm reading next and there is -always- something in the lineup!

I made real progress towards my goal of 30 Books in 2018 this Spring! I'm just finishing book 20 this week. #happydance 

Here's what I read:

  • The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware - A fun, who-dunnit mystery. I'm not a fan of any real horror writing, and this was certainly more my speed.
  • Of Mess and Moxie: Wrangling Delight out of this Wild and Glorious Life by Jen Hatmaker - I devour everything this lady writes. She's such an uplifting voice! I was either giggling or sobbing throughout the chapters of the book - so you know it hits right in the feels. ;)
  • Lagom: The Swedish Art of Balanced Living by Linnea Dunne - This was a quick, light read that affirmed much of what I think in regards to living a simple life. Also, when can we all move to Sweden and wear matching sweaters and drink all. the. coffee.?!
  • Better than Before: Mastering the Habits of our Everyday Lives by Gretchen Rubin - This book was less research and more personal narrative than I expected, but I still gleaned lots of helpful insight into why certain habits don't work for me. And why others stick like glue! 
  • Emotional Agility: Get Unstuck, Embrace Change, and Thrive in Work and Life by Susan David - I had listened to Susan speak on Lewis Howe's podcast, The School of Greatness, and I knew I had to read her book. Lots of depth in this book, but plenty of actionable tips and insights into why we get stuck in our feelings. 
  • Girl, Wash Your Face: Stop Believing the Lies about Who You Are So You Can Become Who You Were Meant to Be by Rachel Hollis - This book has been everywhere lately and for good reason! After about four friends said, " You MUST read this Erin, it's so YOU!" I quickly added it to my library holds list. But when I discovered I was still #14 on the list, I snagged it on Amazon instead, haha! #soimpatient I'm glad I have my own copy to keep though, because I need a second reading to highlight and absorb more of Rachel's teachings. Loved it!
  • Everybody, Always: Becoming Love in a World Full of Setbacks and Difficult People by Bob Goff - I haven't read "Love Does" yet (his prequel to this book in a way) but I can see why Bob Goff is such a prolific storyteller. He shares so many different stories, with each one pointing back to loving like Jesus. So inspiring and soul-filling!

Your turn! Leave a comment and let me know what you're reading. I think I'll aim to add a few more fiction reads to my list this Summer since those are always perfect for beach days. 

 

Need more recommendations? Check out my February post with my list of Winter Reads!

 

Are we connected on IG? I share over there almost daily and would love to 'meet' you!

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Happy Reading,

friends!

 

~ Erin

Winter 2018 Reads! | #EAPReads | Virginia Beach Family Photographer

One good thing about the weather during the colder months? 

More time to READ! :)

If you know me, you know about my annual reading goals. If you're new around here, check out this blog post: 2018 Reading Goals!

Literally me at the library...

For 2018, I've given myself the goal of reading thirty books. So far, I'm making great progress and I'm working on book twelve right now. Here's what I've read so far this year! 

What To Do When It's Your Turn by Seth Godin - A fun, quick and inspirational read if you've got dreams and feel like you need a permission slip to pursue them!

Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek - I did cruise through this book quickly, I might need to revisit it.

The Actor's Life: A Survival Guide by Jenna Fischer - Any Office fans out there?! Let's just say, my love for Jenna Fischer is real and I loved reading about her experiences as a young actress in LA.

A Simplified Life: Tactical Tools for Intentional Living by Emily Ley - A great overview on how to simplify your life, especially for Moms.

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng - Total page turner!!

Everything I never Told You by Celeste Ng - I loved the last book so much, I went on a quest to read everything written by this author. 

Superfudge by Judy Blume - My husband gifted me Judy Blume's Masterclass on writing for Christmas with a signed copy of this book! Obviously, I cried. :)

The Joy of Less: A Minimalist Guide to Declutter, Organize, and Simplify by Francine Jay - Really useful book for starting and maintaining a minimal home life. The second half had lots of great tips on how to keep your house running smoothly. I need ALL the help I can get in this area!

The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living by Meik Wiking - This book made me want to cocoon in a blanket, drink hot tea....and move to Denmark, haha! I kid you not, it was the perfect Winter read.

How to Stop Time by Matt Haig - This was such a fun read, I didn't want it to end!

Rising Strong by Brene Brown - I had this checked out from the library, so I need to buy my own copy to mark up and highlight for a second reading. It's certainly one of those books that will stay with you and can change how you see yourself and others. Highly recommend!

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What have you been reading?! I'm always adding to my "must read" list, so leave a comment and let me know! I love books about self-improvement, business, faith, realistic and historical fiction, YA fiction, etc. Happy Reading, friends!

Connect on IG with me! Search the hashtag #EAPReads :)

2018 Reading Goals! | #MomLife | Hampton Roads Family Photographer

If you've known or followed me for any extent of time - you may know about my love for reading. It brings me so much joy and honestly, I think it makes me a better person. I read for entertainment, education and inspiration. I love reading books that feed my soul! 

In 2016, I set the lofty goal to read 50 books. This was a HUGE leap for me. At the time, I was working from home and had a preschooler and Kindergartner. My free time was seriously limited and I made a real conscious effort to prioritize reading over television or mindless internet scrolling. You can read more about my books and experience HERE!

Last year, I decided to pull back some and read 25 books. I cut that previous goal in half, and it really let me enjoy and linger over certain books. I even surpassed my goal, devouring several books right towards the end of the year. 

I haven't blogged about reading since last Summer (oops!) but you can read it HERE if you're interested in my 2017 reads!

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This year, I'm going to stay pretty similar to 2017's goals. I have the goal to read 30 books in 2018! I am giving myself permission to tweak this number up or down, depending on how my schedule changes. These are the first reads of the year pictured above - and with all this snowy weather I've actually gotten off to a great start!

Reading forces you to be quiet in a world that no longer makes place for that.
— John Green
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I will continue to use my hashtag on Instagram, #EAPreads - so follow along to keep up with the latest! If you are on GoodReads, come find me. I love using that app as a way to track what I've read and what I want to read. Their reading challenge is so motivating! I love to see that progress bar bump up with every book I finish. :) #nerd

I'd love to know what you're reading. Are you strictly non-fiction or do you love a good drama?

Happy Reading, friends! 

xoxo

Erin

2017 Summer Reads! | #MomLife | Hampton Roads Family Photographer

If you're new here, you might not yet know what a HUGE bookworm I am. Until my oldest daughter was born, I was a 6th grade English teacher for VB Schools. I loved my job and the angst of 11-year-olds. My favorite part was unlocking meaning and connection from stories. If I could have done that all day, it would have been soul-fulfilling on a deeper level. But, alas, that is not how the life of a teacher really looks.

I'm looking at you SOL's...

This love of books and stories runs deep in my nerdy little soul. My current favorite app (okay, besides Instagram) is GoodReads. Whenever I see a title that catches my eye, I add it to my 'want-to-read' list. Then, when I'm browsing Amazon or the library catalogue, I have all those titles stored. Super helpful! You can read more about the 99 books I read in 2016 HERE!

So far this year, I've been reading a mix of great books! I'll share some favorites:

Everything, Everything - I love the occasional YA romance! As a girl who married her high school sweetheart, it always gets me straight in the feels. #socheesy #butIloveit

Dark Matter - Not one to usually pick up sci-fi, but this was SUCH a page-turner. I could not finish it fast enough. It's long-ish, but totally worth the read!

I Know How She Does It: How Successful Women Make the Most of Their Time - Wow, this book was super inspiring and motivating! It's full of the daily schedules from Moms who are rocking it at life! If you're struggling with work/life balance, this is a must read, Momma. 

My Not So Perfect Life - A fun, rompy book for the beach! Very British, so of course I loved it, ha!

James and the Giant Peach - If you're looking for a read-aloud with younger kids, we really enjoyed this one! I managed to find the old claymation movie to watch after too. The girls are obsessed with all the Dahl classics!

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Currently, I am reading Longing for Paris: One Woman's Search for Joy, Beauty, and Adventure - Right Where She Is and really enjoying it. It's about how God wants us to use our gifts and desires to live our fullest life - even in the middle of daily monotony.

Plus, it's making me crave croissants! ;) 

Do you have a pile of books on your nightstand?? I can't be alone here. I'd love to hear what you're reading this Summer and loving. Comment here or send me a message! 

Happy Reading! xoxo

2016 Reading Goals Recap | #MomLife

At the beginning of 2016, I set the lofty and seemingly unattainable goal of reading 50 books. You can read about my tips and favorites HERE and HERE!

This is certainly more books than I have ever read in my entire adult life. I was an English major, a teacher, a stay-at-home Mom and now small business owner. My love for reading is deep. I was the kid with the flashlight under the covers and I feel empty without a book to dive into at night.

But there are seasons of busyness or sometimes Netflix wins at the end of a long day. I knew this was something I had to prioritize. And ultimately, I was okay with my kids (who were now a bit older and more independent) seeing their Mom taking time to read more. For this reason, I mostly read traditionally bound books. I found if I was on my Kindle app, the girls might just think I was doing other work or lost on social media. With a book in my hand, they knew Mom was reading and they would inevitably read too or find a (sometimes) quiet game to entertain themselves.

I knew that my goal for 50 books roughly equated to a book a week if I was going to succeed. This seemed like a fast clip, but I decided to include books I read aloud to the girls as well. If it was a longer novel (100-ish pages) or even a cookbook - it was included! I also gave myself permission early on to delete a book if it wasn't grabbing my attention. I never finished a book I didn't love out of the obligation to reach my goal. I would have ended up miserable and resenting the process! If it was left unfinished, I still added the book to the list though. Sometimes I revisited it, but other times I just returned it to the library. I'd say I read at least 3/4 of my list from cover to cover.

Oh yes, I was putting books on hold at the library one after another. I kept a running list of books I wanted to read in my phone and every time something caught my eye I added it. At one point, I had at least 5 books on hold at the library and realized I was never going to read them all before they had to be turned in or renewed. So, I slowed down a tad after that to give myself more breathing room.

Until October/November, I was completely on track to reach the goal of 50 books. But then - BAM- a busy portrait season hit. I was editing and delivering images in most of my open hours. Of course I was so thankful for this, but sometimes other things have to temporarily take the backseat. Plus, I had already read SO many awesome books, I was having a hard time getting into ones I had recently chosen. So a few weeks went by without me really diving into a read. At this point on December 27th I have read 47 books. WOW!! I consider this a victory! Nothing wrong with aiming high for a goal even if you fall short. I'm still so close to the finish line. I think for 2017, I'll keep the same goal of 50 books. It's so motivating to make it daily priority.

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Major Take-Aways I Learned...

  1. I can still completely lose myself in books. It's a hobby that I need to maintain, even in busy seasons. It's on the priority list!
  2. Having a trackable goal was really motivating. Watching that number of books grow was exciting and kept me continually looking for more great titles to include.
  3. I prefer to vary what I read. A mix of modern or historical fiction, personal growth/self care, business and mothering books are my favorite. I bounce back and forth.
  4. I can set a big goal and even if I fall short, I still feel like I succeeded.

So if you are looking for some good reads in 2017, here are my Top Five absolute favorites I read in 2016! Please send me new suggestions - I would love to get a new list going for 2017 :)

  • The Nightingale
  • Big Magic
  • Wonder
  • Present Over Perfect
  • The Magnolia Story

Happy Reading!

xoxo

Erin

Summer Bucket List | Virginia Beach Family Photographer

Virginia Beach Family Photographer | #MomLife Series

Today, I have a Kindergarten graduate. How is that even possible?! While my heart may turn into a puddle of mush, I am really looking forward to our Summer together.

When I consider how many Summers I have with my young children before they are grown, I can feel the years passing swiftly. And let's face it, the older they become the busier we may be. So for now, I'm relishing the joys of having a couple of simple months off school with them.

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We sat down and chatted about what big and little things we'd like to do this Summer. Here's our list in no particular order :)

  1. Beach time! As much as we can get.
  2. Bike rides.
  3. Norfolk Botanical Gardens. They have an amazing splash pad and lots of activities for kiddos during the Summer.
  4. YMCA and neighborhood pool. All the swim practice and chlorine we can get!
  5. Playdates with friends.
  6. Library dates. We go weekly and I'm excited about having the girls participate in the Summer Reading Challenge again this year.
  7. Amusement Parks. Ocean Breeze and Busch Gardens if we can swing it.
  8. S'mores. Because... chocolate and marshmallowy graham cracker goodness.
  9. Farmer's Markets. Best time of the year to enjoy fresh produce!
  10. Berry picking. Freeze bags for Winter!
  11. Writing stories and journaling. A great quiet time activity.
  12. Dollar Movie Days! Thank you, Regal :)
  13. Playing with the garden hose, chalk, bubbles and other backyard shenanigans.
  14. Fireworks. I hope my kids can hang this year, we'll see!
  15. Park time. In the morning before the slides are fiery infernos and burning their thighs.
  16. Painting and arts n crafts. My girls love it all, time to stock up at Michael's.
  17. Pajama Days. My girls love this, and I usually get a nap out of it ;)
  18. Spa Days. When I paint 40 fingers and toes and get my hair braided all crazy.
  19. Science experiments. I MUST make a volcano explode. Any tips?
  20. Tent building and backyard camping. We'll see who lasts outside at night, ha!

I think this is a pretty good start! Even if we only get to 1/2 of these activities, I consider that a win :)

What are you plans for the Summer? Any amazing camps or activities your kiddos are signed up for? Happy graduation/promotion week to all the kids!

Be brave, Moms.

Best,

Erin

Reading Goals Update | Hampton Roads Photographer

Dearest Internets,

I need you to stay accountable on some of my 2016 goals. Nothing keeps you honest like sharing it with the cyber world - right?!  Don't fail me now!

One of my biggest goals for this year is to read 50 books. That's right. FIFTY. I don't think I've read that many books ever. And I am the kid who was under the covers late at night with my industrial flashlight (thanks, Dad!) begging, "I just need to finish this chapter!!". Then, after I was married, I devoured the Harry Potter series in a pretty similar format (sorry, husband... not sorry). But, after the busyness and pressure of Adulting (um, hello motherhood and life and holy moly I am tired and can't keep my eyes open after 8 pm) I was missing my books.

I've adapted the manner in which I read and it is helping TONS. I go back and forth between reading on a device and holding a paper book. I have types of books that I prefer to read in each of these formats. For example, casual non-fiction or very light fiction is totally fine on my Kindle app. In fact, I fly through books this way! When I'm out for a run, I pop on the Audible app and listen for a bit. But if there's a really juicy fiction or 'heavier' self-improvement book I know I want to make notes in, linger over, and just hold.. I need a paper copy. Whether I buy it or check it out from the local library, I usually know which titles are of the I-must-hold-it variety. Is that weird?! Tell me I'm not the only strange hybrid person out there...

#somanychoices #gimmeallthebooks

So, how am I fitting in all this extra reading?

Here are some ways I've been sneaking it in my day:

  • Pickup lane at school - Sometimes I show up 10-15 minutes early just to sit in the parking lot and read on my Kindle app.
  • Homework time - This is a great way to model reading for pleasure to my kids too. If they are coloring, working quietly, doing play-doh - I tend to read a paper book during this time.
  • Appointments - Doctors' or dentist appointments... don't call me back too soon, I'm working on this chapter, Doc.
  • Morning coffee time - If we're having a lazy morning with cartoons, I'm usually reading instead of watching Elmo. I mean, there's only so much PBS I can take - okay?
  • Less TV time - Parents, those couple of hours of freedom in the evenings after the kids are in bed is so, so sacred. Am I right? We have our shows and Netflix nights, but more often we are just leaving it off and enjoying reading time.
  • Bath time - kids are splashing away and I can read a few more pages sometimes.

All those little chunks add up! I usually read before bed as well, but I find that hard to do if it's been a long day and I'm exhausted. Reading is important and a goal, so I've adjusted life to make time for it. This may mean I don't mop the floor... or the laundry beast is out of control. But, you know what? I'm alright with it. I've taken time to pour into something that brings me joy. It fills me up so I can then pour that joy into my family and people around me.

Just another way to teach self-care and self-love to my girls!

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Current Favorites:

The Nightingale - SO good! WWII era drama.. probably my favorite fiction piece in years.

Breaking Busy: How to find Peace and Purpose in a World Of Crazy - Powerful book that spoke to my heart. Can you really ever find a "balance" and what are we truly chasing?

Lessons from Madame Chic: 20 Stylish Secrets I Learned While Living in Paris - Such a fun and light read! It totally made me want to wear Chanel perfume, get regular facials, and embrace my femininity more.

Moms, what are you reading right now?? I need more for my list, haha!

Share in the comments, I'd love to hear :)

Best,

Erin