Good Reads for Spring

I have been on a serious reading kick this past month. In fact, I’m pretty impressed with the number of books I’ve actually finished {I have a bad habit of starting a book and not finishing it…}

While visiting Marblehead during our road trip adventures during spring break, I stumbled upon the Spirit of ’76 Bookstore and Card Shop while wandering around town.

What a treat! This indie bookstore is what book nerds dream about. I wished so badly that my sister were there with me – she loves to read and no doubt would have spent hours with me browsing the selections.

My favorite part of the shop (there were many!) were the rows-and-rows of books with handwritten descriptions sticking out of the top at the front of the store.

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It was like listening to a friend describe a book she’d just read that she just knew you’d enjoy!

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I loved reading the staff’s response to the books.

In addition to the whimsical handwritten reviews from staff, the Spirit of ’76 Bookstore also had a “Blind Date with a Book” section which totally hooked me.

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Between the surprise of not knowing what may be wrapped inside to the fact that the payment for the book would be gifted to a charity to purchase new book had me so smitten!

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I browsed the table full of wrapped books trusting only the handwritten description and settled on two: a Southern American/Mystery/Romance fiction novel for my sister and this one for myself:

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I’ve been completely engrossed with the current political scene. I’m certainly more interested in the stories of the democratic candidates so I reasoned that I’d be happy with a biography of either of the two.

As soon as I got back to my sister-in-law’s apartment after leaving the bookstore, I unwrapped mine and was quite delighted. hillary

Hillary Rodham Clinton: Do All the Good You Can by Cynthia Levinson

Inside the brown paper was a preview copy of Hillary Rodham Clinton: Do All the Good You Can.

I started reading the book while we were still in Marblehead and finished it as we drove home. In just 3 days I’d read it cover-to-cover.

Watching Hillary (we’re on a first-name-basis) run as the first likely female presidential nominee has been fascinating. As a woman in any field or on any platform there’s a tricky dance to balance power and being “like-able.” The struggle in politics really magnifies that pressure. It’s hard not to admire her.

If you like an inspiring story about an empowered female, this book’s for you.

Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

I’ve had my eye on Where’d You Go, Bernadette for a while. I love supporting locally owned shops so I jumped at the chance to treat myself to a copy after reading the staff’s review at the Spirit of ’76 Bookstore.

“To her Microsoft guru husband, Bernadette’s a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private school mothers in Seattle, she’s a disgrace; to design mavens, she’s a revolutionary architect, and to her 15-year-old, she is a best friend and, simply, Mom. Then Bernadette disappears.” – Review via Lauren of Spirit of ’76 Bookstore

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GUYS. This is the best book I’ve read in a while {and it had been a while…}.

For a week it completely consumed me. I carried it everywhere. When I got to the last few pages, I considered abandoning it because I just didn’t want it to end!

I found myself relating to both Bernadette (the Mom) and Bee (the daughter) in ways that surprised me. I felt like the wildly eccentric recluse Bernadette was my soul sister. She represents the extreme of what I could probably become if I 1) didn’t allow myself to create, 2) allowed my introvertedness to run wild, 3) hadn’t found a therapist I love.

Bernadette is so bazaar and yet I think we can all relate to her on some level.

If you’re looking for a story that will consume you, Where’d You Go, Bernadette is a winner. You can purchase a copy of Where’d You Go, Bernadette here from the Spirit of ’76 Bookstore.

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

Visiting the Spirit of ’76 Bookstore reignited my love of reading and set me off on a whirlwind of reading adventures.

After returning from our road trip, I finished reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic. My mother-in-law bought it for me for Christmas and I couldn’t wait to read it.

big magic

This is a must-read for creative people. I felt so reassured while reading Elizabeth’s stories about her creative struggles. In a world where it always feels like everyone else is succeeding in all of their creative adventures, it was comforting to hear that despite what I see on social media, we’re all struggling. Sometimes it’s hard to hear the creative spark and if you miss the opportunity to fan the flame, the fire may just die. And on that note, I’m trying really hard to recognize when Big Magic is coming my way, toss my ego to the side and PLAY with the magic.

Read this book with a highlighter in hand if you’re feeling creatively defeated – Elizabeth will have you feeling better about your pursuits in no time (use your highlighter for some of those one-liner gems she sprinkles throughout so you can quickly refer back as needed for inspiration 😉 )

Current Reading: Sea Creatures by Susanna Daniel

My sister is an avid reader {she is, after all, a Reading Coach..}. Lucky for me, she keeps my bookshelves stocked with hand-me-downs. I was looking for another capturing story to get lost in when I pulled her copy of Sea Creatures from my stash. So far it’s really good!

sea creatures

What are you reading? I’d love to hear your recommendations for what I should read next!

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Road Trip Adventures, Stop 3: Marblehead, MA

Sunday

After stopping in Alexandria and exploring DC, we reached our destination: Marblehead, MA – just outside of Boston.

The Hubs’ sister is attending graduate school at Salem State University. She has an adorable apartment that she agreed to let us to crash in for a few days while we explored the area {aren’t siblings the best?!}

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Clearly she’s very excited we’re visiting! 😉

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I call this one: “Pure Joy” – siblings 1 & 2 of 3.

Her apartment is in Marblehead which is on the coast and absolutely breathtaking!

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Upon our arrival on Sunday, Cat showed us around some of her favorite spots.

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It was windy and chilly, but totally worth climbing the rock for the view!

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We arrived in the afternoon on Sunday so we spent most of the day exploring the area around Cat’s apartment and settling in.

Monday

Since it was supposed to rain all day Monday (and it did!), we decided to travel to Norwood. Why Norwood? Because the Hubs heard there was a MonkeySports Superstore there.

He has been ordering from Lacrosse Monkey and Hockey Monkey for quite a while and didn’t realize they actually had a physical location. Once he figured that out and realized it was within driving distance, we had to visit 😉

It was about an hour’s drive from where we were staying, but totally worth it [for him at least!]. His eyes totally lit up when we walked in. He was like a kid in a candy store.

Being that I know nothing about either sport [in my defense, I’ve tried to figure it out, but ultimately I’m just a clueless spectator], I found a comfortable place to sit for the hours he spent exploring.

{I had several fabric shops on my list so I took this as an opportunity to be very patient so I could remind him later 😉 }

Thursday

I’m jumping ahead to Thursday since we spent most of the day Thursday in Marblehead and this post is all about Marblehead.

While driving to the train station on Tuesday and Wednesday, we passed some of the cutest houses. I couldn’t wait to wind down the week and just wander through Marblehead to take in all the beautiful views.

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firehouse

Even the firehouse is adorable! {I mean – look at that balcony!}

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My tiny dream house!

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rocks

shell

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Coast view

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This is our “if-we-win-the-lottery” dream house! Can you imagine waking up to that view every morning?!

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The turquoise door and shutters of this house had me swooning!

Thursday was probably my very favorite day of our road trip. We woke up, walked out the front door and just kept walking.

My favorite thing to do when exploring a new place is to wander with no plan.

  • Tip: Pack comfortable walking shoes and spend a few hours wandering around the area you’re staying. Despite the fact that travel usually means vacation, it can still be a bit stressful [even if just physically stressful]. Walking is something I find incredibly helpful with my anxiety and is a neat way to discover beautiful scenery you may have just buzzed right past if you were driving everywhere. Be sure to take a camera with you.
    • So far this has served me well in every place I’ve visited, but if you have a poor sense of direction or are staying in a not-so-safe-looking-area I don’t know that I’d recommend this tip for you 😉
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Exploring with the Hubs will always be my favorite thing to do.

  • Where to Eat:
    • Shubie’s – it’s a cute, locally owned specialty grocery store with a tasty deli. My favorite part was that they had delicious samples all over the store {am I the only adult who gets crazy-excited when grocery stores have samples?! This is basically the reason I do the majority of my shopping at Trader Joe’s…}
    • Terry’s Old-Fashioned Ice Cream Shop – order yourself a small vanilla ice cream and ask for the warm cookie dough topping. YEP, you read that right: warm cookie dough.
      • This shop was walking distance from Cat’s apartment. I’m extremely proud to say we only went there twice {talk about serious self-control}.
  • Shops to visit: 
    •  The Spirit of ’76 Bookstore & Card Shop – this independent bookseller is the coolest bookstore I’ve ever been to! They have a really neat section of books wrapped in kraft paper with a description written on the front (called a “Blind Date with a Book”). I couldn’t resist so I picked up one for my sister as a souvenir:
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Souvenir for my sister from the Spirit of ’76 Bookstore.

  • Scribe Paper & Gift – this shop had the cutest card selection! I had already stocked up on cards at Paper Source in Alexandria so I didn’t buy as many as I wanted to. But I did find a super fun mug for my Dad {I haven’t given it to him yet or I’d show you, but trust me: this shop is full of quirky, unique souvenir options!}.
  • Marblehead Outfitters – this shop reminded me a bit of our locally owned Backpacker. They had really cute t-shirts – I picked up this one for my sister:
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Shirt from Marblehead Outfitters for my sister.

We loved our time in Marblehead! Up next I’ll be sharing all about the fun spots we visited in Boston {including a lovely fabric shop!}.