My parents are both writers. Not just your average, run-of-the-mill writers, but bonafide, legit professional writers. My mom, a former journalist and communications professor, just published her first book. And my Dad, a journalism professor, won a Pulitzer prize for his work in journalism. I don't say it to brag, but to underscore how sub par I am compared to them. I've got a LONG way to go.

My blog editor-in-chief, my Mom, would agree. Sometimes I say it's instead of its, or their when I should have said there, which irritates her to no end. I once asked my parents the secret to becoming a great writer? Their answer? READ MORE. That, and write all the time.

I'm taking a cue from them and reading and writing more than ever. I find the more I read, the more inspired I become to perfect my craft and discover new ways of expressing my point.

Today I'm sharing five books that are touching, humorous, funny, and intriguing. They also changed my world view. One of the books is new, and, well, I happen to be featured in it (my first time ever!) There's a giveaway for that book at the bottom.

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1. The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo

One of my favorite books of all time, the Alchemist follows the story of a boy who dreams of traveling the world, finding love, and completing his personal legend. How do we find and figure out our dreams? This book helps define and answer that question. I read it over and over again, especially when I'm in a funk. It speaks right to the soul.

2. The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder by Rebecca Wells

Wells is also the author of The Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood, but The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder resonated more with me. I love the imagery of the
south and the magical scenes of Calla Lily and the characters with whom she
interacts. Wells writes the books I aspire to write one day. She features strong-willed characters who refuse to be anyone but themselves.

3. All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

This Pulitzer Prize-winning book captivated me almost instantly. The story follows a young boy in Nazi Germany and a young girl in Paris. Both face difficult odds and grapple with questions of character. It made me realize that things in the world are not always black and white, not always simply right or wrong. There are intricacies and layers and facets to every personality that impact the decisions we make.

4. Outliers By Malcolm Gladwell

If you want a book to completely shake up the way you view things, read this! Gladwell expertly weaves real life anecdotes with research and proven data. Some of his findings are so shocking, it makes me never want to fly with a Columbian pilot. And if I had a kid and I wanted them to play hockey, I'd be sure they were born January 1. It's an interesting look at what makes us fail or succeed.

5. The Awkward Phase by Claire Linic and Tyler Gillespie

Growing up, I never considered myself to be awkward. Sure, sometimes I hated that my hair just wouldn't fall flat like the other girls, or that I had a bit of a crooked tooth. But other than that, I was exceptionally confident. Probably too confident for a middle schooler.

In high school, I again felt that I fit perfectly in place. Yes, I enjoyed my matching pink polka-dot outfit, and I wore braces from freshmen year all the way to senior year. If you looked at pictures you wouldn't know from my closed-mouth smiles, which stopped after the braces came off. I'd like to point out my boyfriend (now husband) only asked me to be his girlfriend after said braces were off the table. Or my teeth.


It seemed my braces would never come off. Ever. Attending a Catholic girls school, I didn't care about my appearance during school days. But come the weekend, I went all out. I dramatically lined my eyes, slathered on sticky pink lip venom (which always burned my lips),  and wore my favorite Abercrombie and Fitch lace-up jean skirt.

No matter how cool or uncool most of us felt, we all experienced some awkward phases. It's part of growing up and transforming into the brilliant young adults we are today, without a smidge of awkwardness. I might still be living in ignorance. 

Chronicling this period is a hilarious new book: “The Awkward Phase.” Not only does the book convey true life tales of those painfully awkward experiences, but I'm excited that the author chose to include one of my stories in the book! (Cue me freaking out with excitement.) You might also notice a favorite fellow blogger, Taylor, of The Daily Tay is in the book as well. We were both awkward and our stories prove it.

My story focuses on my years as an obsessed theater kid who gets, or rather takes, my chance in the spotlight when suddenly all goes very wrong.

My bio is almost too accurate…

The book features people from all over the world who relay endearing, heartwarming, scary experiences that hit close to home. Tales of growing up with a little awkwardness ring true for us all and this book illustrates that perfectly.

You'll laugh, you'll cringe, and you'll probably recognize yourself. You can purchase your copy here.