Books I read in March

After a bit of a reading slump in February, I’m back on track: I finished six books in March! The real story here is my discovery of audiobooks: Now I can read while I’m doing chores, walking around the city, or doing any other number of things that don’t require all of my attention. Half of my March books were audio! Here’s an overview…

Mac and Cheese at Lux, downtown Phoenix, Arizona

Paddle Your Own Canoe, Nick Offerman

If you haven’t noticed by now, celebrity memoirs are one of my favorite genres, and listening to them only makes it better! I’d been wanting to read Paddle Your Own Canoe for ages (at least since I saw Offerman perform in late 2014), so it was my first choice when I started the Audible trial. Listening to his stories made me feel like he was sitting next to me and we were chatting. Not to mention, the book itself is just plain funny and insightful. Five stars

All the Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr

I actually read half of this one in February, had to return it to the library, and bought it for Kindle so I could finish it (on the beach in the Bahamas. Maybe not the best choice for a beach read but I was hooked!) It’s an addicting World War II novel that somehow stands out in an over-saturated genre, telling the parallel stories of a blind French girl and a German boy. There was a little more fantasy than I expected (that is to say, there was a small amount of fantasy, when I expected none), but overall a captivating read. Four stars

#Girlboss, Sophia Amoruso

I don’t have much to say about this one: It was fascinating to read (hear, in my case) about Amoruso’s rise from teenage rebel to wildly successful entrepreneur, and there were a lot of useful, applicable business tips, though a lot of them felt like common sense. Still, an inspiring read! Four stars

The Boston Girl, Anita Diamant

My mom sent me this one and I was immediately hooked. It’s a historical fiction novel set in, duh, Boston – one of my favorite cities! It follows the child of immigrants from her teenage years in the early 1900s through her young adulthood and was a really insightful look into not only Boston’s history, but the life of American immigrants in the twentieth century. I read  A LOT of historical fiction and this was one of the best. Five stars

Food Whore, Jessica Tom

I borrowed this one from the library and read it while in Phoenix. It’s a novel about a young food writer in New York City, so I was drawn to it for those obvious reasons – and while it was a cool look into the food scene, it was also very predictable if you’ve read any chick lit at all. That doesn’t usually turn me off to a book – what are vacations for if not light reads? – but the main character was incredibly ditzy and I spent most of the book wanting to scream at her for not seeing what was right in front of her. Two stars

Girl Walks Into A Bar, Rachel Dratch

BIG SURPRISE, another celebrity comedian memoir I loved. I actually didn’t know much about Dratch outside of her characters on SNL so I was pumped to listen to her book and learn more about her path to fame and what she’s been up to for the past few years. Some parts of it dragged and I obviously can’t relate to the bits about motherhood – but it was still hilarious. Four stars

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Behind the scenes at the New York Public Library

As much as I love to travel and have experiences in new places, I also love to explore my own backyard. Knowing this, and also about my love for books, my friend Kathryn invited me to spend a recent Saturday going behind the scenes of the New York Public Library with the New York Adventure Club.

I’m embarrassed to admit that in almost two years of living in New York City, I had never been to the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building – the iconic structure in midtown that usually springs to mind when the term “library” is thrown around. The Schwarzman building is one of four research libraries in the NYPL system (there are also 88 circulation libraries between Manhattan, Staten Island and the Bronx – Brooklyn and Queens have separate library systems). While you can’t check books out of the Schwarzman building, it is filled with research rooms, reading rooms and rotating exhibits. The famous Rose Reading Room closed for restoration only a couple months after I moved here, so I’m especially anxious to go back and see it when it reopens!

Behind the scenes at the New York Public LibraryBehind the scenes at the New York Public LibraryBehind the scenes at the New York Public LibraryBehind the scenes at the New York Public LibraryBehind the scenes at the New York Public LibraryBehind the scenes at the New York Public LibraryBehind the scenes at the New York Public Library

To the surprise of absolutely no one, the map room was my favorite.

Behind the scenes at the New York Public LibraryBehind the scenes at the New York Public Library

Above is the McGraw Rotunda, filled with murals illustrating the history of the printed word, starting with Moses coming down from Mount Sinai with the tablet.

Behind the scenes at the New York Public LibraryBehind the scenes at the New York Public Library

The diary of Elizabeth DeHart Bleecker, containing one of the only written records of the death of Alexander Hamilton in 1804.

Behind the scenes at the New York Public LibraryBehind the scenes at the New York Public Library

Old menus, transit passes and photos from New York City. This was my favorite part of the tour, especially when our guide went out of his way to mention that the NYPL focuses on “cultural history, not highbrow history.” They really want to document the day-to-day life of New York City – a mission I can get behind! You can browse some of their menus online here.

 

Currently: March 2016

I seem to have fallen into the habit of writing these posts before sneaking off on weekend getaways! It’s currently Thursday, and at the crack of dawn tomorrow I’m flying to the Bahamas with ten of my closest friends for three days of sunshine and tequila. Be sure to follow along on Instagram and Snapchat – I’m @LeighAnneZin on both!

Reading: I’m currently in the middle of All The Light We Cannot See (Kindle) and Paddle Your Own Canoe (audiobook). Hopefully I can finish both of those this weekend and then start on the stack I have waiting for me!

Wearing: Skinny jeans, short sleeves, cardigan, combat boots, glasses. It’s been a lot of late night this weeks between the Oscars, church functions and working on freelance things, so I’m giving my eyes a bit of a rest.

Buying: I just got the iPhone 6S! I pretty spontaneously decided to switch to T-Mobile this week because they include international texting and data in some of their cheaper plans – so I’ll be accessible this weekend (and on future excursions!) even if the WiFi is less than reliable.

Listening to: A gem of a playlist I just discovered on Spotify called Island Beach Country. It’s totally getting me in the mood for tomorrow!

Eating: Rice and veggies for lunch (as I did this time last month, apparently!) Dinner tonight will be take-out before going to bed as early as possible – gotta be prepared for that 2:30 a.m. wakeup call to head to the airport!

Watching: Nothing! I gave up streaming things for March, although I won’t isolate myself on vacations if people have the TV on. I did watch all 13 episodes of Fuller House the day they premiered on Netflix last week. My verdict: The worst show I’ve ever enjoyed.

Planning: To do NOTHING this weekend except read, drink and soak in the sun. My friends are planning excursions but I will be perfectly content if nothing comes to fruition.

Excited for: This weekend of course, a week in Phoenix at the end of the month, and best of all – two full weeks in New York City in between!

Hoping: That the snow forecast for tonight (Thursday) holds off long enough for us to get off the ground in the morning. If you ever need to know when a snowstorm is coming, just check my flight schedule – seriously, I’m cursed!

Books read: 7/52

Trips taken: 4/12

This month’s challenge: No television, as mentioned above, with exceptions made (is that allowed? Do I care? I make my own rules!)

And how is YOUR March going?

Books I read in February

Well, I definitely slipped on my reading in February: I only completed two books the entire month. Luckily, I adored them both and am feeling super motivated to read more moving forward! I’m currently in the middle of several books, so I know I can get my numbers way up in March. Here’s what I did manage to read last month.

City Lights bookstore, San Francisco

City Lights bookstore, San Francisco

More Tales of the City, Armistead Maupin

This is the sequel to Tales of the City, the fictional San Francisco-based book I read back in January. I liked it even better than the first! It was so fun to catch up with a group of characters I already “knew,” and follow their adventures in San Francisco and around the world. I also, as you know, got to visit San Francisco last month and explore the lane that inspired these books – such a fun, unique experience! Highly recommend, as usual. Five stars

The Martian, Andy Weir

I am honestly shocked at how much I enjoyed this book. Although I love space and astronomy, I’m not a science-minded person, and I also love to have a lot of dialogue when I’m reading fiction. Because of that, reading the science journals of a person stranded alone on Mars didn’t appeal to me at all, but I wanted to give this book a shot before I watched the film. And I LOVED it! Mark Watney – the title character – has a sarcastic sense of humor that completely held my attention, and I finished the novel in four days flat. Just in time to watch the movie before the Oscars! Five stars

So, that’s it. Quality over quantity for February, but I need to step it up if I’m going to read 52 books this year! Any recommendations?

Catching up via Instagram: 2/21/16

Believe it or not, between my little getaways to DC and Dallas and San Francisco (right now!), I’ve actually spent quite a bit of time hanging out in NYC this winter! The weather has been weird – record-breaking (and pipe-breaking) cold followed by 50-degree days the same week. It’s made getting dressed every day an adventure, to say the least. Alas! I’ve been having tons of fun this winter (weird, I know), and here’s a little peek!

Donuts from Holey Cream NYC

My roommate’s cousins recently stayed with us and treated us to donuts from Holey Cream in Hell’s Kitchen – delicious! This spot is actually known for donut ice cream sandwiches, which I’m dying to try out in the summer time!

Books and magazines

I’ve slowed down on my reading a bit, but there’s still so much I’m excited to dive into, and I just loaded up my Kindle with books I’m itching to read (including my own copy of All the Light We Cannot See – the physical copy from the library was just to cumbersome to carry around and I didn’t finish it before the due date!)

Cheesecake from Mayfield, Crown Heights, Brooklyn

In a desperate attempt to catch up in between our travels, my best friend and I grabbed dessert one night at our favorite neighborhood spot . To be honest, the cheesecake wasn’t the best, but Emmie loooooved her brownie ice cream sandwich!

Galentine's Day in Queens, NYC

Speaking of Emmie, by some miracle we were both free the night of our friend group’s annual Galentine’s Day celebration! We braved the cold, split a couple cabs and spent a night eating, playing games and taking pictures with our girlfriends.

The Painted Pot, Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn

On Presidents Day, a few of us were going to visit the Transit Museum, but were disappointed to find out it’s closed on Mondays. Instead, we headed to the Painted Pot in Carroll Gardens to channel our inner children! I’m anxious to see how that bowl looks once it’s been finished at the studio…

Snow in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn

After painting, we walked to dinner – even though we could have taken the train one stop, we wanted to admire and take photos of the snow! (OK, OK. They wanted to. But I did get a good picture, so whatever.)

Beer in a stein from Strand Books, NYC

This week was National Wine Day, but I’m more of a beer girl myself. My friend Kelli got me this stein for Christmas from the Strand, a famous bookstore here in New York. I love how it combines my love of beer and books!

Golden Hour in Crown Heights and Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn

Finally, we’ve been enjoying some spring-like weather, and I couldn’t help but admire the morning light on my walk to the train this week. Really I’m just excited that it’s light out when I’m commuting now!

What have you been up to lately? I’m in San Francisco until Thursday, then I’ll be back in NYC for some more adventures at home!