the best books i read in 2017

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This was a pretty good year for reading! I read a total of 41 books this year, which is less than 2016, granted moving to the city made me really busy for the last two months and thus, I didn't get as much reading it as I would have liked. 

Although I didn't match last year's quantity, the quality of the books I read in 2017 was really, really good. I read a lot of books I truly loved, ten of which I'm sharing below. What were your favorite books of the year?

Who Thought This Was a Good Idea? by Alyssa Mastromonaco
As mentioned in my Year in Review post (LINK), this was definitely my favorite thing I read this year. If you're at all interested in politics, and even if you're not but you're interested in funny women and career stories, this is a must-read.

Touch by Courtney Maum
The premise of this book sounded interesting but I was not expecting to love it as much as I ended up. The story follows a trend forecaster who is hired by a tech giant to lead their annual conference by discussing voluntarily childlessness. She goes on to struggle with the fact that she sees a trend away from electronics and toward human interaction which is in total conflict with what she's hired to present and also conflicts with the ideas of her pretentious, French philosopher boyfriend. It was really fascinating and brought up a lot of interesting questions!

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
The love for this book is strong out there. In fact, it has one of the highest Goodreads ratings I've ever seen (nearly five stars). The story is about Starr Carter, who is simultaneously a relatable "every girl" yet also has a very unique perspective as a black girl at a predominantly white, expensive prep school with an ex-gang leader father and a white boyfriend. The story begins when Starr witnesses her unarmed, childhood friend be murdered by the police during a traffic stop. She becomes reluctantly, almost unwillingly, immersed in the world of Black Lives Matter activism and struggles with straddling the border between her "two lives".

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
This was another surprisingly great book I read this year. Spanning several decades, it follows a young woman, Evelyn Hugo, who becomes a Hollywood icon and marries seven times. The book is structured around each of her husbands, as they all serve a very different purpose in her story. The chapters go back and forth between the re-telling of Evelyn's life and the life of the young woman chosen to interview Evelyn. There's an interesting twist at the end, too.

You Are a Badass at Making Money by Jen Sincero
This book is a great tool for refocusing your views and beliefs about money, as well as getting yourself into a healthy mindset to manifest financial growth. I love that each chapter has a set of to-do's at the end to help you actively develop a better financial mindset.

Beyond the Label by Maureen Chiquet
Another great career memoir I read this year was Beyond the Label by Maureen Chiquet. She was most recently the CEO of Chanel and the memoir follows her from her early days as a L'Oreal trainee in France to her role as president of Banana Republic, on to the process of being hired at Chanel. I loved this book in particular because it's not a "how-to" guide with overused tips on how to be a good employee. More so, it's a reminder that looking at the big picture of your career and focusing on taking the next best action is super important for success.

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
I was definitely late to The Nightingale bandwagon, but it truly did not disappoint. In case you don't know, the story follows two very different sisters during the Nazi occupation of France in WWII. Each sister has a very different way of dealing with the occupation, Vianne being very reserved and careful while Isabelle is fiery and aching for rebellion. This book had so many exciting and devastating parts, it was impossible to put down. 

The Idiot by Elif Batuman
I loved this understated story of Selin, a naive freshman at Harvard in the mid-1990s. It really captured the naivete and clueless-ness of being that age, especially through the lens of a girl who is academically gifted but still has a very low emotional IQ like most people going into university. It reminded me of the Socrates quote: "I know one thing; that I know nothing." That's Selin, to me. She deals with these existential, philosophical conundrums in her mind but also, is very clueless. 

Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan
On a lighter note, I finished Kevin Kwan's Crazy Rich Asians series with the third book Rich People Problems and I have to say, I'm sad it's over. In the third book, the family's matriarch Su-Yi is on her deathbed and relatives come out of the woodwork to see where they are included in the will. As always, there's lots of drama, betrayals, revenge, couture, and elaborate parties. 

the weekend list no. 26

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How was your first week of the New Year? I've been busy setting up my new Passion Planner and surviving bombogenesis here in Brooklyn with fettuccine alfredo, chai lattes, and Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. Luckily, I've gotten to work from home during the blizzard, so I've been set up in bed listening to NPR while I do press clips.

Here are some things from around the internet that have been intriguing me:

The ladies at The Ardent Biblio threw a super cozy literary dinner party centered around A Christmas Carol. How beautiful is their set-up?

Over on Man Repeller, there's a discussion about natural makeup products. I'm thinking about transitioning to all-natural makeup and if you are too, this is a great resource.

Darling Magazine had a post about what makes a classic film. This comes at the perfect time now that awards season is upon us. My usual awards season coverage posts are in the works at the moment!

I love this all-white look from Caroline's blog and can't wait until it's warm enough to wear cute dresses again!

My favorite annual episode of one of my favorite podcasts is out now! Pop Culture Happy Hour has released their 2017 wrap-up episode which is split into two parts: how their pop culture resolutions for 2017 turned out and their resolutions for the new year, then if their pop culture predictions for 2017 came true and what they predict for 2018. 

Have you noticed Anthropologie's cute selection of graphic tees? Here are my favorites for layering:

new year's day

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It's a little late, but happy new year! Do you all have any traditions for New Year's Day? It seems like a lot of people go to the movies, doesn't it? I don't really have any traditions for the day but happened to have a really special first day of 2018...

After waking up in the late morning, I got a really slow start to getting ready and then bundled up (a lot, but never enough) and headed over to eat at Citizens of Chelsea. I originally wanted to go get a Belgian waffle for brunch but the restaurant was out, so I ended up ordering the Banana-Nana Split which turned out to be the most pleasant surprise! 

It was a split, caramelized banana laid over a bed of granola and nutella powder (a literal powder that turns into nutella when it mixes with liquid), fresh blueberries and strawberries, raspberry compote, and blueberry panna cotta. It was so unique and so delicious. The guy next to me actually ordered the same thing and we ended up discussing how amazing it was. I had this with a side of sourdough toast and a hot apple cider.

After brunch, I needed to head to the station at Hudson Yards so I walked the High Line for a bit. It was obviously beautiful but so cold, I could barely handle it, haha. 

So, I went uptown to meet my brother and soon-to-be sister-in-law at the Chrysler Building. Their friend works on the 67th floor (out of 71) and invited us to come up and watch the sunset from the office, which has 360 degree views of the city. It was absolutely crazy! If you look at a photo of the building, we were on the very top floor right before the building turns into a point.

The view looked totally surreal. I can't imagine a more special way to start the new year than sitting with everyone listening to "Welcome to New York" watching the sunset over the Empire State Building, Freedom Tower, and Roosevelt Island. I set up my tripod and shot a time lapse video that ended up being so pretty!

To close, I just want to share something from the New Year's Eve church service I went to. The message was all about dreaming big for 2018. The big theme was this, to quote my pastor: "No matter what area of your life is barren, sing over it. Sing over your disappointment of 2017." He made the point that people often stop dreaming big because of disappointment, but we should all dream big this year knowing that we're loved by God, who wants you to "stretch your tent curtains wide" in anticipation for what He can do.

It was a good one, needless to say. So yeah, happy 2018, I hope we all do cool stuff this year.

three outfit ideas for work

 Photo via  Gigi New York

Photo via Gigi New York

When you think of the phrase "office style", it often conjures images of uninspired, maybe even bland outfits you wouldn't ever wear outside of a cubicle. But, I promise, work outfits really don't have to be boring.

So many workplaces have relaxed their dress codes that it's easier than ever to put together a cute, comfortable look for the office. Even if you do work in an environment where traditional dress codes remain, you're not doomed to poly-blend trousers and jewel-toned tops. 

Here's an outfit idea for three different types of office dress codes:

Creative

I must say, I love working in laid-back environments with casual dress codes. I really think comfort is the key to productivity and creativity and love that many companies are catching on and loosening their dress requirements. Whether you're in a casual office or working from home, try a t-shirt and skinny jeans combination. Layer on a cozy cardigan and a street sneaker to stay put together but laid back.

Business Casual

My trick for business casual dress codes is to find a pair of black jeans that are dark enough to look like trousers instead of denim. They're comfortable enough to get you through the day and super versatile. Pair with a dressier blouse to disguise the casual nature of the jeans. As for shoes, go for ballet flats or a flat loafer. 

Professional

Professional dress codes tend to be the ones that create the most struggle when getting dressed in the morning because it's so easy for these looks to be both bland and uncomfortable. To keep your outfit business corporate but also cozy and chic, try a simple sweater with a small, interesting detail like a subtle ruffled sleeve. Pair it with a neutral, pattered pencil skirt and your choice of black, white, or nude pumps. Dress up the look with a layered pearl necklace.

visual inspiration 1.2.18

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I'm always all about being cozy, but that's been especially true lately. It's getting super cold outside and I'm finding that all I want to do is sleep under a cable knit blanket and listen to Sufjan Stevens. 

Where December is cozy reds, greens, and golds, January for me is magical in a different way. Forgive me for only being able to translate things in terms of Harry Potter but December is Gryffindor whereas January is Ravenclaw. January is winter magic, metallic silver, celestial motifs.

Here's my magical yet still cozy inspiration for the week: