There's something about this nice weather that makes us just want to dust off our library cards and head to the nearest coffee shop with a patio. If you're looking to expand your literary horizons, or you're just bored and searching for a new subject to explore, look no further. The Lovelyish team is sharing what's sitting on our bedside tables... have you read these yet?

Katie - Hallucinations by Oliver Sacks. If you thought this was a book about drugs, you would be wrong. It's actually about the brain. Each chapter is dedicated to a different kind of hallucination. For example, one chapter is about auditory hallucinations, another is about hallucinations that occur in the blind, etc. I am obsessed so far! I can't put it down! Here is the book's description on Amazon:

Have you ever seen something that wasn’t really there? Heard someone call your name in an empty house? Sensed someone following you and turned around to find nothing?

Hallucinations don’t belong wholly to the insane. Much more commonly, they are linked to sensory deprivation, intoxication, illness, or injury. People with migraines may see shimmering arcs of light or tiny, Lilliputian figures of animals and people. People with failing eyesight, paradoxically, may become immersed in a hallucinatory visual world. Hallucinations can be brought on by a simple fever or even the act of waking or falling asleep, when people have visions ranging from luminous blobs of color to beautifully detailed faces or terrifying ogres. Those who are bereaved may receive comforting “visits” from the departed. In some conditions, hallucinations can lead to religious epiphanies or even the feeling of leaving one’s own body.

Humans have always sought such life-changing visions, and for thousands of years have used hallucinogenic compounds to achieve them. As a young doctor in California in the 1960s, Oliver Sacks had both a personal and a professional interest in psychedelics. These, along with his early migraine experiences, launched a lifelong investigation into the varieties of hallucinatory experience.

Here, with his usual elegance, curiosity, and compassion, Dr. Sacks weaves together stories of his patients and of his own mind-altering experiences to illuminate what hallucinations tell us about the organization and structure of our brains, how they have influenced every culture’s folklore and art, and why the potential for hallucination is present in us all, a vital part of the human condition.

Allison - Blog, Inc. by Joy Deangdeelert Cho. If you're looking to start a blog or business (or you've already done so), this book is full of great tips and resources to increase your blog traffic, help you come up with content and tons more. Here's the book's description on Amazon:

With roughly 95,000 blogs launched worldwide every 24 hours (BlogPulse), making a fledgling site stand out isn't easy. This authoritative handbook gives creative hopefuls a leg up. Joy Cho, of the award-winning Oh Joy!, offers expert advice on starting and growing a blog, from design and finance to overcoming blogger's block, attracting readers, and more. With a foreword from Grace Bonney of Design*Sponge plus expert interviews, this book will fine-tune what the next generation of bloggers shares with the world.

Annie - Eccentric Glamour by Simon Doonan. When doing some Dita research for a post last week, I read in an interview that this was one of her favorite books. Of course I had to check it out immediately! If you couldn't tell from the title, this book is all about embracing your most glamourous eccentric self. Although I've just started it, I'm already feeling quite inspired! Here's the description from Amazon:

Glamorous eccentrics are irresistible people. They are irreverent, occasionally impertinent, a tad mysterious, charming, often self-invented, good at applying eyeliner, and above all nonconformist. They are a fabulous confection of style, self-empowerment, and black patent sling backs. Everyone wants to be one, but how? Ubiquitous style guru Simon Doonan has the answer.

By no means a typical how-to manual, Eccentric Glamour is a mixture of cultural commentary and personal disclosure, generously seasoned with gushings of wildly dictatorial, provocative, and reckless style advice. Through cautionary tales and inspirational examples, Doonan shows how to develop your own brand of eccentric glamour -- by magnifying everything that is already unique and idiosyncratic about you.

In these comic essays, interspersed with one-on-one interviews with some of the world's most glamorous eccentrics (including Iman, Lucy Liu, Tilda Swinton, Malcolm Gladwell, and many more), Simon Doonan offers the women of America an alternative to the cheapness and tackiness that currently pass for personal style. Eccentric Glamour is intended as an antidote to the epidemic of slutty dressing and porno-chic that has taken over since the arrival of Paris Hilton and Anna Nicole Smith (may she rest in peace). While the typical TV boobs 'n' Botox makeovers force every woman to look the same, the transformations this book strives to inspire are the very opposite. Dressing like a ho is not just bad taste but boring! In Simon Doonan's book, conformity is the only crime and dressing down the only faux pas.

Eccentric Glamour is every woman's birthright. SO SAY NO TO HO!...and yes to ECCENTRIC GLAMOUR!

Christine - Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami. I've really been dragging my feet on getting through the books I start lately, but this one's really got me hooked! I'm loving the story's non-linear style and the super-relatable characters. Here's how it's described on Amazon:

Toru, a quiet and preternaturally serious young college student in Tokyo, is devoted to Naoko, a beautiful and introspective young woman, but their mutual passion is marked by the tragic death of their best friend years before. Toru begins to adapt to campus life and the loneliness and isolation he faces there, but Naoko finds the pressures and responsibilities of life unbearable. As she retreats further into her own world, Toru finds himself reaching out to others and drawn to a fiercely independent and sexually liberated young woman.

Elise - The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran. This is one of my favorite books ever. The author of this book is from Lebanon, like my parents, so it has cultural significance to me. More than that, though, the collection of poetry is filled with wisdom. I've read this book more times than I can count and it never fails to inspire me! Here is a description from Amazon:

"Originally published in 1923, The Prophet continues to inspire millions worldwide with its timeless words of love and mystical longing. Writing with insight, hope, and a remarkable compassion for the human condition, Kahlil Gibran explores ideas of joy and sorrow, friendship, good and evil, pleasure, reason and passion, expressing humanity’s yearning for a Unity of Being, only achieved through love.

Introduced and annotated throughout by world expert Suheil Bushrui, this revised and updated edition is a truly enlightening experience for anyone seeking solace and wisdom in the chaotic modern age.

 - Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding. I'm into reading the books that movies are based off right now, so I picked this up at a used book store. I couldn't stop reading it; the funniest diary I've ever read, but I've only ever read my own diary, so maybe I'll give you some better reasons: 1) the characters are silly, quirky and deliver some wise words every now and then on why people can be so crazy, 2) if you're a Pride and Prejudice fan, you'll enjoy the inside jokes Fielding drops and that there is a character named Darcy and 3) it's hilarious. Here's the book description from Amazon:

A huge success in England, this marvelously funny debut novel had its genesis in a column Fielding writes for a London newspaper. It's the purported diary, complete with daily entries of calories consumed, cigarettes smoked, "alcohol units" imbibed and other unsuitable obsessions, of a year in the life of a bright London 30-something who deplores male "fuckwittage" while pining for a steady boyfriend. As dogged at making resolutions for self-improvement as she is irrepressibly irreverent, Bridget also would like to have someone to show the folks back home and their friends, who make "tick-tock" noises at her to evoke the motion of the biological clock. Bridget is knowing, obviously attractive but never too convinced of the fact, and prone ever to fear the worst. In the case of her mother, who becomes involved with a shady Portuguese real estate operator and is about to be arrested for fraud, she's probably quite right. In the case of her boss, Daniel, who sends sexy e-mail messages but really plans to marry someone else, she's a tad blind. And in the case of glamorous lawyer Mark Darcy, whom her parents want her to marry, she turns out to be way off the mark. ("It struck me as pretty ridiculous to be called Mr. Darcy and to stand on your own looking snooty at a party. It's like being called Heathcliff and insisting on spending the entire evening in the garden, shouting 'Cathy!' and banging your head against a tree.") It's hard to say how the English frame of reference will travel. But, since Bridget reads Susan Faludi and thinks of Goldie Hawn and Susan Sarandon as role models, it just might.

- Hidden (House of Night) by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast. We all have our things. I happen to love reading young adult fantasy books. This book is the tenth installment of the series, so that says a lot about keeping the reader's interest and preventing boredom. This series focuses on vampires but it's much different than The Twilight Saga, which I also love. I take particular interest in reading books about good vs. evil and how love, loyalty and friendship can prevail and that's a big theme throughout this series. Young adult fantasy novels are my favorite genre because it's nice to be able to slip into a fantasy world and get lost in the story, especially when you have assigned readings in school that aren't nearly as fun to read! Here's the description on Amazon:

The House of Night series is an international phenomenon, reaching #1 on U.S., German, and UK bestseller lists, and remaining a fixture on the New York Times Children’s Series bestseller list for more than 140 weeks and counting. With nearly 12 million copies in print, rights sold in thirty-eight countries to date, and relatable, addictive characters, this series is unstoppable. Now in Hidden, the tenth installment of the series, the stakes are higher than ever before. Neferet’s true nature has been revealed to the Vampyre High Council, so Zoey and the gang might finally get some help in defending themselves and their beloved school against a gathering evil that grows stronger every day. And they’ll need it, because Neferet’s not going down without a fight. Chaos reigns at the House of Night.

Randall - The Secret by Rhonda Byrne. I received this book from an old boss about a year ago, who was very passionate about the book’s message and encouraged me to read it and meditate on its message. I am not usually one for inspirational/philosophical books, so I decided to accept her gift but never even cracked the cover. A few weeks ago a close friend recommended I read the book; so after two recommendations I decided to finally see what the big secret was all about. I’m glad I finally read it! The book is incredibly inspiring, self-empowering and motivating. Now I know the secret and hopefully soon you will too! Here's the description from Amazon:

Fragments of a Great Secret have been found in the oral traditions, in literature, in religions and philosophies throughout the centuries. For the first time, all the pieces of The Secret come together in an incredible revelation that will be life-transforming for all who experience it. In this book, you'll learn how to use The Secret in every aspect of your life — money, health, relationships, happiness, and in every interaction you have in the world. You'll begin to understand the hidden, untapped power that's within you, and this revelation can bring joy to every aspect of your life. The Secret contains wisdom from modern-day teachers — men and women who have used it to achieve health, wealth, and happiness. By applying the knowledge of The Secret, they bring to light compelling stories of eradicating disease, acquiring massive wealth, overcoming obstacles, and achieving what many would regard as impossible.

Sarah K - Emma by Jane Austen. I've always been a reader ever since I was a kid and while I mostly raised myself on the likes of Harry Potter and Laura Ingalls, I have an undying love for the classics. Jane Austen is probably one of my favourite writers for her portrayal of women at such an early time in history. She's smart, she's funny and she writes some of the best satirical depictions of British life. Right now I'm rereading her novel Emma, whose main character I have a love-hate relationship with (don't worry, Jane intended it that way) because while she's selfish and kind of spoiled, she also has this strange immunity to love and doesn't desire romance at all and is so independent she sort of refutes the typical notion that you should fall in love. But I think the biggest selling point is the fact that this book is the basis of the epic 1995 film classic Clueless which starred Alicia Silverstone. So if you're interested in matchmaking and something classically humourous, try out Emma. Here's the description on Amazon:

Of all Jane Austen's heroines, Emma Woodhouse is the most flawed, the most infuriating, and, in the end, the most endearing. ... Emma is lovable precisely because she is so imperfect. Austen only completed six novels in her lifetime, of which five feature young women whose chances for making a good marriage depend greatly on financial issues, and whose prospects if they fail are rather grim. Emma is the exception: "Emma Woodhouse, handsome, clever, and rich, with a comfortable home and happy disposition seemed to unite some of the best blessings of existence; and had lived nearly twenty-one years in the world with very little to distress or vex her." One may be tempted to wonder what Austen could possibly find to say about so fortunate a character. The answer is, quite a lot.

For Emma, raised to think well of herself, has such a high opinion of her own worth that it blinds her to the opinions of others. The story revolves around a comedy of errors. ... As Emma's fantastically misguided schemes threaten to surge out of control, the voice of reason is provided by Mr. Knightly, the Woodhouse's longtime friend and neighbor. Though Austen herself described Emma as "a heroine whom no one but myself will much like," she endowed her creation with enough charm to see her through her most egregious behavior, and the saving grace of being able to learn from her mistakes.

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