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I Can Do Anything…Except That

I’ve always enjoyed adrenaline-boosting hobbies—aerial acrobatics, surfing, mountain biking—so as I neared my half-century mark, I thought, Should I thru-hike the Appalachian Trail?

I immersed myself in all things AT (as the trail is affectionately known) and came to the unwavering conclusion that no way in hell could I ever do such a thing.

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A Stephen King Collection Awash in Twisted Hope and Wonder

At a wedding I attended years ago, the father of the bride said something that’s stayed with me. He talked about growing old, and losing the wonder and hope we were flush with as kids. Careers, marriages, and children occupy all our time. They begin to chip away at our hope and innocence. Whether it’s the manic excitement of a sleepover with friends, the endless promise of your first love, or summer days that seem to last forever, those feeling are never as pure or as acute as they were when we were young. He stressed that as we aged, it takes work to preserve those feelings, to even have the capacity to experience hope and wonder.

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A Hilarious Memoir of an Awkward Life

I’ve spent much of my twenties trying to come to terms with my awkwardness, cringing months—years, even—after any given social misstep. Enter Issa Rae, the queen of graceless girls like me. Her web series “The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl” and hilarious resulting memoir provide an uncannily accurate and helpful guide for navigating the world as an awkward black girl.

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A Burning, Brilliant, and Brutal Novel

I recently listened to a New Agey yet fairly brilliant podcast in which a Buddhist psychotherapist discussed the meaning of the word “desire.”  The word, she said in her calming, glassy voice, is derived from the Latin desidius, which means “to be far away from your own star.” Your “star,” as she puts it, is your core self, or your home. The discrepancy between where you are and where you feel you belong is where desire grows and festers. Lily King’s Euphoria deals largely in the realm of this brand of desire.

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A Chance Encounter Leads to a Literary Goldmine

I came upon David Gilbert’s novel & Sons by chance: I was browsing the shelves of The Corner Bookstore, an Upper East Side landmark, during the summer of 2013 when I noticed that the staff was setting up rows of chairs for a reading. When I asked what event was about to take place, they told me that it was for a novel set in the New York literary world, about a reclusive author and his family. I was sold (and so was a copy of the book).

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An Extraordinary Kaleidoscopic Novel of World War II

In 1987, six months after the book’s publication, the Los Angeles Times ran a review of Marge Piercy’s Gone to Soldiers. The review begins, “This book deserves to have an entire book written about it, and, with luck, within the next twenty years that will happen.” Unfortunately, like that reviewer, I do not have the time or space to honor this exceptional piece of war literature with an entire manuscript, but I will attempt do it even the tiniest amount of justice in five hundred words.

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A Timeless Beach Read to Treasure and Savor

As a writer, I’m a voracious reader. And like many fellow book lovers, I have a shelf in my personal library reserved for my “keepers,” those most treasured, life-changing books. Among these are Shogun, by James Clavell, which reflects my Japanese studies. The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy was my baptism to low-country books. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee has the best opening paragraphs in literature—they establish the protagonist’s voice, introduce the primary characters, and raise the novel’s main story question. My go-to novel for pure pleasure, however, a book read so often the pages are dog-eared, is The Shell Seekers by Rosamunde Pilcher.

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