Live Well: Watching, Reading, Listening - Lonely Hearts Edition

For some reason, I've never really been into standard love stories. I like my love stories to be filled with heartbreak, misunderstanding, and, in the best ones, redemption. For this week's Watching, Reading, Listening, I'm highlighting some of my current favorite heartbreaking love stories that somehow make you laugh (and make you think) while your heart breaks and then heals again. For those of you who tend to shy away from anything that doesn't have a happy ending, I urge you to give these a try - sometimes non-glossy love can be the most beautiful love of all.

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Guys, I'm in major trouble. I'm only six days into my "no dessert" month and I just spent thirty minutes pinning various amazing-looking chocolate desserts on Pinterest. I have 25 days to go, and I'm just not sure I'm going to make it. I keep looking at my calendar, hoping that another day has magically gone by, bringing me this much closer to chocolatey goodness. I feel like every Girl Scout selling cookies on the street is taunting me. I'm about three doughnut sightings away from seeing dessert mirages as I walk around town. Has this been enough melodrama for your morning? Good. It's kind of like you're living in my head now.

Have a great Thursday!

Read Well: Best Books

Here's one thing that it's about time you learned about me: I love to read. My dad taught me how when I was four years old and I've been tearing through books of all kinds ever since. In honor of my extremely well-read best friend who is flying in TONIGHT to come visit me, I've decided to do a Best Books post. Below I've picked out a few fantastic books that my wonderful friend has lent to me over the years and that constantly top the list of books I recommend to others. Happy reading!

Do not stop, do not pass Go, do not collect $200 before ordering, downloading, or checking out this book. Jeffrey Eugenides is quite possible the best writer of our time. Family saga + America in the '60s = Natalie, enthralled.

I don't know about you, but I've always been a huge sucker for intertwining story lines (Love Actually, anyone?).  Colum McCann does intertwining story lines better than any other writer I've ever encountered. You'll come away from the book in awe of the depth of the human spirit in times of tragedy. Tears are inevitable, but are they really such a bad thing if you appreciate life so much more afterwards?

The Glass Castle is both one of the funniest and one of the most inspiring books I have ever read. Walls's life experiences will astound you, and the crazy antics of her family during her younger years will entertain you. Ultimately, her triumph over her circumstances will make you feel like you've accomplished nothing - other than reading her book, which you'll probably want to do again.

I'm a lifelong mystery junkie - I got hooked young with Nancy Drew, later moved on to Agatha Christie, and have now found a new love in Tana French. I know this genre isn't for everyone - In the Woods has the most interesting distribution of Amazon reviews that I have ever seen - the ratings were equally divided between one, two, three, four, and five star ratings, clearly indicating that people's preferences are literally (and proportionally) all over the map. Based on my inclusion of it in this list, I think you can guess which side I tend towards. If you like mystery and intrigue and don't mind some creepiness, In the Woods will keep you glued to your couch for hours, just so you can figure out who did it (not that I'm speaking from personal experience...).

I used to be highly skeptical of books of short stories. Why would I want to read a bunch of little stories when I could get to know the characters, the world in which they existed, and the plot of their lives so much better in a longer book? Both Ways is the Only Way I Want It cured me of all of those doubts. Maile Meloy, both in this book and in Liars and Saints, does a superb job of exploring what it is to be in love with someone, which is a topic that I never tire of.

I'm so thrilled to get to spend this upcoming weekend with my friend. She lives all the way out in New York City, so our visits these days are few and very far between (do you know how long it takes to fly from SF to NYC?!). Besides my aforementioned eating schedule, I'm looking forward to lots of champagne (it will also be her birthday), long talks, and time spent showing her around this fantastic city. Does it get much better than that?