There is one positive about chronic illness ๐Ÿ’œ – The ability to escape to far off places in different time periods or learn about someone else’s life โœˆ๏ธ.

I started using the Goodreads app (follow me at dreaming_ginger), which is essentially a Facebook or Instagram for bookworms without all the drama ๐Ÿ’๐Ÿผโ€โ™€๏ธ.

I decided on January of this year to participate in my own Reading ๐Ÿ“– Challenge to read 24 books before the end of 2018, which to me was a lofty goal ๐Ÿฅ…. I recently rekindled my love for books ๐Ÿ“š and began reading again, but for me, it could have been just a phase that I went through ๐Ÿค”. Little did I know, it would become an invaluable coping mechanism for chronic illness ๐Ÿ’œ.

When I fell on hard times and didn’t have money ๐Ÿ’ฐ to continue buying books on Amazon, I decided to go to the nearest library ๐Ÿ“š. I honestly had avoided it for three reasons:

1) Did they have newer releases that I was interested in reading ๐Ÿ“–? YES

2) Sometimes questionable characters hang out at the library and makes me uncomfortable ๐Ÿ˜ฃ. (Not trying to be judgmental, just honest). Solution: Go during non-peak times around opening.

3) I used my chronic illness as an excuse because Amazon delivers books directly to my door ๐Ÿšช, and I would have to travel to the library to get books ๐Ÿ“š. Solution: There is actually a library within walking distance to my house (how fortuitous and it was just remodeled). Also, a sign of the times, they have a cellphone app where I can renew books and request books be delivered from another library in the city to the one closest to me. It’s absolutely perfect ๐Ÿ™Œ๐Ÿป. I also got the cutest library card. So now I can save money and still read!

๐Ÿ“šHere are the 24 books that I read during my 2018 Goodreads Reading Challenge, and I am going to still keep reading…

๐Ÿ“–Comment below with a guess as to how many books I will actually read by December of 2018….

Unnaturally Green by Felicia Ricci:

If you know me, you know the three things I love: theater ๐ŸŽญ, the musical Wicked ๐ŸŽถ and a look into the inner workings and events backstage ๐Ÿ’ƒ๐Ÿป. MY PASSION ๐ŸŽญ. This was a great memoir about Felicia Ricci who was the standby performer for the green Wicked Witch of the West, Elphaba, in the San Francisco run of Wicked and the challenges she faced. For those who may not know, the standby performer is standing by at the theater if the main actress performing the role gets injured or sick or has an emergency as well as performs when the main actress wants time off ๐ŸŽถ.

I have a dear friend of mine named Chelsea (who I met working on Frozen – Live at Hyperion while I was an Assistant Stage Manager and she was one of the original Elsa performers), who is currently on tour as the standby for Elphaba ๐Ÿ’š and just had her contract extended ๐Ÿ™Œ๐Ÿป. I want to see her perform in LA – that would be such a treat. While we worked on Frozen – Live at Hyperion, my friend was an absolute sweetheart, humble, funny, and could sing her face off. I always looked forward to her singing ๐ŸŽค Let It Go and hitting those high notes. Now I need to see her sing her face off as Elphaba ๐Ÿ’š. Dream ๐Ÿ’š.

Mindy Khaling’s books ๐Ÿ“š:

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)

Why Not Me?

I am going to be honest – I knew of Mindy Khaling but was not familiar with her work. I didn’t regularly watch The Office (shame on me) or SNL, but I knew she was funny and added her books to the list of memoirs I wanted to read. Side bar: I love reading memoirs because it affords me a sense of connecting, people fascinate me, and I like to go behind the scenes of people’s lives. Well these books did not disappoint. They were hilarious, insightful and even poignant. Definitely, a fun light read.

I Can Barely Take Care of Myself – Tales from a Happy Life without Kids by Jen Kirkman.

So I found this book ๐Ÿ“– at Barnes and Noble and the title intrigued me as well as was relatable. I bought it on a whim without knowing much about the author. This book was another one that did not disappoint. The self-deprecating humor was hysterical and her honesty and vulnerability is commendable ๐Ÿ’œ. She doesn’t take herself too seriously, which is refreshing. Well her book made it on my very exclusive ๐Ÿ˜‰ “Must Read Memoirs List”.

You’re Never Weird on the Internet (almost) by Felicia Day

I am so glad that Goodreads recommended this book. Joss Whedon is my favorite as he is one of the masterminds behind the Marvel Avengers movies ๐ŸŽฅ, but I was not familiar with Felicia Day and her work. I took a leap of faith and it paid off. Her unabashed nerdiness spoke to me, and she became my spirit animal (don’t judge me). Definitely an excellent addition to my memoirs list…

P.S. Love the dress ๐Ÿ‘— she is wearing on the front cover.

Dog Medicine- How My Dog ๐Ÿถ Saved Me From Myself by Julie Barton

This memoir definitely took some courage to start reading, continue reading and finish reading. It was a raw look into a life with depression, hitting rock bottom, making an unbreakable bond with a dog and making is safely to the other side. I applaud Julie Barton for having the courage to open up her heart ๐Ÿ’œ, scars and all, be vulnerable, and share her journey with her readers. I initially wanted to read this book ๐Ÿ“– because I suffer from depression and my dogs save my life on a daily basis. This book inspired me and impacted me. Please read this book โค๏ธ.

Kingdom Keepers by Ridley Pearson

(All 12 books – See my review and an in depth look in my previous blog post –

My Disney nerdiness ๐Ÿค“ is satisfied!

Year of Yes – How to Dance it Out, Stand in the Sun, and Be Your Own Person by Shonda Rhimes

Another Goodreads recommendation and enticing title. Inspirational, encouraging and humorous. You know a book is good when you start highlighting quotes and sentences! Another great addition to the memoirs list!

Hamilton: The Revolution by Lin Manuel Miranda

So much yes! Another triple threat of a book: theater, favorite musical, and a behind the scenes look. If you don’t know about the Broadway Musical, Hamilton, by Lin Manuel Miranda, who also played the lead, I don’t know if we can be friends. Hamilton exploded onto the scene and is so widely popular that tickets are hard to come by (2 minutes after a theater near me started selling tickets, there were 34,000 people in line ONLINE!!!!!!!!!) or you have to take out a small mortgage to afford it. Don’t get me wrong – totally worth it – but still, above my pay grade! This musical is breaking down social barriers, where a friend of mine is Asian and playing the role of George Washington or another performer that I have worked with who is half Japanese and plays the title role of Hamilton. Who knew that rapping and Hamilton could coexistโ‰๏ธ I have the soundtrack on repeat and hope one day to be “in the room where it happens” – like I said before, I’m starting to see how Aaron Burr feels. Back to the book. So the cover has a vintage feel with vintage looking pages, which is a throwback to Hamilton’s time and amazing unto itself. Then, you crack open the book and you can hear angelic singing. Most if not all of this musical is sung. This book includes the lyrics for all the songs, and you bet I played each and every song as I encountered them in the book and sang along. The book chronicles the journey from start to finish of creating and performing this show – giving us a rare glimpse behind the curtain. This show has SO MUCH heart and passion and emotion ๐Ÿ™Œ๐Ÿป. My passion for theater ๐ŸŽญ and my nerdiness is showing. Read this book!! Go to Amazon now and buy this book- I will wait….

Next up is inspirational memoirs by two young female gymnasts who have accomplished more in the first 20 years of life than most do in a lifetime…

I Got This – To Gold and Beyond by Laurie Hernandez

I knew that Laurie is an Olympic Gold ๐Ÿ…Medalist, Dancing With the Stars Mirrorball Champion and a bundle of energy. I enjoyed to dig a little deeper and get to know more about her story. She is know as the “Human Emoji”, and I love how she incorporated that into her book by having a different emoji for each chapter. A fun, enjoyable read.

A Courage to Soar – A Life in Balance by Simone Biles

She is also an Olympic Gold Medalist ๐Ÿ…and a Dancing With the Stars competitor. I was unaware of all the struggles she endured in her life, particularly at the beginning of her life. I loved that she included an inspirational quote before each chapter (I’m going to share those in another post ๐Ÿ’œ). Another inspiring and enlightening read.

The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines

Capital Gaines by Chip Gaines

โ€œSometimes the messiest stuff and the biggest mistakes can take you someplace wonderfulโ€. I have been watching Fixer Upper during a season in my life where medical issues have kept me out of work. I wanted to know more about them and was excited to read their biography. This book was heartwarming and inspirational to me. I felt like I was sitting down having a conversation with the Gaines family on the farm. I admire their vulnerability, humility and transparency they exhibited in this book with the trials and tribulations they endured. I have fallen in love with this couple and their family even more after reading this book and hope to travel to Waco, TX one day to see their hard work and heart/passion in person. I definitely want to try all the baked goods at the bakery. I definitely relate to Jo in particular, and just like the Gaines family, I love blessing lives whenever and whereever possible. We need more Chip and Johanna Gaines in this world. I am excited to continue watching reruns and the few new episodes left of Fixer Upper. I am sad that the show is coming to an end, but I definitely respect their decision to focus on their family with the new little one on the way.

This was an absolutely phenomenal book and different from their first book, The Magnolia Story. I enjoyed seeing Chipโ€™s unique personality shine through each and every page. The personal touches, such as including his handwriting and fun phrases, made this book so special. I enjoyed the โ€œintermissionโ€ that explained the reasoning behind the photo on the book cover and so glad that he listened to his gut and chose it. This book not only was full of humor, but full of inspiration and nuggets of truth and honesty. I felt inspired walking away from this book. I look forward to reading it again and hope they write future books!

Furiously Happy – A Funny Book About Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson

CLIFFHANGER – Read an upcoming new blog post to see my thoughts on this wickedly funny book where the author unabashedly shares her life with depression and chronic illness.

๐Ÿ“–Share your comments below ๐Ÿ“š.

-The Dramatic Ginger

One thought on “Goodreads Reading Challenge 2018 ๐Ÿ“š.

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