In my 30 Before 30 list I made last year, I mentioned I wanted to read 100 more books in seven years. I’ve already read probably more than 50, so I’m in good shape to make that goal (full update coming after my birthday later this month), but I wanted to make it more interesting by incorporating more classics into my reading.

I didn’t just mindlessly add the most well-known classics, I looked at synopses and reviews to find the ones I’d actually read and enjoy! Here are 30 classic books I want to read before I’m 30 in t-minus six years:

  1. Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
  2. The Fellowship of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien
  3. The Two Towers by J. R. R. Tolkien
  4. The Return of the King by J. R. R. Tolkien
  5. The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien: Okay, call it cheating to make LoTR 13% of this list, but I’m really excited to read them all. Not to mention my dad already owns them all.
  6. And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
  7. Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs: Although there are several of these books, I’d like to start with just one.
  8. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller: I (my grandma) already owns this one.
  9. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho: I remember reading this in my senior year of high school and liking it, I’m sure I’ll appreciate it even more now. I (my grandma) already owns this one.
  10. All Quiet On the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
  11. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey: I bought this just a few weeks ago, I’m especially keen for this one, too.
  12. The Princess Bride by William Goldman
  13. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
  14. Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
  15. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
  16. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  17. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  18. 1984 by George Orwell: I tried to read this earlier this year and couldn’t get into it for the second time. Now it’s just principle I have to finish it, damn it.
  19. The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
  20. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
  21. Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White
  22. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
  23. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury: Like 1984, I DNF’ed this one a few years ago too. Let’s see how it has aged…
  24. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas: I adore the movie and even though the book is really long, I’m excited to give it a go.
  25. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
  26. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  27. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
  28. The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton: I read both this and Brave New World in middle school and didn’t have any strong opinions about it but am eager to try again.
  29. The Call of the Wild by Jack London: Puppy!
  30. Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens

Which of these classics are your favorites?

Photo by Bundo Kim.

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Here are my top five posts from all categories:

  1. I got my bellybutton pierced: Piercings can work miracles for body parts you’re insecure about (for me, it was my boobs), I love this post.
  2. Best hostel experience: I’m usually not one to share review posts, but this hostel is the best I’ve ever stayed in, too! I stayed in Kick Ass on both my Edinburgh trips in 2016 and 2018.
  3. A to Z of blogging: So many great useful tips!
  4. I’m pledging to offset my carbon footprint when flying: As someone who loves travel but also an environmental advocate, I’m often torn with how to balance the two. Now I know.
  5. 5 quick tips to read more books: I agree with a lot of the points in this post and have a few of my own! Maybe I’ll make a post on it, too…

Science, sustainability and veganism

General travel and study abroad

Travel destinations

Lifestyle

Entertainment

Blogging

Photo by Andrew Knechel.

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As a reminder, here is how I rate my books:

  • (★★★★★): Loved it
  • (★★★★): Really liked it
  • (★★★): Didn’t hate it, didn’t love it
  • (★★): Barely finished it

Another few notes: I will warn if there are any spoilers with (start spoiler) and (end spoiler) so you know when to stop reading and pick up again if you don’t want to ruin the book for yourself. I no longer go out of my way to watch adaptions, but will continue to mention them and their general critiques (from Rotten Tomatoes) in my reviews.

Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton

81rBVCDfrgLRating: ★★★

Genre: Science fiction

GoodReads rating:  4.00 / 5 (726,000 ratings)

Medium used: E-reader (borrowed from library via OverDrive)

Date started/ finished: 14/3 – 18/3

Summary: New technology have allowed mankind to resurrect dinosaurs funded by a wealthy enthusiast hoping to create an amusement park to display these magnificent creatures. However, the park falls apart when the animals act unpredictably and there is not enough man power to take back control.

Thoughts: Have you ever read a book and the movie was way better? This is the one. Although the beginning was strong, the writing didn’t match up with the excitement of the movie. Plus, the characters were kind of awful, especially the kids and Malcolm (I’m sorry, Jeff Goldblum). The kids were obnoxious (I guess the author had to make them convincing) and Malcolm was just put into the story for some fake-deep one-liners that nobody understood. Good plot, but the writing could have been better and the characters more memorable.

Other adaptations: Obviously, the 1993 movie was a massive success, with sequels still being made to this day. It’s one of my all-time favorite movies that’s absolutely timeless (pun intended).

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

51VFrzslYiLRating: ★★★★

Genre: Fiction, romance

GoodReads rating: 4.30 / 5 (73,000 ratings)

Medium used: E-reader (borrowed from library via OverDrive)

Date started/ finished: 1/4 – 6/4

Summary: When an amateur journalist is given the opportunity to interview an elusive old Hollywood superstar, there is one questions on everyone’s mind: what happened to the seven husbands that Evelyn Hugo outlived?

Thoughts: I thought the story was a good look into the lives of movie stars and that celebrities’ lives quite aren’t always what they seem. The different husbands represent very distinct times in Evelyn’s life and provide a good medium for the narrative. However, (start spoiler) there was quite a lot of build-up around the fact that she outlived her husbands and must have done something messed up, but only the deaths of one or two of her husbands were even mentioned in the end, and even they weren’t climactic in any way (end spoiler). Not entirely what I was expecting, but still a good read.

Stiff: The Curious Life of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach

Stiff_The_Curious_Lives_of_Human_Cadavers_coverRating: ★★★★

Genre: Nonfiction, science, medical

GoodReads rating:  4.06 / 5 (150,000 ratings)

Medium used: Audiobook (borrowed from library via OverDrive)

Date started/ finished: 1/4 – 6/4

Summary: This book delves into what happens to our bodies when we die, from times old and modern, to uses from crash test dummies to anatomy lab cadavers.

Thoughts: I really enjoyed this book, it may be my favorite read of the year so far. I am a huge fan of Ask a Mortician (a.k.a. Caitlin Doughty) and her frankness with death and openness to questions from viewers. Like many others, her videos have really helped me ponder my own death in the future. This book was quite similar in that way; talking about death makes me more comfortable with the idea (again, hopefully decades and decades into the future). It was really interesting to hear about rituals from around the world and how cadavers have shaped modern science.

James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl

8114K5qzHELRating: ★★★

Genre: Children’s, fiction

GoodReads rating:  4.00 / 5 (329,000 ratings)

Medium used: E-reader (borrowed from library via OverDrive)

Date started/ finished: 8/4 – 9/4

Summary: An enchanted peach gives lonely James a chance to escape his two wicked aunts and make new friends while travelling across the world.

Thoughts: I’ve read Matilda and am currently reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and loved them both. Unfortunately, this one missed the mark a bit. Perhaps there is something more relatable about Matilda and Charlie and you’re eased into their story. I might have enjoyed it more if I was a kid, but certainly appreciate other kid’s books more.

Other adaptations: The 1996 movie is widely loved, even if I never cared for it much as a kid (it scared me).

Have you read any of these? Which did you enjoy most?

Photo by Radu Marcusu.

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Back in November, I wrote a preliminary post about planning my dream trip I’m finally taking later this year to southeast Asia with my brother Ryan.

Since then, a lot has changed to our plans, but we have most everything planned out and booked and I couldn’t be more excited!

Originally, we outlined our trip as such:

  • Spend 4D/5N in Bangkok, Thailand
  • Bangkok to Phuket, remainder of the day to explore Phuket
  • LiveAboard (3D/2N) from Phuket
  • Phuket to Kuala Lumpar, Malaysia
  • Spend 4D/3N in Kuala Lumpar before departing to Singapore
  • Spend 3D/3N in Singapore

However, with all I was suggested to do in Thailand, we have decided to just stay in Thailand for this trip. I much prefer the quality of my trips over going to another country just because, which is what I largely felt the other two destinations were. I’ve wanted to go to Thailand for the better part of a decade now and I would like to see as much there as I can.

Here is our modified plan:

  • 11 June: Depart Los Angeles
  • 12 June: Arrive Bangkok (late evening)
  • 13 June: Bangkok
  • 14 June: Bangkok
  • 15 June: Bangkok
  • 16 June: Depart Bangkok to fly to Ko Samui, transfer to Ko Phangan
  • 17 June: Scuba diving day trip, start of Full Moon Party
  • 18 June: End of Full Moon Party, nurse our hangovers
  • 19 June: Take a coach from Ko Phangan to Phuket
  • 20 June: Elephant sanctuary half-day visit
  • 21 June: LiveAboard (The Junk, southern Thailand itinerary)
  • 22 June: LiveAboard (The Junk)
  • 23 June: LiveAboard (The Junk)
  • 24 June: Phang Nga Bay daytrip
  • 25 June: Depart Bangkok (minutes past midnight) and arrive Los Angeles (early morning, time zones are a trip)

After speaking to a few people about the Full Moon Party, they said it’s a fun time, but something you only have a to do once. I know plenty of attractions like that (The Grand Canyon, London Eye, the Pyramids…) and completely understand what they mean. With the island a bit of a faff to get to, I decided it would be prudent to spend a few days there so we’re not wearing ourselves out. Plus, another place to dive!

As you can see, we’re going to be quite busy, but I’d love to hear any suggestions you have for Bangkok! We haven’t planned any activities for the big city yet.

We are mostly on track for our budget of $2,750, spending a grand on flights and a bit less than that on activities, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we barely broke the $3,000 mark for this trip.

We are also mostly geared up for the trip as well! For Christmas, I got an underwater camera and a dive computer and Ryan got a backpack for his birthday last week. I also got some new clothes and swimsuits for the trip. things we got

There are just a few things left to sort

  • Vaccinations
  • Final accommodation bookings (I’ve been e-mailing my hostel in Phuket to see if I can come a day later with no reply, I might have to re-book…)
  • Final purchases (sandals, menthol crystals, red filter for my camera, etc.)

I’m so excited for this trip, I can’t wait!

What’s your dream trip?

Photo by Wanaporn Yangsiri.

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As I mentioned in my February In Review post, I had family visit at the beginning of the month. First, my cousin Lynn, her partner and their four kids ages 2-11. They are such good kids (and so cute), but again, there’s four of them, so it was a lot! The highlight was going to Knott’s Berry Farm, where the 11-year-old rode the big kid rides with me. The day after they left, my aunt and uncle, cousin John, his partner and their kid (age 2) visited, too. Luckily, a two year old doesn’t do as much damage as the older kids did, so their visit was more low-key. The highlights were seeing Captain Marvel with John and going hiking on Santa Cruz island with John and my other local cousin Daniel (if you can’t tell, I have a pretty big family).

Then, I saw more family when I flew home with my grandpa for my mom’s birthday. We had a nice big family gathering for a few days, I just wish I could have stayed longer, especially since I was sick. Long story short, I’ve had cold-like symptoms on and off all month until earlier this week I was in a great deal of pain. It hurt to open my mouth and I could barely swallow or speak. I was told I have a peritonsillar abscess that needed to be drained by a specialist. The procedure was painful, but quick and went smoothly so hopefully that’s the last of my health woes for now.

Between bursts of being ill, I did have a chance to do fun things such as a little shopping afternoon in Ojai with my aunties and Grandma and go to a King’s game… and some not so fun things like working at my part-time job (just kidding, it’s not so bad).

Now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for. In my Goals Update post I mentioned there may not be a need to continue my “real” job hunt and I promised to talk more about why. I think I have a job starting in July! It is a fisheries observer job: I would work and live on a vessel and various plants in the north Pacific “monitoring commercial fisheries and collect data to support science, conservation, and management of U.S. marine fisheries.” This job would be perfect for where I am right now because I can have a chance to work for a few weeks to a few months at a time and then travel and/ or return home between contracts. It won’t start until July because the training takes three weeks and they want your first deployment to immediately follow your training and with my Thailand trip coming up fast, I couldn’t commit to the immediate deployment. However, although I won’t be interviewed for another two months, I’m confident in my qualifications and really hope I can have this experience!

March In Review 2018 || March In Review 2017

What I’m listening to: The Most Beautiful Moment in Life Pt. 2 by BTS, Fantasies by Metric, Fight with Tools by Flobots, Holding Absence by Holding Absence, The Story of Light Epilogue by Shinee, Is This It by The Strokes, The Physical World by Death From Above 1979, Sheezus by Lily Allen

What I’m watching: No Country for Old Men, Black Panther, Ant-Man and the Wasp, Captain Marvel, You (season 1)

What I’m reading: Check out Reading Wrap-Up posts #04 (Percy Jackson edition) and #05 for what I’ve read this month.

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