Tag Archives: summer

Arm Yourself with the Best

iGnite team

The iGnite team during our 2015 summer boat outing

Point to Ponder:
Are the five people you spend the most time with causing you to give up on your dreams, or do they nurture your dreams and your life?

“If we surround ourselves with people who are successful, who are forward-moving, who are positive, who are focused on producing results, who will support us, it will challenge us to be more, do more and share more. If you surround yourself with people who will never let you settle for less than you can be, you have the greatest gift that anyone can hope for.”
– Anthony Robbins

by Neissa Brown Springmann

by Neissa Brown Springmann

It was just over nine years ago that my short, yet colorful life journey began making sense. All of the “who, why, and what for” puzzle pieces created a vivid and crystal clear picture of my purpose, which is when I created iGnite. The process wasn’t sophisticated nor predictable. Rather, it consisted of a few meetings with a dear friend and mentor at Starbucks where I revealed my heart’s desire and vision, coupled with challenging questions and critical thinking. Within a few weeks I answered his tough questions, though my business brainchild remained nameless. We both recognized that the name had to be something I loved, and that conveyed an inspirational, energetic and timeless message. As we tossed around different ideas he said, “it sounds like you want to ignite their lives!” “YES!”, I shouted. He smiled, I wrote it down, and the rest is history.

I love to share and reminisce about that story simply because of its spontaneous nature. There are also many more stories like this, all of which have provided me with unforeseeable lessons and growth opportunities over the past nine years. One of the most important pieces of advice that has provided me with the most personal and professional value, is “Be intentional with whom you surround yourself with, and arm yourself with the best.”

iGnite began the first Monday in October of 2006, and by February I had hired a professional business coach, Michelle Ewalt, who I worked with for three years. She was aware of all of my thoughts, plans, and ideas for iGnite, which for a one-woman show was a giant feat. She also knew that Russell and I wanted to have children one day, so during a meeting she suggested I spend my time determining the five, non-negotiable characteristics I wanted in an iGnite leader. I explained that I wasn’t interested in sharing this business with anyone else, simply because I couldn’t imagine another person loving and caring for our members and aligning with the vision as I did. But what she knew that I didn’t know at the time was this; “no branch can bear fruit by itself, it must remain on the vine.” (John 15:4). I realize this verse has much greater meaning beyond my situation, but Michelle knew that on my own, the mission would not be fruitful. She also knew that if I wanted to see my personal goals come true, like having a family, forming a team was essential. And so, that exact day I identified and wrote down the five, non-negotiable characteristics of an iGnite team member. Within one year, the inspiring and wonderful women began appearing, and continue to, which currently make up what I think is the most beautiful, talented and special team in all of Austin and beyond. As a result, our membership is a mirror-image of our team, making up a spectacular community of love, health and kindness. The fruit is rich and we are blessed!

One of the unforeseeable lessons I learned is that in order for me to give my gift, which is the ability to personally and professionally give and be the best Neissa and pursue my dreams and passions, it can’t happen alone, and I must arm myself with the best. Per the words of the late world class track athlete Steve Prefontaine, “to give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.” I’ve decided that I don’t want to sacrifice my gift, and so with intention I not only arm myself with those who are the best at what they do (both personally and professionally), but I also arm myself with people who are better than me (personally and professionally) so I can up my game, grow, and become my best. As the late Jim Rohn says, “we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with.”

This week I invite you to be intentional with me and arm yourself with the best so you don’t sacrifice your gift. And, so we can be our best, we must constantly be evaluating and asking ourselves the following questions from Jim Rohn: “Who am I around? What are they doing to me? What have they got me reading? What have they got me saying? Where do they have me going? What do they have me thinking? And most important, what do they have me becoming? Then ask yourself the big question. Is that okay? Life does not get better by chance. It gets better by change.”

Action Item:
Make a short list of the five characteristics of the people you want and need in your life that can help you become your best.

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Enjoy the Great Outdoors

iGnite - Enjoy the Outdoors

 

by Alli Phillips

by Alli Phillips

I encourage you to watch this short video summarizing new research on the positive effects of outdoor exercise on emotional state and mental health. What I find especially interesting is the finding that not all outdoor exercise is equal in its effects on our mental/emotional health…. Supporting what most outdoor exercise enthusiasts and iGniters already know, the research indicates that exercise in natural outdoor environments has a greater effect on mood and mental-emotional health than exercise in man-made outdoor environments. Although similar in some short-term affects on physical health, exercise in nature compared to indoor or even other outdoor “city-dweller” environments, is vastly more effective in improving mental and emotional state, and therefore important for overall health in the long-term.

Living in Austin, we have so many great opportunities to workout in nature.
Here are some suggestions:

Running/Hiking:
Barton Creek Greenbelt
Bull Creek Trail
Brushy Creek Trails
River Place Preserve Trails
Walnut Creek Trails
McKinney Falls Trails
Hamilton Pool Nature Trail

Swimming or Water-Running/Treading:
Barton Springs Pool
Twin Falls on Barton Creek
Bull Creek
Hippy Hollow
Hamilton Pool

I do hope you’ll get out and enjoy the great outdoors right here in Austin! Add hiking and/or swimming in nature to your summer bucket list…It’s cheaper and more effective than therapy and medicine!

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Staying Fit in the Summer Heat: Training Tips & Building Your Heat Tolerance

Tips for Staying Fit in the Summer Heat

by Alli Phillips

by Alli Phillips

With the hot summer months quickly approaching, let’s talk about how we can best beat the heat and continue to enjoy outdoor exercise during those sometimes brutal summer months with a smile on our faces!

Your body acclimates to heat in a number of ways, and by cautiously training in the heat to improve the efficiency of your body’s “cooling system,” you will not only be able to better tolerate high temps and humidity (like we have here in Austin), but you’ll also be able to continue to participate in and enjoy your favorite outdoor activities and exercise classes — and may even be motivated to try some new ones!

Here are some important facts about training in the heat and a few tips for building heat tolerance:

Acclimating to Heat

  • The Body Mechanics: The body acclimates to heat with changes in circulation, increased blood flow to the skin for cooling, increased sweat production, and decreased sweat electrolyte concentration.  As you adapt and acclimate to heat, the body begins sweating earlier in exercise, produces a greater volume of sweat, and produces more dilute sweat (losing fewer electrolytes).
  • How to Safely Acclimate: Gradually increasing the duration of exercise in hot conditions allows the body to safely acclimate. With repeated, but cautious and gradual increases in daily exposure, acclimation occurs within 10-14 days, depending on your initial level of heat tolerance.

Tips for Better Cooling Your Body

  • It is the evaporation of sweat (not sweating itself) that cools the body, so wear wicking fabrics that allow sweat to evaporate and light colors that reflect the sun (dark colors absorb sunlight, and thus, heat).
  • Avoid exercising in the direct sun, but rather seek out green shadey spots and trails (versus heat-absorbing pavement), preferably near water where air movement and breezes aid in the evaporative cooling of sweat.

Hydration 101

Because as you adapt and acclimate to heat the body begins sweating earlier in exercise, produces a greater volume of sweat, and produces more dilute sweat (losing fewer electrolytes), PRE-hydration, hydration DURING, and RE-hydration are crucial!

Therefore, increase your overall water/fluid intake during the 24 hours prior to a bout of exercise in the heat. More specifically:

  • 1-2 hours beforehand, drink 15-20 oz of water
  • 15 minutes beforehand, drink another 8-10 oz
  • During, drink 6-8 oz every 15 minutes
  • Afterward, continue to rehydrate, drinking 15-20 oz within an hour or two

Keep In Mind!

Be aware that although your body can and will acclimate to hot temps, you will not be able to exercise at the same intensity as you do in a “thermo-neutral” environment.

  • With the changes in circulation to aid in cooling, more blood is sent to the skin for evaporation, less blood is available to the working muscles, and therefore the intensity of exercise must be reduced.
  • When you’re running or cycling in the heat, use a “rating of perceived effort” or “feel” to gauge the intensity of exercise, instead of your watch, as your pace/speed will be slower than at the same effort level in moderate/mild conditions. (Runners and cyclists should let go of any pace/time-based goals for the summer months.)

Even after acclimating, exercise in extreme temps always requires extreme caution. The following are symptoms of heat related illness and heat stroke. If you experience any of these, take immediate steps to cool down and seek medical attention.
Symptoms of Heat Stress/Illness:

  • Headache
  • Cold, moist skin
  • Chills
  • Dizziness
  • Muscle cramps
  • Weak or rapid pulse
  • Fast shallow breathing
  • Nausea
  • High body temp (103+)

Adjust Your Route

Finally, when running and/or cycling this summer, plan new routes that start, finish, and/or include stops at pools, splash pads, and natural “watering holes,” to cool off, rehydrate, refuel, and ENJOY AUSTIN!

Here, I’ve put together a few cool spots to cool off here in central Austin:

  • Barton Springs Pool/Spillway
  • Deep Eddy Pool
  • West Enfield Pool
  • Big Stacy Pool
  • Ramsey Pool
  • NorthWest Park Pool
  • Clarksville West Austin Wading Pool
  • Little Stacy Wading Pool
  • Butler Park Splash Pad
  • Pease Park Splash Pad
  • Bailey Park Splash Pad
  • Clarksville Splash Pad

Visit austintexas.gov/pools for pool/splash-pad locations, hours, and more info.

Last, but not Least…

One more suggestion for staying cool this summer while enjoying fitness and fun…don’t just exercise near water — take the plunge and try these activities IN the water:

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Go-To, Healthy Summer Dinners

We all get into routines when it comes to at-home cooking. It’s simply a lot of effort tracking down new recipes and thinking of new things to cook, right? We couldn’t agree more, so we asked the iGnite Leaders for some of their favorite go-to dinners to provide you with fresh inspiration for healthy dinners to prepare at home. No more boring dinners!

Neissa Neissa’s Pick: Salmon + Quinoa + a Big Delicious Green Salad

Molly Molly’s Pick: Quesadillas Loaded with Veggies
(recipe below)

Kathleen Kathleen’s Pick : Turkey Burgers and Corn Salad
(recipes below)

Cary Fyfe Cary’s Pick: Tilapia (olive oil and lemon) + Roasted Mixed Potatoes (regular and sweet) + Spinach/Arugula  Salad with Pecans & Sweet Yellow Tomatoes (…and a brownie for dessert!)

 Amy’s Pick: Chilled Gazpacho + Pistachio Spinach Salad + Crusty  Olive Bread
(recipes below)

Catherine Hearn Catherine’s Pick: Roasted Chicken Breast + Baked Sweet Potatoes with  Oregano + Kale Salad with chopped Walnuts & Dried  Cranberries
(recipes below)

FEATURED RECIPES: 

Photo: Southern Living

Photo: Southern Living

Kathleen’s Summer Go-To: Turkey Burgers and Corn Salad
“Really fast & easy!”

TURKEY BURGERS
2 lb. Italian Seasoned Ground Turkey (two 1 lb.pkgs from grocery store)
Chopped Red Onion
2 Cups Chopped Spinach (I just use the frozen package and thaw it)

  1. Mix all together and make burgers!
  2. Cook in oven or on Grill.

CORN SALAD
3 Cans Shoe Peg Corn
3 Cans Black Beans drained and rinsed
1 Chopped Red Pepper
1 bunch Chopped Cilantro
1 bunch Chopped Green Onions
Salt and Pepper
DRESSING: 1/2 c. Red Wine Vinegar and 1/2 c. Olive Oil mixed together– just pour over and chill!!

Amy’s Go-To: A big healthy bowl of chilled Gazpacho along with Pistachio Spinach Salad and Crusty Olive Bread

Photo: cookistry.com

Photo: cookistry.com

WHOLE FOODS GAZPACHO
1 large onion
1 1/2 lbs. tomatoes, seeded
2 large cucumbers, seeded
1 medium red pepper, seeded
1/2 cup fresh cilantro (I like more!)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cups tomato puree
1 cup tomato juice
1 Tbls. lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste
1/8 cup good quality balsamic vinegar

  1. Combine the olive oil, tomato puree, tomato juice, and lemon juice in a large bowl.
  2. Pour half the liquid ingredients into a Vitamix or blender and add half the onion, tomatoes, pepper and cilantro, roughly chopped. Pulse to chop coarsely. Repeat with the remaining vegetable and liquid ingredients.
  3. Combine both batches in a large container.
  4. Add salt and pepper to taste, and blend in the balsamic vinegar.
  5. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours, but preferably overnight.
  6. Add fresh cilantro before serving and drizzle some good quality extra virgin olive oil over the top (optional.)

SPINACH SALAD WITH PISTACHIOS (easy, healthy and Paleo-friendly)
5 ounces baby spinach
1/2 cup roasted pistachios
1/2 cup dried cherries
MUSTARD ORANGE DRESSING
2 Tbls. olive extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbls. balsamic vinegar
1 Tbls. orange juice, freshly squeezed
1 tsp. dijon mustard

  1.  In a large salad bowl, toss together spinach, pistachios and cherries
  2. In a jar, combine olive oil, vinegar, orange juice, mustard and shake well
  3. Drizzle the dressing over the salad
  4. Toss and serve
Photo: allrecipes.com

Photo: allrecipes.com

Catherine’s favorite: EASY BAKED SWEET POTATOES WITH OREGANO
(Makes 4 servings)

2 tablespoons olive oil
3 large sweet potatoes
2 pinches dried oregano
2 pinches salt
2 pinches ground black pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat the bottom of a glass or non-stick baking dish with olive oil, just enough to coat.
  2. Wash and peel the sweet potatoes. Cut them into medium size pieces. Place the cut sweet potatoes in the baking dish and turn them so that they are coated with the olive oil. Sprinkle moderately with oregano, and salt and pepper (to taste).
  3. Bake in a preheated 350 degrees F oven for 60 minutes or until soft.
Photo: myrecipes.com

Photo: myrecipes.com

Molly’s quick & easy go-to: QUESADILLAS LOADED WITH VEGGIES
Corn tortillas
Refried black beans
Any and all veggies….spinach, onion, bell pepper, avocado (or pre-made  guacamole)
Salsa
Cheese to your liking
Add any other protein you’d like (preferably a lean protein such as chicken, shrimp, etc.)

What are YOUR favorite healthy summer dinners? Leave a comment and share your ideas

18 Great Summertime Movies

If there’s a perfect time for watching light, fun, feel-good movies it’s summer.  So on your next night in, pour yourself a glass a wine, maybe invite over a girlfriend or two and sit back, escape and be entertained — these get our vote for some of the best summer movies of all time!

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1. The Bucket List (2007) 
2. Dirty Dancing (1987)
3. Eat Pray Love (2010)

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4. Forrest Gump (1994)
5. Fried Green Tomatoes (1991)
6. A Good Year (2006)

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7. Grease (1978)
8. The Help (2011)
9. Mrs. Doubtfire (1993)

MV5BMTU1NDk1MTkzMF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMzY0MDQ1NA@@._V1_SX214_ MV5BMjE2MzY1MzY0MV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwOTQxNTAzMQ@@._V1_SY317_CR2,0,214,317_ The Proposal

10. Mystic Pizza (1988)
11. The Parent Trap (1961)
12. The Proposal (2009)

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13. Safe Haven (2013)
14. The Sandlot (1993)
15. Sex & The City 2 (2010)

MV5BMTY0NjgyNzUwNl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMDkxNjgyMQ@@._V1_SX214_ Sleepless in Seattle  MV5BMTAxMTE4MTIyNTFeQTJeQWpwZ15BbWU2MDUxNDEyNw@@._V1_SY317_CR0,0,214,317_

16. Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (2005)
17. Sleepless in Seattle (1993)
18. Under the Tuscan Sun (2003)

Know of others  you think we should have on this list? Share them in the comments section below.

5 Rules to Safely Exercise in Summer Heat

by Catherine Hearn

by Catherine Hearn

Summer is HOT in Texas, this we know. With average high temperatures for June and July in the mid-90s, we often find ourselves avoiding the outdoors and consequently missing out on the energizing, rejuvenating and relaxing benefits of spending time in nature. This summer, instead of letting the heat dictate your plans for you, enjoy the heat smartly so that you can still enjoy being active and outside. How so? Plan your time outdoors strategically by scheduling outdoor activities as close to sunrise and sunset as possible. For us Austinites, that means around 6:30am and 8:25pm. On the other hand, if you do find yourself exercising outdoors during the heat of the day, here are a few pointers to help keep you safe and as comfortable as possible:

  1. Hydrate! Drink fluids before you feel thirsty, as thirst is not a good indicator of either dehydration or fluid needs.
  2. Allow yourself to acclimatize to exercising in the heat (which can take 10-14 days). Until your body is completely adjusted to the intense heat, reduce the intensity of your exercise.
  3. Dress as lightly as possible and in fabrics that breathe or wick away moisture. The more loose-fitting the better!
  4. Wear sunscreen with a rating of at least 20-30
  5. Always wear a hat if you will be exposed to direct sun rays. The head is a prominent place to gain heat, not just to lose it!

Long story short, don’t dread the Texas summer heat — outsmart it!

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24 Great Summer Reads

by Catherine Hearn

by Catherine Hearn

Summer has arrived, and we are having visions of lying in a hammock with a great book. So, we asked some of our bookaholic iGnite members (thank you Leslie McConnico, Jane Flieller and Kathy Huffaker!) what they recommend curling up with this summer. So here you have it — straight from our Monarchs themselves — our Great Summer Reads:

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And The Mountains Echoed, by Khaled Hosseini (author of The Kite Runner | New novel about how we love, how we take care of one another, and how the choices we make resonate through generations. This one is hard to put down!

Angle of Repose and Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner | “These are modern classics in my opinion.  Though very different, both are wonderful, insightful novels that have lots of personal insights.”  -Kathy H.

The Aviator’s Wife by Melanie Benjamin (Historic Fiction) | In the spirit of Loving Frank and The Paris Wife, acclaimed novelist Melanie Benjamin pulls back the curtain on the marriage of one of America’s most extraordinary couples: Charles Lindbergh and Anne Morrow Lindbergh.

Beyond the Sky and Earth: a Journey into Bhutan by Jamie Zeppa | “The author shows great courage in taking a job for 2 years teaching English in a remote Himalayan village and her eyes  were opened (as well as mine) to a very different culture, mindset and spiritualty.  It is much more than just a travel book.” -Kathy H.

Charlotte’s Web (Audio Book) by E. B. White | “Although this is a children’s classic, when E. B. White reads it everyone will love it.” -Kathy H.

Citizens of London by Lynne Olson  | This is a behind-the-scenes story of how the United States forged its wartime alliance with Britain, told from the perspective of three key American players in London.  “If you like history, this book gives great detail of WWII.” -Jane F.

  myantonia     

The Color of Water: A Black Man’s Tribute to his White Mother by James McBride | “Very powerful!” -Kathy H.     Amazon Summary: The biracial son of a Jewish mother tells the story of how she raised her 12 children” in the poor, all-black projects of Red Hook, Brooklyn. “Mommy,” a fiercely protective woman with “dark eyes full of pep and fire,” herded her brood to Manhattan’s free cultural events, sent them off on buses to the best (and mainly Jewish) schools, demanded good grades, and commanded respect.

Julia Child: My Life in France (Audio Book) by Julia Child“The story in her own words (read by Flo Salant Greenberg). Julia tells about her years in France where she learned to cook and found her true calling.” -Kathy H.

My Antonia by Willa Cather | “Published in 1918 it is the last in her “prairie trilogy”.  I consider it a classic.  It is beautifully written and is a book you can relax into.  It is the story of several immigrant families who move to rural Nebraska.  Anything by Willa Cather is a step back in time  but a look into that time that will engross you.” -Kathy H.

The One Thing by Gary Keller (self help book)  | The ONE Thing is about getting extraordinary results in every situation.   What’s the ONE Thing you can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?  Gary Keller has identified that behind every successful person is their ONE Thing.  “I wanted to read this book since Gary Keller is the cofounder and chairman of the board of Keller Williams Realty International, which is the largest real estate franchising company in the U.S.  He built this company from a single office in Austin, TX by using his skills as a teacher, trainer, and coach. Gary defines leadership as ‘teaching people how to think the way they need to think so they can do what they need to do when they need to do it, so they can get what they want when they want it.’ Gary’s ONE Thing is teaching.” -Jane F.

The Palace Walk by Naquib Mahfouz | This is the first in The Cairo Trilogy.  This trilogy starts in the 1920s in Cairo. These books give me a look into a culture that I knew nothing about.  This trilogy could keep you engrossed all summer!” -Kathy H.   Amazon summary:   The novels of The Cairo Trilogy trace three generations of the family of tyrannical patriarch Al-Sayyid Ahmad Abd al-Jawad, who rules his household with a strict hand while living a secret life of self-indulgence.

The Paris Wife by Paula McClain | “I loved this book and didn’t want it to end.  It is the story of the love affair and betrayal of the famous couple Ernest Hemmingway and his first wife Hadley.  Set in Paris in the 1920s during the time of Gertrude Stein and her famous Salons.  So interesting!”  -Kathy H.

Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett | “Published in 1989 it is set in the 12th century and tells the story of the architects, builders and the peoples around the building of gothic architecture, most specifically, the cathedrals.  It is a long, exciting, gripping read. It was also an Oprah Book Club choice.” -Kathy H.
      

Promised Lands by Elizabeth Crook | “This historical fiction novel chronicles the Texas Rebellion and the scene about the Battle for Goliad stayed with me for a long time.  It is my favorite Texas historical novel so far!” -Kathy H.

Rules of Civility by Amor Towles | Amazon Summary: This sophisticated and entertaining first novel presents the story of a young woman whose life is on the brink of transformation. On the last night of 1937, twenty-five-year-old Katey Kontent is in a second-rate Greenwich Village jazz bar when Tinker Grey, a handsome banker, happens to sit down at the neighboring table. This chance encounter and its startling consequences propel Katey on a year-long journey into the upper echelons of New York society—where she will have little to rely upon other than a bracing wit and her own brand of cool nerve. With its sparkling depiction of New York’s social strata, its intricate imagery and themes, and its immensely appealing characters, Rules of Civility won the hearts of readers and critics alike.

The Shoemaker’s Wife by Adriana Trigiani | Amazon Summary: Beloved New York Times bestselling author Adriana Trigiani returns with the most epic and ambitious novel of her career—a breathtaking multigenerational love story that spans two continents, two World Wars, and the quest of two star-crossed lovers to find each other again. The Shoemaker’s Wife is replete with the all the page-turning adventure, sumptuous detail, and heart-stopping romance that has made Adriana Trigiani, “one of the reigning queens of women’s fiction” (USA Today). Fans of Trigiani’s sweeping family dramas like Big Stone Gap and Lucia, Lucia will love her latest masterpiece, a book Kathryn Stockett, author of The Help, calls “totally new and completely wonderful: a rich, sweeping epic which tells the story of the women and men who built America dream by dream.”

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See | “This is a wonderful story of friendship set in 19th century China in the time of bound feet and almost total seclusion of the wives and daughters.  The story is told by the 80 year old Snow Flower looking back at her life.” -Kathy H.

South of Broad by Pat Conroy | “Makes you want to travel to  Charleston.” -Leslie M.    Amazon Summary:  Leopold Bloom King has been raised in a family shattered—and shadowed—by tragedy. Lonely and adrift, he searches for something to sustain him and finds it among a tightly knit group of high school outsiders. Surviving marriages happy and troubled, unrequited loves and unspoken longings, hard-won successes and devastating breakdowns, as well as Charleston, South Carolina’s dark legacy of racism and class divisions, these friends will endure until a final test forces them to face something none of them are prepared for.  Spanning two turbulent decades, South of Broad is Pat Conroy at his finest: a masterpiece from a great American writer whose passion for life and language knows no bounds.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Audio Book) by Betty Smith | “This audio book is so engrossing, an American Classic.  You will laugh and cry and wish it wouldn’t end.” -Kathy H.

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand  Amazon Summary: On a May afternoon in 1943, an Army Air Forces bomber crashed into the Pacific Ocean and disappeared, leaving only a spray of debris and a slick of oil, gasoline, and blood.  Then, on the ocean surface, a face appeared.  It was that of a young lieutenant, the plane’s bombardier, who was struggling to a life raft and pulling himself aboard.  So began one of the most extraordinary odysseys of the Second World War. The lieutenant’s name was Louis Zamperini | In boyhood, he’d been a cunning and incorrigible delinquent, breaking into houses, brawling, and fleeing his home to ride the rails.  As a teenager, he had channeled his defiance into running, discovering a prodigious talent that had carried him to the Berlin Olympics and within sight of the four-minute mile.  But when war had come, the athlete had become an airman, embarking on a journey that led to his doomed flight, a tiny raft, and a drift into the unknown. Ahead of Zamperini lay thousands of miles of open ocean, leaping sharks, a foundering raft, thirst and starvation, enemy aircraft, and, beyond, a trial even greater.  Driven to the limits of endurance, Zamperini would answer desperation with ingenuity; suffering with hope, resolve, and humor; brutality with rebellion.  His fate, whether triumph or tragedy, would be suspended on the fraying wire of his will. In her long-awaited new book, Laura Hillenbrand writes with the same rich and vivid narrative voice she displayed in Seabiscuit.  Telling an unforgettable story of a man’s journey into extremity, Unbroken is a testament to the resilience of the human mind, body, and spirit. Sidenote: the author’s story is really interesting too! 

  

A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson | “This is such a fun read, as are all Bill Bryson’s books about his travels!  He sets out to walk the Appalachian trail with an overweight, smoking, donut eating high school friend.  Very funny.  His books are also great as audio books, as he reads them himself.” -Kathy H. 

Wild by Cheryl Strayed | “This is a ‘wild’ story of a young woman rocked by the death of her mother and divorce who takes off totally unprepared to walk the Pacific Crest Trail.  Some people have a hard time getting into this story as the beginning is a bit disturbing but if you stick with it you will be alternately entertained, horrified and enlightened.  I loved this story.” -Kathy H.

Wild Swans: the Three Daughters of China by Jung Chang | “This is one of my favorite reads. It is not a short read, but worth every page.”  -Kathy H.   Amazon description: The story of three generations in twentieth-century China, it is an engrossing record of Mao’s impact on China, an unusual window on the female experience in the modern world, and an inspiring tale of courage and love.