30 Books before 30

30 Books before 30

I used to be an avid reader. But, then, I went to college, graduated, got a job and prefer to spend my free time watching awesome TV shows like Modern Family and The Bachelor. Go ahead, judge me.

However, I got an iPad for Christmas, and I am very excited to start reading on it. Mainly, because I enjoy “flipping” the digital pages. It’s awesome. So I asked friends for recommendations from friends before we left on our honeymoon. I read Unbroken and The Night Circus on the trip – and they were fabulous.

While searching for new books to read, I came across this list of 30 books everyone should read before their 30th birthday. I’m embarrassed to admit that I haven’t read many of these.

  1. Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse
  2. 1984 by George Orwell
  3. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  4. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
  5. For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway
  6. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
  7. The Rights of Man by Tom Paine
  8. The Social Contract by Jean-Jacques Rousseau
  9. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  10. The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin
  11. The Wisdom of the Desert by Thomas Merton
  12. The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell
  13. The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Graham
  14. The Art of War by Sun Tzu
  15. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
  16. David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
  17. Four Quartets by T.S. Eliot – ugh, poetry?
  18. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
  19. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  20. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  21. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  22. The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli
  23. Walden by Henry David Thoreau
  24. The Republic by Plato
  25. Lolita
  26. Getting Things Done by David Allen
  27. How To Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
  28. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
  29. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
  30. The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
  31. BONUS: How To Cook Everything by Mark Bittman
  32. BONUS: Honeymoon with My Brother by Franz Wisner

I guess I know what I’ll be borrowing from the library for a while… How about you? How many of these have you read?

Pinterest: Making it Work for your Brand

Pinterest. Everyone who uses Pinterest is addicted. Everyone who gets introduced to Pinterest quickly becomes obsessed.

What’s Pinterest? Well… In short, Pinterest is a site where users save images and categorize them into “boards.” Basically a visual bookmarking service. People have boards for recipes, cool photography, places to visit, crafts to make, wedding inspiration, etc. etc.

I follow a few brands on Pinterst – including Nordstrom, Real Simple and MagnetStreet Weddings. The most prominent brands on the site are those that work in the areas of fashion, food, photography, crafts and weddings.


Today, I came across a University using Pinterest. And using it damn well. Drake University.

Run by interns in the Marketing & Communications department of the University, the account demonstrates a genius way to utilize one of the most buzzed about social networking sites of the moment, in a way that still makes sense.

Through 11 boards, these students share recipes that can be made in one’s dorm room, dorm decorating ideas, gear for the ultimate fan and alumni, and sites in and around Des Moines (where the school is located).

One of my major annoyances when it comes to social media (and I have many) is when brands jump onto the latest social network “because everyone else is doing it” and it’s really popular. However, if you don’t use it to the correct purpose or in a way that is meaningful for your potential fans/followers, what’s the point? Well, the students and staff over at Drake University have figured Pinterest out.

Now, I wonder how long it takes for other Schools to get the same idea.
Update: According to the Drake University Twitter account, the students do the vast majority of the work on the Pinterest account, with staff oversight. What awesome experience for the students as well!


Applying for an Internship

Now that you’ve scoured the Internet and found your perfect internship, it’s time to prepare your resume and submit. Of course, it’s not that easy. The most successful, desirable internship candidates do a lot of small things to stand out amongst the sea of resumes flooding the hiring manager’s inbox.


  • The organization. Spend some time on the company website. Get to know the mission, what the company does. Pick up cues on branding. Would be a bummer to talk about your desire to work at “The Target” or Supervalu (should be all caps) in your cover letter.
  • The hiring manager. Look at the organization’s website, LinkedIn, Twitter, news articles, Google. Whatever you can to avoid addressing your cover letter and email to “Whom It May Concern” or “Hiring Manager.” If you can’t determine the hiring manager, a generic greeting isn’t going to kill your opportunity, but try your best.
  • The owned properties. Are you applying for a gig in marketing? Even if you’re not, you should probably follow the organization on Twitter and LinkedIn, and like them on Facebook.
  • Your resume. Find keywords in the job description that can fit into your resume. Don’t list them verbatim, but be sure to weave them in where appropriate. Place your most applicable skills and experiences at the top of your resume. And remember: most recent experience belongs at the top. Update from Twitter recommendation: Resume length. If you are applying for an internship, your resume should be one page. One.
  • Your cover letter. Even if the job description doesn’t require a cover letter. Send one. Re-read the job description and start writing. Keep it short. Share some of your successes. Express your genuine desire to work for that company/team, use information you gathered from researching. Again, demonstrate skills that you possess that are listed in the job description. Let them know how to contact you. Do you have professional accounts on social media? If that’s applicable, include it.
Double-check everything. Spelling. Company name. Hiring Manager name. No explanation necessary.


  • Follow directions. If the job posting asks for work samples, submit them. In the past, I’ve contacted candidates to remind them of that requirement. But, most hiring managers won’t take the time and you’ll be out of the running. If they want resumes submitted via US mail, go grab an envelope and a stamp. If you don’t follow directions, I’d be surprised if you were even considered.

Sent! Don’t passively wait for them to call you. Instead, interact with their accounts online. Respond to a tweet, like a Facebook post.

However, don’t call the front desk or hiring manager every day for the next two weeks asking about the status of your resume. I’ve had candidates call me to “inquire about the internship position” and I’ve even had candidates stop by our offices to meet me, completely unannounced. Never a good strategy.

Next up? Nailing that interview.

Developing a Perspective

My blog has been live for exactly one month – and I’m starting to experience writer’s block, already. The challenges of maintaining a blog are obvious, and ones that I knew coming into this endeavor: Finding new, interesting content to update regularly, keeping me relevant to my readers. However, I find myself struggling to come up with those topics that will highlight my knowledge, opinion and endearing levels of sass.

Thus, I am drawing inspiration from a current photography project and creating a personal challenge for my blog.

I am trying to train myself to look at objects, scenes, people with an artistic eye. So, my first challenge I set for myself is to capture every letter of the alphabet somewhere in nature. It is quite the task so far… I don’t naturally look at the underside of a billboard and see Rs or bike racks for the Es. However, I hope that it will help me develop a new, interesting perspective in my photography.

Translating my letter-seeking, camera quest to my blog?

I hereby challenge myself to analyze. A simple reporting of current trends, news stories and events won’t make my blog unique or desirable to readers. I need to be more comfortable developing an opinion (I’m sure many of you don’t anticipate that being hard for me!), articulating said opinion and preparing myself to defend it. I want to inspire conversation, welcome alternative views and learn new things from my readers – all at the same time.

While I don’t promise thoughtful, provoking analysis in every post. It is something that I will strive for on a regular basis. As always, I appreciate and learn from feedback – so please feel comfortable enough to give it!

How have you proficient bloggers tackled your writer’s block? Any tips for a beginner?

Wedding joys and woes, a privilege?

Yesterday, as Andy and I were meeting with our pastor to finalize our wedding ceremony plans, the Minnesota Senate voted to pass a bill that would amend our state constitution to define marriage as between one man and one woman.

The same thing has happened in 31 other states. And in each of those 31 states, the voting public has passed the amendment.

Unreal. I can’t even process what’s happening.

At no point in my life have I ever questioned whether or not I had the right to get married. The only question was, “Who out there can possibly handle my sass, loud laugh and love for the Packers?”

Now, in less than 18 months, that lack of a right to get married could become even more permanent for a segment of Minnesotans. Gay marriage is already banned in Minnesota, but this constitutional amendment would make it nearly impossible for gay marriage to ever happen in our state.

Who knew that it was so important to protect two men or two women from the excitement (and headaches) of wedding planning. Who knew that those frustrations, woes, triumphs and joys were a privilege. I sure as hell didn’t.

I know that I have bitched and moaned about wedding planning. A lot. However, no matter how many times I get frustrated about etiquette for addressing envelopes or where to put the cupcakes on the tables, I am loving every second of it. More importantly, I love knowing that on July 16, in front of my family and friends, I am going to pledge to spend forever with the person that I love.

So, tell me: why shouldn’t everyone have that same opportunity?


Best of 09: Office Laughs

December 29 Laugh. What was your biggest belly laugh of the year?

Sadly, I am a day late and a dollar short for this post, but I really like this topic.

I am a very lucky person, blessed with amazing friends, family and a great group of co-workers. So, naturally, when prompted to think of my best laugh of 2009, one of my first memories was while at work. So, here’s the story:

One of my co-workers, Bryan Brignac, has an irrational fear of large bodies of water. You might be thinking, well heck, that’s fairly common. However, what makes his fear irrational, is the story from which it stems. During work one afternoon, Bryan proceeded to defend his fear of water with a story he was told as a child.

Down in Lousiana, a young girl was water skiing and having a grand time. Until, however, she lost control of the tow rope and fell into the water – landing into… a nest of water moccasins. She did not survive.

Curious as to what a water moccasin even looks like, we asked Bryan to check out Google. What was the FIRST link that popped up? An urban legend Web site. Clicking on the link, we discovered that this is a popular urban legend from the south and, most importantly, water moccasins do not nest, as they are cannibalistic by nature.

I acknowledge that this story will not appear to be nearly as amusing as it was that day, but the most important piece of this post is a compliment and note of sincere appreciation for the wonderful people with whom I am blessed to work. Whether it be over lunch or in a gathering around the office, I find myself laughing every single day at the stories, mannerisms and jokes of my co-workers.

My Forever Roommate

And I’m behind again on Reverb10 posts. At least I did today’s post.

Prompt: December 29 – Defining Moment. Describe a defining moment or series of events that has affected your life this year.

This August, my fiance and I moved in together. It represented more than just the next step in our relationship and with it came a number of changes, challenges and firsts. Most importantly, he became my forever roommate.

Ever since freshman year of college, I have had roommates. One, two and three roommates at one time.

Some of them were crazy. Some became my best friends. All came with learnings, challenges and memories. But all of those roommates were temporary – for one semester or one year. This new roommate of mine is forever. Well, hopefully.

We’re forever stuck with one another’s flaws, pet peeves, habits and annoyances. But, we’re also blessed with each other’s laughs, advice, jokes and kind gestures.

So, he may not put his dirty dishes in the dishwasher each time, but I know he’ll walk the dog in the morning when I want to get an extra 10 minutes of sleep. He may not do laundry until his basket is overflowing all over the bedroom floor, but he will always be there to clean the house before my parents come over for dinner – even though he thinks it’s unnecessary.

I guess this whole roommate thing isn’t too bad.

Go Ahead and Jump..

Initially, the Reverb 10 prompt for today really threw me for a loop – then I started looking through photos, and I couldn’t believe it didn’t come to me instantly.

Prompt: Moment. Pick one moment during which you felt most alive this year. Describe it in vivid detail (texture, smells, voices, noises, colors).

This year, I went skydiving.

It was, by far, the most exciting, terrifying, exhilarating and freeing moment of 2010.

The trek up to 13,000 feet felt like it took forever, especially when our pilot asked us to guess how high we thought we were when we were only at 6,000 feet (and I guessed 10,000). Yikes.

When we finally got to the top and the door opened, it was freezing, windy and hard to breathe.


All I remember next is tumbling out of the plane – unsure of what was up and what was down. My ears were popping from the pressure and we moved so quickly that I couldn’t catch my breath.

The view, however, was amazing. You could see for miles and the simplicity of farmland as a backdrop helped to keep me calm.

Finally, when we reached Earth, my heart was racing, my legs were jelly and I was already a bit sore.


The entire day was an amazing experience and even though my jump was much easier than friends who jumped first, I think once is enough for me when it comes to jumping out of a plane.

What was one moment in 2010 that you remember vividly? One that made you feel alive?

Self Doubt

So far I’m two for two on this #reverb10 blogging challenge. Yessss.

Day 2 Prompt: Writing. What do you do each day that doesn’t contribute to your writing – and can you eliminate it?

For as loud and opinionated as I am, it comes as a shock to many people that I am also very unsure of myself and my abilities. And I know I’m not alone in this struggle.

In starting my blog a little over a year ago, I had the same questions that I have today:

  • Why should I write a blog?
  • What do I know that is worth sharing?
  • Who is going to want to read this anyway?

This constant soul-searching and self-doubt not only takes up time, but it also inhibits my ability to write freely and often.

I’m hoping that by participating in events such as Reverb 10, I can get into the habit of simply writing. Not thinking about writing, or why I shouldn’t blogging, but just doing it.

What about you? What prevents you from writing as much as you’d like? Or do you write/blog frequently? If so, what’s your secret?

Sign up. Contribute. Reflect. Remember. Reverb 10 is an annual event and online initiative to reflect on the past year and manifest what’s ahead.

Finding my voice

As I start out on the path to becoming a blogger, I have been reading blog post after blog post… about blogging, desperate to find the post that would turn on the switch in my head, making me into an instant blogger. The switch hasn’t gone off yet, but I did come across a post from copyblogger that got me thinking.

“Get off your Computer and become a better Blogger” in short, emphasizes the importance of discovering your voice and style, which you can’t find sitting behind a computer.

“Start conversations with more people. Find the kind of jokes you like to tell. Listen to the rhythm of your voice as you speak. Pay attention to the way people react when you talk. Notice how they seem more interested when you speak in a certain way or when you discuss certain topics.”

Q: So then, why do I find this so difficult?
A: During the week, I am not writing with my voice.

My question to you, expert bloggers: How do you turn your voice on and off? Do you find that you blog the way you speak?

I’m sure I’ll find my way as time goes on, I just hope those who come across my blog will be patient as stumble along.

To read the entire post from copyblogger, click here.