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An Overdue Year in Review for 2017 and Where I’m Going in 2018

Guys. This was a big year for me. So big in fact, that it’s taken me a month to catch my breath and sit down to record it all here.

What Happened in 2017?

My word for 2017 would be ‘overcommitted’ (to everything except Rob—you da best, babe!). In March of last year I started a full-time job as a Content Marketing Manager at an a award-winning creative agency in the travel marketing space. My days (and sometimes nights, weekends, etc.) were filled with an engaging and demanding job.

And while I loved it and am grateful for all the cool opportunities it gave me—like getting to travel to Florida and New York, working with an amazing team, writing like a boss every day, designing campaigns with Medieval Times, Adventurous Kate, Instagram’s Sexiest and Most-Followed Doctor—Dr. Mike, and even meeting a sloth… I always knew my goal was to be working for myself and back on the road again.

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Six Tips To Help You Read More

Last week I posted my reading list for 2016. It’s 52 books long and a continuation of my 2015 project to read one book per week.

Over the course of last year I found there were a few things that really worked for me to help me get through my list. I hope they help you too!

Never underestimate what you can do with five minutes.

You don’t need half an hour to ‘sit down and read’. You can grab your book and read a chapter while waiting for supper to defrost in the microwave.

Always keep your book at hand.

Use public transit. Even if it takes longer than driving, you can focus on a story instead of traffic. Sounds like a worthwhile tradeoff to me. Plus, you’ll save money on gas!

Keep a reading log.

Hold yourself accountable. You’re also way more likely to remember what you read in a few months or a year if you jot down a few sentences about what you thought of the book or ideas that came to you while reading it.

Reading books is great. Remembering them is even better.

Read books you like

This may sound obvious but even I’ve found myself slogging away through the latest à la mode thought piece or trending book club hit for the sake of having said I read it, only to hate it the entire time.

If a book is not working for you, just dump it.

There are better books out there for you and any person who says you’re not complete unless you’ve read Naomi Klein or Eat, Pray, Love should probably be avoided at all costs.

That being said, don’t be afraid to give things a try. Even if they’re not your usual cup of tea.

[white_box]I worked tea into the post. Yippee![/white_box]

Read before bed.

I’ve got an alarm that goes off and tells me to get ready for bed. It also puts you in a great place to fall asleep.

Put your phone in ‘silent’ mode.

Distractions kill the mood and your focus while reading. Ain’t nobody got time for texts (or worse: push notifications. Blech.)

Happy reading!

Mel Hattie Signature 2016 - Final - Mel Only


Mel’s Book List 2016

Last April I started trying to read one book per week, because books. Books are awesome and reading them makes me a better person and a better writer. It went pretty well. I read more for pleasure than I had since Jr. High.

Jr. High was probably my high watermark (so far) for the peak of books-per-day consumption. In my memory I’d literally come home from school and read about five per day, although it was probably closer to one or two. Still, per day!

Last year I made a list of books at the beginning of the year with the intention to read through each title on the list.

In the winter I finally read The Book of Tea. (Mel Hattie/Mel Had Tea)

In the winter I finally read The Book of Tea. (Mel Hattie/Mel Had Tea)

I discovered pre-choosing all the books on the list took the fun out of book discovery — picking up a random title at a yard sale or while wandering the streets.

This year I’ve decided to loosely choose some books, but let the rest be spontaneous discovery. This was I can take recommendations, enjoy spontaneous book purchases and also knock some titles I’ve been meaning to get under my belt.

Short reviews of what I’ve read appear under the Books category.

What I’ve read so far this year*

*I’ll continue to update this throughout the year.

  1. “The Silk Worm,” by Robert Galbraith
  2. “Killing and Dying,” by Adrian Tomine
  3. “Career of Evil,” by Robert Galbraith
  4. “The Book of Tea,” by Kakuzo Okakura
  5. “I Will Teach You to Be Rich,” by Ramit Sethi
  6. “The Year of Magical Thinking,” by Joan Didion
  7. “The Condé Nast Traveller Book of Unforgettable Journeys: Great Writers on Great Places”
  8. “My Life on the Road,” by Gloria Steinam
  9. “Notes from a Small Island,” by Bill Bryson
  10. “Life of Pi,” by Yann Martel
  11. “We Stand on Guard,” by Brian K Vaughan
  12. “When Breath Becomes Air,” by Paul Kalanithi
  13. “The Alchemist,” by Paulo Coelho
  14. “Kabuki Library, Vol. 3,” by David Mack
  15. “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany & Jack Thorne
  16. “On Writing,” by Stephen King
  17. “Mass Disruption: Thirty Years on the Front Lines of a Media Revolution,” by John Stackhouse
  18. “Into Thin Air,” by Jon Krakauer
  19. “Eat, Pray, Love,” by Elizabeth Gilbert
  20. “The Bonesetter’s Daughter,” by Amy Tan
  21. “The Opposite of Fate,” by Amy Tan
  22. “Galápagos,” by Kurt Vonnegut
  23. “The Elements of Style,” by William Strunk
  24. “Bad Feminist,” by Roxane Gay
  25. “Swing Time,” by Zadie Smith
  26. ‘”Absolutely on Music,” by Haruki Murakami

The Happiness of Pursuit by Chris Guillebeau

TIME TO BACKTRACK HERE to the book that inadvertently kicked off my 41-books in 41-weeks reading streak (currently on 4/41!). 

I say inadvertent because it wasn’t until I was reading book 2/41 that I decided to turn this whole book-a-week schtick into a proper quest, but considering Happiness of Pursuit is all about goals, I have to give it a tip of my hat, as I’m sure it had some latent influence in my decision.

The book’s tagline, ‘Finding the quest that will bring purpose to your life’ is a bit cheesy and embarrassing to read in public. It sounds pretty self-helpful, but then again, cat posters that say ‘you can do it’ are also cheesy, but they’re also usually right. Never underestimate the power of a good cat poster. Anyway, back to this book.

I really like how Chris chalked up some of his passion for list-making and goal-seeking to his love of video games as a child. I played a lot of Legend of Zelda, Pokémon, Donkey Kong, Mario, and other classics as a kid, and having the video game narrative that’s basically, “do these things, become stronger, help people, save the world.” had a really huge impact on me for the better. 

Chris’ book is cool because it also ropes in lots of other people’s quests. He talks about their structure, what makes for a successful quest, and different types of quests (done from home, or done traveling the world).

I finished reading it at a coffee shop in Harvard Square, feeling quite accomplished and proud of myself for being in Boston for something (Women in Travel Summit) that fulfilled a part of a larger quest for me (how to make a career out of travelling the world writing and taking pictures). 

This book comes as recommended, but I don’t think there’s a whole lot of re-read value, so maybe ask to borrow a friend’s, or rent it from the library! Libraries rock.

I’m reading 41 books this year. See original post here.



Mel’s Book List 2015

I’ve decided to try and read one book per week for the rest of the year.


Because I’ve only finished one book so far this year.

That’s not enough books.

I’m not going to be able to read forever.

My Opa was sick this winter and recently began reading through his library of classics and giving them to me as he finishes. Because I think too much, I can’t help but think of this as a passing of the torch and I wanted to honour it. On the other side of my family, my grandmother recently suffered two debilitating strokes. While she wasn’t much of a reader, it is safe to say she will probably never read anything again.

In the film “About Time” (same director as Love Actually), there’s this great scene where the time-traveling father (played by Bill Nighy) tells his son that he uses his power to time travel to read more books. I think there’s something to that.

Reading makes you a better person.

It just does. A better writer too. We’ll see if I can empirically state that by the end of December.

The Book List

Here are the books I plan to read for the remainder of the year. Some are short  and some not so much.  There are some that are re-reads and some that are going to be tough to finish in one week.

I’ll post a short blurb about each book as I finish. I like to think that I have pretty good taste in literature, so if you’re looking for some good reads, make sure to check back here!

It was hard to narrow my list. For every one I choose, there are five more that I had to put aside for later. See? There are so many books. Time to get a move on!

  1. Happiness of Pursuit by Chris Guillebeau
  2. Mosquitoland by David Arnold
  3. Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
  4. It’s What I Do by Lynsey Addario
  5. The Teahouse Fire by Ellis Avery
  6. Very Good Lives by J.K. Rowling
  7. Colourless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami
  8. White Teeth by Zadie Smith
  9. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  10. Hellgoing by Lynn Coady
  11. March Was Made of Yarn, edited by Elmer Luke and David Karashima
  12. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
  13. Wind/Pinball by Haruki Murakami
  14. Out on the Wire by Jessica Abel
  15. Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
  16. Step Aside, Pops by Kate Beaton
  17. Underground: The Tokyo Gas Attack and the Japanese Psyche by Haruki Murakami
  18. Ru by Kim Thúy
  19. Kitaro by Shigeru Mizuki
  20. #Girlboss by Sophia Amoruso

I may change or replace books as I go through. I want this project to have structure, but I also want to be able to follow my whim if I’m suddenly drawn to a new book.

Also, if you read the list above and thought, “those are a bunch of books I’d like to read!”, then we’d probably be friends. Hello!

Happy reading.