AN ODE TO THE WOMEN I MET ON HEY! VINA IN CELEBRATION OF INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY

When I first joined Hey! VINA, there was a common theme threading together conversations during each VINA date: how difficult it is to make friends as an adult while working and navigating numerous responsibilities and commitments … #adulthood. Unlike our school days, people no longer seemed to centralize in any specific place with the intention of making new friends. But, VINA has provided us with just that!

It didn’t take long to start building relationships with kickass women from all around the Bay Area. Eventually, I started talking about my desire to be in a book club. This spurred several of my vinas and I to form our own, The Badass Book Club. We were united in our desire to focus on literature with a theme of women’s empowerment.

There were only a handful of us initially, but before long, our little group grew to nearly a dozen women. United in our passion for women’s rights and love for literature, our conversations never lack depth, and I’m often left still pondering the profound words and observations of my vina sisters. Our monthly meetings have become something we all look forward to, and in a beautiful, organic way it evolved into much more than a bookclub. It’s a safe space to be vulnerable, to share triumphs, failures, and ideas. We encourage each other, offer advice, console each other and celebrate each other’s successes.

We all came from different walks of life, and our unique experiences enabled us to share new perspectives. We are united in our desires to grow as individuals, uplift women, and to see women succeed in all aspects of life. This keeps us coming back for more: more fantastic literature, more meaningful conversations and more community with empowered women.

Every single woman in The Badass Book Club is fierce, strong, intelligent, kind and driven. We want to see each other succeed, and we are passionate about building women up and crashing through that glass ceiling. We all recognize that empowered women change the world simply by being themselves–encouraging others, speaking up for minorities, pursuing their passions unapologetically, and reminding others to do the same.

In the end, it’s much more than a book club–more than just exchanging thoughts and perspectives on that month’s read–it’s a community for women to come together, expand our minds, and help each other navigate life’s obstacles. This is why VINA is so important. It not only brings women together, it cultivates empowering communities for women to connect, be heard and make a difference.

Take some time today to reflect on the amazing women in your life and celebrate their strength, courage, tenacity and every little thing that makes them who they are. Always remember, even small, thoughtful acts of kindness and encouragement can have a huge impact. When women empower other women, those women go on to do the same.

Happy International Women’s Day, vinas!! To celebrate, we’re giving everyone a FREE 1 week VIP Hey! VINA membership — and the offer is valid TODAY ONLY🌟🌟By being a VINA VIP, you get instant match–so you see all your Heys upfront, unlimited takebacksies, and the ability to teleport around the world! Upgrade today on the app👉

VINA BOOK CLUB: YOUR HOLIDAY BOOK READING LIST

The thought of sitting next to the fireplace with a cup of some decadent hot chocolate and a good book is pretty cliche – but there’s no denying it’s a good feeling this time of the year. The holiday season calls for relaxation and indulgence. So here’s a list of novels that are on-theme and will induce that warm, cozy feeling this season! 📚 ☕🎄

One Day in December by Josie Silver

For all those hopeless romantics, this is a powerful tale of love, friendship, and loss. Laurie is mesmerized by a man she sees on the bus during a cold, snowy evening. Locking eyes for a moment, her mystery crush is gone forever. Laurie spends a year looking for him. One day, she attends a Christmas party with her best friend Sarah, who can’t stop talking about her new boyfriend. Lo and behold – Sarah’s new boyfriend Jack is the one Laurie has been searching for. This book isn’t your typical love triangle! Beautifully written and cinematic, you’ll gobble up this read as fast as your holiday dinner.

Hark! The Herald Angels Scream: An Anthology by Christopher Golden

Halloween came and went, but that doesn’t mean you have to give it all up now that the holidays rolled along. This one is a collection of 18 Christmas horror stories. There’s a spectrum of eerie and creepy styles, so you’ll definitely find a story you’ll love. From cult holiday parties to a haunted Christmas hotel, this is a light read that will surely transition you from autumn to winter!

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Woman at 1,000 Degrees by Hallgrimur Helgason

This one isn’t holiday themed but it sure is cozy. Herra, an 80-something-year-old Icelandic woman waiting for death in a garage recounts her entire existence. She has lived a full yet tragic life during World War II and through the struggles of immigration. Part comedy and part drama, this novel is a truly poetic piece. Helgason can perfectly paint a vivid scene in his style of writing. You’ll feel as if you’re right there with Herra as she tells you the stories of her life.

The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver

A warm tale of growing up and rolling with what life gives you, this novel will keep you feeling cozy this winter. This classic is a story of young Taylor Greer and her mission to leave her hometown. Along the way she encounters a parent-less child named Turtle and makes a new friend on her journey. While trying to find Turtle’s home, Taylor seeks a stable and happy life in this heartwarming tale. If you’re looking for a book with strong character development and female relationships, this is the one.

A Pleasure and a Calling by Phil Hogan

William Heming will be the most interesting and creepy character you read about this season – no, EVER! A successful realtor who is good at his job, he has the biggest secret in his town: he keeps the key to every house he has ever sold. When a dead body is discovered in one of the properties, things escalate at a rapid pace. This shocking mystery will be hard to put down.

Ready for some warm and cozy hibernation with these books? Everything’s better with some good vinas. Go over to the Hey! VINA app now and start swiping in the Lit Lovers community. We see a stellar book club in your future!📚👍

5 WAYS TO TRICK YOURSELF INTO READING MORE

Summer is finally upon us and with that comes one of my favorite things: beach reads. But if you’re like me, you’re too busy. How can you get yourself to read more? Here’s some little hacks that I’ve used in the past, and to great avail!

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GET A KINDLE, OR USE THE APP 

Although I’m a lover of physical books, I carry my Kindle with me everywhere. It’s always in my purse or backpack. And if I don’t have it with me, I use the Kindle app on my phone. A Kindle is a great way to pick up and read whenever. I never lose my place, as it keeps it for me. It has built-in settings that tell me how much longer I have in any given book or chapter. I can highlight different passages and make my own notes. And they’re so lightweight! I’ve found this is such an easy way to read a bit while I’m waiting for my latte, or during a short break between meetings.

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JOIN A BOOK CLUB✌

What better way to really lose yourself in a book and get yourself to read more than to read with your best friends? Read along with the VINA picks (see this months pick here) or pick another that you and your vinas have been desperately wanting to read. Read the book throughout the month and then discuss it as you go, or get together for a book club meeting (or dinner party) at the end of each month. It’s a great excuse to read, learn, and have fun with your vinas. You will all have a different take away from every book; you may find more symbolism within the text that you can share with each other. Imagine the awesome conversations that await!

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READ BEFORE BED 

Bedtime is all about self-care. A few chapters of reading to calm your brain down, while preparing your imagination for some awesome dreams when you fall asleep. We’ve all heard about what our phone screens do to our brain (turn them to mush or whatever), so rewire yours a bit by stepping away from the screen for 30 minutes to an hour before bed. Chill out with a book and a glass of water (always hydrating). Your brain won’t be overstimulated by the LEDs this way, and this is the easiest way to drift off to sleep. This fact is easy enough to prove: how many of you find it hard to stay away when reading before bed? It gets you right in the mood for sleepy time; and I know if I’m checking any of my social feeds right before bed, I can’t seem to put my phone down.

TRACK YOUR PROGRESS–GET SOCIAL WITH IT 

I find that I really love the social aspect of reading as well as the progress tracking and virtual bookshelf building that I can do with Goodreads. You can set goals for yourself and track how you’re doing. Additionally, you can add your friends and really keep up the social aspect of reading even if you can’t be all together for a VINA book club.

Litsy is another great social book-sharing app. It’s kind of like Instagram for people who really love books. I’ve found great reading recommendations from both places! And if you love to show off how much you read, it’s always fun to post a cute pic of your book on Instagram as well. If you decide to read along with the VINA picks, make sure to tag it with #VINAbookclub.

MAKE READING A PART OF YOUR SELF-CARE

We hit the gym religiously. We take hour long bubble baths. We go to yoga. Why not add reading into those critical self-care moments? You could read while on the treadmill or in the bath; give yourself an hour a week (at least, and it doesn’t have to be all at once) where you cozy up in a quiet place and escape into a book. For how fast-paced our society is, reading is a great way to slow down and take some time for yourself.

Best of luck with these tips, vinas. Feel free to add me as a friend on Goodreads! And share your favorite book in the comments below!

Don’t forget to download the Hey! VINA app to find some fun vinas wherever you go (and maybe another couple of book worms).

(Feature image via tenor)

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NO MORE CLIFF’S NOTES: 5 BOOKS FROM SCHOOL YOU SHOULD ACTUALLY READ

I think everyone has one book that made them love all books #amiright? For me it was “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.” Yes, I loved the first two HP books, but it was that one that created the book-mongering monster I am today. I may love books more than life, but in high school Sparknotes and Cliffnotes were more valuable to me than Myspace or Zynga (yikes, high school was a while ago).

In high school, my book list was primarily made of vampire love stories and sci-fi dystopian series. It wasn’t until very recently I decided to go back and actually read the books I was supposed to during school, and OMFG am I happy I did it. Seriously, vinas, these books I’m about to tell you about will change your life, and duh—they’re all written by amazing women!

mockingbird.jpgTO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

Yeah, I know this book is super short and I really should have read it years ago, but I was busy with Twilight OKAY? For real though, this novel by the genius Harper Lee will make you contemplate everything. You just start thinking about life and humanity and existing and just everything. It’s a book you won’t read once or twice—it’s one you go back to every so often. According to a biography about Lee, she would spend six to twelve hours a day writing, and would merely write one page a day—this was a long, painful process. But well worth it, considering To Kill a Mockingbird was deemed more inspirational than the Bible, yeah the Bible people!

THE OUTSIDERS

Alright vinas, I actually read this one when I was supposed to! But I remember in middle school, I totally thought it was written by a dude—which was actually S.E. Hinton’s intention. Like my hero, J.K. Rowling, Hinton used S.E. instead of Susan because people would be biased towards a woman writer. After discovering S.E. Hinton is a woman, my mind was blown because “The Outsiders” is a coming of age story about boys, but nonetheless, Hinton tells a heart-wrenchingly human story. Just have a box of tissues with you when you read this one!

bookcryingROLL OF THUNDER, HEAR MY CRY

Speaking of heart-wrenching—I probably should have put a disclaimer at the beginning of this post saying “DO NOT READ ALL AT ONCE”. For real though, Mildred D. Taylor’s “Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry” tells the story of Cassie Logan and her family’s struggles in the Jim Crow South. This is another book I actually did read in middle school, but coming back to it as an adult is a totally different experience.

JANE EYRE

“Jane Eyre” is definitely one that I did not read in high school. I really should have because this book is unbelievably relatable. Not the whole love story part because I’m single AF RN—but Charlotte Bronte’s Jane is just this strong-headed feminist dealing with bullsh*t. Long story short—Jane is all of us.

WUTHERING HEIGHTS

Ugh, this book! Honestly, the love story part is pretty frustrating—you’ll get what I mean when you read it. But the reason I particularly love, love, love, this book is for the actual writing. Emily Bronte is a beautiful wordsmith—she really makes you consider and appreciate each and every sentence.

There you have it, vinas! Honestly, there are so many other books that we all actually should have read during our high school summers, but these are just some of my faves!

Which book from high school is your favorite? Tell us in the comments!

READ A LITTLE, LOVE A LOT

Welcome, lovelies, to the first installment of our new reading corner, a space to share and celebrate the written work of badass women.

There are few things I love more than reading in this life, and the strange magic that comes with it. There’s something special about an activity that makes you brighter, better, and smarter while laying down. I’m interested in books that stretch the imagination, probe at your most intricate life questions, and rattle you to the bone with language.

I will  be introducing two books every month. Some books will be new, some will be old and forgotten, some short stories, some novels, and nonfiction for good measure. These are my little gifts to you, books that have made me a bigger person, a more particular person, a more loving and aware person; as I think a good book should. I hope you will find love, solace, ache, and laughter in every single one of them.

GOLD FAME CITRUS, CLAIRE VAYE WATKINS

This is Watkins’ first novel, and it’s dripping with everything I go looking for in a book. I have to admit I went in expecting a lot. I’d read her collection of short stories, “Battleborn,” while I was in grad school and I was swooning. She tapped into a part of my imagination and vocabulary that was too glorious to allow myself to be envious. I was just thankful.

“Gold Fame Citrus” is set in a hypothetical near future of a waterless west California that has sucked everything else dry. In this world, we meet Luz and her boyfriend Ray who are squatting in a mansion in Laurel Canyon. They acquire a child (I won’t tell you how), and they go off in search of a better life. ( BTW– that’s not a spoiler because it says all of that on the jacket but I can’t speak beyond those details. I hate when you watch a movie trailer and you feel like you’ve seen the whole film.)

You will get lost in the strangeness of the world, taste the dry heat while you lie in your bed, and have a hard time not staying up all night turning those pages. And then, if you love her words like I do, circle back and read her stories in Battleborn.

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SLOUCHING TOWARD BETHLEHEM, JOAN DIDION

While this might be a classic to some of us, others, who have never had the pleasure of reading Didion yet, are in for a treat. I take it as one of my life duties to push Didion onto everyone that will listen for a moment, and here you are, listening.

While there are many many of her essays and books that I will bring up as we go on, this is the one I want to recommend you start with, this was my introduction to her and it sets your palate for her work: it teaches you how to read her, and it makes you understand that her territory is as vast as it is dynamic. She is a master of language and a thinker like none other.

This collection of essays wanders through her journalistic based pieces, her life in Sacramento, and her think tanks on living life as a writer. My personal favorite is “On Keeping A Notebook.” It’s near the later half of the collection and by the time you get there, you’ll be in love like I am.

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There is nothing quite like reading a good book for the first time. Please come on back and leave us some thoughts as you are reading. I would love to turn this into a space for us to chat about the books, these incredible writers, and the dimension they are bringing into your life. Happy reading lovelies! 

(Feature image via blogosferia.blogspot.com.es)