© 2016 by KAYLEE RANDALL.​

What I've Been Reading This Summer

August 31, 2017



Harry Potter


Yes, I know. I’m approximately twenty years behind and I honestly don’t know what took me so long. I’ve read the first three books in the series about four times each, but can’t seem to make it beyond that.


Look, I’m easily distracted. I find a 150-page book and say to myself, oh I’ll read this really quickly before jumping into the 900 PAGES of Harry Potter. Or a friend lends me something and needs in back in a few weeks. Something always seems to come up and I forget about old mate, Harry.


Well, this time I started with The Prisoner of Azkaban (since like I said, I’ve read the first few books a bunch) and I’ve finally been able to get through it. Thanks, in part, to having much more down time than I used to, which I’m very grateful for.


They are truly beautiful stories. The character development, the fantasy, the action. I find myself flying through each chapter. The only downside is that I’ve been reading them on my iPad so my eyes hurt after a while and can’t have a true binge. But, JK Rowling is the jam and she had moving illustrations added to the ebooks. It's like looking at wizard pictures from the Daily Prophet! But I’m also a nerd so little things like that excite me.


I’m currently in the middle of "Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince" and I’ve been watching all the movies as I read the books. It’s fun. So, if you live under a rock like me and haven’t experienced these stories, do yourself a favor and jump on the bandwagon.


The Secret Life of the American Musical: How Broadway is Built


Browsing a small, corner bookstore in Greenwich Village brought me to this book. And it exceeded my expectations.


Written by Jack Viertel: theater owner/operator, producer, former dramaturg, and NYU Tisch professor; I recommend this to anyone who loves the stage.


I’m not even a huge musical theatre junkie. I know a lot of the music from major musicals and I’ve seen quite a few productions, but I mean... I haven’t even seen Wicked. I know.


What I’m saying is, you don’t have to live and breathe musical theatre to enjoy this book. As a dancer and someone who loves to, not only perform in shows, but also soak in as much art as possible, I got a lot out of this read.


It’s written in the form of a show. With the first chapter delving into the most epic opening numbers of all time. And ending with, well... notable endings. And it covers everything in between.


What I found so enlightening about it all was the recurring patterns that emerged in classic shows. Even when composers, writers, and directors thought they were breaking barriers and doing something completely new (which a lot of times they did), the patterns still somehow bled through when studied in retrospect. It’s so interesting that Oklahoma! and The Book of Mormon can have so much in common once you really dive in.


“The best writers are always trying to break the mold they perceive in the work of their predecessors and mentors. And yet, when the dust settles, the result often fits the pattern anyhow.”


Dancers, I would totally recommend this book for you.


Stand Firm


I’ve read my fair share of self-help books in my day. “You Are A Badass”, “How To Win Friends and Influence People”, and “The Four Agreements” to name a few. I never really got too caught up in the craze but a lot of my friends have. And it makes sense, most of the people I surround myself with are very self-motivated humans who want to better themselves. And I truly respect that. 


Well, this book flips the concept of “self-help” upside down.


It urges readers to stand firm and not give in to the “accelerating culture”. Everything pushes us to do better, move faster, don’t look back, think positive thoughts and good things will come!


“Stand Firm” is all about accepting who you are right now, reflecting on the past to help appreciate the present, and that it’s not your fault if good things aren’t happening for you.


It’s completely opposite to so much of the chatter going around. You know, things like "you are what you think". Well, that’s not really true. Someone who’s diagnosed with cancer must’ve willed that into existence? Nope. Not on board with that. Shit happens and it’s necessary to come to terms with that. And remember that so much of life is external and doesn’t come from within you.


And to be clear, this is just the other extreme end of the self-help spectrum (and I am a huge advocate for balance and being a filter, not a sponge). I don’t agree that we should drop all positivity and stop believing in ourselves and cease working to be better day after day. But it’s about finding a happy medium and letting ourselves have bad days.


All in all, take this book with a grain of salt (as you should with anything) but I really think it’s worth the read. 


Always on the lookout for book recommendations so send your favs my way! 

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