Dive In: Your Summer Reading List

There is something about the summertime that makes us want to dive into a good book. Whether it’s the heat that makes us feel a little lazy, the longer days, or fond memories of vacations past, there’s something about good-for-the-mind-and-soul summer reading that justmakes us feel good. Magazines just don’t cut it -- we want a juicy read that makes us beg for more, all while digging our toes into the sand or sipping on a colorful umbrella drink.  To quench your thirst we’re sharing our top 10 summer must-reads that will inspire, thrill and transport you into another realm. Not surprisingly all 10 books are female authored. Enjoy!


Top Summer Beach Reads


1. The Rules Do Not Apply: A Memoir by Ariel Levy

In 2012 The New Yorker Writer Ariel Levy lost it all. In this memoir, Levy retraces her story of how she built an unconventional life and then watched it fall apart in a blink of an eye. The New York Times calls it “deeply human and deeply moving”. This is the story of how resilience becomes an unforgettable portrait of the shifting forces in our culture, of what has changed—and of what is eternal.



2. Pretty Happy: Healthy Ways to Love Your Body by Kate Hudson

Share this book with your daughter, mom, sister, and best friend. In Pretty Happy, Kate Hudson shares how she honors her relationship with herself through exercise, making the right choices about what she eats, and constantly going back to the drawing board and starting fresh, instead of holding herself to unrealistic standards of perfection and giving up when she falls short. Discover the Four Pillars of Health she uses to enhance her wellbeing and create lasting happiness.


3. Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert

Grab this book if you feel like you’re stuck in a rut. From Eat, Pray, Love author Elizabeth Gilbert comes a book that inspires and empowers the reader into thought and action. Throughout the chapters Gilbert invites us into her own generative process, and shares her wisdom and unique perspective about creativity. Whether you are looking to write a book, make art, find new ways to enjoy your work, or live each day more passionately, Big Magic is the book for you!


4. Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar by Cheryl Strayed

Consider this a raw and little bit naughty version of Dear Abby. Tiny Beautiful Things is a compilation of letters written to and answered by Sugar in the online publication The Rumpus. Sugar has since been revealed as beloved author Cheryl Strayed (bestselling memoir Wild). Sugar gives it to you straight and will have you crying in one moment, laughing in another, and jaw on the floor the very next. This is a great book if you don’t have hours to spare during the day – read a letter and it’s answer, then bookmark it. You will be coming back for more.


5. Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah

A true beach novel filled with friendship, love and loss. Kristin Hannah, New York Times bestselling author, tells the tale of two young girls, as different as can be, who discover inseparable friendship. Doomed to be forever uncool, Kate’s loving family mortifies her at every turn. In contrast Tully, a glamorous and alluring muse, harbors a secret that is slowly destroying her. The book spans over three decades and takes pace in the Pacific Northwest. Firefly Lane is a story you'll never forget, and one you'll want to pass on to your best friend.


6. The Letter by Kathryn Hughes

Tina Craig longs to escape her violent husband. She works tirelessly to save up enough money to leave him, and volunteers in a charity shop to avoid her unhappy home. While going through the pockets of a second-hand suit she comes across a sealed envelop with a letter inside. She opens the letter and reads it - a decision that will alter the course of her life for ever...

Billy Stirling knows he has been a fool, but hopes he can put things right. On 4th September 1939 he sits down to write the letter he hopes will change his future. It does - in more ways than he can ever imagine... 

The Letter tells the story of two women born decades apart, whose paths are destined to cross, and how one woman's devastation leads to the other's salvation.


7. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

Before you binge watch the series on Hulu, pick up The Handmaid's Tale and let your imagination go free as you dive into the near future. The Handmaid’s Tale takes place in the Republic of Gilead – formerly the United States and current monotheocracy that has reacted to social unrest and a sharply declining birthrate by reverting to, and going beyond, the repressive intolerance of the original Puritans. The regime takes the Book of Genesis absolutely at its word, with bizarre consequences for the women and men in its population. The book is funny, unexpected, horrifying, and altogether convincing.


8. Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

This book is so good HBO created a mini-series from it with big name actresses playing the roles of three women, each at a crossroads.

Madeline is a force to be reckoned with. Her ex-husband and his new yogi wife have moved into her beloved beachside community, and their daughter is in the same kindergarten class as Madeline’s youngest. Celeste is the kind of beautiful woman who makes the world stop and stare. With her twin boys starting school, Celeste and her husband look set to become the king and queen of the school parent body. New to town, single mom Jane is so young that another mother mistakes her for the nanny. Jane is sad beyond her years and harbors secret doubts about her son. While Madeline and Celeste soon take Jane under their wing, none of them realizes how the arrival of Jane and her inscrutable little boy will affect them all. Trust us -- read it first, then watch it.


9. Everything I Never Told You by Celest Ng

“Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet.” So begins this exquisite novel about a Chinese American family living in a small-town in Ohio in the 1970’s. Lydia is the favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee; her parents are determined she will fulfill dreams they were unable to pursue. But when Lydia’s body is found in the local lake, the delicate balancing act that has been keeping the Lee family together is destroyed, tumbling them into chaos. A profoundly moving story of family, secrets, and longing, Everything I Never Told You is both a gripping page-turner and a sensitive family portrait, uncovering the ways in which mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, and husbands and wives struggle, all their lives, to understand one another.


10. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

This bestselling novel—a love story of race and identity—is by the award-winning author of We Should All Be Feminists and Dear Ijeawele.

Ifemelu and Obinze are young and in love when they depart military-ruled Nigeria for the West. Beautiful, self-assured Ifemelu heads for America, where despite her academic success she is forced to grapple with what it means to be black for the first time. Quiet, thoughtful Obinze had hoped to join her, but with post-9/11 America closed to him he instead plunges into a dangerous, undocumented life in London. Fifteen years later they reunite in a newly democratic Nigeria – reigniting their passion for each other and for their homeland. 


The Best Group Fitness Classes for Beginners from our Fitness Experts!

The Best Group Fitness Classes for Beginners from our Fitness Experts!

One of the most fun ways to get fit is to try out Group Fitness classes. You get to meet other members and you can take advantage of the expertise of our fitness professionals while breaking a sweat or toning up.

School’s Out: Family-Friendly Activities to do With Your Kids This Summer

Summer is officially upon us, which means the kids are out of school and vying for fun ways to spend their time outside of the classroom. And while it’s always nice to have additional time to spend with our little ones, we’re also faced with the challenge of filling that time with activities that are as stimulating as they are enjoyable.


Fortunately, there’s no shortage of creative ways to keep your kids happy and engaged, especially in the warm months of summer. Check out a few of our favorite family-friendly activities below.


Make a fairy garden

Fairy gardens are incredibly popular with adults and kids alike. If you’re not familiar with them, they’re essentially just miniature gardens — usually found in a large pot or small corner of the yard. All you need to get started are a handful of pretty stones, a couple of small plants, a few dollhouse miniatures or action figures, and any other item that piques interest and curiosity. Bonus points if you add magical fairy dust (AKA glitter) to the final product.

Have fun with chalk

If you’re looking to fill the hours of a warm and sunny afternoon, there might be no better (and easier) way to do it than with a bucket of chalk. You can create a hopscotch board, play tic tac toe, or simply dump out a bunch of colors and see what creative magic evolves. You just might be surprised by how much your inner-child enjoys getting in on the action as well.

Tie-dye on a rainy day

There’s no reason that a rainy summer day can’t be as delightful as any other — all it takes is finding the right activity, and tie-dye is a great option! Pick up a pack of cotton shirts, underwear, pillowcases — or anything else you think might benefit from a colorful rainbow treatment — and watch your kids’ faces light up as they create irreplaceable on-of-a kind designs (that only a mom can love).

Backyard water park

Rather than head out to a local water park, why not build one in your own backyard? It’s actually a lot easier than you might think. All you need are a sprinkler or two, a hose, a pack of water balloons, and a Slip N Slide or “baby pool” (if and only if you have a safe space). Not only is it an active way to spend the day, but it’s an opportunity for you and your children to imagine and architect fun experience. It’s also teaches kids how to be resourceful.

Make origami

Origami, the Japanese art of folding paper into decorative shapes and figures, is another great indoor activity for those days when Mother Nature needs a break. Plus, there’s little potential for mess and it’s easy to clean up. Pick up a pack of origami paper and a tutorial book at your local craft store, or cut your own paper into squares and work from one of the many free online DIY websites. Either way, you can bet it will be a day well spent.


While family-friendly play time is always fun and ever important, it can be tiring on mom. Don’t forget to take some time for yourself, too! Come to Total Woman and treat yourself to a spa day or your favorite workout class, and let our Kids’ Club keep your little ones engaged for a while. 


Come Clean with Reneé Rouleau

Reneé Rouleau , renowned skin care expert and celebrity beautifier is making a clear point – one size does not fit all when it comes to skin care. Her 25 years of hands-on experience as entrepreneur and esthetician has given her with incredible insight into what the skin needs -- and it isn’t the same for every person. Her sophisticated skin type quiz considers your skin’s state, your skin care goals, and also some interesting inquiries like: What is the weather like where you live? How many hours of sleep do you get each night? How much do you travel? Rouleau has identified nine different skin types and has formulated special products to soothe your specific skin care woes.


Rouleau is a master in the beauty industry. She has built a global brand that beauty editors and celebrities, like Demi Lovato and Sofia Vergara, rave about. Rouleau can extend much of her success to two women her life: her grandmother and her mom.


Her grandmother was a hairdresser and owned her own beauty salon. Having a female entrepreneur as role model in her life inspired Rouleau to start her first business at 21. “I saw early on a female entrepreneur carving out her own path. It had a profound effect on me. I could never imagine working for someone else,” she shares with Huffington Post.


From a young age, Rouleau watched and admired her mother’s self-care routine. Every night she washed her face and applied her creams. Her mom also took time to get facials every six weeks. These habits were an example to Rouleau – one she wanted to follow. In a blog for Today.com, Rouleau remembers why this was such a beautiful lesson for her. She says that her mom taking an hour out of her busy life to get that facial was a way of showing her kids that she is important. “As women, we’re so busy taking care of everyone else that we often forget about caring for ourselves. When she cares for her skin, she’s caring for herself.”


With a healthy dose of inspiration, Rouleau now offers her wisdom and advice to others seeking beautiful skin. A few easy tips every fitness-focused female should follow, include:


  • Apply and reapply sunscreen every single day of the year. Make sure you cover your face, neck, and sides of neck.

  • Increase circulation by hanging upside for a few minutes every day. To send blood flow to your face, try downward facing dog, using an inversion table, or even just hanging your head over the side of your bed.

  • Wash you face after your workout. Sweat and bacteria builds up as you workout so it’s imperative to cleanse and moisturize your face immediately following exercise.

  • If you wash your face before you workout, be sure to apply a lightweight moisturizer to avoid additional water loss that causes fine lines (ahem, wrinkles).


Your environment, daily habits and genetics all play a part in your skin’s health, and Rouleau has the solution to all of them. You can find her helpful skin care blogs on ReneeRouleau.com, as well as her beauty expert posts on Refinery29.