harry potter

Sara Letourneau – Writer

Sara Letourneau is a writer who lives in Massachusetts. She’s a published poet and is currently working on the first draft of a fantasy novel. She also writes tea reviews for A Bibliophile’s Reverie and articles on the craft of writing at Grub Street’s blog. These are her good things.

Good things to read.

Ursula LeGuin’s Earthsea books. It always surprises me how many fantasy readers haven’t heard of this series. And though it’s not as well-known as the worlds of Middle-Earth, Narnia, and Hogwarts, it deserves a place on the shelf with them. LeGuin’s Earthsea series combines magic, conflict, and (in some stories) the presence of dragons with the rustic, simplistic lifestyles of its native peoples and a pursuit of harmonic balance comparable to Taoism. In other words, it contains elements that will feel familiar to fantasy readers while offering something unique to the genre. I love that aspect of the series as well as LeGuin’s writing style, which is concise, lyrical, and powerfully evocative.


Allan G. Hunter’s The Path Of Synchronicity. I read this book about 2 years ago when I was going through a period of situational depression. Not only did it introduce me to the concept of synchronicity (the coincidental occurrence of seemingly unrelated events), but it inspired me to make positive changes in my life so I could lift myself to a better, happier place. Hunter also handles the discussion of synchronicity with great care. He writes with the understanding that some readers may be learning about the topic for the first time, and presents examples from literature and real life to support his ideas. If you’re interested in self-help / spirituality books, I highly recommend this as well as Hunter’s most recent work, Gratitude and Beyond: Five Insights for a Fulfilled Life.


Susan G. Wooldridge’s Poemcrazy and Judy Reeves’ A Writer’s Book Of Days. These are my two favorite writing prompt books of all time, and for different reasons. In Poemcrazy, poet and writing instructor Wooldridge offers prompts, strategies, meditations, and stories from her workshops and personal life. It’s also beautiful to read; the fluid, engaging prose allows the reader to feel Wooldridge’s unbridled joy for poetry. A Writer’s Book Of Days is a treasure chest of inspiration. Prompts for every day of the year, a wide variety of exercises to flex the writing muscles, quotes from and amusing facts about famous authors – Reeves packs so much into this book that it’s hard not to learn or be spurred by something new every time you open it.

Good things to watch.

I rarely watch TV, but I discovered Orphan Black earlier this year. Wow!! Science fiction, drama, comedy, and horror mashed together to tell the story of a group of female clones who come together to fend off a biogenetics corporation clamoring for the secrets of their creation – secrets that the clones themselves are trying to figure out. How’s that for a cool and original premise? The acting on Orphan Black is incredible, too. Tatiana Maslany plays all five clones – yes, five different characters, each with their own personality and voice / accent. Her talent knows no bounds, and I hope Orphan Black can be a launching pad for an increasingly exciting career for her.

The Lord Of The Rings film trilogy and the Harry Potter film series. Can you tell I’m a fan of fantasy? (laughs) I don’t know how to concisely describe how much I love both series other than by saying they’re the only films that I a) revisit on a consistent basis, and b) immerse myself in completely each time I watch then, no matter how many times I’ve watched them before. Great acting, stunning visual effects, and – above all – wonderful storytelling.

Househunters on HGTV. I’d religiously watch this show with my mom when I still lived with my parents after graduating from college. I loved guessing which property the prospective buyer(s) would pick in the end (and seeing if I was correct!). Once I started condo-shopping, I realized the show’s educational value. It taught me to use a realistic approach that balanced budget with my wants and needs – and to pay attention to that “falling in love with the right place” feeling when it hits!

Good things to use.

Teavana’s Copper Tea Tumbler. If you drink loose-leaf tea and want to take it on the go, this product’s for you. It’s easy to use, functional, and sleekly design. The stainless steel interior keeps your tea hot (or cold, depending on how you prepare it) for several hours, but the heat / coldness never transfers to the exterior. I take this tumbler – with tea inside, of course – with me on long car rides or driving vacations.

Pilot® G-2 Retractable Gel Ink pens. Not the prettiest pens on the market, but they write so smoothly and fit so comfortably in your hand. They come in different point sizes, too; I love the ultra-fine point (0.38 mm). This is the only brand of pens I use for journaling or writing by hand when my laptop’s not handy. Nothing else feels right.

A sense of gratitude. Remembering one thing you’re grateful for each day works wonders for your outlook. I’ve been keeping a gratitude journal for the past couple years. The results have been nothing short of amazing. I view myself and my life in a more positive light, and I have more hope and confidence about the future now than I’d had at any other time in my life.

Connect with Sara at her websiteFacebook, or Twitter, (@SaraL_Writer).

James Clear – Behavior Scientist, Habit Master

James Clear writes at JamesClear.com where he shares ideas about using behavior science to master your habits and improve your performance. For fresh ideas on how to live a healthy life — both mentally and physically — join his free newsletter, these are his good things.

Good things to read.

Complications by Atul Gawande. Gawande is a surgeon and a fascinating storyteller. In my opinion, this is easily the best of his books. I find this book particularly compelling because of my love for medicine, but even people who aren’t interested in healthcare will find this to be a wonderful read.

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. Duhigg does an excellent job of summarizing the recent research on habit formation and how it impacts your everyday life. Books like this are useful because they force you to consider the many patterns and routines that you often fall into without much thought.

The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling. I don’t know many people who haven’t read this, which probably says something. If you haven’t, it’s arguably the greatest fictional series of all-time. Rowling’s storytelling ability and character development is incredible. I don’t know a single person who hated the books and many readers are totally obsessed. If you’re wondering if it’s worth your time to read all seven, it is.

Good things to watch.

Breaking Bad. Quite possibly the best television series of all-time. Everything about Breaking Bad is top-notch. The plot is excellent. The writing is excellent. The cinematography is excellent. My favorite part is how many subtle pieces of foreshadowing are hidden throughout the show — both visually and through dialogue.

Searching for Sugar Man. This is the best documentary I’ve seen yet. It’s a story that is so unbelievable, you almost forget that it’s real as you watch it. I’m still shaking my head.

The Wire.  I think this is the only TV show where I was actually sad when it ended. Based in Baltimore, The Wire gives you a fascinating (and, at times, heartbreaking) view of crime in the city. It’s also an extremely realistic show. Every character has flaws and makes mistakes. Stick with it for a few episodes and you’ll probably be hooked for good.

Good things to use.

A camera. I love photography. It’s a wonderful way to capture the world around you and share it with others. And it’s also an excellent reminder that life is meant to be lived in the physical world. It’s great to think, but our digital age makes it dangerously easy to live your life behind a screen. Pick up a camera and walk outside instead.

A barbell. Physical health allows you to do a better job at everything else in life. Pick up a barbell and start lifting each week. Squat. Deadlift. Bench Press. If you’re really ambitious, clean and jerk or snatch. Lifting is the one thing that keeps me sane when life and business get crazy. And besides, who wouldn’t want to be strong and look good?

Google Docs. I basically run my business through Google Docs, but that’s not why I suggest it. I think the biggest benefit is provides is the ability to open a blank document anywhere in the world, start typing, and record your thoughts. Google Docs provides you with the opportunity to write more and that’s a great thing. Writing more forces you to think clearly. Writing more allows you to discover what is important to you. And most importantly, writing more gives you the opportunity to share with others.

Connect with James on Twitter, @James_Clear.

Erin – Red Debted Stepchild

Erin writes at Red Debted StepChild about her journey to beat debt while searching for freedom and quoting The Office along the way, these are her good things.

Good things to read.

I specifically did not list Harry Potter because that’s too easy. But, Harry Potter.

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. Food, travel, and self-discovery. What’s not to love? The Italy section is definitely the best because you know, Italian food. And Italian guys. And more Italian food.

I Will Teach You To Be Rich by Ramit Sethi. Do you know why people don’t want to learn about finance? Because it’s so ridiculously boring. Ramit presents the “boring” information in an entertaining way that really speaks to twenty-somethings and thirty-somethings. And cracks a few good Indian jokes at his own expense along the way. Hilarious.

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling. Most of my life is dictated by food and entertainment, obviously. It’s a funny, light-hearted read that fans of The Office & The Mindy Project will love. Mindy is hysterical and incredibly relatable and I want to be her best friend.

Good things to watch.

Wicked. Actually any Broadway/off-Broadway/way-the-hell-off-Broadway show will do, but Wicked is just beyond belief incredible. I never did get into the book, but the show is gorgeous! The songs, the story, the set – it really can’t be beat. Anyone who is a fan of The Wizard of Oz will love it – it’s a whole new twist on a classic tale.

And as I recommend with any show, if you are going to see it, actually SEE IT. For real, don’t pay for obstructed view. Save up the cash and get close enough to see the actors’ facial expressions.

How I Met Your Mother. It’s worth it for the Canadian jokes alone (says the American).

Barney Stinson’s Canadian citizenship test: “Question One: Do you want to be Canadian? Question Two: Really?”

Other than that, it’s just an amazing show. You really can’t beat Marshall & Lily’s relationship, Barney’s hilarity, Robin’s Canadian references, and Ted’s neuroses and love addiction. The twists and turns are fabulous and the episode foreshadowing is brilliant. And obviously, it’s the most epic “how we met” story ever.

Food documentaries. I am OBSESSED with food documentaries. A few favorites include: Fat, Sick, & Nearly Dead, Forks Over Knives, & Ingredients. There is nothing better than sitting on your ass learning about food. Check out Netflix for a great selection.

Good things to use.

Your freaking eyes. This is a rant. A two-part rant.

Part 1: Stop viewing the world through the camera on your iPhone. While you are picking out a filter on Instagram, you are missing out on really seeing what you just snapped a picture of. Live in the moment.

Part 2: Stop texting while driving. You are putting your own life and the lives of others in danger. I promise you, no text is that important.

Inspiration and a PSA – look at me being all awesome.

Erin Condren Life Planner. If you’re old school like me, nothing beats a good old fashioned planner. Erin Condren planners are cute and the setup is perfection. They are a bit pricey but well worth it in my humble opinion.

A corkscrew. You just can’t beat a nice glass of wine at the end of the day. Pour yourself a glass and curl up with one of the books I listed above. Bliss.

You can talk to Erin about food (movies) and wine on Twitter, @reddebted.

JK Rowling – best selling author

These are JK Rowling’s good things.

What are some good things you’ve read?

Emma by Jane Austen. “You’re drawn into the story, and you come out the other end, and you know you’ve seen something great in action.”

Regarding Roddy Doyle, Rowling said “I love all his books.”

Cheri by Colette.  “Chéri is a love story between a very spoiled young man and his mistress who has “been there, done that.” He’s self-centered and vicious, and she ultimately turns out to be very noble. The final scene is incredibly moving; it makes me cry.”

More of Rowling’s bookshelf at Oprah.

What are some good things you’ve watched?

A Matter of Life and Death is my favorite film.”

The Fabulous Baker Boys.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I was Rowling’s favorite Potter book to movie adaptation.

What are some good things you’ve used?

There is this pen and paper sketch from Order of the Phoenix.

According to Scholastic, Rowling likes Sushi.