Aviva Vaughn is a lover of food, travel and books. She has been a voracious reader her whole life finishing Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women when she was five.
She likes to laugh, eat and be intellectually stimulated, preferably at the same time; and enjoys reading and writing about strong, modern characters, no matter what era or planet they are in/on.
She isn’t afraid to try new things, which has made for an interesting—although not always straight forward—life. Her favorite “two truths and a lie” line is: I have ridden bareback in the Navajo nation, I have jumped out of an airplane over New Zealand, and I have gone spelunking in Costa Rica. Answer will appear at the end of BECKONED, Part 4: From Barcelona with Love ;^)
She lives in Southern California.
Aviva is a self-avowed logophile and enjoys all forms of (truthful) writing and their power to inspire, transport and educate anyone with enough gumption to just open up its pages and READ.
She is an equal opportunity book lover who adores everything from Science Fiction to Historical Fiction, and from Autobiography to Non-Fiction; and wonders actively about the books, worlds and voices that she has not yet had the privilege to know. At heart she is an adventurer, an explorer and a life-long learner and books are the portals through which she does all three.
Books are what saved her from social loneliness as an awkward adolescent, and they instilled in her a passion for people, travel and cultures. Here is a small selection of some of her favorites with her own brief thoughts.
Beware laying a book down around her; she has been known to devour one in the presence of its owners.
If you have a book you think Aviva would like, or comments after reading the books below, send your thoughts to ReadingRocks@AvivaVaughn.com
Single Books Fiction (year published):
- Emma by Jane Austen (1815): Although Pride and Prejudice is arguably her best work, Emma is a unique Austen character because she has no financial need to marry. The original “girl power” book and my sentimental favorite book of all time. I like to think that Emma and Angela would be friends. http://amzn.to/2cLgYlG
- The Silver Cloud Café by Alfredo Véa Jr. (1996): A haunting surrealist novel, reminiscent of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, which follows the magical story of angels, migrant farm workers and misfits in 20th-century America. I love Gabriel Garcia Marquez too! http://amzn.to/2cpkO3D
- Looking Backward by Edward Bellamy (1888): A MUST read Utopian novel about a time-traveler who wakes up in a “perfect” world. Our children should read this rather than Lord of the Flies or 1984. What a different world this might be if that were the case. When this book was published it started a WHOLE MOVEMENT of salons and social activism. Please read this book, I urge you! http://amzn.to/2cKP1cD
- The Host by Stephenie Meyer (2008): A compelling science fiction novel, from the author of the TWIILGHT series, that beautifully sums up the human experience: to express our individuality. http://amzn.to/2cjmSZ7
- The Commonor by John Burnham Schwartz (2007): A poetically beautiful and hauntingly sad fictional account of the Imperial Family of Japan. This book surprised me with its lyrical likability. http://amzn.to/2cjmnyk
- The Constant Princess by Phillipa Gregory (2005): A fascinating look into the life of Katherine of Aragon; Queen of England, Spanish princess and daughter of Isabella and Ferdinand, who had to strategize, maneuver and cajole for her survival at an age when I was just figuring out how to coordinate patterns and solids. While I love the entire series of Tudor books by Ms. Gregory, her book about Catalina/Katherine is my favorite. http://amzn.to/2cIwUkC
- Pastwatch: The Redemption of Christopher Columbus by Orson Scott Card (1996): Although I wanted to avoid duplication on this “short” list, I just couldn’t resist including this “back-to-the-past-utopian” novel where scientists from the future send people back in time to meet and alter Christopher Columbus’ impact on the “new world” in order to avert slavery and its consequences. http://amzn.to/2cIZm62
- Gravity ( 2014): L.D. Cedergreen’s “romances” are my favorite kind: real and substantial. Some people complain that the ending isn’t an “HEA” (happily ever after), however, in the case of this couple, the ending she gave them was the best that was going to happen. A hauntingly beautiful book.
- How Not To Fall (2016): The author of this book is an academic and sex educator by profession so this book’s “sexy bits” are scientifically accurate and HOT. Emily Foster has some lines that had me busting a gut I was laughing so hard. A sweet and relate-able novel.
- The Uplift and Uplift Storm series by David Brin (1980): An inspiringly creative series from the 1980’s about a future where dolphins and chimpanzees talk, the Earth has found it is not alone in the galaxy, and an “all-knowing” intergalactic library portends the power and pitfalls of today’s Internet. Written by an astrophysicist and former NASA consultant who’s level of detail for imagined worlds rivals J.K Rowling. http://amzn.to/2cwsMVu
- Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling (1997): I read the entire series in 15-days and was amazed at the level of detail and consistency J.K. Rowley created in her magical worlds. Ms. Rowling is a philanthropic force for good in the world and Aviva will follow her example and use the proceeds of her books to fund world-bettering projects that she’s been dreaming about for decades. http://amzn.to/2cpjjSK
- Alvin Maker Series by Orson Scott Card (1987): A beautiful fantasy series set in the late 1700’s frontier areas of America which envisions a country more strongly shaped by Native American culture. The book weaves historical figures and imagined people into an empowering story about one man’s journey from boyhood to adulthood. I’ve probably read about half of the very prolific Mr. Card’s books. He’s written a number of books that I would recommend despite the fact that I strongly disagree with his politics. But our universe is mysterious in that sometimes one’s fiction is more truthful than one’s reality, and sometimes one’s reality is more false than one’s fiction. http://amzn.to/2cKHdHH
- Autobiography of a Yogi by by Paramahansa Yogananda (1946): I almost became a monk after reading this book on the beaches of Costa Rica. His depiction of Kashmir has always captivated me, and someday I hope to see it for myself. http://amzn.to/2cLeSlW
- Key to Yourself by Venice Bloodworth (1952): A short MUST read that distills the wisdom of the ages and is incredibly practical. Written by someone who’s name you’ve probably never heard, which just goes to show that EACH OF US has something to teach. If you only read 2-books on my entire list, make THE SLIGHT EDGE and this book those two. If you look in my handbag, a lot of times you will find this book taking up residence there. Makes a great gift! http://amzn.to/2cwz1IX
- The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson 8th Edition (2013): If you only read 2-books on my entire list, make KEY TO YOURSELF and this book those two. I’ve read this book many times over the last 4-years, and I always learn something new. This book epitomizes the HOW and the WHY of the power behind the saying: “You can’t change your life unless you change your daily habits.” http://amzn.to/2cIQsWl
- Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand (2010): A beautifully written book about the inspiring life of presumed dead WWII prisoner of war Louis Zamperini; a man that I had the pleasure of knowing. He was a bright light who could make a whole room of people smile with his 10,000 megawatt smile and the mischievous gleam in his eyes. He was in his late 70’s when we first met and he was inspiring model of vivaciousness and positivity. Kudos to Ms. Hillenbrand’s amazing book which is a testament to her own inspiring story of resilience in the face of a multi-decade struggle with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. http://amzn.to/2cjkhyn
- Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared M. Diamond (1997): A fascinating, crazy-ambitious, cross-disciplinary work about how societies and cultures are shaped by their environments and how those environments determine their ultimate success and survival. I wish I had written this book! http://amzn.to/2c3Cpf9
- Freakanomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner (2005): An inspired look at seemingly unrelated causes and effects exploring subjects ranging from real estate agents to the Ku Klux Klan, and the society-shaping waterfall effects that are guaranteed to surprise you. http://amzn.to/2cfa0SP
- NurtureShock by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman (2008): This book has shaped my thinking in so many ways. Trust me from my experience, you don’t have to be a parent to benefit from this knowledge. A MUST read. http://amzn.to/2cpj62f
- In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson (2011): This book beautifully depicts the human version of the often-quoted parable about putting a frog in a pot of cold water and how it Vaughn’t notice if you turn up the heat. Look, I have no idea if that is factual, nor do I want to GOOGLE it for fear of what might pop-up. But THIS BOOK tells the story of the 1930’s American Ambassador to Germany and his experience as he helplessly watches Hitler rise to power. An important lesson for people to learn: bad things happen when good people stay silent or aren’t listened to. http://amzn.to/2c3CzD8
- The Kennedys at War by Edward J. Renehan Jr. (2002): This book is set during the same period as IN THE GARDEN OF BEASTS and is an interesting counterpoint as it details the forces in America that shaped the U.S. involvement in WWII, namely by JFK’s father who was the Ambassador to Great Britain at the time. It also gives an enlightening glimpse into the young adulthood that would birth a U.S. president. http://amzn.to/2cjGsV9
- Barcelona by Robert Hughes (1992): This book taught me the value of reading about the history of a city before visiting it and covers the history of this tremendous place from the Romans through to modern times. It is a history book that reads like a novel! http://amzn.to/2cKDbzk
- And We Are Not Saved by Derrick Bell (1987): A unique and creative book, written by a legal scholar, that explores the issue of race and race relations in America through the lens of fictional supernatural stories. Although I read it decades ago, I still remember how powerful it was. I personally have been blessed to grow up in a very “post-racial” environment, however, I know that this is not everyone’s experience and this book is a great way to gain some perspective from the comfort of your home. http://amzn.to/2cpF7xM