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Book Recommendations

reading in the bath
I've been very busy at work lately and, while taking a couple minutes here and there on Facebook is easy to do, sitting down to write a full blog post? Not so much.

So I'm "re-posting" an e-mail I sent to my co-worker Nicole regarding some book recommendations. We started talking books one day over lunch, when I mentioned I'd just gotten Sarah Vowell's new book. She had no idea who Sarah Vowell was, so I told her when we got back from lunch I'd send her a link to the description of the book.  I got ambitious and decided to send her a few others that I like.

Love is a Mix Tape: Life and Loss, One Song at a Time ~ Rob Sheffield

The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible 
~ A.J. Jacobs (I also want to read the one he wrote about reading the entire Encyclopedia Brittanica)

The Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde (these are an acquired taste -- my discovering these was the perfect union between reader and book): The Eyre Affair, Lost in a Good Book, The Well of Lost Plots, Something Rotten, First Among Sequels and One of Our Thursday's is Missing.

The Nursery Crime series by Jasper Fforde (yes, I'm a huge fan, why do you ask?): The Big Over Easy: A Nursery Crime (Humpty Dumpty is murdered!) and The Fourth Bear (I think you can see where this one is going).

The Thirteenth Tale ~ Diane Setterfield

Anything by Sarah Vowell: Assassination Vacation, The Partly Cloudy Patriot, Take the Cannoli: Stories From the New World, The Wordy Shipmates, Unfamiliar Fishes.

Her Fearful Symmetry ~ Audrey Niffenegger (Really enjoyed this book! She also wrote The Time Traveler's Wife.)

And, finally, some "chick-lit":

The Shopaholic series by Sophie Kinsella (not a fan of her non-Shopaholic books, but I love this series -- great summer reads!): Confessions of a Shopaholic, Shopaholic Takes Manhattan, Shopaholic Ties the Knot, Shopaholic & Sister, Shopaholic & Baby and Mini-Shopaholic.

What are some of your favorite books? I'm always looking for new books to read, so please chime in! And if you've already read some or all of the books I've recommended above, let me know what you thought of them! If you decide to read one or more of the books above, let me know what you thought, too!

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Jun. 2nd, 2010

I just read this article on USA Today's Web site and pretty much cried through the whole thing (thanks bluesgirly for bringing this to my attention).

Chance for Bliss Sanctuary Has Happy Endings for Old Animals

Please consider visiting their Web site and donating. You can do a one-time donation, sponsor animals for as little as $10/month (they are looking for 1,000 donors at this level), and there's also a wish list of items they need (monetary donations for vet bills, feed and overhead being the greatest).

I'd love it if you could pass this information on to any animal lovers you know. From what the article says, this couple is in severe financial distress, which in turn means this wonderful sanctuary is in the same dire straits. Any little bit helps!

Calling All Cat Lovers

Over in [info]note_to_cat there is a gal who needs to raise the pet deposit so she can keep her cat in their new digs. Post is here.

Right now she has a friend caring for her cat but she has until April 8 to raise $300 for the deposit. 300 people donating $1 each would makt it. Boost the signal, please. I know how tough it is to give up a fur kid because you just didn't have the deposit money. It kind of tears your soul out.

Boost the signal. Donate $1. Help a kitty. You might need the assist someday.

(Yes, I have entertained the idea that this is a scam. But I'm working on giving people the benefit of the doubt, and this is as good a time as any to put that into practice. Worst case scenario. you're out a dollar.)

My Hometown's Contribution to March Madness

The Wisconsin and Marquette men's basketball teams may be out of the hunt for the NCAA championship, but a Milwaukee influence still remains on the women's side.

Click the link to see what I'm talking about, and to watch a really cool video.

Book 5/50: The Nanny Diaries

The Nanny Diaries -- Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus

Amazon.com Description
The Nanny Diaries is an absolutely addictive peek into the utterly weird world of child rearing in the upper reaches of Manhattan's social strata. Cowritten by two former nannies, Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus, the novel follows the adventures of the aptly named Nan as she negotiates the Byzantine byways of working for Mrs. X, a Park Avenue mommy. Nan's four-year-old charge, the hilariously named Grayer (his pals include Josephina, Christabelle, Brandford and Darwin) is a genuinely good sort. He can't help it if his Mom has scheduled him for every activity known to the Upper East Side, including ice skating, French lessons, and a Mommy and Me group largely attended by nannies. What makes the book so impossible to put down is the suspense of finding out what  the unbelievably inconsiderate Mrs. X will demand of Nan next. One pictures the two authors having the last laugh on their former employers.

My Review
This was a quick re-read for me. I started to read the sequel to this book, Nanny Returns, and quickly realized I had completely forgotten what had happened in The Nanny Diaries.

I know the X's are supposedly not based on real people -- the first time I read this, it shocked me that the X's were even a composite of many of the families the authors had nannied for over the years. However, through my friendship with someone who nannies (not for the ultra rich like Nan in the book, but the people she's worked for over the years definitely aren't hurting financially), nothing in this book shocked me on the second read. It made me angry, the way the X's treated Grayer and Nanny, but not surprised. Unfortunately there are very rich people in the world who have children and don't spend a lick of time alone with them (my ex-friend's most current position is this way -- they have three people who combine for a 24-hour shift -- yes, even when the children are sleeping, someone is there). It's very sad.

Anyway, this isn't my comment on society, it's supposed to be a review of the book. I enjoyed it the second time around as much as I did the first. I can tell I liked it because of how much the characters infuriated me -- to me that says they were well-written.

I've read mixed reviews about Nanny Returns, however. I'm starting that tonight, so I'll let you know.


 
5 / 50 books. 10% done!


 
1446 / 15000 pages. 10% done!

Book 4/50: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Reading
4. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies -- Jane Austen and Seth Grahame Smith

Amazon.com Description (WARNING: Small spoiler ahead)
It's difficult to tell if critics' reactions to Pride and Prejudice and Zombies should be characterized as praise or astonishment. Some reviewers treated the book as a delightful gimmick. Others found that, beneath the surface, the book actually constituted an interesting way of looking at Austen's novel. Zombies answer certain puzzling questions: Why were those troops stationed near Hertfordshire? Why did Charlotte Lucas actually marry Mr. Collins? (She had recently been bit by zombies and wanted a husband who could be counted on to behead her -- of course!) But critics also pointed out that this parody shows that Austen's novel has remained so powerful over time that even the undead can't spoil it.

My Review
As a preface to my review of this book, you must first know that I have a Bachelor's degree in English. As such, stereotypically I should be a lover of literature from the time of Miss Austen. And I have to admit that, while I do not despise writing from this particular time period, I'm not a huge fan of it. It's always been challenging for me to follow, though I've developed more of an appreciation for it since I left school (where we were forced to read literature instead of choosing to).

So I will side with critis who think the book is delightful, because I certainly did. The author chosen to incorporate the "ultraviolent zombie mayhem" wrote in the spirit of Jane Austen, so the added storylines were really very seamless. If nothing else, I now want to re-read Pride and Prejudice and see what specifics -- if any -- the new version parodied. I also hear they are making this into a movie -- I'd prefer if it just stayed in novel form, but oh well!

@ ----------- @

I'm treating each book read as its own entry from now on (those stupid text cuts were making me crazy), so if you want to read reviews of the first three books I read, click here. This entry also includes the running list of books I want to read this year. If you have any suggestions, please comment!  



 
4 / 50 books. 8% done!


 
1446 / 15000 pages. 10% done!

Suggestion to Commissioner Goodell

PR, public relations
I was hoping to begin this post with the news of continued low ratings for the NFL "all-star game" (since I would probably get in trouble for saying the "P" word), played last night in Miami. This statistic was going to further the argument that no one pays attention to the "all-star game," the players don't necessarily want to play in it, and that the whole thing is essentially a big joke that no one cares about.

Looks like I won't be able to do that.

There go my supporting arguments.

Nevertheless, I have an idea for making the "all-star game" more relevant, if not more watchable. Ratings rise of 40% over last year or no, I'm going to share it with all of you.

The NFL should raise the stakes of its "all-star game", similar to what Major League Baseball did with its "game of best players" (since I can't say the "A" word). Add a league-wide bye week to the NFL schedule at about mid-season, during which time the "all-star game" will be played. The victorious conference will then automatically win the coin toss at the "big game" (since I can't say the "S" word).

Simple, right?

NFL, are you listening?
...and T-minus 5 minutes to the weekend!!!!

Hope you all have an awesome Halloween, whatever your plans are!

I'll be at the Meadowbrook Pumpkin Farm Haunted Cornfield!

Is It Just Me?

Exercising
I think that some of my clothes are starting to get a little big on me.

HOORAY!

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