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Showing posts from March, 2008

Redux: The 10 Miler

Click over to my "Down the Shore with Jen" blog for a post about the 10 miler I ran this weekend . Not quite the marathon, but I'm getting there!

Book 42 of 52: The Importance of Music to Girls by Lavinia Greenlaw

I can't believe I'm writing this post now. I just got home from the Ocean Drive 10 Miler , and I'm beat. But since I had matt pond PA in my head the whole time, I might as well give it a go. The Importance of Music to Girls is a story about growing up, and how music wound its way through Lavinia Greenlaw's coming of age. She starts standing on her father's shoes while he waltzed, and ends talking music with an ex while taking her baby daughter home from the hospital. It's a colorful journey, especially her escapades in disco and punk. Disco: "The disco evening began with a whole other evening's worth of getting ready. Three or four girls would congregate in someone's bedroom and become hysterical. They milled about in a vortex of skirts, tops, shoes, tights, mascara, foundation, eyeliner, nail polish...The air was weighed down by our perfumes, which claimed to smell of melon or apple or peach. They were as ripe as we were...Makeup was all abou

Weekend Wandering: Nonrunner's Marathon Guide for Women

In honor of my decision to run a marathon , and in honor of this weekend's Ocean Drive Marathon (though I'm only running the 10 mile portion tomorrow), I present Dawn Dais' very funny video about The Nonrunner's Marathon Guide for Women: Get Off Your Butt and On with Your Training : I like her attitude! With that I'm heading down the shore . Hope the winds aren't too bad tomorrow! Read more at and

Ask and Yee Shall Receive

These are the summer beach reading candidates. And you thought I was kidding ;-)

Book 41 of 52: First Marathons: Personal Encounters with the 26.2-Mile Monster

Alright, I'm going to say it, so now I'm beholden to it: I'm going to run a marathon. The funny thing is that I hadn't made this plan when I picked up First Marathons by Gail Waesche Kislevitz. I read it on the recommendation of Liz Claman, anchor of Fox Business . But I'll get to how I ended up running through Palisades Park with a TV anchor in a minute. I was never a runner. My high school boyfriend was captain of the cross country team, and I thought he was insane. Running 10 miles? For fun?! That's crazy! I played sports, sure, but I wasn't into running for running's sake. Us soccer players laughed at the field hockey players as they did laps around and around the sports complex. We ran enough as it was, thank you very much. I started running because I hated it. The entire set up was for comic effect: I pitched an article to a magazine where I said I hated running but would train with a running coach and see how it went. "For any serious runn

Now it's time for MY book!

I have been waiting for this all day. I even got faked out once -- the UPS man brought a package, but it came via FedEx. However it came, it's here! My book about the Jersey Shore! WEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I thought I was going to cry, but I was too busy jumping up and down. I can't even believe that it's finally here, sitting next to me on my desk. I think I'm going to sleep with it tucked under my pillow tonight. To learn more about this book, you can check out my shore website at , and my shore blog at WEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Survey: What Makes a Good Beach Read?

For the second year in a row, I'm writing a beach reads round up for the Philadelphia Inquirer (check out last year's article here ). These are always fun but tough to write. You've only got a sliver of space to cover the gamut of what will be available this summer to accompany you and your beach chair. I just sent an email out to my book PR contacts. Last year when I did this, I found about 40 books on my doorstep within two days. I feel like I should tip my UPS man now instead of at the holidays. So here's my question for you: What makes a good beach book? And what have been your absolute favorite summertime reads? And if you're looking for suggestions right now, most of the books I put in last year's article are in paperback now, or soon will be: The Department of Lost & Found: A Novel by Allison Winn Scotch Black Hats: A Novel of Wyatt Earp and Al Capone by Patrick Culhane Mr. Dixon Disappears: A Mobile Library Mystery (Mobile Library) by Ian Sans

Report: Amy Hill Hearth Signing

Last night, Amy Hill Hearth, author of "Strong Medicine" Speaks: A Native American Elder Has Her Say ( book 31 of 52 ) and Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters' First 100 Years ( book 32 of 52 ), spoke at the Barnes and Noble in Philadelphia's Rittenhouse Square. I saw about the last ten minutes. I had planned on getting there early to say hello before the talk, meet Strong Medicine, settle in and enjoy, but my plumbing had other plans. Have you ever had one of those days you wish you could redo? That was yesterday -- at least the first part. My toilet backed up, and after 20 minutes of plunging, I went downstairs to get my keys and head to the hardware store. That's when I saw where the water was draining: through my dining rooms ceiling. I ran to the basement to shut off the water and saw it was coming down the wall and into the basement, too. Panic? You could say that. I just bought my house in May, and aside from a broken washer, nothing much has gone wrong.

Book 40 of 52: Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan

I've been meaning to read this book for some time, almost since it came out. It's been recommended to by about a dozen people, but whether because of a surplus of assignments or lack of time, I've never been able to get to The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals by Michael Pollan. It's always interesting, at least to me, when a book hits me at the right time. The Omnivore's Dilemma is probably the most exact timing of a book colliding with an event in my life. The event in question is the wedding I was at this weekend where I passed out during the ceremony, something that I believe had a lot to do with nutrition. But I'll get to that in a minute. First a capsule about the book. The Omnivore's Dilemma is about food and just about every aspect of how the light of the sun is turned into food for us to eat, for better or for worse, from the fast food meal you eat while driving down the highway to something you create by hunting and gatherin

Observation: Hair Covers

I love airport bookstores. They're like Cliff Notes of the book publishing industry, and I'm always fascinated about what books they stock. I spent a lot of time in the Phoenix International Airport yesterday, and my tour of the Borders therein showed me something: Hair, especially hair on the back of the head, is big in book covers: I have no idea why. Maybe it's the jet lag, but I can't figure out why this is a hot trend. I'm guessing a back of the head book hit big somewhere along the line. Even John Grisham's on the bandwagon: So what's with all the hair? I think it's important to note that I didn't see the Allison Winn Scotch cover in the bookstore, but on her blog when she noted that the cover changed for the paperback version of the book (the original cover, which I loved, is here ). So, tell me what you think: what's with all the hair?

Here I Go Again...

I'm off to Arizona for my friend Nicole's wedding, and these are the three books I'm bringing in my carry on bag. Yes, I'm putting two more in my suitcase. Yes, I'm weird. But I'm not sure what I want to read, and I just got three more review assignments this afternoon. Plus, I can't just carry on a bag like I usually do since I'm carrying on the bridesmaids dress, so I have the extra space to stash and extra paperback or two. And if you happen to be in the Philadelphia International Airport tomorrow morning and see someone dressed liked this , remember, it might be a certain book reviewer and blogger crossing your path ;-) And if you also happen to love the Jersey shore, check out my new shore website at

Interview: Amy Hill Hearth

Check out my Down the Shore with Jen blog for a Q&A with Amy Hill Hearth, who wrote books 30 of 52 and 31 of 52 in this series. It's the first time I've had a Peabody award winner on the shore blog. Exciting stuff! The direct link to that Q&A is here . Perfect timing as "Strong Medicine" Speaks: A Native American Elder Has Her Say goes on sale tomorrow.

Book 39 of 52: Dogface by Jeff Garigliano

One of the questions I'm asked about in reference to this blog is "how do you read so fast?" I don't think it's a matter of speed -- I think it's a matter of options. I don't have cable. My DVD collection is limited and there's only so much reality TV and PBS a gal can take, so I read at night. Most Sundays, though, I'm at my mom's house, which is stocked with full cable and a working washer (unlike mine, which conked out a few months ago). So I spend most of the day doing laundry and watching a Law & Order marathon. But I was so into Jeff Garigliano's Dogface tonight that I sat at the kitchen table and read the second half of the book straight through, stopping only to change the wash. I could say that Dogface is about the summer camp from hell, but that would be an understatement -- it's a "reform" camp run by con artists: a husband good enough at preying on parents' fears that their children will be the next on

Weekend Wandering: The Irish Devil

I'm not a mystery or thriller reader, but given the weekend, I figured that this trailer for Diane Whiteside's The Irish Devil was fitting. Alright, enough of that scary stuff. Here's my younger brother's video of St. Patrick's Day. It has nothing to do with books, but it's fun. Oh, are a fond yet distant memory.

Review: A Short History of the American Stomach by Frederick Kaufman

My review of book 28 of 52 , Frederick Kaufman's A Short History of the American Stomach ran in the St. Pete Times on March 9. A sample: "From that starting point, you would expect a runup to today's culture of the Food Network and diet books on every corner, but Kaufman meanders his way to the present without hitting a lot of major milestones. He goes on ad nauseam about Puritan vomiting habits but spends a scant few pages on kosher foods, and even fewer on why people choose to be vegetarian. He writes about oyster genetics and Emeril, but little about why so many Americans eat themselves to death and others starve themselves." Read the complete review here .

Redux: Follow the Publication

In January, I reviewed James B. Stewart's Follow the Story: How to Write Successful Nonfiction , which was book 27 of 52 . In that post, I wrote about the slump I hit right after I mailed my manuscript over to my publisher and how Jack Wright, editor and publisher of Exit Zero and Cool Cape May (who also put in time as Executive Editor of Gear, US Weekly and Men's Journal), gave me a professional beating when I turned in the first draft of an essay that was to be published in the 2008 edition of Cool Cape May, an incredibly helpful guide book about, well, Cape May. Not all was lost -- Jack helped me inject life back into my writing, and I've been merrily trucking along ever since. I write about this now because I got a copy of the finished Cool Cape May today, and it's beautiful: Best beat down I ever got. I won't bore you with the details here. For that, click on over to my Down the Shore with Jen blog . The direct link is here .