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Showing posts from December, 2007

Book 20 of 52: Comfort Me with Apples by Ruth Reichl

It's New Year's Eve. Since December 23, I have done nothing but eat, and most of the food I've consumed does not have my 'healthy meal plan' stamp of approval. On top of all those calories, I turned my ankle over a week ago and haven't been able to run since. For a four-times-a-week runner, this is disaster. Not only have I gone without my usual runner's high, but I can feel those sugar, fat and cream calories packing around my mid-section. And tonight's New Year's Eve party, the theme of which is wine and fondue, does not promise to be a change in my eating habits. So what do I read? A book about food. In my defense, I'm working on an essay about food literature, so Ruth Reichl's Comfort Me with Apples: More Adventures at the Table is up my working alley. I read Tender at the Bone: Growing Up at the Table , which you could argue is the prequel for Comfort Me with Apples years ago, and it made me want to cook. I feel that way every time I

Book 19 of 52: Gods Behaving Badly by Marie Phillips

Well, that was fun. I read 95 percent of Marie Phillip's Gods Behaving Badly in a day -- not just because it was a quick read, but also because I'm sick (ever see that commercial where the person's whole head turns into one big stuffy nose? That's me). And what a nice companion it made. It's a silly book, really. Phillips puts the Greek gods and goddesses into today's era and into a run down London house, where they fled after losing their hold on the beliefs of the Greeks. Apollo does a show on a psychic channel; Eros goes to church; Dionysus runs a club; and Aphrodite works as a phone sex girl. Their powers have been sliced down to almost nothing, either because they're getting old, people don't believe in them anymore, or a combination of the two -- it takes a while for the gods to figure that out, and how to fix their predicament. It's a fun, quick read and completely ridiculous (much like Ian Sansom's Mr. Dixon Disappears , which I name

Book 18 of 52: Ellington Bouleavrd: A Novel in A-Flat

Who here likes musical theater? I like musical theater, but not in a "humming Rent while walking the dog" sort of way. Still, I have an appreciate for the silly songs, dance routines and simple plots that always end in a marriage knot. If you are that "humming Rent while walking the dog" kind of person, you'll probably appreciate Ellington Boulevard: A Novel in A-Flat by Adam Langer (to be published January 22). You'll also get a kick out of it if you're a dog lover, and/or if you've had to deal with real estate within the last five years -- especially if you've had to deal with New York City real estate. Maybe what I'm trying to say is that it's a likable story that will appeal to a wide cross section of people. It's a bit too simplistic for me to give it five out of five stars -- the plot is very predictable, but this book is, after all, a novel set up around a musical theater structure, so it's not surprising. The story

Best of 2007

For the last three years, I've put together my top 10 albums, songs and concerts of the year. But I was so wrapped up in writing my book that I didn't pay as much attention as I usually do to the music world, and instead relied on old favorites like Guster and Pete Yorn to provide my writing soundtrack. But I did read a lot of books this year, more so since I started this blog. So here's my best for 2007. But before I begin: I obviously did not read every book published in 2007. I'm guessing I got to about 40 to 50 in 2007, so here's what rung my bell. If you'd like a fabulous top-music list for 2007, check out WXPN's top 100 albums of 2007 . I'm shocked that Wilco got the top spot, but, hey, to each their own. I am glad Stars made the list, even if it was at 100, and that Dr. Dog (which would have been on my top 10 concerts list if I'd made one) placed so high. Alright, on with the show: Best Non-Fiction: Backyard Giants: The Passionate, H

Book 17 of 52: Sneaker Wars: The Enemy Brothers Who Founded Adidas and Puma and the Family Feud that Forever Changed the Business of Sport

As someone who's played soccer since she was four years old, how could I not pick up Sneaker Wars: The Enemy Brothers Who Founded Adidas and Puma and the Family Feud That Forever Changed the Business of Sport (available March 25, 2008)? And with a subhead like that, how could I not ready it (side note: one of my graduate school professors said to skip the title and pay attention to what came after the colon...in this case, he's 100 percent right). This isn't just a story about a family feud. It's about how that family feud laid the groundwork for sponsorships as we know it today. Yes, it might be McDonalds and Coke who we most associate with big ticket sponsorship deals, but it all started with the Dassler brothers trying to one up each other by convincing Olympic athletes to wear their shoes, first by giving away free shoes , then by leaving envelopes of cash in pre-determined places (since, before 1990, 'professional' athletes were banned from the Olympics)

Essay: Viva La Blog

About a year ago, I was chosen for a 'makeover' over at The Renegade Writer Blog . The original renegades are Linda Formichelli and Diana Burrell, and they've printed two extremely helpful books about freelancing writing, The Renegade Writer: A Totally Unconventional Guide to Freelance Writing Success (The Renegade Writer's Freelance Writing series) and The Renegade Writer's Query Letters That Rock: The Freelance Writer's Guide to Selling More Work Faster (The Renegade Writer's Freelance Writing series) The rest of the renegades, in case you're curious, are those of us who freelance according to their advice, which does NOT involve self addressed stamped envelopes! My goal was to be a book dork for life . I love reading, reviewing and writing about books, and that's where I wanted my freelance life to go. For a variety of reasons, that didn't happen. I signed the contract for my book , which threw my business plan out of whack, and the econo

Book 16 of 52: To Cork or Not to Cork: Tradition, Romance, Science, and the Battle for the Wine Bottle

I don’t consider myself a wine connoisseur. My first drink ever was half a can of beer when I was 16, an it wasn’t until I was 18 that I felt the full effects of too much alcohol consumption – in the form of one too many screwdrivers drunk from a McDonalds cup tailgating for a Doobie Brothers Concert, after when I ended up puking in the bathroom of what is now known as the Tweeter Center in Camden, NJ. Classy. I don’t know if I consider my introduction to alcohol typical since, aside from one total can of beer, I didn’t drink in high school, unlike a lot of people I knew who considered “getting trashed” THE thing to do. I spent the day after my junior prom on the beach in Strathmere (which I wrote about in The Jersey Shore; Atlantic City to Cape May: Great Destinations: A Complete Guide: Including the Wildwoods (Great Destinations) , FYI) watching other people get drunk because I was too scared to drink for fear that my parents would banish me to my room for a month (a very real thr

Redux: Self Help Books

This is the last time I'll be posting about self help books...well, almost. I'll post a link when the article I wrote about the genre is published in early January. Obviously, I couldn't write about and/or read every self help book on the market. It is, after all, a nearly $10 billion industry. But to give you an idea of what publishers think will sell -- and what people probably will spend money on -- below is a selection of what was in that stack I posted about earlier . I also wanted to point out that this doesn't mean that I hate all self help books. Some can be helpful. I know a few have helped me, but I think a lot of them are crap, especially the " it worked for me, so it will work for you, too " books written by people who don't have any other qualifications outside their own personal stories. Maybe it's a matter of the right book finding the right person. As one person I interviewed for the article said, that first book on the list below