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Showing posts from 2009

Resolution Books

I'm not a big New Year's resolution person. I'm not sure if pledging to change your life completely always works. And why January 1? If I make any self-pledges, they tend to be in the fall. Everyone's back from vacation, and life goes back to normal, hence goals. Then there's the whole my gym is going to be so crowded I want to scream. But that'll go away by February 1...which is when the dating books hit hard (though I'm already sick of the eHarmony commercials flooding my TV). Anyway -- January 1 is still a biggie in the resolution business, so what I call "resolution" books have been rolling in. They're usually in the self help and diet category, though I've seen a lot more financial books since the recession kicked in. I generally don't pay attention to the diet ones (like Fat Flush for Life: The Year-Round Super Detox Plan to Boost Your Metabolism and Keep the Weight Off Permanently - are you kidding me?) but two financial ha

Merry Christmas!

On deciding not to read a book

I got a galley of  Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough   in the mail yesterday. It's the book spawned by a controversial Atlantic piece about the same topic , where author Lori Gottlieb implores women to just marry some schlub already. I didn't like the article, and I didn't think I'd like to book. I gave it a try, though. After chapter one, I put it down.  Here's why:  The marketing blurb on the book says, "In the March 2008 issue of the Atlantic, Gottlieb argued that women need to stop waiting for 'Mr. Right' and start settling for 'Mr. Real.'"  Ooo boy. Then, in the prologue, Gottlieb lists the "must have" qualities she wanted in a man when she was younger. It's over two pages long.  I made a list of my own, and it had one thing on it: "Not an addict." If someone has a two-page list of demands, then I'll go out on a limb and say being single is their own fault. Maybe the book will speak

Review: Portrait of an Addict as a Young Man

Portrait of an Addict as a Young Man: A Memoir by Bill Clegg isn't coming out in June, and I hesitate to review it six months in advance of it's publication date. But the book is so damn good (I read it in two sittings) that I don't want to wait and let its impact fade. Portrait of an Addict as a Young Man is about Clegg's crack addiction. Instead of being a point A to point B story of how he became a crack addict, the book jumps back and forth, from a bender back to events in his childhood that could have lead up to him looking for an escape, ending with him coming out of rehab (I don't think that's a spoiler since the book is already written) and an event in his childhood that could have triggered that first need to get high. The story's told in chunks of paragraphs that make the narrative jumpy, but it works and helps the reader understand the jumpiness that was Clegg's life, through the weeks of no sleep with nothing but crack, sex and vodka, to

Review: Early Bird: A Memoir of Premature Retirement

A few weeks ago, my dad and I headed to sunny Florida. Goal: Visit his parents and sit in the warm Florida sun. It poured for three days straight. The only sun we got was a thin beam or two  upon landing in Florida and flashes of light while taking off and back to Philadelphia. After reading my facebook updates from the retirement community ("If you didn't hear the directions, grandmom will remind you. Fourteen times. Before the first exit" ; "Grandpop says some women are just yum. Others are yummy yummy" ; "I welcome all early bird specials"), umbrellatrix Katie Sweeney suggested that I read Early Bird: A Memoir of Premature Retirement  by Rodney Rothman. I'm no stranger to the retirement community lifestyle. I went to college in Tampa, and was incredibly homesick my freshman year. So my grandfather would drive cross state, pick me up, and drive me back to their retirement community in Sebastian, Florida. I'd lie at the pool, eat too m

Notes on Julie & Julia

Last night, I watched Julie & Julia , the movie based on both Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously and My Life in France I started this blog by reading Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously (you can read that first review here ). I understand now why the publication of Julie Powell's follow up book, Cleaving: A Story of Marriage, Meat, and Obsession , was delayed until December. As I've also written here , I hated the book for a lot of reasons, and I couldn't watch the movie without remembering: 1. How much I hated Cleaving . 2. What Powell eventually did to her husband. I know that the happy ending didn't really happen, and that all the problems simmering in their marriage exploded thereafter. I also watched You've Got Mail over the weekend, another Nora Ephron film. I don't know if it's the acting or what, but that was a much more clever film. Julie & Julia didn't have that same charm. I also agree with Joy Mann

Review: Yiddish Yoga: Ruthie's Adventures in Love, Loss, and the Lotus Position

A few notes: 1. I am not Jewish. 2. I do not do yoga. 3. I am not a senior citizen. I tell you these things because my choice of Yiddish Yoga: Ruthie's Adventures in Love, Loss, and the Lotus Position might be a surprise (especially since, as I write this review, I'm listening to Christmas music and wearing a Virgin Mary medallion). But I still enjoyed this short, punchy, illustrated story about a woman who is all of those things. When Ruthie Brodestein's husband passes away, her granddaughter buys her a year membership to yoga classes. The book follows Brodestein through her year of classes, and includes her revelations as her body stretches, and how doing yoga helps her work through her grief. It's funny, whimsical and a good read, even if it doesn't have my swapping out my running sneakers for a yoga matt. My only disappointment was realizing that Ruthie is not a real person and that Yiddish Yoga is fiction. But to author Lisa Grunberger's defense, I d

Review: The Yugo: The Rise and Fall of the Worst Car in History

"I'm reading about Yugos," I told a friend this weekend. "Yugos! I loved them! They must have made a ton of money," he said. Hardly, as is shown in Jason Vuic's The Yugo: The Rise and Fall of the Worst Car in History , which will be published in March 2010. It's about how the Yugo rode into the U.S. on the power of a strong viral campaign and rock bottom price tag, and crashed because the cars were less than reliable, being produced by a company always on the edge of insolvency. In telling the story of the Yugo, Vuic also writes about small cars in America, and how they form the bottom of the car food chain -- an important bottom (says this Honda Civic driver). It's an interesting story, but not as told here. Vuic is a history professor and Yugoslav expert, but adeptness in teaching history hasn't translated into the strong narrative that this book would need to make it more interesting non-fiction read and less wikipedia entry about the li

Recommendation: The Secret Language of Money

This is a recommendation and not a review because I've been hired to review The Secret Language of Money: How to Make Smarter Financial Decisions and Live a Richer Life by David Krueger, M.D. Briefly: It's about the emotions surrounding money, and tells you how to start looking as money as money and not something else. It's a simple statement, but a powerful one. How many people shop to make themselves feel better? And spend beyond their means? Bonus: the book is written in plain language with only a tint of "be empowered!" It's not a blueprint to get out of debt, or a replacement for a financial planner. It shows why so many of us don't view money as a means to acquire life essentials. It's a trickery issue than most people think.

Review: Lipstick Jungle by Candace Bushnell

Once a winter, I make a trek to Florida, either to sit on the beach in St. Pete or visit my grandparents in the Vero Beach area. Fortunately, this winter I'll be doing both. Unfortunately, the trip to my grandparents' was last weekend where it promptly turned from 80 and sunny to pouring right after my plane landed, and it poured for two days. I mean raining-cats-and-dogs-keeping-you-awake-at-night pouring. It wasn't exactly what I'd hoped to be doing, a plan that originally and vaguely involved lying around the pool reminding old men what us young gals look like. So I hunkered down and read like I had nothing else to do (which was true). I finished Wild Romance , and started another book. In between, I picked up Lipstick Jungle from the retirement community library, and read it cover to cover so I could return it before I came back to NJ. The book is about three high-powered friends: a movie studio executive, a magazine editor and a fashion designer. Each faces a

Review: Wild Romance: A Victorian Story of Marriage, a Trial, and a Self-Made Woman

Chloe Schama did not set out to write about Theresa Yelverton. She tucked herself into the British Library to research "sensation novels," books from the Victorian era that, while popular then, have not stood the test of time. Schama discovered Theresa Yelverton in a footnote to one such story, about how the bigamy trial she brought against her husband served as inspiration for one such story. Schama tells Theresa Yelverton's story in Wild Romance: A Victorian Story of a Marriage, a Trial, and a Self-Made Woman , a dense but fascinating look at women's rights in a society when a woman's value was strapped to her husband. Her case sounds like a Victorian version of "he's just not that into you" -- Theresa meets William Yelverton on a steamer from France to England in 1852. The two stayed up all night talking, and started swapping letters, at first fervently. As time passes, Theresa writes more frantically than Yelverton. She's like the woman w

Book Gift Guide for the Holidays

Hey ho, it's the holidays! As you know, a lot of publishers send me books in hopes that I'll write about them. So, instead of sending the November batch to the library donation bin (which is where a lot of books go even if I DO read them), I put together a small gift guide of many types of books. Deck the halls, people. Deck. The. Halls. 29 Gifts: How a Month of Giving Can Change Your Life by Cami Walker. This is the perfect gift for anyone who needs a feel good story. It starts bad, though -- Walker dives into a steep depression when she finds out she has MS. She digs out of it by giving one gift a day for 29 days. Now, for someone with Spock-like logic, it's a little spacey and new-agey, but I enjoyed the read. It made me give a few gifts myself. PostSecret: Confessions on Life, Death, and God Ever heard of PostSecret ? It's this movement where you can anonymously send postcards with whatever you want on it. IT IS FASCINATING. What would you say if no o