Month: April 2009

Buying Books

I love reading. Love it in so many ways that I feel at a loss when I don’t have a book with me. But for the last few weeks, I’ve felt like I have nothing to read.

This is not the actual case — publishers send me a lot of books they hope I will read. Most of the titles I review on this blog are sent to me directly from publishers. I’ve started in on a few books that seemed interesting but, after the first 30 pages, were a bore. Even the last book on this book a week series didn’t spark anything in me, but I was on a train with nothing else to do, so I read it.

Last night, I went to Barnes and Noble. My goal was to wander the store and pick something. Still, after a half hour, I left empty handed. I spent another half hour going through the titles on my shelves, and still nothing.

As readers, do you ever get like this? I’m surprised. I can’t remember a time when it’s happened before. My solution has been, so far, to read magazines, but they don’t usually supply the same experience a book can. And […]

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Book 35 of 52: Laura Rider’s Masterpiece

If you’ve been reading along with this 52 books in 52 weeks series, you know that I’ve read quite a few romance novels for articles I’ve written about romance writers (the second one will coming out in late May/early June). Fitting, then that Laura Rider’s Masterpiece by Jane Hamilton, is about a woman trying to write a romance novel. But Laura Rider doesn’t want to write any old “boy meets girl, they argue, they get married.” She wants to write a true romance, and to get herself something to study, coaxes her husband into an affair with a radio personality.

It’s an odd duck of a book, and I stopped reading it twice. It didn’t quite catch me, but as I picked what book to take on the train to NYC yesterday, it won because it was the lighter and smaller of the two, and I read most of it on Amtrak (finished the last bits this morning).

I didn’t really like it, but it’s getting good reviews elsewhere. If you haven’t noticed, I don’t review too much fiction — I like reading books that take a topic and open it up, like a can opener. This was a […]

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Book 34 of 52: You’d Be So Pretty If…

I almost skipped a meeting yesterday — an important one that I didn’t necessarily have to go to, but would be something I could write about, and was a chance to see professional contacts that I hadn’t seen face to face in years. But I almost didn’t go. Why?

Because my pants were too tight.

Ridiculous, yes? But it’s the truth. My bed was strewn with outfits I’d taken off in disgust, clothes that didn’t fit right, were too tight or made me look flawed. I settled on one pants/shirt combination, but after walking my dog in it, decided it made me look hideous. So I stripped it off when I got back inside and almost reached for the sweats, embarrassed that on that one day, I fit into the outfit I’d planned to wear, but it felt tight.

Sound out of the ordinary? Ladies, I don’t think so. I think weight and body issues is something that is brought up a lot, but not dealt with in the right way — and by the “right way,” I don’t mean in women’s magazines that tell you in every issue that you are too fat, don’t please your man, and will die of […]

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Q&A: Matthew Quick

I didn’t write about The Silver Linings Playbook: on this blog — I read it in between the “Book a Week” series. But here’s a Q&A with author Matthew Quick anyway.

I like this story for a lot of reasons:

1. I went to high school with Quick’s brother.
2. Quick taught at my high school (but not while I was a student there).
3. Quick lives in Collingswood (where I live now), and the book takes place in Collingswood.
4. It’s a happy ending to someone who took a huge risk to pursue writing.
5. All signs point to this being made into a Very Big Movie.

So check it out!

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Book 33 of 52: Once a Runner

“They were a strange crowd, runners.”

Yes, yes we are.

Once a Runneris a great story — and I don’t just mean the book itself, which is phenomenal. Parker’s perseverance in getting the book published and in the hands of other runners is enough of a feel good story itself.

Parker self-published Once a Runner, a book about a runner gunning to run under a four-minute-mile, in 1978 and sold it at races out of the trunk of his car. Runner’s World has called it the best novel written about running, and I can see why. Even without the running portion, it is a finely crafted, tight novel with characters that come alive from the first chapters.

Those copies from 1978 were passed around and passed down, almost like a rite of passage, among runners. And I’m not talking about Sunday jogger or even 8-minute-milers like mean. I mean serious elite runners — the guys who think 6-minute-mile runs are a jog, the guys who log over 100 hours a week, the guys for whom running a mile in over five minutes is a failure. It became one of the most sought-after out of print books, and […]

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Book 32 of 52: Until it Hurts: America’s Obsession with Youth Sports and How it Harms Our Kids

I had meant to write a long blog post about Until It Hurts: America’s Obsession with Youth Sports and How It Harms Our Kids by Mark Hyman. For now, though, I will keep it short. It’s a dry book, but it’s a an important read for parents with kids who play sports. It’s a statistical look at how pushing a kid too far too soon can hurt him or her in the long run.

I’m keeping it short because my mind is elsewhere. Long-time Phillies announcer and voice of NFL films Harry Kalas died today. Even though he was 73, it’s still a shock. He died in a broadcast booth getting ready for today’s Phillies vs. Nationals game.

More than any other announcer, Kalas was the Phillies for me. I still remember hearing his call for Mike Schmidt’s 50th home run. I played the last out of the 2008 World Series endlessly on the day after the Phillies became World Champs. Here’s the last strike:

I met Kalas once, briefly. Very nice gentleman who came up and talked to me even though I was shy to introduce myself. My father called me today to tell me the […]

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Book 31 of 52: So Happy Together

This, readers, is the last in the string of romances I read for the latest and greatest piece about the industry. So Happy Togetherby Maryann McFadden (Pub. date July 7) isn’t bad, and probably more in line with “women’s fiction” than what you’d typically think of in romance. There isn’t, for example, any blatant descriptions of sex. The heroine isn’t wronged by a man to kick off the story, and there really isn’t a romantic rival. It might not even be clear who the hero is (though I could tell).

The story’s about Claire Noble (nice name, eh?). She’s about to start her new life — she’s engaged and moving from New Jersey to Arizona after the marriage. After taking care of her daughter as a single parent, and then her aging parents, it’s time for her to finally live. But when said daughter, who had left home in a huff years before, shows up practically crowning a grandchild, everything changes. Obviously. It’s not every day an estranged daughter comes home and has a baby in the bathroom.

Overall, it was OK. Probably too long and drawn out in places (the whole whale thing in Cape […]

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Book 30 of 52: The Mom’s Guide to Growing Your Family Green

Feeling greenwashed yet? I am. And even though Terra Wellington’s The Mom’s Guide to Growing Your Family Green: Saving the Earth Begins at Home offers a few nuggets of good eco information, I wouldn’t recommend it as your one green go-to book. A lot of the information is beyond basic, like how to put more walking into your life, and put a lid on the pot as it boils to save energy and heat. Wellington also leans so much on information from the EPA and Energy Star programs that I wondered why she didn’t just reprint their web pages in the book.

The title of this book also bothers me. I can see why putting “mom” in it would mean to sell books, but there’s little about this book that screams it’s specifically for moms. Why are kids tips just for women? Or a chapter about greening a school?

I’m annoyed by this book. Seriously annoyed — like how I feel when I see someone like Clorox with a “green” product (Really? How is bleach green? You can’t claim to be green while still producing that stuff. Also, the author notes on her bio that she has […]

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Book 29 of 52: Bound by Your Touch

I swear, dear readers, that this is not becoming a romance novel review blog. Really! But I’m at the tail end of another piece about romance writers. I could just write up summaries of the books based on their online blurbs, but that’s not really right, is it? Especially if I’m recommending people buy said books?

So that brings us to Bound by Your Touch (pub. date June), the second book out by NJ gal Meredith Duran. It’s a historical romance that takes place in the late 1800s.

The book opens on our heroine, Lydia, ready to accept a marriage proposal from who she thinks is her love, George. Only George isn’t asking for Lydia’s hand in marriage — he wants to marry Lydia’s younger sister, Sophie.

The story then jumps four years ahead when Lydia is a book smart spinster (yes, at age 26) who shows up Viscount Sandboure, a self-admitted rake, but proclaiming his Egyptian artifact as a fake. When it turns out her father, who is a scientist working in Egypt, might play a part in selling the fake, Lydia is set and determined to find out the truth. Sanburne gets wrapped up in the story, too, and […]

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