Jen Miller

Book 26 of 52: Design Flaws of the Human Condition by Paul Schmidtberger

I planned on Design Flaws of the Human Conditionby Paul Schmidtberger being an earlier entry on this blog, but a few things block that path:
1. I left my copy of the book at my mom’s house
2. I had to read all those dating books for guys.

But I finished the book this morning, and as much as I hate to admit it, I was more than ready to move onto whatever book 27 of 52 will be.

For a first novel, it’s not bad. The premise is interesting — people who don’t really need anger management classes meet in an anger management class, become friends, and work together through their relationship woes. It has funny parts, especially in the beginning where Schmidtberger describes WHY the characters ended up in the class.

But if I were the editor, I would have toned down the Hit-You-Over-the-Head metaphors that cluttered up the final chapters. I’m all for a subtle suggestion of comparing, say, a design flaw on an alarm clock with design flaws in a relationship, but to put it out there in glaring black and white was a turn off for me. I was ready for the book to […]

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Redux II: Dating Books

The ‘dating books for guys’ article is done and on my editor’s desk(top). Thanks God. I think I can only handle so much of one genre at one time. As interesting as it was jumping into the other end of the dating book pool, I need something a little different. I’ll post a link to the article once it’s published, so stay tuned!

This picture is of the patch of my office floor where I put “current” projects, and by “put” I obviously mean “toss on the floor with arm’s reach.” I’ve also been going through book catalogues to see what’s coming out this spring, hence why those are mixed in with the dating books. And uncluttered mind requires a cluttered desk, right?

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Blog Report: 52 Songs in 52 Weeks by Ari Hest

If you know me (which you probably don’t, but that’s okay), you know that I’m a big Ari Hest fan. I got hooked in by a song sampler that was in an otherwise terrible give away bag. I’ve seen him in concert twice and interviewed him once. He’s a singer/songwriter all the way, and a personable one at that.

From a conversation I heard between Ari and someone on his management team (which I participated in by by trying to look cool and nod without letting anyone know how nervous I was to actually be a foot away from Ari), I knew that he wasn’t happy with his corporate record deal. I don’t think his second album, The Break-In, is nearly as good as the The Green Room Sessions, which is an EP he put out on his own (but The Break-In is still better than most of the stuff on the radio today).

In celebration of getting out of that contract, Ari has pledged to write a song a week for a year. You can follow along on his blog here. You can also buy individual songs via the site or […]

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Book 25 of 52: This Book Will Get You Laid by E. Dickens

I know, I know. Not exactly high literature here, but, hey I got a dog to feed, and I’m reading this for an article. Why else would I dedicate my time to This Book Will Get You Laid by E. Dickens, a book written for guys?

This, like Rules of the Game (book 24 of 52), is about how to get laid. Period. Not about how to get a girlfriend or the love of your life (this isn’t addressed except for a throw away line at the end of the book). Some of the tips seem dishonest or downright rude: “If she wants to see you a second time, feign mild surprise and palm her off with, ‘I’m sure we’ll run into each other again.’ Or give her that non-functioning email address.”

And people wonder why women are so screwed up by guys when advice like this is being tossed around. And “E” by the way, is a woman.

I’m not going to be so naive as to say that sometimes women don’t want just a one night stand. I even wrote an article about that for Men’s Fitness, but the only reason I agreed to […]

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Redux: Dating Books

On Sunday night, I headed to my friendly neighborhood Barnes & Noble, sat in the “Self Improvement” (no longer Self Help) aisle, and flipped through dating books for guys. Even though there are far fewer of these kinds of books than there are dating books for women, they are still there, as were a whole host of titles that will make you reconsider your hunt for a relationship. If that’s what you’re after. After scanning these, you might not be:

The Sex-Starved Wife: What to Do When He’s Lost Desire by Michele Weiner Davis

Why Did I Marry You Anyway? Overcoming the Myths That Hinder a Happy Marriage by Barbara Bartlein

How Could You Do This to Me? by Jane Greer and Margery D. Rosen

How To Catch Him With His Pants Down: and Kick Him in the Assets by Vinny Parco with Michael Benson

After the Affair: Healing the Pain and Rebuilding Trust When a Partner Has Been Unfaithful by Janis Abrahms Spring and Michael Spring

Having an Affair?: A Handbook for the “Other Woman” by Sarah J. Symonds

It’s So Hard to Love You: […]

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Book 24 of 52: Rules of the Game by Neil Strauss

I wanted to hate this book. I went into reading it rip, roaring and ready to tear it apart. Just look at it — it’s seedy in that gold-chains-and-chest-hair way, all draped in leather with saucy silhouettes of women printed on the covers.

But I didn’t hate it. In fact, it’s the most useful dating book I’ve read so far, and even though Neil Strauss’ audience is largely guys, I think that women can learn a lot from Rules of the Game, especially women who complain that they don’t meet anyone.

Why don’t people meet anyone? Because, unless they’re tucked away in a hermitage, it’s because people don’t talk to people. Next time you’re walking down a crowded city street, or in a coffee shop, or on a bus or train, look at how many people are talking to each other. Not many. We create force fields around ourselves with our books, our iPods, even game systems so that people won’t talk to us.

Strauss sees it as his life mission to help guys break through that force field.

This is not Strauss’ first foray into the dating world. He instructed guys-not-in-the-know on how to get women on VH1’s The […]

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Interview: Philip E. Orbanes, author of Monopoly

Click on over to my Down the Shore with Jen blog for an interview with Philip E. Orbanes, author of Monopoly: The World’s Most Famous Game–And How It Got That Way. The direct link is here.

Orbanes is certainly the guy to write the book. Not only was he born and raised at the South Jersey shore, but he was also an executive with Parker Bros., which sells Monopoly, for 11 years.

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Book 23 of 52: The Pocket Idiot’s Guide to Getting Girls by Lisa Altalida

My usual MO when riding the PATCO high speed line from New Jersey into Philadelphia is to read a book and turn my headphones loud enough that I can’t hear whatever else is going on around me. Not exactly the safest thing to do, but it does keep me from hearing what happened at happy hour.

I live near a PATCO station, too, and wonder what it would be like to ride the train every day, and think that, if I did, how it would be a great place to pick up guys — if I could just get over my desire not to hear about what happened at happy hour and take out my ear buds.

One night a few weeks ago, a young man broke through my iPod bubble in the simplest way possible: by catching my eye and waving at me. How nice, I thought.

I wish I could say that this vignette has a happy ending, but the reason I’m writing about it here is because said gentleman is in desperate need of The Pocket Idiot’s Guide to Getting Girls. He followed up that wave by telling me he’d just gotten fired […]

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Book 22 of 52: A Selection of Pieces from The New Yorker, The Talk of the Town

Book 22 is a bit of a mystery. I’m not even sure you’d call it a book — it’s more a pamphlet. But it’s my blog, and I can do what I want. So book 22 it is.

Before I reviewed books and got said books directly from publishers, I was a big fan of library book sales (I still am, but don’t buy nearly as many). Sold! I love roaming the stacks of what other people give away, from old worn encyclopedias to paperbacks bearing Fabio covers. I always got a kick of finding notes written on the inside covers or letters tucked in the books I bought, even if I never ended up reading the books. Plus, you couldn’t beat the prices. Quarter for a book? Sold!

I picked this pamphlet up at the Haddonfield Library Book Sale last year. I forgot I had it until I reorganized my books…er, organized my books for the first time since I moved into my house. I’m proud to say that I’ve read everything in the collection save two items, and this pamphlet was one of them.

I’m not sure where this pamphlet came from, or why it was printed, so if […]

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Article: How dieting stacks up

I thought about reading a diet book or two for this blog. I was sent a slew of them in relation to that article I wrote about self help books, and I piece I just wrapped up for Oxygen magazine. But I don’t have the patience, nor the time. Besides, Marilynn Marter of the Philadelphia Inquirer wrote a great round up herself, which you can read here.

Like self help books, some diet books are good, but a lot are crap, especially those that promise a Jessica Biel body on six minutes a day. It’s just not possible — well, without major surgery.

Aside from books, I write a lot about health an fitness, and I got into it because Inside magazine assigned me to take a six week boot camp through Body Physics Fitness in Haddonfield, NJ and write about it. That was September 2005. I still use the outline of their meal plan, though I’ve had to add in more carbs since, as a distance runner, I’m working out much more than one hour for three mornings a week.

Even over 2+ down the healthy lifestyle track, I can say this about ‘dieting’: it’s […]

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