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Thursday Thirteen #16: Books I Want To Read

Posted by infinitygoods on February 13, 2008

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For more participants visit Thursday Thirteen.

Let me know if you’ve read any of these and how you liked them, or let me know what you would highly recommend as don’t-miss-books. Wishing you all a Happy St. Valentine’s Day Thursday!

1. The Animal Dialogues: Uncommon Encounters in the Wild by Craig Childs (non-fiction) I love adventure, but the best I can do is Adventures in Barbecuing and an occasional camping trip so I live vicariously through books in the comfort and safety of my armchair. Childs will take me to Alaska, Washington, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico to discover beautiful creatures like the Great Blue Heron, ravens, owls, coyotes, mountain lions and jaguars. Some of these animals are in my own backyard and I often watch them through my windows so it won’t take much imagination for me to be transported to the great wildernesses of our American West.

2. Paris Review Interviews edited by Philip Gourevitch (Non-Fiction — the 3rd volume in a series is to be released soon) I’m a journalist and a writer so interviews, authors and writing are always of interest to me. Here writers have interviewed other writers like Steven King, T. S. Eliot, Jorge Luis Borges, John Gardner and Alice Munro.

3. The Folded World by Amity Paige (Fiction) I’m not so much interested in the basic plot, but in the subplot dealing with schizophrenia and other mental illnesses, as I once worked for a crisis helpline with more than our fair share of schizophrenics which always made me think that some local doctors must have been giving our phone number to patients. The book is about a young social worker torn between the needs of his clients and of his own family.

4. The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl by Timothy Egan (Non-Fiction) It has history, travel and according to the reviews I’ve read, superb, award-winning journalistic talent, so how can I possibly resist?

5. My Life In France by Julia Child (Non-Fiction) My husband and I were at the bookstore recently, a favorite pastime of ours, and I became completely engrossed by this book. In this memoir, she recalls her years in “La Belle France” as she calls her adopted home during the 1950s. She describes my native country as only a lover of France and its people could. It is a consummate love affair with everything French and she transports us to a time where she finally finds her self and her calling while in the arms of her other amour, her husband Paul Child. I don’t know how I could possibly have missed this book for the last two years. Julia is my favorite chef because her recipes are well-tested. She is the only chef I would trust enough for me to cook a recipe for the 1st time and serve it to company or even to a stereotypical evil mother-in-law. I know without even the shadow of a doubt that she will guide me right down to the last grain of salt and will not only tell me what to do, but much more importantly, what pitfalls to not fall into. Julia doesn’t just give us recipes, she teaches us how to cook.

6. Reading For Writers: A Guide For People Who Love Books and For Those Who Want to Write Them by Francine Prose (Non-Fiction) In other words, a guide written for yours truly. 😉

7. House Calls: Reflections of a Family Physician by Thomas L. Stern, M.D. (Non-Fiction) Medicine is another field of interest for me. Dr. Stern was the role model and technical adviser for the Marcus Welby, M.D. television show, and in this book he tells us the story of his life. This quote on the back cover particularly caught my eye: “I’ll tell you stories of the warmth of patients’ feelings toward me as their doctor; but especially, I’ll tell you about how I loved each of them, the people who trusted me enough to refer to me as ‘my doctor.'” Having worked with doctors and having had a few doctors I call ‘my doctor,’ I can tell you that the ones who care are the ones who make all the difference in the world.

8. Rumpole And The Primrose Path by John Mortimer (Fiction) I have read all previous Rumpole books — several times — and it is high time I read this one. Rumpole makes me laugh out loud and heartily, and let me tell you, we adults need to laugh a whole lot more often. I also love the Rumpole PBS series with Leo McLeod also of The Prisoner.

9. The Reluctant Tuscan: How I Discovered My Inner Italian by Phil Doran (Non-Fiction) From the writer and producer of The Wonder Years and Who’s The Boss, this travel memoir is reminiscent of A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle and the cover promises another laugh-out-loud adventure.

10. Gerald’s Game by Stephen King (Fiction) I was recently given this book I had never read from the early 1990s. I hope it’s one of King’s really-scary-in-a-great-sort-of-way books and not one of his books describing evil because I don’t like those. But his truly scary ones are the work of a tremendously talented writer

11. Summer of Night by Dan Simmons (Fiction) From the library of the same person who gave me Gerald’s Game. I never read horror except for Stephen King, but since King says “one of those rare must-read books. I am in awe of Dan Simmons,” then I must have been missing something good all these years.

12. The Tomb of Tutankhamen by Howard Carter (Non-Fiction) Another adventure in my armchair to help me experience the greatest archaeological discovery and excavation of all time. Tut has fascinated the world since 1922 and I too have fallen prey to his magical hypnosis from beyond the sarcophagus.

13. The Best Cat Ever by Cleveland Armory (Non-Fiction) If you too have ever been owned by a cat, you might also want to read about Polar Bear and his curmudgeon author.

Don’t forget to leave a comment so we can all visit you too. 😉

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    Thursday Thirteen #13 — 13 Resolutions And Why They Will Fail

    Posted by infinitygoods on January 2, 2008

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    Wow, 13 Thursday 13s already.

    I never make New Year’s Resolutions other than resolving NOT to make resolutions! Here’s 13 reasons why the top 13 resolutions around the world fail.

    1. Lose weight: Doomed from the start because it’s almost impossible to escape corn syrup. It’s in everything! Statistics show that weight gain in the United States has gone up 4000 percent since the 1970s and it correlates exactly with the 4000% increase in manufacturers’ use of corn syrup since the 1970s. Corn syrup also increases cravings!!
    2. Exercise: Most people are too tired all day to exercise and when you add to the equation that you have to drive both to and from the gym (in my case it would be a 25 mile round trip to the nearest gym) it makes the whole thing futile unless you can give all of us a few more hours in the day.
    3. Diet: We all have the best intentions until our ALREADY STARVED stomachs get tempted by the aroma of pizza or warm chocolate chip cookies.
    4. Write to far away relatives: Tomorrow I’ll write to my aunt, but when tomorrow comes, well my dear, Scarlett said it best, “Tomorrow is another day!”
    5. Be a better spouse/child/friend: If we couldn’t do it on Thanksgiving or on Christmas Day, what makes you think that we can miraculously do it by procrastinating waiting until January 1.
    6. Stop procrastinating: Some people do procrastinate because they just don’t want to do something, but most of the time, people just don’t have enough hours in the day to accomplish everything on the TO DO list. Give all of us another few more hours in the day AND the energy to do it, and I guarantee you we’ll all procrastinate a whole lot less. Until then, that resolution is guaranteed to be broken quickly.
    7. Get more sleep: If you live in the city, be sure to pass a law forbidding garbage trucks to stagnate under your window and beep when they back out with a 13-point turn. While you’re at it, pass a law to forbid all traffic, all honking, all loud neighbors, all barking dogs until after you have woken up on your own and are well-rested. If you live in the country, make sure the rooster is blind and your neighbor has agreed to milk the cows and do all your morning chores. And above all, regardless of where you live, be absolutely sure that you do not have any children under the age of 50.
    8. Keep a clean home: Unless you want to get rid of the dirt-tracking, slobbering dog, get rid of the germ-carrying, toy-scattering kids, maybe even the food-eating, clothe-wearing spouse, that’s going to be a tough one. Even at the Carlsbad caves in New Mexico, they have to spend thousands of volunteer hours dusting and picking dirt and lint out of the stalagmites each year and nobody even lives there. You do LIVE in your house, don’t you?
    9. Quite smoking/drinking/and God-forbid taking drugs: These are all substances which affect your brain receptors. You not only have to get rid of a nasty habit, but you have to get your brain and your physiology to stop reacting. With very hard work and lots of will-power you might be able to quit, but your body will always be addicted. It would be much easier to resolve to never use and abuse these substances in the first place.
    10. Reduce stress overall: LOL! LOL! When I hear people say that it reduces MY stress because it makes me laugh so much. Of course this is probably the easiest resolution to achieve. All you have to do is die and go to Heaven. That’s all. Now, be careful! Make sure you DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT, commit suicide under any circumstance, because then you’ll die and go to hell!
    11. Reduce stress at work: If you work with people, it’s impossible. Unless maybe if you work with French people, because I seem to recall Napoleon saying “Impossible is not French.” You can’t work with machines or robots because they are designed and programed by people. Now maybe if you want to follow in Jane Goodall’s footsteps and go to the jungle to live with animals. They say animals reduce stress — as long as they’re not trying to eat you!
    12. Get out of debt: First thing is to sell your house because a mortgage is a 30-year debt. Sell your car too since you don’t want car payments. Cut up your credit cards which will of course wreck your credit score, but that’s OK since you don’t want any debt.
    13. Save money: That is another way of saying join the rat race, because to save money you have to earn money with a job and you have to work your little rat wheel faster than INFLATION. Also, don’t believe all those commercials that say you can save money if you go to their stores, because what they conveniently forget to tell you is that to save that money, you have to spend money first, so you’ll have to stat in that giant rat race.

    If I didn’t deter you from making resolutions, just remember that it takes at least three weeks to form a good habit, so don’t give up before then, and best of luck and Happy New Year to you and yours!

    If you want to see the list of Thursday 13 participants, just click here.

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    NaNoWriMo — Ready, Set, Write a Novel in 30 Days

    Posted by infinitygoods on October 19, 2007

    As I was hopping from one blog to another yesterday, I discovered an 8-year-old phenomenon which has been sweeping the WWW community of writers and bloggers.

    National Novel Writing Month is coming up in November. The point is not to write the greatest novel ever written or the next best-seller, but rather to find the dedication to write 50, 000 words in 30 days and to refrain our dreadful inner editors which cripple so many, even professional writers.

    If you succeed in writing that novel, or should we really say that first draft, you get bragging rights. Winners receive a web icon and a certificate, but more importantly, they get the empowerment that comes with the accomplishment of such a challenge and the knowledge that they succeeded.

    What started with 21 friends challenging themselves in 1999, with six of them finishing their 50,000-word novels, grew to 42, 000 participants in 2004 and 79, 813 participants last November. The number of winners was 12, 948 or about 16 percent of participants.

    To help you succeed in your endeavor, Chris Baty, founder of NaNoWriMo, has written No Plot? No Problem!: A Low-Stress, High-Velocity Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 Days (also available as The No Plot? No Problem! Novel-Writing Kit), and has grown his website into a nonprofit corporation, The Office of Letters and Light, with forums, FAQs, and 500 affiliated chapters around the world.

    Baty is also reaching out to students with the Young Writers Program, where more than 300 schools participated last year. Students set their own goals, but the same principle of refraining their inner editor applies.

    I’m considering joining this NaNoWriMo phenomenon. It would be an interesting experiment. Can a wife and mother with a blog and an on-line Amazon-affiliate store, write about 1,700 words a day when there’s also homeschooling and life playing interference?

    I’ve written that many words a day, a lot more actually when I was a full-time journalist, but I didn’t have a child to babysit and homeschool in those days. And I’ve never attempted a novel before. What do you think? Is it even remotely possible without creating a novel orphan?

    Maybe I should sign up our son, too. After all, he has been working on a novel since the age of 8. It’s about time he took the time to finish it, isn’t it?

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