Nonfiction Nagging- It's Okay to Be Slow

This is going to be quick- I have to get up at 4:30 am to catch a flight to Chicago, and plus, it's a really short book. And it's about running, which most of you don't give a rat's ass about.

The main message you should get from The Accidental Athlete by John "The Penguin" Bingham is that anyone can be an athlete; the term "athlete" comes from your own perception and efforts. Walk, run, cycle, swim, lift, jump rope, pole dance, skateboard, roller blade, play tennis, whatever! Just move your ass while doing something you actually enjoy.

Speaking of prying the butt cheeks off the couch, I think the most inspiring thing is that he started running marathons in his forties, after being over-weight, inactive, and a smoker for many years. Age, size, and history is not an excuse, people.

And that's it.

Three Truths and Lie

Have you ever played the game "Three Truths and a Lie?" It's an icebreaker that we did at one of the schools I student taught at, which seems like a million years ago. For example, say mine were:

1. I've gone whitewater rafting on the Colorado River.
2. I once ate a pint of Ben and Jerry's in one sitting.
3. I worried so much I was tested for an ulcer in kindergarten.
4. I flipped off coworker on accident for running a stop sign.

So, which is the lie?

My recent Amazon order feels like this game. Here's what I ordered:

1. Voice Lessons by Nancy Dean
2. 5 Steps to a 5 by Barbara Murphy and Estelle Rankin
3. They Say I Say by Gerald Graff and Kathy Birkenstein
4. Composition No 1 by Marc Saporta

One of those is definitely not a work book, which is all I'm supposed to be buying. They all sound like work books, though. So which is the "lie?"

If you read my blog regularly you'd know that Composition No 1 is; it's the "book in a box" that I got carried away with a few weeks ago. The first is about diction, voice and grammar, the second test prep, and then the third teaching writing. Yeah, you know you're jealous. The fourth book also seems like a bit of a lie because while my excitement is definitely at high levels for it right now, I know it won't be read for approximately twenty-seven months.

Oh, and the lie? Number 1... for now! What are your three truths and a lie? Entertain me... I need it today!

Everybody's Doin' It

It seems like every six months to a year a book becomes the "Hot New Thing." These books generally make the book club circuit and are quasi-literary, as they don't focus on shopping, dating, or makeovers. They're often made into movies and sometimes touted by various celebrities. Some, I'm sure are decent, while others not so much.

I guess I 'm just not cool like that. Or I refuse to read things just because "everyone else is." I am fully aware that this may mean I'm missing out on a great read, as some of you claim I am with The Help (jury's still out).

Here are a few that I've missed the boat on:

Life of Pi by Yann Martel (maybe)

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini (doubtful- a little over the Indian genre right now **A reader pointed out that it's not India, it's Afghanastan, which I had totally forgotten; still, hasn't quite captured my interest, but who knows)

Gregory Maguire's books (hell to the no- I tried to read Confessions of An Ugly Stepsister when I was in high school and was so bored by the first thirty pages it became one of the few books I've ever quit)

The Help by Kathryn Stockett (maybe)

The Shack by William P. Young (hell to the no)

Bossypants by Tina Fey (maybe- but damn that cover)

The Hunger Games Series by Suzette Collins (utterly undecided)

Jodi Piccoult books (no more; I've read two and I'm sick of the over-production)

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot (eventually)

Twilight by Stephanie Myers (hell to mother effing no)

The Alchemist by Paolo Coehlo (doubtful- just not interested)

Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay (doubtful- just doesn't interest me)

Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert (doubtful- maybe when I'm have a midlife crisis)

The Girl Who Played With Fire and the Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson (yes, but mostly because I bought the set on a book binge)

I did jump on the bandwagon for a few, but was never overwhelmed (The Time Traveler's Wife and Water for Elephants, to name two). They weren't bad, but never seemed to match the hype. Curiosity does get the best of me, but I refuse to read a book just because everyone else is. And there's that other problem of already owning almost fifty books that are technically ahead in the line; I'm not timely enough to be cool.

The Story of Cordelia and Chomsky

I've been a little MIA lately from the blogworld due to a few issues that make up the shit-storm that is my life. I think Hurricane Life-Hates-Christine has been downgraded to a slight rain shower for the time being, knock on wood, so I here I am. Ta. Da.

During this time of semi-self-induced stress I've had three things that have brought me the most comfort- the novel I'm reading (almost done with The Indian Killer and it's pretty dang good), and our two dogs, Cordie and Chomsky. Since this blog is a constant tribute towards books, I thought I'd give my pups some credit and explain the literary connections their names hold.

Cordelia (Cordie)

Cordie is technically my husband's dog, but since I pay for half of her food and take care of her quite often I think I can claim some rights (you know, in case we ever have a custody issue). She's six and half, quirky, anxious, and extremely needy. And I love her to death. Oh, and she lets me dress her up however I want, which is pretty damn fun.

Scott, of course named her, since he bought her (our rule). Officially, her name is based on some Buffy the Vampire Slayer character, since that's his favorite show (personally, I think he just thought Charisma Carpenter was hot and wanted to pay tribute, but whatever). I like to think of it as a slight nod to Shakespeare too, since Cordelia was the female lead in King Lear. I don't love Shakespeare, as we all know, but I think I'd prefer that that Cordelia be my dog's namesake rather than that stupid vampire (actually, I don't even know if she is a vampire, maybe a vampire fighter-?).

Chomsky Mumford Darwin (Chomsky)

Chomsky is my dog- all 60 lbs of him (and he's only 6 months old). He's a Chocolate Lab and is straight-up crazy. In all fairness, he has calmed down some, knows basic commands, and is pretty sweet, even when he tears up toilet paper. And, thanks to my husband, he can now hug on command. It's adorable. My small-Grinchy heart melts when he puts his ginormous paws on my shoulders and tries to lick my face.

Yeah, so anyway, moving on. His last name is actually my last name, but for the sake of privacy I've left that out. Darwin comes from Charles Darwin, the great naturalist who wrote On the Origins of Species and brought natural selection into light. Mumford is from the band Mumford and Sons, which I do like, but like the name more. It's just fun to say- Mummmmmmford. And then Chomsky, after linguist Noam Chomsky. I've always been really interested in Chomsky's work, studying him for various classes. I think some of his theories may be flawed, but I think he's fascinating. But I also really like Gnomes, and I saw somewhere a pun on Gnome Chomsky, and it became a huge joke that whenever I got my own dog his name would be Chomsky. The rest is history.

So, there you have it. I can't even have dogs without some sort of literary tie-in. Just wait until you hear what I want to name my kids...

Books on Your Back- Open Wide

A healthy diet includes the appropriate servings of: dairy, grains, fruits/vegetables, proteins, fats and BOOKS.

Another awesome t-shirt from Threadless, on sale for $10 measly dollars. I may have to put my whole "I don't wear yellow" issue on hold for this one.

Seriously Tempted

I'm a firm believer of making sure that if you get a tattoo it means something- some sort of sentimental value or a representative of you as a person. So, when I was 20 and got the butterfly tramp stamp that's on my back I was obviously placing importance on the need to declare myself an independent adult. Something like that.

Now that I'm a little older and wiser I've been toying around with the idea of getting another tattoo- one that actually means something to me. While reading the blog Life is Short- Read Fast I saw one that would be perfect:

The size is ideal, and the simple design is as well. I'm not completely sold on the location, since I hear foot tattoos are incredibly painful. On the other hand, I don't have a ton of options because I want one that I can cover up (here it would be with shoe) and that won't be shot to shit when I decide to have kids.

To be continued...

The Honey Badger Doesn't Give a Shit, and Neither Do I

It's Thursday, and, well, yeah, it's Thursday. Like you didn't know the day of the week. In my world today is the day I'd like to strangle someone for no particular reason. I just don't think I have it in me to play nice, and that's saying a lot because we all know how I can "get" on the blog. So, I'll spare you with a few great links:

Celebrity English Majors- David Duchonvy, James Franco (UCLA in houuuuuse), and Jon Hamm to name the hotter of the bunch.


BSC Love- For all of my fellow Babysitter's Club fans, this is a great "where are they know" piece. This is hilarious and I have to admit to being a little disappointed in myself for not thinking of writing one a few years ago. Should, woulda, coulda.

Harry Potter Re-Do: Hilarious spoof that also references the Ho
ney Badger (who we all know "doesn't care, honey badger don't give a shit"). I've included both for your viewing pleasure. You're welcome.

Awesome Coffee Table Book Alert: I ran across this over the weekend when the New York Times features some of the pictures. James Mollison photographed children from all over the world and where they sleep, making me really question materialism, poverty, and what parents expose kids to.


A New Bag: I'm pretty sure this Fossil bag will make make me read more books, write more often, and just become an all-round better person.

These moods generally result in book buying. T-minus 22 hours til the weekend.

My Fetish

It's always entertaining me to include sexual innuendos in my blogs- it really ups the traffic and makes the directing search terms hilarious. My favorite is "small gnome sex." Unfortunately, if you're looking for naked chics willing tickle you, spank you with a riding crop, or berate you for being a "very naughty boy," you've probably come to the wrong place (admittedly I do my fair amount of scolding during the day, but I remain completely clothed, thankyouverymuch).

Alas, my fetish is much more tame. Magazines, magazines and more magazines.

It all started off when I was in sixth grade or so, and my mom got my sister and I a subscription to Sassy. She'd read it while walking home from the mail box down the street and would pull out the "inappropriate" articles and hand us the rest, allowing us to learn how to make DIY face masks, figure out if boys liked us, or how exactly we should do our hair that fall. Magazines had all the answers to my problems and were going to make me more attractive, popular, and ready for all those up-and-coming encounters with the opposite sex.

Fast-forward a few years. Now I was reading Seventeen, Teen, People, and my mom's Redbook when she wasn't around (just in case I needed a recipe, advice on how to remove stains, or keep my lackluster marriage alive). Life was decent, all thanks to the magazines, I'm sure.

During my senior year in high school my mom must have realized I was doomed, so she quit monitoring my periodical consumption. I started devouring Cosmopolitan, Glamour, and InStyle, which ended up only being gateway drugs into a number of other titles. Luckily, I knew the value of the subscription, and for asking for them as gifts. At the time I was an avid-elliptical user and blew through the magazines like crazy. Now, with the whole running thing, it's not happening. Have I mentioned the subscription list has grown
exponentially since college? For your entertainment:

Current Subscriptions

In Style (I'll never be able to afford the clothes, but they're so pretty, and each issue is so nicely done)
Glamour (on the verge of canceling... maybe)
Vanity Fa
ir (good articles)
New Yorker (to bring me down a notch when I'm feeling too smart)
Women's Health (because I'm a woman, and I like to be healthy)
Runner's World (I had heard it automatically made you faster just by rea
ding... still waiting...)
Self (super generic, but super cheap and easy to read while power walking)
Shape (because I'd like to get one some day)
Bon Appetite (the food looks delicious but it's just about expired and I'm not renewing)

Recent Cancellations

Cosmopolitan (there are only so many ways to please a man, for crap's sake)
Food Network Magazine (this was my fault and I probably should renew)
Every Day- Rachel Ray (she's such an annoying bitch, but her recipes are decent; another one I should renew)
Marie Claire (they wrote an article falsely portraying some health blogs I love, so as an ac
t of solidarity I cancelled)
Travel (it was free, but I don't appreciate the constant reminder that I live in a less-than tropical and culturally unsatisfying location)


Runners World
In Style


Playboy (it started off as a joke; my husband got it for me for Christmas one year and I ended up really enjoying the articles, some of which feature writers like Michael Chabon and other contemporary novelists. Unfortunately, it's really expensive so I didn't renew)

Possible Future Acquisitions

Real Simple (because my life is too complicated)
House Beautiful (in case I need some decorating tips)
Cooking Light (since cooking heavy is bad)
Jugs (because if I look at them long enough maybe mine will grow)

I really should cancel them all together- magazines are horrible for the environment and they tend to pile up since I only read them when I use the elliptical or power walk, or am at a doctor's office. But, you never know- they may solve all my problems and how tragic would it be if I missed out on that? Besides, it's my contribution to keeping print alive.

Books on Your Back- That's the Spirit

In honor of the school year starting, let's give the things that "drive our instruction" a nod:


Don't worry, I make sure to tell them to do what Mental Floss advises: if it's a true/false question don't pick C. And as to the pros and cons of standardized testing- well, that's for another day.

Put it in Your Box

There are so many things that people can put into boxes:




and books.

Visual Editions is at it again with their newest release- a book in a box. Titled Composition No. 1, Marc Saporta's project is truly unique. The box is filled with sheets, each with a "self-contained narration," which can be read in any order. There's also an ap for the iPad, but that seems a little eReader-ish to me, so that's all I say there. The price does seem a little steep- $40 dollars, plus I think another $15-20 in shipping (it's coming from England), but considering the materials and execution I have no problem paying the price. Even if my husband didn't agree to go halvesies with me I'd still get it (how lucky am I to have a husband to split books with? We also demonstrated our obvious coolness while talking about linguistics at dinner last night). There will definitely be a full review once we get it.

I can't say enough good things about Visual Editions and the innovative work they're doing. They've recognized that the book industry is evolving and in order for the actual physicality of the book to survive they have to think of new ways to capture their changing clientele. I'm ignoring the ap- did I say that already? Their site is really interesting and it seems like they have some potentially awesome upcoming projects.

And no, they didn't pay me for the ass-kissing.

Blog Post Title

If I were to write a book right now, the title would be "How to Fake Being Awake and Feeling Peppy." Scratch that- I obviously have no idea how to do that, hence the lack of eye-liner, hair in a messy clip, and Toms on my feet today (the kids said the shoes were "baller," which I'm pretty sure means they think I'm a rich white bitch who spends too much on her plain canvas slip-ons). It doesn't really matter, since all this meme requires me to do is list a few of the more unique titles in my bookshelf.

For formality sake, and since the Crazy For Books site requires it, here we are:

Book Blogger Hop

“Let’s talk crazy book titles. Highlight one or two (or as many as you like!) titles in your personal collection that have the most interesting titles. If you can’t find any, feel free to find one on the internet.”

Confession: Sorry Crazy for Books, but I replaced all your exclamation points with periods. Life's not that exciting here up in the BB and I don't want to traumatize my readers. No sudden movements.

So, titles. First of all, I'm not generally phased by titles. It could be called The Book, and if it seems interesting and receives a few nods I'm game. A fellow teacher asked me today how a lesson from a certain book had gone and, given the fact I don't really dwell on book names, I was temporarily confused. But, they're necessary and can be interesting.

The Sex Lives of Cannibals by J. Maartan Troost
Bowchickabowwow. Not really- it's actually a really interesting travel log about someone who goes to a topical island and learns about the natives.

The Boy Who Couldn't Sleep and Didn't Have To by DC Pierson
Why couldn't I be born this way? What the hell? Do you not understand how much I could get done if sleep wasn't an issue? I could rule the whole mother-effing world, dammit. The book, by the way, is just okay- teenage boys, comic books, sci-fi, angst- you get the picture.

Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs
So I haven't actually read this, but it is on my shelf. I remember first hearing about it while in high school and was instantly captivated by the title (one of the few times a title hooked me)- rest assured, I wasn't a horny little strumpet like some of the teens I know (that's my story, and I'm sticking to it). I'd tell you what it was about, but I haven't read it. It's on the list.

Isn't it neat how I always complain about being tired and busy but decide to use time I could spend sleeping or being productive for blogging?

National Book Lover's Day. Lame.

What a lame-ass holiday. National Book Lover's Day? Really? Is it also Waffle Appreciation Month?

Bitter, party of one?

I highly doubt this "book lover" will be doing any reading today, thanks to the crap-ton of shit piled up on my desk to take care of right now. And what makes it even worse is that I have to type over the junk because I seem to be lacking the energy and desire to move it out of my way. Clutter is bad for my psychological well-being.

Cranky-Ass McGee? Is that you?

Oh, and I hate the name of the holiday. "Book lovers?" What kind of person with a Doctor Seuss level vocabulary made up that name? How about bibliophiles? Literary connoisseurs? I hate the word "lovers" anyway. It reminds me of dramatic fifty-five year old women that boink their pool boys, wear too much makeup and think they're supposedly in their sexual prime. "You should meet my lover Raul. He makes me feel so young again and only asks for cash-" Stopping. Ugh. Lover.

Paging Dr. Bad Attitude. Please call the pharmacy.

Oh, and to make matters worse, one of my AP students asked me how he was supposed to bring In Cold Blood to school tomorrow because he read it on his computer. And I had to effing be nice about it, because he actually did his work, unlike some of his peers. Another reason to hate eReading.

Hello, my name is Christine and I need to start eating more sugar again.

Enough blogging, more working (not that it matters). Moods like these are why I need to become a wine drinker; saying that I need a "shot of tequila with dinner" is definitely not classy (you know, because I'm all about the class). To those of you in a better mood and able to celebrate this poorly-named holiday please read a chapter for me.

Help Yourself

I'm not one of those people that can say they never give in to peer pressure. If everyone's having two scoops of ice cream, I'm in. Just one more shot? I guess so. And sure, I'll spend the day at the spa.

And then there are books- I'm quite resistant to suggestions there. My general feeling is that if a book is hugely successful I'm not going to read it, even if my friend, sister and uncle's gardener have. It's like the difference between the house margarita and the one made with top shelf tequila. Call me pretentious, but I read to grow/learn/think and most of the books that become massively popular are written solely to entertain (and make money). Most people do not find analysis, description, and all that other crap we English majors love any fun. I'm well aware that I'm in the minority.

I know, I know. Those who have book-gasms over the latest Nicholas Sparks and Jennifer Weiner books are bitching me out. But, we all have our preferences. I know people who won't set foot in Wal-Mart, buy the house brand toilet paper, use coupons, go to public pools (or schools), talk to homeless people, or buy Chinese products. I'd say most people have something that they're snobbish about. Mine is books. I acknowledge and embrace it, and now that I'm done qualifying my need to discriminate on the literary level I'll get to
my point.

So there's this massive bestseller that everyone has read- The Help. You may have heard of it. I think my dog has even re
ad it. I have yet to buy it or commit one way or the other, but I have to say I've become a little intrigued. I recently saw the trailer for the upcoming movie and thought, "I'm not going to go see this, but it might be an okay book."

The story itself seems interesting, but my concern, like always, is the quality of the writing. For some reason I feel co
mpelled to read it so that I can take a definite stance and move on. My gut feeling is that it's going to fall into the Water for Elephants category- an interesting story that is plot-driven, has slightly better than average writing, and is a relatively quick read. A palate cleanser between two more serious books, if you will (I learned so much from Top Chef).

You know you've read it. Thoughts? Yay or nay? I did notice that a lot of the negative reviews on Amazon criticized the way that the African American vernacular was handled, amongst some other complaints.

We'll see. But in the meantime I'll be shopping for cheap liquor at Wal-Mart with my coupons.

Books on Your Back- Totally Irrelevent

It's Friday- I spent all day trying to get my classroom ready and was called away for like three meetings that went on way too long. I have ten million things to do in regards to both my work and personal life, and I've been averaging 6.5 hours of sleep a night for two weeks. I think that's all I need to say to justify my slight derivation with today's Books on Your Back.

Thank you Snorg Tees for saying it so eloquently. And I agree, as long as your of age, partial to moderation, and not enrolled in a twelve-step program.

I'm off to happy hour, and for those who for some reason think I'm a lush, it's strictly a two drink night. So bite me.

Top Ten Tuesday- More or Less

Top Ten Tuesday is brought to you by The Broke and the Bookish. Their question is, "What are the top ten trends you would like to see more/less of?" Picture me laughing maniacally and doing that weird finger touching thing in front of the face that villains do. It's time to piss a few people off. Muahahahaha.


1. Creativity- Of course there's plenty of creativity in regards to writing, but I mean as far as covers, packaging and binding. Visual Editions is an awesome company that worked with Jonathan Safran Foer on his Tree of Codes last year. I'm very excited for their upcoming "Book in a Box," (not to be confused with Justin Timberlake's epic SNL performance) that the husband and I have agreed to go halfsies on. I'm excited to see other ways in which publishing companies evolve to make things that are impossible to obtain through ebook formats.2. Smart (New) Women- The publishing company obviously had to tighten their purse strings during the recession, meaning they signed fewer up and comers. While they still are acquiring some new names, I'd like to see them focus on signing some good "stuff" by women- not the fluff I'll talk about in in the "less" section.

3. Interactive Companion Websites- Don't misunderstand
me- I don't want technology to replace books, but I think well-done companions sites serve to enhance quality texts. For example, Marisha Pessl's for Special Topics in Calamity Physics or the upcoming Pottermore.

4. Quality Mysteries- I enjoy a good mystery once in awhile- key word being "good." There are a million books in this genre but so many are formulaic with rushed writing. There are a few better ones, like Fall by Colin McAdam and The Black Dahlia by James Elroy, but I really wish there was more quality mystery novels on the market.

5. Money- I hate that talented authors make so little money, considering the time, love, and effort they put into their novels. I understand the economics behind it, I do, but I wish we could see a trend that would reward those who produce quality, not just quantity.


6. Vampire (and all the other mythical creatures associated with them) Books- Get off the Twilight Train, for Christ's sake! I don't even think Twilight should be on the Twilight Train. I think the Twilight Train should have fallen off it's tracks into a ravine five thousand feet below!

7. Mass Production- I know I've said it before, but we need to put more emphasis on quality, not quantity.

8. Celebrity Books- Tell-alls, memoirs, self-help, cookbooks, pretend novels- enough! Most are ghostwritten anyways. Can't they do something more legit, like create a perfume or handbag line?

9. The "Oprah's Book Club Syndrome"- What I mean by this is when a book becomes popular just because it seems like everyone has read it and people don't want to be left out. Right now it's The Help (not saying it's bad, since I haven't read it), a few years ago it was the Kite Runner, and we've also seen it with The Shack. Read something because you truly want to and are interested, not just because you think you have to.

And, for the grand finale...

10. eBooks- You knew it was coming. I don't want to hear your excuses and rationales. I am not jumping on that wagon and refuse to, so spare me the "I thought I'd never change, but once I did..." stories. I love paper, ink, and cardboard.

July Reviews- What the Hell?

Rewind two months ago:

"Oh, I love summer break, I'm going to have so much time to read. I'm going to make such a dent in my backlog of books, blahblahblablah."

Fast-forward back to the present, two days before I go back to work. I've read maybe eight books total these past two months, July being the more pathetic of the two. Three books. That's it. And please don't ask me what I've been doing because I'm still trying to figure that out.


Book 1: The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore by Benjamin Hale
592 pages
I actually wrote a post on this book back at the beginning of July, but to quickly sum it up, this book is good, but definitely not for everyone. Bruno Littlemore is a chimp that is basically wired to evolve into a human. He wants to look like a person, think like a person, and act like a person... including having a sexual and romantic relationship. Bestiality is an issue, as is animal captivity in general. I think it could have been a bit shorter as one section is quite drawn out. Not a quick read, but neither difficult or bad.

Book 2: Run! 26.2 Stories of Blisters and Bliss by Dean Karnazes
272 pages
Dean Karnazes is both a phenomenal athlete (he runs ultramarathons) and a media whore. This book was not one of the better running books I've read- it was basically him indirectly talking about how amazing he is (I did my non-fiction nagging post on this one too). My least favorite chapter was the one where he included his fan mail- "Oh Dean, you're so inspiring- I have webbed feet and hooves for hands and you motivated be to complete a triathalon." Okay, maybe not quite that bad, but seriously, who does that? Go pat yourself on the back in private. There were a few interesting recounts of his massive runs, but not worth the self-indulgence.

Book 3: The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by Maggie O'Farrell
256 pages
I think this was the best book of July, which is funny because I've owned it for a few years and read it out of guilt (books have feelings, you know). This is a great novel for someone who isn't necessarily a hardcore reader but wants to try something with a little more meat, provided through the different narrative threads and crafted flashbacks. The plot centers around two women- Iris and her Great Aunt Esme, who was basically abandoned in a mental hospital when she was a girl. There are twists and turns that keep the reader interested and surprised until the very end.

Better luck next time, self.