Let's Examine How Much I Sucked, Shall We?

So last year I made some "literary resolutions." To be honest, I had forgotten about most until I just looked at them (aint that always the way with these little effers?). Let's see how I did:

1. Read more: success

Ha! Booyah. I wanted to read over 30 books this year (I only read 26 last year and 39 the previous year). This year I read 38- I met my goal with an average of 3.17 books per month. I see some book bloggers that read over a hundred a year- how do they do it? I have some theories, but I'll be nice. Next year let's make it 40. Dream big.

2. Try a graphic novel: failure

I got one for Christmas, so maybe this year.

3. Get real: success

I read quite a few non-fiction books this year and even instituted "non-fiction nagging." I have actually really enjoyed it, and reading about issues I care about allows me the freedom to discuss things I wouldn't normally get to on the blog. Many of this year's where about deciding to have a baby and running; here's hoping for more variety next year. I mean this year.

4. Writing: big fat failure

I thought this year would be the year of the novel. Not so much. And by not so much I mean a lot of thinking with zero words on paper (or screen). This is the only one I'm probably actually angry (at myself) about. Round 2.

5. Finish Underworld: failure

Fuck Don DeLillo.

6. Go to more readings: failure

This wasn't really my fault- there just weren't a ton of them this year. I've heard rumors about lots of great releases next year, so hopefully more authors will visit Southern California.

7. Curbing the book buying habit: failure

I'm up to 60+ unread books, although many are a result of gifts. But still, I asked for them. I just can't help it.

So, I'm 2 for 7. I'd call that sucking on the resolutions front. But, have you know, I didn't suck at the rest of my life. 2011 was pretty damn decent- we added Chomsky the crazy puppy (who is now almost 11 months and 85+ pounds) to our family, bought the house we plan on living in forever and not kill each other in our third year of marriage. I ran several half-marathons, managed to produce my first yearbook with the class I advise, had a ton of fun with friends, joined a book/drinking club, and started going to yoga consistently. 2012 should hopefully be better- I plan on curing AIDS, solving world hunger, and developing an effective way to stop depending on oil. You know, basically just being awesome.

2012, you will be my bitch.

December Reviews- Rocky Road

December's reading has been strange- I read six books, but there was a lot of ups and downs. A rocky road, if you will. This of course leads us to an ice cream metaphor, which, not at all shockingly, has been on my mind all damn day. All I want is a vanilla shake with those delicious pink and white little animal cookies in it. I cannot stop thinking about it. Luckily for my waistline and impending long run, I have neither on hand. It was my initial thought to compare this month's books to this delectable dessert, but I don't think most of the books warrant such privilege. My ice cream-free reviews:

The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
384, 391 and 400 pages

I already spent a post discussing the trilogy and don't really feel like taking a walk back into Katniss' love triangle, so I'll make this brief. For those of you who have been living under a rock, The Hunger Games take place in the future, after the earth has been decimated. Each year each of the 12 surviving "districts" are called upon to send two representatives to The Games, which involve sticking a bunch of teenagers into an arena where they must fight each other for food or resources. The game is over when only one survives. Katniss ends up volunteering so her sister is spared, leading to three books worth of revolution, violence, and love. Like I said before, this is great YA reading- high-brow, quality contemporary fiction it is not. While I have some serious issues with the plot line, it will be a series I recommend to my young teenagers when they exist. For your viewing enjoyment is the LEGO trailer of the movie, which a friend told me about recently:

Marathon by Hal Higdon
304 Pages

I actually wrote about this as well in Non-Fiction Nagging. Bottom line- while I can't tout it's amazingness yet since I haven't completed a marathon, I think it's definitely worth the price and the read if you're a runner. I have been loosely following the weekly mileage guides and have seen improvement (possibly) already. I'm really looking forward to the Surf City Half in February to see if this leads to something positive.

There But For The by Ali Smith
256 Pages

I hate giving bad reviews, but for this book I have to. I picked up through Amazon Vine after semi-enjoying her earlier (and Booker Prize finalist) The Accidental. The premise behind this novel is intriguing- a man gets up from a dinner party and locks himself in the spare bedroom, refusing to come out or communicate, with the ensuing story being told from the perspective of four people. Unfortunately, the execution was shoddy- boring, unrealistic (he ends up staying for months- they would have busted through by that point) and not as funny as intended. Unfortunately, I can't recommend this one.

The Pregnant Widow by Martin Amis
366 pages

Another one I can't recommend! Sonofab. Sorry, folks. I had strangely, unrealistic expectations for this novel and it completely fell short. Amis is a hit or miss writer; this novel had received better reviews than his past ones, but I don't believe I'll be reading another one of his. The underlying concepts- the sexual revolution in Europe, English literature, and transitioning from college to adulthood- are interesting, but the text just didn't deliver.

All in all, this was sort of a disappointing reading month. I'd recommend The Hunger Games and Marathon, but the other two stay away from. Here's to a better January! My next book will be very, very carefully selected!

Because I Know You Care

So, I got some books for Christmas. And by some I mean a lot, especially if you include the books bought from the Amazon gift cards I got. I'll spare you the synopses- I'm confident that you can all Google sufficiently, and to be honest, I don't feel like it. Hell, I don't even feel like writing the titles (please note, Home Repair is my husband's, it got mixed up in my pile, as is the bottom book).

On the way: Family Fang, The Barbarian Nurseries, Fathermu
cker, The Leftovers, and The Crucible (for work) should also arrive today.

While this post may seem to portray the opposite, I am actually in a swell mood and am enjoying my vacation immensely. Did I mention that I still have 9 days off? Did I mention how tired I am of people making it seem like the life of a teacher is all sunshine and butterflies and vacation? Try dealing with 180 hormonal, sassy teenagers all day, plus all their poorly written essays, and we'll check back in.

Oh, and in unrelated news, I am so unbelievably shocked that Russel Brand and Katy Perry are getting a divorced. Sex addicts reform all the time and pop stars make bitchin' wives. I actually wanted them to work, for some reason. Always the hopeless romantic. That's me.

Someone's a tad punchy today.

[And sorry for developing a fascination with someecards. I'm sure it will pass]

By the way, I've updated some of my Ultimate To-Do List Page.

Unabashedly Proud

This post can be turned into a drinking game: every time I pat myself on the back, take a shot.

Adults can be hard to shop for- unless they happen to be readers and you know a thing or two or about books. Luckily, my family is, so they got one of the best presents I've ever come up with: The Family Box of Books. Here's how to replicate this awesomeness for your own family next holiday season:

1. Figure out who you have to buy for and scour Amazon to find each person one book (for my family I chose Room for my mom, How to Cook Everything Vegetarian for sister A, The Selected Works of TS Spivet for sister B, The Night Circus for mom's boyfriend's daughter, and Pizza on the Grill for mom's boyfriend.

2. Pick a few other books you feel like people should read- here is where you can continue to inflict your fantastic taste on others (I grabbed The Lost Girls, Fahrenheit 451, and Go the Fuck to Sleep).

3. Wrap presents and put them in a box (have I mentioned how great I am at wrapping gifts?)

4. Create a tag for each family member that lists what book they will definitely like, and one or two that they should try (for example, Sister A should also try Fahrenheit 451 and Room, while mom should read How to Cook Everything Vegetarian and The Lost Girls).

5. Have family unwrap presents and then read tags.

6. Feel proud of self while they exchange books, read the backs, and seem genuinely excited about their options.

7. Laugh hysterically with family while mom, a preschool teacher, reads Go the Fuck to Sleep aloud. Congratulate self for catalyzing family happiness.

Drunk yet?

Joking aside, I actually really loved "shopping" for this gift and putting in a lot of thought and consideration into the titles for each person. Books are always the best presents (fine, according to me).

Books on Your Back- It's a Jungle Out There!

Stumbled upon this awesome "Jungle Book" t-shirt from Tilteed.com, a site I had never visited until today (it has some pretty eclectic designs- check it out). I love this shirt, and it's only $10, but unfortunately only the larger sizes are left.

Blog Reading

I recently decided that blogs are the new magazine- at least for me. Over the past year or two I've become a fan, enjoying the motivation, recipes, tips, and distraction from my life. When making the "commitment" to follow a blog I look at:

Topic- Most that I read are about health and fitness, which is much different that the one I read. I definitely do frequent some good book ones, several related to cooking, a few fashion, and some that are just plain cool. I'm not into crafty blogs (I have nothing against them, I just rarely have the urge to glue and cut), mommy blogs (no explanation needed) or shopping blogs.

Frequency of Updates- Several of the blogs I read are for profit, so they update at least twice a day, which is nice if I'm bored. I have a hard time adding a blog to my favorites if they don't write a new post at least once or twice a week.

Grammar- I have a difficult time reading blogs that have blatantly poor grammar or writing skills. There's a difference between the occasional slip up (we all do that!) and just piss-poor writing. One of my biggest pet-peeves is exclamation mark overuse, although nothing if more irritating than apostrophe mistakes.

Visual Appeal- I'll be honest: I like pretty blogs! I know, this is ironic given the visual aesthetics aren't exactly Bookishly Boisterous' selling point. I especially appreciate great pictures on cooking sites.

Here are some of my many favorites:

Health and Fitness:
Run Eat Repeat (Monica is hilarious and blatantly human)
Healthy Tipping Point (motivational, and she's pregnant now- interested to see how it goes)
The Fitnessista (another pregnant blogger, but also a fitness instructor with great tips)
Running of the Reese's (hilarious- she runs my pace, so it's nice to not feel ridiculously slow)
Pancakes and Postcards (fellow Bruin, ex-Peace Core, Bay Area runner)
This Runner's Trials (amazing runner with fertility issues turned pregnant runner turned mommy runner)
Once Upon a Lime (drinker runner extraordinaire- my kind of girl)
Gourmet Runner (they built their own house- need I say more?)
Eat Drink and Be Meiri (she swears a lot, which I like)

Drizzle of Sunshine (my good friend who bakes me cakes and got me into yoga)
How Sweet it Is (amazing recipes)
Broke Ass Gourmet (great eats on the cheap)
Smitten Kitchen (just getting into them)
Annie's Eats (nice, normal food)

Book Riot (a collaboration of book bloggers)
The Book Lady's Blog (professional reviewer)
Literary Musings (solid stuff)
The Broke and the Bookish (responsible for Top Ten Tuesdays)

Just Plain Cool
Rockstar Diaries (these people are super-neat and have the best dog)
A LEGO a day (most related to Star Wars)
Fancy Napkin (found this cute blog the other day and managed to win her recent lip gloss giveaway!)

Now off to read an actual book.

My Best (and Worst) Of 2011

I'm a little reluctant to do this post now, since there are still 9 more days left of the year and I might finish a book or two before it's over, but something tells me they might not make the cut (if by chance they do I'll make an addendum). So, here are the best ten books I read this year, plus a few you should stay away from:

1. 180 Degrees South- Conquerors of the Useless by Chris Malloy: This is technically a coffee table book, but I read it like a novel. After being completely consumed by the documentary, I asked for this book last Christmas and received it. The photographs and writing invoke such a spirit of adventure and environmental consciousness. And now I have definitely added visiting Patagonia to my bucket list.

2. The House of Tomorrow by Peter Bognanni: This novel told the coming of age story of a boy who lived with his eccentric grandmother in a glass dome. He makes friends with a kid with a heart transplant and they start a horrible rock band. It's funny, quirky, and sentimental without being cheesy.

3. The Solitude of Prime Numbers by Paolo Giordano: This was a such a simply written book about complex emotions. It wasn't necessary plot drive or a character study- somewhere comfortable in between. And the author is quite the looker (not that that matters).

4. State of Wonder by Ann Patchett: This, I'm sure, is on a lot of lists this month, since it truly was a great book. I did have some reservations about the scientific aspect, but I find it to be a book that I think about often. Well-written and just plain interesting.

5. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows by JK Rowling: There was something bittersweet about ending the series- I was glad to finally complete something I had started ten years prior, but I find myself missing Harry, Hermione, Hagrid and Dumbledore (not Ron the whiner).

6. The Selected Work of T.S. Spivet by Reif Larsen: I cannot gush about this book enough. I fell in love (like platonic "oh how cute, I wan to pinch your cheeks" love, not "I want to rip your clothes off and make babies with you" love, just to clarify) with T.S. from the very first pages and wanted to adopt him by the end. Larsen is such a great writer and the illustrations and notes that went in to the text are amazing.

7. Salvation City by Sigrid Nunez: I'm a little wary of the apocalypse genre ever since the zombies started taking over, but I really enjoyed this book. It was told from the perspective of a young boy whose parents had died from the super-flu that had wiped out a huge chunk of the population. Interesting and frightening realistic.

8. The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides: I hesitated as to whether or not this book belonged on the list, since the first part of the novel was a little slow for me. But, the end made up for it and the way the Bipolar aspect was treated made it significant to me. This isn't for casual readers, though.

9. The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman: This novel could almost be considered a collection of short stories; the perspective of different newspaper employees as the paper is closed. It's an interesting look at what is happening in the print industry right now. And, by proxy, makes me hate eReaders even more.

10. Born to Run by Christopher McDougall: This is a great book, for runners and non-runners. While it does tout the barefoot running line a bit much, I thoroughly enjoyed the descriptions of ultras, trail running, and the quest to create one of the best races in history.

A Few That Almost Made It:
On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan
The Lonely Polygamist by Brady Udall
The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore by Benjamin Hale
A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

Keep Your Distance:
C by Tom McCarthy- Horribly boring.
Miss New India by Bharati Mukherjee- Added nothing to the Indian literature genre.
The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown- Could have been better, but ended up flat.
There But For The by Ali Smith- Could not get into it; failed attempt at something with potential.

5 Reasons Why You Should Watch

As a general rule of thumb, I don't love movies. They're long, I need to pee often, and I feel like I should be doing something rather than just sitting. I've asked my husband, a huge film buff, if we could maybe watch them in segments- a half an hour a night would equal a movie a week! Unfortunately he's not really a fan of that brilliant plan, so occasionally I suck it up and watch one with him- sometimes I'm happy I did, sometimes not so much.

Last night was a movie I actually wanted to see- Midnight in Paris, a Woody Allen film. Bonus points- only 96 minutes long.

Five Reasons to Watch:

1. It's a literary movie- Owen Wilson's character, Gil, find some sort of crazy time warping black hole different dimension sort of thing (they never explain this) and is able to go back to the twenties to visit such writers as Hemingway, Stein, and Fitzgerald.

2. He is also a struggling writer that sells out during the day- something those of us who would like to write understand. I loved how he didn't want to let anyone see his manuscript or talk about what he was working on, since I can totally relate to that.

3. Inside jokes and references for readers- Hemingway is an egomaniac and sometimes talks how he writes (and is obsessed with war). Zelda Fitzgerald is constantly drinking and dabbling in different hobbies. Gertrude Stein schmoozes it up with Picasso.

4. It will make you want to go to Paris. I don't care if they hate Americans or whatever the common complain is, I want to go.

5. It pokes fun at screenwriting and how so many Hollywood writers are in it purely for the money.

My only issues are nit-picky: I don't really care for Own Wilson (he always plays such a dumbass) and I hate Rachel McAdams with blond hair. Other than that, really great, fun, smart movie.

I can't believe I just blogged about a movie. The world is ending.

Nonfiction Nagging- Marathon Running

Like always, if running isn't your thing you may want to skip this post. Or maybe you should read it and start!

So, I publicly proclaimed that I was going to run the charming Modesto Marathon on March 18 a few weeks ago and since then I've started my training, using Hal Higdon's Marathing: The Ultimate Training Guide for help in devising my plan. While I can't yet attest to it working or not, he has had a lot of success with it, and the fact that he has run over 100 marathons says something itself. A lot of what he discussed I already knew, since it applies to the many halves I have run (10 as of a few weeks ago), but I did get a lot of important insight as to how to develop my training plan.

The lowdown:

Two steps forward, one step back, two steps way forward

When it comes to weekly mileage and the long run you have to be strategic so that you're pushing yourself, but not to the point of injury. So, for example, maybe one week would be 33 total miles with 12 mile long run, then next 34 miles with a 13 mile long run. Then you'd take it back down a week to let your body recover; say 25 total miles with only an 8 mile long run. Then you'd crank it back up with 36 miles total and a 16 mile long run the following week.

Finishing Is Always Good

According to Higdon, the goal of a first time marathoner is usually just to finish. 26.2 miles is a long way and just being able to cross the final line is an accomplishment. I am not a fast runner, but there are some numbers floating around in my head; I need to remember this.

In regards to his plan for beginners, I didn't like the fact that he suggested not focusing on speed work. Maybe if you're a new runner that would be good advice since it could lead to injury; I may be a new marathoner, but I've been a runner for awhile and like to do intervals or fartleks about once a week.

Stop Eating Like Shit

That's not exactly what Hidgon said, but it's what he meant. Training for a marathon is different from recreational exercise- your body needs fuel and it needs the right kind. He of course pushes healthy carbs and an increase in protein. I love the fact that runners are now being encouraged to drink low-fat chocolate milk after long runs. Don't have to tell me twice!

Mileage Goals

From what I can gather, the "magic" number for training is going to be to work up to 30-40 miles a week with at least one 20 miler in. After that injuries pop up, unless you're an elite athlete, have many years of a training base, or are genetically blessed. His "novice marathoner plan" starts runners off at around 18; the last few weeks I've bumped mine up to 22-28, so I'm planning on starting the training towards his week 6 (I only have 12 weeks left until the marathon and his plan is based on 18). I think I'm in a decent place but have had some extreme foot pain/swelling since the the Rock and Roll Vegas Half I did a few weeks ago. It's the normal conundrum runners have- rest it and lose training time, or power through the pain and risk injury. Right now I'm powering through.

The Long Run

The long run is something some people love, while some hate it. I'm on the fence; it really just depends on the day and what's going on in my life. Generally my long runs right now even out at about 10 or so miles; I'm going to have to hit 20 at least once (3 weeks before the marathon before the taper). I really appreciated that he said the long run should be slow- anywhere from 30-90 seconds slower than your estimated race time.


I have a definite love/hate issue with the taper and have basically quit doing them. Interestingly, my PR was after a serious one week taper- I should be connecting the dots. For non-runners, tapering is when you bring your mileage way, way down before a race. When training for a half marathon you taper for about a week; Higdon recommends three (right after the longest run of training). You still are running, but you move from a 40 mile week three weeks before the race to an 8 mile week in the seven days preceding the big day. It's a tough pill to swallow.

I feel like this is a really great book for those starting out; he is an old guy, so his writing voice is a little antiquated, but that's okay (I love when he admits to being a "postmenopausal male" when discussing whether or not women should run on their periods). Even if you're not running a marathon, he has great info for halves and the sport in general. Now everyone go run!

Top Ten Tuesday- Bring it, Santa!

Frankly, I'm over the whole materialistic aspect of this time of the year- it seems like everyone has "a case of the gimmies." So, when I saw this most recent post from the Broke and the Bookish I took pause, but decided that at least there's an educational, intellectual component to wanting new books. If the masses were running around Target and the mall trying to find the best deal on microscopes or history documentaries, rather than iPods and stupid plastic toys, I'd be a lot more cool with this whole season.

And now I'm stepping off the soapbox. Ho. Ho. Ho.

My top ten literary gimmies:

1. The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson: I just heard about this book (like an hour ago) from a blurb Ann Patchett did with Martha Stewart. It sounds hysterical- quirky artistic parents make their children into the subjects of their performance art.

2. The Barbarian Nurseries by Hector Tobar: About a Latina maid in Los Angeles who is left with her employer's children when their house is about to be foreclosed on. Nice.

3. Franny and Zoey by JD Salinger: I've talked some crap about Salinger before (sorry, husband, if you're reading), about how Catcher in the Rye is o
verrated. Sorry! Really. But I still mean it. Anyway, this is supposed to be a true gem- some even say better.

4. Where Children Sleep by James Mollison: I've mentioned this before- it's a peek into the bedrooms of children all over the world. It's fascinating to see how the world values certain things. Fantastic coffee table book.

5. Luminous Airplanes by Paul LaFarge: I think what interests me both about this book is that it combines the actual written text with an online portion. I'm obviously very anti-eReader, but I feel like this may be an interesting compromise.

6. The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta: Because I'm a groupie.

7. Bridge o
f Sighs by Richard Russo: Ummm, because I'm a groupie.

8. Michael Mina: The Cookbook: I ate at his restaurant in Vegas over the summer and loved the menu.

9. Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Allison Bechdel: This is the graphic novel I'm supposed to read this year according to my 2011 resolutions (I said I would read my first graphic
novel). It's probably not going to happen, but next year. This novel is more up my alley; something to dispel my false notion that graphic novels are just longer versions of superhero comics.

10. The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman by Laurence Sterne: I'm smitten Visual Editions and own the other two books that they have published so far. The company is basically turning the medium of the traditional novel into art.

Books on Your Back- Prairie Style

Reading The Hunger Games this week made me think of books that came in a series- like Little House on the Prairie. I remember reading those books during my elementary years and watching the reruns on TV. I guess I was a sucker for family values and everything working out in the best after some hard work, life-lessons and family bonding.

I really love how prairie detail in what is presumably L
aura's body.
Found from the T-Shirts I Want website.

The Hungriest Week of My Life

I am so sick of Katniss Everdeen right now, but it's not her fault. After much debating, I ordered The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins with a birthday gift card and decided, for some, reason to read all three at once. And so now not only am I sick of Katniss, I'm sick of Peeta being such a martyr, creative combat techniques, training, and everyone obsessing about food. I still have a soft spot for Haymitch and Buttercup, though.

I know, I'm not really selling the series. So, let's start over. If you have no idea what they're about, read the synopsis on Amazon. I have faith, you can do it (because I am not).

The Hunger Games Trilogy is not high-brow contemporary literature, nor is it mindless, poorly-written crap. I'd describe it as quality YA lit- the kind of novels I'd like my reluctant-to-read students to have the opportunity to experience (not that I'd lend them my copies). There are definitely elements to applaud, although I do have some issues with other parts. Let's make it simple:

(please note anything that may be considered a spoiler is in purple, so don't read it if you care)

- This isn't a YA novel based on romance, shopping, being popular, vampires, zombies or any other ridiculous or materialistic concepts that many are.
- Love is a topic, but it is done tastefully and there is absolutely no sex; Katniss does get a little hot and bothered in the second and third volumes, but if the kid reading is clueless they won't pick up on it. I'd probably let a mature 5th or 6th grader attempt it.
- Bare with me, the teacher in me is coming out for a second... The novels require quite a bit of inference skills, especially the first and second ones. The reader is expected to pick up on clues and try to hypothesize why things are the way they are. This is a good thing.
- There are important issues being dealt with- friends, family, survival, morality, ethics, and the idea that having "stuff" doesn't mean you truly have a good life or are a good person. It is very violent, but the fighting is not glorified. Emotions and turmoil are attached to the damage caused.
- The story is interesting, although I definitely preferred the first book, when the idea of "The Games" is still a novelty. Not to say the second and third books, Catching Fire and Mockingjay, are bad (see below).
- The worlds Collins created in the arenas were fascinating- little biomes of horror.
- These books can be used as a steppingstone into more serious literature; a teenager may discover they're really interested in science fiction and had never known it. Good sci-fi, though, like 1984 or Fahrenheit 451.

- First let me just get this out of my system- I felt more than once that Haymitch was a rip of Harry Potter's Hagrid. Big, protective oaf that likes to hang out alone and drink? Yup.
- I thought some things became a bit overused, like Katniss being rescued and then the text bringing the reader to her bedside in recovery. Done at least twice...
- I got really tired of reading about her being prepped for appearances; I didn't care if she was being scrubbed and waxed yet again.
- The writing was quality on the YA level, but at times the syntax bothered me. This, of course, is partially just personal preference.
- I felt, on a plot level, in Mockingjay things got a bit rushed and sloppy.
- The ending was a bit too "full-circle" for me. And I really, really did not like who she ended up with. She absolutely let the Capitol win.
- I often think that series novels are a bit of a cop out; the lazy way to write. I understand that it builds interest and makes money, but a truly good writer can be concise and pack a punch in just one text. Sticking to one story line and set of characters sometimes seems to say "I got nothin' else." I know there are exceptions- Harry Potter, Little House and the Prairie and I think it's John Updike who uses many of the same characters repeatedly. But...

So, do I recommend them? To teenagers, absolutely. To people that are casual readers, or who read purely for entertainment- yup. For those that enjoy more challenging writing, even yes, but maybe sandwiched between something a bit more complex.

And unless you're in love with then, don't do a marathon reading like I did (and I did not love them, not even close).

Weekend of Books

It's been a bookish weekend spent...

Plowing through The Hunger Games trilogy (1/2 way done). I'm not going through them fast because I'm in love, nor am I trying rush because I hate them. I still have mixed feel
ings that will absolutely be self-analyzed when I'm done.

Working on my marathon training plan (and getting in some mileage based on it) thanks to the Hal Higdon guide I talked about last week.

Creating a Julius Caesar final for my two sophomore classes. I absolutely adore finals week- two days spent reviewing and then three days of testing. The kids kiss butt like crazy trying to pass their classes ("Umm, I know I haven't been to your class much this semester, but do you think there's anyway I can still pass? I promise I'll come every day from now on and do all my work...") and three of five days are minimum for the kids. Not to mention the fact that it's followed up with three weeks of break.

'Tis the season... for giving books as presents! My family up in Modesto is getting a cool (according to me) present based on books. That's all I can say.

Reading end of the year book lists. I love seeing what I'
ve read already and adding new ones to my wish-list. Recently I've discovered Barbarian Nurseries by Hector Tobar and The Hottest Dishes of the Tartar Cuisine by Alina Bronsky.

Going to Barnes and Nobles and spotting this gem

Want this book I do.

November Reviews- Your Mom Busts Out Fast Reviews Without Pictures

I have a student that takes pretty much everything and prefaces it "Your mom is..." At first I tried to get him to stop, but it was entertaining and he does his work (one of those "pick your battle" kind of things). My favorite was when I told him to be quiet and read and he retorted, "Your mom is quiet and reads, Mrs. Stebbing." Half right; my mom in nowhere near quiet, but she does read. I've also heard, "Your mom claps her hands," "Your mom speaks in a British accent," and "Your mom doesn't do her homework." Ahh, kids. Well, like your mom, this review is also fast and to the point.

I read two books and have already wrote tangential posts on both, so I won't bore you with crap ("Your mom bores you with crap").

The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides
416 Pages
I had a bit of a hard time getting into this novel, but once it started picking up it was really good (hang in there for the first seventy-five pages). That being said, it is not driven by plot; it is a definite character study, so if that's not your bag (baby), you may want to skip it. I thought Middlesex was a stronger novel, but this one still deserves accolades. Read my diatribe on bipolar disorder here.

Antibiotic Resistance by Karl Drlica and David Perlin
288 pages
I really enjoyed this because it confirmed something I've lived by for a long time- antibiotics are making our culture weak. If you're interested in more of my half-assed analysis read here. If you don't have the cellular basics down, brush up or skip.

Two books? Ah yes, but 704 pages (plus rereading Julius Caesar twice for work). Take that.

Your mom busts out fast reviews without pictures because she needs to go to yoga.

Marathon Fueled by Books

"Are you ever ever going to run full marathons, instead of just halves?"

"Probably not, I don't have the time to train, 13.1 is long enough" or "Maybe one day" or "How far do you run?" or "Hell fucking no."

And, then as of about 12:30 this afternoon, "Yeah, I think so."

I don't know what really got into me. I've actually been eagerly anticipating my February "retirement" from longer races and haven't been terribly psyched about the Rock and Roll Half in Vegas this Sunday. I've been putting in the miles but not necessarily pushing myself or enjoying it. But, as I watched my students take an essay today I decided, "I'm going to run a full marathon this spring." I have no clue what the correlation was; I've gone through the epiphany many times and have failed
miserably to make the connection. Within seconds of this decision I decided to make it public, posting it on Facebook (nothing in life is real until it's in your status... shit) and texting a few fellow runners. I instantly knew what marathon- the Modesto Marathon, which is hilarious because I've been swearing up and down for the past nine months that I would never run that race again (it was freezing, raining, and windy last year and I felt capable of homicide when I eventually finished). But, it is my hometown and it does have an extremely long limit (7 hours!) so I don't feel any pressure (except the whole finishing 26.2 miles part).

I guess it was inevitable. I'm fairly competitive and I'm constantly looking for ways to push myself. I hate it when people say "just halves," because 13.1 miles is a huge deal, but I have to admit I'd like to be able to say I went for it.

At this point I have about 15 weeks until the Modesto one I'm eying- since I can run 13.1
miles right now I'm basically half way through your typical 15-18 week marathon training program, so it's definitely doable. I am concerned with my "bad" foot (I have an extra bone in one of my ankles that swells up and is extremely painful after 13.1 usually), asthma, and fitting in the time to increase my mileage by anywhere from about 25-70% each week for awhile.

After a lengthy happy hour I hit up the book store to pick up some necessary suppli
es for my new endeavor (see, a book connection). I grabbed Hal Higdon's Marathon- the Ultimate Running Guide so that I'd have an actual hard copy of a running plan for once. I was tempted to pick up something by Jeff Galloway, but his run/walk strategy isn't something I want to use (at least not right now... might as well live in a bubble for awhile). I also noticed Haruki Murakami's What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, a memoir on his training of NYC (which, by the way, is supposed to be the marathon I'm doing; unfortunately it's a fall race and it's lottery only).

If you read about it you can do it... right?

Oh, and if the half on Sunday blows I reserve the right to take this all back.