Sunday, June 28, 2015

What I Read This Week: June 28, 2015

This was a pretty darn good week for me. The Husband and I tried a few new dinner meals and loved them all; the girls and I had a wonderful article club meeting; several important Supreme Court rulings actually made my day; I was highly productive at work; and one of the posts I did for our social media accounts was a HUGE hit. The Husband and I even got to dog sit the adorable Miss Penny. Puppy snuggles are the best!

I declare success!
  • Magazines
    • Food Network, July/August 2015 - Once again, a magazine is at it... taunting me with grilling and entertaining ideas I can't readily use. At least in this issue there were a few that do translate to the indoors. The largest chunk of this magazine was devoted to burgers, and they sure looked tasty. To go with the burgers, there were several red, white, and blue food ideas that would put anyone's food coloring stash to the test. Finally, I greatly enjoyed the pasta dinners and blueberry recipes. Now those are something I can actually do.
  • Books
    • I'm reading The Art of Eating In at a pretty steady pace. It's not quite what I expected it to be, but I do look forward to reading it every night. That has to mean something good.
  • Other
    • Article club met this week. For this meeting, we ready about the awesome Anna Kendrick and the Hollywood type machine. The last lines of the article sums up everything perfectly: "We all know that the women who surround us contain multitudes. Kendrick powerfully suggests that celebrities can as well."
    • I read an article on The Daily Beast that chronicled the death of lunch. Most of us eat on the go, so the death of the three martini power lunch is diminishing. I am a part of this problem.

Friday, June 26, 2015

The Friday Find: Card Print

Alone, this library card print is fun. I think it would be even better to hang a collection (maybe your favorite childhood titles) on one wall.

You can buy this guy from the Etsy store Folio Creations.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Variations on a Theme: Satire

The Husband and I have been watching a lot of John Oliver as of late. His show, Last Week Tonight, is pure brilliance and inspired this list. This month, I give you a list of books about political satire.

Primary Colors: A Novel of Politics

A brilliant and penetrating look behind the scenes of modern American politics, Primary Colors is a funny, wise, and dramatic story with characters and events that resemble some familiar, real-life figures. When a former congressional aide becomes part of the staff of the governor of a small Southern state, he watches in horror, admiration, and amazement, as the governor mixes calculation and sincerity in his not-so-above-board campaign for the presidency. A brilliant and penetrating look behind the scenes of modern American politics, Primary Colors is a funny, wise, and dramatic story with characters and events that resemble some familiar, real-life figures. When a former congressional aide becomes part of the staff of the governor of a small Southern state, he watches in horror, admiration, and amazement, as the governor mixes calculation and sincerity in his not-so-above-board campaign for the presidency.

Thank You For Smoking
Christopher Buckley

Nobody blows smoke like Nick Naylor. He’s a spokesman for the Academy of Tobacco Studies–in other words, a flack for cigarette companies, paid to promote their product on talk and news shows. The problem? He’s so good at his job, so effortlessly unethical, that he’s become a target for both anti-tobacco terrorists and for the FBI. In a country where half the people want to outlaw pleasure and the other want to sell you a disease, what will become of the original Puff Daddy?

Gary Shteyngart

Meet Misha Vainberg, aka Snack Daddy, a 325-pound disaster of a human being, son of the 1,238th-richest man in Russia, proud holder of a degree in multicultural studies from Accidental College, USA (don’t even ask), and patriot of no country save the great City of New York. Poor Misha just wants to live in the South Bronx with his hot Latina girlfriend, but after his gangster father murders an Oklahoma businessman in Russia, all hopes of a U.S. visa are lost.  Salvation lies in the tiny, oil-rich nation of Absurdistan, where a crooked consular officer will sell Misha a Belgian passport. But after a civil war breaks out between two competing ethnic groups and a local warlord installs hapless Misha as minister of multicultural affairs, our hero soon finds himself covered in oil, fighting for his life, falling in love, and trying to figure out if a normal life is still possible in the twenty-first century.

Caligula for President: Better American Living Through Tyranny
Cintra Wilson

In this inventive and biting satire, acclaimed novelist and cultural critic Cintra Wilson reimagines America's Manifest Destiny as helmed by Caligula, the only leader in world history capable of turning our floundering democracy into a fully functioning-and totally fun-tyranny, both here and abroad. With Caligula running the show, America will finally be able to achieve what the founding fathers really wanted, but never had the nerve to admit. Like, how to achieve the guilt-free looting of natural resources for the sake of immediate gratification; declare war on abstract concepts (drugs, terror, the ocean) for the sake of imperial expansion; utilize propaganda, psychological operations, and other prisoner-of-war techniques to create a sense of learned helplessness in the citizenry, gain their utterly terrified trust and obedience-and leave them begging for more; rape, pillage, and loot-both here and abroad-with impunity. Wilson also traces the historical arc of Caligula's life and not-so-hard times, from his privileged childhood in Syria to his ascent to power to his eventual takedown by the hands of an angry populace, to point out the unsettling parallels between his own extravagant reign and the avariciousness of other administrations, which helped usher in a new golden age of unlimited executive power. Part political parable, part cautionary tale, Caligula for President is an ingenious and hilarious send-up of the current state of our Union by one of this generation's sharpest satirists.

Politically Correct Bedtime Stories: Modern Tales for Our Life and Times
James Finn Garner 

In this thin book Garner proposes to create "meaningful literature that is totally free from bias and purged from the influence of its flawed cultural past." The results are extremely funny. Updated to account for modern political sensibilities, these revisionist folktales reflect wit and an engaging knack for irony. In "Little Red Riding Hood," Grandma exacts her feminist revenge on the woodchopper, who "assumes that womyn and wolves can't solve their own problems without a man's help." In "The Frog Prince," the princess, now an "eco-feminist warrior," discovers that her dream frog is not a prince, but a real-estate developer. In other tales, Rapunzel becomes a self-reliant coffee-house singer and the Three Little Pigs armed guerrillas, while cultural imperialists such as The Big Bad Wolf and Goldilocks get what has been coming to them for centuries. The author strikes just the right tone here: clever, with more than a touch of self-awareness. And while each of these tales is short and easily digestible, in this case quickly read does not equal quickly forgotten. After one finishes this collection, "happily ever after" will never seem quite the same.

Wag the Dog
Larry Beinhart

Once upon a time there was a mean, dying GOP chairman who had a brilliant scheme to assure that his man would retain the office of president of the United States of America. And the only man who could pull off this elaborate plan was a celebrated Hollywood director. Add to the mix a left-coast gumshoe named Broz who is trapped among cover-ups, undercover work, and his own morality, a cast of bicoastal desperate characters, and the stage is set for a powerful D.C./L.A. production.

Other Satire Titles
America (The Book) - The Daily Show
The Book of General Ignorance - John Lloyd and John Mitchinson
Election - Tom Perrotta
The Final AddictionRichard Condon
I Am America (And So Can You!) - The Colbert Report
The Last Magazine - Michael Hastings

Links and Stuff: June 25, 2015

Sunday, June 21, 2015

What I Read This Week: June 21, 2015

Would you look at this massive list of reading! I was on a roll this week. That's what happens when I have absolutely nothing planned after work. Sometimes you just need a week at home.

While I read, The Husband played Zelda on our new Wii that we bought off Lady B. I'm not a gamer myself, but I always enjoy being able to follow the storyline and listen to the music. Assassin's Creed - now there's a franchise with excellent scoring.
  • Work
    • I breezed through the June 2015 issue of College & Research Libraries News. The only article that jumped out at me was the piece on library impact story logs. The say the best way to persuade someone is with facts and a story.
    • I'm finished reading Managing Change. Yeah for professional development reading that goes by quickly and is relatively helpful!
  • Magazines
    • Cooking Light, June 2015 - I loved that this issue was all about farmers markets - what to buy, how to buy, how to store, and what to make. Delicious, fresh produce is one of my favorite things. In addition to all the glorious market stuff, there were two smaller articles I enjoyed. The first was how to talk to your kids about weight. In short: don't. The second was the 2,000 calories and 10,000 steps; it took place in DC, and now I have something to do one day this summer.
    • Cooking Light, July 2015 - It's not fair that I no longer have a grill or outdoor entertaining space and all my food magazines are doing their summer grilling features. Wah! All of that stuff looked so awesome. What was also awesome was the feature article on French vegetables. Noms. Finally, there was a tidbit on how to stay hydrated. As someone who loves to drink water, this was nothing new but I still enjoyed reading it.
    • HGTV Magazine, July / August 2015 - This was slightly better than the other issues of the magazine I've read so far. The article on the best and worst times to take care of things around the house was very informative. I also enjoyed the pieces on how to arrange flowers and tips for moving. Finally, there were several pages on products you "should" buy for your summer parties. I'm not up for being sold on "stuff" "I need," but the pictures were pretty darn cute.
    • Washingtonian, June 2015 - The cover article about cheap eats in the area made me very hungry. Noms please! I feel like I should grab food from one of these places and take it to one of the picnic spots mentioned in another article. In other news, the article about how to handle the digital estate after the passing of a loved one was a bit hard to read but very informative. Finally, my favorite piece in this issue was the article on how we all survive in DC without a car. Uber, Peapod, Drizzle, etc. - all of these innovations make it easier to live without owning a car. As someone who absolutely hates driving, I am a fan of all of these developments.
    • Real Simple, July 2015 - What did I say about making recommendations about grilling and outdoor entertaining? Grr. At least this feature focused on picnicking. I still don't have a grill, but there are several dozen in Rock Creek Park I could pounce on if I want to put any of these party plans into action. Aside from that, this issue had good articles on growing your emotional intelligence and ageless fashion advice. Nothing
      ground-breaking there, but all very readable.
    • Good Housekeeping, July 2015 - I'm not one for smoothies, but the summer drinks in this issue did look good. The best part of this issue was the story about a grandmother reminiscening about growing up in her grandmother's hair salon. Other than that, I pretty much flew through this issue.
  • Books
    • I'm nearly done with Adultery and the story is chugging along in a very OMG-I-NEED-TO-READ-MORE manner. Too bad I keep falling asleep. Why does the summer heat take so much out of me?

Friday, June 19, 2015

The Friday Find: Inhale

Does a cartoon like this really need an explanation.

I think not.

More from the artist here.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Links and Stuff: June 18, 2015

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Book 11: The Sweet Life in Paris

TITLE: The Sweet Life in Paris: Delicious Adventures in the World's Most Glorious - and Perplexing - City
AUTHOR:David Lebovitz
STARTED: May 17, 2015
FINISHED: June 5, 2015
PAGES: 282
GENRE: Food / Memoir

FIRST SENTENCE: I distinctly remember the exact moment when I became Parisian.

SUMMARY: [From BN] Like so many others, David Lebovitz dreamed about living in Paris ever since he first visited the city in the 1980s. Finally, after a nearly two-decade career as a pastry chef and cookbook author, he moved to Paris to start a new life. Having crammed all his worldly belongings into three suitcases, he arrived, hopes high, at his new apartment in the lively Bastille neighborhood. But he soon discovered it's a different world en France. From learning the ironclad rules of social conduct to the mysteries of men's footwear, from shopkeepers who work so hard not to sell you anything to the etiquette of working the right way around the cheese plate, here is David's story of how he came to fall in love with—and even understand—this glorious, yet sometimes maddening, city. When did he realize he had morphed into un vrai parisien? It might have been when he found himself considering a purchase of men's dress socks with cartoon characters on them. Or perhaps the time he went to a bank with 135 euros in hand to make a 134-euro payment, was told the bank had no change that day, and thought it was completely normal. Or when he found himself dressing up to take out the garbage because he had come to accept that in Paris appearances and image mean everything. The more than fifty original recipes, for dishes both savory and sweet, such as Pork Loin with Brown Sugar–Bourbon Glaze, Braised Turkey in Beaujolais Nouveau with Prunes, Bacon and Bleu Cheese Cake, Chocolate-Coconut Marshmallows, Chocolate Spice Bread, Lemon-Glazed Madeleines, and Mocha–Crème Fraîche Cake, will have readers running to the kitchen once they stop laughing.

THOUGHTS: I both loved and absolutely hated this book. I loved it because it made me want to travel back to Paris and eat all the things. Seriously, all the vivid descriptions of food and locations gave me serious wanderlust. I hated this book because Lebovitz comes across as a judgemental jerk. He disparages Parisians with stereotypes left and right, and the way he writes about his neighbors leads me to believe that he doesn't actually like them very much. Then again, I very much get the impression that Lebovitz doesn't like people in general. So, stay for the food and vivid writing and ignore everything else.

RATING: 5/10 [meh]

Sunday, June 14, 2015

What I Read This Week: June 14, 2015

So, the Librarian of Congress is retiring in January. My dad would make an excellent candidate for the vacancy. Who do I need to talk to get him on the short list?
  • Work
    • For the first time in a good long while, I picked up a book to read for professional development reasons. Due to HUGE staffing changes at our library (and University), my whole department is being reorganized. I decided to pick up Managing Change by Susan Carol Curzon. So far, I'm just into the basics, but I think it will be a worthwhile read.
  • Magazines
    • Good Housekeeping, June 2015 - My mum has decided to make sure I'm never without a magazine. She gifted me a subscription to this title. It's the first time I've read Good Housekeeping in years. It feels very much like a slightly older Real Simple (with thinner paper to boot). That said, I did enjoy all the grilling ideas (I miss our grill!) and the terrifying article on skin cancer. Note to self: skin check this weekend.
    • National Geographic, June 2015 - I read everything in this issue and learned a ton of new things. I had no idea the hoops scientists had to jump through to study marijuana, or that the Aral Sea has essentially disappeared. Throw an a heart-warming article about dolphins and you have an excellent
  • Books
    • Early this week, I started reading Paulo Coelho's Adultery. When I showed the cover to The Husband he asked me to share any tips I pick up. (A jokester that one. I think I'll keep him.) It's not quite what I expected, but so far I am greatly enjoying the book.
  • Other
    • I'm not shy about the fact that I'm on Team Hillary, but I think this WaPo article about her grit is worth a read for everyone.

Friday, June 12, 2015

The Friday Find: Crafty

Are you crafty? I'm not. I want to be. But I'm just not. But if you are, then this little project might be right up your alley. It's straightforward and perfect for a booklover.

This idea came from Made on Maple.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Links and Stuff: June 11, 2015

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Why I Love... Bookstores as Art

My friend, Lady KS, is off on a west coast vacation. (Totes jealous!) Luckily, I get to digitally tag along because she's sharing images of her trip on Instagram. Yesterday, she posted photos of her visit to L.A.'s The Last Bookstore. It's one of the few bookstores on my list of places to visit one day, and her fun photos only increase my desire to make a trip.

What makes this bookstore special, is that it has several book art-pieces. Books are not just on sale, they are a part of the store itself. I love it when bookstores turn books into art because it makes the store into a type of sanctuary. Not only can you buy books, but you are surrounded by the creativity of those who love books as much as you do.

Here are some of her images. How could you not want to go there?

Monday, June 08, 2015

Book to Film

There is always a risk when one of your favorite reads becomes a movie. Some adaptations are good even great (Harry Potter and Hunger Games come to mind), but others are just garbage. After seeing the newly released trailer for The Martian, I have high hopes for this adaption.

Fingers crossed, cause I plan on seeing this opening day.

Sunday, June 07, 2015

What I Read This Week: June 7, 2015

Well would you look at this long list. Last Sunday, The Husband and I were going to take part in the Post Hunt, a scavenger hunt and puzzle game through the streets of downtown DC. When we saw the weather forecast (90s and humid, blech) we opted to stay in. While he played Assassin's Creed: Black Flag, I read a pile of magazines. I feel like I win.

  • Work
    • American Libraries, June 2015 - This issue was mainly about the ALA annual conference in San Francisco. I skimmed most of that stuff, but I did read the article on libraries staying open through crisis. Hugs to all those librarians! I also enjoyed the article on libraries and conventions... as in comicons.
  • Magazines
    • GQ, June 2015 - The Husband receives this magazine as a part of his Gentleman's Box subscription. He tossed this issue my way because of the article on the "Indie Wedding Revolution." It was indeed an amusing piece. I flipped through the rest of the issue, and stopped to read the cover story on Chris Pratt. I'm a fan of his acting work, but the article made him sound like a bit of a bro.
    • HGTV Magazine, June 2015 - As per usual, I mostly flipped through this magazine. That said, I very much enjoyed the articles on flipping flea market finds adding color to decor. Finally, I learned a new method of scrubbing my tub that I might have to try.
    • Real Simple, May 2015 - The cover piece about all natural cleaning was right up my alley. I've been trying to move to more natural and reusable products for cleaning our home, so I flagged quite a bit of this. I also filed away the article about raising a family to have a healthy body image. The quick bit on how to plank correctly during a workout made my abs hurt... it also reminded me I need to add that exercise
      back into my workout. This issue also included a menopause survival guide. I'm not there yet, but every bit of knowledge could come in handy one day.
    • Real Simple, June 2015 - Keeping with the natural theme, this issue had a whole article on natural remedies. I like modern medicine, but I would be willing to give a few of the simpler ones a try. Ginger for a stomach ache and lemon balm for a cold sore? Why not? There was a nice gift guide in this issue, and I filed a few ideas away. The best article in this issue was about all the ways we don't help ourselves, i.e. trying to organize everything at once instead of doing it in small batches, etc. I am guilty of more than a few of the items on their list.
    • The Atlantic, June 2015 - The cover story about a botched lethal injection was very hard to read. One, I dislike needles and there was a whole lot of description about that. Two, the
      subject matter is incredibly serious and important to discuss. Aside from that article, I found the pieces on being a jerk and Hillary's age to be quite good. Finally, the article on Columba Bush, Jeb Bush's wife, was fascinating. I'm always intrigued by those who don't follow convention.
  • Books
    • I finished The Sweet Life in Paris. I have mixed feelings about this book. It makes me want to go back to Paris, but the author makes the people sound awful... also, he, himself, comes across as a bit of a judgmental jerk.
  • Other
    • The Atlantic posted a fantastic article on all the ways women try to be discrete with their feminine hygiene products. I suspect half of the population knows these feels well.
    • In this piece from The Washington Post, find out what happens when food critics take toddlers to fancy restaurants.

Friday, June 05, 2015

The Friday Find: Warning!

While reading Real Simple, I came across a pretty spectacular ad for the Amazon Kindle. High fives to the team that thought this one up.

In case you can't read the warning, it says:
Books contain words. When words are consumed in sentences and stories, your child's brain will grow and develop. Reading may result in a larger VOCABULARY, expanding IMAGINATION, or good GRADES. Keep in reach of children. 

Thursday, June 04, 2015

Seen on the Metro: Extinct

My metro commute was a real winner today. I was off-loaded twice within 3 stations. Hooray!

All the jumping on and off led for some very crowded trains. Despite that, when the crowds parted as the train swayed, I manged to spy a younger blonde woman reading The Sixth Extinction. I could not tell you how far in she was or if she like the booked, the train was far too crowded for that... but I can tell you that this book is on my personal TBR list.

I hope she at least enjoyed the book more than she enjoyed our shared commuting experience.

Links and Stuff: June 4, 2015

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Book 10: The One and Only

TITLE: The One and Only
AUTHOR: Emily Giffin
STARTED: April 25, 2015
FINISHED: May 15, 2015
PAGES: 416
GENRE: Fiction

FIRST SENTENCE: I should have been thinking about God.

SUMMARY: [From BN] Thirty-three-year-old Shea Rigsby has spent her entire life in Walker, Texas—a small college town that lives and dies by football, a passion she unabashedly shares. Raised alongside her best friend, Lucy, the daughter of Walker’s legendary head coach, Clive Carr, Shea was too devoted to her hometown team to leave. Instead she stayed in Walker for college, even taking a job in the university athletic department after graduation, where she has remained for more than a decade. But when an unexpected tragedy strikes the tight-knit Walker community, Shea’s comfortable world is upended, and she begins to wonder if the life she’s chosen is really enough for her. As she finally gives up her safety net to set out on an unexpected path, Shea discovers unsettling truths about the people and things she has always trusted most—and is forced to confront her deepest desires, fears, and secrets.

THOUGHTS: I am so conflicted about this book. On the one hand, it was not good. On the other hand, I couldn't put it down. In the end, this is one of those bad books that I love reading.

I found this two be a bad book for two reasons. First, the overly detailed writing. Now, I love descriptive, lyrical writing, but this was brand-of-what-I-ate-for-lunch specific. There were several times where I was like, okay, and that detail was necessary because? I understand trying to set the scene, but the description here was just off. Second, this book gave me the willies. The whole romantic/crush plot with the coach and Shea made me so uncomfortable I actually squirmed. It's hard to get behind a character when you hate her motivations and decisions. And the ending, I get what the author was going for but it just felt so damn wrong.

Even with all of that, I still looked forward to reading this book every night. It was well paced and I like the general concept. This book was kind of like binge watching on TLC shows for me. It's not a good idea, but there is no way I'm going to stop and I have no regrets, but there are definitely better things I could be doing.

RATING: 5/10 [Meh]

Monday, June 01, 2015

Book 9: Make-Ahead Meals Made Healthy

TITLE: Make-Ahead Meals Made Healthy: Exceptionally Delicious and Nutritious Freezer-Friendly Recipes You Can Prepare in Advance and Enjoy at a Moment’s Notice
AUTHOR: Michele Borboa
STARTED: April 25, 2015
FINISHED: April 25, 2015
PAGES: 231
GENRE: Cookbook

FIRST SENTENCE: In today's busy world, families sitting down at the table for home-cooked meals is a rarity.

SUMMARY: [From BN] Cook the best, most nutritious food for your family and save time and money with this mega-delicious guide to preparing meals you can fix-and-freeze now and enjoy any night of your crazy-busy week! Unlike the sodium-laced, preservative-filled meals you might find in your grocer’s freezer aisle, the recipes in this book feature wholesome ingredients full of flavors that harmoniously come to life the instant you reheat them—so your meals don’t just taste as good as the day you stored them away, but better! From comforting casserole and lasagna recipes made new again with fresh veggies and whole grains, to show-stopping breakfast baked goods and sweet treats, you’ll discover so many “must-make” recipes inside that you may need to consider a larger freezer!

THOUGHTS: Nom nom nom. The introductory information in the books is pretty scant, but I enjoyed the tips on how to freeze stuff... since that's what this book is about. The recipes are put together in a simple, easy-to-understand manner. Many of them look incredibly tasty. (I went on a tagging spree for stuff to find later.) And, while this book is mainly about making large meals, the recipes were written in such a way that I could easily half them. That said, I still feel like I need to make space in the freezer.

RATING: 6/10 [Good]