Sunday, May 29, 2016

What I Read This Week: May 29, 2016

The sun came back! It didn't make an appearance every day, but there was sun and it was most excellent to have it back. Since I need to use a shload of vacation days by August 15, this was also a short work week for me. I was so productive with my at home to do list that I might need to start adding more items to it if I want to make it through the summer. One can only lounge and loaf so much.

  • Work
    • College and Research Libraries News, May 2016 - This was a lovely little issue that shared articles about libraries and the arts. More specifically, about how the library can work with art departments and art students. We have a lot of open walls in our building... and we have an art department... hmm...
  • Magazines
    • Real Simple, June 2016 - I *heart* reading about organization, but I felt like the tips offered in this issue were nothing new. Then again, that could be because our closets are in decent shape so I can't exactly implement any of the
      systems. I enjoyed the gift recommendations since I always seem to have people in my life who are hard to shop for. Finally, there were some tasty looking sandwiches in the food section.
    • Washingtonian, June 2016 - Oh man, now I have a whole 'nother list of places I need to visit and eat at. Thanks "Best of" list! There was also a rather interesting piece on John Hinckley. I complete forgot that he lived in DC.
    • National Geographic, June 2016 - I have a thing for all things ancient Egypt, so the story on stolen antiquities was right up my alley. It's so infuriating that the illegal antiquity trade is so hard to follow and stop. It's even more infuriating that the funds from these illegal sales tend to support the most heinous of crimes. The
      three other feature stories on sharks, Peru's national forest tribes, and the return of civic life to Juarez were all very good. Come for the reading, stay for the shark pictures!
  • Books
    • I wrapped up the final few pages of Jessica Valenti's The Purity Myth. You can read my complete review here.
    • On my nightstand now is Orchard House by Tara Austen Weaver. I've always loved Weaver's writing style, and this book is turning out to just as rich and absorbing as I imagined. It even has me jonesing to garden. Too bad I live in a 5th floor apartment.
  • Other
    • Article Club met this week. We read two pieces on how companies retain female employees. Spoiler alert: Treat them appropriately and compensate them well. You know, like you do your male employees.
    • Lady B sent me an intriguing piece by an author who is looking into if we not longer work to live but, rather, live to work. The author makes some good points but he is so deep inside the "rat race" that I think he misses the point that you have to work at things to sustain them outside the office as well. Then again, I'm a work to live type myself.

Friday, May 27, 2016

The Friday Find: For Father

Father's Day is on the horizon. When The Husband and I were visiting my dad's favorite Smithsonian museum, I had the chance to pick-up a Father's Day present for him. That inspired me to search the Smithsonian's online store for other gifts for pops. There are many awesome things available but, this week, I would like to suggest this hand-carved, wooden book/tablet stand.

You can find this online at the Smithsonian store website.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Variations on a Theme: Rain

DC has been nothing but gray and rainy this spring. We've gone weeks (weeks!) without seeing the sun. While summer is starting to peek out from behind the clouds, all of the precipitation inspired me to make a list about rain and water. Perhaps you'll pick up one of these titles on your next rainy day...

Rain: A Natural and Cultural History
Cynthia Barnett

It is the subject of countless poems and paintings; the top of the weather report; the source of the world's water. Yet this is the first book to tell the story of rain. Cynthia Barnett's Rain begins four billion years ago with the torrents that filled the oceans, and builds to the storms of climate change. It weaves together science—the true shape of a raindrop, the mysteries of frog and fish rains—with the human story of our ambition to control rain, from ancient rain dances to the 2,203 miles of levees that attempt to straitjacket the Mississippi River. It offers a glimpse of our "founding forecaster," Thomas Jefferson, who measured every drizzle long before modern meteorology. Two centuries later, rainy skies would help inspire Morrissey’s mopes and Kurt Cobain’s grunge. Rain is also a travelogue, taking readers to Scotland to tell the surprising story of the mackintosh raincoat, and to India, where villagers extract the scent of rain from the monsoon-drenched earth and turn it into perfume. Now, after thousands of years spent praying for rain or worshiping it; burning witches at the stake to stop rain or sacrificing small children to bring it; mocking rain with irrigated agriculture and cities built in floodplains; even trying to blast rain out of the sky with mortars meant for war, humanity has finally managed to change the rain. Only not in ways we intended. As climate change upends rainfall patterns and unleashes increasingly severe storms and drought, Barnett shows rain to be a unifying force in a fractured world. Too much and not nearly enough, rain is a conversation we share, and this is a book for everyone who has ever experienced it.

Water is Water: A Book About the Water Cycle
Miranda Paul

This spare, poetic picture book follows a group of kids as they move through all the different phases of the water cycle. From rain to fog to snow to mist, talented author Miranda Paul and the always remarkable Jason Chin (Redwoods, Coral Reefs, Island, Gravity) combine to create a beautiful and informative journey in this innovative nonfiction picture book that will leave you thirsty for more.

Let There Be Water: Israel's Solution for a Water Starved World
Seth M. Siegel

As every day brings urgent reports of growing water shortages around the world, there is no time to lose in the search for solutions. The US government predicts that forty of our fifty states-and sixty percent of the earth's land surface-will soon face alarming gaps between available water and the growing demand for it. Without action, food prices will rise, economic growth will slow, and political instability is likely to follow. Let There Be Water illustrates how Israel can serve as a model for the US and countries everywhere by showing how to blunt the worst of the coming water calamities.
Even with sixty percent of its country a desert, not only doesn't Israel have a water problem; it has an abundance of water. Israel even supplies water to its neighbors-the Palestinians and the Kingdom of Jordan-every day. Based on meticulous research and hundreds of interviews, Let There Be Water reveals the methods and techniques of the often off-beat inventors who enabled Israel to lead the world in cutting-edge water technology.

Bottled and Sold: The Story Behind Our Obsession with Bottled Water
Peter H. Gleick

Peter Gleick knows water. A world-renowned scientist and freshwater expert, Gleick is a MacArthur Foundation "genius," and according to the BBC, an environmental visionary. And he drinks from the tap. Why don’t the rest of us? Bottled and Sold shows how water went from being a free natural resource to one of the most successful commercial products of the last one hundred years—and why we are poorer for it. It’s a big story and water is big business. Every second of every day in the United States, a thousand people buy a plastic bottle of water, and every second of every day a thousand more throw one of those bottles away. That adds up to more than thirty billion bottles a year and tens of billions of dollars of sales. Are there legitimate reasons to buy all those bottles? With a scientist’s eye and a natural storyteller’s wit, Gleick investigates whether industry claims about the relative safety, convenience, and taste of bottled versus tap hold water. And he exposes the true reasons we’ve turned to the bottle, from fearmongering by business interests and our own vanity to the breakdown of public systems and global inequities. "Designer" H2O may be laughable, but the debate over commodifying water is deadly serious. It comes down to society’s choices about human rights, the role of government and free markets, the importance of being "green," and fundamental values. Gleick gets to the heart of the bottled water craze, exploring what it means for us to bottle and sell our most basic necessity.

The Johnstown Flood
David McCullough

At the end of the nineteenth century, Johnstown, Pennsylvania, was a booming coal-and-steel town filled with hardworking families striving for a piece of the nation’s burgeoning industrial prosperity. In the mountains above Johnstown, an old earth dam had been hastily rebuilt to create a lake for an exclusive summer resort patronized by the tycoons of that same industrial prosperity, among them Andrew Carnegie, Henry Clay Frick, and Andrew Mellon. Despite repeated warnings of possible danger, nothing was done about the dam. Then came May 31, 1889, when the dam burst, sending a wall of water thundering down the mountain, smashing through Johnstown, and killing more than 2,000 people. It was a tragedy that became a national scandal. Graced by David McCullough’s remarkable gift for writing richly textured, sympathetic social history, The Johnstown Flood is an absorbing, classic portrait of life in nineteenth-century America, of overweening confidence, of energy, and of tragedy. It also offers a powerful historical lesson for our century and all times: the danger of assuming that because people are in positions of responsibility they are necessarily behaving responsibly.

Peter Spier

This wordless picture book captures the beauty and wonder of a brother and sister's joyous experiences in the rain. Come along as they explore their neighborhood, splash through puddles, see where the animals hide, and make footprints in the mud. From the first small drops of rain to the clear blue sky of a bright new morning, Peter Spier's Rain will delight parents and children again and again. 

Other Rain Titles
Aqua Shock - Susan J. Marks
The Big Thirst - Charles Fishman
Come On, Rain - Karen Hesse
Storm Surge - Adam Sobel
The Umbrella Unfurled - Nigel Rodgers
The West Without Water - B. Lynn Ingram

Links and Stuff: May 26, 2016

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Why I Love... Snatching Reading Time

Sometimes you don't have the time to read for hours or even halves of hours on end. Sometimes you only get a few minutes here and there. Or just here cause you're too busy to find time there. I've lucked out lately that changes in my life (coughreadingfewernewsblogscough) have led me to have more reading time, but I still love snatching minutes of reading time here and there.

I almost always have a book or magazine on me or, failing that, my phone. I love being able to cram in two or three minutes of reading when I find a moment. These snatches usually occur while I am in transit - riding the metro, stuck in a slow elevator, on the longest escalator ever, etc. They also happen when I'm waiting - for my lunch to reheat in the microwave, when I'm meeting someone, waiting for some sort of service, etc. It's not a ton of time, but it's the perfect amount to catch up on something.

These minutes don't allow for immersive reading, but sometimes they're the best I can manage. The brief reading lulls also help me get through reading slumps, when nothing seems to be hitting the spot. I'd rather get at least a few pages of reading done than sit around waiting for the mood to strike.

Some reading is better than no reading in my book.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Book 14: The Purity Myth

TITLE: The Purity Myth: How America's Obsession with Virginity is Hurting Young Women
AUTHOR: Jessica Valenti
STARTED: May 12, 2016
FINISHED: May 22, 2016
PAGES: 263
GENRE: Non-Fiction

FIRST SENTENCE: There is a moral panic in America over young women's sexuality - and it's entirely misplaced.

SUMMARY:[From BN] The United States is obsessed with virginity — from the media to schools to government agencies. In The Purity Myth, Jessica Valenti argues that the country’s intense focus on chastity is damaging to young women. Through in-depth cultural and social analysis, Valenti reveals that powerful messaging on both extremes — ranging from abstinence-only curriculum to "Girls Gone Wild" infomercials — place a young woman's worth entirely on her sexuality. Morals are therefore linked purely to sexual behavior, rather than values like honesty, kindness, and altruism. Valenti sheds light on the value — and hypocrisy — around the notion that girls remain virgins until they’re married by putting into context the historical question of purity, modern abstinence-only education, pornography, and public punishments for those who dare to have sex. The Purity Myth presents a revolutionary argument that girls and women are overly valued for their sexuality, as well as solutions for a future without a damaging emphasis on virginity.

THOUGHTS: This book is essentially a college thesis. It's fact-filled with a logically planned argument and uses emotionally-packed stories for maximum oomph. It also includes some commentary in the form of fantastic snarky footnotes. While this writing style was not my favorite, I think Valenti does a phenomenal job of explaining why and arguing how the concept of virginity is a damaging social construct. I am in full agreement with Valenti's case and the argument she makes. I started this book knowing that I would scoff at the examples of virginity culture that Valenti uses. Sometimes I even snorted in derision. I basically read this book to feel vindicated about my feelings on this issue, so this review is definitely biased in favor of Valenti. I wish this book was required reading, because too often we let existing cultural norms just "be" when they should be challenged. It's hard to change a millennium of thinking overnight, but Valenti's book offers a good and well-argued start.

RATING: 8/10 [Terrific]

YouTube Tuesday: Outdoors

Monday, May 23, 2016

Reading in the Wild

On Friday, The Husband and I were enjoying dinner at a local establishment when we encountered a lady who is now, in my imagination, my newest best friend.

We were almost done with dinner when this tres chic looking older lady grabbed a spot at the bar. She arrived alone and ordered dinner and a glass of red wine. When her dinner arrived, she took an ebook out of her bag and used the cover to prop it up so she could eat and read at the same time. I must give this lady bonus points for ordering an adult grilled cheese. (I call it adult because it comes with bacon. Bacon makes everything better.)

When I told The Husband that this woman was now my hero, he snapped a quick photo of her reading set-up for me. Now I have something to emulate.

Thank you random lady! You made my Friday night and I think you're totally awesome.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

What I Read This Week: May 22, 2016

I had so many meetings this week that I forgot what day it was on more than one occasion. I hate it when that happens. On the upside, I also got to spend time with several friends I've not seen in awhile.
  • Work
  • Magazines
    • Good Housekeeping, June 2016 - When the cover promised to be all about color, I was expecting more than 6 pages of material. While said pages were lovely to behold, the small size was disappointing. On the other hand, the article on summer reading recommendations was much longer than I thought it would be. I love reading about new titles. 
    • Food Network, June 2016 - I normally jump for joy when summer food issues arrive. Sadly, we no longer have easy access to a grill, so those recipes are lost on me these days. Boo! At least I still have access to a freezer so I can try out some of those delicious looking ice cream sandwiches. 
  • Books
    • I am in love with every argument in Valenti's The Purity Myth but it does tend to read like a college paper. It's better than any college paper I ever wrote, but it still gives off that vibe. 

Friday, May 20, 2016

The Friday Find: Sweet Sweet Smell

If you love the smell of old books, you may be interested in this new perfume. The makers say: "The Dead Writers Perfume® blend evokes the feeling of sitting in an old library chair paging through yellowed copies of Hemingway, Shakespeare, Fitzgerald, Poe, and more. Suitable for either sex, Dead Writers makes you want to put on a kettle of black tea and curl up with your favorite book. This perfume contains black tea, vetiver, clove, musk, vanilla, heliotrope, and tobacco."

Hat tip to Gentleman M for directing me to this. You can buy a bottle or two from Sweet Tea Apothecary.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Links and Stuff: May 19, 2016

Library of Congress Rotunda

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Book 13: Handbook for Digital Projects

TITLE: Handbook for Digital Projects: A Management Tool for Preservation and Access
AUTHOR: Maxine K. Sitts (ed.)
STARTED: March 18, 2016
FINISHED:May 17, 2016
PAGES: 179
GENRE: Library Science

FIRST SENTENCE: NEDCC is pleased to present this handbook to the professional community.

SUMMARY: [From an Amazon review] Despite the common view that publications about digital projects tend to be short-lived in a field that changes so rapidly, the Handbook for Digital Projects offers a lasting contribution. The book is not timeless, but it is successful in achieving its narrowly defined goals of providing guidance (not technical solutions) to managers of scanning and digital conversion projects and informing readers about the broad range of consideration in digitization projects from capture to storage to access. The publication is the result of four years of research and curricula development (funded by the NEH and the Mellon Foundation) for the Northeast Document Conservation Center's School for Scanning. Its essential message is that digitization for its own sake is clearly short-sighted. Managers should take time at the outset to define the scope, goals, sustainability, and metrics of a pending project; and managers must be well-informed about the complexities justifying a project; when and how to begin; integrating preservation; selecting material; maintaining standards of quality; developing infrastructure; and providing access to the end product. To begin a project, managers must be able to answer: Why do it; What do you want to produce;What will you do with the products. The chapters of the handbook cover these topics in varying degrees of detail.

THOUGHTS: I'm kind of surprised that a book that is 16 years old is still relevant to library digitization projects. While the technical specs of this volume are outdated, the general practices and workflows are still relevant. I took notes while reading so that I can refer to them when we start working on our own digitization projects. Not all of the chapters are as relevant (or complete) as others, but the book, as a whole, offers a decent crash course in digitization.

RATING: 6/10 [Good]

Sunday, May 15, 2016

What I Read This Week: May 15, 2016

It has been raining for over two weeks. Seriously. It's just gray and rainy everyday. I am so ready for this weather to be over, but Capital Weather Gang says we might be stuck in this pattern for even longer. Boo.

In other boo news... the Washington Capitals lost. We were so close. So close! Alas, we are cursed to never leave the second round. On the upside, The Husband and I won't have to make the hard decision about weather or not to lay out more money for third round and Stanley Cup tickets.
  • Work
    • I have almost finished up Handbook for Digital Projects. I would have finished, but I took Friday off so it'll have to wait for next week.
  • Magazines
    • No bullets (or pretty cover images) here because I caught up on all my magazines last week. I'm fairly certain this is a first. Instead of reading magazines during my commute, I listened to podcasts. It was an enjoyable alternative. I highly recommend NPR's Embedded.
  • Books
    • I finished In The Unlikely Event. While there were still a ton of characters to keep straight, I loved the plot so much that I finished the last third of the book in about two days. I even stayed up past my usual bed time to do so. 
    • I started reading The Purity Myth by Jessica Valenti. This one has been on my list since it came out years ago. Here's hoping it doesn't make me so cranky I throw things.
  • Other
    • I finally got around to reading the manual to our new camera. Methinks the video tutorials on Lynda will be more useful.
    • Buzzfeed wrote up a review of the many meal delivery services that exist these days. The Husband and I have done Blue Apron a few times so it was nice to see how the others compare.
    • The Atlantic posted what I found to be a mildly depressing story on the necessary relationship between universities and helicopter parents.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Book 12: In the Unlikely Event

TITLE: In The Unlikely Event
AUTHOR: Judy Blume
STARTED: April 25, 2016
FINISHED: May 11, 2016
PAGES: 405
GENRE: Fiction

FIRST SENTENCE: Even now she can't decide.

SUMMARY: [From BN] In this brilliant new novel—her first for adults since Summer Sisters—Judy Blume takes us back to the 1950s and introduces us to the town of Elizabeth, New Jersey, where she herself grew up. Here she imagines and weaves together a vivid portrait of three generations of families, friends, and strangers, whose lives are profoundly changed during one winter. At the center of an extraordinary cast of characters are fifteen-year-old Miri Ammerman and her spirited single mother, Rusty. Their warm and resonant stories are set against the backdrop of a real-life tragedy that struck the town when a series of airplanes fell from the sky, leaving the community reeling. Gripping, authentic, and unforgettable, In the Unlikely Event has all the hallmarks of this renowned author’s deft narrative magic.

THOUGHTS: This book had far too many characters to remember. Their stories were intertwined even if only in minor ways. It was hard to keep everyone, their connections, and their plot-lines straight. That said, it was a very good read. Once I decided who the main character was, it became easier to connect people and their stories.

Also, I had no idea that this was based on a true story. I had to google to make sure but, man, three plane crashes in three months in one town is just the perfect set-up for a novel. Blume did a wonderful job of constructing believable characters into a dramatic narrative. Emotion, more than anything else, is what drives this book forward.

I would not recommend this if you want a casual beach read, but if you want to jump into a thick story, grab a copy today.

RATING: 7/10 [Very Good]

The Friday Find: Roar

It's graduation season. If you need a gift for the graduate in your life, might I suggest this NYPL Lion Paperweight? It can decorate your graduates new work desk.

You can find this in the NYPL shop.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Why I Love... Book Forts

When I was a kid, I had a day bed in my bedroom. It was a small room, so the bed was in front of a window. On rain days, I would open the window and make a nest of pillows in the middle of the bed. Every now and then, I would drape a blanket over the bed's headboard and myself creating a very cozy nook for reading. I was nestled into a small space, but I could still feel the breeze blowing and hear the rain.

Every time it rains I think about that space, and those many hours I spent reading by myself. It's been raining in DC for two weeks straight. Two. Weeks. I'm not a fan of prolonged gross weather, but it's hard for me to completely hate it because I have lovely memories of reading in my little book fort. It was just me, the rain, and a wonderful story.

I'm older now, but I still get the urge to make a book fort on rainy days. I want to drape a blanket over chairs and a table, and stuff the space with pillows and more blankets. There's something about being isolated from the world with a good book that makes reading even more enjoyable. It creates a sense that it's just you and the words on the page; nothing else is important.

Reading in a book fort is an immersive experience; an experience that is harder to achieve as we get older. One of these days, after a long work day, The Husband will come home to find me hidden under the dining room table. I'll skip the "No Boys Allowed" sign. If you're reading, you're welcome in my book fort.

Sunday, May 08, 2016

What I Read This Week: May 8, 2016

This week was gross. The weather was gross. My hockey team played gross. The pollen coming into our apartment and leaving our floor green because the AC is not yet on and we can't close the windows is gross. It all left me pouty.

On the upside of things... I was extremely productive at work. My social media posts for finals week seemed to go over really well with the students. I submitted an ACRL conference proposal. My list of things to do this summer (both fun tasks and stuff that simply need to be done) is growing... and I'm looking forward to all of it. AND! I made it back to the gym and got to listen to some awesome podcasts (The West Wing Weekly is awesome).

So, the good and the bad was well mixed this week. At least the sun said hello for a little bit on Saturday.

But the weather was still very, very gross.
  • Work
    • American Libraries, May 2016 - The bulk of this issue was the rather dry library systems report. Luckily there was a great article on weeding. I am very pro weeding (particularly because we have off-site storage), but you have to do it right. This article shows how open communication about bulk wedding projects is key. I also enjoyed the brief piece on bringing bike desks into a library. I think I can pedal and type at the same time?
  • Magazines
    • Washingtonian, May 2016 - The cover story was a list of great cheap eats in DC. It was fine, but I mainly skimmed it since
      most of the restaurants are driving distance for me.  I enjoyed the articles on how to be a Nats fan and the inside look at Madame Secretary. The story that struck me the most, however, was about the "mansion murder." This took place in my neighborhood and I run past that house regularly during my workouts. (shudders) I also think it would make a decent story for Serial
    • Cooking Light, June 2016 - I love delicious summer recipes, so everything in this issue looked tasty to me. (As a side note: I particularly enjoyed the layout of that feature. It was simple, clean, and easy to follow.) This issue highlighted new work in our gut biomes that I always find interesting. 
    • HGTV Magazine, June 2016 - I actually kind of loved this issue. I've never said that about this magazine before. The bulk of the pages were devoted to painting including recommendations of what to do and what not do depending on what it is you are painting. I also loved all the colors splashed across the pages here. Finally, I ended up taking pictures of three different pages so that I could track down the images to pin later.
    • The Atlantic, May 2016 - I didn't think I would get a chance to finish this issue in a week, but I forgot about how much pre-game there was for the Kentucky Derby. I finished off the last third of this magazine while waiting for the big race. The
      main feature article ("The Secret Same of the Middle Class") was enlightening and more than a little heartbreaking. It's scary to think how close to falling off the financial edge a lot of people are. Right after that article was a piece on pay day loans that made me wonder what would happen if further regulations were enacted. I also enjoyed the pieces on Warren Buffet's son and how Iraq is still a mess. Finally, I would be remiss if I did not mention the fiction piece, "The Wall". Normally those are my least favorite part of hte magazine, but this one was very well done and made me want to go outdoors and appreciate that I can see grass whenever I want.
  • Books
    • I'm still working my way through In The Unlikely Event. I'm enjoying the book, but man are there a lot of characters to keep straight. This is a book I should have started early during read-a-thon so I could read the majority of it in one sitting.
  • Other
    • I read this fantastic piece on The Chronicle of Higher Education's website Vitae. It's called "The Men Who Email Me" and I think it's an important piece for all female writers to read.
    • The New York Times posted a rather long story about Britney Spears and her conservatorship. I'm a fan of Spears music (I am a girl of the late 90s and early 00s), but the ramifications of long-term conservatorships was simply fascinating. 

Friday, May 06, 2016

The Friday Find: Natural Habitat

I need this as a well tapestry for my office.

Hat Tip to Lady KS for sending me the link to this. You can grab a (non-tapestry) size off Society 6.

Thursday, May 05, 2016

Book 11: Spark Joy

TITLE: Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up
AUTHOR: Marie Kondo
STARTED: April 23, 2016
FINISHED: April 25, 2016
PAGES: 291
GENRE: Non-Fiction

FIRST SENTENCE: Life truly beings only after you have put your house in order.

SUMMARY: [From BN] Japanese decluttering guru Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up has revolutionized homes—and lives—across the world. Now, Kondo presents an illustrated guide to her acclaimed KonMari Method, with step-by-step folding illustrations for everything from shirts to socks, plus drawings of perfectly organized drawers and closets. She also provides advice on frequently asked questions, such as whether to keep “necessary” items that may not bring you joy. With guidance on specific categories including kitchen tools, cleaning supplies, hobby goods, and digital photos, this comprehensive companion is sure to spark joy in anyone who wants to simplify their life.

THOUGHTS: I heard that this book was The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up (my review here) on steroids. It was indeed that (with pictures!) but, more so, it was about fitting in tidying up to a livable lifestyle. Where Life-Changing Magic was basically about etching-sketching erasing your things, Spark Joy provides a more sustainable version. Kondo goes deeper into why we should tidy and how to make it work for our individual lives. She still advocates removing as much as possible, but she adds the caveat of "make it work for you."

The "life lessons" are interspersed in her room-by-room and space-by-space breakdown of best practices in how to tidy and why. She basically covers every area of the house (and I've already targeted a few of the spaces in my home that could be better.)

Also, the illustrations are helpful and adorable. I've been folding and storing my clothing by her method (highly recommend, FYI), and the charts of that will help me to clean up some garments that don't ever want to cooperate.

RATING: 8/10 [Terrific]

Links and Stuff: May 5, 2016

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Book 10: Why Not Me?

TITLE: Why Not Me?
AUTHOR: Mindy Kaling
STARTED: April 23, 2016
FINISHED: April 23, 2016
PAGES: 229
GENRE: Memoir

FIRST SENTENCE: In seventh grade I started at a new school.

SUMMARY: [From BN] In Why Not Me?, Kaling shares her ongoing journey to find contentment and excitement in her adult life, whether it’s falling in love at work, seeking new friendships in lonely places, attempting to be the first person in history to lose weight without any behavior modification whatsoever, or most important, believing that you have a place in Hollywood when you’re constantly reminded that no one looks like you. In “How to Look Spectacular: A Starlet’s Confessions,” Kaling gives her tongue-in-cheek secrets for surefire on-camera beauty, (“Your natural hair color may be appropriate for your skin tone, but this isn’t the land of appropriate–this is Hollywood, baby. Out here, a dark-skinned woman’s traditional hair color is honey blonde.”) “Player” tells the story of Kaling being seduced and dumped by a female friend in L.A. (“I had been replaced by a younger model. And now they had matching bangs.”) In “Unlikely Leading Lady,” she muses on America’s fixation with the weight of actresses, (“Most women we see onscreen are either so thin that they’re walking clavicles or so huge that their only scenes involve them breaking furniture.”) And in “Soup Snakes,” Kaling spills some secrets on her relationship with her ex-boyfriend and close friend, B.J. Novak (“I will freely admit: my relationship with B.J. Novak is weird as hell.”) Mindy turns the anxieties, the glamour, and the celebrations of her second coming-of-age into a laugh-out-loud funny collection of essays that anyone who’s ever been at a turning point in their life or career can relate to. And those who’ve never been at a turning point can skip to the parts where she talks about meeting Bradley Cooper.

THOUGHTS: It's been some time since I read a laugh-out-loud book. Kaling had me giggling, laughing, and reading passages aloud to The Husband. Why Not Me? was also heartfelt and surprisingly insightful.

Kaling makes me want to be her best friend. Her personality just jumps out of the text and wraps you in a big hug... then drags you along to a spa primping party and makes you want to spill your life story. This book is less a memoir then a series of essays that come across as long phone conversations with a friend. It's sort of random but everything ties together.

My favorite part of this book was the end, where Kaling becomes incredibly insightful. She shows how hard work pays off, and that confidence is entitlement because of all that hard work. Kaling is "just like us" but not really because she worked her tail off to get where she is today. Her drive and determination are admirable and, at the end of the book, not only do you want to be her friend but you root for her to keep succeeding.

RATING: 8/10 [Terrific]

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Book 9: Slow Cooker Revolution

TITLE: Slow Cooker Revolution
AUTHOR: America's Test Kitchen
STARTED: April 23, 2016
FINISHED: April 23, 2016
PAGES: 326
GENRE: Cookbook

FIRST SENTENCE: The promise of the microwave was universal in its application.

SUMMARY: [From BN] The 200 recipes in this family-friendly collection deliver a revolution in slow cooking like only America's Test Kitchen can! Who doesn't like the idea of throwing ingredients into a slow cooker and coming back hours later to a finished meal? Too bad most slow cooker recipes deliver mediocre results you'd rather forget than fix again. A team of ten test cooks at America's Test Kitchen spent a year developing recipes, and what they discovered will change the way you use your slow cooker. Did you know that onions garlic, and spices should be bloomed in the microwave for five minutes before they go into the slow cooker? This simple step intensifies their flavor and requires no extra work. Did you know that a little soy sauce mixed with tomato paste adds meaty flavors to almost any stew and can often replace the tedious step of browning the meat? And do you know the secret to a moist slow-cooker chicken? Start the bird upside down to protect the delicate white meat from drying out.

THOUGHTS: Now this is a great slow cooker cookbook! There is a lengthy introduction about how to best use your slow cooker and why recipes work in it. Throughout the book there are excerpts on techniques and best practices. The recipes, which look awesome, all come with backgrounds and introductions that explain why America's Test Kitchen did things they way they did.


I only wish some of the delicious recipes didn't seem so fussy. But I guess you have to work at making great food sometimes.

RATING: 7/10 [Very Good]

YouTube Tuesday: Political Savvy and Shushing

Monday, May 02, 2016

Book 8: Crockery Cookery

TITLE: Crockery Cookery
AUTHOR: Mable Hoffman
STARTED: April 23, 2016
FINISHED: April 23, 2016
PAGES: 250
GENRE: Cookbook

FIRST SENTENCE: Welcome to the newest edition of Crockery Cookery.

SUMMARY: [From BN] Mable Hoffman loves to cook. A professional home economist, she cooks to develop recipes, to promote food products and to prepare those tasty, eye-appealing dishes you've seen in ads and food-preparation articles. She's also a food stylist and editorial consultant for Better Homes & Gardens. Slow cooking is different and requires special recipes. Mable developed every recipe specially for slow-cooking pots. Every one has been tested and re-tested to bring you sure success with each meal you prepare. You'll see how your slow-cooking pot invites culinary creativity. Just use these recipes as a foundation and add a little pinch of your own ingenuity to the pot. You'll find slow cooking makes good eating!

THOUGHTS: I can see why this is a classic slow cooker cookbook... but I would like some fresher material. This is definitely a cookbook to have if you're just starting out with your slow cooker, but I wanted something newer and fresher.

The best part about this book was reading my friend's marginalia.

RATING: 5/10 [Meh]

Sunday, May 01, 2016

What I Read This Week: May 1, 2016

I discovered my sweet spot environment for productivity: dreary days backed by my pandora jazz station. I got so much done!

In other news, my hockey team might be trying to kill me. I don't think my heart can take much more of this, but I have to keep watching. Go Caps!
  • Work
    • I snuck in a few pages of Handbook for Digital Project, but a lot of my week was taken up by end of semester/fiscal year items.
  • Magazines
    • Good Housekeeping, May 2016 - I skimmed the bulk of this issue, but I did enjoy the article on how to calm yourself about our most frequent sources of stress. I also liked the essay snippet on the best advice a mother has ever given her daughter. I may have to seek out the book it's from. 
    • National Geographic, May 2016 - This was a special issue devoted entirely to Yellowstone. It was practically a book. The layout was fantastic and provided a fine mix of photographs and articles, long and short. I also enjoyed how many of the pieces touched upon the consequences of animals living near and with humans. This is a must buy issue if you love the national parks.
    • Real Simple, May 2016 - This issue had a decent mix of articles, but
      I accidentally read most of it online before the print copy arrived. Oops. I very much enjoyed the tips and tricks pieces on organizing a small space, cleaning your home, and how to take care of your eyes. The article I liked best was on apologizing. It described why we have trouble apologizing, the best way to apologize, and how to teach your kids to apologize. Good stuff.
  • Books
    • I finished Spark Joy by Marie Kondo early in the week. It was everything I wanted it to be, and I definitely plan on putting a few of her more detailed tips into practice when I super-clean our apartment in the near future.
    • I'm beginning to put a small dent in Judy Blume's In The Unlikely Event. So far it's mainly set-up and character introduction... and there are a lot of characters to remember. Hopefully, I'll be able to keep everyone straight in my head. I may need to turn to the internet. Someone must have put a character chart online.
  • Other
    • The ladies and I met for article club earlier this week. We read a long (much longer than anticipated) piece from the Washington Post. It was all about the mood of the country in various places during the first primaries. Interesting piece. Interesting discussion. It will be quite the November.