Tag Archives: Book Snob

Friday Pix: Recommended Reading For The Weekend

This Friday I point you to some recommended reading around the blogosphere:

1. There’s another great essay over at the New York Times Modern Love column, this time by Stacy Morrison. It’s about a divorced couple who still spends a lot of time together.

2. And speaking of marriage, Book Snob (aka Katy Keim) tells us what her nightstand says about her marriage.

3. And speaking of book snobs, test out your knowledge of book review clichés with Michelle Kerns over on The Examiner. (Hat Tip: Salon’s Laura Miller.)

4. You’ll also want to check out the inside of some of David Foster Wallace’s books, on display at The University of Texas Harry Ransom Center. (Hat Tip: Kristin Bair O’Keeffe.) Wow!

5. I was intrigued by this article in the Boston Globe by Laurel Snyder about fairy tales and American childhood. (Hat Tip: @lizzieskurnick.)

6. Finally, my new favorite writers’ website: Beyond The Margins. Check it out!

Oh yes. And please do follow me on Twitter!

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Friday Pix: Recommended Reading For The Weekend

This Friday I point you to some recommended reading around the blogosphere:

1. Here’s a moving story from the New York Times’ Modern Love column about how one woman chose to move on after a break up.

2. For the wordsmiths out there, here’s a great post on the expression “It turns out” from the jsomers.net blog (via Ben Casnocha.)

3. And if you’re really feeling literary-minded, have a look at this quick, six-minute quiz at Sporcle to see how many books you can name from their covers (Hat Tip: Katy Keim’s Book Snob.)

4. In the Department of Visual Effects, check out Britain’s best-loved streets in The Guardian, as well as 19 insanely colored houses at Burbia.

5. Here’s a thoughtful meditation on grief as a collective experience at Salon. Do not miss the embedded video, which features a teen-age girl’s song tribute to her mother who died of cancer.

6. Finally, for those feeling nostalgic for the 70s, my favorite film critic – New York Magazine’s David Edelstein – weighs in on how he’d cast the sequel to Gilligan’s Island on his blog The Projectionist.

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Tips For Adulthood: Five Reasons To Join A Book Club

Every Wednesday I offer tips for adulthood.

I’ve been thinking a lot about book clubs lately.

It started when I read this vaguely dismissive piece in the New York Times about why reading has become “too social” and should remain a fundamentally private experience.

Then I read Kristen’s post over on Motherese yesterday about the sheer variety of book club experiences out there and her uncertainty as to what she’s meant to get out of them anyway.

I can relate to both points of view. I’ve been in several book clubs over the course of my adult life and they’ve all been quite different from one another. At times, I’ve been quite frustrated by these clubs, whether because people came to the meeting not having finished the book (gasp) or because they chose titles that I thought were too…cheesy. (For a great spoof on the potential shallowness of book clubs, see this New Yorker piece.)

I’ve since reformed my ways and come to see that you go to book clubs for lots of different reasons, and it’s best to just chill out and lower your expectations.

And so, as a reformed book club snob (Yes, Katy, that’s my definition!), let me offer five reasons that I think it’s a good idea to join a book club:

1. You meet interesting people. IMHO, the trick is not to join a book club full of your best friends. Some people do that and absolutely love it. But I find book clubs more interesting when none of my close friends are in them. After all, I’ll probably end up talking about books with my close friends anyway. But I’ll learn more from drawing upon a wider range of individuals. My current book club is composed of a bunch of women I almost never see (except occasionally on the street) and that’s precisely why I like it. It features – among others – a midwife, an entrepreneur, a SAHM and an urban planner. These ladies hail from all over the world. So in addition to gaining their quite distinct takes on the book at hand, I also gain a window into their lives, which are so very different from my own.

2. You read things that you wouldn’t otherwise read. Which ties to point #1, because people who are outside of your immediate circle of friends are more likely to have literary tastes that differ from your own. For example, I just read Stieg Larson’s The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. It’s a thriller set in Sweden with loads of sex and violence and family sagas. Though I’m still not convinced that it’s a great “book group” book (see point #3), it was a terrific read and I absolutely devoured it. But I never would have gone near it with a ten foot pole had it not been for book club.

3. Some books need to be discussed. This gets back to the New York Times article and the idea that reading should (arguably) remain a private pursuit (although, to be fair, the author of that article acknowledges that some particularly difficult books demand discussion.) A case in point: José Saramago’s Blindness, which I also just read in my book club. Wow! What an amazing novel. It totally changed the way that I think about fiction. But what was it about? Clearly, it was an allegory of some sort. But for what? Authoritarian rule? Religion? Capitalism? All of the above? We all had different ideas about what this great book “meant” and I felt like I understood it so much better having talked about it.

4. You eat great food. Most book groups entail some sort of snack alongside them, and usually – let’s be honest – some alcohol. I had grown accustomed to the standard wine/cheese/grapes fare at my old book club in Chicago, and that suited me fine. But, boy did they up the ante when we moved to London. One of my hostesses is Swedish, and she regularly prepares Swedish mulled wine – appropriately named Glögg – as well as Swedish apple tarts whenever we meet at her home. Yum!

5. Sometimes it’s fun just to chat. Finally – all book clubs – no matter how serious, entail some chit chat. And that’s just how it should be. Whether or not you’re in one that’s all-women – as seems to be the norm – or contains “the male element” (as someone ominously referred to men recently…yikes! sounds contagious!) we all thrive on friendship as we grow older. And book clubs are a great excuse to make and keep friends.

*****

I was delighted to get this shout-out on the fabulous Alpha Mummy blog in London today for my recent piece on peanut allergies.

*****

I’m over on PoliticsDaily.com today talking about why I think Nicaragua’s abortion ban is inhumane and backward. (But other than that, I think it’s really great…) Have a look.

Image: My Book Group Met At A Knit Shop by ellenmac11 via Flickr under a Creative Commons License.

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Tips For Adulthood: Five Reasons I Love To Blog

Every Wednesday I offer tips for adulthood.

As some of you know, last Friday was the first anniversary of RealDelia. And while I fully intended to break out the champagne…the confetti…the whole nine yards, somehow I didn’t quite pull it off. (I had hoped that my wife would throw me a party, but she was too busy that day).

So I thought that I would mark the occasion today instead, by telling you five reasons why I love to blog, and why you might like it too:

1. It helps you to find your voice. I have been writing for a long time now in my adult life. I started as a research assistant when I first got out of college. Then there was that long, hazy academic morass when I was a graduate student and then a professor. Over the past three years, it’s been a blend of personal essays, reported features and occasional fiction writing. But it was only once I started this blog that I felt that I finally found my voice as a writer, and realized that – with all my career shifts – that was what I’d been looking for all along.

2. It makes you more mindful as a person. Mindfulness is one of those new-agey terms that I deliberately avoided for awhile. But in fact, one of the great virtues of blogging – at least if you are blogging about your own life and trying to extract lessons from it – is that it makes you more aware of how you lead your life, in ways both large and small. In my own case, one of the major innovations in my personal life was my decision to stop working on Saturdays. And while I can’t attribute that decision entirely to blogging, I think that being in the habit of examining my life on a daily basis (on the blog) gave me the tools to step back and change my life.

3. You make new friends. There’s my e-BFF Sharon, of course – of Neverbloomers fame – whom I first got to know through this blog because of our shared interest in adulthood. Now we’re on Facebook, we Skype one another and I think a professional collaboration may come down the pike. But there are a whole host of people I can think of right off the top of my hat – Colleen, Mike, Kristen, Katy, LPC – to name a few, whom I never would have “met” except through blogging (OK, I did in fact meet Katy once but blogging is our bond.) And I’m so enriched because of those connections.

4. You become more disciplined. Yeah, yeah. It’s trite, I know. But it’s true what they say. When you start writing on a regular basis, it makes you a better writer. Partly because practice makes perfect. But also because you’re able to just sit down and pound it out when you really need to. Which – in my case – has come in really handy over the past nine months that I’ve also been writing for PoliticsDaily.com.

5. You learn a ton. When I started doing this, I thought it would be fun to share my small musings about the world with other like-minded folk. And it has been loads of fun. But it turns out that the best part about blogging is what you learn from other people, either because of a comment they leave on your post, or because you subscribe to their blog, or because you encounter them haphazardly while doing some research on – say – adulthood – and then you end up staying to see what else they’ve got up their sleeve.

In that vein – and to steal a page from Nicola (another great blogger I’ve gotten to e-know), I’d love it if, in the comments section, you’d leave a link to a blog that you really like and which you think I (and readers of RealDelia) should check out. Feel free to leave your own blog’s name. I’d love to come visit.

And most of all, thank you!

Image: Blogging Research Wordle by KristinaB via Flickr under a Creative Commons License.

Friday Pix: Recommended Reading For The Weekend

This Friday I point you to some worthwhile reading around the blogosphere:

1. If you missed this interview with Spike Jones, Dave Eggers and Maurice Sendak in Newsweek about the film version of that childhood classic, Where The Wild Things Are, it’s a must. Sendak is priceless!

2. One of my favorite new (to me) blogs is Katy Keim’s Book Snob. Her detailed and funny reviews make you want to leap out of your chair and buy them. On the strength of her latest review, I’ve already put The Last of Her Kind on my list.

3. Speaking of books, if you’ve ever tried selling a book to a publisher, you’ll love this send-up of where book marketing is at these days from the New Yorker. (Hat Tip: Help! I Need a Publisher.)

4. In honor of its 150th birthday, The British Psychological Society’s Reader’s Digest invited some of the world’s leading psychologists to share –  in 150 words –  one nagging thing that they still don’t understand about themselves. Brilliant! (Hat Tip: Freakonomics.)

5. If you haven’t seen it (and call still stomach reading anything about Roman Polanski), here’s Calvin Trillin’s hilarious satirical poem in The Nation.

6. Another beautiful meditation on middle age by Judith Warner in the New York Times. (Quick middle age quiz: What is her title a reference to?)

7. My take on what American Conservatives could learn from British Conservatives.

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