Greater St. Louis Book Fair

The Greater St. Louis Book Fair at West County Center is this weekend! I went last night, when you had to pay admission, but it will be free for the rest of the weekend. I’ve always resisted the Opening Night admission fee, but I’m not sure why. It’s a good cause. After all, that’s why I give them all of my books, worth much more than the admission fee! This year, I went on Opening Night due to scheduling problems. It was that or miss it entirely!

photo of books and people at Greater St. Louis Book Fair

For those of you outside of St. Louis, let me give you an idea of how big this is — the Book Fair takes up nearly a floor of a mall parking garage.

Here are a couple of clues about how many years I’ve been going to the Book Fair. I can remember when it was in a tent on the parking lot of the old Famous Barr building on Forsyth in Clayton. Paperback novels cost a quarter (or was it two for a quarter?). Now they are $1.50. I suspect that increase is not only inflation but also a more sophisticated used book market now that we have an online marketplace.

photo of books from Greater St. Louis Book Fair

I had a good haul. From top to bottom, the titles are:

  • Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff by Richard Carlson
  • Think Thin Be Thin by Doris Wild Helmering and Dianne Hales
  • Take Time for Your Life by Cheryl Richardson
  • Writing the Wave by Elizabeth Ayres
  • Life Makeovers by Cheryl Richardson
  • A Writer’s Workbook by Caroline Sharp
  • The Intellectual Devotional by David S. Kidder and Noah D. Oppenheim
  • Steering the Craft by Ursula K. Le Guin
  • The Art of Creative Nonfiction by Lee Gutkind
  • Crafting a Life in Essay, Story, Poem by Donald M. Murray
  • Your Brain at Work by David Rock
  • Cinematherapy for Lovers by Nancy Peske and Beverly West

Have you read any of these? Where should I start?

BTT: Coming Soon to a Theater Near You

Booking Through Thursday graphicToday’s Booking Through Thursday question is:

If you could see one book turned into the perfect movie–one that would capture everything you love, the characters, the look, the feel, the story–what book would you choose?

I’m going with The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson (Book Review: The Warmth of Other Suns). This is an odd choice, since it’s nonfiction, but the three illustrative tales are movie-worthy. I think that a good screenplay writer could find a way to braid them into one compelling narrative that would impact our understanding of how America came to be the country it is today with our peculiar strengths and weaknesses.

Be sure to check today’s Booking Through Thursday post for other answers to this question.

And what about you? What have you read that you would like to see made into a movie?

BEA / Book Blogger Convention Question

logo of Book Blogger ConventionThis will be my first time to BookExpo America and the Book Blogger Convention. Yesterday I went back through posts about BEA that I bookmarked to revisit. I signed up for and subscribed to the Book Blogger feed at Miss Remmers’ Review. I determined that my normal librarian professional attire will work well (right down to the comfortable shoes!). 

Here is a question for you more experienced types. I keep seeing advice to go look at the BEA website, particularly the publisher sites. Why? What am I looking for there? I don’t pay much attention to publishers by name. How do I start to re-orient my inner world of books by genres and titles into publishers? Thanks for any insights!

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? Meme Graphic

It’s Monday! What Are Your Reading? is a weekly meme hosted by Sheila of Book Journey. Be sure to check out her post today to see her selections and the list of links to all the other participating bloggers.

As I suspected in last week’s post, I didn’t finish reading any books this week. I did, however, manage to post my thoughts on Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert.

There are only about 40 pages left in Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown. I’ve enjoyed the odd point-of-view (once I got used to it) and the peppered Shakespeare quotes. I’m a little less sure about the plot and characters, but I’ll wait until I’m finished to decide.

Zingerman’s Guide to Good Eating by Ari Weinzweig is fun to read straight through, but I think I want to own a copy for future reference (maybe an electronic copy would work well for that purpose). This week, surely, I’ll have it finished in time for Weekend Cooking.

cover of Change Anything by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, David Maxfield, Ron McMillan and Al SwitzlerAfter giving up on Influencer by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, David Maxfield, Ron McMillan and Al Switzler because the library wanted it back, I requested Change Anything, the new book by the same authors. I like Change Anything even better because it’s more about personal change and less about institutional change, even though it’s all based on the same underlying principles. My hope, now that I’ve lost most of the weight that I want to lose, is to find ways to apply what I’ve learned about myself through weight loss and apply it to other changes in my life. This book looks like a powerful tool in that quest.

What’s next? I have so many books I want to read right now. The next food related book will probably be a book about making panini sandwiches. I have a stack of Twitter books that I want to look through. And then, there’s all of my fiction!

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Booking Through Thursday: Cover

Booking Through Thursday graphicToday’s Booking Through Thursday question is:

CAN you judge a book by its cover?

I’ve been paying more attention to covers because I’ve been reading book blogs, since the posts often feature the cover. But rather than helping me judge the book, it’s made me more appreciative of the cover itself, book covers as art work. As a romance reader, I can recognize that genre from the cover, but I don’t find a correlation between cover art and how much I enjoy the content of the book (although I’ve certainly tried the experiment more than once!).

What do you think? Can you judge a book by its cover? Check today’s Booking Through Thursday post for other opinions.

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Wondrous Words Wednesday

button for Wondrous Words Wednesday memeWondrous Words Wednesday is hosted by Bermudaonion’s Weblog. Kathy says: “Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme where we share new (to us) words that we’ve encountered in our reading.”

My word for the week is minatory. This is from General Winston’s Daughter by Sharon Shinn:

That did make him smile, though it made Lady Selkirk frown, misliking Averie’s tone again. “Well, General, if you’re sure,” she said in minatory accents.

Minatory according to Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary (1979) means “having a menacing quality” and is a synonym for threatening.

Minatory sounds like just the right word to describe the actions of overly formal, disapproving people. It reminds me of the word bluenose that I posted about in the March 2 Wondrous Words Wednesday post. A typical bluenose wagged a minatory finger at early filmmakers.

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Book Review: Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert

Book: Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage by Elizabeth Gilbert
Genre: Memoir
Publisher: Viking
Publication date: 2010
Pages: 285

Summary: Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage by Elizabeth Gilbert is both a memoir and an examination of marriage; its history, societal impact, and psychological significance. At the end of Eat, Pray, Love, our heroine, after recovering from a nasty divorce, fell in love. Her new love, also a veteran of a disastrously failed marriage, was as anxious as she was to establish a committed relationship while avoiding the wedding and the many problems that can come after that. 

The two were living happily ever after in unwedded bliss (or as close of an approximation as one expects in real life) until they encountered the dreaded green card problem. Elizabeth Gilbert had strong ties to her American roots and family. The man in her life had a Brazilian upbringing, an Australian passport, and a business that imported to the United States. All of that seemed to be working well with a lot of travel between ninety-day visas until one memorable border crossing when it quit working and the man was no longer allowed into the U.S.

The best, most permanent remedy was marriage. But even that would end up taking months. It was during those months that Elizabeth Gilbert researched marriage with this idea in mind (page 20):

Perhaps it would be wise to put a little effort into unraveling the mystery of what in the name of God and human history this befuddling, vexing, contradictory, and yet stubbornly enduring institution of marriage actually is.

cover of Committed by Elizabeth GilbertThoughts: I was hesitant to read Eat, Pray, Love, a book that seemed too popular, somehow, and certain to disappoint. But after seeing Elizabeth Gilbert’s TED Talk on creativity, I found myself willing to follow her anywhere. I enjoyed Eat, Pray, Love and looked forward to Committed. Wit and wisdom and good will are what I want in a memoir. All of that is present in the TED Talk and in her writing.

A reflection on marriage is appropriate this year — Rick and I will celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary this December. In spite of the fact that I like being married and wanted to be married, I share much of Elizabeth Gilbert’s distrust of the whole institution. Historically, marriage has not been always been good for women and some of the protections that it previously gave are no longer appropriate in an era when women have finally made gains in independence and the determination of our own destinies.

This book has a satisfying ending, but I don’t want to give it away, so I’m going to reflect on something she wrote a bit earlier in the book on page 75 about same sex marriage.

If I were a social conservative, then–that is to say, if I were somebody who cared deeply about social stability, economic prosperity, and sexual monogamy–I would want as many gay couples as possible to get married. I would want as many of every kind of couple as possible to get married. I recognize that conservatives are worried that homosexuals will destroy and corrupt the institution of marriage, but perhaps they should consider the distinct possibility that gay couples are actually poised at this moment to save marriage. Think of it! Marriage is on the decline everywhere, all across the Western world. People are getting married later in life, if they’re getting married at all, or they are producing children willy-nilly out of wedlock, or (like me) they are approaching the whole institution with ambivalence or even hostility. We don’t trust marriage anymore, many of us straight folk. We don’t get it. We’re not at all convinced that we need it. We feel as though we can take it or leave it behind forever. All of which leaves poor old matrimony twisting in the winds of cold modernity.

But just when it seems like maybe all is lost for marriage, just when matrimony is about to become as evolutionarily expendable as pinkie toes and appendixes, just when it appears that the institution will wither slowly into obscurity due to a general lack of social interest, in come the gay couple, asking to be included! Indeed, pleading to be included! Indeed, fighting with all their might to be included in a custom which may be terrifically beneficial for society as a whole but which many–like me–find only suffocating and old-fashioned and irrelevant.

The institution of marriage is under threat, but not by homosexual couples. The problem of marriage is a problem of relevancy. Elizabeth Gilbert, and others like her who experience a crushing divorce and can’t face the notion of ever putting oneself in that position again, threatens the institution of marriage. I threaten the institution of marriage, even though Rick and I model what works well in marriage, because I can’t offer a coherent rational argument to the next generation as to why they should be married. I would like to see them settled and married, but beyond the emotional tug of promised stability (a promise that we all know can be broken), there isn’t a logical argument that can’t be refuted by several very good reasons to avoid the institution.

Fortunately, in the end, Elizabeth Gilbert finds an answer that works for her. It works for me as well and it’s an answer that I will happily share with my niece and nephews should they one day find themselves approaching marriage with ambivalence.

Appeal: This is a memoir that covers travel, love, marriage (of course), history, family history, and the role of women now and in the past. Anyone with interests in one or two of those topics is likely to find Committed an enjoyable book.  This book probably will not appeal to readers who have no ambivalence over the institution of marriage, except as a reasonably entertaining way to understand people who are ambivalent.

Memorable Memoirs Challenge graphicChallenges: This is the 5th of the 6 memoirs I hoped to read this year. Apparently, I’m going to have no problem meeting this challenge. Maybe I should put some energy into books about the Civil War or books recommended by other bloggers, two challenges that I’m way behind in completing.

Reviews: Committed  by Elizabeth Gilbert has been reviewed many times in the book blog world. My favorite is from nomadreader (thoughts on Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert), which includes her wedding photo in front of the card catalog in the Country Music Hall of Fame Library in Nashville, one of the coolest libraries I’ve been to. Yes, when traveling, librarians visit libraries!

Have you read this book? What did you think?

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? Meme Graphic

It’s Monday! What Are Your Reading? is a weekly meme hosted by Sheila of Book Journey. Be sure to check out her post today to see her selections and the list of links to all the other participating bloggers.

My Weekend Cooking post was a book I finished this week: Book Review: Nutrition Map, a terrific friendly book about eating healthily.

General Winston’s Daughter by Sharon Shinn is a fun Young Adult novel — quite different in tone and subject matter from the last one I read by the same author: Book Review: Gateway. I’ll write more about it later this week.

I am ready for Friday night’s book chat (Come and Join Our Read Along) about Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford. The book was a great glimpse into a time and place that I wasn’t familiar with. I’m looking forward to our discussion.

I started Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown about the same time as General Winston’s Daughter. I’ve been reading Weird Sisters on the days I feel good and General Winston’s Daughter, an easier book since it’s for teens, on the days that the tree pollens are out and about.

My food book this week is a fun one: Zingerman’s Guide to Good Eating: How to Choose the Best Bread, Cheeses, Olive Oil, Pasta, Chocolate, and Much More, a book I learned about from Rikki’s Teleidoscope, Weekend cooking: Zingerman’s guide to good eating and she learned about it from Caite of a lovely shore breeze, Weekend Cooking…Zingerman’s Guide To Good Eating [45]. So, it’s making the rounds of Weekend Cooking. I hope to have it finished in time to write about it this weekend, too.

What’s next? Well, I’m not sure that I will finish anything this week. But, if I do, the next book will probably be Stay a Little Longer by Dorothy Garlock. I think I will want something gentle.

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Book Review: Nutrition Map

Weekend Cooking meme graphic

Book: Nutrition Map by Yvonne Quiñones Syto
Genre(s): diet book
Publisher: self published
Publication date: 2010
Pages: 178

Summary: Nutrition Map: Your Guide to Eating Healthy in the Real World by Yvonne Quiñones Syto presents a week by week approach to improved eating in our present-day environment, surrounded by fast food and other empty calories, misinformation about healthy eating, and erroneous assumptions about what it takes to lose weight. Each week’s tasks build on the accomplishments of the previous weeks so that in 8 weeks time, the reader has developed the habits that work (like keeping a food journal) and learned how each category of food fits into a healthy diet, starting with vegetables and ending with fat.

cover of Nutrition Map by Yvonne Quiñones SytoThoughts: If you ever thought that what you really needed was a dietitian to visit your home once a week for a couple of months, providing small new assignments at each visit, this book is it. Follow the plan in this book, tackling a new chapter and skill each week, and it is like a Do It Yourself dietitian home visit.

This book has hallmarks of being self-published. The typography is quirky and there are spots that could have used more copy-editing. Fortunately, these don’t detract from the readability. The conversational tone of the book makes it feel like a trusted, knowledgeable friend rather than a distant, authoritarian expert. If you were going to have a dietitian visit your home once a week, wouldn’t you want one with a personality?

While self-published, this book is available at Amazon, including electronic versions. I read this in print, but it strikes me as the sort of book that would work well in ebook format with its one chapter a week structure. See the links at the author’s website: Nutrition Map. The author is bilingual, so this book is available in both English and Spanish versions.

This is my first ever review book, sent to me by the author when we found each other’s blogs during National Nutrition Month. It was thrilling for me, but there was no expectation from either the author or myself that I would write a review at all, much less a positive one.

Appeal: Nutrition Map: Your Guide to Eating Healthy in the Real World guides the reader on a step-by-step journey to balanced eating, warning of hazards on the journey and providing tools to navigate through them. It will appeal to anyone who wants to lose weight or to improve their diet for other reasons.

Meme: This is my Weekend Cooking entry. See the post at Beth Fish Reads post for a review of Kings of Pastry and links to other Weekend Cooking posts.

Wondrous Words Wednesday

button for Wondrous Words Wednesday memeWondrous Words Wednesday is hosted by Bermudaonion’s Weblog. Kathy says: “Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme where we share new (to us) words that we’ve encountered in our reading.”

One new word this week (which shows that I read pretty easy books during the Read-a-thon!). This is from page 21 of Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert:

This stretch of traveling never had the feeling of a carefree adventure anyhow. It felt more like an expulsion, a hegira.

I wanted to use the Oxford English Dictionary, but they have redone their website and the link from my library is broken so I don’t have free access at the moment (I reported the problem). So here is the definition from my print dictionary, Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary, 1979:

hegira also hejira n [the Hegira, flight of Muhammad from Mecca in A.D. 622, fr. ML, fr. Ar hijrah, lit., flight]: a journey esp. when undertaken to escape from dangerous or undesirable situation: EXODUS

In the etymology, ML stands for Medieval Latin and Ar for Arabic.

I’m a bit surprised that this word isn’t used more. A great many people, including Arabic speakers, have been undertaking a hegira in north Africa recently. They are surely using that word or something similar. Since there is a related English word, it seems like we could be using it as well.

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