Hello From Sunny Elsewhere

road trip prioritiesHey Friends!

I’m at the Madison Writers’ Institute this weekend filling my head with all kinds of wordy knowledge. Wish me luck!

I’ve got my road trip priorities (audio books, coffee and cake pops) all set!

To entertain you while I’m away, I’ve compiled some of my favorite reading spots to keep you company. And if you really, really miss me (Aww, aren’t you the sweetest?!), you can find me hanging out with The Indie Chicks. I’d love if you stopped by!

9 Women Who Made History You Probably Didn’t Know About

and

6 Tips to Nail Your Interview

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For the Writerly

Editing tips from The Secrets of Midwives author, Sally Hepworth, in What the Editing Process Really Looks Like.

Rachel Funk Heller guest blogs at Writers in the Storm with 8 Tips on Writing Faster – And Why You Should Try It!

miranda rightsHopefully you haven’t missed Bayard & Holmes Writing Spies series. It’s pretty cool. The latest is How the Pros Bug a Room.

More thriller fun came in Kristen Lamb’s latest, Series and Psychopaths – The Author Sadist & Why Audiences LOVE the Pain.

It’s part of the job for writers, right? Social media is a must. Jane Friedman offers tips for managing it, My 5 Philosophies of Social Media.

For fans of Top Ten Tuesday and book lists, check out Maren’s post at The Worn Bookmark – Top Ten Books I’d Love to Revisit From My Childhood.

Looking for your next great book to read? Waste no time! Grab a FREE (for a limited time) copy of Tameri Etherton’s book, The Stones of Kaldaar. Already own it? Book 2 is out now!

For Those Who Love to Learn

I love the notion of “arousing your life” in August McLaughlin’s 3 Powerful Ways to Spice Up Your Bedroom Life. A must read.

“Life requires brave. And you’ve got it.” That’s the message of Erin’s #52Dares Challenge. I recently discovered this inspirational blog that gives you a new challenge each week to grow your own self confidence, boost your outlook on life, and be brave!

One of the founders of The Indie Chicks, Chiara Mazzucco, tells it in her signature straight style Accept Yourself – You’re All You Got.

Who doesn’t need a little nudge now and again to turn off social media and start tackling those to-do’s – 5 Ways To Manage Your Time So It Doesn’t Manage You.

For Your Funny Bone

photo(4)Displaying micro-blogging at its best, The Bloggess, gifts us with There Should Be a Yelp For Places You Visit in Your Sleep.

Queen of Comedy, Her Royal Thighness, admits her kids don’t think she’s funny in What? You Don’t Like My Knockers?

Think you have skills? Let Steve from The Brown Road Chronicles tell you all about Slicing Bananas Like a Fucking Ninja.

What would you do if you discovered you didn’t have fingerprints? Aussa Lorens plans 5 Absolutely Justified Crimes I Might Actually Commit.

 

Top Ten Books On My Spring To Be Read List

What books are on your to read list right now?

The recent signs of spring have me extra energized to tackle my To Be Read Pile. I’m a pretty avid reader, and I recently discovered the blog, The Broke and the Bookish, who hosts a Top Ten list every Tuesday focused on various book themes. Today we’re talking about the Top Ten Books On Our Spring To Be Read List. I don’t know about you, but I have the hardest time whittling down what book to read next because I want to read All. The. Books!!^$?!

worlds largest latteIf I drink All. The. Coffee. I will never have to sleep again!
I can just read and read and read and read…

Hmm, maybe not.

But here are the Top Ten Books on my Spring To Be Read List: 

1. Persuasion by Jane Austen

The last of Jane Austen’s six novels I have yet to read. Once I finish the story of Anne Eliot I will have completed her most well known works and can move on to some of her novellas like Sandition and Lady Susan. Judging from the film versions I’ve seen (many times), Captain Wentworth is indeed worth waiting for.

2. All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

Claimed as the new Eleanor & Park meets The Fault in our Stars, I’ve been hungry to read this book for awhile but busy finishing up some other titles. I even bought this one in hardcover. I don’t even really like hardcover. I’m a paperback girl. I just wanted to read this one that badly. It’s the story of two teens – one a total loner who contemplates death and looks to the future with a strict eye, the other a free spirit who lives in the moment and sees life as an adventure. Their worlds are about to collide. I want to find out what happens!

3. Cress by Marissa Meyer

The third book in The Lunar Chronicles; I’m committed now. I absolutely loved the first book, Cinder. I thought the second book, Scarlet, was ok. But friends assure me that Cress is worth the read. A futuristic spinoff of classic fairytales, this is the continuing adventure of a cyborg named Cinder who is on the run after the evil Lunar Queen, Levana, has a call out for her head and plans to marry the good-intentioned Emperor Kai. With the help of some fellow misfits, will Cinder overtake Levana before the Queen takes over their world?

4. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

It’s been too long since I’ve read any Neil Gaiman and I must remedy that. What’s more intriguing than a pond that becomes an ocean? As a middle-aged man returns home for a funeral, he is reminded of the people he grew up with and the stories they each told.

5. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

Bestseller in the early 2000’s, all my friends read this one, but I didn’t. I was afraid I couldn’t handle the subject matter. But this winter I happened upon the book in a Little Free Library near my house and decided it was time I checked it out. Despite its serious subject matter, I’m really looking forward to reading this one.

6. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

Long before there was Christian Grey, the leading man with the wealth and power was Dorian Gray. A favorite old film of mine, the black and white version of course, I’m excited to read the novel for the first time. This title was selected by my book club as our classic this year and I’m really looking forward to our discussion.

7. The Wild Truth by Carine McCandless

Another book I had to get in hardcover because I couldn’t wait. I’m a huge fan of author Jon Krakauer, who wrote Into the Wild, the story of Chris McCandless. Now, Chris’s sister, Carine, has written her own telling of her family’s history and the days leading up to her brother’s nomadic life.

8. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

A few years ago I had a year of comedy, where half of the books I read were humorous memoirs. I think this year may be my year of YA. I’ve got so many young adult books on my list. And one of them is Eleanor & Park. Even the colored pencil sketch cover looks like spring to me. How could I possibly say no to a love story between two misfit teens when the leading lady has red hair?

9. Wildalone by Krassi Zourkova

I’m not shy about admitting the fact that I disliked Jane Eyre. I know, I know, such sacrilege from an English major! What can I say? I’m more of a Heathcliffe/Wuthering Heights kinda girl. However, I really enjoyed This House is Haunted which is an adaptation of Jane Eyre, and Wildalone has some notes of Eyre as well. I do enjoy a good paranormal read and this one seems intriguing!

10. The Kitchen Daughter by Jael McHenry 

I’m embarrassed to admit how long this beautiful book has sat on my TBR shelf. It’s been an alternate in the TBR Challenge for 2 years and since I never had to use my alternates I didn’t get to it. This year I made it part of my challenge, determined to finally read it. I love the idea that the lead character can see ghosts by cooking up recipes from them. And this is what sets her off on a journey of family secrets.

*****

That’s my Top 10 books to read this spring.
What titles are on your spring list? 

And There’s a Side Pocket for Snacks!

Some of you may know that I work in a reproductive health clinic. A large part of my job involves volunteer coordination, some marketing and outreach, working closely with our board of directors, and managing our social media. (I post cool stuff, you guys, check us out on Facebook and Twitter!) Additionally, I can be found handing out condoms on campuses and in area bars, hosting the occasional evening of Sex Trivia, and shouting things like “No Karolee, I DON’T know where your balls are!”

(Relax, it was just the fake set of testicles we have for educational purposes.)

Sometimes when I’m searching for interesting things to post online, my coworkers send me ideas. One such idea happened upon my email, and while it wasn’t quite right to share on our clinic page, I knew two ladies who HAD to see it.

August McLaughlin is an author, blogger, and  founder of GirlBoner radio and a huge proponent of women’s sexual health and empowerment. Jenny Hansen works as a freelance writer, technical trainer, and blogger with a reoccurring little series called The Undie Chronicles. These were clearly the women who would appreciate the following tweet I sent.

https://twitter.com/jesswitkins/status/560971120502120452
 

What I sent them was the link to this product…

You guys, for just $35 you can have your very own condom sleeping bag!!

Turns out, I was right. August and Jenny did appreciate my tweet.

Or for storing actual condoms, but I would use it for snacks!

The product includes a pillow and zip compartment for storing the actual sleeping bag, which can be rolled up just like a condom.

August and Jenny and I were making plans for our virtual sleepover that included birth control themed brownies and trivia.

 

Do you know it? I stumped these gals, though their guesses were admirable.

The correct answer is Little Richard’s “Tutti Fruiti.” The original lyrics read “Tutti fruiti, get booty.”

What do you think? Do you find the condom sleeping bag as amusing as we do?
Will you be joining us at the sleepover? It’s BYOS, bring your own snacks. ;)

Pseudo-Spring Not Here Soon Enough For You? Try 22 Things to Do While it’s Still -22

I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for spring. Really ready. Like I’m willing to try anything to MAKE it spring.

Expelliarmus!

Expelliarmus!

So conquer the unending winter blues with me!

Things To Do While It’s Still -22

1. Sleep in. Hibernate if possible.

2. Get cracking on your To Be Read Pile. Seriously, start reading!

15529618834_b5d3b2db37_o

3. Catch up on your Oscar Noms.

Several of the Oscar nominated films are out on DVD, including Best Picture winner, Birdman, so queue up Netflix or head to the movie rental and see what all the fuss is about!

4. Make the most amazing Grilled Cheese ever (shared by Myndi Shafer).

5. Got some time to spare? Find out your Klout score (Jenny Hansen has the details).

6. Attend a local VDay event.

February – April is when countries around the world host VDay events to end violence against women and girls. Want to learn more or get involved? I guest blogged at The Indie Chicks with 5 Ways You Can End Violence Against Women and Girls. Please stop by and join the movement!

VDay 2015

7. Check out the Beauty of a Woman Blog Fest hosted by August McLaughlin that happened last week! Tons of great reading in there. I participated!

8. Start an Instagram account – see what people around the world are up to.

15371829500_25831b9a47_zDrink coffee. Be epic.

9. Make a mix cd. Use only songs with the word ‘sun’ in the lyrics. 

10. Check out my pal Victoria’s new book, Dancing in the Fire, and her play by play reaction in gifs to being a published author – it’s priceless. :)

11. Build a blanket fort.

12. Write a letter to a loved one via snail mail.

13. Wear fleece pajamas; they will change your life.

14. Follow Women Writers Ink on Facebook for writing prompts and inspiration.

15. Try out Stitch Fix personal stylist for some new spring looks! Get started here!

Stitch Fix collage

16. Go out to eat. But mind your manners.

17. Rent a TV series and watch every season. (It’s cold out, what else is there to do? I just picked up The Mindy Project.)

18. Take a day trip and explore a new town.

photo

Joe and I spent this past Saturday exploring Winona, MN’s bookstores, music shops, and eateries.

19. Catch some winter sports on TV or hit the slopes yourself. Wear a muff. ;)

20. Freeze colored water in different shaped containers and build an ice sculpture.

21. Redecorate a room in your house. You have to be indoors anyway.

22. Wanna be naughty? Crank the heat up and watch a surf movie while wearing short sleeves. *gasp*

*****

What other ideas do you have for surviving the Winter-pocalypse?

 

#BOAW2015: Heavy Petting is a No-No, or Sex Ed for the Saint of Heart

It’s the fourth annual Beauty of a Woman BlogFest hosted by the talented and illustrious, August McLaughlin!

Inspired by the outpouring of stories shared by readers after her revealing post, Does Dirt Have Calories? – (in which August exposed her early battle with an eating disorder) – she kicked off the blog hopping happiness that is the Beauty of a Woman BlogFest. She has a made a space for women and men to safely gather and share their stories of female beauty: what it is, how they found it, what they hope to find for their future.

In 2014, August expanded her blogfesting empire to include stories of female sexuality and empowerment under her latest trademark, GirlBoner. Today, bloggers from around the globe gather to celebrate the beauty of a woman, her sensuality and sexuality. I am so pleased to be joining August and my fellow writers for the third year.

*****

Heavy Petting is a No-No

I was raised Catholic. I went to Catholic Church, I went to Catholic Sunday School, then I entered Catholic Kindergarten and stayed through Catholic Eighth Grade. I spent my Sundays genuflecting, kneeling, and singing loudly lest our Catholic priest halt Mass altogether (as he was known to do) if he couldn’t hear his parishioners praising God loud enough.

I was a smart, happy-go-lucky girl who grew up in Small Town, North America with nothing very big to complain about. I loved my classmates and my teachers, but there seemed to be something missing.

In all my nine years at Catholic school, we didn’t talk about sex. Except in the “Don’t have it until you’re married or you will go straight to Hell,” kind of way. I vaguely recall that message coming through.

Every story in the Bible seemed to portray women as either unachievably good or a complete harlot. Or worse, just there. In the background. And I have always, always felt the need to be the lead in my own story.

Sometime around seventh or eighth grade, my school boasted of purchasing advanced reader religion books for the middle school to use. These books were said to be collegiate level and we should revere them with holy esteem. And I was proud of these textbooks, until I read the heading “Heavy Petting is a No-No.”

Yes, our textbook felt the need to include that little logline. And that’s when I stopped listening. Yah, I literally stopped listening because my teacher was trying to convey the beauty of “marital relations” and the “joy of childbirth.” Her eyes were all getting all glinty and I had to swallow the bile rising in my throat. Hello, I was 13! Ew.

What was more sickening than my teacher’s impromptu testimonial though was the language. Heavy Petting is a No-No? It was offensive and infuriating. Offensive, because we were teenagers and didn’t need the language dumbed down to tell us something’s a “no-no.” That’s a phrase for toddlers. And infuriating because what we did need dumbed down were the words “heavy petting.” I went to Catholic school, remember, this wasn’t covered in the priest’s homily last Sunday.

It was clear our teacher kept talking because she was uncomfortable. She was not a trained health education teacher, she taught music originally. I hardly see the connection between teaching kids how to play the guiro and sharing the story of your wedding night. That can’t be a prerequisite on one’s resume.

I honestly don’t think I knew there was a difference between sex and sexuality until college – where, in fact, no textbooks of mine defined anything as a “no-no.” I may have had a small inkling about these terms one semester in High School when I took an independent study in psychology. I was supposed to be using my scheduled time to edit my final paper from the previous semester’s work, and send it off to psychology journals for potential publication. But since I spent 80% of that semester actually surfing the internet for tattoo ideas, I sadly would not get my research published at that time. What I did learn during that hour break each day was about a French bohemian author named Anais Nin, who is best known for her tell-all series of diaries chronicling her torrid love affairs with both men and women. I spent my class time reading short stories by the author, most of which fell in the erotica genre.

She stuck with me, Anais Nin. Her works contained empowered women and men, who’s verbal tete-a-tete was as strong as their physical one. In her time, Nin’s work was so risque that police often tore down posters advertising her readings on the grounds of obscenity and indecency. To get around this, Nin’s posters placed symbols rather than her name to alert the public where she would be reading.

It was two years later, I walked into a tattoo parlor and inked one of those symbols on my hip.

If the lack of sex education has taught me anything about sexuality, it’s that the education piece never ends. And how sad it would be if it did. The beauty – of a woman, a man, a trans individual, someone who is still questioning – is that there is an infinite amount to learn. We can learn about ourselves, we can learn about others, we can learn what we like and don’t like. And, we can change our minds. We are forever learning, that is…as long as you don’t think sexuality is a no-no. ;)

*****

If you enjoyed this post, please check out the many other BOAW2015 participants.
There are so many stories being shared.
And drop me a line! I may be searching for my next tattoo, but I promise to reply.

 

 

 

 

 

Love Means Never Having to Say You’re Sorry (for sh*tting your pants)

This blog was originally published as The Devil Made Me Do It in June 2013 as a guest post for Renee Schuls-Jacobson‘s So Wrong blog series. It’s an embarrassing and true tale from my past that I think really portrays the finer details of true love and underpants. Some edits have been made to update the post.

*****

I am a picture-perfect citizen.

I pay my bills on time. I vote. I use hand signals while driving if one of my lights has burned out. One would assume I have control over my bowels.

Let me backup. My husband and I take a vacation together each summer. We’ve traveled to Portland, Oregon and eaten Voodoo Donuts; we’ve visited Toronto, Ontario and viewed the skyline from the CN Tower. Two summers ago, we decided to take a road trip out west. Starting in the Badlands, we made our way to Yellowstone National Park. It was a fabulous trip.

Except for the day we toured Devil’s Tower.

That August day, the temperatures climbed into the 90’s. Being a mature adult, I was prepared. I packed and wore sunscreen. I drank water all morning. I used the bathroom before we left!

It didn’t matter.

This is Devil's Tower

This is Devil’s Tower

We started our hike around the base of the tower. We weren’t too far in when I felt a rumbling in my gut. I asked to sit on a bench for a minute, pretending to enjoy the view. There was a fleeting moment when I thought to myself, “I should turn back… I COULD turn back… The smart thing to do would be to turn back.”

But alas, that’s not the way this story goes.

DSCF0724

This is me right before we started hiking when I still resembled someone in control of their digestive track.

It became crystal clear, halfway around the tower, that my mind and body were not at peace. In fact, they were in deep negotiation. And things were getting heated.

When the cramping got so bad that I had to sit down again, I started weighing my options.

1.) I could try to skulk off somewhere. I had every intention of doing just that if it wasn’t for the unsuspecting family giving their children piggy back rides nearby. There was nowhere far enough out of eyesight for me to go.

2.) I could stay on the bench and breathe. This wasn’t really working all that well so far, but a girl can pray. “Hail Mary, full of grace, the cramping is with me…”

3.) I could jump off the cliff’s edge and end my misery once and for all.

In retrospect, I wish I’d chosen the cliff.

Because that’s when I shit my pants.

“Sweet Virgin Mother, what the hell just happened?!”

The worst part was telling my husband (who was my boyfriend at that time) what had occurred. How would he ever look at me with any sense of romance or mystery again? I considered myself a dignified person. But I had just shit my pants! In public! And we were only halfway around Devil’s Tower!

Nothing – and I mean nothing – will ever compare to the cold, wet, mall-walker sprint that I made during my descent from Devil’s Tower. And my husband-then-boyfriend, wonderful man that he is, tried to cheer me up on our journey.

“You’re almost there! You got this! On the bright side, I don’t smell anything!” he shouted from a few yards behind me.

Making my way to the crowded public bathroom, I took note of the collateral damage. The underwear was a goner. I was just lucky I wore full coverage undies that day and not a thong.

I shimmied out of my underwear, wrapped my soiled mess in TP, and dumped everything in the plastic bin where women leave their feminine hygiene products. Then I said a little prayer for the park custodian, cleaned myself up, and walked back to the car no longer feeling feminine or hygienic.

So the moral of the story is sometimes even the best of adults crap their pants. But if you’re lucky, you’ll have someone by your side cheering you on with an upbeat, “You got this!” and “I don’t smell anything!” And when you find that special someone…

Ask them to buy you new underwear.

Undies

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There you have it, my dirty little secret. Has this ever happened to you?

Sweet Mother Mary, tell me I’m not alone!

Post Script… I thought it’d be a fun fact to share with you all that the desktop image on my laptop is a picture of Devil’s Tower. It reminds me to have a sense of humor about life…and to pack extra undies when traveling.

Getting to Know Your Spouse’s Alter Ego, or Adventures of the Grumpy Pumpkin

A guy I met once on a wine tour/bus trip shared this fact about marriage with me:

Marriage. It’s not all pixie sticks and butterflies. ~ Mitch

I thought that was rather prolific and true. Sure it came from one newlywed to another, so neither of us really had that much experience in this whole married life thing, but I agreed with him.

Not more than one hour later, Mitch also asked about my husband’s and my plans for having children, a natural step after marriage, but I felt it was a little soon to be discussing plans for my uterus given we’d: 1) just met, 2) had been drinking copious amounts of wine, and 3) it’s my uterus and none of his business. Thank you very much. (My mama raised me with manners.)

Still, this Mitch guy had a point. Marriage is not all pixie sticks and butterflies. Sometimes the person we love, the very individual we picked out of all other individuals – like ones who know how to clean up their beard hair trimmings or put the toilet seat down *swoon*- sometimes they morph into something else. Their alter ego.

Getting to Know You

Getting to Know Your Spouse’s Alter Ego

My husband has an alter ego. He denies it because I can’t remember the name we gave him, and if I can’t remember his name, then he doesn’t exist. But we wives all know that’s bogus. It’s BOGUS I tell you, Joseph Judgey McBelchins!

My alter ego has long been named. She goes by Grumpy Pumpkin. Which sounds adorable and cute and quirky, but that’s what makes it so annoying. It’s all very Anne-of-Green-Gables-“He-called-me-CARROTS!!”-esque.

CarrotsWHO’S GRUMPY NOW, YOU JERK?!!

Grumpy Pumpkin rears her horned head when:

  • she hasn’t eaten in awhile
  • she’s woken from her beauty sleep because friends of Acoustic Van Man-Coozie are strumming the guitar and bellowing song lyrics at 3 in the morning
  • she asks a question and gets answered by Deadpan McBlank Stare
  • she hasn’t eaten in awhile
  • and/or she doesn’t like what she’s eating

I maintain I am not the only party in my household with an alias. But until He Who Shall Not Be Nicknamed gets an identity, I can’t call him out on it.

This is where you come in.

Help me name my spouse’s alter ego.

Here are some helpful examples of things that lure his bad boy out:

  • Timeliness – my hubby is exceptionally prompt, but I say it’s called an itinerary not the Iditarod
  • Timeliness – the man has scheduled poops – WTF?
  • Cleanliness – supposedly, the house is not clean until I remove my piles of gloves, magazines, car keys, DVDs, postage stamps, notebook paper, AA batteries, my external hard drive, a bag of Dove chocolate, and a pair of earrings from the kitchen table
  • Repeating Himself – I may, or may not, have the worst short term mem- OHMYGOSH! WHAT BRINGS YOU ALL OVER HERE? … You’re reading my blog? … I have a blog?
  • Inconsistent Shaker Skills – At our local wedding ceremony, we performed a musical number in which I desired to play the tambourine and was downgraded to an egg shaker and forced to practice under Nazi-regime (which isn’t an exaggeration because food was withheld from me) because apparently I have “inconsistent shaker skills.”

So, I’ve created a poll with some potential names for my honey’s alter ego.
Vote for your favorite! Or better yet, write in your own!
Does your partner have a cranky alias? Do tell!

 

The Jan Brady of Generations

I don’t fit.

According to the “scientists” at Buzzfeed, I don’t fit anywhere. Specifically, Buzzfeed experts told me I’m “the Jan Brady of generations.”

See that Buzzfeed? That’s my Jan Brady side eye telling you to watch your step from now on.

But I get it. I really don’t fit in. I’m neither Generation X nor Y. I am somewhere in between.

I can’t really blame Buzzfeed. I mean, here’s just a smattering of the data they had to work with…

Things That Make Me Somewhat Generation X

  • I played with Popples and Pogs as a kid
  • I listened to En Vogue and Smashing Pumpkins
  • I wore a lot of side ponies, stirrup legging pants, and curled my bangs (picture it, I’m HOT)
  • I was spanked and hit with a wooden spoon (and no one could’ve cared less)
  • I typed my school papers on a word processor (that I believe was possessed by the Devil – but that’s for another blog post…)
  • I downloaded songs on Napster
  • I had a MySpace page
  • I watched movies like Reality Bites and Singles and The Truth About Cats and Dogs over and over again…on VHS
  • I had an email that ended in @magicfishfood.com (WTF? really?? Yes, really.)

Things That Make Me Somewhat Generation Y

  • I want all the things and I want them now
  • I like Taylor Swift songs and Katy Perry songs
  • I had a Tamagatchi pet
  • All my school supplies were decorated in Lisa Frank artwork
  • I want all the things and I want them now
  • I grew up with computers in my school
  • I had a plethora of beanie babies
  • I now share my entire life on social media and I like taking selfies
  • I got my best fashion advice from Sabrina, the Teenage Witch (let’s talk butterfly clips, shall we?)
  • I owned about 100 Dr Pepper Lip Smacker chapsticks over the course of my early teen years
  • I want all the things and I want them now – (Seriously, where are all my things? Shouldn’t I have them by now? Ugh…waiting sucks.)

So, what am I?

Fuck, I am the Jan Brady of Generations.

I was born smack in the middle of the 80’s, as an oops baby no less, which means I was raised by my Gen X siblings while my Baby Boomer parents worked all day and only had enough energy to instill two rules. 1) Say please and thank you around all grown ups. 2) Drink coca cola. (But I’m partially Gen Y, so I rebelled and prefer Pepsi when given the choice.)

Now that I’m an adult, I look around at who my friends are, and apart from the handful of High School chums I still see around major holidays, my two best friends are exactly the same ages as my older sister and brother. How weird is that? That I picked the exact number of years in age gap as what I grew up with? This sets my besties firmly in Gen X. That means I can count on them to throw a super rad 80’s party, to never being afraid of playing with eyeshadow, and to tell me when it’s appropriate to cuff or not cuff one’s pants. (Of course, I’m part Gen Y so they’ve gotten use to me documenting all of this.)

2013-01-17_19-35-45_936Oh gosh, how did that get there?

I can’t claim total belonging to just one group, but I can claim just enough of the good stuff to make me believe that I’ll always have someone talk to. And that I won’t have to eat my lunch from the inside of a bathroom stall. And I think that’s winning.

How about you? What generation do you fit in?
Let the experts at Buzzfeed be your guide.

 

Top Ten Tuesday – 10 Books I’d Love to Read With My Book Club

BibliophileIt’s no secret. I’m a bibliophile. I really love books. I also really love my book club.

So when I spotted The Broke and the Bookish‘s Top Ten Tuesday theme of ten books I’d love to read with my book club, I had to share my suggestions. Be sure to swing by their post and check out other book club suggestions too!

In my group, we have 11 members and meet once a month, with December being a holiday party in which we each wrap a book we read in the past year to giveaway. It works out nicely that each member gets to pick the book for the month they host book club. This year we also each picked a genre so we’d end up with a wide variety of kinds of books. Should be a fun year!

Since book recommendations are always something I love, in addition to my dream list, I’m sharing the titles my book club has selected for this year so far.

Historical Fiction: Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks
Mystery: Death in Holy Orders by P.D. James
Autobiography/Memoir: Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow: My Life by Sophia Loren
Nonfiction: The Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
Sci-fi: The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula Le Guin (my pick)
Classic: The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

But if they ever let me choose ALL the books we read in a year…

Top 10 Books I’d Love to Read in My Book Club

1. A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki

The story of two women – Nao, a teenage girl who feels she has nothing to live for and Ruth, a novelist living across the ocean who finds a lunchbox with a secret history inside. Now, these women’s stories are about to entwine.

2. Child Star by Shirley Temple Black

I grew up watching Shirley Temple films, so I’ve always wanted to read this book. Sadly, it’s out of print, but you can get used copies on Amazon. This is her story about becoming a rising star during the depression era.

3. The Girls of Atomic City: The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War II by Denise Kiernan

We’ve already read quite a few war books in my club, but none that focus so much on the women’s perspective. Almost 75,000 women were recruited to work in Manhattan Project’s secret cities on a variety of tasks that aided WWII.

4. The Never List by Koethi Zan

Sarah and Jennifer are two friends who make one bad judgement call and spend the next three years held captive by sadist men. Ten years later, when Sarah’s abductor is up for parole, she decides to confront her phobias, and faces fears she didn’t know existed beneath the surface.

5. Bird Box by Josh Malerman

Phones no longer ring. The internet stops working. News reports have ended. People live indoors and stay there. One look at what’s outside and they will never be the same again.

6. Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult

Jenna Metcalf is searching for her mom. Her mom that has been gone for over a decade. She scours what little information is left behind and partners up with both a medium and a private investigator.

7. The Wild Truth: The Untold Story of Sibling Survival by Carine McCandless

Most are familiar with the story of Chris McCandless, the boy who left home to live off the land. His story of the nomadic life was made famous as the subject of Jon Krakauer’s book, Into the Wild. Now, twenty years later, Chris’s sister, Carine, shares intimate details about her brother’s journey and their family.

8. Without You, There Is No Us by Suki Kim

Author Suki Kim shares her experiences of teaching English in North Korea. It’s a mysterious world where her letters are censored, yet she adores the enthusiasm of her students. A unique glimpse at a culture we rarely get to peek into.

9. See How Small by Scott Blackwood

A brutal murder leaves three girls dead in an ice cream shop. The remainder of the story follows the townspeople as they try to make sense and move on from the travesty. But it also follows the three girls, whose spirits also check in on the townspeople.

10. All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

The hottest new title in Young Adult novels. A chance encounter on the school roof throws Theodore – who thinks only of death – into Violet’s world, where she lives in the future – planning for life after graduation. How will these polar opposites shape one another?

***

Have you read any of these titles? What did you think?

What books would you pick for your book club to read?

 

 

 

 

Insurgent: When Reading Interferes With All Your Other Plans

I’m one book into my 2015 To Be Read Pile Challenge already. I finished reading book 2 of the Divergent series, Insurgent, by Veronica Roth.

And I can’t wait to pick up the 3rd book, Allegiant. Alas, I’ll have to because I borrowed all these books from my sister and she hasn’t finished reading it yet.

Insurgent is the continuing tale of a dystopian society that has had its infrastructure broken apart. War is on the verge.

In Divergent, we learn about Beatrice “Tris” Prior, a sixteen year old girl born into the Abnegation faction. There are five factions in the world she lives in. Abnegation – the selfless. Amity – the peacemakers. Candor – the honest. Erudite – the scholars. And Dauntless – the brave.

Every year, the sixteen year olds attend the choosing ceremony, where they select the faction they will belong to the rest of their lives. Beatrice has a duty to her family to uphold her abnegation birthright. But Beatrice doesn’t choose abnegation.

She chooses Dauntless. And that’s not all that’s unique about Beatrice.

She is also Divergent – a person who doesn’t belong to any one faction, but has aptitude for multiple ones. They can’t be controlled, and they are viewed as threats.

*****

This is why I stayed up late at night and read all morning on the weekends. Why I’ve got barely any writing done. Why I missed mealtimes. And why I didn’t bother to shower every day.

I was too busy reading Insurgent.

I was totally hooked. Someone get me a copy of Allegiant STAT!

Even my Instagram account is being taken over by Divergent and Insurgent…

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What am I going to do in the meantime???

Have you ever been this hooked on a series?
Have you read any of the Divergent books?
What should I read in the meantime???

 

 

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