my latest read

A while ago, I read this post on one of my favorite blogs about a book club that this blogger will be starting. She’s a New Yorker and I plan on attending. It will be a bunch of people I don’t know, but isn’t that what makes life fun.

Anyway, the book she chose was The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Schaffer and Ann Barrows. I had never heard of it, nor did I research it. I just trusted that it would be good, purchased it on my Kindle, and jumped right in. 
It was so good. Beautifully written and so enjoyable. I underlined (digitally, of course) so many passages. One of my favorite is about marriage. I only hope I’m so lucky to feel exactly like this someday:

All my life I thought that the story was over when the hero and heroine were safely engaged–after all, what’s good enough for Jane Austen ought to be good enough for anyone. But it’s a lie. The story is about to begin, and every day will be a new piece of the plot.

Isn’t that a lovely thought?

There’s another one that I also loved, probably because it was exactly what I needed to hear at that moment:

Think of it! We could have gone on longing for one another and pretending not to notice forever. This obsession with dignity can ruin your life if you let it. 

And finally, this one that just perfectly articulated how I feel about marriage:

I don’t want to be married just to be married. I can’t think of anything lonelier than spending the rest of my life with someone I can’t talk to, or worse, someone I can’t be silent with.

If you’re looking for something to read that is both well written and absolutely delightful with brilliant characters, I highly recommend this book.

my new favorite book

A few months ago (when I was still healthy and went to the gym regularly) I was reading O Magazine and came across a little blurb about a book called Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough by Lori Gottlieb. Admittedly, the title was a little off-putting, but the description sounded interesting. Last week, the night before I headed to Phoenix, I decided to buy it on my Kindle so I’d have something to read on the plane.

So, I really think that this book is a must read for ANY single person who wants to get married. And actually, it’s probably not a bad read for married people who might be contemplating divorce. It just has a lot of very realistic information about dating/marriage and it’s pretty well researched. Maybe it’s just by business oriented mind, but I loved the way she talked about maximizing vs. satisficing and the concept of “pricing” in dating.

I know there are plenty of people who are turned off by the title, and the book. No one who wants to “fall in love in a movie” wants to face the reality of a real marriage. And for those people who don’t want to ever get married, um…don’t waste your time. I, for one, would like to get married at some point and I think this book had some great information and is actually quite inspiring. As a result I now have, what I am calling, The Two Year Plan. Basically, I’m going to take the dating bull by its horns and get on with my life.

But really, this post isn’t just about this particular book. Because I am finishing up my month of love…
Feb. 27 – I love reading!

good to great

In all my “road tripping” this summer, I have been listening to audio books. I love audio books and I love that now, thanks to iTunes, I can sample the voice of the narrator before I buy the book (yes, I buy them because I like to share them).

Well, lately I’ve been into non-fiction of the business variety and my most recent “read” was this great book by Jim Collins, Good to Great. It’s the story of how 11 companies that met a very rigid set of criteria, took the step from good to great…ergo the name of the book. The book is really interesting from a business perspective, but also from a life perspective. I’m not going to do a full review here, but I do want to share one little part.

During their research (Jim Collins is the author, but there was a team of researchers), the term “Stockdale Paradox” was coined. It is in reference to Vice Admiral James Stockdale who was a POW during the Vietnam War, and his ability to face the brutal reality and continue. He survived EIGHT years over there. Jim Collins had the opportunity to spend some time with him and as they were walking across the Stanford campus, the following conversation took place (this is straight from the book):

I didn’t say anything for many minutes, and we continued the slow walk toward the faculty club, Stockdale limping and arc-swinging his stiff leg that had never fully recovered from repeated torture. Finally, after about a hundred meters of silence, I asked, “Who didn’t make it out?”

“Oh, that’s easy,” he said. “The optimists.”

“The optimists? I don’t understand,” I said, now completely confused, given what he’d said a hundred meters earlier.

“The optimists. Oh, they were the ones who said, ‘We’re going to be out by Christmas.’ And Christmas would come, and Christmas would go. Then they’d say,‘We’re going to be out by Easter.’ And Easter would come, and Easter would go. And then Thanksgiving, and then it would be Christmas again. And they died of a broken heart.”

Another long pause, and more walking. Then he turned to me and said, “This is a very important lesson. You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end—which you can never afford to lose—with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.”

To this day, I carry a mental image of Stockdale admonishing the optimists: “We’re not getting out by Christmas; deal with it!”

For whatever reason, this passage struck me and has stuck with me since then…and not in terms of every aspect of my life, but when it comes to weight loss. I know that probably sounds weird, but in most aspects of my life, I am a firm believer in the “it always works out” principle…without any consideration for when it is going to work out. However, when it comes to losing weight, there is always a deadline, a goal, and “end” in sight. And, just as Stockdale stated, that “end” comes and goes and I’m still fat and every time it becomes harder and harder to hang on to hope.

So…it’s time to face the brutal reality that is my weight and say I don’t know when it’s going to happen, but I do know that if I keep trying and keep exercising and keep working on a healthy lifestyle, it will happen. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel, but I have no idea how long the tunnel is.

garlic and sapphires: the secret life of a critic in disguise

I just finished this great book (yes, I still read even though I’m addicted to Lost…sometimes my eyes start to hurt from staring at a screen for so long and I need a break). It’s the story of Ruth Reichl, former food critic of the New York Times, and her wonderful adventures. It includes her own story, along with fabulous restaurant reviews, and some recipes (rather than illustrations) that I am very excited to try out.

My fabulous friend, Kelly, sent it to me after she read it because she thought I’d like it. She was absolutely right. The descriptions in this book are like porn for a foodie. Not only that, but one of her disguises is named Chloe. It happens to be her most tawdry character. The irony was too funny.

Anyway, as I said, the book chronicles her experiences dining at amazing upscale restaurants throughout New York, both in disguise and as herself, and highlights the differences in service and quality. Her descriptions of food had me salivating constantly. I just wish I had the budget to eat at all of the fabulous restaurants (not the crappy ones…and there are a few) that she mentions. Not only that, but I learned a lot, like I didn’t know (and this is embarrassing to admit) that when you eat nigiri (raw fish on rice), it’s an insult to dip the rice into soy sauce, or that soba noodles are traditionally served cold and extremely difficult to make well. I also had to look up some of the ingredients listed because they were unfamiliar. I love learning new things!

If you’re not into food, it might not be the most interesting book (although I think it is very well written), but I loved it and would highly recommend it to anyone who is.

blogger book club

Yes, it’s a self-portrait with 10…TEN…people. Be impressed.

So, I finally made it to my first book club ever. I have been part of the group for a while. I actually read (well…am currently reading) the book from last month, The History of Love. I’m really sad I missed the discussion. I think it would have been really interesting to hear everyone’s thoughts about it. Some of the girls didn’t love the ending, so…we shall see.

Last night, however, we did not discuss any book in particular. It was just a party…with much discussion about many things. I love meeting new women and getting to know them (in small groups). Admittedly, I was a little apprehensive, as I only really felt like I knew a few of these girls, but I had so much fun. And, there was such good food…I need to get the recipes. If I hadn’t have been so tired, I would have stayed into the wee hours of the morning. I have a feeling a few of the girls were there very, very late (I didn’t leave until after 11) and I hate missing out on a good chat.

Next month’s book: The Thirteenth Tale