Where’d You Go, Bernadette

There are two things that I consistently muse on and measure a book with when I’m reading it. The first is whether it’s the right level of a page-turner or not. I can get pretty bored with a book if it’s not enticing me to keep reading, but I can also get pretty frustrated with a book if I feel like I’m being manipulated into reading it all in one sitting (I’m looking at you, Hunger Games). The second thing I take note of is a book’s narration. I am always more likely to stick with a book if I feel like the author is doing something fascinating and new with the narration, while maintaining a level of readability and excellence.

Where’d You Go Bernadette is readable, it’s excellent, the author Maria Semple did something fascinating and new with the narration, and also I read it in one sitting. But for the first time in a long time, I’ve deemed this a good thing! I was in no way manipulated to do this by cheap cliff-hangers at the end of chapters (yes, Hunger Games, still looking at you). Instead, I was absolutely all in and remained incredibly interested in what would happen next throughout the entirety of the novel due to skilled writing, unique characters, and a plot worth turning pages for. Also I was in a house without Netflix, just to be perfectly honest.

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Sizzles & Pops

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First, allow me to apologize to any past teachers of mine who stumble upon this. I have a confession to make–I used to write fake annotations in my books in high-school. I would just draw random lines, brackets, stars, nonsense notes, pictures of trees, my name, etc. throughout the margins of classic works of literature. Not always, but yeah, there are definitely some Panic! at the Disco lyrics jotted throughout my copy of The Scarlet Letter for no academic reason whatsoever. And for that, I am so sorry Mr. Hawthorne.

But! People change and somewhere along the way (I’d wager it was when I read 1984) I started actually getting the value in annotating my books. In college, suresure, I doodled on occasion. But the books I really got into have actual meaningful notes in them. And eventually, I started annotating books that I’m just reading for pleasure.

Ya hear that? Getting a degree in literature DOES have real world value.

Eh, I tried.

Recently, I read Shauna Niequist’s Cold Tangerines and here is just a sampling of some of my astute annotations:

“Yes!”

“She gets me.”

“lol”

“okay. yeah.”

“STORY OF MY LIFE”

“#thesearemyconfessions”

“resoundingly YES”

“so good”

“this is so important”

“OMGosh be my BFF plz”

I’d also wager that 46-83% of each chapter is underlined or starred. So, I guess I’ll just say this now–if you are like me and were residing under a big stupid rock in 2007 when the book was published and haven’t spent time sitting outside with an iced coffee and some cookie butter reading this book, GET ON IT.

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Practicing My Purpose Once Again

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I’ve never been much of a New Year’s Resolution type of person. I love the idea of it. The part of me that’s extremely goal-oriented and gets amped up on the feeling of a new beginning is a big fan of the concept. But the part of me that’s terrified of failure and fairly non-committal does NOT like the sound of saying I’ve got 365 days to do something/give something up/change something forever and if I don’t do it, I’ve already told everyone I was going to and then it’s just like “LOL Remember when she said she was going to stop head-banging in public this year? NICE TRY, SCHMIDT.”

Here’s the thing. I was so shaken up at the end of 2013 by a myriad of life events, that whether I wanted to or not, the beginning of 2014 felt like a chance to do things differently. And I got all caught up in that cliche way of viewing the beginning of the year, that all-be-darned if 2014 wasn’t a fantastic year that I made space in for God to surprise me and grow me and change me and ugh. Just thinking about it makes my cold, cynical heart swell with joy.

So when 2015 was nearing, I wanted to access some of those early 2014 vibes again without feeling like a hurricane of misfortune or a year-long resolution was the only way to do so. I don’t like the stereotype that people give up their resolutions by March. I don’t like how crowded the gym is in January or how many people just recycle their resolutions every year cause they never did quite get around to accomplishing them. It bums me out so hard.

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Stress-Free-Dreaming

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My first taste of success was when I was in the third grade and wrote the smash hit short story “Johnny Finkle.” It’s a tale of a small-town Southern boy and his quirky family and if I read it to you today you would be concerned for the sanity level 8-year-old me possessed. For whatever reason though, my classmates and teacher at the time loved it and I would perform it for my class with funny voices and it was a true treat to all who heard it(or at least that’s what my memory has deemed true).

I quickly decided that this was IT. I was going to tour the country reading “Johnny Finkle” to other kids and make billions and billions of dollars and fans. I started working on spin-off series(what happens when Johnny’s even CrAzIeR cousin from England, Bobby Lang, comes for a visit?) and stories that existed in the same world as Johnny’s(where porcupines were a sister’s greatest weapon and the wealthy lived in the sewers) and envisioned myself just really making it big writing and telling these stories to kids and grown-ups that would inevitably lift me on their shoulders and enable me to achieve my true calling–crowd surfing.

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One More Thing

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If pressed, I would probably say my first love was butter on a pop-tart. But, even though my earliest memories involve an infatuation with the snack that border on obsessive, I eventually grew out of it. Don’t get me wrong–I would 100% eat a cinnamon sugar pop-tart with butter on it right now if there was one in front of me, but I don’t seek them out like I once did.

My second love, however, was one that has gone the distance. Sweet, sweet books. There’s a reason why I was writing short stories in 2nd grade, why I devoured all the Sweet Valley High books I could get my buttery little paws on, and why I studied Literature, wrote book reviews, and still-to-this-day annotate novels. I have no interest in putting flowers on it and another run-on-sentence. It is what it is. I frikkin love books and stories–fiction or true, old or new, relate-able or ridiculous–getting lost in pages is my favorite place to be.

In 2015 I’ve read some solid books. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how college-me got to experience books in a way that was more fulfilling than present-day-me does. Well no more! I don’t care if I’m publishing it myself, won’t get a byline or a check in the mail. I wanna talk about books again. So. Here I am.

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Not intentionally, and through no fault of my own, I started this year by reading a slew of female comedians books. Mindy Kaling, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler and Katie Heaney kicked off my year in books and I loved every one of them. At a certain point though I decided I needed to add a male to the mix and I stumbled upon BJ Novak’s book “One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories” and grabbed it.

The book is absurd. Let me get that out of the way first. Just absolutely unreal at points how bizarre it is. But it was bizarre in a way that was so familiar, so hysterical and so real that eventually the absurdity of it all was just a known presence that made the reading experience all the more enjoyable!

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How To Best Love Those On A Social Media Break

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Lent is such an interesting time of year and I’m not just saying that because Snickers are shaped like eggs until Easter–which is awesome and the best way to eat a Snickers. Whether especially religious or not, a lot of people see Lent as an opportunity to give up some of their comforts, treats or time-suckers in an effort to understand the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross(or, ya know, to lose weight or add new momentum to New Year’s Resolutions). Whatever the reason, Lent is a season where a lot of us are setting something down for forty whole days.

One of the most common things I’ve seen this year is people giving up social media. That can be a HUGE thing for some people–especially those that are really reliant on it for their validation, inclusion and encouragement. Taking a break from social media for any duration of time is so healthy, but sometimes it can lead our fasting friends to feeling insecure and isolated. So here are some tips for those of us still posting, commenting and double-tapping through Easter to best love our social media-break-taking friends.

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