Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Books for New Young Adults

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Note: This post originally appeared on my old blog in March 2015 and was posted on this blog originally on January 15, 2016

If I could get my kids to read books I recommend, this would be the list for them….

 

I have two kids–both are now young adults–20-somethings. One is a reader of sorts, the other hates reading. Naturally. Of course, given that I’m a book nut and a librarian. I take it personally, though who knows why. If I could get them to read books I recommend, this would be my list of what they should read. No, the Bible isn’t on here–they’ve had it around all their lives and know to read it. No Anne Frank or Corrie Ten Boom–they’ve met them both in school or homeschool. Nope, no Roosevelts or Royals. Not a single Mountbatten, Churchill or any other Brit. No Federalist Papers or wisdom of the Founding Fathers–they should know enough on that to at least appreciate their freedom. No Gone With the Wind or other favorite sagas. No Number One Ladies Detective Agency or William Monk.  No Peace Corps memoirs or travel books. No, not even James Herriot and his wonderful friends and animals–they’ve known him thru his children’s books. Just the books that might get them thru life a little easier–they can find their own books to read just for pleasure.

This book so moved me that I’ve probably recommended it to more young people than any other book. Set in my hometown, it tells the story of racial hatred, racial identity and the power of the human spirit. I think it should be required reading in high schools everywhere. Life on the Color Line by Gregory Howard Williams.

 

Ok, one child has listened to this one with me. It really captured that child’s imagination. I wish my other child would listen to it, too. Written in the 1940s it is still “spot on” about how we are deceived about and distracted from what matters The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis.

Practical advice to the clueless before it’s too late is usually ignored. I wish they’d read it and APPLY it. Men are  From Mars…..by John Gray.

I’ve long encouraged my kids to go Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace course, but this book is equally important. Stuff can’t fill your heart, but debt can cripple you. This book clearly shows what matters–self respect and hard work. The Millionaire Next Door .

It takes most people half a life time to learn that constructive criticism isn’t about whether or not you are a good person. Nor do you have to be liked at work. You do, however, have to be respected and seen as a willing contributor to the team and for that to happen you must be emotionally mature enough to be part of a team. School has pretty much destroyed this in many, many kids. This is a tough one, but it matters. Working With Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Coleman.

 

“Life is banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death” may seem the opposite of the self-help books I’ve listed, but they really go hand-in-hand. People “stave to death” getting hung up on popularity, letting others make their life for them and trying to fill holes in their heart by spending money. Auntie Mame, one of the many great books my Mom shared with me, taught me to be my own person and that families are whoever loves us. Auntie Mame by Patrick Dennis. I’d also love it if they read his book The Joyous Season.

I had to debate including this one, but it does belong here. Traditions can be stifling or they can be part of the scaffold that holds us up. It’s a choice on how that goes for each of us. Same with family. Skipping Christmas by John Grisham.

 

Because every generation thinks they’ve invented sex, drugs and rock n’ roll, this reminds us in a fun way that there really is “nothing new under the sun.” Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner’s classic The 2000 Year Old Man.

 

Don’t like your life? Change it. Get up off the couch and do something different. Go to college, start a business, move to a new town or city–its YOUR life. It will only be what you make of it. She Got Up Off the Couch by Haven Kimmel.

I know–that’s only nine, but If they’d read these, I could sleep easier. But, likely they won’t–at least not until they’ve learned most of this the hard way. Before you have children no one can ever tell you how hard it is to watch your kids make choices–even good ones. You can see the outcome, but they must find it out for themselves. That can be brutal. It isn’t any easier though for them to see when you were right and they should have listened.

Now the tenth book:

 

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This is the book of your life. Every day is a new, blank page, to write on it what you will. Fill every page with meaning, love, joy, sorrow, adventure, risk, success, failure. Don’t let life live you–make sure you live a life worth living. Do hard things. Do easy things. Love. Encourage. Stop the bad, help the good.

 

Top Ten Tuesday is held at the blog The Broke and The Bookish. Won’t you join in?

2017’s Best Ice Cream Book

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Ice Cream is one of the best things to enjoy in the summer. Although I truly love it all year round, summer where I live is hot and sticky. Ice cream makes that better. Another thing I love are foodie books. So, a foodie book about ice cream was just the thing!  Sweet Spot: An Ice Cream Binge Across America sounded really fun!

The Story:

As the title implies, the author Amy Ettinger, “toured” the country researching the country’s best ice cream. I put “toured” in quotes because it seems all the ice creams she loved were in hipster spots. Hmmmmm.

She also looked at the production and regulation of ice cream, frozen custard and gelato. Turns out I knew quite a lot about this–more than I thought, from my high school summers spent traveling to all the Dairy Queen stores in southeastern Indiana with my Dad who, at that time, sold the frozen custard mix they used. And then, I learned more than I thought when my Dad ran an ice cream plant in Central Indiana while I was in college! The regulatory part didn’t surprise me because at all, either, because I spent years as a law librarian. Even regulatory lawyers don’t like research regulations so I’m pretty good at it.

What I Liked

I find foodie books good reading so it was fun to read about the author’s home ice cream stash.  “I hear ya, girl!” I shouted in my brain when she talked about those little ice hair-like things that develop in ice cream that is in the freezer too long. Yep. I’m on a first-name basis with those little annoyances. My grandmother had the same carton of store brand peppermint stick ice cream my entire childhood I believe!

I loved hearing about various ‘out there’ flavors of ice cream. Now, I’ve read about Japanese ice cream flavors, which to my mind are a bit strange, but they couldn’t hold a candle to  Ginger Snap and foie gras ice cream sandwiches or Candy Cap Mushroom gelato. I’m with the author’s kiddo–“Ice cream isn’t usually made out of mushrooms,” and for good reason!

But it was this quote on gelato that really hit me in the heart. “I so hear you,” said in my brain:

“Gelato is like a studly hazelnut husband. Ice cream is like a vanilla husband who makes you long for adultery.”  (p. 201)

There is so much to enjoy in this book that I’ll simply say Read it!

Rating

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Sweet Spot: An Ice Cream Binge Across America by Amy Ettinger

 

 

Where I Wish She’d Visited

I thought she missed some amazing ice cream at some pretty amazing ice cream places!

 

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Photo credit: Polly’s Freeze.

Polly’s Freeze–THE Custard Stand of the entire southern part of Indiana and the northern Lousiville, Kentucky, metro area. In Georgetown, Indiana. Same place, same location since 1952. I still miss the classic chocolate/vanilla twist cones! True summer joy!

 

Photo Credit: Young’s Jersey Dairy

Young’s Jersey Dairy, in Yellow Springs, Ohio. Beloved by students at Antioch, Wittenberg, Central State, Cedarville, Wilmington and Wilberforce Universities. Great Stuff! Who wouldn’t want a Double Buckeye Sundae?

And, who can forget that brave [fake] Jersey the Cow whose injury in the storm and subsequent rehab was documented on their Facebook page and in the local news media!

Photo credit: Dayton Local .com

 

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Offering 100 different sundaes and 100 different shakes, Ivanhoes is legendary in Central Indiana. This is the place for that great college rivalry between Indiana Wesleyan University and hometown favorite Taylor University to be settled with ice cream eating. Look closely and you may see Ball State University students out for joy ride and some ice cream, too.  Take a look at this menu! This is a favorite stop of mine when I come and go from a few annual meetings. So worth getting off the highway! Read more here: A Cherry On Top: Ivanhoe’s One of the State’s Best

 

And, of course, no road trip thru Ohio can be done without ice cream in Cincinnati from Graeter’s or anywhere in the state from UDF.

 

 

 

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UDF Chocolate Chip and their fabulous Chocolate Bundt Cake ice cream!

 

 

You can read last summer’s ice cream book post here.

Books to Binge Before the Eclipse and Flashback Friday

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Credit: NASA

First, let’s get the PSA out of the way. NASA’s Everything Eclipse Site.

Any event requires a few books to set the mood–right? To me that’s usually a necessity.  While these are not all on an actual eclipse, the set the mood for cool astronomy-related events and discoveries, without being overly technical.

I really wanted to show you Bing Crosby’s famous solar eclipse scene from A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur’s Court, but for once, You Tube failed me!  So, instead,  you can listen to Mark Twain’s own words for the scene:

 

 

The Books

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In 1973 the build up to the appearance of the Comet Kohoutek is the back-drop to a fabulous coming-of-age story about the son of high school science teacher. This is an excellent choice to read this weekend to help set the mood for the eclipse.

Here’s my review from my old blog–this week’s Flashback Friday Review:

Kirkus Reviews are usually dead-right. This IS one of the best books of the year, without doubt! Everything about this marvelous coming-of-age story rings true. From the embarrassment over a geeky Dad and disappointed Mom, to the “not worthy” feelings toward the lovely girl in the new, fancy house–it’s all there. All of it. And, I felt it all both ways–as the person coming of age in the same time period and as the parent who is the “geek.” [Originally published April 21, 2014 on my old blog].

Night of the Comet: A Novel  by George Bishop

 

Two by the Same Author

 

 

 

 

 

For readers more interested in history and actual science, while these are aimed at laymen, they will satisfy that craving for you. You can read my review of Glass Universe here.

Galileo’s Daughter by Dava Sobel

Glass Universe by Dava Sobel

 

 

 

 

Award-winning author and essayist, Annie Dillard, wrote a piece called Total Eclipse that is included in both of these collections of her work. The Atlantic just published the piece on their web page. Here is the link to Total Eclipse by Annie Dillard at the Atlantic.

To buy The Abundance by Annie Dillard

To buy Teaching a Stone to Talk by Annie Dillard

Remember–I do not make any money off your clicks.

Read my review of Annie Dillard Pilgrim at Tinker Creek.(Scroll down to the review.)

Need More?

 

John Pipkin’s Favorite Historical Novels Featuring Stargazers and Astronomy  a super list of historical fiction to help set the mood.

 

 

Review: We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo

 

 

 

In 1990, while serving in Malawi in the Peace Corps, I went with a Malawian to visit extended family in Harare, Zimbabwe. At this time, before President  Robert Mugabe went insane, Zimbabwe was right up there with South Africa as the place most Malawians wanted to move to on the African continent. I visited the relatives, both civil servants, who lived in a nice town house with washing machine, nice kitchen, t.v.–all things almost unimaginable to Malawians living in Malawi unless they were “been to-s”. That is, unless they’d been to the USA or UK or similar for an advanced degree. The relatives two girls had nice toys, went to an integrated, middle class school and spoke 3 languages. Then it all fell apart.

We Need New Names tells the story of Darling, a young girl who lives thru Zimbabwe’s coming apart. The country had survived civil war, been reborn as Zimbabwe, burying Ian Smith’s Rhodesia forever. Then Mugabe turned on his own country and made life hell for most of citizens. The remaining white population either moved to South Africa or Malawi or built barriers–compounds to protect themselves. “Their” land was again redistributed. Except for those stratospherically rich people who were pandered to by Mugabe. Like that girl friend of Prince Harry–her father, that type. For the ordinary population it came to see that

“God doesn’t live here, fool.” (p. 19)

Anyway, Darling and her family were like my friend’s relatives. Then they weren’t. They were forced to move to a “township” ( a ghetto of shacks) called Paradise. As the economy died and foreign aid became all there was, school ended, hospitals were wards for the dying, food was whatever could be found. Darling tells us about all of this in her own young voice. Tells of the violence of the destruction of her home and, later, of the retaliation by veteran’s of the war for independence who had waited too long for land they felt they were owed.

 

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Back in college I had an instructor who took part in the struggle for independence. I’ve often wondered where he fell in regards to Mugabe’s later years.  Darling, though she remembers her previous life as a decently-off child, now takes for granted going to rich neighborhoods to steal guavas and to play “Finding Bin Laden” with her friends in the streets. She dreams of going to stay with her aunt in “Destroyedmichygan.”(Ironic–my library assistant in Malawi wanted to join her sister in the same city). Meanwhile she waits for the NGO (International Aid Agencies) truck to come and hand out things and  plays the Country Game with her rag-tag group of friends:

Nobody wants to be rags of countries like Congo, like Somalia, like Iraq, like Sudan, like Haiti, like Sri Lanka, and not even this one we live in–who wants to be a terrible place of hunger and things falling apart? (p. 51).

I was reminded too, of being back in Malawi in the early 90s, for the first “real” election. I was mistaken for an UN Election Observer!  Darling experiences waiting for a relative to vote. It takes ages.

“Maybe the line is not moving, like when you are waiting for a doctor.”

Her Father rails in familiar tones–familiar to anyone whose dream has been unfairly squashed. All of this pours out of him as the other scourge–HIV/AIDs is killing him:

“Is this what I went to university for? Is this was get independence for? Does it make sense that we are living like this?”

Darling and her friends watch as rebels from within the country seek to do Mugabe’s traitorous work. They see the intentional invasion and destruction of a rich white family’s home. She cannot get over the food. She has had a real bathroom before, but the food. That is security. And the air conditioning.  But mostly the food. She and her friends stuff themselves on good food until they are ill.

“…leaving your country is like dying, and when you come back you are like a lost ghost returning to earth.” (p.162).

Later as she comes of age in Detroit and Kalamazoo, Darling finds she isn’t an American, but her relatives “back home” won’t let her claim her old country, either.

“There are times, though, that no matter how much food I eat, I find the food does nothing for me, like I am hungry for my country and nothing is going to fix that. (p. 155).

As she grapples with the immigrant experience of near constant work to support family in America and send foreign exchange back to family in Zimbabwe, she rails at both.

“…that wound that knows the texture of the pain; it’s us who stayed here feeling the real suffering, so it’s us who have a right to even say anything about that [Zimbabwe] or anything and anybody.” (p. 287).

An illegal, having come on a student visa, she is part of a silent community that works in nursing homes and in dangerous low-paying factory jobs. Exactly the sorts of jobs all the Malawian, Zambian and other students that I knew in the mid-90s in South Bend, Indiana, did for a living. (Ironically, Darling and her family go to a wedding in South Bend).

[In America knowing] they do not belong, knowing they will have to sit on one buttock because they  must not sit comfortably lest they be asked to rise and leave, knowing they will speak in dampened whispers because they must not let their voices drown those of the owners of the land.... (p. 148).

Her aunt pushes her to study for some sort of medical career, but she pushes back–she doesn’t want that.

“I’ve been getting all As in everything, even maths and science, the subjects I hate, because school is so easy in America even a donkey would pass….”

The book ends on an odd note to Americans (no spoilers) one that shows just how little value life has in Zimbabwe.

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What I Liked

My own memories, aside, I loved the language–the way she put things into terms relevant to the people in Zimbabwe in that day.

“Solid , Jericho walls of men.” (p.  78)

[The men].They have their shirts on and have combed their and just look like real people again.” (p. 60).

“What do they think they are doing yanking a lion’s tail don’t they know that there will be bones if they dare?” (p. 31)

“…a country is like a Coca-Cola bottle that can smash on the floor and disappoint you.” (p. 162).

[American corn] “I don’t even [eat it anymore] it feels like I’m insulting my teeth.” (p. 166).

“Her voice sounds far away, like maybe it was detained at the border of something.” (p. 269)

I liked her well-founded condemnation of aid workers (and whites in general who visit the country) and even local religious leaders. Their patronizing attitudes, their dehumanizing of the people–taking their photos and giving them a few coins or a trinket for “their trouble” and all the rest is just so accurate.  Taking the photo from behind of the boy whose shorts have worn totally away in the seat, or taking the photo of the child with snot and flies on his face–demeaning photos.

“They don’t care that we are embarrassed by our dirt and torn clothing, that we would prefer they didn’t do it; they just take the pictures anyway, take and take. We don’t complain because we know that after the picture-taking comes the giving of gifts.” (p. 54)

“But the NGO people are here and while are, our parents do not count.” (p. 56).

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What I Didn’t Like

Sadly, I felt the American part of  Darling’s story was lacking something. I get it that she was on the fringes at school, that her family were excluded as immigrants.  She and her friends were always at lose ends–that’s typical when parents must work multiple jobs. Their choices of entertainment were pretty typical of American kids at lose ends, too, but it seemed disconnected from the rest. I also just didn’t think this part of the book was as polished. I felt the ending was a strange jolt–like driving at night and hitting a pothole your couldn’t see.  I understood it (I think) as I mentioned above, but it still jarred. Maybe that was the real point and not the one I thought I understood?

What Amazed Me

I was pleased that this book is on the Man Booker Prize shortlist this year. I was amazed, and pleased, to learn that the author began her college education at Kalamzoo Valley Community College, continued it at branch campuses of other universities and still got into Cornell for her MFA. That is inspiring. I work with Community College level students–some immigrants even. I’d like to think one or more of my students could reach a professional level in their chosen careers if they put in as much hard work.

 

Another View of Zimbabwe

If you’d like to read more on Zimbabwe, especially on the long fight for Independence, I recommend this book–which is written from a white “Rhodesian” child’s and family’s point of view.

[Note “Rhodesian” is often a synonym for the type people protesting in Charlottesville–the ones from the right. I’m not using the term to keep from being spammed to death].

 

“There we go then,” Mum said, “I’ll just get my Uzi and we’ll be off….”

“Bullets, lipstick, sunglasses. Off we go….”
(p. 28-29).

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Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness by Alexandra Fuller

 

 

Top 5 Wednesday: Characters’ Fitness Routines I Want

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Characters’ Fitness Routines You Want
“This [topic] can be interpreted a bunch of different ways! Fitness comes in many different packages. This can be about characters who are super fast, strong, agile, good at dancing, good at climbing, athletes, or foodies! Whatever it means to you. This is inspired by those routines you see in magazines for actors, but with more of an open mind and less body shaming.”

Okay then….

 

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My fictional fitness idol has to be the Spandex-wearing, donut-slammin’, fried chicken-craving, Lula in the Stephanie Plum series. Lula wears neon mini skirts without a single moment of thought that Just Because They Make it in Her Size….. Nope–not a thought. She is a big-built gal and you got a problem with that? I don’t! Solidly packed Idol material–that’s Lula.

In reality, it should be Ranger‘s fitness regime I aspire to. Babe…

 

 

 

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Mma Precious Ramotswe, a “traditionally built,” lady who never encountered a piece of cake she could refuse is another fitness idol of mine. I admire a woman who can do that. It takes a great sense of self. She’s really idol material. Believe me.

 

 

 

 

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Willowdean is the ultimate Idol. The Fat Girl so does too absolutely deserve the guy! You go, girl! So what if Mama was a beauty queen! I loved this book from start to finish. Willowdean is every differently-bodied woman’s Idol. And, she’s only a teenager–she can only get stronger!

You can read more of my thoughts on this great book here.

 

 

 

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Silvia Fine –Fran’s mother on the the 90’s hit show, The Nanny. Nosh–smosch. Of course she eats. She got to keep strong. And then there’s Morty–her husband. Like my great uncles after a big dinner, Morty undoes his belt and top slacks button–“Do up your pants,” she tells him before company joins him in the tv room. I love Sylvia–a seafood buffet cannot defeat her. She is an Idol with Flair!

 

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Marie Barone from another great 90’s show–Everybody Loves Raymond. Her bickering husband Frank, her skinny-you-know-what daughter-in-law, her two adored sons–it all adds up to power eating. And, pasta! Pasta and Braciole! Marie knows food is essential. I like that in an Idol. Plus, she’s pear shaped and has to always wear an untucked shirt to supposedly even-out her shape. Now that is Idol-worthy. “Are you hungry, dear?”

 

Top 5 Wednesday is a group you can join on Goodreads.com

Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Books for Girls Who Just Wanna Have Fun

 

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Welcome Back Top Ten Tuesday! We’ve Missed You!!

The guidance for this week’s topic was very open-ended:

Ten book recommendations for ______________: (Skies the limit here…)

 

Lots of fun here this week!

Cause Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

 

Or, if you prefer, check out yesterday’s

10 Books to Get Your Book Club to Love Nonfiction

 

Some of my favorite books to make a gal have fun

 

 

 

 

 

And, if none of those makes your happy, then stream or slip in the dvd and watch:

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Did you know the sequel is happening?

 

Top Ten Tuesday is held by the Broke and the Bookish. Here are the rules. Why not check out all of this week’s great Top Ten Tuesday lists?

 

Ten Books To Get Your Book Club to Love Nonfiction

Are you tired of reading the be-all, end-all novel of the week? Get your book club to try some nonfiction that reads like fiction. You’ll be surprised how much more there is to talk about.

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Three Year Swim Club by Julie Checkoway

They didn’t wait for “perfect” to become champions.

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Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman

Prison isn’t what you think it is. Nor is it what you watch on the t.v. show.

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Factory Girls by Leslie T. Chung

Find out why America was priced out of manufacturing. Want to live in a dorm? They do.

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In the Garden of the Beasts by Erik Larson

When an American Ambassador loses control of his daughter and loses control of his mission.

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Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

Life renewed, regained and refreshed thru nature.

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A Path Appears: Transforming Lives, Creating Opportunity.

Yes, you can change the world. See how.

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Nothing Daunted: The Unexpected Education of Two Society Girls in the West

The got tired of going to paint and wine parties of their day and did something with their lives.

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Defying the Nazis: The Sharp’s War

The power of one person doing what is right.

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Dream Land by Sam Quinones

How the heroin epidemic happened.

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My life in France by Julia Child

What can happen when a housewife gets bored.

From My Commonplace Book: Quotes I Love

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I am currently reading and/or listening to this fabulous book with my friend Silvia’s Gray House Book Club group, though I am not keeping up.

Why the Quote Appealed to Me

This quote echos the same hopeless, senseless lives that so many “have-nots” live today–those who see prison as maybe not “normal,” but no big deal. No reason to prepare for life–you just end up with nothing. Those who see cutting now as an adolescent rite of passage, drugs just cheap recreation and “getting over” the only thrill left. A weird sort of almost nihilism.

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The Quote

They are always hostile, always hungry, always covered in spots from the sweets they consume to cheat hunger. They dye their hair and alter their pants with multicolored patches. Red is hopelessly older. Not in years, but in questions he asks himself. Young Rats are not concerned about tomorrow. Their life begins and ends today. It is today they need that extra piece of toast, it’s today they need that new song, it’s today they need to take the only thing that’s on their mind and scrawl it in huge letters on the bathroom wall. Rats suffer from constipation but they’d still eat anything anytime. And fight over food. And over who sleeps where. And after the fight is over they’d listen to more music and eat again, with even more delight. 

(Kindle Version, p. 424)

 

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Flashback Friday Review: My Nest Isn’t Empty, It Just Has More Closet Space

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This review was published on my old blog on October 28, 2014. It is re-posted her with minor edits.

This little collection of essays came up in a search for a writing project I’m doing. I started listening and was soon hooked. Ordinary topics, presented in a fun manner, by a Mom and her grown daughter. What’s not to love? Lisa has dogs, cats, a character of a mother and a life as a published author. In short, I’ve found a new role model. (Miss you, Mother Mary).

I’m sad to say I’d never heard of their books before this little one, but I will be listening to more audio versions of their work, you can be sure. My Nest Isn’t Empty, It Just Has More Closet Space by Lisa Scottoline and Francesca Serritella.

FYI The “writing project” I mentioned ended up, eventually,  being this post: When the Empty Nest Houses a Single Bird.

 

More From Lisa and Francesca:

 

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This week I reviewed Lisa and Francesca’s newest collection of essays, I Need a Lifeguard Everywhere But the Pool. You can read my review here.

 

 

 

Listen to an excerpt here: