Saturday, January 30, 2010

Is it OK if you Hate a Book Everyone Loves?

It was a week of author deaths. Not that I am personally tracking them but I subscribe to a "Dead Letter" an electronic newsletter that emails me information about the works of recently deceased writers, actors and musicians. Kinda a weird tribute letter. So recently authors J. D. Salinger (The Catcher in the Rye), Howard Zinn (A People's History of the United States) and Louis Auchincloss (The Education of Oscar Fairfax) died, all at ripe old ages.

Since Salinger died there has been a lot of speculation about what he left behind, literary buffs are salivating over what might be locked away in "Salinger's Safe", whispers say it could be unpublished manuscripts. Personally I don't really care but as patron after patron came into my library to ask for copies of The Catcher in the Rye to read now that Salinger is dead, it got me to thinking. Am I the ONLY person who didn't like this book and it's character Holden Caulfield?

The book's controversy has gone on for decades (shooting of John Lennon by The Catcher in the Rye obsessed Mark David Chapman). So while the character of Holden is legendary in the literary world I just don't understand why. I found the character funny but sad, tiresome, contradictory and rather ridiculous. I didn't get his articulate views of disillusionment and abandonment. I didn't want to love him as so many female readers do, I wanted him to grow up.

Back in the 90's a friend was dating a rather broody, angry young man. For some reason she was wildly attracted to his bad behavior, his unreliability and his outright lack of respect for her. I just didn't get it. I'll never forget when she said to me with a sigh..."But he's wants to be Holden Caulfield!" Honestly, this boy had told her he was his hero. It probably took a few glasses of wine for me to simmer down.

Maybe it is the classic, "nice" girl being attracted to "bad" boys. Or maybe it's because The Catcher in the Rye came out in the 50's at the height of the brooding/angry/beautiful icon time of James Dean and Marlo Brandon but I think Holden's image is indelibly linked to that era (Salinger has FIERCELY protected the rights to his book and has never allowed it to be made into a film). Whatever the reason I just don't get the appeal. Maybe I need to read the book again and discuss it with someone who gets the book and the character. I think I will imagine broody Twilight actor Robert Pattinson as Holden and that will at least make me flip the pages. Better yet, I'm talk to my own moody disillusioned 16 year old son and perhaps I'll get it.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

My New Juicer

After years of reading about the benefits of juicing I finally committed and bought my first juicer this month. I bought a Breville BJE200XL 700 Watt Compact Juice Fountain on Amazon for $99 including free shipping. (It is currently listed at $90). I decided on this juicer because of the excellent ratings and reviews and suggestions by friends over on the Crazy, Sexy, Cancer site. It is really one of the best purchases I've ever made for preparing food. I've posted some pictures below.

This morning I juiced 2 pears, an apple and a handful of grapes

The juicer is stainless steel and plastic and can juice fruit whole, no slicing or peeling required. Cleaning is easy with 5 removable parts for a quick cleanup.

Ingredients listed above made about 1 1/2 cups of pure juice.

The leftover pulp is as dry as sand. There is zero pulp in the juice.

Every morning I experiment with a new combination of fruits and vegetables. Tomorrow I am trying a recipe for a cucumber, spinach, apple and mint juice. I'm also going to start adding some fresh wheat grass. Honestly I can't think of an easier or faster way to get your needed dose of fruits and veggies. If you don't juice, I highly recommend you start.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Tracking What You Read?

How do you track what you read? Do you keep a book journal? Scribble titles or authors on bits of scrap paper? I've had patrons approach the reader's advisory desk at the library where I work with book titles written on a myriad of different things, here are a few examples of what they write on:

A body part (usually a hand)
Textbook pages
Airline ticket

Personally I've jotted down book titles and author names on most of those but for the past couple of years I've preferred the website Goodreads. Goodreads is a free social/sharing book focused website that allows a user to rate, review, share and discuss books. I use it to track what I'm reading and I've reviewed most of the books I've read over the past 2 years. For me, it's a terrific tool.

If you are looking for other sites try Goodreads or these similar sites:

Blippr: microblogging for books and media

Bookjetty: track your books, search Amazon and your local library catalog

LibraryThing: beloved my bibliophiles, catalog your personal library

Shelfari: a social networking site for book lovers, you can even create a virtual bookshelf

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Can a Book Change Your Life?

In the donation pile at my library was the book Trinny and Susannah: What you wear can change your life. Well I'm all for that theory but got me to thinking. Can a BOOK change your life? Has a book changed yours?

There have been numerous books that have changed me, they've changed the way I think, act, react, travel, share and give. Books have helped me chose different paths, try different things, explore new hobbies and think outside the box. I could write daily about such books but maybe I'll just name a few and then tell you about 1 book...1 silly fluffy book that meant something to me as a girl.

Here are a few books that changed me:

The brilliant former Oxford Professor Richard Dawkins' book The God Delusion was one of the most important books I've ever read. Dawkins answered questions I didn't know I was asking.

Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. Family, strength, friendship and love. This book has it all and made me want it all.

Fairy Tales. The real ones, not the ones messed up by Disney. The dark folk tales, where parents could be mean, bad things happened and children died. But there was hope. Always hope.

The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank. Who hasn't this book changed. Innocent, tragic and beautiful.

Andersonville by MacKinlay Kantor. Read this in high school. It has stayed with me for over 20 years. The Civil War told like no history book could.

Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell. Classic. Epic.

The Story of My Life by Helen Keller. Inspiring, I still take sign language classes.

A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking. No I didn't check this out from the library. A boyfriend left it at my house and I read it....and loved it. Who knew math and cosmology could be so fascinating.

Now about my fluffy book: back in the 80's when I was a typical big haired Calvin Klein jeans wearing teenager, I received a book as a gift that I loved. The book wasn't something smart or classic, it was a book by Brooke Shields, I kid you not. Ya I really was a rather shallow teenage girl who's head was full of big dreams and pop music and my hair was teased to within an inch of my life. But I loved that book and frankly it made me grow up a little bit.

On Your Own was published while Brooke was a student at Princeton and included the usual tips on beauty, diet, dating and college. To me, that book was the big sister I didn't have. I read it cover to cover over and over again, it was like having a famous best girlfriend for a fictional sleep over. I wanted to go to college and be on my own just like Brooke Shields and damn if I didn't become a better student so I could go to college. Brooke Shields was the most glamorous teenager around during those days, she hung out with Michael Jackson, acted, modeled, went to an Ivy League school and you never read about her drinking, doing drugs or sleeping with celebrities. I was in that awkward gangly all legs and heavy eyebrows phase and for some reason, that book became my bible.

Looking back now I think it's funny that Brooke Shield became my style and college guru, but it's true. I still have that book, all dog-earred and scuffed up. I flipped through it recently and damn if she still doesn't have the best tips on eyebrows. 25 years later and that book still teaches me something.

So did any book change your life?

Monday, January 18, 2010

Whatcha Watching?

In the month leading up to my Annual Oscar Party I try to see 2-3 movies a week. During the past week I saw, Avatar, Nine and Leap Year. This week I am planning on seeing Young Victoria, It's Complicated and Crazy Heart. Last night's Golden Globes was a glimpse into awards season but I only watch the last hour or so since I don't watch enough television to know about the TV shows nominated.

In my opinion it's been a banner year for movies, I've enjoyed almost every film I saw in 2009 with the exception of the WORST movie I can remember, The Ugly Truth. Seriously I was embarrassed for the actors in the film and pissed off that I spent money on watching such a vulgar, insulting film. On the flip side, the movie that has often been called vulgar was the funniest film of the year. The Hangover made me laugh like nothing else. Loved it, bravo for winning the Golden Globe last night, can't wait for the sequel.

The movies I saw this week ranged from the unbelievable (Avatar) to the slow (Leap Year) to a jumbled mess (Nine). I do appreciate that even in a muddled film there can be great performances. Everyone in the musical Nine gave it their all...Daniel Day Lewis, Marion Cotillard and Penelope Cruz were excellent. I have no idea why they put Kate Hudson and Nicole Kidman in for 5-10 minutes each, their parts gave nothing to the film. The real standout was singer Fergie, she was mesmerizing to watch and her voice was terrific. Leap Year, the romantic comedy starring Amy Adams as an American woman who goes to Ireland to propose to her boyfriend on Leap Day was slow and silly but the last 15 minutes was full of the romance and magic of Ireland that should have been throughout the movie. I can't remember that last time I saw a film set in Ireland that didn't utilize the stunning scenery and charming people, but Leap Year didn't use either. A definite wait-for-it-to-hit-DVD film.

Avatar. I don't know what I can say about Avatar that hasn't already been said. You have to see it to believe it. I think my mouth was hanging open through most of it at least when I wasn't tossing M&M's in. I saw the movie in 3-D which I haven't done since Jaws 3 back in the 80's. I and was a little concerned I would get ill since I have vertigo and any jumpy camera motion makes me dizzy. But surprisingly not one bit of this film made my head spin. I enjoyed every minute of it, it's like stepping into someones dream, a visual feast and not to be missed. I saw James Cameron on Oprah last week and he said they created an entire language for the film and named every insect, animal and plant. That's fricking amazing, more so if you've seen the movie and the scale of the world he created in Pandora.

I hope you've seen many of the films out right now, let me know your favorites. I'm off to see some Jeff Bridges in Crazy Heart soon, I've got a thing for his long hair.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Do You Resale Shop?

Regular readers know that I am a bargain shopper, I truly like the challenge of hunting for a deal. In fact I'm such a shopper I even teach a shopping class at the library! My resale shopping started out of necessity when I was a 22 year old single mom living in a big city with very little extra income for clothes. Even though I can now afford to buy something without a sales tag, I don't. I just can justify paying full price and I would much rather spend my money on gifts, travel, books and good food.

Living in the Chicago area is a treat, there are excellent resale shops scattered throughout the city and suburbs and I've been a regular customer at a few of them since the 80's. I also love to resale shop when traveling. I have found some wonderful items in Los Angeles, London, small villages in Ireland and Spain and more.

In Chicago I regularly hit any Salvation Army or Goodwill store I pass as well as a few excellent shops including: My Sister's Closet, Ragstock and The Daisy Shop (couture resale). And of course my FAVORITE store in Chicago, The Antique and Resale Shoppe which I recently blogged about here.

Thursdays I work the afternoon/evening shift and hitting the resale shops in the morning is usually on my to-do list once a month. For my local readers: there are 2 resale shops in the Northwest suburbs that I visit regularly, Rosemarie's Closet which is located near downtown Arlington Heights and Anne's Unique Boutique in downtown Palatine. Both are goldmines for upscale women's clothing, one of a kind sample pieces and even some never-worn-tag-still-on items. This morning I ran by both shops and found a Ralph Lauren gray pencil skirt for $8.00, a cashmere camel colored shrug sweater from Ann Taylor for $7.50 and an Anne Taylor summer skirt for $7.00. All are in excellent condition and had been recently dry cleaned. Love that!

For online shoppers and those not in the Chicago area here are a few of my favorite websites for bargain shopping:

Ebay: this site doesn't need a description, it's like shopping heaven. I particularly like the sellers with online stores, makes the browsing easier.

Etsy: fabulous site for one of a kind items, vintage, handmade and more.

Goodwill: ya, online auctions. Fabulous finds.

Lulu's Vintage: worth a look just for the gorgeous vintage dresses.

Rusty Zipper: huge selection, some things better for a costume party.

My tip, if you buy something, you donate something. This has kept my closet manageable and my clothes stylish. If you have any suggestions for stores, online sites etc leave them in the comments field. Happy Hunting!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Ten in 2010 Challenge

Over on The Recipe Girl blog is a challenge to get fit (or fitter) in 10 weeks. After my friend Heather, (her food blog is a fav) told me about it, I signed on too. Like so many people I've made a New Years resolution to eat better, get more exercise and just live healthier and also like so many I find it's easier with a little encouragement from others. Some of the great things about the Ten in 2010 challenge is the flexibility to set your own goals, the choice to share your struggles and triumphs (or not) and the opportunity to network with other people who want to make a healthy difference in their lives.

In case you are interested and as a little reminder to myself here are my goals for the Ten in 2010 challenge.

1. Eat healthier
2. Expand my vegetarian cooking
3. Practice yoga 3-4 times a week
4. Stretch and lift arm weights daily
5. Give up alcohol for 6 weeks and then drink less throughout the year
6. Detox on a regular basis
7. Maintain a daily food and exercise diary
8. Take a regular array of vitamins
9. Drink more water
10. No late night eating

If you are wondering how I'm doing since I started on January 1, pretty darn good if I do say so.

1. I'm a healthy eater to begin with, being a vegetarian helps but I am cutting back on my weaknesses like chips and salsa, salty snacks and unbalanced meals. I've swapped eating out at Italian restaurants (the bread gets me every time) and instead chosen Japanese and Korean restaurants for sushi and banchan (Korean side dishes like kimchi and namul).
2. I've cooked 2-3 new recipes a week including a cauliflower soup, tortilla soup, a new spinach salad and various vegetable dishes.
3. I'm practicing Hatha and Yin yoga by following a 45 minutes routine by instructor Patti Asad and a group class in a friend's basement.
4. Stretching daily and lifting 5 lb arm weights has been a breeze. I spend 15-20 minutes a day doing this while watching tv in the evenings.
5. Ya this one is tough, especially socially. I've been to a party and dinners out and have declined all alcohol. I miss a glass of wine or a cold beer on the weekends but am enjoying trying new teas like roasted barley tea.
6. I'm planning my 1st detox of the year for the 4th weekend in January.
7. This has been easy, I use the Lose It app on my iTouch. This great app is easy to use and has a terrific library of searchable foods and exercises.
8. Daily I take a multi vitamin, fish oil and vitamin C
9. Drinking more water has been easy with the great variety of stainless steel bottles I have. Also adding lemon or sliced cucumber is delicious and helps get more than 6 glass a day down.
10. I don't touch anything except water after 8 pm. This has been easy so far because I don't crave things after dinner but I think it will get harder on the weekends especially if I'm not going out until later in the evening.

If you are interested in joining the Ten in 2010 challenge than visit The Recipe Girl's blog and sign up. Whether you do or not, I'm interested to know what your healthy New Years Resolutions are and how you're doing.

Friday, January 8, 2010

The Winner of Lively Librarian's 1st Contest is:

Toontz! Congratulations! Toontz's favorite book is Lord of the Rings (Fellowship of the Ring), great choice!

Please email me at livelylibrarian{at}comcast{dot}net with an email address. The $25 Amazon gift card will be sent to you via email.

Thanks to everyone for entering, it's fascinating to read your comments and I got lots of great book suggestions!

Stay tuned for the next contest and thanks for reading!

P.S Bethie, Harold and the Purple Crayon is still one of my favorite books and one I give to many new parents. I also love Cars and Trucks and Things That Go by Richard Scarry, I never tire of looking for the goldbug. All of the Eloise at the Plaza books are also favorites.

The winner was chosen using, try it!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Lively Librarian's 1st Contest!

Hello Readers!

To celebrate a New Year and to thank regular readers for their continued support of my little blog I am introducing a regular contest feature!

To enter to win a $25 Amazon gift card you must enter a comment to this blog post by answering the following question:

What is your favorite book?

The winner will be chosen by comment number at random and is not based on your answer. When commenting please do not include an email address in your answer in order to prevent spam. If you are a blogger or have a URL please feel free to share that info! I also love to read how you found my blog. Deadline to enter is 8:00 am 1/8/10.

I will post the winner's name on Friday, January 8 on Lively Librarian and the winner must contact me at livelylibrarian at with an email address to claim your prize.

Good luck and thanks for reading!

P.S. The contests will be at least monthly, maybe more! Subscribe to my blog so you don't miss one!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Do you use Google Reader?

As the New Year begins I've made my list of resolutions and will do my best to stick by them longer than the 31 days of January. One of my resolutions is to shorten and better utilize the time I spend on the Internet and one of the best ways I've found to do that without turning off the computer is to use Google Reader.

Google Reader is an aggregator, a website that pulls RSS feeds (a feed is a summary of the latest content from a website) to one location for easy viewing. Users of Google Reader can subscribe to feeds from websites either by searching for a site or by directly inputting the websites URL. After subscribing the content is delivered directly to your Google Reader page eliminating the need to individually visit each webpage. It's brilliant, really it is. For an Internet junkie like myself who regularly visits dozens of my favorite blogs, cooking and travel websites, Google Reader allows me to scan the latest content from each site without actually going to each webpage. Basically I sign into my Google Reader account and instantly skim over the latest content from my favorite websites. It's all the latest headlines, blog entries, pictures and recipes from my favorite sites sent to me in 1 place. Love it, love it, love it!

So here is what I want you to do. Go to right now. You will need to sign up for a free Gmail account (Google email), if you don't already have an account, you should. The features of Google are fabulous especially Reader and Google Docs. Once you create a Gmail account (or sign in with an existing account) go to Google Reader and start adding subscriptions to your favorite websites by clicking on the Add a Subscription button on the left side of the page. In the search box you can either search for websites by topic or name or enter in a URL. Of course one of the first sites you should subscribe to is mine, the feed URL is
Once subscribed to your favorite websites RSS feeds you will get the latest content sent to your Google Reader page.

For more information on Google Reader take the tour here.