Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

Discovering Someone New

When I worked in bookstores (not the Borders headquarters, but actual bookstores) back in the 90s, I loved discovering new authors. My absolute favorite thing about discovering new authors was when I found someone I loved … who had already written a bunch of other books. There was nothing like binge reading fun authors like James Patterson (back when he only – and actually – only wrote about one character), Janet Evanovich, Sue Grafton, John Kellerman, Faye Kellerman, etc.

And since our bookstore allowed employees to borrow hardcover books (to help us keep up on the latest without having to buy them – we didn’t get paid much), I didn’t have to wait to get them from the library. I could read them right in a row. Bliss.

TNBT_pblgWhat’s amazing is that now, even after being an adult reader for 20+ years, this still happens. I still manage to find an established author that I haven’t read before. It’s kind of surprising that it still happens, actually.

My latest “discovery” is Jennifer Weiner. I think I read one of her books a couple years ago, and then earlier this year I read Then Came You. But it wasn’t until I read The Next Best Thing last week (in two days, no less – quite a feat when one has three young kids and works full time!) that I realized I love this author! I can’t wait to get to the library and pick up something else by her. (I thought about buying one for my Kindle – instant gratification! – but that’s a habit I really cannot afford. So I’ll either find something in the library or get in virtual line behind numerous others in the library’s electronic book site.)

What’s YOUR favorite “binge reading” experience?

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An Award!

The Gal has tagged me for the the Liebsteraward! Liebster is a German word which means sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing and welcome.

Here are the rules for the award:

  1. Each person must post 11 facts about themselves.
  2. Answer 11 questions the tagger has given you and give 11 questions for the people you’ve tagged.
  3. Choose 11 people and link them in your post. Tell them you’ve tagged them.
  4. Remember, no tag backs.

However, I’m going to break the rules and answer ALL the questions (including the ones The Gal answered), and not tag anyone.

So, here are 11 things about me:

1) I’m inherently lazy. I’m a good/hard worker, my house gets taken care of, kids get fed well, etc. But if I had my druthers, I’d spend a lot of my time reading or messing around on the internet.

2) My favorite band EVER is Duran Duran. I remember hearing Hungry Like the Wolf on the radio in late 1982, and a fellow library aide got me totally hooked on them in early 1984, and they’ve been my favorite since then. I saw them in concert for the first (!!!) time last fall and am going to see them again next month – third row again! I can’t wait.

3) My cousins (on my Dad’s side) and I are still close even though we’re in our late 30s/40s. We see the local cousins regularly, and twice a year we host a “cousin party” that the cousins and any kids come to. It’s a blast! In fact, we had so much fun at the cousin party a few weeks ago that we decided next year we’re going to ditch the kids and really have a cousin party. Should be a blast!

4) I need to lose weight. A lot. But I really like snacking, and I really hate exercising, so …

5) I don’t wear jewelry (except my wedding ring), and almost never polish my nails. The last time I can remember wearing earrings was when my brother got married six years ago.

6) I have a new nephew! My brother and his wife welcomed their second son last Friday. He made his debut three weeks early and is on the little side, but he’s healthy and has no heart problems. (Big brother was the one who had open heart surgery two years ago.)

7) Tim and I (mostly Tim) have instituted a “no replacing” policy for our pets, at least for the time being. Multiple cats + three children = lots of work. We had three cats when Allie was born, but now we’re down to one, and will have none when she leaves us. I’m OK with that, for now.

8) I love Facebook.

9) I wish I were a better photographer – I have a nice camera – but I’m either too impatient, too lazy, or don’t take pictures often enough to really improve.

10) I’m the oldest of four. I didn’t mind having three younger siblings, but I always wished that I had an older brother.

11) I’m often conflicted about our decision to let Adam join Cub Scouts two years ago, and to move up to Boy Scouts this year. The program he’s joined is amazing, and I’m very proud of his participation, but that damn “no gays” policy. Grrr.

Here are the questions Kwizgiver gave The Gal (but these are my answers):

  1. What is your favorite genre to read? Mystery/thriller, young adult, biographies
  2. How often do you read for pleasure? Daily
  3. Do you ever read books in your least favorite genre? That would be poetry, and the answer is no (this was Gal’s answer but it stands for me)
  4. Do you snack when you read? Often
  5. What do you do when you’re in a reading slump? Find something new
  6. Are you easy to talk into doing something out of the ordinary? No
  7. Do you follow a daily routine? With three kids one is forced to follow a daily routine, but we don’t have a strict routine
  8. Where do you keep your keys? Several places, which is why I often can’t find them.
  9. What is your favorite song featuring a banjo? Rainbow Connection
  10. Do you drink bottled water? Rarely, and never at home or at work.
  11. How old is your blog? 5.5 years


Here are the questions The Gal gave me.

1. What’s your oldest memory? I vaguely remember being left with my (paternal) grandparents when my parents went to my (maternal) great-grandmother’s funeral. I was 3.

2. Who was your first crush? Hmm, Jason (or Jeff? which brother was it?) something, in first grade. Can’t remember exactly how I knew him – maybe he was in my class – but I distinctly remember that we were both at the bowling alley “drop off” room once or twice, and played in the teepee together. (Totally innocently – we were 6!) I seem to recall that whichever brother was my age, my sister liked the other one.

3. When was the last time you cried? Sunday, when I saw a picture of my little brother holding his tiny newborn son. 🙂

4. How often do you read the newspaper? The print newspaper? I glance at it once a week or so (it’s only printed 3x weekly, and is digital the rest of the week). However, I read newspaper articles online daily.

5. What is something you won’t scrimp on, no matter how tight your budget? Hmmm …. I can’t think of anything.

6. Do you enjoy your time in the bath or shower? Or is it merely for hygiene/grooming, like brushing your teeth? Yes, and usually. 😉 I have three kids, so I generally have a “business shower.”

7. Close your eyes and think of a song. Which one popped into your head? Every Little Thing She Does is Magic

8. What’s the biggest dollar bill in your wallet right now? (Asked because a friend of mine recently broke a $100 at dinner, and I don’t think I’ve ever carried a bill that big.) $10

9. You’re home. It’s 9:30 at night. You’re hungry. What do you snack on? Well, it’s 11:30 but I just snacked on some cheese.

10. Are you a Felix (neat freak) or an Oscar (slob)? Somewhere in between. I like things neat, but don’t have the motivation to keep them that way (see #1 of the previous section) and damn if the kids don’t keep messing everything up.

11.  When did you last send someone a card? It could be a greeting card, or a postcard. But you had to address it, put a stamp on it and mail it. E-cards or a card you simply handed a person don’t count. Wow, I have no idea. I didn’t even send out Christmas cards last year. So, I guess the last time I specifically remember sending someone a card was Christmas of 2010.

Feel free to answer these questions on your own blog – and let me know if you do.

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I’ve Joined the Dark Side

I never wanted an e-reader.

During my 10+ year career at Borders, we tried to move into the e-reader market, unsuccessfully for the most part. Amazon, of course, cornered the market, with Barnes & Noble another big player. In fact, the rise of e-readers sold elsewhere was a big contributor to me losing my job and Borders – to whom I always remained loyal – eventually closing for good last year.

I never wanted an e-reader.

To get one would have been contributing to Borders’ downfall, and besides, I really didn’t want one – I love physical books so much, and couldn’t imagine liking an e-reader. And besides, you can’t really read one when you’re taking a nice long bubble bath, can you?

I never wanted an e-reader.

But I got one.

Tim got me a Kindle Touch for Christmas. Adam knew he had gotten it, and one day at lunch, Adam said to me, “Mom, would you ever want a Kindle?” I replied, “I NEVER want an e-reader of any kind!.” Oops – I could tell by the look on Adam’s face that Tim had gotten me just that for Christmas.

The day we before we were planning to exchange Christmas presents, Tim confirmed that he had gotten me a Kindle and said that if I didn’t want it, he’d take it back and not even give it to me.

I thought about it and said, “What the heck. I’ll give it a whirl!”

And guess what? By the end of the day, I loved it! I’ve been reading more since I got the Kindle than I have in ages. And Adam loves it, too – he borrows it most nights at bedtime and falls asleep reading it. (I predict a Kindle of his own at some point in the future, depending on how his grades go.)

Thank goodness our library participates in an e-book service. It’s waaaay to easy to purchase a book while sitting on the couch and literally be able to read it instantly! Way too tempting.

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WWW Wednesday

A nice, quick little thing I stole from The Gal.

To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

• What are you currently reading? Port Mortuary, by Patricia Cornwell. (I’ll steal this comment from Gal as well:  Patricia Cornwell and I have a love/hate relationship. I’m so fond of Kay Scarpetta that I keep returning to the series, even though I’m invariably disappointed by her later efforts.)

• What did you recently finish reading? The Secret Lives of Hoarders by Matt Paxton (“extreme cleaning specialist” from the TV show Hoarders). Actually very interesting and enlightening. And I’ve been on a bit of a cleaning tear since reading it, of course.

• What do you think you’ll read next? Mystery: An Alex Delaware Novel by Jonathan Kellerman. I first discovered the Alex Delaware books when I was working at Schuler Books 18 (gulp!) years ago. I’m catching up on the latest one (as well as the latest Patricia Cornwell/Kay Scarpetta books) now that I’ve got my Kindle. Looking forward to reading this one.

I liberated this from Kwizgiver via The Gal. But if you want to play along yourself, you should click here.

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The Book Thief, Markus Zusak, PaperbackToday’s happiness is all about reading. I’ve been an avid reader for most of my life, but I confess that I don’t read as much anymore – not since Adam was born 10 years ago, and certainly not since I got my first laptop four years ago (which meant we had two computers in the family and I didn’t have to share with Tim any longer). But when I do read – especially when I read something I really like – I wonder why I don’t read more.

I had that feeling this week when I read The Book Thief by Markus Zusak for book group. I started it Sunday, with the intention of reading 100+ pages (it’s a long book!) a night until I finished, hopefully in time for tomorrow night’s book group meeting. I finished it today at lunchtime – I couldn’t put it down! It was one of those books that I can’t wait to get back to, and at the same time, I don’t want to finish – because then I’ll be done with it. You bookworms know what I mean.

I’ve got another book waiting up by my bed (a Jodi Picoult book my mom lent me a while back) and I’m going to get started on it tonight.

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I said goodbye to an old friend last night. We’ve had a long and sometimes rocky relationship and even broke it off a couple of years ago, but I’ve remained loyal to the end. Sadly, this dear friend is meeting its demise, and the kids and I said our goodbyes last night.

I’m referring to Borders, of course. After about five years of struggling sales, etc. the company has gone bankrupt and will be closing all stores within weeks. Liquidation sales – complete with garish signs – started at all stores this moring.

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while (I know at least a couple of you have), you know that I worked for Borders for a long time. More than 11 years, in fact – one year at a store and more than 10 years at the home office in Ann Arbor. (And in the years between Borders store and home office, I worked at a Borders “customer store” – Schuler Books – for four years, just for good measure.)

You may also remember that I was laid off from Borders two years ago. So why the loyalty, you may ask? Simple: the people. Oh sure, you always hear, “It’s the people that make working at X company so special.”

But Borders was the real deal. From my very first day as a 23-year-old bookseller to my very last day as a seasoned corporate communicator, I was surrounded by smart, witty, often sarcastic (in a good way), dedicated people who made it easy to go to work every day. From the lowest-paid booksellers and customer service staff at the home office all the way up to the execs, we worked hard and had fun. In fact, Borders employees feel such a connection to each other that more than 4,000 have joined a Facebook that was created TWO DAYS ago for former and soon-to-be former employees. (And there are 2,225 posts already.)

And then there are the actual stores. Adam and I used to go on “dates” to Borders. We’d share a slice of lemon pound cake and a triple-chocolate hot chocolate in the cafe, then we’d browse to our heart’s content. I usually ended up buying him more books than I had planned, but it’s hard to say no when your kid’s begging you for the latest in a favorite book series or some unexpected book that he just has to have. Allie joined us once she got a little bigger (and easier to corral while in the store). I’ve read her many a story while sitting on the chairs in the children’s section. Jenny has been too, but she won’t remember.

If you’ve ever had “your” Borders store, you know how special they were. There’s a reason that whenever I told someone that I worked at Borders, I always heard replies like, “Oh, I just LOVE Borders!” or “My mom has me take her there every time she’s in town.” etc. It was just that kind of a place.

The big kids and I went to our favorite Borders for one last shopping trip last night. (The stores will be open for at least a few weeks more, but I can’t bear to be in them once the “going out of business” signs are posted everywhere.) We had a snack in the cafe – had to make do with a snickerdoodle and juice – stayed longer than we meant to, browsed to our hearts’ content, bought more than we intended, and had a nice but bittersweet time. Adam even found books three and four of a series that he’s been searching for. I found myself reluctant to leave, and was a weepy mess before we got back out to the car, but it was a perfect last visit.

We’ll move on. I’ve got another job (working for my Borders boss, I’m happy to say), we’ll find somewhere else to buy books. But Borders will always have a special place in our hearts.

One last snack (they were out of lemon pound cake, sadly).

Please can I get this one, Mom?

Allie admiring the American girl books. She’ll take one of each, please.

Ah, there’s our Book Boy in true form.

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Just What I Needed

The HelpI don’t get out much.

Oh, I leave the house. I do work full-time outside the home, have lots of errands to run, shop regularly (read: grocery shop and shop for things for the house and the kids), and participate in car seat check events every month or so in the summer. But I don’t often go anywhere just for me.

About six weeks ago, I got an email from an acquaintance from my old job at Borders’ HQ (she’s also a “friend” on Facebook). She invited me to join her already-established book group. I debated for a few days (anyone who knows me in person knows that I’m shy and insecure) but finally decided to join. Tim and the kids were all for it.

We read The Help by Kathryn Stockett, which is an excellent book. I actually read it a couple of months before joining the book group, so there was no pressure to read it in a short time span. It lends itself really well to discussion, too.

My first meeting with the group was last night. It was terrific. There were three people I knew at least slightly from my old job (plus one more who couldn’t make it), so right off the bat I felt at home and knew there would be some good discussion. We stayed on topic for a bit, strayed far off topic, back and forth. It was a lively discussion, and I can’t wait until next month’s meeting.

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It Still Stings

Tomorrow marks two full years since I was laid off from my job at the Borders corporate office. I loved that job, loved my co-workers, and was absolutely devastated when I was let go. Looking back, of course, things couldn’t have turned out better – Tim and I had a new baby and I was able to stay home until she was more than a year old; the big kids got nearly two years of a stay-at-home mom, including two fun summers; we never hit a financial crisis; and I ended up with an excellent new job working for my excellent former boss, with better pay and better benefits.

Yesterday, Borders filed for bankruptcy. It’s been a long time coming, and no one was surprised by the move. And as I said, I’ve been gone for two years. Heck, I really don’t even shop at Borders anymore – after I was laid off, I had neither an employee discount nor any money to spend on books. I was a little surprised at how much the news stung. Yes, I was a devoted employee for more than 10 years (Tim used to tease me and call me a “company girl,” which I suppose I was, in a way) but really, it’s been two years. I’ve moved on, most of my friends from Borders have moved on – some of their own accord, some not.

Based on my friends’ comments on Facebook, it seems they have had similar reactions.

I wonder if it will always be that way? (And I wonder if I will ever stop having frequent dreams that I work in the bookstore again. I only worked in an actual Borders store for a year, then in a similar independent store for four years. I often have dreams that I work at both stores. Must be because I really loved both jobs.)

Anyone else have similar feelings about a former employer? Tim likened it to an amicable divorce – it hurts at the time, but you still want them to do well. (“Though it certainly helps that your new spouse is a nymphomaniac that likes to cook.” ;))

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Today’s happiness involves reading to one of my kids. Not a surprising activity in and of itself, but who I was reading to was a little surprising.

Book Boy was bored, and started grumbling that I never do anything with just him. I called him over and asked him what he wanted to do with just me. Did he want to go with me the next time I go grocery shopping (both big kids like this)? Did he want me to play a game with just him after dinner? Etc. etc.

After a bit of hemming and hawing, he finally said just one word: “Read!”

I told him to go get a book, and he came back with one of the Foxtrot anthologies he’d co-opted from my bookshelves months ago and read many times since. He sat down next to me, opened the book to a random page, and handed it to me. I was only able to read to him for about 10 minutes before we were interrupted (both girls were up, after all) but it was nice. I’ll have to remember that Book Girl isn’t the only one who might like a bedtime story.

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See full size imageIt’s obvious to all that Book Boy is a little geek. He loves Harry Potter, Star Wars, graphic novels, super heroes. His latest interest is Greek mythology, spurred by the Greek mythology included in the Percy Jackson series that he recently read.

But Little Sister – age 4-1/2 – is clearly following in his footsteps. She enjoys “reading” over BB’s shoulder when he reads a graphic novel – I swear the first book she learns to read will be a graphic novel, plays “Ultimate Alliance” (super hero game) with him in the back yard, etc.

This evening, she and I were looking at the pictures in a biography of Stan Lee (Spider-Man creator – BB is doing a report on him). She named all the super heroes we saw – Spider-Man, Hulk, Silver Surfer, Fantastic Four, and Wolverine – but made me stop when we saw Superman.

“What’s he doing in this book?!” she said.

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“He’s not Marvel, he’s DC!” she informed me. (For the uninformed, DC Comics include Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and other Justice League heroes. The heroes I mentioned previously are Marvel Comics. The two never mingle.)

I actually knew what she meant, thanks to BB’s quizzes – he finds great humor on quizzing me on whether a hero is DC or Marvel and laughing when I don’t know. I know all the major heroes now, but don’t do quite as well when he gets to the minor heroes.

Can’t wait to see what the future holds for my little geeks.

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