Kindle Love.(And a need for book recommendations)

At first I was skeptical of the whole “e-reader” thing.  I have TONS of books and I had a hard time imagining my collection turning from tangible to electronic.

But then Mr. A got me a kindle for my birthday.

In the past two weeks, I have read four books.  The transition time took approximately 2.31 seconds.  I am absolutely in love with this little device.

The problem now is not knowing what to READ!  I’ve read MOST of the books that people recommend.. Water for Elephants, Bossypants, all the Hunger Games books, and The Help… all read.  I have been in the mood for “lighter” books… fiction and historical fiction.

Here’s what I’ve read in the past couple of weeks:

Dangerous to Know.  This is the 5th in the series with the 6th one coming out in October.  They advertised it as Jane Austen meets DaVinci code.. me and Olivia just find this whole series addicting.   I ate it up.

The Story of Beautiful Girl. (amazon description) It is 1968. Lynnie, a young white woman with a developmental disability, and Homan, an African American deaf man, are locked away in an institution, the School for the Incurable and Feebleminded, and have been left to languish, forgotten. Deeply in love, they escape, and find refuge in the farmhouse of Martha, a retired schoolteacher and widow. But the couple is not alone-Lynnie has just given birth to a baby girl. When the authorities catch up to them that same night, Homan escapes into the darkness, and Lynnie is caught. But before she is forced back into the institution, she whispers two words to Martha: “Hide her.” And so begins the 40-year epic journey of Lynnie, Homan, Martha, and baby Julia-lives divided by seemingly insurmountable obstacles, yet drawn together by a secret pact and extraordinary love. I was fascinate with the topic and it was a quick read.

Divergent. OMG Seriously you guys… read this.  It’s in the same vein as Hunger Games, but I liked it better.  I couldn’t put it down.  I cannot wait for the 2nd book to come out.

Sisterhood Everlasting. As a fan of the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants movies I picked out this book which picks up the story when the girls are 27.  This books is about friendship and grief.  It made me cry… and that makes it a win in my book.

What have YOU been reading?  What can you recommend?  I NEED RECOMMENDATIONS!

A very special birthday.

That nice looking gentleman in the middle there with all us kids, that is Grandpa.
That’s my Grandpa.
It just happens to be his birthday today. 
We’re almost birthday twins, us two Gemini’s.
I tell people all the time he’s the greatest man on the planet; and he is.
He smart and feisty (feisty might be an understatement).
He fought in WWII and was a Colonel and J.A.G.
You’ve heard of the McCarthy-Army hearing?  He was there. 
Basically, he’s led QUITE the life.
But that’s not why he’s my favorite person in the world.
He’s my favorite person because in college he started sending my grammar books, because being able to write well was  important.
Now he gives me old copies of Money magazine and books on finance, even one on “The Art of Love”.
He always writes inscriptions because he knows I will keep them forever.
He buys mint chip ice cream just for when I come over for dinner.
He’s cranky and gruff sometime, but I can always get him to smile.
He calls me his miracle and has teared up talking about my to more than one boy I’ve introduced him to.
He has a huge jazz record collection: Miles Davis is his favorite and it is magical to sit with him and listen.
When I was ten I was in a play, and he came even though he had to take out his hearing aid.
He still surprises us with crazy: he’ll burst from inside with water guns blazing, or flip-off a camera… which got this response:
He loves his cat Buddy more than most anything in the world, expect for Grams. 
He calls Grams his soulmate.  
He has taken her around the world and rubs her feet every night. 
Basically, he has set the bar pretty high for my man standard.  He loves me fiercely and unconditionally.  He is patient and loving, generous and good.  He cares most about us; his family. 
In honor of his birthday I wanted to write down the inscriptions he’s thus far written in books for me.  I thought it would be fun, eh?
So, let’s start with the grammar, cause that’s where he started.
Elements of Style Value Package (includes Brief New Century Handbook)
15 Aug 2005
Further clarification or confusion.  Which?
Another means of translating your thoughts to paper.  And- with affection and love.  Grandpa

Common Errors in English Usage 2nd Edition

For the Wizard of English 
Grandpa

Dictionary Of Disagreeable English: A Curmudgeon's Compendium of Excruciatingly Correct Grammar

June 7, 2005 (my 20th birthday)
As a young woman who loves books too much, here with the answer to your need.
Love, Grandpa

Most recently, he ordered this one:
The Art of Loving

True love is a barrier to aloneness.  This is a great book.  Grandpa

“Love consists in this, that two solitudes protect and border and salute each other” Rainer Maria Rilke

“For one human being to love another: that is perhaps the most difficult of all our tasks, the ultimate, the last test and proof, the work for which all other work is but preparation.” Rainer Maria Rilke

Happy Birthday Grandpa.  Thank you for loving me and setting the bar high.

Today…

I have shin splints.  A common problem for people who go from, you know, never running to trying to run 2-3 miles 3-4 times a week.  The remedy is some time not running, which is super duper annoying.  For the first time ever I am ALL about the running, and now I have to not do it.  Lame.

I am reading “Meeting Your Half-Orange” So far it’s been really good.  All about being honest about what you want, and focusing on it- with optimism, of course.

I am allergic. Too all things here in the bay area.  It’s like walking around sick all the time.  I’m 10 types of congested and my eyes are all itchy and watery.  I went to LA a couple of weekends ago, and I felt AMAZING.  I am the only person in the history of the world to go to LA to breathe better.

I am listening to Wakey!Wakey!  I love them.  Here, listen and love them too.

I am looking forward to the weekend, summer, water, the smell of sunscreen, and sleeping outside.

Best of 2009- Best Book

Ok. I am starting to see a theme here. I feel like I am looking at 2009 primarily while comparing it to what 2008 was like, if that makes sense. I am a voracious reader… usually. However, for about 6 months after the break-up, I was completely unable to finish a book. I started about 20, no joke. And I am sure they were really fantastic books… but, I was just broken. This thing, reading, which has been so my thing for so very long– I just couldn’t do it. I wish I could have.

I remember being in bed at night in the two months after the break-up, being in the hollowed remnants of the home we had shared for two years. It felt so dead in that apartment. The air was stale and nothing I did could brighten up the rooms and erase the “us” that had been imprinted there. I spent two month sleeping in “our” bed, the bed feeling ominously too big, like I could be swallowed up by it completely. I remember trying so hard to read things when I was stuck there. I wanted to escape. To not be there; I wished myself to anywhere else in the world. I wanted to not feel the brokenness… but there it was.

I can’t believe I only read one book in 2009. That’s insane. I went from crazy-thesis writing mode– to broken. Which is why this book means so much this year. It meant I won. It was a promise that I would be myself again; that I was on my way to being myself again.

The one where I get all Grammar-y on your behind.


If my apartment caught on fire, and I had 20 seconds to evacuate I would A. Shove my cats in a duffel bag and B. Take the contents of one shelf of my library.

My prized possessions are, and have always been, books. I am not even talking about the fact that I collect books like it’s going out of style (How many bookshelves is “too” much in a 500 square foot apartment?). I am talking about my attachment to them. They are like my babies, I read and re-read. I have a shelf dedicated to my favorite books of all time. Books that mean something. Changed something. Books that are priceless.

There is a copy of Pride and Prejudice that Ryan gave me on my 21st birthday, and is over 100 years old.

There is the bible my grandmother received as a little girl.

There is a copy of Alice in Wonderland that has the scribbles of my grandfather when he was 5, including at attempt at his own name: complete with backwards “e”.

There is a the first book I read in french, “Le Petit Prince”.

My favorite books are the ones my grandpa sent me when I was in my undergrad. He sent me grammar books a couple of times a year (Sometimes even the same one). To him, being able to express yourself well and in a way that gains respect is really important. He also wrote inscriptions in every single on of them. LOVE that. 50 years from now, I will still have those words from my grandpa.

Anyhow, I came across this on MSN. It’s “10 Easy Secrets of Good Grammar”. Anytime someone can explain grammar in an intelligent and amusing way? Gold Star.

1. English isn’t Latin
Yes, this sounds horribly obvious. But it means you can shove a few important things right back in your middle-school teacher’s face at your class reunion. For example, you can split an infinitive (in Latin, infinitives are one word and can’t be split). So, if you want “to boldly go,” be my guest. Likewise, it means a preposition is an OK word to end a sentence with.

2. “I” isn’t always the more educated choice
Use “I” when you’re the subject of the sentence. Use “me” when you’re not. If someone is doing something with you, to you, or for you, for example, use “me.” “The teacher was talking with Susan and me about our test scores.” It’s been drummed in our heads so often that “I” is always the proper choice that even really eloquent speakers like President Obama slip up here. He’s said things like “the main disagreement with John and I,” for example. It’s true that English hasn’t always observed these distinctions between “I” and “me.” But careful writers and speakers do today. You might not be taken to task in the New York Times as President Obama was, but chances are, someone will notice and scowl.

3. Semicolons are easy to use
Semicolons are the Rodney Dangerfield of punctuation. They’re called bad names. They’re avoided by professional writers and scared students alike. But they’re easy to use and so fun to write; no one should feel intimidated. Use them to separate two closely related sentences if you don’t want the full stop of a period. Or, use them to separate a list of items that already has commas in it. For example: “I have a lot of favorite book characters: Harry Potter, who has a scarred forehead; Hazel the bunny, who is the bravest character in “Watership Down;” and Eugenidies, the title character in “The Thief,” because he is sarcastic and clever.”

4. Apostrophes: also very easy
Women in labor aren’t the only ones with contractions. Words experience them, too — especially when two have come together to make a whole new word (something that sounds icky and personal, but really isn’t). Have+not has a wee baby called “haven’t.” The apostrophe stands in for what’s missing. They’re also used in some possessives. So, all the president’s men … the chicken’s beak … that sort of thing. There is an exception. Possessive pronouns don’t need apostrophes. Yours, his, hers, its, ours, theirs: These words are inherently possessive, so you don’t need to gussy them up with any punctuation.

Apostrophes are generally not used to make plurals. It’s ABCs, not ABC’s. It’s the 1990s, not the 1990’s. There is an exception. If you’re talking about the A’s and B’s you got in class, or any plural form of a word with only one letter, the world will not come to an end if you stick an apostrophe in there. It does, after all, make clear the difference between “A’s” and “As.” The Apostrophe Protection Society might come after you, but they’re all the way in England, so you’ll most likely be safe.

5. Is it bad or badly? Good or well?
I feel … um, which is it? It all depends on what you want to say. There is a common misperception that “feel” and “am” are verbs that can only be modified by adverbs. It’s true that adverbs modify adjectives and verbs. But some verbs are what we call linking verbs. These link a modifier to the subject. I can feel “bad” just as I can feel crabby, grumpy or happy. (Have you ever heard someone say, “Oh, I feel happily today!” Of course not.) Likewise, you can feel “well” if you are talking about your health. It doesn’t mean you have perceptive fingertips. You can also say “I feel good” or “I am good.” It all depends on what you mean to say, so don’t let anyone force a non-rule down your throat.

Want More Martha?

6. Remember to be agreeable
It’s best when your subjects and verbs agree. In the world of grammar, this means you match singular subjects with singular verbs and pronouns. You can get away with saying, “Someone left ‘their’ coat in the bus.” But it’s just as easy to say “Someone left a coat on the bus,” therefore avoiding the inelegant pairing. Likewise, when you have two subjects, you need a plural verb. The apple and orange taste funny.

7. Be careful with those modifiers
What’s wrong with this sentence? Creaking open, the cat slunk through the door. Unless the cat has hinges, it’s the door that creaks open. It’s easy to stick a modifier in the wrong place, and it can result in unintended hilarity. It’s best to put your modifier right next to the word it describes. Beware those little phrases that sometimes insert themselves in the beginning of sentences. If yours doesn’t directly modify the subject, which usually comes right after the comma, you might have a misplaced modifier.

8. Punctuating with quotation marks
In American English, punctuation usually goes inside the quotation marks. There are some wee exceptions. So, it would be either: Did you just say “Look! A hamster”? Or, She said, “Have you seen my hamster?” Semicolons and colons also go outside the punctuation marks.

9. The dictionary is your friend.
OK, so this is my first cheat. It’s like asking the genie for infinite wishes as a way of working around the three-wish cap. But it’s not like I’m going to get fired for this, so … Use a dictionary. You’d be surprised how many questions I get in my SPOGG inbox that could very easily be answered with the aid of a good a dictionary. I do offer a small caveat: Not all dictionaries agree on everything. (I know! This is sort of like finding out that the Wizard of Oz is just an old guy behind a curtain. Dictionaries are made by people. People who have varying opinions. Weird.) My favorite is the Oxford English Dictionary. If your library subscribes, you can get free access. Otherwise, there’s a fee. You’ll learn where the word came from, what it means, and how it has been used over time.

10. Everyone should have a language guide or two (or three) nearby

Dictionaries tend to be cursory when it comes to how words should be combined and punctuated. Grammar books, on the other hand, revel in this sort of thing.

The Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar has a book called “Things That Make Us [Sic],” and it’s about funny bad grammar in advertisements, politics and Hollywood, among other things. People who liked “Eats, Shoots and Leaves” will like it.

For a more practical reference, there’s Bryan Garner’s “A Dictionary of Modern Usage.” Organized alphabetically, it’s packed with quick answers to common language questions. He also has a daily e-mail newsletter that points out the differences between such words as “mucus” and “mucous,” along with drier fare.

Mignon Fogarty’s book, “Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing,” is punchy and useful for people who don’t write for a living, but do have to write for work or school. Two books by Bill Walsh, “The Elephants of Style” and “Comma Sense,” are great for professional writers or people who care deeply about hyphens and the subtle differences they can make (along with a lot of other fine points of language).

Weekend Recap.

This weekend was exactly what I needed.

By the time Spencer got home Friday, my apartment was clean and I was in comfy pants on the couch. We played video games while we were on Skype together. The whole distance thing doesn’t seem as bad when we have video game nights.

Saturday I slept in. (I can’t remember the last time I slept in). And I spent the day picking out a kitty with Grams. Meet Mamma Mia:

She is incredibly sweet. And the name is PERFECT. My Grams got an IPod for her birthday in May, and she had me put on three CD’s right away : ABBA Gold, Mamma Mia (The Movie Soundtrack), and Mamma Mia (The Broadway Soundtrack). Really, there was no other name for this sweet cat that just had babies. Mia. I love her markings. She is all white with tabby spots. Love it.

Saturday night I drank tea and read a whole lot of Danny Evan’s book “Rage Against the Meshugenah“. Danny is hilarious, if you don’t read his blog yet– it’s over here.

Sunday, I went to lunch and a movie with Terra. We went and saw “The Proposal”. Was it completely contrived and unoriginal, yes. Did I love it anyhow, yes. Maybe it is because I have a huge, huge crush on Ryan Reynolds. He is TOTALLY in my hot tub.
Tonight I am starting a boot camp with Terra. I am really excited about it. I had so much fun doing my last bootcamp– sharing the pain with 20 other people. This bootcamp is only once a week, and not at the butt crack of dawn. I am particularly excited because I am so much more fit/healthy than last time I did my boot camp. I have lost 15 pounds since then, and have worked out regularly. Hopefully that means I can run a bit longer and faster. :)