Thursday, November 27, 2008

100 Notable Books of 2008

Oh how I love a book list. The New York Times has their top 100 Notable books of 2008. A little premature, but not many books are left to debut this year. 

Note: I would agree, these are NOTABLE, not necessarily the BEST books of the year. Otherwise, where is David Sedaris? Malcolm Gladwell? Sophie Kinsella? Emily Giffin? Also the Hubs is reading a book about a guy who was an undercover Hell's Angel. And it's awesome from what I've read. I mean, why not that book? 

Anyway... it is a sad excuse because of all these notables, I've read two. TWO! Sad but true. 

AMERICAN WIFE. By Curtis Sittenfeld. (Random House, $26.) The life of this novel’s heroine — a first lady who comes to realize, at the height of the Iraq war, that she has compromised her youthful ideals — is conspicuously modeled on that of Laura Bush.

BEAUTIFUL CHILDREN. By Charles Bock. (Random House, $25.) This bravura first novel, set against a corruptly compelling Las Vegas landscape, revolves around the disappearance of a surly 12-year-old boy.

How many have you read

Monday, November 24, 2008

Gobble, gobble...

It's almost US Thanksgiving and you know what that means...

Run for your lives, turkeys!

This is why you should travel to another country on your own country's holidays. That way you can save the Holiday Animal!

On Canadian Thanksgiving, I tried to do my part by going to Cape Cod. Because it was not American Thanksgiving, there were no turkeys on menus. Instead, we ate more lobsters than I can count. Okay, I'll count anyway...

First: The lobsters in their swimming pool. Swim Lobsters, Swim!

Sadly, they all didn't get away. And thus, they became...

Lobster ravioli.

Lobster Panini.

Whole lobster with lemon and butter.

Stuffed Lobster.

Lobster Newburg.

Lobster Roll.

Actually, I feel a little bit sad about all the lobsters that died on my trip. But, at least I saved the turkeys! In fact, the turkeys were not worried at all. As we were driving back from the Cape in the dark, my friend suddenly screamed and slammed on the breaks.

I thought for sure she'd just seen an axe murderer and we were all going to die. But instead, on the road was a gaggle (a goggle? a herd? a pack?) of turkeys! Look hard... it's dark out.

Turkey crossing.

Eventually, the turkeys moved to the other side of the road, but it just goes to show how peaceful all the animals are when they know they're not about to be eaten. I mean, you wouldn't see this many turkeys flitting about the day before Canadian Thanksgiving in Canada, would you?

So this weekend, if you are American, I strongly encourage you to flee your country and save the turkeys! Eat chickens! Eat pigs! Eat lobsters!

This weekend, we're kidnapping my American sister-in-law and brother-in-law and bringing them to Quebec for the weekend. Where we will eat frogs' legs, escargot and poutine. Save the turkeys!

Friday, November 21, 2008

It's Twilight Day...

I have to say, I was never very excited about the Twilight series.

Then, I discovered Robert Pattinson. Can you even seriously tell me you don't love him?

Also, I started to read the books, and against my will, I am hooked. Why am I surprised? I loved the Lost Boys. Okay, so not the same thing. Anyway, I am madly attempting to finish the first book before I see the movie. You know what that means: Tess of the d'Urbervilles is getting cold on the nightstand. Poor Tess. Mmm, Robert....

Happy weekend!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Tess of the D'Urbervilles

Is it just me or is there really nothing on TV right now? Which is very good for reading.

Right now I'm reading Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy for my bookclub. Since the book was written like 124 years ago, I decided to head to my neighbourhood used bookstore, Eliot Bookshop, to pick it up, rather than pay full price at Indigo. I headed upstairs to the literature section, only to find that the store had every other possible book by Thomas Hardy except Tess. Which was too bad because the average price of each book was about $2.50. A steal! When I headed back downstairs, the lovely bookseller asked me if there was something in particular I was looking for.

"Tess of the D'Urbervilles," I told him.

"There's a copy here," a man near the door said and pulled out a near-first edition of the book from the classics wall.

"The book gods are smiling down on you," the bookseller said and rang the book in.

I think they were likely laughing. I had to pay $11 for my ancient copy. Eleven dollars! But what was I going to say? No, I don't want the pretty, near-first edition copy. I'll just go spend the same amount for a cheap, new imitation that was printed last year? So I bought it. And I hav e to admit, it does feel sort of special to read something so old. All the pages are brown and it's a hardcover but it's pocket-sized (in height, if not in depth) and there's still a dustjacket on it, even if it is rather tattered. Still, I'm only on Chapter 2. There may very well be something like 824 chapters. I'm pretending that it's taking me so long to read it because I am only allowed to read it at home. I mean, I don't want to just toss the book in my handbag in case pages start falling out or something.

Anyway, at the LCBO on the weekend, I was picking out a bottle of wine to take to a friend's wine and cheese party, when I noticed a bottle of Australian wine called Thomas Hardy. Is there a more appropriate bottle to take to my bookclub meeting when we discuss Tess? Except, it was $87. I'm not sure I love Tess or Thomas Hardy that much at this point to salute him with a bottle of wine when I could buy a pair of shoes for that price.

Is that horrible?

Friday, November 14, 2008

Who are Susan and Tony?

Every year my stepmom and dad go to a Halloween party at their friends' house. This year, my stepmom emailed to say they were going as Susan and Tony.

Who? I thought. I know they're Sopranos fans, so I thought maybe Susan was Tony's wife? Clearly, I stopped watching Sopranos in Season 2 and have forgotten all the characters' names.

Of course, Susan and Tony could be Survivor players. The odds that there's a Tony. There was definitely a Susan or two. Remember Trucker Sue? My parents would know if here was also a Tony. They are self-professed "#1 Survivor fans!" They haven't missed a season or an episode. They can tell anyone the rules of any game.

Oh sure, I like to tease them about this. I mean, come on. Survivor? It's like Season 17 or something. It's time to move on. Of course, tell that to them. They're still watching ER. Which means, Susan and Tony could be on ER. I know there was a Doctor Susan, who was on the show, left the show and came back to the show...

Still, it was then that I realized I may make fun, but maybe, I am not cool.

My parents are cooler than me.

I couldn't even bring myself to ask who Susan and Tony were, because clearly, if this couple needs NO last name introduction, they are pop-culture-fabulous and I should know who they are.

I am so lame.

"Sounds great!" I emailed back to my stepmom in response to the costume idea. Then, waited, for days, until they finally figured out how to upload pictures of themselves in costume for me to see.

And then, my dad emailed. Only, instead of the usual pics from his slightly outdated camera, which he has to send one picture at a time because his laptop is so ancient it can't handle anymore than that, I got an email with the subject line:

Check out my great iPhotos!

Not only is my father now in possession of a super sleek MacBook, but also, an iPhone, with which he took the pictures.

He was dressed in a grey suit. My stepmom had a red slinky dress and long black wig on.

I still had no idea who they were, though they looked fantastic!

Thankfully, his email said: Susan and Tony from Dancing with the Stars.

So then I went to hunt for this picture on the information superhighway, and saw all of the costumes Susan wore, and read her daily blog of the schedule and the dances, and was suddenly so sad I had missed this season so far and had absolutely no idea she was even on DWTS.

I then returned to my rock of lame, where I like to hide.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The psychic.

On the weekend, I went to a psychic for the first time. 

She was SO real. Her cat had RED eyes. I'm not even kidding. And it was a Siamese cat and aren't they supposed to have BLUE eyes? 

My two friends and I were sitting at the table together during the readings, so the psychic said that the spirits might get confused and she might say things about one of the other two while reading one of us. Which actually happened. Like when she told me I'd be going on a ski vacation soon (TRUE! And I haven't been on a ski vacation in 10 years, so how could she have guessed that?) but that it would be in Colorado with family (not true - we're going to Quebec), but my friend's family is all in Colorado. 

Then, she said one of our friends was having a baby with the EXACT name of the baby that my other friend is naming the baby that is inside her AT THIS VERY MINUTE, waiting to be born.

She told me I would move into another unit in my building that I've had my eye on for a long time and that it has a bigger terrace and I will love living there. This is EXACTLY what happened five years ago to me, after the Hubs proposed. We moved up seven floors in our building to a suite we'd had our eye on forever. 

She also told me that I've been teaching a class recently. I mean, how could she know that?!

There were some things that I'm not sure are going to come true, though. Like the baby named Mark I'm going to have in 2 years. Oh really? But she said I would have this baby at the same time as someone in my family, and then she told me the name of that person, which is the name of my stepsister! The same stepsister who is getting married this year, so in all likelihood of the way things work in life (I mean, other than me), she WOULD be having a baby in two years. 

Then she also told me the name of a sick relative, which was true. And sad. 

But, she also said I am angry. Am I angry? I don't feel angry! Maybe I'm suppressing it! 

What the psychic did not tell me was that I would lose my mitten this week. If I'd known I was going to lose my mitten, I would've been more careful when taking them off. If you see my mitten, can you let me know? I'm sure he's scared without his twin. 

Maybe I'm supposed to be angry about my lost mitten? But I'm not, I'm just sad. I liked my mitten.

Friday, November 7, 2008


It's officially NaNoWriMo. What is NaNoWriMo? It's National Novel Writing Month.
That's right. It's time to write a novel. Or 50,000 words, whichever comes first. In one month. Starting November 1st. Which was actually six days ago, but it's not too late to join! Because if you do write 50,000 words, you win! What do you win, exactly? Well, the satisfaction of completing a task on deadline.

Normally I'm all about deadlines. Actually, I don't think I do anything without a deadline. That is the joy of working in a field that's driven by deadlines. I can't not write a magazine article because I didn't feel like it and just send a blank page to the printer because SOMEONE will notice the blank page in the magazine. Really. People notice blank pages. One blank page might be fun, though. Because you could doodle, make a list, draw a picture, or write your own story and pretend you're published in your favourite magazine, like US Weekly or The Enquirer. Personally, I'm all about Real Simple. But more than one blank page, well, that would be too much. Anyway...

I need deadlines, which is why novel writing can be tricky, because you often don't have a deadline. When I first started writing my first book, I didn't even have an agent, so there was absolutely no one waiting for my novel, which was still in my head at that point. Now, it's easier, because I can give things to my agent to read, though whenever I ask her for a deadline, she tells me to give it to her when it's done. Hmm. So I have to set my own deadlines. Which is why NaNoWriMo is so great. To make it work though, it's best to try to write every single day. Because, like eating breakfast or flossing your teeth, you really need 30 days to make something a habit, so if you write, no matter how little, every day, it will become easier and easier every day.

Of course, there are always excuses. On November 1st, I had to finish reading my bookclub book (The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie society, which was SO, SO good. It's set post-WWI in Guernsey, which is in the Channel Islands, and is about a bookclub and romance and a pig and potato peels, which they used to make a pie).

Then, the next day I had to go to a wedding. And then the day after taht I had to make a potato pie because it was bookclub night and it's a potluck and everyone makes something mentioned or inspired by the book of the month.

See how easy it is to make excuses for not writing? I could go on, such as: once Monday hit I had to go back to work (to write words on pages that go to the printer so they're not blank) and watched The Hills (can you believe Heidi got fired?) and then go to the mall (to buy myself a present for doing NaNoWriMo). See how good I am at making excuses?

The thing is, excuses don't get a novel written in 30 days. Writing does. So even though you can do all those other things, you also have to write, write, write. But it's not that hard, really. Because YOU get to pick the topic and YOU get to write whatever words you want and then they're YOURS.

Don't you want to do NaNoWriMo too? You should! Then we can be in it together! Peer pressure rocks!

Okay. I am done with my excuse for the day (Update Blog). Back to writing!