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  • Nicole Hill 4:34 pm on 2017/06/15 Permalink
    Tags: , , funny stuff, ,   

    The Book Nerd’s Guide to Breaking Up With a Series 

    Welcome to the Book Nerd’s Guide to Life! Every other week, we convene in this safe place to discuss the unique challenges of life for people whose noses are always wedged in books. For past guides, click here.  

    As wise prophets throughout the years have said, breaking up is hard to do. Even in an amicable separation—when both parties choose to leave, parting as friends—it’s not a clean process. There are swirls of emotions, pangs of regrets, bookshelves to empty and split.

    The process of breaking up with books themselves can be just as painful. As we discussed last time we were together, falling in love with a book is a real and powerful sensation. Within the space of a single narrative, you can form a long-lasting relationship; one book is enough ammunition to annoy your family, friends, acquaintances, and casual hangers-on with your repeated recommendations for the rest of your natural life.

    That’s nothing, though, compared to the investment of time and emotional energy when you’re in it for the long haul with a book series. If I had a nickel for every tear I’ve cried over the Outlander series, I’d have enough money and financial stability to support two husbands. Two handsome husbands, each desirable in a unique way and conveniently separated by hundreds of years.

    But I digress. The point is, I’ve invested a lot of myself into this continuing series of ever-expanding doorstopper novels, and I’m on the hook for the rest of forever. There’s no going back, just as there was no way to back out of Hogwarts and just as there is no option but to wait the interminable wait for Winds of Winter. I have entered into lifelong commitments, no matter the ultimately satisfying emotional distress each of these romances might cause.

    But what happens when a book relationship becomes toxic? When is it time to pull the plug on a series? As I see it, all of these situations fall into four categories.

    Pull the Plug

    Let’s say you loved the first book in a planned four-book series, but you hated its follow-up. You’re halfway through the series, and you’re only 50 percent satisfied. I’m not a mathematician—which is why I’m here talking to you—but those numbers don’t yield a whole lot of return on investment. If you barely made it through New Moon, you’re not going to be in a good frame of mind by the time you hit Renesmee. Bail out before you totally forget the good times you did have with the story. It’s better for all parties involved.

    There’s Some Gray Area

    You absolutely adored the first two books—in fact, you forced them onto your book club’s schedule even though they were outside the genre specifications. You thought the third book was okay, but had to slog through the fourth and fifth novels. You thought the sixth book was going to be the last, but the author pulled a switcheroo and, no, now the series is going to have seven installments.

    What do you when you’ve soured on a series with two full books left? You have to be honest with yourself: how much do you still care about these characters? Do you need to know what happens to them? Were your favorites killed off and now there’s only the annoying rabble left? Is your to-read list eight times longer than all the books in this series stacked together? If so, it seems safe to cut your losses.

    But if you still hold a torch for the hero (you just question his life choices), then maybe two books aren’t all that much of a burden to bear. After all, conclusions are exciting, and you just might find the magic you lost in the middle of the story. 

    Stick with It

    If you’ve stuck by a series over the years, novel after novel, and it’s down to the final installment, just keep going. It doesn’t matter if you’ve disliked nine of the twelve books. If you truly loathed them, you would have stopped reading years ago. There’s something in this story you just can’t quit. Go back and reread the first novel. There’s a good chance it’ll remind you why you first flirted with the series, and that will help propel you to the finish line.

    By the time you’ve read all but one book in a series, you’ve poured too much of yourself into the effort to quit. You owe your younger, less haggard self the closure. Stay strong and tie up the loose ends, though no one’s saying you have to run out and buy the hardcover on release day. Take your time. See it through. In the long run, you’ll thank yourself.

    Chart Your Own Territory

    But what if your book series doesn’t fall into a nice linear story? What if it’s a Discworld situation, and the story moves in one thousand directions across close to fifty novels? Let’s say of those thousand directions, you only like five. It’s important to remember that Congress shall establish no law tying you to the output of a genre, author, or expansive book series. You’re a free-thinking individual, and you should feel free to read only the installments you like in a nonlinear book series.

    If you’ve lucked into falling in and out of love with a series of novels that work as standalones, you have the best kind of relationship trouble. You can follow the characters you love, and leave for dead the characters you don’t. This is living the dream, my friends.

    The post The Book Nerd’s Guide to Breaking Up With a Series appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Jeff Somers 7:30 pm on 2017/05/24 Permalink
    Tags: , , , diaries, funny stuff, , ,   

    10 Hilarious, Remarkable, and Poignant Moments in David Sedaris’ Theft by Finding 

    The humor of David Sedaris is often so understated it feels perfectly naturalistic, as if he’s simply making up droll anecdotes off the top of his head. But Sedaris worked at his craft for decades, and often despaired of ever succeeding at the writing game.

    This struggle is at the center of Sedaris’ new book, Theft by Finding, a collection literally taken from the diaries he has kept for more than forty years. Unvarnished, these entries offer up plenty of interesting and funny moments, some of which also serve as launchpads for his famous essays. Here are just ten moments in Theft by Finding (which ends in 2002, with a second volume to follow) that are alternatively hilarious, touching, and thought-provoking.

    Rapid-Fire Wit
    In the introduction, Sedaris interrupts a thoughtful rumination on the process of keeping a diary: “The point is to find out who you are and to be true to that person. Because so often you can’t. Won’t people turn away if they know the real me? you wonder. That me that hates my own child, that put my perfectly healthy dog to sleep? The me who thinks, deep down, that maybe The Wire was overrated?”

    At the bottom of the page, a footnote addresses what Sedaris hilariously imagines is the gravest sin admitted to in that paragraph: “I do not think The Wire was overrated.”

    The Banality of Evil
    Sedaris encounters all manner of freaks, weirdos, and oddballs, especially during his penniless days working odd jobs and obsessing over money. He never fails to make these moments count by injecting them with sophisticated humor. “Jews in concentration camps had shaved heads and tattoos,” he writes at one point about a skinhead in Chicago, “you’d think the anti-Semites would go for a different look.”

    Mistakes, He’s Made a Few
    One of the most remarkable aspects of reading Sedaris’ diary entries is how much we already know about his low moments and bad habits. Early on, in one of the first glimpses of his drug-fueled youth, he writes “Todd and I each took three hits of sugar cube acid. Too much. It was a real bad trip, like torture, enough to turn someone into a Christian.”

    The Time Machine
    Another fascinating aspect of Theft by Finding is literally traveling back in time through Sedaris’ writing. This comes through as both throwaway lines that remind us of zeitgeists past (“No matter where you go, you cannot escape the Bee Gees”) and devastating moments that call to mind what we have survived (in July 1981, Sedaris writes, “There is a new cancer that strikes only homosexual men. I heard about it on the radio tonight.”)

    The Heartbreak Kid
    Part of Sedaris’ appeal is the sad-sack aspect of his persona; he encounters the sort of terrible people we’re all far too familiar with—and he manages to turn his anger and hurt into savage humor, as in this line about a duplicitous lover named Brant he meets as a young man: “During sex he kept telling me that he loved me and wanted to get married, presumably in the next five weeks before he returns to Norfolk for the Summer.”

    He drops the hammer in the next entry: “I called the number Brant gave me, and it was made up.”

    Self-Awareness for the Win
    While it’s possible these entries have been edited and massaged more than we know, they remain remarkably clear-eyed. After the subject of attempting sobriety after being “drunk every night for the past eighteen years” comes up, Sedaris adds in this two-sentence entry: “Today I saw a one-armed dwarf carrying a skateboard. It’s been ninety days since I’ve had a drink.”

    Days of Future Past
    It’s thrilling when kernels of Sedaris’ formal work pop up in his diaries—you can almost see the wheels turning, as when he alludes to his time at SantaLand: “Yesterday a woman had her son pee into a cup, which of course tipped over. ‛That’s fine,’ I said, ‛but Santa’s also going to need a stool sample.’”

    Substance Humor
    The diary never treats Sedaris’ drinking and drug abuse in a melodramatic way, and it’s often the source of some of the book’s funniest bits, as when he describes the suffering of a hungover friend: “You’d think an adult would know better: beer on wine, you’re fine. Wine on beer, stand clear. But eleven Prosecco cocktails should not precede anything, not even a twelfth.”
    These are, it goes without saying, words to live by.

    Full Heart
    It’s not all jokes and skinheads; Sedaris also celebrates life’s incredible moments along the way, as when he first meets his future husband, Hugh: “I…got him to say that he hated me, which usually means the opposite….When I turned around to look at him, I saw that he’d turned around as well. It was romantic.”

    Simple Hilarity
    No matter how serious life gets, though, Sedaris can’t help but be funny, so let’s just include three random moments of hilarity we loved:

    “Talked to Rodrigo, who uses camebackir as a verb meaning ‛to come back.’ Nosotros comebackamos. ‛We come back.’”

    “Tiffany…is living in Queens and selling cocaine to make money. Before this she worked at Macy’s for a Belgian chocolate company. I think hers is what you call a checkered career.”

    “It turned out they were a pair of Jehovah’s Witnesses. This is better than being a pair of thieves, but still.”

    Theft by Finding is a surprising and unique work, the raw experiences of one of our most accomplished humorists and writers laid bare for our amusement and inspection. It’s also almost novelistic in the story of a life that it paints, slowly revealing themes, recurring characters, and a narrative drive that mirrors Sedaris’ development as a human being and an artist. In a word, it’s terrific.

    Shop all literary biography >

    The post 10 Hilarious, Remarkable, and Poignant Moments in David Sedaris’ Theft by Finding appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Molly Schoemann-McCann 5:00 pm on 2016/11/11 Permalink
    Tags: bnstorefront-funnyfemaleentertainers, , entertainers we love, funny stuff,   

    7 Fascinating and Funny Female Entertainers 

    Celebs: They’re just like us! Except, not really! You don’t become a celebrity without accumulating some pretty great stories—about your humble pre-celebrity days, your rise to fame, and the madness that comes with being fame, including a ton of perks, a pile of drawbacks, and a heap of Twitter followers. Here are some of the most entertaining memoirs, tell-alls, and essay collections from famous folks we’d love to share a round of eggnog with.

    The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo, by Amy Schumer
    The inimitable Amy Schumer, known for her brash and unabashed standup comedy (as well as her Emmy-winning show Inside Amy Schumer and Hollywood blockbuster Trainwreck), has published a memoir, and it’s not what you’d expect. Yes, it’s full of humor and, yes, Schumer has plenty to say about sex, but The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo surprises readers by introducing them to an Amy fans and critics have never met. Schumer’s autobiography reveals a woman both more complex and more ordinary than the persona seen on stage and screen.

    Diary of a Mad Diva, by Joan Rivers
    Speaking of which, Amy Schumer LOVES her some Joan. But then, who doesn’t? Diary of a Mad Diva is exactly that: a journal (given to Joan by daughter Melissa) loaded with hysterical, no-holds-barred rants and acid-tongued tirades. Rivers spares no one in its pages: celebrities, political figures, family, even Joan herself are all victims of her unique comedic criticism and searing wit. Outrageously politically incorrect, Rivers’ diary touches on everything from slavery and Miley Cyrus to the Holocaust and anorexia. If you’re in the mood for impolite and unapologetic, look no further than Rivers’ personal chronicle.

    Yes, Please, by Amy Poehler
    Amy Poehler has delighted fans on the small screen (SNL, Upright Citizens Brigade, Parks and Recreation), the silver screen (Baby Mama, Blades of Glory, They Came Together), and onstage, alongside best pal Tina Fey at the Golden Globes. But Poehler is also on top of her game as a writer. Yes, Please is an equal parts delightful and devious autobiography that slays readers with both its excellent writing and top-notch hilarity. Presented in a mashup format of essays, poetry, lists, photography, and unsolicited advice, Yes, Please will—yes—please.

    How to be a Woman, by Caitlin Moran
    Caitlin Moran—British journalist, columnist, and world-renowned funny feminist—kills in this compendium of spot-on observations of the modern woman and honest insights into her own life as a writer, wife, woman, and mother. Though women have seemingly come a long way (“witches haven’t been burned since 1727, right?”), in How to be a Woman Moran admits there’s still much ground to cover, and shows where and how through witty insights on everything from cellulite and celebrities to strip clubs. This is a read that’s both insightful and insanely funny, perfect for the modern feminist.

    Bossypants, by Tina Fey
    No list of funny female authors is complete without the inimitable Tina Fey. Yes, Bossypants makes it onto lots of must-read lists, but there’s a reason why. This self-deprecating memoir produces uproarious laughter, which is something to keep in mind if you’re on a crowded train or in a quiet waiting room. In Bossypants, Fey details her lukewarm college love life, her early years of improv and working at the Y, her admission into the SNL ranks, and her disastrous honeymoon. She also dishes plenty on the battle of the sexes, her unorthodox style of parenting, and best friends (see: Amy Poehler). An absolute must-have for your shelf of comedy she-roes.

    Not That Kind of Girl, by Lena Dunham
    Lena Dunham, creator of HBO’s Girls, tells it like it is in Not That Kind of Girl. A collection of precocious essays about the tribulations of growing up girl, Dunham gifts readers with the nitty-gritty on her awkward sex life, the discriminating patriarchy of Hollywood, and her obsession with death. At times poignant, at others grim, but always, somehow, very, very funny, Not That Kind of Girl is a comedic coming-of-age exposé.

    Why Not Me?, by Mindy Kaling
    Known best for TV’s The Mindy Project, her role on The Office, and debut memoir Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns), Mindy Kaling is back and better than ever with Why Not Me? An assemblage of witty writings that cover (among other things) her “weird” relationship with BJ Novak, Hollywood sex scenes, hair extensions, and meeting Bradley Cooper and Obama, Why Not Me? is perhaps most notable for its comedic yet incredibly sage advice regarding being young, having confidence, and what women deserve.

    The post 7 Fascinating and Funny Female Entertainers appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Melissa Albert 4:30 pm on 2016/10/20 Permalink
    Tags: , , book trailers, funny stuff, trish cook,   

    Watch the Exclusive Trailer for Trish Cook’s Outward Blonde 

    Outward Blonde

    In Trish Cook’s fish-out-of-water YA comedy Outward Blonde,  16-year-old Manhattan It Girl Lizzie Finkelstein is about to get a very rude awakening. When her latest disastrous, liquor-inspired exploits result in not just an arrest but a viral video of which she is the star, her parents ship her off to dry out and learn a lesson at wilderness survival program Camp Smiley.

    Thrown in with troubled kids she’s sure she doesn’t belong with (aside from cute fellow camper Jack, of course…), Lizzie has to conquer wilderness tasks ranging from the kinda gross (surviving on way too many baked beans) to the difficult (making a fire with two sticks) to the downright miserable (digging your own toilet?!).

    The book’s fittingly hilarious trailer features a series of idyllic vignettes (“Outdoor Brunch,” “Private Showers,” “Beauty Sleep”) that quickly devolve into an urban socialite’s worst nightmare. Will Lizzie survive life in the wilderness? Check out Outward Blonde, available exclusively at Barnes & Noble, to find out!

    Outward Blonde is available now, exclusively at B&N!

    The post Watch the Exclusive Trailer for Trish Cook’s Outward Blonde appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Nicole Hill 3:45 pm on 2016/07/14 Permalink
    Tags: , funny stuff, , ,   

    The Book Nerd’s Guide to Critical Inventions 

    inventorWelcome to the Book Nerd’s Guide to Life! Every other week, we convene in this safe place to discuss the unique challenges of life for people whose noses are always wedged in books. For past guides, click here.

    My main bookmark (i.e., the one I have yet to misplace) reads, “Go to hell, I’m reading!” That is both a quote from comic book virtuoso Archie Goodwin and the motto on my future family’s coat of arms. You see, the only problem with books—besides the fact that they end—is the sheer number of distractions and outside obstacles you encounter while trying to read them. And that was before Pokemon Go, in the golden days when you could sit on a bench and make some headway on a novel without strangers hovering over you, trying to catch an Ivysaur. (Sorry, you’re just going to have to scope the area beforehand to make sure it’s nothing but Pidgeys. This is life now.)

    With this in mind, I’ve come to the realization that no one is coming to save me. If I want to improve my reading experience from here on out, I’m going to need to get some patents and some venture capital for ReadNeeds, the startup that will be the future of common-sense book tech. After examining the use cases and the business need, I’ve determined the first few items to come off the assembly line.

    A book light that doubles as a laser pointer for your cat
    It’s probably safe to wager there is a strong overlap between cat owners and bookworms. I myself have recently acquired a foster kitten. She is eight weeks old and appropriately bonkers, and her favorite piece of prey is any book left lying on any surface she can reach. She needs distraction, so as not to be mine. Book light/laser pointers already exist, but I’ve yet to find one suited for simultaneous use.

    An app that provides the infinite granularity of Netflix when recommending books
    Sure, there are plenty of places you cull book recs from—hopefully us included! But sometimes you have narrow and precise specifications when you’re searching through readalikes for some of your favorite books. Give me more Gritty Romances Featuring Strong Female Leads From the 1950s. (No, but really, should you, reader, have any suggestions…)

    A streaming service that matches music to your book
    There is nothing wrong with playlists like Soul Coffee or Down in the Dumps, but if you’re reading Nabokov, you need a very specific kind of music. That niche depth may be outside of the bounds of the Melancholia station.

    A stylish bookmark scout sash
    The best part about being a scout of any sort as a child was the sash, decked out with your plethora of badges pertaining to highly specific skill sets you may or may not have mastered. What I propose is less of an invention and more of a trend. Why can’t we bring sashes back? To accommodate for adulting, though, we’d substitute bookmarks for badges—because things have to be whimsical and practical. I’ve never had a bookmark I didn’t lose, and it’d be nice to have at least one on me at all times. Simultaneously, I enjoy the idea of festooning myself with flair like I’m the hostess at a Chotchkie’s, just as I presume the rest of you do.

    Something that tells people on the street what you’re reading without them having to ask
    Oh, wait, it’s called a book cover, folks.

    This, as we know, is only the beginning of our bookworm wish list. I encourage—nay, implore—you to come up with specs for your own much-needed reading inventions. Together, we can make the world a better, more utopian place for our kind.

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