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  • Jeff Somers 1:30 pm on 2018/05/16 Permalink
    Tags: alayna schroeder, big life changes, black & decker the book of home how-to, , buying a home: the missing manual, egypt sherrod, , home buying, home buying made slightly more simple, , , ilona bray, jack guttentag, jay anson, keep calm...it's just real estate, marcia stewart, marie kondo, mark montano, , nancy conner, nolo's essential guide to buying your first home, real simple: the organized home, the amityville horror, the big ass book of home decor, , the mortgage encyclopedia   

    10 Books Everyone Should Read Before Buying a Home 

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    Buying a home remains a huuuuge step in anyone’s life. While younger generations feel less pressure to hurry up and buy their own home, it’s still the ultimate goal of many of us to eventually own their own home. Homeownership is more than just a signal that you’re all grown up and ready to be an adult. It can also serve as an essential component of your net worth, retirement goals, and financial stability—not to mention a place where you can keep all of your stuff.

    But buying a house is scary—and it should be. It’s probably the single most expensive thing you’ll ever buy, the single largest loan you’ll ever take on, and one of the biggest responsibilities you’ll ever accept. Before you dive into mortgage brokers and real estate agents, open houses and the endless paperwork, here are ten books you should take some time to read in order to ensure you know exactly what you’ll be getting yourself into.

    Buying a Home: The Missing Manual, by Nancy Conner
    Start with some brass tacks. This book is a step-by-step guide that covers all the nuts-and-bolts aspects of buying a home, from choosing the house you want to assembling a real estate team ideal for your needs, figuring out mortgages and financing options, and dealing with inspections and other due diligence. If you think buying a home is a complex and overwhelming process, this book will take away much of the intimidation factor and mystery that surrounds many of the steps along the way.

    Nolo’s Essential Guide to Buying Your First Home, by Ilona Bray, Alayna Schroeder, and Marcia Stewart
    It’s always good to get a second opinion, and this guide covers similar ground to Conner’s book while offering a different perspective. Instead of one expert’s advice, this guide collects the wisdom of dozens of real estate professionals from every facet of the business—Realtors, loan officers, investors, landlords, buyers, and sellers. The end result is a plethora of advice, facts, and useful true stories from various perspectives that really make it easy to understand how things work and the impact of certain specific mistakes.

    Keep Calm … It’s Just Real Estate, by Egypt Sherrod
    If all the talk of mortgages, putting down roots, and dream homes is getting you anxious, you might want a more comforting tone. Sherrod, host of HGTV’s Property Virgins, offers a great mix of advice, facts, and humor in this book. The main takeaway from her advice is that buying your first home doesn’t have to be a stressful horrorshow if you take the time to do some research and be thoughtful in your choices. While this book isn’t as heavy on the facts and figures as the other guides mentioned, it’s a friendlier, kinder, and gentler approach that makes it easier to get your head around such a big decision while also making the process seem a lot easier and less frightening than it otherwise might.

    The Mortgage Encyclopedia, by Jack Guttentag
    The biggest part of the homebuying decision for most people is the mortgage, which is just a fancy term for “huge loan.” Many first-time buyers are stunned to discover how much they can borrow—or or how little—and mortgages come in so many shapes and sizes (and loan officers can be surprisingly creative in putting together financing packages) that it’s easy to worry that you’re going to get pressured into a bad deal. This comprehensive reference work offers everything you need to know about how mortgages work and the different options you’ll encounter, giving you the expertise you’ll need when figuring out how to finance your dreams.

    Real Simple: The Organized Home
    One thing many people fail to think about when searching for their first home is how they’ll organize it. Sometimes the problem is moving from a studio apartment to a 3,000 square foot home means you’ve got a card table in the dining room and absolutely nothing in the spare bedroom. Sometimes the problem kicks in when you clear out your storage units and discover you have turned your second bathroom into a place to store your boxes full of comic books. Either way, thinking about how you’ll organize your home before you move in will save you a lot of stress.

    The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo
    Similarly, Kondo’s runaway bestseller will get you into a crucial frame of mind: keeping things neat. A tidy, organized home will always seem bigger, newer, and in better shape than a disorganized, cluttered space. But when going from a relatively small space (or a space where cleaning and tidying duties were shared with others) to a larger space that’s all your own, keeping things neat can seem wearying and impossible. Let Marie Kondo show you the way before you move in.

    The Big Ass Book of Home Decor, by Mark Montano
    Something else you should start thinking about before you buy your first home is what you want it to look like. While some people grow up cutting out photos from magazines and collecting fabric swatches, just as many step into their first home and realize they have no idea how to choose paint colors, upholstery, and other home decor basics. Get a head start and reduce that first-week stress load by boning up on home decoration basics, while also getting a load of information about how to re-purpose items and otherwise make your new home pretty without spending a lot of money—money you probably don’t have because you just bought a house.

    Black & Decker The Book of Home How-To
    Once you’re in the house, trust us: no matter how comprehensive your home inspection was, things will go wrong. Repairing and maintaining your new house is an essential part of protecting your investment, and if you want to save yourself a boatload of money along the way, learning how to do at least some basic stuff is an absolute must. This book offers easy-to-follow guides on all the basics you’re going to face, offering an overview of everything that gives just enough information without overwhelming you with complicated details you simply don’t need to know about. Having this book packed up in a box before you move will give you some peace of mind.

    Finally, house-hunting can be so exciting you overlook some of the possible problems, so here are a couple of books to remind you to consider everything that can go wrong—or at least to deflate that sense of optimism that might lead you to buy more house than you can handle, or to ignore downsides. In the horror classic The Amityville Horror, by Jay Anson, you’ll get a good dose of house-hunting paranoia as the Lutz family is driven from their dream home in just a month by a malevolent force they maintain was very real. And in Mark Z. Danielewski’s modern classic House of Leaves a family discovers that their house is larger on the inside than the outside—something that might be cause for celebration when you’ve just finished calculating your price-per-square foot, but which serves as a reminder that no matter how much due diligence you do, a house is a place of secrets.

    Now that you’ve done the reading, go ahead and start house-hunting. Just remember the biggest lesson from those TV shows: don’t fret about the colors on the walls. Paint is cheap.

    What books would you recommend to potential homebuyers?

    The post 10 Books Everyone Should Read Before Buying a Home appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Kathryn Williams 7:28 pm on 2015/12/28 Permalink
    Tags: a joyful 2016, , , life-changing magic: a journal: spark joy every day, marie kondo, , ,   

    Ring in a Tidy New Year with Marie Kondo’s Spark Joy 

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    There’s a saying I heard once: “Messy bed, messy head.” I’m not a particularly neat person, but this bit of mother-knows-best wisdom stuck with me. When I make my bed in the morning, I feel that much more equipped to conquer the day. The decks are cleared and possibilities are open. In 2016, I’m thinking of upping the ante. What if I could get that made-bed feeling throughout my whole house, and do it with Marie Kondo?

    In 2014’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, Kondo (aka KonMari) introduced readers to the “Japanese art of decluttering and organizing.” But the KonMari Method isn’t just about neatening; it’s about changing your relationship to your world, starting with all the stuff that populates it. Discarding what we don’t need and surrounding ourselves only with those things that bring us joy is transformative, Kondo believes.

    Still, KonMari acolytes clamored for more. “But, KonMari, how do I fold a dolman-sleeved top?” they cried. “And what about that stuffed bear from my ex?” Kondo’s millions of fans will be delighted to hear that the tidying lessons will continue with Spark Joy, the “master class” in the KonMari Method. Here’s how her new book goes even further than her first, bestselling smash:

    • More detailed instruction. Kondo goes through every category of thing you might have in your home, even those that are hard to classify, telling you how to sort it, how to tell whether it truly brings joy (yes, even a screwdriver can make you happy), and how to store it. Cosplay outfits? Check. Greeting cards? Check. Sewing kits and calligraphy pens? She’s got you covered.
    •  Illustrations. Step-by-step drawings show how to fold specific types of clothing. Super helpful when it comes to that puffy, hooded parka.
    • Decorating tips. If you love to decorate, tidying can still work for you! Kondo is not against trinkets and decoration, as long as they bring you joy. Drape keychains, for example, over clothes hangers for a little mood-lifting sparkle in your own private space. Wrap electrical cords in pretty fabric, she also suggests, and use flowers to bring color to a room.
    • How to deal with others’ stuff. Kondo also tackles the all-important question of how to get kids and spouses involved, or how to “be like the sun” and accept them—and their messes—if your motivation is not, in fact, contagious. The process might even better your relationships.
    • A companion journal. In addition to this followup edition, Kondo has also brought us Life-Changing Magic: A Journal: Spark Joy Every Day. a daily journal sprinkled with Kondo quotes and inspiration for those looking to dig deeper into their organizing processes. When you’re seeking out the delight in everyday moments, the question, “does it spark joy?” will start to resonate not only about things and spaces but also about relationships, people, and activities.
    • Reminders of why this process is so important. When the going gets tough, even the tough need pep talks. For those readers losing steam against a mountain of stuff, this little book will be a helpful reminder of the reasons why you want a tidy home. That simple answer is: joy.

    Here’s to good tidyings of comfort and joy in 2016!

  • Heidi Fiedler 6:00 pm on 2015/08/19 Permalink
    Tags: all about love: new visions, , daring greatly, help yourself, living beautifully, marie kondo, , the 5 love languages, the four agreements, the joy diet, , the power of now   

    August’s Self-Improvement IQ Test 

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    Self-help readers are always looking for new ideas that will transform their lives from blah to beautiful. Every new read offers the promise of improvement and insights that can break through the fog of modern life to spark enlightenment. The best books are packed with quotes that may become personal mantras. How many of the gems below do you recognize? If you can identify more than 5, you’re already a bodhisattva. Less than 5? Fear not! Simply pick up a copy of Improving Your Memory for Dummies. 

    1. “Does this spark joy? If it does, keep it. If not, dispose of it.”
    2. “There’s a great satisfaction in knowing that we’ve made good use of our days, that we’ve lived up to our expectations of ourselves.”
    3. “Love is something you do for someone else, not something you do for yourself.”
    4. “True love does have the power to redeem but only if we are ready for redemption. Love saves us only if we want to be saved.”
    5. “Realize deeply that the present moment is all you have. Make the NOW the primary focus of your life.”
    6. “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. You receive from the world what you give to the world.”
    7. “1. Be impeccable with your word. 2. Don’t take anything personally. 3. Don’t make assumptions. 4. Always do your best. “
    8. “If anything is worth doing, it is worth doing it badly.”
    9. “Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage.”
    10. “If your mind is expansive and unfettered, you will find yourself in a more accommodating world, a place that’s endlessly interesting and alive. That quality isn’t inherent in the place but in your state of mind.”


    1. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo
    2. Better Than Before, by Gretchen Rubin
    3. The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts, by Gary Chapman
    4. All About Love: New Visions, by bell hooks
    5. The Power of Now, by Eckhart Tolle
    6. The Seat of the Soul, by Gary Zukav
    7. The Four Agreements, by Don Miguel Ruiz
    8. The Joy Diet, by Martha Beck
    9. Daring Greatly, by Brené Brown
    10. Living Beautifully, by Pema Chodron
  • Heidi Fiedler 3:00 pm on 2015/04/07 Permalink
    Tags: , marie kondo, ,   

    5 Things I Learned from The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo 

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    If you’re like me, when you saw that slim book with the dreamy cover sitting on the front table of Barnes & Noble, you thought, Magic tidying? As in cleaning? Harumph. But in her book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, Marie Kondo, guru of decluttering and organization, uses the term earnestly to capture two ideas: After years of tackling her clients’ nightmarish closets, she has some simple secrets that will make your tidying efforts feel less hopeless and more useful; and she believes the real magic comes after you’ve tidied up and see the powerful effects of living in a peaceful home ripple throughout your life. I’m not sure I’m ready to call it magic quite yet, but I did walk away inspired in a way I don’t feel after a bout of drooling over Pinterest homes. Here are the basics:

    You aren’t the only one who’s struggling
    This may now be self-evident since this book, which belongs to a normally sleepy genre, is outselling established authors like the brilliant Gretchen Rubin, but Kondo opens by reassuring readers that nearly everyone struggles with organization and decluttering. And if you think your home is bad, she’s most likely seen worse. (Cue closet horror stories.)

    It helps to visualize how good it will feel to be done
    The word tidying has an easy ring to it, as though it’s just a matter of swishing a feather duster across the table and calling it a day, but we all know controlling the clutter in our homes is way more work than that. Kondo recognizes the process can be overwhelming, and she doesn’t shy away from helping readers navigate the difficult emotions that come from digging in and looking at all that STUFF we have around us.

    The beginning is a very good place to start
    Kondo is all about tidying by category. She has developed a system to minimize resistance and maximize results. First, start weeding out clothes and strategize about how to store the items you do keep. Then move on to books and papers. Tackle those mysterious miscellaneous items next. Finally, move on to sentimental items, when you’ve built up some momentum and feel inspired by the tidying you’ve already done.

    It’s possible to tidy once, and maintain it forever
    Kondo supplies lots of tips for arranging your home once you’ve completed your initial sweep. Going beyond “a place for everything, and everything in its place,” she encourages us to store our belongings so beautifully we never have cause or want to get back into disaster territory again.

    The power of tidying will carry over into the rest of your life
    Kondo believes tidying will bring you good fortune and help you identify what’s truly precious. Of course, this might happen in a straightforward, literal way when you uncover treasures you forgot you had. But Kondo also inspires readers to review their entire lives through the lens of decluttering and prioritize the people and activities they care most about. And that’s definitely easier to do when you’re not so very distracted by your to-do list at home.

    The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up is available now.

  • Kathryn Williams 6:23 pm on 2015/04/06 Permalink
    Tags: david brooks, , , inspiring reads, , la la anthony, malcolm gladwell, marie kondo, mark bittman,   

    Spring Clean Your Life with These 9 Inspiring Reads 

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    If winter is the season for accumulation—all those holiday gifts, all those layers, all those pounds—then spring is the time for shedding. We clean, we clear, we reorganize, we reprioritize, and to do so, we turn to the experts. Here are nine books that will give your existential spring cleaning a kick in the pants.

    The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo
    Japanese cleaning consultant Marie Kondo has a three-month waiting list. And the truly magical thing is, she knows where that waiting list is, because her desk isn’t covered by six-inch stacks of paper (how do we still have stacks of paper when we live in a digital world?!). In her international bestseller, Kondo takes readers step by step through the very specific KonMari method, which groups clutter by category and teaches readers to keep only items that “spark joy.” Gather, awaken, sort, and bibbidi bobbidi boo: you own your possessions, they don’t own you!

    Brain Maker, by David Perlmutter
    Neurologist and gluten-free guru Dr. David Perlmutter follows up his bestselling Grain Brain with a new message: trust your gut. It’s home to 100 trillion bacteria, aka the microbiome, and Perlmutter, among many others, is convinced it’s the key to health and wellbeing, even and especially when it comes to our brains. ADHD, Alzheimer’s, autism, and many other neurological disorders, says Perlmutter, are linked to the bugs in our guts. He’s out to save us from ourselves, armed with a brain-friendly diet and a six-step program for optimizing intestinal ecology.

    Very Good Lives, by J.K. Rowling
    This slim volume (just 80 pages), subtitled “The Fringe Benefits of Failure,” is the commencement speech Rowling delivered at Harvard University in 2008. It’s hard to associate one of the wealthiest, most successful, and most beloved authors of all time with failure, but before she was J.K., Rowling was Joanne, divorced single mother on the dole. With great humor and humility, Rowling revisits those dark times in order to find the light, exploring how failure in other arenas focused her on the ones that really mattered. While writing Harry Potter, Rowling worked as a researcher for Amnesty International, and she concentrates on her experiences there as a time of self-revelation and a discovery of deep empathy, an emotion we can only experience when we’ve felt our own failures. We all have a rock bottom, Rowling reminds us, but if we use it as a foundation, then the lives we build can be very good indeed.

    The Road To Character, by David Brooks
    At the end of the day, or the end of the long day we call life, which will matter more: your résumé or your eulogy? In his fourth and perhaps most personal book, New York Times columnist Brooks asks himself this question. On a quest for virtue—a quality easier to identify in others than to cultivate in oneself—Brooks selects historical, social, political, and philosophical exemplars of character, such as Dorothy Day, Frances Perkins, and Bayard Rustin. Through their examples he analyzes what it takes to be brave, kind, honest, and faithful. Some of Brooks’ models are surprisingly liberal choices for a generally conservative commentator, but character has never toed a party line.

    A Bone to Pick, by Mark Bittman
    Bittman has had a bone to pick with us for a long time, and it has to do with the way we eat. Positioning himself alongside progressive food journalists and chefs like Michael Pollan, Eric Schlosser, Alice Waters, and Barbara Kingsolver, Bittman, always an accomplished cookbook author, has become an authority on the greater landscape of food production, distribution, regulation, and consumption. With this latest book, a collection of his New York Times columns, he raises his voice in the growing chorus loudly singing that what we eat affects our health and our planet. These are bite-sized but illuminating lessons on America’s complex food system.

    The Power Playbook, by La La Anthony
    La La Anthony made a name for herself as a VJ on MTV back in the days when MTV played music. She’s now an actress, reality star, and entrepreneur with cosmetic and clothing lines to her name. Her first book, The Love Playbook, shared secrets of her love life and marriage to NBA player Carmelo Anthony. Now she’s back with more life advice, this time focused on career. Anthony sees life as a game, and these are her rules: goals, no nonsense, no judgment, and hard work. If her last book was “how to snag a baller,” this is “how to become a baller yourself.”

    O’s Little Book of Happiness
    From the editors of O magazine—and, of course, O herself—comes this “little” (not quite pocket-sized but small enough to tote in a purse to the DMV, where you will surely need it) collection of short essays on the theme of happiness. All personal with a dusting of self-help, the articles are grouped by what you might call strategies for joy: Simple Pleasures, The Joy of Discovery, and Sharing Delight, to name a few. Featuring familiar names, like Elizabeth Gilbert, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, and Mary Oliver, and some not so familiar, this is some of the finest writing O has featured in its 15 years.

    Better Than Before, by Gretchen Rubin
    The bestselling author of The Happiness Project is at it again. We often think of habits as bad things, but in her new book, Rubin shows us how habits, as the scaffolding of our daily lives, can actually help us be happier, healthier, more organized, and more successful. While acknowledging that everyone is different, Rubin offers actionable strategies, such as monitoring, spotting loopholes, and making things convenient, to know and manage our own behavior, whether it’s transforming old habits or creating new ones. As usual, she brings her crackerjack research and reporting skills, as well as an appealing, down-to-earth tone and a willingness to use herself, and her friends, as guinea pigs.

    David & Goliath, by Malcolm Gladwell
    No one manages to make complex social science as clear and simple as Malcolm Gladwell. The New Yorker writer’s fifth book tackles the myth of the underdog. Like Rowling in her commencement speech, Gladwell is interested in the benefits of (perceived) failure, and he argues that there are counterintuitive advantages to disadvantage, and that strength and weakness can be different sides of the same coin. Armed with research and anecdotal evidence—each chapter follows a particular “David” case study, because Gladwell is at heart a storyteller—he makes a compelling case sure to empower those who feel they’re up against giants.

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