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  • Nicole Hill 5:45 pm on 2017/01/26 Permalink
    Tags: , resolutions, , ,   

    The Book Nerd’s Guide to Failing Your New Year’s Resolutions 

    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.

    Twice a year, I vow to pick up the moldering remnants of the half-begun novel that has occupied space on my hard drive since college. Twice a year, I drop the smoldering pile of my dreams into the proverbial dumpster again.

    In January, inevitably, I exhort myself to work on my unfinished novel as part of my unattainable New Year’s resolutions. It always sounds good. There are 12 months in this brand new year; why wouldn’t I use them to chip away at the remaining word count that never seems to get smaller? I make a plan, set weekly goals. Sometimes I even redo an outline, despite the fact that I hate outlines. But without fail, the effort dies by February.

    That is where November comes in, when the pressure cooker of NaNoWriMo rockets me back into writing mode. Somehow, I continually trick myself into believing that what I could not accomplish in the sum total of the year’s other 11 months, I can easily do in the span of little, tiny November. November, a month punctuated by a major holiday, no less. November, a month immediately preceded by another major holiday and succeeded by a host of others.

    On November 1, fresh off the sugar high of Halloween, I’m excited, thrilled at the creative prospects. I churn out a couple of chapters, but quickly sabotage myself by editing as I write. The outline of which I was so proud now sits forgotten and crumpled beneath the kitchen table. By the start of the second week, I’m down to lurking on message boards, hoping to find fellow burnouts to buoy my fragile self-esteem. I’ve stopped using the #NaNoWriMo hashtag. I act as if it never happened.

    This is the oppressive cycle New Year’s resolutions kick off, allowing me to do nothing but disappoint myself for the bulk of a calendar year. Nor is it just the one creative resolution at which I fail.

    Like many a self-respecting reader, I set a goal each year for the number of books I plan to plow through, and for the remaining months on the calendar, that goal hangs like a Sword of Damocles.

    “Seventy seems low,” January Me says. “I read 74 just last year, and that was without really trying.” January Me is similar to December Me, only with repetitive and incurable amnesia.

    So I set my reading challenge to 80 books. Inevitably, I do not factor in the demands of my full-time job, significant other, needy pets, and various life commitments. By Thanksgiving, I’m subbing out my to-read pile with graphic novels, short story compilations, and several volumes of the ongoing adventures of Captain Underpants in order to make the reading move faster. Sometimes it works, often it doesn’t.

    And for what? What did I do all of that stressing and cramming and disappointing for? Just to do it all over again the next year? Well, not this time. This time, here in 2017, I’m setting goals for myself, ones that are attainable and more meaningful.

    This year, I will read more works by authors who don’t look like me, about characters who don’t live where I do. I will try to balance my fiction and nonfiction reads more evenly. I will keep Post-it notes nearer to my person as I snuggle into my reading chair. And, of course, I’ll finish writing that novel.

    The post The Book Nerd’s Guide to Failing Your New Year’s Resolutions appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Lindsey Lewis Smithson 4:30 pm on 2016/02/09 Permalink
    Tags: , , , how to stay on track, resolutions   

    7 Cookbooks to Help You Stick to Your Sugar-Free Resolution 

    If your New Year’s resolution was to forsake sugar in 2016 and you’ve held on this long, then I applaud you. Making a dietary change like that is a challenge, and holding true for over a month is impressive. But even if you’re like me and slip the occasional candy bar into the cart after a long week, there’s still hope! Staying committed to any diet for the long haul can be daunting, especially when you’re passing the bakery aisle. But don’t cave in yet! Here are a few cookbooks to help inspire some sugar-free, healthy meals that just might bring your resolution all the way into 2017.

    I Quit Sugar: Your Complete 8-Week Detox Program and Cookbook, by Sarah Wilson
    When explaining her sugar-free lifestyle, Wilson says,  “When I quit sugar I found wellness and the kind of energy and sparkle I had as a kid. I don’t believe in diets or in making eating miserable. This plan and the recipes are designed for lasting wellness.” Her cookbook and meal guide will help jumpstart your life sans sugar, and help you cook and plan for the long haul. The program includes 108 recipes that cover every meal, along with contributions from Gwyneth Paltrow, Curtis Stone, Dr. Robert Lustig, Sarma Melngailis, Joe “the Juicer” Cross, and Angela Liddon.

    The 21-Day Sugar Detox Cookbook, by Diane Sanfilippo
    As the companion to The 21-Day Sugar Detox (which includes meal plans and over 90 recipes), Sanfilippo’s latest is here to help double your sugar-free cooking repertoire. With recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, and even desserts, this book will delight cooks in search of a healthier path. Whether you use it on its own or in conjunction with the 21-day detox plan, you’ll find loads of variety, along with additional information for athletes, pregnant or nursing women, and others who follow limited diets. (The sugar-free ketchup and BBQ sauce recipes alone make this a worthy addition to any kitchen library.)

    The Joy of Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free Baking, by Peter Reinhart and Denene Wallace
    Oftentimes when people think of giving up sugar, they worry about missing dessert. Cakes, pastries, cookies, and even breads can be packed with refined sugars; they can also taste amazing. Reinhart and Wallace have put together 80 recipes that really do let you have your cake and eat it, too, all while skipping out on the pounds of sugar the average American eats. No matter your reason for going sugar-free, the recipes presented here, ranging from banana bread to cheddar cheese and pecan crackers to brownies and blondies, make the transition a lot tastier. Pair the baked goods from this book with the meals found in any of the cookbooks listed here, and you’ll never look back.

    Thug Kitchen Party Grub: For Social Motherf*ckers, by Thug Kitchen
    This sequel to the tasty, funny, and health-focused Thug Kitchen: The Official Cookbook focuses on larger dishes, things that can be shared, and all the tasty party foods you want to eat but feel guilty about. The desserts may include sugar, but the queso dip, curry tempeh salad, and “worth-the-mess sloppy joes” (all of which are sugar free) will leave you so full and happy you won’t even know what to do with yourself. Like the first book, this one is full of useful tips to help you make your own broths, sauces, almond milk, and other staples (often omitting sugar and saving money). The racy language and unique photography are just added perks that make cooking a bit more fun.

    Well Fed: Paleo Recipes for People Who Love to Eat, by Melissa Joulwan
    Like vegan eating, paleo recipes tend to emphasize food that is processed as little as possible, has few additives, and can be found in nature. Not many Paleolithic humans were adding refined sugar to their morning coffee, so this is a great avenue for steak-loving sugar-free dieters to take. With more than 115 recipes, made with zero grains, legumes, soy, sugar, dairy, or alcohol, and an emphasis in planning and preparation, this is a nearly no-fail way to get more sugar-free days under your belt. The author also introduces the idea of “Hot Plates, a mix-and-match approach to combining basic ingredients with spices and seasonings.” If you can master the basics you can eat a huge range of things, with no sugar added.

    The Vegan Stoner Cookbook: 100 Easy Vegan Recipes to Munch, by Sarah Conrique, Graham I. Haynes
    This falls in the category of “I want to eat healthy, but I don’t have time.” Most recipes have less than a handful of ingredients, few have any added sugar, and all are tasty. The hilarious illustrations and no-nonsense instructions are an added bonus few cookbooks have. The book may look deceptively small, but with 100 recipes there’s enough to change up your breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack options for nearly a month, on a budget, and with very few processed additions. The deviled potatoes are a must eat, and would be a great party snack in place of the been there, done that, deviled eggs.

    The Everything Naturally Sugar-Free Cookbook, by Annie Forsyth, Holly Forsyth, Chelsea Forsyth
    The Everything series really does seem to have a book that covers everything—and they do it well. With a great overview of sugar-free options, from breakfast to dessert, there are plenty of choices to help expand your palate and satisfy some of those cravings. The beauty of this book, and many of the books in this series, is that the recipes are straightforward and cover a wide range of tastes. I frequently turn to The Everything Vegetarian Slow Cooker Cookbook (which also has some sugar-free options) for days when more intensive cooking isn’t in the cards, and each recipe presented is foolproof. If you need to jump start that sugar-free life, or you want more options, start here. You’ll be glad you did.

  • Jeff Somers 7:45 pm on 2016/01/05 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , marcia clark, , resolutions, resolving,   

    New Year’s Resolutions from Our Favorite Literary Characters 

    It’s a New Year, that fabled moment when the sins and failures from the previous year are wiped clean and we can all start fresh. You know what that means: it’s New Year’s resolution time. Sure, we’re a couple days in, but you’ve still got time. And like everything else in life, it’s an opportunity to turn to books for inspiration. While explicit resolutions are surprisingly rare in fiction, you can definitely find some pointers. Here are five of our favorite “resolution-adjacent” moments in literature to help you script your own life-changing vows.

    “Resolution number one: Obviously will lose twenty pounds. Number two: Always put last night’s panties in the laundry basket. Equally important, will find sensible boyfriend to go out with and not continue to form romantic attachments to any of the following: alcoholics, workaholics, commitment phobic’s, peeping toms, megalomaniacs, emotional ____wits or perverts.” –Bridget Jones (Bridget Jones’ Diary, by Helen Fielding)
    As always, the wisdom of Bridget Jones applies universally to all mankind. Perhaps you don’t personally need to lose 20 pounds, but placing used underwear in the appropriate place is always a good idea, and if you’re not in the market for a boyfriend specifically, it’s pretty universal that avoiding “alcoholics, workaholics, commitment phobics, peeping toms, megalomaniacs, emotional ____wits or perverts” is a good idea. Out of sympathy for everyone already panicking about this list, we won’t mention Bridget’s vows to smoke less, drink less, and eat more sensibly.

    “No one ever keeps ’em, so what’s the point?”Rachel Knight (Guilt by Association, by Marcia Clark)
    The quote actually comes from a short story Clark—the infamous former prosecutor in the O.J. Simpson case—posted on her publisher’s website, but the sentiment is so universal, it demands inclusion. After all, nearly as universal as making a New Year’s resolution is the time-honored act of breaking one. Meanwhile, Clark’s mysteries continue to surprise with the quality of her writing, plotting, and character development; her brainy, stubborn assistant district attorney Knight is a delight in the mold of Kinsey Millhone or Stephanie Plum, with gravitas lent by the author’s real-world experience.

    “My New Year’s resolution is a far more selfish one than last year. It is to make my motto, eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow, you may be dead.”Pauline Parker (The Search for Anne Perry, by Joanne Drayton)
    This excellent advice from a potential sociopath isn’t fiction, actually—it’s from the diary of Pauline Parker, who murdered her own mother in 1954 with the help of her friend Juliet Hulme. Hulme and Parker were juveniles, and so despite being convicted of the crime were released five years later. Hulme took on a new name—Anne Perry—and went on to become an acclaimed crime fiction writer until her identity was revealed after Peter Jackson’s Heavenly Creatures film revisited the case.

    “Must scold, must nag, mustn’t be too pretty in the mornings.” Nora Charles (After the Thin Man, by Dashiell Hammett)
    This quote doesn’t actually appear in Hammett’s classic novel The Thin Man; it’s spoken in the second Thin Man film, also written by Hammett. Nora is responding to her husband Nick’s question about New Year’s resolutions; she asks if he has any complaints and he tells her no: “You don’t scold, you don’t nag, and you look far too pretty in the mornings.” While her lovingly sarcastic response is evidence of Hammett’s talent for the rhythm of speech (and devastating zingers), it’s also a freeing resolution for anyone who’s married.

    “I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me.”Paul Atreides (Dune, by Frank Herbert)
    Do they even have “New Year’s” in Herbert’s classic science fiction universe? Likely not, and yet this mantra, spoken by Paul Atreides and repeated elsewhere by other characters, is an excellent all-purpose resolution for anyone in any circumstance. Imagine yourself on a rooftop—or in a bathroom—quietly reciting it, and a year of infinite possibilities will open up before you, tempting and exhilarating.

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