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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.

  • 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.

  • Kathryn Williams 9:30 pm on 2016/01/04 Permalink
    Tags: , , resolutions   

    6 Cookbooks for Your New Years Resolution 

    If you are what you eat, then a new year + a new you = a new cookbook. 2015 was a blockbuster year for creative cookbooks, so whether your resolution involves more (more creativity, more vegetables, more family togetherness) or less (less stress, less meat, less takeout), there promises to be a title to kick your butt into gear for the new year. Here are a few of the best, to inspire all your foodie resolutions.

    Your resolution: “I will teach my kids to cook.”
    Your cookbook: The Nerdy Nummies Cookbook, by Rosanna Pansino
    You know if you’re to have any chance of prying that game controller out of your 11-year-old’s hands, you’ll need to replace it with an edible cookie version. YouTube star and nerdtastic baker Rosanna Pansino can show you how. Pansino’s new cookbook is full of geek-themed sweet treats for math nerds, fantasy fans, gamers, and techies. She starts with basic recipes, like butter cake, sugar cookies, and cinnamon rolls, and then shows you, with easy-to-follow photos, instructions, and templates, how to geek them up into D&D-worthy Twenty-Sided Dice Cookies or Apple Pi Pie. A great cookbook to break out on a snow day.

    Your resolution: “I will host more parties.”
    Your cookbook: Thug Kitchen Party Grub: For Social Motherf*ckers, by Thug Kitchen
    Put the pigs-in-blankets down. Step away from the Fritos. It’s time you learned to entertain like the bad-a$$ mofo you are. Enter the irreverent duo behind the beloved, bestselling Thug Kitchen. In their new party guide, the formerly anonymous team offers dozens of profanity-laced vegan recipes for “bougie brunches,” cookouts, potlucks, cocktail parties, and just about any time you need some quality plant-based food to soak up all that alcohol (cocktail recipes included).

    Your resolution: “I will finally master a gnocchi my Nonna would be proud of.”
    Your cookbook: Lidia’s Mastering the Art of Italian Cuisine: Everything You Need to Know to Be a Great Italian Cook, by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich and Tanya Bastianich Manuali
    The recipe has been in your family for sixteen generations. No pressure, right? Not when you have Lidia by your side. They’re not handwritten on disintegrating war ration cards, but the more than 400 recipes in this master class of a cookbook from the Italian American national treasure and her daughter are sure to become family heirlooms. Truly everything you need to know—tools, techniques, ingredients, even a guide to culinary travel in Italy (to help you decode the four terms for sheep in Italian)—is included, arborio to ziti. Buon appetito.

    Your resolution: “I will make dinner for my family and not stress about it.”
    Your cookbook: The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Dinnertime: Comfort Classics, Freezer Food, 16-Minute Meals, and Other Delicious Ways to Solve Supper!, by Ree Drummond
    Weeknights are hectic. Ree Drummond—homeschooling, ranching, working mother of four—knows this, which is why she published a collection of more than 125 hearty, nutritious meals that will satisfy hungry husbands and finicky four-year-olds alike. Sample lifesavers: Meatballs that can be made ahead and frozen for any of three delicious recipes, 16-minute Chicken with Mustard Cream Sauce, and breakfast for dinner. Thanks to the Pioneer Woman, the question, “What’s for dinner?” just got a whole lot less stressful.

    Your resolution: “I will finally go vegan…for real.”
    Your cookbook: Healthy Happy Vegan Kitchen, by Kathy Patalsky
    If you’ve been toying with idea of going totally animal-free, you’ve probably come across Patalsky’s blog, Healthy.Happy.Life, with its oodles of plant-based recipes, product reviews, and how-tos. This cookbook of over 220 mouthwatering vegan recipes (Philly “Cheese” Sandwich and Fried Risotto Balls, anyone?), plus tips on stocking a vegan pantry, will not only get you started but keep you going—at three meals a day, that’s more than 73 days of no-repeat recipes. As Patalsky says, “welcome to the plant-based party.”

    Your resolution: “I will lose weight.”
    Your cookbook: The Whole30, by Melissa Hartwig, Dallas Hartwig
    Okay, this cookbook is about a lot more than losing weight, but shouldn’t it be? The Whole30 is the step-by-step follow-up guide to last year’s bestselling It Starts with Foodby husband-and-wife certified sports nutritionists Melissa and Doug Hartwig (Doug is also a functional medicine practitioner). With cut-and-dried explanations, rules, recipes, and meal plans, this book takes the guesswork out of once and for all stripping your diet of unhealthy foods and eating habits. There’s a lot of “no” to this program: no dairy, no grains, no sugar, no booze, no weigh-ins, no counting calories, no excuses…but after 30 days, the way it will have you feeling all “hell yes.” Shedding pounds will only be the icing on the cake (that you no longer want to eat).

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