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With summer/swimsuit season around the corner (though that corner is looking farrrrrrrrrrr away on this dismal day!) and more and more health issues stemming from eating habits, weight – and the effect on one’s health – is consistently a hot issue. While much has been known about anorexia and bulimia, compulsive binging seems to be becoming more and more of an issue. Before even hearing about this SKINNY book tour, I read an article in Seventeen magazine (don’t judge – subscription was gift from roomie’s mom!) asking “are your eating habits normal?” and they were shedding light on the dangerous binging cycle – do you hide your eating/eat alone/lie to friends, etc.
In SKINNY, author Diana Spechler introduces you to Gray, a non-descript 26 year old living with her comedian boyfriend in NYC. Beyond the fun jacket (looked like a great beach book), I thought the similarities between Gray and myself would be interesting, since we’re the same age in the same city and I had assumed would have similar thoughts.
Ultimately, Gray and I don’t have much in common and once I gave up trying to like her, I enjoyed the book more.
Gray starts her rather sad story by sharing with the reader that she killed her father. It was understood pretty quickly that this wasn’t a premeditated crime (I bet you knew that too, from the pretty book cover), but more an enabler of bad habits. The death of her father sends her life into a tailspin in which she quits her job helping her boyfriend, the lovable though slightly schlubby Mikey, book comedy gigs and instead starts binge eating and working odd jobs while gaining weight.
Uncovering a cryptic connection in her father’s will, Gray sets out to be a counselor at a “fat camp” in North Carolina, with the intention on bonding with Eden, a young girl who she thinks is her stepsister from her father’s mid-life affair. While at camp, Gray ends up in a steamy affair with a fellow counselor and dealing with a lot of pre-teen angst from the campers.
This was the first book I’d read by Diana Spechler and I wanted to be more excited about it than I am. While I didn’t hate SKINNY, I’m not inspired to think about the characters further. I thought the ending seemed rushed and Gray never did win me over. I did like the actual writing even though I couldn’t relate to the story, and think Spechler’s debut, WHO BY FIRE, would be more my type of read.
Even though this book wasn’t my “pint of ice cream” I do think the author sheds light on some serious issues, and if even one young woman is helped then I heartily applaud SKINNY. Check out Spechler’s website http://bodyconfession.com/ and share it for some more feel-goodness. Also, stop by and see where else you can find SKINNY on tour here.
It appears I need to change my gmail signature from “Visit my digital book nook, obsessed over & updated regularly: http://www.novelwhore.wordpress.com” to read more along the lines of:
“Visit my digital book nook, obsessed over regularly, but rarely updated, though every time I write I really enjoy it, so keep on visiting until it gets more exciting.”
And, like the headline suggests, I am going to re-post my article from http://www.beneaththecover.com right now, since not only does it take minimal effort since it’s already written, but I’m able to justify to myself that my blog is now updated! So, for all you readers that I really do appreciate, here’s my latest column:
What are books, exactly—treasured artifacts to be displayed behind glass, or objects to be enjoyed and devoured, like a good meal?
I know that no book I actually enjoy leaves the experience unscathed. For the lucky few that I enjoy, I’ll refer back to the content often, dog-eared pages in my wake. While stories offer escape within the language, for the books I reread I get taken back to where I was the first time, whether it be via the stains of soy sauce from unsuccessfully trying to read while enjoying sushi, or the sand that spills out as remnants of a long-forgotten vacation.
Obviously, with that description in mind, you can see that the books on my shelf may never make it into a museum exhibition of classics preserved in immaculate conditions. But what are books for if not to be loved, smelled, handled, and passed around? To me, the print medium is so important—though after lugging home a complete manuscript to read this evening (even with double-sided printing, 204 sheets is heavy!), my shoulder disagrees and would prefer a Kindle copy.
I admit that so much of my fervor for print comes from its history. I didn’t stay up past my bedtime with a computer screen under my bedspread, but a flashlight, as I stealthily flipped pages. I get a special thrill from going back to my parents’ house and seeing the children’s books I wrote my name in, using my “best hand writing” in 4th grade. While it took me a while to get to this rather obvious realization, it came with the help of journalist and author Allison Hoover Bartlett.
Her upcoming book (available from Riverhead Books next month, September 2009), The Man Who Loved Books Too Much, tracks an unrepentant book thief and the “bibliodick” determined to take him down. It’s a story of passion and addiction, and has made me compulsively check all the books sold out of boxes on the streets of NYC for rare 1st editions awaiting discovery.
In this true tale about catching a wily 1st edition book thief, books are believed to be treasures, investments, or a drug, pacifying a need. While I admit it would be nice to have that 1st edition of Gone with the Wind standing proudly on my shelf (actually, it would be behind glass, it’s so rare!), I don’t need an intact dust jacket to accompany it that’s worth far beyond the cover price. The content and history between the pages is enough for me.
And the stuff within the pages may be enough for you, too. On the publishing blog GalleyCat.com, Ron Hogan thoughtfully deciphered a recent survey from the Pepsi Optimism Project citing the “optimism booster” cited by more respondents than any other—88 percent—was “books.”
As Bartlett notes towards the end of her book, “[Books] root us in something larger than ourselves, something real. For this reason, I am sure that hardbound books will survive, even long after e-books have become popular . . . I can’t help think that our connection to books is still, after all these centuries, as important as it is intangible.
So while I may want that Kindle for the sake of my poor shoulders, I don’t think I’ll give up my search for the elusive and meaningful hardcover finds, including a Margaret Mitchell 1st edition.
“I am not a Media Person” -Chris Anderson
After hearing Chris Anderson speak this morning, I have to heartily disagree with his own statement, above. Before becoming entrenched in the media world, Anderson was an active physicist (not sure exactly what this is, but know smart and scientific) when he was approached by Conde Nast. Hard to believe he had never heard of this huge media conglomerate, but knowing my own Robotics/Aerospace/Mechanical “enginerding” family I’m not totally shocked. Through his rise to the best-sellers list and award-winning EIC of Wired magazine, Anderson has maintained his scientific background through his robotics company, GeekDad.com and the technology apparent in his magazine.
In his hour and a half speech, I had to scribble to try to write down even half the things I wanted to remember. Including, but not limited to, these enticing little tidbits:
- We live in a messy world, and it’s only getting messier.
- Atoms increase in worth; bits decrease (digital moving to free)
- We need to make the most of the Old World while exploring the New World.
- No business in their right mind would go to a 100% paid online model.
- You can only make money off scarcity. Time, experience, food, land is scarce; digital content is not.
Anderson was generous enough to give us a copy of his book that’s not released until July 7 (quite a thrill in holding a book not available in public!), which is titled Free: The Future of a Radical Price. Radically, the digital version and full length audio book are free, though the premium content of abridged audio and hardcover title come with a price tag.
Though Anderson came to speak about his magazine work, I was enthralled by his book publishing knowledge. He shared interesting insights, from not wanting to receive royalty checks (since that means the advance wasn’t high enough), to making money from speaking as opposed to the selling of his books, to how once the coherency was decided for his book he can’t even remember the actual words pouring forth.
Another note-worthy comment made by Anderson is his openness to a digital Wired. In fact, he made the bold statement of “If the Kindle is [made in magazine form] I will stop killing trees immediately.” I asked about the digital magazines available today, through Zinio and the like, and Anderson explained he doesn’t think people want to read a magazine on a computer or need the physical pages, but need it to be mobile. So my next question is: Who will be first with the mobile mag reader? There have been rumors about Conde Nast, or will Amazon lead the pack yet again?
Anderson is highly optimistic in his views. Believing in the monetization emotionally – writing etc. for fulfilling reasons vs. financial, as well as future brand extensions, he in no way sees the death of publishing (an obvious sigh of relief).
All Webbed-Out: Summary of eight hours of digital content
I have had the most ridiculously filled day of digital content. Of course it’s all new, all interesting, and all slightly overwhelming. From discussing new business models, to Twitter blurring the line between social media and all media, along with insider tips on SEO strategies, I feel as if all my new knowledge makes me quite the digital princess.
During class my digitality (made-up word) began when Hearst Digital Media (yes, Hearst of the Media empire) was generous enough to share with the NYU SPI class three of their top officials to discuss “Websites Gone Wild” and “Get the Work Out, Get the Traffic”:
- Chris Johnson, VP Content and Business Development, Hearst Digital Media
- Beth Ellard, Content Director, Hearst Digital Media
- Dan Roberts, Senior SEO Strategist & Analyst, Hearst Digital Media
The session with Johnson and Ellard focused on the different ways Hearts utilizes the web to drive traffic to their 12 magazine branded sites and 8 digital-only entities. These 20 Hearst owned sites reach 10% of the total internet audience monthly. This massive digital reach translates to about 1/3 of all their magazine subscriptions coming from the web. 80% of the traffic on their magazine sites looks at pure digital content; not the re-postings of print editoral.
Roberts is a self proclaimed “Data Geek” who has knows how to match Hearst’s content with what people search for, aka Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Hate to say it to you naive websurfers out there, but the first hits that come up on Google don’t appear by chance, but a well-orchestrated plan. Roberts is a fan of NOW Media: More than the “new media” we’re used to hearing about, as that’s already dated, this is the current digital landscape that’s constantly changing.
Advantages of NOW Media:
- Distribution has never been easier
- We (my generation) are experts
- We know what works
NOW Media reality/challenges:
- Rules are constantly changing, techonology always evolving
- There is micro-attention (aka Twitter) and mega-noise (digital clutter)
- You can’t always control the message – your brand can be discussed in user generated content that is beyond your regulation
The digital-ness of my Wednesday was made complete (after getting lost on the Subway for an hour- DO NOT use Google maps for the NYC transportation system, it lies!) by attending Mashable NextUp NYC: Social Media Marketing 101 (thanks to @TheUndomestic!). The two keynote speakers were obviously incredibly smart and web-savvy: Steve Rubel (SVP, Director of Insights for Edelman Digital) and Mashable’s Founder and President, Pete Cashmore.
Rubel spoke first on the five digital trends to watch (bear with me, my notes are quite scribbly after one very strong vodka soda):
- Satisfaction Guaranteed = Customer Service + PR: brands must audit online experiences
- Media Reforestation: Paper is going digital.
- Less is the new more: People are no longer gorging on media and often choosing selective ignorance. More impotant than ever to shape search shelf.
- Corporate All-Stars: People within your company standing by your brand in the digital space. Ex: @ScottMonty, as Ford on Twitter
- Power of the Pull: Write for searches, not for readers.
Then Pete Cashmore got on stage with his nice accent and talked to a panel of other professionals about their web opinions. Wow they’ve done a lot for charity – check out and contribute to Charity Water; they’re doing incredible things.
Whew now time for bed, hopefully I’ll get to write up the other amazing speakers from Rodale, Seventeen magazine, Time Out, and People Style Watch tomorrow.
I disagree with sentence one… I think this is sexy (not to mention I already discussed this in a post from March 13- https://novelwhore.wordpress.com/2009/03/13/the-book-business-from-a-veterans-perspective/:
Revolutionary Espresso Book Machine launches in London
Launching in London today, the Espresso Book Machine can print any of 500,000 titles while you wait
Allison Flood, Guardian UK (Friday, April 24, 2009)
It’s not elegant and it’s not sexy – it looks like a large photocopier – but the Espresso Book Machine is being billed as the biggest change for the literary world since Gutenberg invented the printing press more than 500 years ago and made the mass production of books possible. Launching today at Blackwell’s Charing Cross Road branch in London, the machine prints and binds books on demand in five minutes, while customers wait.
Signalling the end, says Blackwell, to the frustration of being told by a bookseller that a title is out of print, or not in stock, the Espresso offers access to almost half a million books, from a facsimile of Lewis Carroll’s original manuscript for Alice in Wonderland to Mrs Beeton’s Book of Needlework. Blackwell hopes to increase this to over a million titles by the end of the summer – the equivalent of 23.6 miles of shelf space, or over 50 bookshops rolled into one. The majority of these books are currently out-of-copyright works, but Blackwell is working with publishers throughout the UK to increase access to in-copyright writings, and says the response has been overwhelmingly positive.
“This could change bookselling fundamentally,” said Blackwell chief executive Andrew Hutchings. “It’s giving the chance for smaller locations, independent booksellers, to have the opportunity to truly compete with big stock-holding shops and Amazon … I like to think of it as the revitalisation of the local bookshop industry. If you could walk into a local bookshop and have access to one million titles, that’s pretty compelling.”
From academics keen to purchase reproductions of rare manuscripts to wannabe novelists after a copy of their self-published novels, Blackwell believes the Espresso – a Time magazine “invention of the year” – can cater to a wide range of needs, and will be monitoring customer usage closely over the next few months as it looks to pin down pricing (likely to be around the level of traditional books) and demand. It then hopes to roll it out across its 60-store network, with its flagship Oxford branch likely to be an early recipient as well as a host of smaller, campus-based shops.
The brainchild of American publisher Jason Epstein, the Espresso was a star attraction at the London Book Fair this week, where it was on display to interested publishers. Hordes were present to watch it click and whirr into action, printing over 100 pages a minute, clamping them into place, then binding, guillotining and spitting out the (warm as toast) finished article. The quality of the paperback was beyond dispute: the text clear, unsmudged and justified, the paper thick, the jacket smart, if initially a little tacky to the touch.
Described as an “ATM for books” by its US proprietor On Demand Books, Espresso machines have already been established in the US, Canada and Australia, and in the Bibliotheca Alexandrina in Egypt, but the Charing Cross Road machine is the first to be set up in a UK bookstore. It cost Blackwell some $175,000, but the bookseller believes it will make this back in a year. “I do think this is going to change the book business,” said Phill Jamieson, Blackwell head of marketing. “It has the potential to be the biggest change since Gutenberg and we certainly hope it will be. And it’s not just for us – it gives the ability to small independent bookshops to compete with anybody.”
Original link to article: http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2009/apr/24/espresso-book-machine-launches
Sometimes the life of a drug lord seems a little like the mob – dangerous and violent, but sexy in that easy-money sort of way. I don’t have the heart for it – I can’t take the pictures of the starving children in Africa that come up on those religious commercials, much less personally contributing to addicts (is that a logical chain of thought?). Not to mention drugs, weapons and police scare me… But they do make for a good story, as long as the violence and danger stay on the page, unlike the Mexican Cartels currently doing their best to wreak havoc in the States…
Elizabeth Lowell had no idea how current her fictional novel, The Wrong Hostage, would seem right now, with news outlets daily covering the influx of drugs and violence from Mexico and the issues going on within the drug world down there.
Published as the second book within her “St. Kilda” series (of which I’ve
never read the first), The Wrong Hostage takes place during a harrowing weekend in which California Judge Grace Silva is forced to go toe-to-toe with the feared Mexican drug lord, Hector Rivas Osuna, in order to rescue her 15-year-old son. Held hostage against money Silva’s ex-husband owes, she takes action. Instead of wasting time in tracking down her lousy ex, missing for weeks, she calls the super-secret St. Kilda firm, known only to her due to a brief, passionate love affair with an operative… If you’re a fan of the “Romantic Suspense” genre, I bet you can guess this operative is also, ta-da, the son’s real father.
Through scary roads in Mexico, being witness to cold-hearted murder within the drug community (reminiscent of the Chicago Mob: https://novelwhore.wordpress.com/2009/03/18/operation-gambat-when-corruption-was-king-of-chicago/) and all the while reigniting long-lost passion, this is a fast-paced novel that leaves your heart in your throat as you just wish the family to be reunited, frolicking on a white-sand beach and off the drug-ridden streets of Tijuana.
Crazily enough, I read this novel last year and as quickly as I finished the last page it left my thoughts, just to spring to mind as I was reading The New York Times two days ago: “More than 7,000 people [in Mexico], most of them connected to the drug trade or law enforcement, have died since January 2008. Many of the victims were tortured. Beheadings have become common.” http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/23/us/23border.html?_r=1&pagewanted=2&em.
There are numerous additional articles covering home invasions and kidnappings in the United States, all related to the Mexican drug trade, making me wonder if a situation like Lowell portrayed in The Wrong Hostage happened to an ordinary family unconnected with underground, all-powerful rescue rings (do these even exist in real life?), what would happen? Would the news even be publicized, or would one family be in unbearable private pain?
It’s scary when what I would consider to be outlandish fiction comes alive in the newspaper. While I enjoyed reading this book throughout its 406 pages, I don’t like the reading of individual newspaper articles that don’t always have the same caliber of ending (trying not to give anything aware, being sly).
Give this book a try if you like action, suspense, guns and violence with an undercurrent of sexual tension, but skip it if you would rather not take a behind-the-scenes peek at what may be happening as we speak.
And I even love Mexico – Cancun vacation, anyone!?
- NovelWhore’s Grade: B
- Title: The Wrong Hostage
- Author: Elizabeth Lowell
- Publisher: Avon
We’ve all felt the pinch, it’s hard to justify the $9 price for a fancy bar drink when you could/should be making the drink with your own bottom-shelf liquor in your condo that you already are struggling to afford as opposed to helping contribute to the overhead cost of some random bar. Whew. Well, the The New Yorker is helping us embrace the recession with a little alcholic help:
Gone are the Cosmopolitans and pomegranate martinis—bartenders are designing a whole new breed of cocktails for 2009….
Long Island Iced 401(k)
Put hopes in shaker. Add dreams. Shake until dashed, then drink all the vodka, gin, tequila, and rum left in liquor cabinet.
Bear Market Shot
Pick up lots of checks because you think the glass is half full; when you find it’s actually half empty, take a single shot to the head.
Broke & Tan
Fall asleep in yard on weekday, wake up sunburned and so dehydrated that anything tastes good.
Pour two ounces of vodka into a cocktail shaker. Lament fact that you moved into a smaller house to pay for your son’s college education and, since he couldn’t get a job and he’s now twenty-six, he’s living on your couch. Eying your son as he works his Wii, pour two more ounces of vodka into shaker. Serve with a grimace.
Add a dozen I.P.O.’s to portfolio, wait until bubble bursts, drink all day every day.
Discover that your BlackBerry doesn’t work because you haven’t paid the bill. Sling it against the wall, then buy a prepaid phone and make some rum in your toilet.
Bloody Maria Bartiromo
Squeeze four packets of McDonald’s ketchup and one packet of pepper into a glass. Mix with eight ounces homemade hooch. Drink while you watch the Money Honey on a TV in the window of a Circuit City that’s going out of business at the end of the month.
To avoid foreclosure, rent the other bedrooms in your condo to migrant farmworkers; steal their booze when they go out to work.
Let last drops of liquor trickle from spent bottles at recycling center into plastic cup. Serve with shame.
Now for all of you experienced bloggers out there, this milestone is hardly something of which to be proud. But, hell, I celebrate my half birthday (July
28, mark that down) so have no shame in taking note (and being excited) of my one-month status!
As of March 10 (I missed the actual date by two days, oops), 21 posts, 14 comments, 24 spam messages and 670 views, I like to think I have come a long way since my first post that seriously took me two weeks to publish.
Thank you all for the comments and support, and please continue to come back and give me further feedback and even criticism, if you feel so inclined. Happy Reading!