thenerdreports

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Archive for the tag “AJ Jacobs”

Who?

Over at Callapidder Days they have begun the Fall into Reading 2012 Challenge. With all the excitement in my life, I’ve found that this year I cannot participate, however, I am following the Challenge, and especially, the questions posted. I especially liked the first question, so I decided to blog along.

Is there an author (or authors) whose books you are always watching for? Do you jump to snatch up the latest literary offering from certain specific authors? In other words, who are your go-to authors?

  • David Baldacci- I discovered his books one summer, and I read through everything he had written up to that point. Since then, I always pre-order his latest offering, a carry over from my grad school days when I could read more than one or two pages of a book for fun without falling asleep and it took me six months to read it. Now I still pre-order them, but save them for vacation. [Ironically enough, when I popped onto Amazon this morning, they notified me that Baldacci has a book available for pre-order. Pretty sure I’ve found my reading for Christmas vacation.]
  • John Grisham- Yes, I know. Judge me if you will, but I still read John Grisham. I don’t love his latest offerings as much as I did his original work, but it still worth it.
  • A.J. Jacobs- his non-fiction writing is witty, and tends to take an unusual approach.

Fun question. đŸ™‚ So, who are your go-to authors?

 

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Summer Reading Challenge 2012…the countdown is on!

Well, there is a little over a week left until the end of my Summer Reading Challenge, and I thought it was time for a progress report. Those that are crossed off have been completed. Those in bold are in progress.

1. One Book Recommended By A Friend Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
2. One Book That Has Been Sitting On Your Shelf For Over A Year The Shack by Paul W. Young
3. One Book You Read A Long Time Ago And Want To ReRead Sense & Sensibility by Jane Austen
4. One Book From Your To Be Read List The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
5. One Book You’ve Never Heard Of On Hitler’s Mountain by Irmagard Hunt
6. One Classic All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
7. One Book You Started But Never Finished Emma by Jane Austen
8. One New Release Drop Dead Healthy: One Man’s Humble Quest for Bodily Perfection by AJ Jacobs
9. One Book That Is Outside of Your Typical Genre Poetry and Prose by Walt Whitman
10. One Chunkster (A Book That Is Over 400 Pages) Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
I feel fairly confident that I can finish The Secret Life of Bees and Emma before Labor Day, but I admit, I am feeling less confident about being able to complete a monster volume of Whitman poetry, Gilead, The Shack, and a re-read of Sense & Sensibility before the end of next week. It’s just not terribly realistic of me to even try…and its doubtful I would even enjoy the books if I did.
Regardless of how things end up, I did learn some things by participating in the challenge. While I don’t consider these a justification or substitute for the fact I didn’t finish, they are still worth mentioning.
I tend to read in topical groups or series. This summer, after reading All Quiet on the Western Front, I couldn’t help but delve further into literature and history on World War I.  Although I took a course on European History in high school,  I learned very little on World War I in school, or even graduate school, in spite of the fact it would set things up for World War II would would shape modern history around the globe. It seemed that something was missing in my knowledge base, so it prompted me to read everything I can get my hands on in order to fix that.
I’ve also noticed I like series. It helps me know what’s next on my reading list and keeps things orderly.
If I am reluctant to read something, little will change my desire to read it…even posting it on a blog. I have had little to no desire to read The Shack, no many how times its been recommended to me. I even own a copy (it was a gift) and I can’t bring myself to read it. Honestly, I’ve glimpsed at it and its hard to get past the writing. I want to give it a chance…but I can’t when there is so many other things to read!
It’s easy for me to bite off more than I can chew when it comes to books. As soon as review copies started coming in, and I was getting new paperbacks from Paperbackswap.com, and I was let loose in the library…well… let’s just say it all went downhill from there.
Although I refuse to give up hope just yet, I realistically report that I may not finish my Summer Reading Challenge. Check back on September 4th to check on the final reading stats.

Review: Drop Dead Healthy

I love A.J. Jacob’s work. I have read My Life as an Experiment and My Year of Living Biblically with great enthusiasm, and I was very much looking forward to Drop Dead Healthy: One Man’s Humble Quest for Bodily Perfection. For those unfamiliar with Jacobs, he tends to immerse himself in a particular project or lifestyle, for example in My Year of Living Biblically he committed himself to following all of the Bible’s moral codes for one year and then wrote about it. In case you can’t see where this is going, the premise of Drop Dead Healthy is that he spent two years committing himself to becoming as healthy as possible. Some call his approach “stunt journalism”, but I think of it more along the lines of experiential writing.

I think there’s a lot to like about the book. Jacobs is extremely quotable, and in places laugh out loud funny. (I am fairly certain I annoyed my roommates with the sheer number of times I insisted on reading passages out loud.) He tries things that seem crazy, and that I may never make time for, and then he’s candid about his experiences. It’s fun to follow his journey, this time to health. But it felt like it was missing something.

The last few books have at least had some kind of summary about the experience. You knew where he came down on things at the end of the book. But Drop Dead Healthy just kind of dropped off. The lengthy appendix lists some of his advice in some areas…but honestly, I don’t really care. I just want a synopsis of his experience. What things did he wish he hadn’t tried? Which things will stay a part of his life forever? Did he like the challenge, or regret it?

The writing is strong, the concept is good, it just needed a little tying up at the end. I think Drop Dead Healthy is worth reading if you’re looking for something that will make you laugh and provide you with information at the same time.

The weekend recap: Family, flowers, birthdays, books, and belly laughs.

This past weekend was wonderful. Although I can’t say it was particularly literary, I had the chance to spend loads of time with family, as my parents visited and we attended my nephew’s first birthday party. My mom and stepfather brought flowers for the pots that sit in the window boxes outside the house, which my stepfather planted Saturday evening. I love it- the house looks so much prettier as you are walking up the steps with that small addition. đŸ™‚

Little Man (my nickname for my nephew) turned one this week, and we celebrated in grand style on Saturday with a Thomas the Tank engine themed party. There was a ton of food (I am pretty sure my stepsisters only know how to cook in massive quantities) and a huge Thomas cake, as well as a little marshmallow fondant Thomas cake just for Little Man. He entertained us all as he showed off his new walking skills, pushing a chair all over the clubhouse, and just being cute and giggly. How can anyone resist a smiling little boy with blond curls and bright blue eyes (which look exactly like my stepsister and my stepdad’s eyes, for the record)?

Sunday we went out to lunch with my stepsister and nephew, having a chance to visit them without all the others. Little Man entertained us with deep belly laughs and lots of playfulness. My stepdad fed him vanilla ice-cream, proudly sporting his Super Granddad t-shirt. I love seeing him and Little Man interact. Its clear they enjoy each others company.

Well…now that we’ve chatted about my weekend, down to business. About the books. I went to the library late Friday afternoon and had the chance to pick up a few books that were being held on reserve for me:

Arranged by Catherine McKenzie

I found a review of Arranged http://www.5minutesformom.com/57195/arranged/  and found myself intrigued enough to queue up for it at the local library. I started this one Sunday night, and so far, I am hooked.

The 4 Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferris

I was intrigued by the concept. I will probably skim, and fully read only vignettes. Mind you, I don’t think its something I can, or want to attempt to pull off.
The Calligrapher’s Daughterby Eugenia Kim

I seem to be slightly obsessed with Asian literature, and I found this book on a list of must reads. Its about a daughter caught between life in Korea before and after the Japanese occupation.

I also received my copy of Walt Whitman: Poetry & Prose for my Summer Reading Challenge (www.thenerdreports.wordpress.com). Although I am accustomed to my used books being filled with strange notes and markings, the math equations scattered throughout the title pages threw me. Math equations and Whitman….really? It’s a much larger volume, including the entire canon of Whitman’s published work, than I was originally anticipating, so I think I am going to have to plan my reading a bit more strategically. Since I will be participating in the Anna Karenina Read-Along in July, I think my plan is to read Whitman in August.

Sunday, after my parents departure I had some much needed downtime, so I had the chance to finish AJ Jacobs Drop Dead Healthy (see my review tomorrow) and plan out my reading schedule for Anna Karenina. The weekend was full of fun and family…but don’t worry. There’s always time for books. đŸ™‚

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