The Joy of Following Your Own Rules

There is significant pressure in the world for us all to be perfect. The perfect employee, parent, student, child, and so on. There is a seemingly endless supply of information available claiming that it can help us get closer to that goal of perfection.  The pressure of this constant pushing can be hard to handle, and some make different choices (good and bad) than they might without the social pressures.

While it might sound easy, it is actually difficult to let go and ignore the people who should really have no say in our lives. Sometimes we need to put the blinders on and focus on doing the best we can with what we feel is important, rather than doing the best we can to fit the expectations of others. It is a challenge, especially now when new is so immediate and our lives feel so interconnected via social media.

I have found that there is a movement out there to help us all focus on what is truly important (the health and happiness of ourselves and those we love) rather than fitting the labels perfect1or expectations others might want to impose on us. Here are a variety of book that encourage us to let go of those restrictions to take care of ourselves and our loved ones in our own way. Fair warning though, there is some censored profanity in some of the titles, and the tone of the book often matches the title.

Big Girl: How I Gave up Dieting and Got a Life by Kelsey Miller

The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck: How to Stop Spending Time You Don’t Have with People You Don’t Like Doing Things You Don’t Want to Do by Sarah Knight

Instant Mom by Nia Vardalos

Better Than Normal: How What Makes You Different Can Make You Exceptional by Dale Archer

jacket-aspxF*ck Feelings: One Shrink’s Practical Advice for Managing All Life’s Impossible Problems by Michael I. Bennett, MD, and Sarah Bennet

The Tao of Martha: My Year perfect2of LIVING, or Why I’m Never Getting All That Glitter Off of The Dog by Jen Lancaster

Helping Me Help Myself: One Skeptic, Ten Self-Help Gurus, and a Year on the Brink of the Comfort Zone by Beth Lisick

Fat Girl Walking: Sex, Food, Love, and Being Comfortable in Your Skin– Every Inch of It by Brittany Gibbons

Do you have a favorite read that helps remind you to just be you and ignore the critics of society? Please share it with us in the comments!

Helping Young Children Deal With Grief

griefp1When a family faces grief due to the loss of a pet, home, or family member it is often hard to help our youngest family members deal with the changes. Sometimes we are so busy trying to deal with our own grief and the practical matters that need to be handled that we don’t have the energy and creative thinking necessary to handle the questions children have. Here are a variety of books that might help you and your kids deal with the emotions and changes.

In Our Parenting Section:griefp2
Tear Soup: a Recipe for Healing After Loss by Pat Schwiebert and Chuck DeKlyen; illustrated by Taylor Bills

Lifetimes: a Beautiful Way to Explain Death to Children by Bryan Mellonie and Robert Ingp

griefp3When Dinosaurs Die: a Guide to Understanding Death by Laurie Krasny Brown and Marc Brown

Guiding Your Child Through Grief by Mary Ann Emswiler and James P. Emswiler

When Children Grieve: For Adults to Help Children Deal GRIEF1with Death, Divorce, Pet Loss, Moving, and Other Losses by John W. James and Russell Friedman with Leslie Landon

With Our Picture Books and Children’s Non Fiction:
Always and Forever by Alan Durant; illustrated by Debi Gliori

Badger’s Parting Gifts by Susan Varleygrief8

When Aunt Mattie Got Her Wings by Petra Math

The Fall of Freddie the Leaf: a Story of Life for All Ages by Leo Buscaglia

I’ll Always Love You by Hans Wilhelmgrief5

Boats for Papa by Jessixa Bagley

Harry & Hopper by Margaret Wild

When People Die by Pete Sanders and Steve Myersgrief7

Death by Patricia J. Murphy

When a Pet Dies by Fred Rogers

The Cover Was Blue.

How many times has someone recommend a book, or you saw a book on the shelf and did not have time to read it, and you thought you would remember the author or title when it came time to find it and read it yourself? It happens to us too. We know exactly who wrote that book or series, at least until someone asks us. When that happens, we use our skills and look it up, even though we feel like we should already know the answer.

bluebooksSometimes no one can remember enough of the author or title to do the necessary searching to figure out the answer. Often times at this point all any of us can remember is the color or image on the cover. For some reason, the cover in these cases is almost always blue. So, here are some of the most popular books that might fit the bill if you are looking for a popular read and all you can remember is that the cover was blue. I have noted any books shelves in or children’s room with a J, and any books shelved in our young adult or teen area with a YA.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (YA)
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne
Lone Wolf by Jodi Picoult
The Selection by Kiera Cass (YA)
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black (YA)
The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdock (YA)
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (J)
Wonder by R.J. Palacio (J)

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The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Eragon by Christopher Paolini (YA)
Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins (YA)
The Wind is Not a River by Brian Payton
The Whole Enchilada by Diane Mott Davidson
Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah
The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

This is only a small portion of possibilities, as blue seems to be a very popular color for book covers. Are you still searching or need a different cover color? Comment with the information you do have and I will do my best to find the book for which you are searching!

Cookbooks that Caught My Eye, But I Know I Will Never Try

Sometimes when we catalog or check in or out library materials a book catches our eye and requires some serious perusal. More often than not this means setting it aside to check out and bring home.

Cookbooks with insanely creative or intricate recipes and decorating ideas regularly catch me. I love to bake and cook but do not have the time or energy to necessarily get fancy. I tend to worry first about taste and if I can get my family to eat it.

However, looking at the wonderful ideas and execution in these books sometimes inspires me to get more creative, and cookingsometimes just makes me wonder how anyone can eat something that obviously took some serious time and effort to make look so good. Here are some of the more recent cookbooks that have made me stop and look at their deliciously beautiful covers.

Cake My Day by Karen Tack & Alan Richardson

The New England Soup Factory Cookbook by Marjorie Druker and Clara Silverstein

What’s New, Cupcake?: Ingeniously Simple Designs for Every Occasion by Karen Tack

The Hot Bread Kitchen Cookbook: Artisanal Baking from Around the World by Jessamyn Waldman Rodriguez and the Bakers of Hot Bread Kitchen with Julia Turshen

Cupcakes, Cookies, and Pie, Oh, My! by Karen Tack & Alan Richardson

Seriously Delish: 150 Recipes for People Who Totally Love Food by Jessica Merchant

Great Balls of Cheese by Michelle Buffardi

The Confetti Cakes Cookbook: Cookies, Cakes, and Cupcakes from New York City’s Famed Bakery by Elisa Strauss with Christie Matheson

For some of us more realistic, or pessimistic, chefs I offer:
The Can’t Cook Book : 100+ Recipes for the Absolutely Terrified! by Jessica Seinfeld

Jane Austen Spinoffs

If one way to measure the popularity of an author is to note the number of spinoffs that his or her work has created, then Jane Austen is high on the popularity list!

longbourn Longbourn by Jo Baker
This is the story of Sarah, the Bennet’s housemaid in Pride and Prejudice, as she serves in their household while the events of the classic unfold. However, the downstairs is just as eventful as the upstairs, especially when a new footman arrives.

 

prideandprejudiceandzombiesPride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith
This is a retelling of Pride and Prejudice during a zombie apocalypse. Elizabeth Bennett is fighting off the zombie infestation after a plague has settled on the village. However, she also finds herself fighting Mr. Darcy after his arrival.

 

scargravemanorJane Austen and the Unpleasantness at Scargrave Manor by Stephanie Barron
This is the first book in a mystery series about Jane Austen as a detective. In this book, Jane’s friend Isobel is newly wed to a man who is many years her senior. Then, during the night, her new husband dies. Soon after his death, Isobel’s maid accuses Isobel of murdering her husband and committing adultery with her late husband’s nephew.

anassemblysuchasthisAn Assembly Such as This by Pamela Aidan
This is the story of Pride and Prejudice, told from the point of view of Fitzwilliam Darcy. This is the book to read if you wish to know more about the mysterious man and his view of the events in the classic novel.

 

janeaustenThe Mysterious Death of Miss Jane Austen by Lindsay Ashford
Anne Sharp was Jane Austen’s governess. Ever since Jane’s death twenty-six years earlier, Anne has held onto a lock of Jane’s hair. However, Anne is following up on a suspicion that she has carried with her all this time. Jane may have been murdered, and the lock of hair may prove it.

 

missingmanuscriptofjaneaustenThe Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen by Syrie James
Samantha McDonough finds a letter that laments a missing manuscript at an estate in Devonshire. The author of both the letter and the manuscript is thought to be none other than Jane Austen. All that that Samantha needs to do is figure out a way of working with Anthony Whitaker, the handsome owner of the estate.

 

emmaEmma: A Modern Retelling by Alexander McCall Smith
As the title describes, this is the modern version of the classic novel about a young woman who interferes in the lives of those around her. Fresh from college, Emma is kept busy by running her own business, caring for her father, and playing matchmaker.

 

northangerabbeyNorthanger Abbey by Val McDermid
This is a modern retelling of Northanger Abbey. Cat Morland, who loves to read novels, constantly fantasizes about experiencing adventures. So, when she travels to Edinburgh to attend a festival, she begins to wonder about the mysterious Northanger Abbey and its seemingly perfect residents, one of whom is very handsome.