Comedian Chris Hardwick, former host of MTV’s Singled Out and recent contributor to Attack of the Show, Chelsea Lately, and Web Soup, has a message for all geeks, gamers, dorks, and dweebs. You can actually use your nerdy traits to improve your life and find personal fulfillment!
Nerdists (a clever pairing of the words “nerd” and “artist”) skillfully combine creativity, focus, and a sense of fun in order to achieve his or her full potential. In this self-help/humor/philosophy title, Hardwick recommends treating your life like a role-playing game (RPG). This means using personal data to quantify, measure, and graph your success as you reach your goals. Gain experience points (XP) by completing tasks like working out three times a week, paying your bills on time, and meeting deadlines. Watch your character and yourself quickly get to the next level.
With chapters on anxiety, time management, fitness, and maintaining your finances, this book is perfect for the self-improving nerd. Hardwick gives plenty of helpful tips, such as ignoring your brain (don’t believe everything you think) and becoming a “Charlie Rose of your own mind” (ask yourself a lot of questions). He recommends taking hints from evil geniuses: have a goal, stay focused, and never back down.
Filled with strikingly honest personal examples, hilarious anecdotes, and genuinely positive affirmations, The Nerdist Way is recommended for anyone who has ever let their overly stimulated brain get in the way of living the life they want.
More and more home cooks are getting their due, thanks in part to blogging. Writer and mom Jennifer Reese, known for the popular, humor-laced site The Tipsy Baker (tipsybaker.com) shares insights from her kitchen as she works her way through recipes in her vast cookbook collection. The blog led her to pen her own tome, Make the Bread, Buy the Butter, What You Should and Shouldn't Cook from Scratch --Over 120 Recipes for the Best Homemade Foods, a guide for those tempted by the cook-it-yourself trends. Published in October, Reese’s book was named a notable cookbook of 2011 by the The New York Times, and with good reason.
Those of us who enjoy reading cookbooks can attest not only to the accessible, practical nature of the recipes, but to the page-turning quality of the prose. Reese’s personality shines through as she recounts her honest, insightful attempts at making such family kitchen staples as peanut butter and vanilla extract. Like a best girlfriend, she tells it like it is, advising whether it’s worth your time and energy to make homemade marshmallows (it is!) or if you should spend hours crafting hotdogs (don’t even think about it). Recipes for those items Reese deems worth making are clear, simple and easy to execute.
Make the Bread, Buy the Butter is the quintessential how-to, why-to, when-to manual for home cooks looking to save money, improve flavor, and avoid artificial ingredients.
The sun eventually did set on the British empire. The process of its descent makes for some interesting reading in both novels and non-fiction books as authors explore the impact of the withdrawal of British rule on non-native families living abroad.
Author Alexandra Fuller’s latest book Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness is an account of her parents’ migration from the British Isles to east Africa and is the story of immigrants adapting to and adopting a new country and adjusting once again as British colonialism yields to self-rule. Fuller’s mother, especially, has a voice in this book as the family moves throughout east Africa’s farming communities.
The same themes of family history intertwined with recent African history are carried out in When a Crocodile Eats the Sun by Peter Godwin. Godwin, a journalist now living in the United States, was raised in Rhodesia; he and his sister left the country but his parents remained even as Robert Mugabe rose to power and Rhodesia became Zimbabwe. Godwin’s description of his aged parents’ life under Mugabe’s rule is harrowing but he, as does Fuller, conveys the attachment of his parents to a country which has become inhospitable and often dangerously hostile to them.
Monique Roffey’s novel The White Woman on the Green Bicycle examines the marriage of a white couple, George and Sabine Harwood, living in Trinidad. The newlywed Harwoods arrive on the island in 1956 as George has been offered a three year employment contract. Sabine, wilting under the heat and culture shock, can’t wait to return to England but George thrives as an Englishman living in a British colony and refuses to leave. Broken promises figure in both the Harwood marriage and Trinidad’s move to independence and this Orange prize short-lister blend of fiction and fact is an interesting window into a lesser-known former British colony.
It's no secret that many of Hollywood's most successful blockbusters are adaptations of popular books. The recent Academy Award nominees refect this, especially when it comes to family films. Here are some of the children's titles that brought magic to the movies this year:
The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick became the visually stunning film Hugo directed by Martin Scorsese. This tale of an orphaned boy living in a Paris train station was the surprise winner of the Caldecott Medal for the most distinguished picture book in 2008. Selznick’s creative style mixes pages of text with wordless pages that opens the reader’s imagination and invites them to create parts of the story for themselves. Selznick’s newest title Wonderstruck is similarly illustrated.
The Adventures of Tintin is adapted from the classic graphic novel series of the same name written by Belgian writer/artist Herge. Tintin is a young reporter who gets caught up in dangerous adventures as he completes his story assignments. Modeled after the boy scout values, Tintin always knows what is right and acts in the most upstanding manner. He is a role model for children (and perhaps adults everywhere.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II marks the end of the film journey into J.K. Rowling’s magical world. The books are now over 14 years old and a whole new generation of readers are jumping on the Hogwarts express and following Harry as he learns to be a wizard and discovers both good and evil along the way. The Harry Potter books have spawned movies, video games, board games, toys, websites, and even a theme park. The audiobooks are magnificently narrated by the Grammy award-winning Jim Dale. A fun fact—Jim Dale holds the Guinness World Record for creating 146 different character voices for the audiobook version of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows!