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Fall Reading December 2, 2011

Filed under: Reading List — hejb @ 10:46 am
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This Autumn has been full of good books.  Here are those I can remember that I’ve read.  Remember to BUY LOCAL when shopping for Holiday presents this season.

Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot:  Family, science, race, and history make this book a fascinating and occasionally upsetting examination of the consequences of the success of the first human cells to survive and replicate outside of the body.  I read it for hours over a couple of days.  Thanks to Randi R. for the recommendation.

Habibi by Craig Thompson: Beautiful, stunning masterpiece from product of Traverse City, Wisconsin, and Portland among other places, Craig Thompson.  If you ever read any graphic novel, this should be the one.  I saw Thompson when he came into town.  He’s thoughtful and honest about how hard great work can be to produce.

Mastiff by Tamora Pierce: A satisfying conclusion to Pierce’s most recent trilogy, Mastiff provides the strong female protagonist, Beka Cooper, we come to expect in Pierce’s books.

This is Us by David Marin: Marin was a single white guy who wanted to start a family by adopting children.  This is Us is the story of how absurdly difficult, yet vastly important it can be to adopt children in our country, especially if you’re male and a different skin color from the children you want to be a part of your family.  Marin successfully weaves tales of bureaucracy with joyous tales of his family.  This book struck a chord with me because my family fostered a black baby, but could not adopt him because we are white.

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness:  Ness digs in deep to the pain of a child losing his mother to cancer.  In this book, he’s figured out how to make death a subject that can be talked about, once the courage is found.  I recommend it for any young adult dealing with loss or mature enough for a very good tale.  It made me cry at the end, but not my 16 year old brother.

18 Minutes by Peter Bregman: This time management book takes a much broader look at your life than most.  Bregman’s basic argument is if you don’t look at how you are deciding to spend your time, then your time will never be well spent.  He walks readers through the process of prioritizing goals and time drains and then, once the work has been done, gives those tools so often found in other books.  I have already implemented those tips that resonated with me and am much more productive.

The Brief History of the Dead by Kevin Brockmeier: Brockmeier makes the ordinary pain of day to day life seem like poetry with his prose.  If you want something that’s well-written and has an unexpected plot, Brief History’s the way to go.

The Outcasts by John Flanagan: This is the first book in the Brotherband Chronicles, thenew series spun off from Rangers Apprentice.  I enjoyed it.  It’s a good adventure with another wonderful set of characters.  I might even like this boy who doesn’t quite fit in better than Will from Rangers Apprentice.  I look forward to book 2.

Otto the Book Bear by Katie Cleminson: Absolutely charming new picture book that comes out in January.  The illustrations and story are classic.  A bear who lives in a book goes on adventures when no one is watching.  This will be my go to gift for friends who have small children.


Thankful for Badassery November 22, 2011

Filed under: YOBAY — hejb @ 10:58 am

I am thankful for all of the traits of badassery present in my life and the lives of others.  Right now, I am most thankful for nachos.  I’m not sure if they’re badass, but they certainly are delicious.

I am a third of the way towards being able to change my own oil.  Dad helped me this time around, next time, I will attempt by myself while he’s close so I can ask questions.  I can seamlessly play the first half of Amazing Grace on my violin and will soon be able to do the same with the second half.  My friend, Sarah, and I created inspired Halloween costumes.  Multiple strangers took pictures of us as Black Swan and White Swan, therein boosting our fame level and mysterious nature.  I made an awesome fritatta from kale harvested from our community garden.  I read Habibi, which is an automatic level-up in the badass zone.

The goals, they do change as time progresses.  I know I’m on the right path based on the facts that badass people still want to hang out with me and that I’m happy.


Month 2 of Badassery October 17, 2011

Filed under: YOBAY — hejb @ 7:39 pm
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What a full second month of being 27!  When I take stock of what I’ve done this month and hold it up to my list of goals, there’s not a lot in common.  Fear not, the quest towards badassery remains the flagship aim of this year in my life, it just may evolve as time passes.

I maintain that living an intentional life on a self-charted path is the ultimate definition of a badass.  This month has been a glorious belly flop turned swan dive into the excruciatingly lovely world of books.  This is the waterslide of shiny objects full of words that I am tubing down at the moment and possibly/ probably/ hopefully for the duration of my short-lived human eternity.  Because books breed badassery.  Try that alliteration on for size!

My violin playing is less sqwauky.  My friends are rockstars.  I’m getting better at kickball.  My legs look great in hot pink leggings.  I already know what my Nanowrimo novel’s going to be about.  My basil plant, Big Momma, is still gorgeous.  Yes, these are indicators of badassery.  Thank you.

This next month bodes success as well.  Woot!


YOBAY–It’s been a month. September 16, 2011

Filed under: Thoughts — hejb @ 4:32 pm

The quest towards improved badassery is off to a good start.  I have taken two violin lessons, small steps towards being able to play a waltz.  I can ride my bike for half an hour on city streets and have started riding it to the community garden I manage.  The biggest bonus of this quest is that I keep meeting neat people and then as I get to know them, I realize that they are also badass and that we have a lot in common.  For example:  My violin teacher decided, when he turned 27 in December, that it’s a year for awesomeness.  I’d like to think that being his student will help him achieve it, but then I’d have to reduce the squawking of my bow on the strings.

Additionally, I can do an average of 10 pushups at a time, a far cry from my ultimate goal of 50.. but headed in the right direction of Michelle Obama arms.  I’ve started working on my soccer fitness so I can play indoor this year.  I may end up with rock hard abs in the process.  Combine Obama arms with rock hard abs, biker butt, and classic JB wit and I will be irresistible.  Watch out future friends and hopefully existent self-confident nerd of my dreams, who dances AND drinks beer!

The moral of the story is that I can’t wait to see the progress I’ve made when I write this report next month.  For now, it’s time to go work on my fitness and then figure out how to dehydrate apples.


Summer Reading September 14, 2011

Filed under: Reading List — hejb @ 10:43 am
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My goodness, I have read a number of books in August and the first half of September.  Let’s see if I can remember all of them.

1. Page by Paige by Laura Lee Gulledge: A coming of age story in graphic novel form.  The illustrations are great and spot on, but some of the prose feels stilted and unnatural.  Still, I would recommend it to creative adolescents who are navigating the journey of the self.

2. Bossypants by Tina Fey: This is everything I wanted it to be, funny, smart and memoir-y.  I do love Tina Fey, so I was inclined to love Bossypants before I started reading it.  My favorite chapter is the one about her dad.

3. Eve by Anna Carey: Comes out in October.  Disappointing dystopian future book in which spineless protagonist never develops a spine.  Read Hunger Games again instead.

4. Horoscopes for the Dead by Billy Collins: Excellent new collection of poetry from my favorite poet.  Whimsical, serious, brooding, and fanciful.

5. Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos: Fun young adult novel where the protagonist, Jack, is grounded for the entire summer and his only escape is to help the town’s obituary writer.  I’ve already sold two copies of this because it is one of the few appropriate books for boys in their early teenage years.

6. Terroryaki by Jennifer Chung: What could be better than a mysterious cursed teriyaki food truck that haunts the suburbs of Seattle?  Nothing, I assure you.  Terroryaki was written as part of the three day Labor Day writing contest and Chung also thanks Nanowrimo.  I will probably end up buying all three copies our store has and sending them out  various friends.

7. The 100 Foot Journey by Richard Morais: Foodie novel with a non-white male protagonist.  Refreshing.  You’ll drool.

8. Fables books 1 and 2 by Bill Willingham et al: I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to get to this series of graphic novels.  What was I thinking?  Read it, especially if you’re into mythology/ fairy tales.  Love the shout out to Neil Gaiman.


Year of Badassery August 13, 2011

Filed under: Thoughts — hejb @ 3:25 pm
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On the occasion of my 27th birthday, I feel inclined to designate the upcoming year as a great year.  27 is the product of my second favorite multiplication problem, 9×3, and therefore its job is to stand out from other years.   23 (Michael Jordan’s number for most of his professional basketball career) was a year destined for greatness that generally lived up to its reputation.  27 will be the year of badassery.

Now some of you might automatically think, “but she’s already so badass.. any more and we’ll have to shield our eyes around her.”  Please, I have no illusions of grandeur.  I have always made it a priority to work on self-improvement, so naturally I must find more ways to fit the definition.  Of course, the ingredients that go into making an A+ badass evolve regularly to include a variety of activities, attributes, and personality quirks.  The following list includes some of the spices I’ve notices missing from my particular mix of badassery.

This year I plan to:

Learn how to change the oil in my car by myself.

Learn how to ride my bike on the streets of Milwaukee without becoming hopelessly lost and chased by dogs.

Learn one awesome breakdancing move.

Learn how to play a waltz and a jig on my fiddle.

Brew my own beer.

Be a racing sausage.

Put out a zine of my own work.

Learn how to say, “I am badass,” or the equivalent in 10 different languages.

Develop an unstoppable overhand serve.

Pull together a gang of badass friends that will torment onlookers with our cool style and hipness oozery, oh wait that’s already all of my friends, especially the volleyball team I’m on.

I welcome suggestions on how to achieve this somewhat epic list and also things I’m missing.  Let the adventures begin!

PS. Anne and Lauren, thank you for the inspiration.  I dedicate this year to your shining examples of badassery.


Books, Woot! August 4, 2011

Filed under: Reading List — hejb @ 4:16 pm

The peril of working in a bookstore is the galleys/ advance reader copies.  The best novel I’ve read recently doesn’t come out til later this month.  Still I will review them.

1. The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson: Tamora Pierce-esque hero’s journey of a fat princess with low self-esteem turned badass queen.  Except, Pierce’s protagonists are usually badass to start out and just become more badass.  Comes out in September, read it if you want an escape.

2. The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh: Incredible story of a young woman who ages out of the foster care system and has to find her way through the world.  She finds solace/modus operandi in the old Victorian meanings of flowers.  A powerful coming of age story that hits you over the head with its honesty. Comes out on August 23rd.

3. Downtown Owl by Chuck Klosterman: This is funny in an undercurrent of clever kind of way.  Think of the people you would meet if you visited a town where generations of families have lived there and an outsider moving in is a big deal.  Klosterman finds the eccentricities and humor in this community.  I was suprised by the ending.  This book is already out!

4. the curious incident of the dog in the night-time by Mark Haddon: Older book, read it for a book club I’m about to join.  Haddon gets in the head of a teenager with autism who goes on a detective hunt that leads him on an unexpected adventure.  It’s good, sometimes painful to read, but good.

5. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline: Fun to read this massive geektastic shout out to the 80’s.  A cross between the Goonies and Anne Bean’s Freedomland.  I could not put it down and I don’t even know much about the videogames mentioned.  Comes out August 16th and basically every bookseller who’s read it is gushing about it.