A Very Bookish Valentine’s Day

I’m blogging elsewhere today! You can find me over at The Heroine’s Bookshelf where I’m celebrating Valentine’s Day by loving on one of my favorite recent literary heroines: Claire from Outlander. Oh, and if you haven’t jumped on the Outlander train yet, you should definitely head over, because I’m giving away the first three books in the series. Not to mention, Erin, author of the fabulous The Heroine’s Bookshelf, has a fabulous grand prize for her Heroine Love event that you must check out.


Okay, so I can’t be the only one who hasn’t gotten anything for their significant other yet (but is/was planning to do so), right? Although I still have no clue what to buy myself, I do have an idea for some of you. I’ve only thumbed through a couple of chapters, but if you have a spouse who loves stuff like Freakanomics, and Predictably Irrational, Ive got a great last-minute Valentine’s Day gift for you:

Spousonomics: Using Economics to Manage Love, Marriage, and Dirty Dishes by Paula Szuchman

It is part self-help book, part work of behavioral economics, with the self-help part backed up by data and is far more practical than many touchy feeling self-help books (I’m not a fan of the genre in general, but this one is fascinating). Sure, a critical look at household division of labor may not sound romantic, but Spousonomics seems quite certain that implementation of some of their methods will result in some more romantic time. It seems like “more sex!” is one of their mantras, actually.

So if you have a nice, slightly nerdy spouse/significant other like mine and still need a gift, stop at your favorite bookstore on the way home today and pick this up.

Product description:

Are you happy in your marriage—except for those weekly spats over who empties the dishwasher more often? Not a single complaint—unless you count the fact that you haven’t had sex since the Bush administration? Prepared to be there in sickness and in health—so long as it doesn’t mean compromising? Be honest: Ever lay awake thinking how much more fun married life used to be?

If you’re a member of the human race, then the answer is probably “yes” to all of the above. Marriage is a mysterious, often irrational business. Making it work till death do you part—or just till the end of the week—isn’t always easy. And no one ever handed you a user’s manual.

Until now. With Spousonomics, Paula Szuchman and Jenny Anderson offer something new: a clear-eyed, rational route to demystifying your disagreements and improving your relationship. The key, they propose, is to think like an economist.

That’s right: an economist.

Economics is the study of resource allocation, after all. How do we—as partners in a society, a business, or a marriage—spend our limited time, money, and energy? And how do we allocate these resources most efficiently? Spousonomics answers these questions by taking classic economic concepts and applying them to the domestic front. For example:

• Arguing all night isn’t a sign of a communication breakdown; you’re just extremely loss-averse—and by refusing to give an inch, you’re risking even greater losses.
• Stay late at the office, or come home for dinner? Be honest about your mother-in-law, or keep your mouth shut and smile? Let the cost-benefit analysis make the call.
• Getting your spouse to clean the gutters isn’t a matter of nagging or guilt-tripping; it’s a question of finding the right incentives.
• Being “too busy” to exercise or forgetting your anniversary (again): your overtaxed memory and hectic schedule aren’t to blame—moral hazard is.
• And when it comes to having more sex: merely a question of supply and demand!

Spousonomics cuts through the noise of emotions, egos, and tired relationship clichés. Here, at last, is a smart, funny, refreshingly realistic, and deeply researched book that brings us one giant leap closer to solving the age-old riddle of a happy, healthy marriage.

How Stupid Do You Have To Be…

…to try to ban a book the DAY before Banned Books Week starts?


A district official in my very own old school district in California decided last Friday that Stephenie Meyer’s “Twilight” series was not appropriate for junior high and ordered all copies of her books in any of the 12 junior highs in the district be sent to the district offices.  

You can read the whole story here.

Thank you ma’am.  I’m glad you’ve decided that not a single middle school student is capable of reading and processing “Twilight.”  Where on earth would these children be without you?  Who else could parent them in such a capable manner.  Oh.  Right.  They have actual parents that aren’t you.

Don’t think that Twilight should be in junior high libraries?  Look into it a little bit before you purchase the damn thing.  I’ve heard there’s this thing called the ‘internet’ where people talk about books, including often their content.

NPR Spotlights Banned Books Week

Evidently I timed my drive into work this morning JUST right, because the last full story I heard on NPR (via Chicago Public Radio, WBEZ – woohoo!) was about Banned Books Week.

The whole thing was fascinating, but what really caught my ears was a statement made by Judith Krug of the American Library Association:

“They’re not afraid of the book; they’re afraid of the ideas,” says Krug. “The materials that are challenged and banned say something about the human condition.”

That coincided very nicely with what I was wondering while I was creating some of my spotlight posts.  For some of the books I am featuring this week, at least, I wondered how much of the negative reaction towards the book was caused by specific instances of racism, sex, violence, language, or witchcraft, and how much is because some of these books challenege worldviews and highlight serious injustices.  What do you think?  Are most books banned because they are dirty or innappropriate, or because the idea in them scare people?  Are those ‘won’t somebody please think of the children!?!’ passages what jump out at people, or do they go looking for those portions of the book, to find an excuse for hating it?

Anyway, enough of that tangent (although I’m very interested to hear people’s thoughts about those questions in the comments).  The story went on to talk about how and why “Grapes of Wrath” was banned, particularly in Kern Country, California, when it first came out, using part of Rick Wartzman’s new book “Obscene in the Extreme” to discuss the situation in Kern County (Mr. Wartzman or Mr. Wartzman’s publishers/publicists, if you happen to be reading this, I REALLY want to read and review “Obscene in the Extreme”).

Overall, fascination story.  You can read the whole thing PLUS an excerpt of “Obscene in the Extreme” here.

In case you missed it, here is my spotlight on “Grapes of Wrath” for Banned Books Week.  You can find all of my Banned Books Week posts by clicking here.

Tuesday Thingers: Reading Banned Books

From Marie at Boston Bibliophile: For this week’s Tuesday Thingers, I’ve copied the list of the most-challenged books of the 1990s straight from the ALA website. I’ve bolded the ones I’ve read. Bold what you’ve read, and italicize what you have in your LT library.

I will also be starring the books I’m featuring this week.

1. Scary Stories (Series) by Alvin Schwartz
2. Daddy’s Roommate by Michael Willhoite
3. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
4. The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
5. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
6. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
7. Harry Potter (Series) by J.K. Rowling
8. Forever by Judy Blume
9. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
10. Alice (Series) by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
11. Heather Has Two Mommies by Leslea Newman
12. My Brother Sam is Dead by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier
13. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
14. The Giver by Lois Lowry
15. It’s Perfectly Normal by Robie Harris
16. Goosebumps (Series) by R.L. Stine
17. A Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Newton Peck
18. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
19. Sex by Madonna
20. Earth’s Children (Series) by Jean M. Auel
21. The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson
22. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle ***
23. Go Ask Alice by Anonymous
24. Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers
25. In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak
26. The Stupids (Series) by Harry Allard
27. The Witches by Roald Dahl
28. The New Joy of Gay Sex by Charles Silverstein
29. Anastasia Krupnik (Series) by Lois Lowry
30. The Goats by Brock Cole
31. Kaffir Boy by Mark Mathabane ***
32. Blubber by Judy Blume
33. Killing Mr. Griffin by Lois Duncan
34. Halloween ABC by Eve Merriam
35. We All Fall Down by Robert Cormier
36. Final Exit by Derek Humphry
37. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood ***
38. Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George
39. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
40. What’s Happening to my Body? Book for Girls: A Growing-Up Guide for Parents & Daughters by Lynda Madaras
41. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee ***
42. Beloved by Toni Morrison
43. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
44. The Pigman by Paul Zindel
45. Bumps in the Night by Harry Allard
46. Deenie by Judy Blume
47. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
48. Annie on my Mind by Nancy Garden
49. The Boy Who Lost His Face by Louis Sachar
50. Cross Your Fingers, Spit in Your Hat by Alvin Schwartz
51. A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein
52. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
53. Sleeping Beauty Trilogy by A.N. Roquelaure (Anne Rice)
54. Asking About Sex and Growing Up by Joanna Cole
55. Cujo by Stephen King
56. James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
57. The Anarchist Cookbook by William Powell
58. Boys and Sex by Wardell Pomeroy
59. Ordinary People by Judith Guest
60. American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
61. What’s Happening to my Body? Book for Boys: A Growing-Up Guide for Parents & Sons by Lynda Madaras
62. Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume
63. Crazy Lady by Jane Conly
64. Athletic Shorts by Chris Crutcher
65. Fade by Robert Cormier
66. Guess What? by Mem Fox
67. The House of Spirits by Isabel Allende
68. The Face on the Milk Carton by Caroline Cooney
69. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
70. Lord of the Flies by William Golding ***
71. Native Son by Richard Wright ***
72. Women on Top: How Real Life Has Changed Women’s Fantasies by Nancy Friday
73. Curses, Hexes and Spells by Daniel Cohen
74. Jack by A.M. Homes
75. Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo A. Anaya
76. Where Did I Come From? by Peter Mayle
77. Carrie by Stephen King
78. Tiger Eyes by Judy Blume
79. On My Honor by Marion Dane Bauer
80. Arizona Kid by Ron Koertge
81. Family Secrets by Norma Klein
82. Mommy Laid An Egg by Babette Cole
83. The Dead Zone by Stephen King
84. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
85. Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
86. Always Running by Luis Rodriguez
87. Private Parts by Howard Stern
88. Where’s Waldo? by Martin Hanford
89. Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene
90. Little Black Sambo by Helen Bannerman
91. Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
92. Running Loose by Chris Crutcher
93. Sex Education by Jenny Davis
94. The Drowning of Stephen Jones by Bette Greene
95. Girls and Sex by Wardell Pomeroy
96. How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell
97. View from the Cherry Tree by Willo Davis Roberts
98. The Headless Cupid by Zilpha Keatley Snyder
99. The Terrorist by Caroline Cooney
100. Jump Ship to Freedom by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier

I am spotlighting a different banned book that I have own and have read everyday of Banned Books Week at 2:00 Central.  If you would like to see all of my posts about Banned Books Week, click here.

How are you celebrating Banned Books Week?

TSS 2: Banned Books Week Spotlight – The Grapes of Wrath


The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

Original publication date: 1939

This week is banned books week in the United States.  All week I will be highlighting banned, challenged, and censored books I own and have read.

Publisher description:

One of the greatest and most socially significant novels of the twentieth century, Steinbeck’s controversial masterpiece indelibly captured America during the Great Depression through the story of one Oklahoma farm family, the Joads. Intensely human yet majestic in its scale and moral vision, tragic but ultimately stirring in its insistence on human dignity, The Grapes of Wrath (1939) is not only a landmark American novel, but it is as well an extraordinary moment in the history of our national conscience.

Status: Challenged in the U.S., including being burned by the East St. Louis, IL public library (1939) and barred from the Buffalo, NY public library (1939); publishers put on trial in Turkey for spreading propaganda (citation).

Reason for challenge in the U.S.: Reasons cited include profanity, taking the Lord’s name in vain, inappropriate sexual references, and the fact that an ex-minister recounts his sexual conquests (citation).

My thoughts: “The Grapes of Wrath” is one of my favorite books (.doc) of all time.  I have loved it ever since reading it in high school in what was my introduction to John Steinbeck.  Like “Kaffir Boy,” this is the story of a downtrodden and economically depressed people.  Although the ‘Okies’ didn’t suffer the same systemic abuse and racism as did Mark Mathabane and his family, they were definitely an economically and politically oppressed people.

Your Turn: Have you read “The Grapes of Wrath”?  What did you think about it?  Did the profanity make an impact on you (positive or negative)?  Did it work within the conext of the book or was it gratuitous?  Can you imagine having to pack up your entire life in a car and move half-way across the country to start over from scratch?

Buy this book on Amazon.

Check out my Banned Books Week Spotlights all week, every day at 2 pm Central through Saturday, Octobter 4th.

Kaffir Boy: The True Story of a Black Youth’s Coming of Age in Apartheid South Africa

Rebecca of The Book Lady’s Blog is doing Banned Books Week Spotlights as well, every morning at 9 am.  Check her out as well!

The Perks of Being a Wallflower — And Tango Makes Three

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