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Original Essays | September 30, 2014

Brian Doyle: IMG The Rude Burl of Our Masks

One day when I was 12 years old and setting off on my newspaper route after school my mom said will you stop at the doctor's and pick up something... Continue »
  1. $13.27 Sale Trade Paper add to wish list

    Children and Other Wild Animals

    Brian Doyle 9780870717543


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B&b ex libris has commented on (15) products.

Throw Out Fifty Things: Clear the Clutter, Find Your Life by Gail Blanke
Throw Out Fifty Things: Clear the Clutter, Find Your Life

B&b ex libris, March 25, 2009

Throw out fifty things? That sounds easy until you understand that your whole magazine collection counts as one, your dried up nail polish bottles that clutter up a whole shelf also count as one, your sock drawer filled with miss matched socks and single gloves, yep you guessed it, one. However room through room the articles add up as you go from bedroom, to bathroom, living room, dining room and finally to the horrors of your attic and garage.

This is a new approach in that it doesn't just stop there. Gail Blanke, a life coach and internationally known motivational speaker takes you through all four stages in which you release yourself from more and more stuff that really making you feel heavier. Her four parts are: Getting Rid of the Physical Stuff, Your office Pairing Down the Professional Clutter, Attacking Mental Mess, and Stepping into the Clearing. The first two are possessions, the second two stages are getting rid of unwanted mental mess or feelings, labels and poor self image.

Her main slogan throughout Throw Out Fifty Things is: if it doesn't make you feel good, get rid of it. I was a little shocked the first time that she mentioned that you don't need to go on value, worth or purpose, that even if you use it-and yet it makes you cringe, get rid of it! That is different than where I was thinking this all would go. I am very practical, and I have never thought that things that have no purpose should remain to collect dust while things that you use (even if you hate them) should be gotten rid of, but I see the logic in it after reading this book. That you should surround yourself with pleasing environments, places and rooms that you enjoy, that you want to be in, and clothes that you feel good when you wear.

After just looking at the title, I was nervous that she wanted people to actually 'throw out' all the stuff. But that is really not what Gail intends, she makes sure that you understand that you should only actually throw away things that are broken, useless, or something to which pieces or parts are missing. The rest of the stuff can go to someone else who will love it, to a secondhand store, or you could resell it to get some of your money back. I appreciated her practical take on that. And throughout the book Gail Blanke makes it a point to discuss green methods of discarding pait, batteries, an old AC, and other such toxic waste items.

What did I get out of it? Well, I got the crazy urge to clean my house and get rid of things that I had been holding on to for no reason other than that I didn't know what to do with them (or felt guilted into holding on to!!!). Gail mentions that if it is a very hard decision, that means you just need to get rid of it, and that most of the time we don't get rid of stuff, but we just move it around our homes and garages. That rang a bell with me, we have been shuffling junk for SO LONG! I am in the 'get it out of here' mode and now I know how to attack the problem thanks to Throw Out Fifty Things by Gail Blanke. It sure does make me feel a lot better inside when I get my junk out the door. This was a very helpful, and practical guide to getting rid of things. If you want to throw out your junk but can't seem to figure out the practical aspects of the process, or just aren't motivated to do it, read this!
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(5 of 7 readers found this comment helpful)

The Teashop Girls by Laura Schaefer
The Teashop Girls

B&b ex libris, March 17, 2009

Annie, Genna, and Zoe have been the closest of friends and at the age of six they all fell in love with the Steeping Leaf. It was there that they were coined Teashop Girls, by Annie's Grandmother Louisa when they were almost too young to remember. The teashop was their childhood, they made treats and served them to each other for tea, and spent hours pouring over their Tea Handbook learning all there is to know, making up special advice and interesting uses for different types of tea. They even had a Teashop Girl rules one of them being that it was required to meet weekly for tea together.

Eight years later they are all still close friends, but there is much more to do now that they are in middle school. Annie discovers troubling news about the shop, it is likely to not be around much longer. After earning herself a position as a barista at the teashop, there is no stopping her, she wants to keep Steeping Leaf open! She wishes she could run to her best friends for help and support but will the years have allowed them to stop valuing their teashop the way she still does?

I adored the Teashop Girls. The writing was great, the characters developed to where I felt I knew them, and I couldn't put it down. The clocked ticked and I stayed up reading it hour after hour. I needed to know what was going to happen to the Steeping leaf, and the Teashop Girls!

What I respected the most about this young adult read is that it is one that I would actually let my kid read. I have read other books in this genre which are just to mopey, dark or depressing for me to want to pass on. The Teashop Girls however is spectacular. It isn't that the girls are perfect, or that they always do everything right, but they try and they know what is right and that is what makes the difference. Sure, they are in the midst of their awkward years (do those years ever end!?!?) but they have security in knowing who they are and this book is helping them develop a sense of what is important to them. Most of all I love Annie, she sees what she wants and grabs it, she is motivated, brilliant and extremely sweet...just my kind of gal! I strongly recommend this book, it is sure to satisfy, as long as it is read with a cup of tea in hand at all times.
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(1 of 2 readers found this comment helpful)

Walking the Choctaw Road: Stories from Red People Memory by Tim Tingle
Walking the Choctaw Road: Stories from Red People Memory

B&b ex libris, March 6, 2009

Walking the Choctaw Road is a book filled with tales told from tongue to tongue, and heard generation after generation. Oral history and the beauty of a culture that makes the time to pass on wisdom, dreams, legends through communication, in person communication. Tingle grasps ancient tribal memories, supernatural events, and historical accounts to further the heritage of the present day Choctaw people. Walking the Choctaw Road contains eleven stories that give a glimpse into the core of the strength and desire to endure of the Choctaw people.

Tim Tingle doesn't leave out the horrors, the sadness or the tale of the journey, he embraces the devastation just as much as the victory as all being of equal importance to the generations to come. In a world of immediate gratification, I see the value in learning to wait, being patient, and not getting everything you want exactly when you first want it.

It is like a hill, to tell only the good would be to just tell of the vision you can see from above, when you are on the top and can look down the on the beauty of your journey. Storytelling is the narration of the journey with all the good and all the bad as well as the final outcome. The journey is the process by which we reach the goals, and by which we ourselves can come to understand the meaning of each victory.

There is something magical in hearing words passed on which have endured generation after generation. I hope to someday have a chance to sit in on a storytelling, but for now I am satisfied with Tim Tingle and reading Walking the Choctaw Road. I enjoyed reading the stories, it holds and as I read I could imagine myself sitting listening to a master storyteller, with a deep voice and pacing slightly. This was a great read!

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(1 of 2 readers found this comment helpful)

A View of Jerusalem: A Collection of Memories
A View of Jerusalem: A Collection of Memories

B&b ex libris, March 3, 2009

Erin Sheely Tolman writes with excellence about her time at the BYU Jerusalem Center, in August of 2000. With determination she embarks on a journey to see as much as she can along with 172 other students. So excited is Erin about her new surroundings and the potential adventures lurking behind every corner that she does not see the dangers that are brewing in that part of the world. Will she get to carry her dreams of exploration and adventure all the way through her voyage or will the dark cloud of middle eastern conflict make traveling and touring a feat even too dangerous for Erin Sheely Tolman?

I completely enjoyed A View of Jerusalem, I read it in one sitting and could not get over the beautifully written descriptions of important religious places that Erin traveled to. Her sincerity in the disappointments of being in lockdown for different periods of the trip, as a safety precaution and other joys and sadnesses she endured made the personality burst through. Stunning illustrations by Steven Lee Elgan help depict the places Erin is visiting, and what she is seeing.
The visuals really helped me gain an even deeper understanding than just by words alone.

She not only explains the importance of each of the sites she tours, but she fills the page with more than surface level descriptions. Going beyond the physical experience to retell her personal feelings, what she learned, and how it changed her forever.

Any reader who is a traveler, or a traveler through reading about other peoples voyages will enjoy this read. It is short and very sweet. I understood and could relate on many different levels, I share the desire Erin Tolman does to explore, as well as experience life in its fullest. I get that. I also can relate to being far away from family and feeling blessed by having them, but miss them all the same. If you read this book you are sure to fall in love with Erin Sheely Tolman.
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(0 of 1 readers found this comment helpful)

The Shack by Wm. Paul Young
The Shack

B&b ex libris, March 3, 2009

The Shack is a fiction story that, after a devastating event, takes Mack, the main character into a fantasy-like dream place where he meets God, (or "Papa") the Holy Spirit (or "Sarayu" and Jesus. There he heals, learns from them about the way the world should be and about how he should see the things that happen to him. It is filled with theology, mostly about how to live and his attitudes towards what comes his way.

I wish I could say strongly one way or another if I loved or hated it, but to me this book really wasn't either so good I am thrilled by it, or so horrid I want to rag on it. There are some things in it that are a little strange, and for my tastes there was way too much debatage between the characters on different theologies and such. I enjoyed the beginning, the mystery and such, but once he went into the fantasy was just not the same stuff for me.

I didn't think the book was written particularly well, but I decided I would forgive that if it made an earth shattering impact on me. As much as I did learn things from the book, it was not life changing the way I had anticipated, and not nearly enough for me to be able to forget even for a minute the just average writing.
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(8 of 17 readers found this comment helpful)

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