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Michelle Williamson is our Customer Service Training Coordinator, who also lends her expertise to the Kids team ten hours a week. She's crazy about the outdoors, having just learned to scuba dive, and is in training for the Seattle to Portland Bike Marathon. It would be hard to pin down her reading tastes. They range from the practical to the perverse, which will appeal to the kinky CPA in you.
Spring is here and summer is just around the corner, so I'd like to recommend some great short stories, perfect for vacationing. The best thing about these books is you don't actually have to go anywhere to feel like you're on holiday. From the contemporary to classic, LA to China, there's something for all tastes.The Girl in the Flammable Skirt by Aimee Bender
hard to believe that this is Ms. Bender's first book. Why, you might ask? It's
totally amazing! And to think, she's from LA. These sixteen short and easy stories
are simultaneously extremely sad, righteously sexy, and anything but shallow.
Being a bookseller, I have to name "Quiet Please" as one of my favorites.
A librarian receives a call at the beginning of her shift from her grieving
mother to tell her that her father just died. Instead of taking the day off,
like most of us would do, she decides to screw away her sadness. Her pain shows
clearly through the mask of sexual promiscuity, a theme that lies just beneath
the surface in all of these stories.
Kafka. I'd never read this man's works. Well, never as an adult, until lovely
Faatzy, whom we all love and admire at this great book store, recommended him
at a handselling workshop. Kafka is dark, depressing, distressing, distinct
divine. You may think to yourself, "Why would I want all that on vacation?"
Because your mind will be clear and you'll have the advantage of making it through
his drudgery without the complications of your normal daily life. You'll have
time to dwell! "The Metamorphosis" is in this collection. Yet, despite
the compelling fascination of a man turned into cockroach, I doubt you'll find
that it's your favorite. "In the Penal Colony", for instance, offers
a rich look into the mind of a professional executioner. The pride he takes
in his machine and the joy he finds at the 11th hour, when the last bit of life
is drained out of a condemned man is revolting. Read him and grow ill in the
stomach, pained in the head and delighted in even the tiniest bit of joy you
find everywhere, anywhere, other than in his tales.
I discovered Brautigan when I was 20 years old. After reading The Abortion, I was compelled to seek out each and every title that he'd written. Sadly, Brautigan shot himself in '84, five years before I even knew who he was. His last book, So The Wind Won't Blow It All Away is my favorite, but I'd like to recommend some works that were published posthumously, The Edna Webster Collection of Undiscovered Writings.
Brautigan gave some poems and short stories to the mother of his best friend and first girlfriend when he left Eugene, Oregon for San Francisco at the age of 21. His thought was that if he ever became famous they would fund her retirement. Boy, was he ever right. The collection was bought by the Bancroft Library at Berkeley, for some untold amount, and then published in 1999, for those devoted fans like myself. Okay, okay, on to the book! I opened it up and it was over in an instant. Such a damn shame that the pleasure didn't last 100 pages longer my only complaint. Here's a poem:
Half poetry, half short stories, this book serves as a perfect introduction
to a great writer, or an even better reintroduction for someone that hasn't
read him in years. His humility, honest speech, playfulness and wit will charm
you and leave you wanting more.
craft is to make the obscure seem real. How can you fault the beauty of glistening
molars, even when they cover a woman's body? Let alone the idea that a man swallowed
whole would be content to live inside a woman's body? She makes the common object
come alive with a surrealness that intrigues. In "Covered", a childhood
blanket claims it's owner, gripping his penis jealously as he attempts to have
sex with a woman, forcing it towards her anus until she runs away disgusted.
In "Pudding", a dish of the homemade chocolate stuff becomes the focus
of a trying marriage when it's spilled and left on the floor to rot for weeks.
You'll lose yourself in the wonderful worlds she creates, but not so much as
to miss the powerful meaning that lies below the surface.
years of Mandarin and several courses on China in college made me fall in love
with China. National Book
Award winner, Ha Jin, has much to offer to those who want a look into Chinese
culture without the painstaking requirements of term papers or the numb fingers
that come from writing hanzi thousands of times a day. His style is fresh and
alive. The subject matter of these twelve short stories spans the surreal to
the common day-to-day existence in a China that is changing faster than the
eye can see. Explore a world that seems foreign and far away and discover that
human nature is similar no matter where we are.
Diet and Fitness
Let's take the leap to entirely different subject matter the physical self. In the last year I've lost 120 pounds. Everyone asks me how I did it and I have to give them the answer that no one wants to hear, "It's simple, you just eat less and exercise more." There is no way to fail using that method, but we'd all like a quick fix, a magic bullet, something that would take away the hard work. I don't have any single title to recommend about diet and exercise. My style is to pull bits and pieces from several sources, mix and match, take what I need and leave the rest. Here are some books that I suggest taking a look at.
Ornish was way ahead of the game in emphasizing the value of diet, exercise
and meditation as keys to good health. His program to reverse heart disease,
which some thought radical, was and is amazingly successful. In Eat More,
Weigh Less, he recommends a low fat, ten-percent of your daily calories,
vegetarian diet. This may seem extreme for some, and I'm the first to admit
that I eat meat, but there's no need to throw the baby out with the bath water
here. Instead, read the book thoroughly, try the excellent recipes, which were
created by professional chefs, and use the information gleaned as a solid base
of knowledge to build on.
Switching extremes here, let's look at Protein Power. I
will start out by saying that in no way do I recommend following this program
by the book. However, there is valuable information here. Protein should be
a major component in your diet when trying to lose weight especially if you're
like I was and have many pounds to take off. You want to lose the body fat and
not the muscle. Also, protein fills you up and leaves you feeling satiated.
Low-fat protein is the key here! Stick with chicken, turkey and the least fatty
fish. Take what's in this book with a grain of salt, but glean useful information
about the health risks of being overweight. Included are fairly good tables
for computing your body fat, the factors of insulin, what triggers cravings,
and motivational tips throughout.
order to lose weight you need to learn how to eat right. Overeating is an addiction
like alcoholism and smoking, but the overeater can't just give up food cold
turkey like an alcoholic can give up booze or a smoker can give up cigarettes.
We have to eat to stay alive. Volumetrics shows us how we can eat, and
eat a lot, without consuming tons of calories. The Energy Density Spectrum is
an excellent tool for learning which foods offer the most volume for the fewest
number of calories. An easy-to-reference Modular Food lists explains which foods,
in practical servings, fit into which calorie range. Recipes are flavorful,
creative, and give you the basic skills you'll need to invent your own low fat,
high volume meals.
good book for the beginner or the experienced rider. If you're just starting
out you'll find information about basic riding skills, pacing, attire, bike
clubs and useful publications. If you're a seasoned rider you'll go straight
to the courses which include maps, elevation charts, written directions, places
to get food along the way, and commentary about what you'll see. With rides
of distances from ten to one hundred miles in Oregon, Washington, Idaho and
British Columbia, there's plenty of variety here. Plan your summer weekends
around a dozen of these courses and you'll find yourself fit in no time.
Get fit and have fun at the same time by exploring the outdoors. No matter where you live you can find somewhere to walk, hike, bike, or run. I'm fortunate to live in the beautiful Northwest, abundant with forests, streams, rivers, mountains, public coastline even desert. Portland Hikes is a good place to start if you're from around here or plan to visit. It lists seventy hikes within one hundred miles of town. Each entry includes a map of the hike, its length and difficulty level, as well as other pertinent information, such as the seasons the hike is available. The authors know what they're talking about they've been to these places and give you inside tips. You'll get excited just reading through the book, and you'll be totally psyched when you're finally out there on the trails!