Goodbye, Fellow Bookworms!

I started writing in this blog because I was missing something in my life. I had a wonderful family, a loving husband, fantastic friends, a charmingly malicious Cat, and the many blessings and advantages of living where I do.

But there was something missing.

My job was, by all standards, a good one.  I was part of the health care system, doing what I had been trained to do, working a full time job right after graduating. But the work I was doing was not challenging, and the nature of it did not allow for much creativity (Rightfully so, while helping to diagnose leukemia is not the most appropriate time to nurture the artist within).

I needed a creative outlet, and I always liked the idea of unstructured, journal-style writing. I really never thought that I would enjoy writing “Hey Bookworm” as much as I did. I figured I would get 3 or 4 posts in and then I would either lose interest or feel the self-consciousness that comes with creative expression.

But here we are 76 posts and 3 years later. Still part of a kickass family, still wildly in love with J, same fabulous friends, the Cat is as much of an asshole as she ever was. Now I have a job that challenges me and frustrates me and makes me want to pull my hair out, but also keeps me looking forward to every single morning. And as much as I love Hey Bookworm, energy is a finite resource best spent elsewhere right now, so it is time to say goodbye. This blog address expires in October, and I have decided not to renew it. I will be creating a little book to keep on my shelves at home so I can peruse it whenever I need a reminder of that time I was brave enough to put words of my own into the universe.

Thank you to everyone for reading my little musings, maybe giving a giggle or two at my dumb jokes, and allowing me to indulge my creative side.

Happy Reading

Kerry

120017-inspirational-quotes-about-reading-books

 

LIBRARY FIGHT!!!

In case you haven’t heard, there’s a little bit of excitement happening in my hometown of Toronto this year. Our local baseball team has made it into the ALCS finals for the first time in 22 long years. I might not be a huge sports buff, but I can’t get enough of the energy that pumped up sports fans give off (read: I love bandwagons). I spent a good portion of my vacation in Nicaragua last week huddled around a tablet, praying the WiFi didn’t give out (it did, it was Nicaragua).

At any rate, the city is electric right now, and even the Toronto and Kansas City Public Libraries are getting in on the fun!

After a heartbreaking loss by the Jays last night, Kansas City posted the following picture to their Twitter account:

Tonight’s reading for the @BlueJays: http://ow.ly/TGB2Y #MaybeWeWentTooFar #LoveYouToronto #MayTheBestTeamWin

Cute, right?

Well, my peeps down at TPL got in on the fun today:

Reading down the spines, TPLs (much more clever) message to KC reads “Warning Kansas City, It ain’t over till it’s over.” Well played, fellow bookworms, well played.

Check out the original story here on BlogTO.

LET’S GO JAYS!!

Of Barbies and Books: An Editorial Reply

When I was little, my friend A was my Barbie Playing friend. Many a weekend I would bring my Barbies and their maroon convertible (with the lights that turned on) to play at her house (she had the Barbie Dream house).*

*Although, I need to give some credit to my mom on this, because I did have a sweet Barbie condo with a rooftop patio made out of some fruit crates. And this was in the days before Pinterest. It was awesome. 

Anyway, lining the top of her bookcase, A had a row of beautiful Collectors’ edition Barbies, still in their boxes. Holiday Barbies in beautiful velvet ball gowns, exotic Barbies in satin kimonos, and Princess Barbies in taffeta and lace.

All still in their boxes. How is it even possible for a 9-year-old to have such restraint!?

I remember asking her why these dolls weren’t in play, and her response “Because they’re special and I have to keep them nice.”

I was a little bewildered, being from a family of 6 kids, keeping something nice instead of opening it and playing with it as much as possible until it belongs to the next kid in line was totally foreign to me. But hey, we had 2 Kens, life was good, and we’re friends to this day, despite these differences. Needless to say, I was never the kid who kept things nice. Nor did I grow into this skill, as evidenced by my owning nothing of value that is undamaged. The more special something is, the more I want to use it, enjoy it, and share it.

Claire Fallon, a very talented Books and Culture writer for the Huffington Post and fellow book lover wrote an article entitled ” You don’t have to destroy a book to love it: A plea to readers”, in which she makes a lot of good points. The “Plea” argues that cracked spines, inscriptions, bent pages and torn covers are a sign of disrespect. That these books are ruined. She scours bookstores looking for pristine copies and strongly resist giving out the books she likes best. She is the Collectors’ Edition Reader. From her article, it was implied that any different treatment translates to less respect.

Now, Ms. Fallon and I agree on one key point: Books are special. But we disagree greatly on what that means.

The only way a book is ruined is if the words are completely obscured. So book burners and 3-year-olds with sharpies- this doesn’t apply to you, you’re still jerks.

But, one corner of a book stained with coffee? That just means the book was engrossing enough to be read on the subway, while juggling a laptop, lunchbag, purse, and leaky coffee travel mug. Bent covers and cracked spines are a sure sign of reading a book in bed until you fall asleep and drop it on the floor. Notes in margins and inscriptions in covers are a bonus of used books! It gives them history, like they’ve lived lives. The more I love a book, the more I give it away. I’ve bought 3 copies of The Happiness Project since it came out. Why wouldn’t you want to share something that brought you such joy?

As a child, my Barbies were out of the box before the wrapping paper hit the floor. I don’t have special occasion dishes, I don’t save good wine,  I eat dessert before dinner*, and I often use the floor to mark the place in my books.

*I may have impulse control issues

So, while I respect fellow bookworm Claire Fallon, and her opinion, I maintain that we may not “have to destroy a book to love it”, but that destruction is often the sign of a well-loved book.

Review Time: Stephen King- 11/22/63

Sometimes you pick a book based on a review. Sometimes you pick a book based on the author. Sometimes you pick a book based on the cover (although, apparently this makes you a bad person).

But sometimes you pick a book because its 840 pages and you have to be on a plane/ in an airport for 2 days.

Whatever the reason, I’m glad I read Stephen Kings’ 11/22/63.

Jack Epping is a divorced 30-something in a small town, living a rather nondescript life. Teaches high school by day, teaches adult literacy at night and frequents the local greasy diner in-between. Until one day, when his friend and local diner owner, Al Templeton, looking 8 years older than he did the day before, approaches him with a rather shocking bit of news: The storeroom of the diner allows him to go back in time. Not to any time, mind you, to 11:58 a.m. on September 9th, 1958 only. And this is a portal with some rules:

You can go to 1958, make all the changes you like, and come back to 2015. BUT, if you then go Back to 1958 another time, everything is reset to the way it was before. Also, when you visit 1958, no matter how long you stay there, only 2 minutes have passed when you return to 2015.

Understandably, Jack is skeptical at first, but after a quick jaunt to the past for the best darn root beer float he ever had, Al reveals the real reason he has shared the portal with Jack. After much research, Al has determined that the death of JFK was a “watershed moment”. A watershed moment is a moment in time that if changed, has a massive effect on all subsequent events. His rationale (abbreviated) is this: If JFK had lived, America would not have entered the Vietnam war (because JFK was far more war-adverse than Lyndon Johnson, among other reasons). If America had not engaged with Vietnam, then the public would not have had as much reason to distrust the government, the civil rights movement may have achieved its aims without violence, Martin Luther King would have lived, etc, etc, all leading to a better world for you and me.

So Al has been plotting to stop the assassination of JFK, by Killing Lee Harvey Oswald. However, the past is resistant to change, and Al will succumb to lung cancer before achieving his goal. Jack must use the portal and continue this quest.

What ensues is a gripping, action- filled book. Jack ends up building a life for himself in the years between 1958 and 1963, and it isn’t entirely clear if he SHOULD stop this assassination for a number of reasons. Ethically, this is a little grey- he would have to kill Oswald, who has done nothing wrong up until this point, IF he was the sole killer at all. Also, the concept of a watershed moment is itself fraught with debate- it is strongly believed by some that there may be a divine being that will force certain events one way or another, regardless of a single change. And of course, there’s the impact that frequenting the past has on our fragile space-time continuum.

11/22/63 was entertaining, thought-provoking (thoughts like: if I was in 1958, I would buy stocks and also go to the opening of the very first IHOP) and intelligently written. Basically, if you liked Back  to the Future (and who didn’t?), you should give this book a try.

And as a note: I think that Stephen King gets a bad rap sometimes amongst bibliophiles. Yes, his books are widely appreciated and mass-consumed. Okay, he clearly is a well oiled machine who pumps out literature, factory- style.  Yes, his books are clearly written with the intent of being made into movies ( I think his last one actually had a stage note..). But come on, The Green Mile? Fantastic. Under the Dome? If you ignore the last chapter, great!

At any rate, I really enjoyed 11/22/63, and I would have enjoyed it, even if I wasn’t trapped in a metal tube hurtling through the air.

10 Terrible Truths About Moving

Last spring, I wrote an article about 10 terrible truths of spring cleaning. This year, myself, J, and Sophie the cat, made the decision to avoid THAT particular hassle and opted to move instead. It was a quick move, 2 weeks between signing the lease and moving our stuff. But with J and I being particularly organized people, and me with 12 moves under my belt, I was pretty sure it was going to be an “easy move”. Now, for the most part I was right, we had a dozen wonderful people helping us, we moved everything in one U-Haul trip, the weather was great, and nothing broke. However, no matter how “easy” a move may be, it doesn’t change the fact that there are…

10 Terrible Truths About Moving

1.Necessity may be the mother of invention, but she sure isn’t pretty.

Do you remember that Folgers commercial where the couple is spending their first day in a new house and they can’t find a coffee mug, so they smile and shrug at each other and drink their coffee out of gravy boats? Cute, right? You know what isn’t nearly as cute in real life? Ranch Dressing out of a ziplock bag.

2. Your belongings will not:

a) Fit in the new place

b) Make it to the new place

c) Work in the new place

d) Assemble properly in the new place

3. It will be 3 days before you know what time it is.

The stove says 7:15. The alarm clock says 8:04. The coffeemaker says 6:45. The microwave is blinking 12:00 am. Both cell phones are dead because the chargers are still packed. The only thing to do now is to rise and set with the sun. Cancel all appointments and fashion a sundial out of a grapefruit half and a drinking straw.

4. No matter how carefully you plan and pack and group priority items in order to have everything you need accessible to you, you did it wrong.

It was a solid week until I saw paper towels and garbage bags at the same time. I’d spill things at the new place and have to mop it up with tissues. Meanwhile at the old place, I had to stuff garbage into grocery bags. Then, inexplicably, everything shifted and I had all the paper towels I could ask for at the new place, but nary a garbage bag to be found.

5. No Pens, possibly ever again.

This post was originally drafted with a stub of a pencil. When that wore out, a pink highlighter was the only writing implement to be found.

6. Get ready to eat nothing but Pizza for days on end.

…at least get vegetables on it. No need for scurvy today.

7. The unpacking of books is held up by creation of the “I should re-read this” pile.

Which, for some reason, cannot exist on the shelf with the other books. Beware, this pile may end up toppling onto an already nervous cat.

8. Whatever street you need to maneuver the U-Haul truck down, that’s where all the yard sales are.

People will inevitably park in the middle of a 2 lane street, and then leave the door open so that they can dash across the street and to snag the sheep n’ goat salt and pepper shakers. Then, regardless of polite honking from the 17-ft truck, they meander back to their cars, speaking animatedly to their companions about their victory.

9. You will have to go to all sorts of lengths to protect your fragile items.

Think you have enough bubble wrap? You don’t. So you supplement with a newspaper, and you’re all set right? Nope. Do you start wrapping your dishes in tea towels, socks, blankets. Before you know it, you’re packing the serving dishes in the same box as your sweaters, and it seems like the best idea you’ve ever had.

10. At the end of the day, you’ll have the best, most well- deserved nights sleep of your life.

…on a bare mattress with your winter coat as a blanket.

Why Travelling with my Husband is Good for our Marriage.

Dominican Republic 2012
Dominican Republic 2012

Disclaimer: I’ve been married to J for 603 days. That does not mean that I believe myself to be anything of an expert (or even especially competent at) marriage, relationships, romance, or getting along well with others. So please note the wording of the title (and how it differs from blog titles of young & smug marrieds): Why travelling with MY husband is good for OUR marriage, Not:

-Why Travelling is good for ALL Marriages

-Divorce-Proof your Marriage: Travel!

-Get on a Plane and be Happy like Me!

So, please take anything in this post that seems like advice as merely a sharing of my 603 days of experience! 

Since J and I began seeing each other, I wouldn’t say that we travelled extensively.* But this is where we divert all of our disposable income and for the past 2 years, every available day of vacation time has been spent overseas. We may not be globetrotters, but we love to travel and I feel like it has helped J and I maintain the sickeningly cute honeymoon phase for nigh these 603 days. Not just because vacations are fun, and happy people get along better, but it has helped keep us on track in some very real and meaningful ways:

*looking for more travel? Check out my good friends blog HighClassHobo for awesome travel adventures!

London, 2013
London, 2013

1.No Cell Phones

No work emails, no texting, no Facebook/ Pinterest/ Snapchat/ TSN/ Sportsnet Updates/ Hockey Blogs.

This is a big advantage of travelling, but is also easily achieved without even leaving home. Being present and aware and 100% involved, whether it be by making a “No Cell Phones during Dinner” rule or by being too cheap to buy an overseas phone plan, Either way, having this time to connect and rely only on each other for conversation allows J and I to move beyond “people, places and events” conversations and move into “ideas, values and theories” ones.

Rome, 2013
Rome, 2013

2.Airport Fights

You know the part in “Love Actually” when Hugh Grant waxes poetic about the Heathrow Airport arrival gates being the place to restore your faith in humanity? Guess where the opposite sentiments manifest? Arrival departure gates (including security and check in, of course).

Between the waiting, the lines, the arbitrary rules, and the speed with which those rules change, airports are basically the 10th circle of hell. Everyone is in a cutthroat hurry and out for themselves. It’s like every flight only has one seat left and the first person in line gets it.

Under normal circumstances, J and I rarely fight. We have no reason to: No kids, only moderately stressful jobs, we live well within our financial means, and have personalities that predispose us to compromise and conflict resolution. But, to really know someone, you have to see them at their worst. And everyone, even the mild-mannered J, is at their very worst at the departure gate. You also need to fight with this worst case scenario version of each other, and resolve it in less than ideal circumstances.

And so, we do, At the airport.

J has actual nightmares about missing planes. Ones where usually its my fault that we miss the flight. It’s his #1 fear. So he is an absolute joy in airports. He’s stressed, worried, flustered, and sometimes (usually) bossy. He insists on being at the airport at least 2 days before our flight, and if you think a hand cast is any excuse for holding up production, think again.

Once we legitimately almost missed a flight, and now we have to pack only carry on luggage and live at the airport a week prior to flying.

Not that I’m any better. I hate flying. I get irrational and terrified, threatening the livelihoods of everyone from the coffee cart barista to the pilots if I feel as though my concerns are not being heard. I ask J questions that he couldn’t possibly answer, like “Why is the flight delayed?” “What’s that noise?” “When will this line move?”.

I’m a treat.

My point is, if that is as bad as it gets, if we can bicker and sarcastically snap at each other all through security, and then cuddle and share a bag of MnMs on the plane, then I think that’s not so bad.

Paris, 2013
Paris, 2013

3. Sharing a Path

Being 2 independent people with friends and jobs and separate interests in a life-long relationship is a constant balancing act. One has to constantly straddle the line between 2 equally distasteful camps:

a) Being a “we” too often, i.e. “We didn’t love Anchorman 2”, “We had an upset tummy after eating at Sushi2Go”, “We need to remember to get a pap this year”. and

b) Being roommates who get it on.

Trips have a way of restoring the balance when our lives get a little too “column b”. Instead of comparing notes at the end of a long day apart, touching on the highlights and venting about the bad parts, we have the same day, and experience it together. It’s a nice change.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the fact that we have independent, individual lives. Neither of us got married to “share a life” with the other. But on occasion, it’s a nice thing to do, and puts us back in sync with each others intricacies and wavelengths.

Iceland, 2014. Note the cast!
Iceland, 2014.

4. Leave the comfort zone- Prevent the Rut.

A rolling stone gathers no moss, and, in my opinion, a marriage filled with adventures is rut-proof. Adventures in travel or adventures at home keep us laughing together, keep our adrenaline pumping together and keeps reminding us why we need each other. This spring we’re going to South Africa to Safari and cage dive with Great White sharks, a long time goal of Js. If not for him, I would never sign up for something like that, or go hiking in Iceland, which I truly enjoyed. Without me, J would have never spent 5 beautiful days in Paris, which he loved. Travelling for us allows us to have adventures together outside our comfort zones, and it reminds us that we have so much to offer each other. We’ll have no need to “spice things up” or “get out of a rut” if we never let things get dull.

J and I might never be the type of people who sell everything we own and backpack the world (we’re way too attached to our cat). But we have come to truly enjoy travelling as a pastime, and I believe that it really benefits our marriage.

Movie Adaptations of Books: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly (and why they’re all just playing for second).

For better or for worse, books and movies are forever intertwined. There are only so many original screenplays that can be written, and people want to see their favorite books become moves (again, for better or for worse).

To be fair though, movies based on books get a blanket bad rap from book lovers. It’s almost like a test: real book lovers hate movies, like real coffee lovers hate Starbucks, and real movie lovers only watch “films”. Scripts are written for movies, regardless of where the story has come from. As such they are specifically crafted with the time constraints and media constraints of movies (sorry- films). Books, with a few notable exceptions *cough* Nicolas Sparks *cough*, are not designed to resolve within 2 hours with a manageable cast, an inner monologue easily represented by voiceover, and only the most accessible and obvious symbolism. So, we can hardly expect that through the book-to -movie process there will be no loss of depth, tone, or favorite lines and/or characters.

However…

There are limits.

There is nothing sadder than having ones’ favorite book, with all the best parts ripped out, devoid of all subplot, with love triangles added in all nilly- willy, with the lead character played by the latest “It girl” actress/ singer/ perfume designing socialite.

So here is my (very brief and incomplete) run down: ” Movie Adaptations of Books: The Good, The Bad and the Ugly.”

The Good:

(Notable mentions include: Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, Schindler’s List, Jurassic Park, Harry Potter (all 7), The Hunger Games (so far..), The Wizard of Oz, Silver Linings Playbook, To Kill a Mockingbird, Matilda, and the myriad of other movies I have forgotten that you will all angrily email me about).

Best Thriller: Silence of the Lambs (1991)

Brave Clarice. You will let me know when those lambs stop screaming, won’t you?

Thomas Harris’ classic could have so easily fallen victim to the horror movie trap and turn up as a gory, sexualized, sensationalized horror flick (hello, Gone Girl). I can see it now, a hollywood starlet plays Clarice Chassidy: A young, sexy new police officer/ former exotic dancer/ single mom, looking to turn over a new leaf and prove herself. Her police uniform fits like a glove and at some point, somehow, she ends up soaking wet.

However, this movie was carefully crafted and maintained its status as a psychological thriller, with all of the subtlety and character complexity with which it was written. Not only is this an excellent movie because it is based on an excellent book, it is a very good movie by its own right. Creepy enough to keep even the most seasoned horror fanatic up at night, but subtle enough that even I, the worlds biggest horror movie chicken, enjoy it.

Most Deserved Writers’ Stamp of Approval: Fight Club

Listen up, maggots. You are not special. You are not a beautiful or unique snowflake. You’re the same decaying organic matter as everything else.

Unless the writer is directly involved with (or making money from the success of) the movie based on their book, they tend to keep pretty quiet about the movie, save for smiles and waves at the premier. Any why wouldn’t they? You sell your lifes work to be adapted, sometimes butchered, at the very least have parts added or removed and characters changed. However, upon release of the movie, Fight Club author Chuck Palahniuk gave an interview, where he actually complimented the changes made in the movie. In regards to the addition of a successful romantic arc to the move, he said that the whole time he was writing Fight Club, he intended that “The story is about a man reaching the point where he can commit to a woman”. He went on to call the changes to the dialogue “beautifully composed, attractive and funny” and that the screenwriters “made connections he had never thought to make”.

High Praise, Indeed.

We know that Fight Club was a great movie, and would be fans of it regardless, but having the kudos of the one person in the world who should be pre-disposed to disliking it lends a lot of credit to the flick.

Best New Contender: The Great Gatsby (2013)

In my younger and more vulnerable years, my father gave me some advice. “Always try to see the best in people,” he would say. As a consequence, I’m inclined to reserve all judgement. But even I have a limit.

Only Baz Luhrmann can express the gin-soaked, charleston-dancing long strand pearls and flapper girls Jazz age with such a seamless blend of frivolity and shadowy foreboding. You could feel the forced smiles and sense every undercurrent and behind the scenes argument. It was not just the casting, or the visuals, or the cinematography, this is one of those very rare situations where everything lined up perfectly.

The themes and general attitude of a book are the hardest parts to capture on film, but Gatsby really got it right.

And this might be a controversial statement, but in my opinion, Leo made a Great Gatsby.

The Bad: Because sometimes it just doesn’t work…

Worst “should have been a home run”: Confessions of a Shopaholic

They said I was a valued customer. Now they send me hate mail.

Confessions of a bookworm? I’m a terrible flyer. To get through a long flight without running up and down the corridor screaming “we’re all going to die!” I require the following:

  • Prescription Pharmaceuticals
  • One very large glass of wine
  • Sophie Kinsellas latest “Shopaholic” book.

So, you know it’s not book snobbery that makes me dislike this movie so much. I love beach reads! This movie was painfully un-funny, with none of the subtle silliness that the books have. Somewhere in all this, we crossed the line from simple, fun and charming to frothy, empty and devoid the substance (however little) the book had. The characters were one dimensional, the plot was flat and the dialogue was stilted and campy. *dimple grin and zoom in close-up* “That’s our Becky!”

The real irritating thing about this is that this should have been easy. Its a Rom-Com for crying out loud. How to lose a guy in 10 days-simple, fun and charming.  13 going on 30– Simple, fun and charming. Life as we know it-Simple, Fun and Charming. Raising Helen– Simple, Fun and Charming. IT IS NOT DIFFICULT TO MAKE A ROM COM WORTH WATCHING! Especially when you have a book the reads like a script.

Watch instead: Any of the above movies. Or, from the book-based: Where the Heart is.

Worst Kids’ Retelling: The Cat in the Hat (2003)

Sally: Like being in the circus! The Cat: Yeah, but without those tortured animals or drunken clowns that have hepatitis

No. Just No. Dr. Seuss’ first grade tome cannot be made into a live action suck fest. We already lost The Grinch, for crying out loud. I don’t care how many parents are out there, desperate for an escape from made-for-children media, The Cat in the Hat is no place for weird sexual innuendo and a slathered on layer of secondary plotline. As much as I appreciate that Mike Myers needs a movie he can show his kids, this surreal, obscene movie and super creepy cat costume are trying to make too much out of a simple, first grade classic. To quote a very wise fish in a pot “Do I like it one bit? No, I do not!”

Fun Fact: After this movie came out, Dr. Seuss’ widow, Audrey Geisel, forbade the movie industry from making any more live-action movies from his books. True Story.

Watch Instead: The Lorax

The Downright Ugly…

The Scarlet Letter (1999)

I have dreamed of speaking my heart, I have prayed for it even as I have dreaded it. Was I alive before I laid eyes on thee?

This “loosely based retelling” of Nathanial Hawthornes classic is basically a soft core porn with period costumes. With complete loss of all themes and social commentary, huge plot changes including an entirely different ending and the addition of a good Hollywood dose of sex and violence, this is a “Retelling” about as much as I am a “Supermodel”. This movie fails as entertaining AND fails as true to the novel. Also, is that Gary Oldman? Gross.

Watch Instead: Easy A. or literally anything else.

…and why its all a moot point

But in the end, hotly debating the merits of books-turned-movies is all for naught. First prize will always go to “Clueless” (1995), the modern day retelling (well, 1995 retelling) of “Emma”. Modern day retellings are tricky, but this one maintains the basic themes of the book without being campy and obvious. Even without the backing of the classic story of mis-read signals, Clueless is ,like, a totally phat movie. Watch it now, it will totally make your day.