Sunday, December 02, 2012


Since my brain needs exercise, I've been forcing myself to exercise. I force myself into some exercise clothes, then I force myself into the car, then I force my car to the gym, then I force myself into the gym, and finically, I force myself onto either the escalator machine or an elliptical.  It's a small miracle when it happens, because it is so not my idea of a good time.

To pass time during these exercise-machine torture-sessions, I read.  I'm rather amazed at the kind of reading I can do.  Perhaps it's not all torture?  Perhaps.

Here's a run-down of what I've been ready while schlepping about, just like a rat on a wheel.


City of Ember
by Jeanne Duprau

Doon Harrow, a pipes worker, and Lyna Mayfleet, a city messenger, are a couple of 13-year-olds living in an underground city.  Lyna stumbles upon a secret set of instructions; instructions that direct the underground dwellers out of the dark and dreary.  Ember is running out of power and food so Doon and Lyna are all over it.  They depipher the secret message – which really did need deciphering because Lyna's littler sister tried to eat it – and find the way out.  But a way out to what...?

This book is entertaining and great for what it is – young adult science fiction.


The people of Sparks
by Jeanne Duprau

During this City of Ember sequel, Doon and Lyna have rescued the Ember folks (also called Emberites) from the inevitable doom of their underground living.  Above ground, they discover that the earth and it's many civilizations were destroyed by war.  Emberites follow Doon and Lyna to a newly formed town called Sparks.  The Sparks folks take them in with reluctance; worried that their limited resources could barely take care of their own, let alone the addition of 400 refuges.  Squables over resources and a few egomaniacs nearly get them into another destructive war, when – Surprise! – Doon and Lyna save the day (again!) by stepping in making peace.

Another thumbs up for what it is.  I hear there are two more in this series.  I shall check 'em out.  Also, this book was returned to the library with a considerable amount of sweat dripped upon it's bind.  Maybe you can check it out and see!  Or smell.  Whatever.


Helping Me Help Myself
by Beth Lisick

Lisick, like lipstick?  That's what I say each time I read that Lisick last name.

After a rowdy New Year's celebration, Beth, a self-proclaimed self-help skeptic, decides she should make some resolutions for once.  She decides it's high time she do the splits, a lofty goal indeed.  But then she decides to add to it – why not devote an entire year to the teachings of a few hit self-help gurus?  Okay!  Fun!

The first month Beth spends with Jack Canfield's "Success Principles," where she develops the ritual of reviewing the day each night, then she spends a month with Stephen R. Covey and his "7 Habits of  Highly Successful People" stratagem.  Covey stresses character development and she likes that.  After studying some go-get-'em theology, she decides maybe it's time to exercise and books a cruise with Richard Simmons.  All of this is followed up by some financial fantasies with Suze Orman, astronomy in the form of "Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus," and a few other dandies, including the one and only Deepak Chopra.

At the end of the year, Beth says she grew some, but it was difficult.  She never learned to do the splits though.

I loved this book.  It was heart-felt and hysterical and honest.  I'm a Lisick like Lipstick fan.


by John J. Batey, MD

This one is a few hundred pages about how exercise is good for your brain.  Hullo?  Duh!  That's what I said throughout it's entirety, while reading each detailed test and trial.  It is rather interesting, however, to see how exercise affects the brain biologically.  Basically, exercise keeps norepinephrine, serotonin and dopamine floating about in the brain space longer, so as it can be used for longer.  As it turns out, the longer you exercise, the longer the neurotransmitters keep floating.  Totally explains why I'm a distance junkie.


The Screw Tape Letters
by C.S. Lewis

In this series of letters, C.S. Lewis spends some time as Screwtape, a disciple of satan, wherein he instructions his direct report Wormwood on the angles in which to tempt their "patient" from converting to Christianity.  Screwtape has many ways to twist, turn, and distort with the use of family, love, war, and even the guise of selflessness.  None of it works and they lose their patient to the Enemy.

 "What is He up to?!" They say often about this Enemy.

Being a Christian, I found this very interesting and rather mind-bending.  I'm curious to hear what a non-Christian might have to say.  Definitely a "read again" and my copy is marked up to the max.  With both pen and sweat.

Everybody Into The Pool
by Beth Lisick

While in New York, Megan arrived with a copy of "Helping Me Help Myself."  See above.  "You should read this," she said.  "Her writing style is a lot like yours."  Imagine my thoughts.  Megan just said that I have a writing style.  Wow.  That is something else.  Megan is kind of a big deal, what with her prose prowess.

While reading "Helping Me Help Myself," I felt nothing but flattery.  Beth is funny.  Am I funny?  Beth combines words in a clever fashion.  Do I combine works in a clever fashion?  Beth is a great story teller.  Am I a great story teller?

I've tried not to let this writing style mention go to my head.  Honest.  But Megan did it again.  Using the medium of text, I asked Megan if she'd like the book back or if she'd like me to pass it along, as we are known to do with books.


I have fallen for this Beth Lisick like Lipstick.  She is equal parts cynic and home-spun softie.  (Like me!  I'm equal parts cynic and home-spun softie!)  I'm on the verge of writing her some fan mail.  Thought I'd start by telling her about how Covey died from complications brought upon by a bike wreck while Spouse was in the hospital because of – get this – a bike wreck.  Woa.  Right?

"Everybody Into The Pool" is a collection of True Stories (!) that range from Beth's San Francisco upbringing during the height of the Hippie, to the period she spent living among drug dealers and junkies near the mission.  This one, again, is hilarious and honest.  My favorite?  She was walking out of her warehouse "pad" while some kid wouldn't let off the heroin pushing.  The kid just kept at it.  Without thinking, Beth turned around and whispered "SPFD.  Keep walking."  Or something like that.  The kid left her alone and Beth was feeling proud of herself until she bragged about it to her roomies.  The roommates freaked and they all decided it was time to move, cause, like, those drug dealer types are known to kill people 'n stuff.

There you go.  Six books on an exercise machine.  I really like this book report stuff.

I don't know which is more disturbing, six books on the machines or the fact that I really (I mean really) like to do book reports.

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