Winners Announced in The Books That Changed Our Lives Giveaway!

Six lucky winners have been chosen in the Books That Changed Our Lives giveaways! 

Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt –  Congratulations to Bethie who left a comment on March 11th. 

The Giver by Lois Lowry – Congratulations to Laura who left a comment on March 24th.

Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson – Congratulations to Elizabeth who left a comment on March 9th.

The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch – Congratulations to Amy who left a comment on March 10th.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen – Congratulations to Bianca who left a comment on March 13th.

Killing Yourself to Live by Chuck Klosterman – Congratulations to Hira who left a comment on March 16th.

 
Congratulations to all our winners!! 
 
 
Winners: Please contact me with your name and mailing address by April 8, 2011 to claim your prize.  Shipment is to the US and Canada only. 
 
Special thanks to everyone who participated!!

The Books That Changed Our Lives – GIVEAWAYS!!!

Firstly, I’d like to thank my friends and fellow bloggers for contributing such fantastic blog posts for the blog series this week.  I’m so lucky to have had such talent on the blog this week!  I hope that this week’s posts have inspired some of you out there to pick up the books we spoke about. 

Secondly, I hope that some of you have been inspired to start a dialogue about books with those around you.  It’s so interesting (at least in my opinion) to find out how eclectic people’s book choices can be.  I think the group of us that wrote this week have proven that!!

To recap the giveaways that are being offered see below.  To enter, click on the link and leave a comment on that post!  Good luck to all who enter!!  Entries will be accepted through March 30th at midnight.  US and Canadian residents only please.

1 copy of Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt

1 copy of The Giver by Lois Lowry

1 copy of Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson MD

1 copy of The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch

1 copy of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

1 copy of Killing Yourself to Live by Chuck Klosterman

I just wanted to express, again, my sincere gratitude for those of you who joined us this week.  Another blog series is in the works for next month, so, keep checking back for details!

In the meantime…

…Happy Reading!!

The Books That Changed Our Lives – Jess’s Edition + GIVEAWAY

Guest posting today is Jessica Bade of The New 20-Something.  Thanks for joining us!!

What constitutes a favorite book? I’ve been thinking about this question ever since Kim came to me with the challenge of writing this post. It has been such a challenge because it is extremely difficult for me to pick out a favorite book just as it is to pick out a favorite song, movie or food. Just as I always do when charged with a challenge that seems too big for me to grasp, I break it down to the root question; what constitutes a favorite book?

By this point, you are probably thinking that I am a little flaky and indecisive. How can she not even narrow it down to two or three choices? Well, frankly, choosing two or three would be like picking out just two or three of my all-time best friends. Don’t worry; I narrowed down the process a little by thinking about what makes a book one of my favorites…in bullet point list form!!!

  • It is a book that I wish I had written myself, but know that I could have never even thought to write because I had never looked at the world in that way before I experienced it through this book.
  • I want to read it over and over again…and I do…and every time it is a little bit different.
  • I think about this book constantly. While I am reading it, I am finding myself ducking into closets at work just to read a chapter. When I am not reading it I am thinking about the characters and thinking about what they should do and what is going to happen.
  • When I have finished reading this book, I want to be a better person. I want to laugh more, I want to hug my parents, I want to go on a trip to Europe, I want to start a revolution, and I want to realize my hopes and dreams. After reading a great book, it feels like you just got back from a great vacation because, in the end, a good book takes you out of your living room (or utility closet) and transports you someplace else.
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Some of my favorite authors have managed to do some or all of these things for me extremely well. Chuck Klosterman brings me inside his rental car as he drives across country in search of truth about himself and the world around him in “Killing Yourself to Live.” Mitch Album brought me into the home of a dying Morrie in “Tuesdays With Morrie “ to listen in on a lifetime of advice from a man who has lived a lifetime. I connected with women a world away in Khalid’s “A Thousand Splendid Suns” and realized my inner feminist and patriot. Chuck Palahniuk introduced me to countless flawed characters, who despite their flaws are searching for something essential that is missing in their lives, whether it be beauty, love, companionship, or a good swift kick in the teeth. Most notably Chuck and I have explored the power of beauty with the Queen Supreme Princes Brandy Alexander in “Invisible Monster.”   I’ve sat in traffic just to feel a part of society with Victor Mancini in “Choke,” and listened in as a former cult member crashed an airplane in “Survivor.” Not to mention the time I took a peek into the opulent roaring 20’s and experienced the poison that can be vanity in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby.

Just as every person I have ever met in my life has played some (even a minimal part) in who I am and what I hold dear to my heart, every book has done the same. I could never say that just one person changed my life and helped me to get where I am. I could never say that just one book has changed my life for the better or the worse. It is a combination of all of the lessons each book teaches me that adds a little piece to the puzzle that is who I am.

GIVEAWAY- One lucky winner will be given a copy of Killing Yourself to Live by Chuck Klosterman.  Leave a comment below of your favorite journey a book has taken you on.  Comments will be accepted through Wednesday March 30th at midnight.  Winners will be picked at random and announced Thursday March 31st.  Giveaway open to US & Canadian residents only. 

#7 A Review of Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs by Chuck Klosterman

Cover ImageI need to preface my entire review by stating that Klosterman is one of the most thought-provoking authors I’ve ever read.  He has written several books (Eating the Dinosaur, Killing Yourself to Live, Downtown Owl) showcasing his wide array of knowledge of all things pop culture related.  He is quite simply an expert on pop culture.
 
Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs is a book comprised of short essays about everything from Saved By The Bell and the Sims to the Celtics/Lakers rivalry and Star Wars.  There is literally no subject that Chuck does not know/write about. 
 
I always find it difficult to rate/review a book that is comprised of essays or short stories because there really is no narrative.  Each story is its own entity and there may be some that are amazing and then some not so amazing.  I enjoyed about half of the essays in this book because I was knowledgable enough to understand the pop culture referenced in them.  His essay on the computer game The Sims was by far my favorite.  He writes an entire essay comparing  his real life, to that of his “SimChuck.”  It’s hysterical.  Reading the essay brought me back to the days when I would play the Sims, and his interesting allegory between the life of his “SimChuck” and his own was intriguing.  He compared his own wants and needs with that of “SimChuck”, and found that although “SimChuck” lived in a two-dimensional space which “real” Chuck controlled, they were actually not very different.
 
His essays on the Real World was also very poignant as he enters into a discussion on how reality television can never be truly reality after its first season.  He uses the first season of the Real World as evidence, stating that the first season was so boring because people were actually just being themselves and not playing a character they thought they needed to play to get air time.  It’s a very interesting thought, one that I have had myself on occasion.
 
I found myself struggling to get through the essays on sports (most specifically the Lakers/Celtics rivalry).  It’s apparent in Klosterman’s writing that he is a huge sports fan, which puts a damper on some essays for me as I’m the complete opposite.  Discussing coaches and players and fan bases were just lost on me.  I tried to slug my way though that essay, thinking that it would contain portions that would be amicable to non-fans like myself, but it was difficult.  Although Klosterman made parallels linking the Lakers/Celtics rivalry to other great rivalries and events in history, his references sometimes became too specific or were referencing things of which I had no knowledge, like additional sports facts and events.
 
I give Klosterman a ton of credit for being able to discuss (in infinite detail) the effect of Madonna and Pamela Anderson in the same book as a detailed analysis of sports legends and a ton of historical facts.  The man is clearly a sponge of information, yet I feel that it’s sometimes too much information leaking out.  (As a note, Barnes and Nobles offers Nook customers each of the essay’s found in this book separately for .99.  If you are interested in checking them out, please contact me and I can recommend some for you based on your interests!)
 
I’d like to end my review by asking that you not read this review and swear off Klosterman for life.  His book Killing Yourself to Live is written in a more narrative style and is amazing!  It chronicles his journey across the US to find out why musicians become legends when they die early.  It’s an incredibly interesting book, one that I highly recommend. 
 
3 out of 5 stars
 
Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs by Chuck Klosterman
Simon and Schuster Adult Publishers (2004)
Paperback 272 pages
ISBN: 9780743236010
 
To follow Chuck on Twitter click here
To check out Chuck’s website click here
For other books written by Chuck click here

My Favorite Ten Books of the Year! (Part I)

With the year coming to a close I figured I’d post my favorite ten books that I read for the year. The books below haven’t necessarily been published in 2010, they’re just my favorite reads for 2010. 

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 1.) Persuasion by Jane Austen – This is one of my all time favorite novels! I re-read it again this year for a group discussion that was going on in the Jane Austen group on goodreads. A quick synopsis is that Anne Elliot and Captain Frederick Wentworth fall in love once upon a time and become engaged.  Anne breaks their engagement after being persuaded by her family that it is not a suitable match, due to Frederick’s lack of wealth and lower social status.  Broken hearted Frederick throws himself into his duties as an officer in the navy, quickly gaining wealth and title.  Several years later the Elliot’s, now having financial difficulties, rent out their family estate to Wentworth’s sister and brother-in-law; the Crofts.  When Wentworth goes to visit the Crofts he’s thrust into Anne’s company again.  The two must figure out if the love they once shared still exists within each other, or if it is lost forever.  I am so glad that I re-read Persuasion again this year.  I had read it a long time ago and completely forgot how much I truly loved it.  If you have never read it, then I highly suggest you do.  It’s a love story that you will truly never forget.

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2.) A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick – WOW.  My mind is STILL blown from this book.  Just wow wow wow wow wow.  Goolrick’s way of writing is incredibly captivating.  His characters are vivid, his settings are descriptive, and his story is unique and imaginative.  Ralph Truitt, missing female companionship, puts an ad into the newspaper for a wife.  Catherine Land, a woman with a sordid past, answers the ad and begins the long trek to Wisconsin to be Ralph’s wife.  The reader soon learns that there is more to Catherine then originally thought.  I highly suggest reading this book.  You can read my full review here

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3.) Killing Yourself to Live by Chuck Klosterman – My book club selected it as the group read for September and boy am I glad.  Klosterman is definitely the foremost expert on current pop culture.  His books are filled with references to music, movies, celebrities, major events, ect.  I wanted to have an intellectual conversation with everyone as soon as I finished the book. In Killing Yourself to Live, Klosterman takes the reader on his journey cross-country to figure out why it is that a musician needs to die in order to become a legend.  He visits the sites where musicians have died, hoping it will shed light on their immortality.  While he doesn’t necessarily come up with an answer to that question, he does come up with answers to some of the questions he has about his own life.  If you’re a fan of music this is a great book to read.

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4.) Fitzwilliam Darcy: Last Man in the World – Abigail Reynolds – I’m a huge fan of Pride and Prejudice sequels, which is unsurprising considering that P&P is my favorite book ever.  I read a lot of Jane Austen fan fiction over the course of this year, with this being my favorite of all of them.  Abigail Reynolds specializes in writing Pride and Prejudice variations.  She essentially writes Pride and Prejudice while changing a major detail.  In this particular instance Reynolds makes Darcy’s first proposal to Elizabeth the one that sticks.  Darcy, thinking that Elizabeth has said yes to marrying him, kisses her, and is then caught.  Since propriety was such a major think back in the day, Elizabeth says that yes they are engaged and begins her facade into being a dutiful but unhappy bride for Darcy.  Darcy is none the wiser, he sincerely thinks that Elizabeth is happy to be married to him.  When he does find out the unhappy truth he is devastated and crushed.  They must figure out a way to make their marriage work or be unhappy for all their lives to a partner they despise.  The reason I think this was my favorite of all of the P&P sequels/variations/retellings I read was the characterizations.  Reynolds writes the characters just as rich and full of life as Austen did, which in-turn makes her books an absolute joy to read.

Cover Image5.) Walking Dead Volume I by Robert Kirkman and Tony Moore – Todd and I started watching AMC’s The Walking Dead when it premiered a few months ago and were in love with the idea of it.  We went out to Barnes and Noble soon after and decided to pick up the first volume of the graphic novels.  The story, art-work, writing, just everything about it blew me away.  It’s a spectacular view of life and how the most dire of situations not only changes us as people, but society as a whole.  There is a lot more to this series than meets the eye.  If you’re unafraid to delve into the deeper meaning of the words and actions of the characters you can find it a very fulfilling read.  You can read my full review here.

So that concludes my top 5 favorite books I’ve read for the year.  Please check in within the next day or so for numbers 6-10!

Happy Reading!