Tag Archives: READ

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less

ESSENTIALISMI’m reading a really fantastic book called Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of LessGreg McKeown has shifted my perspective and put a name to a philosophy I’ve dabbled with for years.  I was dithering over a few issues, and I’ve already used the standards and methods offered in Essentialism to make key decisions.  Much messiness results from quick yeses and slow nos.  The philosophy of Essentialism has me taught to celebrate and embrace “No,” and the book provides plenty of logical and well-backed explanations for why your life improves when you have the courage to eliminate the people-pleasing bullshit.  As I’ve started applying the principles consistently, I’ve found liberation and a drastic reduction in stress.  As your time frees up, this book recommends you sleep more to further enhance productivity.  In sum, this bestseller is full of advice you actually want to follow.CLEAR NO

Listen to the Squawking Chicken: When Mother Knows Best, What’s a Daughter To Do? A Memoir (Sort Of)


SQUAWKING CHICKEN LUII’ve read Laineygossip for years and I’m a big fan of Elaine Lui.  Just in time for Mother’s Day, Lainey just published her first book Listen to the Squawking Chicken: When Mother Knows Best, What’s a Daughter To Do? A Memoir (Sort Of)Lainey’s ma embodies her nickname “The Squawking Chicken” because she’s loud, annoying, bossy, and judgmental – an exaggerated version of many of our mothers.  Listen to the Squawking Chicken imparts folksy Chinese mothering wisdom through amusing and (at times) serious familial storytelling – like the time the Squawking Chicken loudly confronted a home-wrecking whore on behalf of one of her betrayed mahjong friends.  According to the Squawking Chicken leg jiggling is “low classy”?  I concur.  Also, eating the right feng shui fruit brings good fortune?  Lainey eats papayas every single day and now she’s a Canadian TV star!  That fancy fruit!  We have much to learn from The Squawking Chicken.  This book isn’t exactly what I thought it would be, but I still really enjoyed it.  As much as the memoir focuses on the retelling of The Squawking Chicken’s useful life lessons, I found the few pages Lui wrote about her husband Jacek the most moving.  Lainey’s lucky to have such a supporting, loving husband and true partner.    LUI LISTEN TO THE SQUAWKING

Listen. Read. Snack.

DAFT PUNK RANDOM ACCESS MEMORIESEven though sometimes listening to Daft Punk feels a like a serenade from an ATM machine, I admit that I must unabashedly break into car dance everytime I hear Instant Crush featuring Julian Casablancas from Random Access Memories. CAR DANCEG-sus, Meg Wolitzer turns a memorable and meaty phrase in The InterestingsMEG WOLITZERFLAX4LIFE MUFFSWho doesn’t love a muffy in the morning?  These tough muffs look like something geriatrics eat to stay regular, but I love these hearty, rib-sticking, omega-filled Flax4Life Blueberry Flax Muffins.  Unlike most commercial baked goods, these not-too-sweet slow burners will tied you over until lunch.FLAX4LIFE MUFFIN


Waiting to Be Heard: A Memoir by Amanda Knox

AMANDA KNOX WAITING TO BE HEARD COVER ARTI just finished Waiting to Be Heard: A Memoir by Amanda Knox and much like everything about this girl I am deeply ambivalent.  How can a book be so boring and fascinating at the same time?  I believe she’s innocent, but that she’s also hiding something.AMANDA KNOX COURT ROOMNo doubt a healthy dose of sexism and anti-American sentiment played a major role in her demonization.  I empathize with her because I could easily see how the same thing could happen to many of us while abroad.  International travel.  Risky behavior.  Could you imagine the field-day they would have with this website?  G-SUS, I’d be tarred and feathered.KNOX PAPERS

The tale of the American in Perugia is lush with paradox.


Italians are almost as famous for their pasta as they are their anti-African sentiment.  I’m disgusted that during a round of intense interrogation she falsely accused an African, her boss Patrick.  Her accusations flamed the prejudicial racial hysteria.  Yet in an ironic twist, another African, Rudy Guede confessed, was convicted, and is now serving time for Meredith’s murder.

RUDY GUEDEThe prison medical staff erroneously informed Knox that she had AIDS.  She didn’t have AIDS, but she does describe contracting herpes from a makeout sesh with a hot dude she met on the train.  (Check out the meticulous brows, someone was threading her in the big house.)

AMANDA KNOX COLD SOREIf Knox were a better writer, she would have included even more details of her incarceration, however seemingly mundane.  She virtually glossed over the perversely interesting incidents of unwanted advances from different lecherous prison staff and fellow female prisoners.

AMANDA KNOX BEHIND BARSBased on her own descriptions of her personality, I suspect she’s rather annoying and lacking in self-awareness.  The constant Amélie comparisons make me want to heave.


Amanda’s memoir is dry and procedural with just a dusting of scandalous moments.  Quite obviously the investigation and trial were complete clusterfux poorly executed by bumbling, small town, murder scene novices.  The investigators blundered a high-profile international case and couldn’t admit the prosecution’s salacious and far-fetched theory was profoundly implausible.  This girl paid over a thousand days of her life for law enforcement’s stubborn unwillingness to broaden the search beyond Knox and Raffaele.  In all likelihood, the co-conspirator in Meredith’s murder walked away free because of it.


If nothing else, the memoir is a worthwhile cautionary tale which reminds us how sometimes shitty things happen to regular people for no good reason at all.



Heads in Beds

This book Heads in Beds: A Reckless Memoir of Hotels, Hustles, and So-Called Hospitality by Jacob Tomsky has been getting a lot of shine, so I Kindled it to see if it indeed included any salacious insider gossip.  Let me save you the trouble – this tell-all doesn’t tell much about the hotel industry or human nature that you don’t already know.Tomsky started in hospitality at the bottom of the valet pile in New Orleans, and eventually made his way up to third-in-command at a mid-to-high-end Manhattan hotel he calls “Bellevue” to protect its identity.  Tomsky works primarily as a front desk clerk.  The self-serving thesis of this book?  Heavily tip the front desk clerk with “bricks” ($100s) or “baby bricks” ($20s) to score under-the-table upgrades.  Throw some money around at the desk and you too can enjoy a $4 comped bottle of shitty pinot.  How Fancy.The inverse is also true.  Mistreat your wife, make a racist comment to the cabbie, or fart downwind from the all powerful desk clerk and find yourself key bombed.   Tomsky will stick you with a bunk key card, book you in the shittiest room, or one that gets all-night phone calls because the room number matches 1+ the local area code and every ninny in the hotel forgets to dial 9 for an outside line.  Remember to be on your very best behavior or the desk despot will punish you!Tomsky promises park views, late check outs, and express check-in if you slide him some cash.  But I don’t really want or need any of that.  Fuck the view.  I’m sleeping here.  Can you get me a clean  room with that $20?  Probably not.  Even the finest hotels suffer from inconsistent housekeeping.  I don’t care about stealing from the mini-bar.   If you do, Tomsky says go wild; the hotel will comp the oft-disputed charges. 

Bribing people to get good service isn’t exactly a profound revelation.  This book is too light on the hookers and diva celebrity behavior (Brian Wilson is the best you got, really?), and too heavy on the unions and the obvious.  As for crazy stories from the hospitality industry, I’ve heard more riveting cum-splattered tales from my Aunt Debbie who runs a Motel 6 in Salina

Little Miss

gone girl

By now many of you have torn through Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn’s two-sided tale of a wife’s disappearance.  Word on the street is that 20th Century Fox snatched up the film rights for 7 figures.  Reese Witherspoon is set to produce and star.  This project is exactly what Reese needs to resuscitate her struggling and aimless career.  Amy Dunne = Reese’s revival.  Now who shall we cast as Nick?  If you haven’t read it, get Gone Girl now or risk finding yourself hopelessly out of touch.  The big twist?  Many of you, like me, will see it coming from a mile up river.


Ripped through Matched last week and relished it.  Don’t let the inevitable comparisons to Hunger Games influence you.  While the similarities are obvious, the tone of Matched is quite different.The two cent summary follows:  Matched takes place in the dystopian future where virtually everyone conforms to rules of the Society.  Couples are matched by the government.  Food, art, clothing, and everything else is provided and restricted by Big Brother in the form of Officials.  Every citizen carries three pills or risks an infraction, or worse – reclassification as an Aberration or AnomalyCassia is our protagonist, and she can be pretty infuriating at times, but that’s what makes this story unpredictable.Matched is one of three.  The wait for number two, Crossed, due November 2011 already feels interminable.


Left and right this month stores are pleading with you to buy this and buy that.  It’s fucking exhausting, and difficult to separate the worthy from unworthy.  As you know, the recommendations here at Demeter Clarc are 100% commercially unbiased.  I don’t get free shit and then tell you how great it is.  Free shit is always great.  Anyway, I digress. A couple years ago, I received a fantastic gift I didn’t even know I wanted.  When the Kindle first came out, like many folks, I dismissed it for a variety of reasons.  A book lover and collector, I mistakenly believed the Kindle would rob me of the tactile romance with the bound page.  Furthermore, the last thing anyone wants to do nowadays is stare at another screen.Thankfully, the purchaser only listens to about 50% of what I say and bought a Kindle as a birthday gift (despite my vocal knee-jerk skepticism).  Without further historical narrative, the reasons the Kindle rules. You will read more for less money.  New releases are typically $9.99 – $14.99.  The screen isn’t like a computer screen, so stop tripping.  It’s not reflective.  The type is dark, clear, and easy on the eyes.  A favorite feature is the ability to increase font size to avoid eye strain.  Purchasing a physical book, when an electronic version is available, is arguably a waste of the earth’s resources.  On a more personal level, think about your own environment.  Do you need more clutter?  (Paging A&E, we have a Hoarder.)   Even worse, please don’t be that pretentious asshole that compulsively displays every book he or she has read (and several they haven’t) in an obvious effort to appear intellectual.

The minute I actually step into a bookstore, I immediately forget the long list of books I want to read.  Blankness washes over me, and I start roaming around aimlessly.  With Mr. Kindle, not only can you browse in bed, you can download a generous sample right away to see if you like the book before committing.  No need to keep track of a million titles or waste money on something sucky.Obviously, for travel, the Kindle is essential.  Instead of hauling a bunch of books on the plane, all you need is your little buddy.  Upon finishing one book, start another; no need to plug into a computer.  The Kindle is a self-contained mechanism.  The battery life is long and apparently keeps getting longer with each new and improved version.  An early-adopter and heavy user, I still have the dinosaur prototype version.  Other than a crack running through the keyboard, it works well in almost every capacity.  J’adore my Kindle ya’ll.

The truth is that Kindle is worth the investment for avid readers.  Even if they think they don’t want it.  They do.  They just don’t know it yet.  Uncle Stevie agrees.