Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Forget Spring Cleaning, it's time for Spring Reading

My Cheesy Readers know I've been discussing rereads lately, and many might remember that I try to reread Watership Down or its sequel every other year. But recently due to some posts on GoodReads, I realized there is another spring classic I need to reread. I haven't read it in nearly (cough) years, so I figure it's about time.

I'm speaking, of course, of the childhood classic "The Wind in the Willows" by Kenneth Grahame. It has all our old friends  - Mole, and Rat, and Mr. Badger, and the unforgettable... Mr. Toad. This English tale, which has never gone of out print, has sparked the imagination of millions of children, a United States president (Teddy Roosevelt), and even the rock band Pink Floyd, who named their first album after Chapter Seven - "Piper at the Gates of Dawn."

The story is that Grahame wrote this book from stories he told his grandson, and he fell in love with these characters and their adventures as much as the world did. In fact, on the page prior to the first chapter, Grahame leaves us all a little message: "I love these little people, be kind to them."

These stories and these little people whisk us readers back to a time when we found magic in our imagination, surrounded ourselves with it, and pretended these characters were as real as the people around us. We found refuge in their simple friendships and all wished we were a part of their little group. As an adult now, it's time to revisit that world, recapture those moments, and remember we can make the world a better place by being kind to those around us.

Until Next Time...
Wayfarerly Yours,

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Brought to You by the Letter "B"

There are certain businesses and certain aspects within business that fascinate me, publishing obviously being one of them. And when it comes to genre fiction, I'm really curious how all the numbers play out - sort of a good way to measure what we are reading. The problem is, some of these numbers are difficult to locate and quantify.

But I did find these numbers from 2012 on PBS/POV the other day that were compiled based on findings by The Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, and Romance Writers of America, so I thought I'd share:
"In 2012, the romance genre took the largest share of the consumer book market worldwide,12.9% ($1.358 billion), beating out religion/inspirational ($759 million), mystery ($682 million), science fiction/fantasy ($559 million) and classic literary fiction ($445 million). According to the popular genre magazine RT Book Reviews (formerly known as Romantic Times), the average romance reader today spends about $100 monthly reading anywhere from 10 to 40 books a month."
Um.... WOW!
$1.358 BILLION!

Granted, I thought Romance was actually a larger percentage of overall book purchases, but still, that dollar figure begins with a "B" and that's simply amazing. And remember, folks, we're just talking about genre specific fiction here. We're not talking about Tell-Alls, memoirs, political, history, and a whole host of non-fiction or mainstream literature titles. This is all genre fiction. And then there's the average per person per month: $100 per month for 10 to 40 books.

Now I'm a slow reader, but I read constantly. If I read 40 books in one year, I consider that a decent year, and if I buy ten books in one month, that's a major spending spree, then I have to make efforts to reel in my binge impulse buying. I simply can't imagine being a romance reader and maintaining that sort of momentum. But millions of women do. (In fact, my maternal grandmother did. Did I ever tell you that story? If not, perhaps one day I will.)

In the meantime, I think it's time to step away from numbers for a while before my head explodes.

Until Next Time...
Romantically Yours,

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Transcendence or Magic Realism

In the Cheesy Household, Football is a religion. When Football season starts, everything else is practically put on hold. And we have our shrines. Full sized flags, backyard banners, garden gnomes, t-shirts, hoodies, collared golf shirts, sweatpants, stocking caps, scarves, videos, cute stuffed animals, and of course, authentic jerseys. We each have our own teams (Seahawks Forever!! The Boss is partial to the Ravens), and we support one another even if they go head to head. But make no mistake - this is a Football household to our very bones.

We do accept the existence of other less important sports though. For instance, The Boss and I have been spotted at a hockey game or two, and if someone throws us free baseball tickets, we head out to the ballpark for peanuts and beer.

And despite my love of the pigskin game, from a reader perspective, I must acknowledge there are no novels like baseball novels. A good baseball novel can make me wish I was more passionate about that sport. A good baseball novel transcends the sport itself and offers a wonderful philosophical perspective on life.

I haven't read a ton of baseball novels, but of those I've read, the author W.P. Kinsella has delivered the best. Shoeless Joe and The Iowa Baseball Confederacy cross the boundaries of mainstream literature and enter into the realm of magic realism. (For those who do not know, Mr. Costner's movie Field of Dreams was based on Shoeless Joe).  The Natural is a famous Robert Redford movie to many, but among avid readers, the novel by Bernard Malamud is just as deserving of praise.

One thing to remember about baseball novels and why they transcend the genre and appeal to a wide range of readers, even those who don't follow the game, is because baseball novels are always about more than just baseball - they are about the human spirit that can be found deep within each of us, that untapped magic we can touch if only we believe in ourselves.  

There are a ton more baseball novels out there - more than enough to keep your average baseball fan busy during the winter months waiting for the start of Spring Training (which by the starts this week and is the inspiration for this blog entry). So while I wait for 54 days for the NFL draft to begin, I'll read a baseball novel or two, and maybe catch a random game while visiting the local bar for a draft beer.

Until Next Time...
Trasnscendingly Yours,

p.s. And what baseball blog entry would be complete without a reference to the #1 Rule in Baseball:

Monday, March 2, 2015

Avoid Cliches Like The Plague IV (Not Really Cliches)

As I continue this never ending struggle to eradicate clichés from our language, it was recently brought to my attention that little quirky sayings that aren't necessarily clichés can be just as annoying. So I thought I put a few of those out here.

"To make a long story short..." --- This is one The Boss pointed out to me. I hadn't noticed quite how much people use it, but once I became aware of it, I was amazed at the number of people who use it. But in the spirit of full-disclosure, she pointed out that *I* was the one who over used. When telling stories, I tend to get a bit long-winded. Once I realize that I'm going long, I say, "To make a long story short..." at which point The Boss usually mumbles something like, "Too late" before her eyes glaze over.

"Reach out..." --- People use this phrase instead of the word "contact." I have no idea why. An argument can be made that there is a subtle difference, but honestly, the small difference is usually negated by its overuse. All I can say is, everyone... stop it.

"Shore up" --- What does this mean? It's been used so much in so many different situations, that it's pretty much lost any clear definition. Sometimes people use it instead of "correct" but even then my advice is to use a more accurate description and drop this overused, vague word from your vocabulary.

There are more phrases, and every few months on business or speaking websites, various authors will post a list of their top ten, usually compiled by talking to various employment experts and motivational speakers. You know, the same people who use words like "synergy" and value-add."

Until Next Time...
Utilizely Yours,