Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult

While reading the first chapter of Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult, a tale of the maudlin ups and downs of trying to make a baby, I’m thinking, okay, where is this story going. Let’s hope it picks up. And pick up, it does.

Nine years for the couple, Zoe and Max. Nine years of trying to get pregnant, a few in-vitros take, but end in miscarriages and a still birth. And then, the second chapter tells the story of those nine years again, from Max’s point of view. New font and all.

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Atheists Unplugged

The publisher of The Atheist’s Bible: An illustrious collection of irreverent thoughts should have taken Mark Twain’s advice: When you catch an adjective, kill it. The word illustrious adds nothing to the subtitle. See Ben Yagoda’s When You Catch an Adjective, Kill It: The Parts of Speech, for Better and/or Worse. Actually, the entire subtitle is unnecessary. The Atheist’s Bible—nice and clean.

I was perusing The Atheist’s Bible at Starbucks and a passerby, with a look that he had discovered something sinister, interrupted me. Isn’t that—Atheist’s Bible—an oxymoron? he asked. I nodded yes, remembering the quote, “The total absence of humor from the Bible is one of the most singular things in all literature.”

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Page Fright: Writers do it everywhere

I’m left-handed and writing with a pen almost always ends up being a messy affair. In the West, we write left to right, making my left hand drag the ink along and smudge the page. Even with a pencil, my hand tends to cramp as a left-handed person must write inward across the page. I’ve often envied right-handed people who can gracefully write outward across the page like a violinist with his bow extended to caress the sweet high and low notes.

The computer is an equal-opportunity instrument, though I imagine if I researched the origins of the QWERTY keyboard, I’d find it was designed not only for the slowness of mechanical typewriters, but also for the prominent right-handed population. Even though I prefer writing my first draft in longhand, I often start on the computer.

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Life in the fat lane with journalist William Leith

Reviewers of The Hungry Years couldn’t quite classify it—memoir, personal diet book, literary journalism, creative non-fiction—and this intrigued me.

What would a sometimes-overweight and well-known British journalist do with the topical issue of fat? William Leith needed a good angle for Hungry Years: confessions of a food addict and he found it in his interview with Dr. Robert Atkins.

Leith, the last person to interview the infamous doctor before his death, went on the Atkins diet as any good fat journalist would do for research. And, to spice things up in the book, Leith also chronicles his fondness for cocaine, painkillers, caffeine, alcohol, as well as his penchant for women who smoke and shop too much. Leith is desperate one moment and funny the next.

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An apple a day—wisdom or myth

The green apple on the cover of An Apple a Day caught my eye. But the subtitle caught my breath: The Myths, Misconceptions and Truths about the Foods We Eat. I panicked. I assumed that an apple a day was a good thing. As you can see in the book’s cover photo, there are some startling unhealthy sounding elements in apples.

The author, a scientist named Joe Schwarcz, is the director of the Office of Science and Society at McGill University. He knows his food chemistry. He also knows how to turn a dull technical subject into an entertaining read.

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The morning after the night before

The main thing in life is when you fall, you need to get right up again. Someone who has the incredible endurance to keep on going, is Cathrine Ann. This week, I’ve been reading her memoir, Beautiful Buttons. I couldn’t believe how many times this woman was knocked down—some of her own doing—only to get up again and keep moving. She now operates a multi-million dollar business from Sechelt, BC and has won numerous biz and entrepreneur awards.

Catching a curve ball

It’s those curve balls that can get you down. And your weight up. Get you off track. Or in the vernacular of the day, cause you to fall off the wagon.

After wiping out on my bicycle, I’m going to hold back on exercise for a week or two, or until the pain in my neck subsides.

I was cycling along Jericho Beach, one of the city’s most spectacular spots, when a large woolly terrier bounded from the off-leash section of the park, into the pedestrian and cycle path. To avoid the dog, I crunched down hard on my brakes and swerved to the right, hearing myself think, I’m going down. In those split seconds I recalled a passage from Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers about a co-pilot saying to the captain, “We’re going down,” seconds before the fateful airplane crash.

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