Monday, November 13, 2006

Each pregnancy lowers your IQ 5 points

I am full of recommendations, mostly unsolicited. I will tell you:

  • kimchi is good for a cold
  • sweet peas grow best if sowed in fall
  • get your funky shoes at Ma Petite Shoe
  • it's better to start your Mail Merge from Excel
  • move to Hampden
  • freeze chicken in the marinade
  • read the user's manual
  • pay the movers to do your packing
  • Bedekar mixed pickle is better than Mother's
There are not too many categories about which I feel totally ill-equipped to provide advice. I am a real pain in the ass. For example, Big Man (above) seems somewhat skeptical about my endorsement of Thai okra. That's ok, I was kidding.

So it's kind of for the best that I work at the public library. People ASK me questions - not just
"Which tax form should I use?" which I answer with an IRS publication: no way am I touching that one
"How can you tell if a woman is a lesbian?" which kind of boggled me for a minute but I found a book called like "101 Questions You Might Have About Homosexuality" (I did NOT tell him "look at her shoes" which is outdated advice anyway and which, if you follow it, will give you the wrong idea about most many librarians and all most nuns)
but also
"Can you recommend a book about trucks for my three-year-old?" which I am UNBELIEVABLY qualified to answer, having read every children's book about trucks published since and including Mike Mulligan and his motherfucking Steam Shovel.
What I really enjoy giving advice on is books for 13-year-olds. Seems counter-intuitive, as most kids are getting surly or at least uncommunicative by the age of 13, but I have an in with these kids. I'd like to think it's because I look them in the eye and respect their opinions, but I know better. It's the big tattoo on my forearm. God, I love that tattoo.

I like helping them find books because their books are so great lately! Probably the last "teen" book you read was Forever by Judy Blume. Well, Judy Blume is still out there (and people are still gettin all bent out of shape about the sex in Forever), but there's a recent spate of books - tight, exciting, and sans melodrama - that are so good that I recommend them to adult readers. Readers with short attention spans, like moms with little children. Fantasy readers; or people who like kind of edgy fiction. So I'm taking my act on the road - here's a short list of books I cannot recommend highly enough:

  • Kiki Strike in the Shadow City by Kirsten Miller. Fifth grade girls exploring an underground New York City. History, espionage and adventure.
  • The Supernaturalist by Eoin Colfer. It's sci-fi, but it's not all magicky. Lots of action and an intricate plot.
  • Montmorency: Thief, Liar, Gentleman? by Eleanor Upland. In Victorian London, a thief reinvents himself as a gentleman. Interesting information about the jail system and sewers, and a great story.
  • Stowaway by Karen Hesse. Inspired by the true story of a boy who stowed away on Captain Cook's ship Endeavour on its 1768 voyage of discovery. Great gateway to the amazing story of the voyage, written with economy and color.
  • His Dark Materials trilogy by Phillip Pullman. Indescribable. I ripped through these 3 books in about a week. Metaphysics, politics, fantasy, all in a quick-moving, tightly-plotted story.
  • The Alex Rider series by Anthony Horowitz. 13-year-old MI6 agent. James Bond, Jr.
  • The Weetzie Bat books by Francesca Lia Block. These are lovely. Weetzie and her friends live their dreams in Los Angeles. They fall in love, break up, have babies, and dress like Patricia Field threw up all over them.
I get 'em on audio, that way I can be reading a book and also following a book in the car. And I have to say, my goodness, Tim Curry adds a lot to A Series of Unfortunate Events; Stephen Fry's edible baritone absolutely makes Montmorency; and some guy named David Cale is shivering my timbers reading Stowaway. Mmm! Oh, also that actor Chiwetel Ejiofor, from Dirty Pretty Things, was VERY effective reading The Supernaturalist.

And by "effective" I mean that I kind of wished I had headphones so that he could be whispering in my ear. And for you adults - Campbell Scott reading Oryx & Crake by Margaret Atwood. Dry and haunted. Now all I need is for Clive Owen to start doing recorded books and I swear to god I would crash the car.