Tuesday, March 20, 2012

MWF Seeking BFF by Rachel Bertsche and Bookish Bits

"I talk to strangers instead of avoiding them. I do the work to bring people together, personally or professionally. When I'm invited somewhere I say yes and show up. I try not to interrupt, especially with stories about myself, and I don't point it out whenever I go out of my way for a friend. I get a kick out of new people instead of acting awkward around them. I get phone numbers, and I use them. In short, I'm a better friend." from "MWF Seeking BFF" by Rachel Bertsche.
The above is what happens, in a nutshell, to twenty-something Bertsche, who, after being a native New Yorker, moves with her new lawyer husband to Chicago, and realizes that she's far afield of her support system of family and friends.
Instead of bemoaning her friendless state and wallowing in lonliness, Rachel does what most people her age do when confronted with a challenge: they blog about changing their situation for a year, and then write a book from all their blog posts about the experience, complete with snark, pithy quotes from experts and their books, and the occaisional neurotic rant.
The success of this menthod of non fiction book has been touted a lot in recent years, with the publication of "Julie and Julia" a blog turned book turned movie, (with Meryl Streep doing a turn as Julia Child, and being marvelous, as usual) and Hungry Girl, a blog turned series of books turned TV show. There are countless other examples, but the thrust of all these books remains the same, ie a young woman flounders around and grasps onto a way to 'find herself' via some challenge over the course of a year, whether it be reading 100 classic novels or cooking every recipe in Julia Childs cookbook. In this case, Rachel sets a goal of meeting 52 new women who could be potential "BFFs" or "Best Friends Forever." She tries everything imaginable, from a paid friend service (which, unsurprisingly, is awkward and doesn't yield a friend)to going to a religious group meeting, to attending a "speed friending" session, as well as writing an article for a major publication begging shamelessly for contacts with women her age in her same situation.
She meets odd women, humorless women, fun women and some she just doesn't feel a 'spark' with, of course, in addition to some that she feels would be perfect BFF candidates, only to discover that they never call or email her after the first date, they marry and move out of town or they're just not that into her, which seems to surprise our heroine, even though the reader will, by now, realize that she's something of an acquired taste, when her neurotic charm wears thin, revealing patches of shiny narcissism.
Though I found Rachel judgmental and annoying in places (there really aren't any women you can find common ground with over the age of 30? Really?) I still enjoyed her friendship journey, though I don't know that it made for a book with any real density. But if you're looking for an extended blog post that's light and doesn't take long to read, this is the book for you. I'd give it a B, only because she wraps it up with a win for everyone, and I felt she learned something along the way.

As a writer, I really identify with this woman's quote about her life, except instead of going on a book tour, I have to get dressed to go out and buy groceries, go to the gym, etc.

"I work from home. My commute is five feet down a hallway from my bedroom to my office. I wear pajamas until I'm required to leave the house or bathe. I brush my teeth, but not my hair. Who do I need to impress, the UPS guy? (In fact, I do worry about what he thinks of me.) My point is, unlike people who work among other humans, I don't particularly need to be presentable. I also don't need to be organized, prompt, poised or sociable. All I have to do is sit behind a desk and write a book. Until the book comes out, that is. Then every habit I've hammered into my psyche over the last year has to be undented when I embark on a book tour.
I wish I could liken my physical transformation to that of a caterpillar becoming a butterfly, but it's more like a bear shaken out of hibernation in the middle of winter. Packing seems like rocket science to me. The sound of the alarm can be particularly brutal when I have to get up at 4 a.m. to fly across the country in time for an evening event. Every day I wear outside clothes (as I call them). Sometimes I attempt to iron, attempt being the operative word. I even wear makeup occasionally and brush my hair. And I will fully admit to being utterly cranky most of the time.
But then I step into a bookstore and I realize that despite all the alarming data about e-books and the demise of bookstores, there are still people out there who read, who buy books with pages, who take the time to come to an author signing and make you feel special, even when you know what you really are. I'm the slob, staring at a blank page, feeling like an idiot, most of the time. But for a few weeks out of the year, I'm an author." --Lisa Lutz, author of the Spellman series. The latest is Trail of the Spellmans (Simon & Schuster)

I want to see this so badly!
From Shelf Awareness:

Warner Bros. Studio Tour London: the Making of Harry Potter
http://www.shelf-awareness.com/ct/uz3642037Biz12908695 opens March 31, but the Guardian's Sam Jones had an early peek at the exhibition
which "promises to bring true wizard fans closer to the heroes and
villains than ever before.... they will be able to stroll down Diagon
Alley, peer into Professor Snape's potions class and gaze around
Dumbledore's office as the set where the eight films were shot opens to
the public for the first time."

Jones noted that while "the veil is well and truly lifted" on the Harry
Potter moviemaking mystique (see photos here
"the more technical trickery reveals its sleight of hand, the more the
sheer ingenuity and effort that went into the films becomes apparent...
[and] all the signs suggest it will enchant visitors as much as the
books and films that gave rise to it."

I was a Brownie and a Girl Scout,so I appreciate reading that Chronicle Books honored this Scout Troop:

In celebration of the centennial this week of the founding of the Girl
Scouts of America, Chronicle Books invited Girl Scout Troop #62076 to
visit its office in San Francisco. The scouts snacked on cupcakes and
Girl Scout Cookies, saw pictures of Chronicle Books staffers as girl
scouts, learned how Chronicle developed its line of licensed Girl Scout
journals and stationery and were treated to a visit and book signing with
Annie Barrows, author of the Ivy and Bean series.

I plan on seeing this movie as soon as I can find it in a local theater. I'd also like to see "Salmon Fishing in the Yemen" with Ewan Macgregor, because I believe he's one of our finest actors. Though I'm not a Papa H fan, I do think his relationships with women were fascinating.

HBO released a new teaser trailer for Hemingway & Gellhorn
starring Clive Owen (Ernest Hemingway) and Nicole Kidman (Martha
Gellhorn). Indiewire noted that there "is nothing particularly new or
eye-catching on show here until right at the end of the trailer, and
then comes a new and vital piece of information about the film--the air
date." HBO will premiere Philip Kaufman's film May 28.

Finally, this video is hilarious! I read so hard, I'm JK Rowling! Go reader grrls!

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