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April 19, 2011

Winner, some chitchat, new book club, cat picture

And the winner of yesterday's giveaway of Knitting Plus: Mastering Fit + Plus-Size Style + 15 Projects by Lisa Shroyer is... DAH DAH DUM! Marjorie at 11:49:44. Check your email. Yay! Book giveaways are fun. Thanks again to Jaime Guthals at Interweave who always sends such unusual and beautiful books to share.

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Reader Catherine in Australia wrote:

Hi Laurie, I really hope that things are settling down again and life is getting better for you (and the kitties too). This is probably the last thing on your mind right now, but I was wondering if you have any plans to continue with the book club? I have almost no chance of getting to an actual bookclub (due to 3 kids, part-time work, no babysitter etc) so I loved the idea of the virtual bookclub. I also have very limited reading time (like 15 minutes after the kids are in bed if I am lucky!) and I like to get a head start on my reading to catch up with everyone else, so I wondered if you might have any books in mind for the club. Lots of goodwill and best wishes, Catherine

This was perfect timing! I was just unpacking a box yesterday and found my high-school copy of The Great Gatsby and I almost abandoned my already marginal attempts at unpacking to go sit in a corner and read about old Tom and Daisy Buchanan. So that's it, it's official:

Book Club for May: The Great Gatsby
(paperback version | kindle version)
Let's meet back here to chitchat and discuss The Great Gatsby on Monday, May 23, 2011.

The "bookclub" is really just an online read-along and anyone who feels like participating can check out the book during the month and then make a date to come back here and comment on the book and read what others think about it. (Yes, comments will be open that day. Har har.) It's by far the best book club I've ever been to because there's no obligation, you don't have to drive anywhere, and you can drink and eat anything you want while reading and writing comments. And if I manage to get some de-stashing back in gear I will send one lucky commenter home with some yarn or a book or some jeggings.

Just kidding. Like I would part with some jeggings.

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OR you could read my manifesto. You're in it.

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Recently reader Bonnie asked me on Twitter:

What are the best positive, empowering, self-helpiest books you can recommend?

That would be a mighty long list. I read self-help for many reasons, including I SO CRAZY. For many years I read helpy books when I wasn't going to a shrink, books were my therapy-by-proxy. Now that I am seeing a professional I don't read as much self-help. Mostly I read Entertainment Weekly and Ready Made and odd collections of essays by writers from the 1960s.

But the self-help books I keep on my shelves are the ones I recommend:

The Four Agreements - A short book, with concise writing (I get irritated at self-help that's formatted like a legal textbook.) You can breeze through this in an afternoon but the lessons will stick with you.

The Mind of the Soul: Responsible Choice - You can't get any better than this Gary Zukav book.

A New Earth Before Oprah picked this book for her book club I had flipped through a few pages and put it down, too much work. I think the sentence structure makes the reading more dense than it needs to be. Having said that, I re-picked it up for her book club and reading this book from the beginning to the end made me feel like a new version of myself. There is a passage in this book about sinking below thought vs. rising above your thoughts and that section alone probably changed my life.

The Book of Awakening - I don't want to oversell this book, because I think it either hits with you or it doesn't. The format itself is one of my favorites, I love a good daybook. Remember when the world was on fire with Sarah Ban Breathnach's daybook Simple Abundance? I love this format and I think Mark Nepo is brilliant and writes lovely paragraphs. I keep it in the bathroom. Is that wrong?

The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success - Gotta have some Deepak on the list. This is my favorite of his books. The idea that money must flow in and out changed my thinking about money completely.

Bridge to Terabithia - I know this isn't self-help. But this little piece of perfect makes me think about life in a new way each time I read it.

• Ditto A Wrinkle in Time

That's my short list. Many self-help books directed at women involve self-esteem or finding a man. I don't read those books. I've always been mystified by the cult of self-esteem when (to me) self-mastery is such a better quality to cultivate. And when it comes to bagging a man, I'm waiting for the Laurie's Guide To Marrying Al Gore paperback.

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I fit in this handy carrying case so obviously, I am your new laptop.

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Posted by laurie at April 19, 2011 5:33 AM