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January 2016

Blowing the lid off nookie: Much Ado About Loving

Like all boring old married people, Mr. CR and I share certain phrases and words to use as conversational shorthand. One of our most frequently used phrases is "Thanks for blowing the lid off nookie." This in-joke comes from a line uttered by Albert Brooks in the awesome movie Broadcast News, but I am not going to explain its context any further; you'll just have to go watch the movie.* For our purposes here I can explain the phrase as meaning (to us), well, thanks for stating the painfully obvious. I'll illustrate:

CR: Taibbi just wrote another article about Donald Trump loving attention.

Mr. CR: Wow, he really blew the lid off nookie with that one.

This phrase also sums up how I feel about the small essay/correspondence collection Much Ado About Loving, co-written by Jack Murnighan** and Maura Kelly. What the authors did here was look at the subject of romantic relationships by comparing their own experiences with those found in literature. I was so primed to like this book. I like books about books; I like books about relationships; I love collections of correspondence and back-and-forth essays.

I did not really like this book.

I mean, it was okay. And the premise was kind of fun. I enjoyed reading about books (a lot of which I haven't read--classics like The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, Light in August, The Magic Mountain, etc.) through the lens of the relationships among their characters. But when it came time to actually glean relationship insights from these books (and from Murnighan and Kelly), I was underwhelmed.

Here's what I learn from Murnighan, by way of Tolstoy's War and Peace and the character of Natasha:

"This is the effet joie de vivre has on the people around you: They share in it, feeling more engaged, more alive and vital, like crocuses rising up to see the sun. When you are joyful, when you say yes to life and have fun and project positivity all around you, you become a sun in the center of every constellation, and people want to be near you...Women like this, women who are really alive, are the most captivating of all; they are making the most out of living, and they help you do it, too." (pp. 85-86.)

And here's Murnighan again, on reading Henry Miller's Tropic of Cancer and noting that Miller is "pretty much all about un-repression." He also has this to say, on how everyone can enjoy sex more:

"I suppose it's not surprising that many women don't realize the degree to which the simple fact of loving sex can make the act great for both parties." (p. 110.)***

So, here's what we've learned for relationships, particularly the man's advice to women: Be charming, and have a lot of joie de vivre, and oh yeah, love sex. To which I say: well, thanks, Jack Murnighan. You really blew the lid off nookie with that one.

*I will stop at nothing to get everyone, everywhere, to watch the movie "Broadcast News."

**Of Beowulf on the Beach fame (which I actually liked).

***By the way, women totally realize this (making it happen, always, can be a challenge, especially after having all that joie de vivre, which is exhausting), but thanks for assuming we're all idiots.

New Nonfiction (with commentary): 4 January 2015

A weekly series, published each Monday, sharing a selected list of new nonfiction titles to be published during the week. List originally published at The Reader's Advisor Online. It's a new year--look at all the new books! Sorry for the lack of commentary today; CRjr and I are struggling with a cold that never gets better and NEVER GOES AWAY. How is that possible? Text in bold is commentary.

Aronne, Louis J – The Change Your Biology Diet
Beavan, Colin – How to Be Alive: A Guide to the Kind of Happiness That Helps the World
Bowden, Mark – The Three Battles of Wanat and Other Stories
Branan, Karen – The Family Tree: A Kinship Lynching in Jim Crow Georgia
Carrillo-Bucaram, Kristina – The Fully Raw Diet
Carson, Candy – A Doctor in the House: My Life with Ben Carson Political spouse memoir. Do we really have to wait all the way until November for this election to be over?
Chaudhary, Kulreet – The Prime: Prepare and Repair Your Body for Spontaneous Weight Loss
Dagher, Emmanuel – Easy Breezy Prosperity: The Five Foundations for a More Joyful, Abundant Life
Davidson, Liz – What Your Financial Advisor Isn't Telling You : The 10 Essential Truths You Need to Know About Your Money
Diabetic Living Editors – Eat to Beat Diabetes
Duffy, James P. – War at the End of the World: Douglas MacArthur and the Forgotten Fight for New Guinea, 1942-1945. I don't have any predictions for the publishing industry, except for this one: somehow, in 100 years, they will still be publishing WWII nonfiction, and somehow, it will still be selling.
Hazzard, Kevin – A Thousand Naked Strangers: A Paramedic’s Wild Ride to the Edge and Back. I LOVE work memoirs. I will get this one.
Kondo, Marie – Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up. Brother, Kondo, I don't know that tidying up is life-changing enough to warrant its coverage in this many books.
Krieger, Ellie – You Have It Made: Delicious, Healthy, Do-Ahead Meals
Leonard, Sarah and Bhaskar Sunkara – The Future We Want: Radical Ideas for the New Century
Lofgren, Mike – The Deep State: The Fall of the Constitution and the Rise of a Shadow Government
Loridan-Ivens, Marceline – But You Did Not Come Back. Holocaust memoir.
Ludwig, David, MD, PhD – Always Hungry?: Conquer Cravings, Retrain Your Fat Cells, and Lose Weight Permanently – 100,000
Luzzatto, Sergio – Primo Levi’s Resistance: Rebels and Collaborators in Occupied Italy
Meyer, Joyce – God’s Greatest Gifts
Miller, Kelsey – Big Girl: How I Gave Up Dieting and Got a Life
Moore, Charles – Margaret Thatcher: At Her Zenith: In London, Washington and Moscow
Newport, Cal – Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World
Nichols, Lisa – Abundance Now: Amplify Your Life & Achieve Prosperity Today
Passarlay, Gulwali – The Lightless Sky: A Twelve-Year-Old Refugee’s Harrowing Escape from Afghanistan and His Extraordinary Journey…
Prothero, Stephen – Why Liberals Win the Culture Wars (Even When They Lose Elections)
Quinn, Jane Bryant – How to Make Your Money Last : The Indispensable Retirement Guide
Rawlence, Ben – City of Thorns: Nine Lives in the World’s Largest Refugee Camp
Roker, Al – Been There, Done That: Family Wisdom For Modern Times
Sakamoto, Pamela Rotner – Midnight in Broad Daylight: A Japanese American Family Caught Between Two Worlds
Smith, Michael Acton – Calm
Thompson, Juan F. – Stories I Tell Myself: Growing Up with Hunter S. Thompson
Wariner, Ruth – The Sound of Gravel: A Memoir. Memoir by a woman who grew up in a religious sect in Mexico--the thirty-ninth of her father's forty-two children.
Weiner, Eric – The Geography of Genius: A Search for the World’s Most Creative Places from Ancient Athens to Silicon Valley
Weisberg, Jacob – Ronald Reagan: The American Presidents Series: The 40th President, 1981–1989
Wills, David – The Cinematic Legacy of Frank Sinatra

So, what do you think? Anything look good there?