List? What List?

I have a confession to make. I haven’t been reading from The List for some time now. I warned you all that this would happen from time to time! Still, I feel that is a weak excuse, at best. In short, I’ve been a bad bad girl (get your heads out of the gutter now, we’re talking about reading here, not sexy time).

First, I diverged from the reading list to read The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch, which I’ve documented in previous posts. No regrets!

Then my reading ran away with itself…

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Someone I greatly respect (and one of my superiors) at work recommended The Effortless Experience: Conquering the New Battleground for Customer Loyalty by Matthew Dixon, Nick Toman, and Rick DeLisi. The last book recommended by this superior was Arlene Dickinson’s Persuasion, which I really enjoyed. As far as professional reading goes, it was very insightful and it made a lot of sense to me – it also ended up being some required reading for the company. So it follows that once I saw her recommendation for The Effortless Experience pop up, I used one of my Audible credits for the audiobook. I’m glad I did, too. Essentially, the authors posit that the new goal for companies should be to focus on making the customer experience easier. Apparently there has been too much of a focus over the years on providing an over-the-top amazing customer experience, when all people really want is for you to make their lives easier. You make their life easier, you win their business and potentially their loyalty. BAM! Eureka! But in all seriousness it has had a positive impact on the way I do my job. For that reason, I’m glad I took the time to listen to this audiobook. Also I wouldn’t be too surprised to see it pop up as required reading at work, or having some kind of influence on strategies for next year. So if you think about it that way, I’m one step ahead!

Next up, David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants by Malcolm Gladwell. (SIDE BAR: that man has a lot of “L”s in his name, doesn’t he?) This was also acquired with Audible credits. Listen – I went into my account one day and saw that I had saved up 6 credits. That’s a lot of credits considering you only get one a month! I had no choice but to use them!! Right? Right. Of course. Let’s not be wasteful. For those of you out there still raising an incredulous eyebrow in my general direction, here was my justification: (1) I wanted to use my Audible credits, (2) I still wanted to finish Allegiant before returning to the Lord of The Rings series, and (3) I wanted an audiobook to listen to for my commute.

So after finishing Effortless Experience I moved on to David and Goliath. It was really interesting – I didn’t agree with all of the conclusions drawn by Gladwell in his discussion of our perceptions of advantages and disadvantages, but I still found the conversation to be thought provoking and intriguing. It’s the sort of thing I think a debate club or Toastmaster’s club could really have fun with. Actually, it might make for an interesting blog post of its own…maybe I’ll do a follow-up post on that one…we’ll see, no promises.

Now I’m reading Allegiant by Veronica Roth, which I think I should be able to finish up in the next week or so, and listening to Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan. To be honest, I think I’m a bit premature in my listening of Dad is Fat. I think I might enjoy it more when kids start being a factor in my life.

After I finish Allegiant I PROMISE I’ll go back to Lord of the Rings. Pinky swear! I already have the audiobook and everything!

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The Republic of Thieves

The Republic of Thieves

(And yes, that is Allegiant in the back) it’s like Christmas up in here – for realz

Your order has shipped…

It’s finally happening! The Republic of Thieves is on its way to me! Right now, as we speak, it’s been put in a neat little shipping package with my name on it, and it’s making its way to me *squee*

So – This has lit a fire under my arse in terms of LOTR reading. On the one hand, I’m not about to put this book down after 3 months of slow progress, just when it started being interesting. EVEN THOUGH I would be putting it down for a good cause (I would pick it right back up right after, I swear!).

ON THE OTHER HAND, I don’t want to lose the momentum I’ve built up. Also I don’t know if the library will let me renew it again – I’ve already done that twice, and I have found that I’m enjoying reading this book old school style, printed book, turning paper pages and all. It’s really working for me. Not to mention that I just can’t justify spending any more money on this book – I’ve already bought the Kindle eBook and the Audible audiobook – so I need to finish this puppy before the library demands it back, lest I hold it captive for ransom. By which I mean return it late and pay the fee…so you know, same thing.

The exciting and completely unexpected development here is that despite it being proclaimed NSFD, I’ve resurrected the LOTR audiobook since receiving that shipping notice. I can down a Red Bull or seven if it means finishing this pup faster. And they make zero calorie Red Bull now so REALLY why the HECK would I not jump on that? It’s basically free energy.

So now the question is: do I square away the Lord of the Rings series before jumping back in to the Gentlemen Bastards sequence, or do I put Frodo & Co. on hold while I indulge myself in the all-consuming awesome world of Locke Lamora? Decisions, decisions, decisions…

What will she do? Stay tuned to find out!

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A portrait of me reading

A portrait of me reading

My new husky puppy is distracting me from LOTR

The plan was to faithfully work my way through LOTR: The Fellowship of the Ring, then when my fiance brought home a 14 week old puppy. Suddenly my priorities shifted ever so slightly.  Meet Scout:

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So I dusted off my books about Siberian Huskies and puppy training, and left Frodo & Co. behind, to patiently await my return.

Instead, I have soaked up the wisdom of Cesar Milan and the For Dummies Siberian Husky edition (there’s a lot of good info in there! Don’t judge me). I’ve read these before, when we got our first dog a few years ago, but it’s proving useful to read through them again.

For one, it has somewhat given me the defacto title of ‘resident expert’ when it comes to anything dog. If there is a disagreement about how to handle a particular element of dog ownership, I need only begin my sentence with “I read that…” or “The book says…” and voila, disagreement over, point Moi (not that it’s a competition or anything)! I must admit – this is a nice byproduct of educating myself on dog rearing.

 On a related note, through my work I have recently become aware of the Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve. If you’ve studied psychology, or if you’re one of those academic types, or highly educated individuals, you likely are familiar with this theory. Prior to being exposed to it through work, I was not. For all us laymen out there, a brief explanation: the Ebbinghaus Curve applies fancy math learning to calculate the speed at which memory decays when no steps are taken to retain said memory.

But what does that have to do with the price of bananas in China?

This is relevant because although I read all these books two years ago, and we applied much of what I read to train and raise our older husky, Loki, it’s incredible how much of it I don’t remember. When reading these books, I am experiencing a sense of familiarity in some passages, but others are as if I am reading them for the first time. Collections of words, wisdom, and thoughts which have completely disappeared from my memory. Had I read even one book a year in the interim, many of the concepts I’m revisiting now would be old hat to me.

Huskies were originally developed by a badass Siberian people called the Chukchis. First of all, they domesticated the reindeer. Also they fought off the Russians and the Communists (who were after total world domination and had to eradicate any and all dissenters) and managed to survive even when hired militias were sent after them. In the event that these militias did capture some of them, rather than being taken prisoner, the women would kill their dogs, their children and themselves. BAD ASS! Eventually the Russians got tired of hunting down the Chukchis, who were not large in number, and instead of actually defeating them decided to arbitrarily declare victory and the land conquered (sound familiar to some recent world events?).

The Chukchis raised their dogs to be hard workers with a good temperament and to be family/community dogs. Huskies are pack animals through and through. I am of the (potentially biased) opinion that huskies are amongst the greatest breeds of dogs of all time. If you are not convinced, I recommend you watch Balto, he was a husky – then tell me the breed isn’t freaking awesome.

Balto is a true story about how, in the winter of 1925, huskies ran just under 700 miles to deliver desperately needed serum to a small Alaskan town, whose children would die without it. A dog named Togo lead the pack for the first half, then Balto did the second. It’s know as The Great Serum Run, if you want to look it up. The distance those dogs covered is also the origins of the massive sled race, the Iditarod.

I digress. Suffice it to say that Scout (the lil’un, and yes, she is named after the character in To Kill a Mockingbird, because I had just finished reading it and how could I resist) has introduced a new element of focus and chaos into our lives, one which has pulled me from J.R.R. Tolkien and pushed me towards Cesar Milan and his contemporaries.

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Huxley and Orwell comic (reposted from Biblioklept)

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Joseph Heller’s Handwritten Outline for Catch-22

Originally posted on Biblioklept:
(Via/more).

SQUEAL! Republic of Thieves has a release date! OMFG!

I found out this morning that Scott Lynch will be publishing the third installment of his Gentlemen Bastards  Sequence, Republic of Thieves, this coming October 2013. Now I don’t get all jazzed up and start throwing out my teenage “OMFG”s for just anything … Continue reading

Audiobooks and other ways I cheat

Listen. Three years is a long time to read from one list of books. It’s like a prison of classics and you start resenting literature. It’s like Charles Dickens and Margaret Atwood are kicking me in the gut with their run on sentences and multiple-page descriptions of a brick wall. Not really, I love literature (let’s be real) but it does get trying. It’s like after the honeymoon period of a relationship wears off. Well – suffice it to say the honeymoon period of ‘The List + Cat 4eva’ has passed.

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CONFESSION: I’m cheating on The List with another list. It just feels so right, and when I need a break from The List, when I need to just get away from it all, my List-ress (get it? instead of mistress? told you I was funny) helps me do that. She’s just so feminine, and young, and exciting. So far I’ve been trying to balance The List with my list-ress but GOSH DARNIT ALL that’s hard to do. SO MUCH TEMPTATION.

If you’re wondering who was able to tempt me away from thrillers such as Tale of Two Cities and everything Jane Austen has ever written – it was Ludlow & Company’s “bookaholics anonymous” post and DAMMIT I’M NOT SORRY! MINDY KALING IS HILARIOUS AND “THE GIRL’S GUIDE TO HUNTING AND FISHING” MAKES ME THINK OF GEORGE CLOONEY.

And there have been others…the books I’ve cheated on The List with include (but are not limited to):

  • The Hunger Games Trilogy – Suzanne Collins
  • The Divergent Trilogy (Divergent and Insurgent) – Veronica Roth
  • 50 Shades of Grey Trilogy – EL James
  • Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn
  • The Secret Race – Tyler Hamilton
  • Bossypants – Tina Fey
  • The Age of Miracles – Karen Thompson Walker
  • The Slap – Christos Tsiolkas
  • How to Raise the Perfect Dog – Cesar Millan

Full disclosure; I’m also planning future deviations by way of Upworthy’s “101 Books To Read This Summer Instead of ’50 Shades of Grey'” which looks like possibly one of the greatest flowcharts to ever flowchart a flowchart in the history of flowcharteration.* Shoutout to my girl Frenchie** for showing me that little gem.

In the interest of transparency, I will also tell you that I’ve been listening to audiobooks to help me get through The List. I travel a lot, and podcasts used to be my homeboy, and I do still love a few of them, but lately audiobooks have been making my commutes all the more bearable. They’re also helping me do some serious damage reading-wise (does audiobook listening still count as reading?). Carmen and I had agreed that audiobooks were not allowed. Maybe agreed is the wrong word. Carmen threatened to drop out of the competition if I started using audiobooks – because my job has me travelling a lot, her view was that this would give me a clear advantage and barred it from the competition. Well BALLS TO THAT, I say. Audiobooks for everyone!

*flowchart by Teach.com
**not her real name, and Grease is an awesome movie