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October 2012 (55 posts)
Each week, we'll be letting you know about the new releases the editors of O and Oprah.com couldn't stop reading. This week, we're enthralled by the page-turning novel:
It's Fine by Me
By Per Petterson
Novels about teenager angst can sometimes sound, well...teenage. Not so in the case of It's Fine by Me by Norwegian writer Per Petterson, who previously wrote the haunting, spare Out Stealing Horses. In this newly translated novel (courtesy of Don Bartlett), he follows the struggles of Audun Sletten, a 13-year-old boy who supports his mother by delivering newspapers. Having recently moved to town, this family of two remains slightly lost. Audun makes one friend (a classmate), as does his mother (a lover). But the majority of their time is spent reflecting on the violence that Audun's father created in their old home, at one point shooting a pistol at the ceiling while 2-year-old Audun crawled around on the floor screaming. Like so many who grow up with chaos, Audun tries to make up all kinds of elaborate, even slightly comic rules to prevent the same thing from happening again. "You must never drink alone," he says, "never drink on Sundays, never drink before seven o'clock and if you do, it has to be on a Saturday. If you're hungover, you go for a walk in the forest, and you must never drink the hair of the dog. Do that, and you are an alcoholic ... you are finished. Then you spend the rest of your days walking through the valley of the shadow of death. ... They give you a wide berth in the street, scurry behind the canned food when you're in the shop to buy beer. ... And then you die."
But his efforts to move on become all the more difficult when his father shows up—awakening not only memories but also new, acutely understandable fears. The tangle of this boy's mind—and the direct, graceful way it's portrayed—creates a tale that's far more adult than adolescent, one that asks the age-old question about how to deal with the past: Stay and pretend it's not happening, or run and pretend you don't care? Or...find some other way (please).
The best literary reads of the fall
Short stories for every reader
But what about those who really, really don't have money to plunk down on a gorgeous gown they'll only wear once? One woman, faced with this ridiculousness, decided to give away her wedding dress after her wedding to a bride in need. The bride, who wishes to remain anonymous, is offering her lovely ruffly confection of a Cambodian silk gown through Huffington Post Weddings. Head on over to see photos of the dress and find out more. I can't think of a better way to start off a marriage than by sending some kindness out into the world, can you? After all (as it's easy to forget when you're suffering satin-blindness in the middle of David's Bridal panic attack), this getting married thing, it's not about a day, or even a dress -- it's about starting a new life together. A life, one hopes, of giving, and sharing, and good vibes all around.
Don't Tell the Bride...
The Beginner's Guide to Wedding Planning
As I stuck the list to the fridge, I daydreamed about the different lessons we would have every week, how I would combine documentary clips and projects and field trips in a totally inspiring and life-affirming improvised homeschooling situation. I envisioned the children and I racing through a meadow, peering at clouds through homemade cloud-viewers and shouting, "Cumulus! Nimbus!" at each other like greetings in a newly-learned language.
Right. So as it turns out, I apparently don't know how to learn about anything other than by checking out relevant books at the library. Each Monday I stare at the list, and think, Right. India. We were going to learn about India. Hm, guess I'll check out a book. What's next? Animal groups. Okay, I'll find a book. Now don't get me wrong, the disintegrating, outdated science textbooks at my local library are great and all. But I know there must be more engaging ways to learn about new things. And now I know where to find them: Learnist.
This new social media site is essentially Pinterest with a point. (No offense to Pinterest!) Users share their areas of expertise, compiling, say, helpful grammar infographics, or the best works of filmmaker Werner Herzog, or (my favorite so far) words that can't be translated into English. Learnist draws you in and around (I was not exactly looking for Werner Herzog, but suddenly here I am, obsessed) the way Facebook and Twitter do, but with more useful content -- lots of resources for teachers, home cooks, sports enthusiasts, basically, everyone.
So I can space out online and actually be compiling an unofficial lesson plan for my curious kid. Or, you know, myself.
Check out Learnist and request a (free, easy) beta invite!
Is Learning Ever Just Plain Learning?
The Importance of Curiosity
To participate, go to healthofwomenstudy.org and complete the survey about your health and habits (covering everything from your reproductive history to your personal care products); each year, the site will prompt you to update your profile.
“There’s a tendency in research to look at what we already know over and over again,” says Susan Love, MD, “but we’re clearly missing something.” The data gathered in this study could spark new discoveries.