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This Week’s Topics

Four Roses BourbonThe forum is jumping this week! Here are a few of my favorite recent conversations. Did you miss any of them? Click through to check them out.*

* Don’t forget to log in so you can see all this week’s favorite topics. (Don’t have a login yet? Registration is free, and all you need is an email address.)

Image credit: Four Roses Bourbon by ckelly

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What are you reading in November?

Fangirl: Rainbow Rowell: 9781250030955: Books 2013-11-04 13-46-24I just finished Fangirl, prompted by many recommendations from the young adult fiction thread, where a member let us know it was available for a Kindle flash sale (free, then later $1.40).  It was the perfect anti-dystopian antidote to Super Sad True Love Story (also well written, but cutting a little too close to 2013 Big Brotherhood for true comfort).

Want more tips for free/cheap ebooks? check out the thread Heads-up on free/cheap e-books. Got a hot tip? Post it there!

Other topics to check– most recommendations in this post were pulled from: Get your YA YAs out! Our favorite YA literature! (NOT the ya ya sisterhood!), Literary Fiction and What are you reading NOW? v. 4

Ursula K. LeGuin is popular this month:

I’m reading The Dispossessed by Ursula K. LeGuin. It’s a sci-fi classic, but I hadn’t read it before. There are a lot of interesting things about it, but it’s not entirely enjoyable. However, I’m reading the book partially for enjoyment but partially for research (trying to catch up on some classic sci-fi)

I’ve moved that book from “currently reading” back into “to read,” on the assumption that I’ll finish it someday.  I agree completely–very interesting, but not exactly enjoyable.  It’s very much a novel of ideas, and the personal and political stories are not entwined in the ways that are most interesting to me–it’s all the frustration without any of the satisfaction.  I do love so much LeGuin, though–The Annals of the Western Shore series, and The Tombs of Atuan.  I also read Four Ways to Forgiveness, which are four novellas about slavery and its aftermath.  I really want to read more, but I know some of her early stuff can be dense and theoretical, like The Dispossessed.

Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened: Allie Brosh: 9781451666175: Books 2013-11-04 13-32-48I’m sure nobody is surprised that the new book from Hyperbole and a Half is burning up the library hold lists this month:

Here’s a review of the Hyperbole and a Half book by a blogger I really like.  It sounds like there’s a good mix of new content, though a blog-to-book is always going to be heavy on recycling.

And there are a few of us holding up a bit more than our share of the reading lists (as per usual):

Ha!  When you said 3, I thought you meant not enough!  I almost always have 4 or 5 going at the same time.  Right now, somehow they’re all kind of cheerful bummers, with a large side of concentration camp: Rose Under Fire (really good, but I’m still feeling that whole WWII burnout), Ashfall (I love apocalypse survival, but when we get to oppressive regimes, I get bummed out), Premeditated (all the voices are the same, but it’s not bad for YA revenge), and Palace of Spies (historical fiction and kind of a romp).  Plus Mary Roach’s Gulp (nonfiction about eating), the graphic novel Boxers, and the audiobook of Mistborn: The Final Empire.

I apparently am crazy.

Need a more hands-on way to pick your next book? Maybe you need a flow chart: Which YA Novel is Right for You?

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Celebrating Diwali with Kids

rangoliA community member recently asked:

Any ideas on a simple way to celebrate Diwali? We are more agnostic, cultural Hindus rather than religious ones, but my almost 4 year old son is interested in learning more about it. I’m think maybe light a candle, talk about Lakshmi, and give clothes…..

For those on shaky ground, themselves, as to how to explain the holiday to your kids, here is a good overview and other information about the holiday. Diwali celebrates the coming of light into darkness, which can signify the new year washing away all ills, knowledge that dispels ignorance, the triumph of good over evil as inspired by the classic Ramayana story of Rama and Sita.

Prince Rama and his bride Sita were exiled to the forest for 14 years, during which time the evil demon king Ravana took a fancy to Sita and using a variety of disguises, tricked her into leaving her safe circle. He then kidnapped her to his kingdom and when she wouldn’t marry him, being a good and virtuous queen, he locked her in a tower where she was finally rescued by Prince Rama, with the help of Hanuman and his monkey army.

Here are some suggestions people had for simple ways to celebrate Diwali:

Interested? Got questions of your own to ask? Check out the rest of the discussion on Diwali… (log in first, it’s in Spirituality, Religion, and Faith)

  • We usually light candles and have sweets for Diwali. I might do some rangoli on our porch, too, if it’s nice outside.
  • Here are links for rangoli patterns for kids to color, or to use as templates for rangoli patterns outside your front door: Activity Village’s rangoli coloring pagess or DLTK’s crafts for kids.
  • Do you know other Indian (or half-Indian) families locally? What we generally do is invite them, dress up in Indian clothes, print out some Diwali coloring pages (with rangoli patterns) for the kids, either make or order out got Indian food, read a story to the kids about Diwali, and when it gets dark enough outside, bring out a buch of sparklers (we have some left over from July 4th) and let everyone have some. Fun party, and not remotely religious.
  • Another idea from a party we went to last year was buy some quick-dry modeling clay and help the kids form little divo (tea light) holders. Press small pretty pebbles into the soft clay. Sweet little favor to take home.
  • Or you could always invite a good friend of your child’s and their family, if you think they’d be receptive and into learning about the culture. (Tip: stress the sparklers and the sweets.) You can also give the kids sidewalk chalk and let them draw designs on your porch as a sort of modern rangoli!
  • The story of Prince Rama and his bride Sita could make a charming little play for children to act out (with the little ones excited to play the monkeys!)

Any recommendations for resources or stories about Diwali that are preschooler-friendly?

we have this book about Diwali. The story itself is very basic, but it has a longer section in the back explaining the holiday for parents (which I haven’t read yet, so I can’t say how it is, but it has decent Amazon reviews).

This other one looks cute but it’s out of stock, sadly. There’s a whole series — Diwali, Krishna, Holi, and Ramayana.

While we’re on the topic, does anyone know of any other good books about Hinduism/Indian stories for kids? We have the Diwali book I mentioned earlier, the Little Book of Hindu Deities, Chaat and Sweets, and Indian Children’s Favorite Stories, but I’d like a few more.

See if you can find any Amar Chitra Kathas! These are stories (some are historical, some are mythology and legend, some are about wars, some are about princes and princesses and gods and goddesses, some are cautionary tales) written in comic book form. I LOVED these as a child so when we went back to India as an adult, I bought a ton more, thinking then that I would share them with my someday children (wasn’t even married at the time!). And so now, yes, the kids are crazy about them and we read them to each other all the time. It’s such an easy, accessible way to learn about all these great tales. I’ve seen them available on American websites too, though can’t recall the names just now.

we have this book about Diwali and a few others by the same author. I haven’t cracked them open in almost a year (R got them last Christmas when he was still in the ripping up paper books stage so they’ve been put away since then), but from what I can recall, they weren’t too scary/violent. They’re told from the POV of a mom telling her little kids the stories.

CC Image License Attribution Some rights reserved by igb
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November Fashion Challenge — Grab your mustard scarf and jump on in!

Kitteh in Mustard ScarfNovember is almost upon us!  If you’ve been lurking along in the October challenge, it’s a great time to declare a challenge for yourself for next month. If you’re already playing along, what’s next?

Miss out on October’s fashion challenge? Never fear! November Fashion Challenge — Grab your mustard scarf and jump on in!

Some ideas to get you inspired:

  1. Define and stick to a Capsule Wardrobe for the month!
  2. Remix your wardrobe — don’t wear the exact same outfit twice!
  3. Focus on wearing and mixing accessories — jewelry, belts, scarves (headbands! bolo ties! leg warmers!)
  4. Find those wardrobe staples you’re missing to complete your winter wardrobe!
  5. Add a splash of fall/winter color: mustard, plum, deep teal, hunter green, brick or orange!
  6. Mix those neutrals! FikaFlicka insists that grey and tan and brown can all be worn together — let’s find out!
  7. Grow a mustache (wait, that’s MOvember. Just checking to see if you are paying attention Wink)
  8. Change your standard silhouette — try dresses! Go back to bootcut jeans! Find some fabulous wool pants or a plaid skirt…

The possibilities are endless, so grab your ADL-approved mustard scarf and/or fox sweater, and come on in!

CC Image License Attribution Some rights reserved by Squish_E

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Business Travel Like a Pro

Well Traveled SuitcaseHere are the top ten travel tips from the Hive Mind’s frequent business travelers:

  1. Invest in good travel gear. Spinner bags with four wheels are infinitely better than roller bags. Get a laptop bag that is TSA approved for easier security checks.
  2. Make the most of frequent flyer programs. Try to stick to one airline as much as possible, to earn Elite status for perks like free lounge access, upgrades to Economy Plus or business class, or at the very least, free magazines from that one airline you flew only twice last year.
  3. Splurge at the airport. Get a massage or manicure, or pay for access to a lounge.

    Got a travel tip of your own? Log in and add it to the thread Road Warriors–business travel. (You should read the whole thread, because there are far more than ten good tips in there!)

  4. Check for open seats online. Use to maximize your seating, and check online a couple of hours before the flight to get a seat without a nearby neighbor. (Remember where the empty seats are, and you may be able to move after the gate closes.)
  5. Sleep. Even over-the-counter Benedryl can help you keep your sleep on track, and melatonin can help keep your circadian rhythm in order. Bring an eye mask and neck pillow if they help you sleep. Red-eyes are probably not worth it if you’re going to arrive for your meeting exhausted and brain-dead.
  6. Can’t sleep? Then relax. If you can’t sleep on a plane, bring a novel, a movie, or just enjoy having a glass of wine and watching the in-flight movie if it’s one you haven’t seen yet.
  7. Pack efficiently. Keep a travel toiletries bag packed, so all you have to do is toss it into your suitcase when you’re ready to go. Keep small change in your bag for hotel trips, and pack a small emergency kit with tampons, Advil, and a sewing kit. Keep extra chargers in your suitcase. Replenish your kits as soon as you get home, so they’re always ready to go.
  8. Plan ahead. Make sure you look up your on-location travel plans so you know how to get to your hotel. Print a map or public transportation information ahead of time, so you don’t have to worry about your phone battery dying at just the wrong moment.
  9. Make expenses easy to track. Keep one credit card just for business expenses to make it easier to file expense reports. 
  10. Enjoy your stay. If you have a choice, book a B&B or boutique hotel so you get the flavor of your destination city. Try to tack a day on either end of your trip so you have a little time to site-see. Check your social network, and see if any old friends live nearby so you can make plans to meet for lunch, dinner, or coffee while you’re there.
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