Book List: Funny Money

I’m tired of reading about the economy. How about you? Yet I can’t seem to get my mind off of money. How about you? Can’t stop thinking about money, but need some cheering up? Try a selection from the following Funny Money Book List. All of the books have to do with money, and they’re all supposed to have some humor. I haven’t read most of the books, only the synopses, so I make no guarantees. 

Funny Money Book List

Fiction:

Bermuda Schwartz  by Bob Morris – Mystery
Das Kapital: a Novel of Love and Money Markets by Viken Berberian
Ladies with Options  by Cynthia Hartwick
Ladies with Prospects  by Cynthia Hartwick
Making Money: a Novel of Discworld  by Terry Pratchett – Science Fiction
Old Money  by Elizabeth Palmer
Plum Lucky  by Janet Evanovich – Mystery
Prizzi’s Money  by Richard Condon
A Royal Pain  by Rhys Bowen – Mystery
Walking Money  by James Born

Non-Fiction:

Dave Barry’s Money Secrets: Like, Why is There a Giant Eyeball on the Dollar?  by Dave Barry
Eat the Rich  by  P.J. O’Rourke
How to Profit from the Coming Rapture: Getting Ahead When You’re Left Behind  by Ellis Weiner
The New Yorker Book of Money Cartoons  by the New Yorker Magazine
The Official Filthy Rich Handbook  by Christopher Tennant
The Serfitt & Cloye Gift Catalog: Just Enough of Too Much  by Bob Woodiwiss with illustrations by Andrea Jensen
The Sweet Potato Queens’ Guide to Raising Children for Fun and Profit  by Jill Connor Browne

And one bonus kids’ book because I enjoyed it so much:

Lunch Money  by Andrew Clements
 

 

Sestina: Example and Form

It’s not about peanut butter, but here is an example of a sestina. I wrote this poem a couple of years ago:

Wasps In Fact

I know the facts of the story.
I was there as witness, of course
and more than that, one of the saved
during the slaying of the wasps.
My father played the hero role
armed with a spray can and ladder.

Not sturdy, it shook, the ladder
as he climbed to the top story.
I never questioned my dad’s role,
the labor of knocking off course
any homesteading plans of wasps,
nor doubted if I would be saved.

The nest was enormous; he saved
it, carried it down the ladder,
proof that the multitudes of wasps
matched the large claims of his story.
The stings he received in the course
of battle also served this role.

He insisted they played no role
in making him sick, the stings, saved
that blame for the flu cutting course
through the city. That the ladder
needed fixing fit the story
well, too, but not illness from wasps.

Now it falls to me, fighting wasps.
My children have filled my old role.
I saw right through my dad’s story
long ago. The spin he used saved
his ego I thought. The ladder
held steady later on, of course.

Raising children has been a course
in hindsight relating to wasps
and the sturdiness of ladders.
Less a character trait than role
requirement, dad’s bravado saved
us from fear; that’s now my story.

Over the course of time, the role
of wasps did not change; also saved:
the ladder’s part in the story. 

***

I’ve seen variations on the form, but they all involved using 39 lines and repeating the same six end words. I took my guidance from The Book of Forms by Lewis Turco. 

You can read more about the sestina here:

http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/5792

The Great Peanut Butter Tragedy

I assume everyone has heard about the salmonella outbreak by now, and the advice to cut out the peanut butter for the time being. Believe me when I say that a ban on the eating of peanut butter products will go down in my family history as a disaster worthy of its own title.

What am I supposed to throw into a school lunch when I’ve overslept and have only three minutes prep time? How can we live without our peanut butter chip granola bars? I went to the grocery store this morning, and it was really only then, as I cruised the aisles wistfully bypassing one desired item after another that I realized the extent to which my gustatory life revolves around peanut butter.  Couldn’t buy my favorite breakfast cereal. My daughter will have to forego her usual bed-time snack. 

I’ve relied on peanut butter to be an easy, affordable, yet surprisingly guilt-free way to assuage hunger within my family. I’m not all that great at domestic stuff. (In fairness to myself, I do know the rules for writing a sestina, so I’m not useless.) Without peanut butter, I’ll be forced to put thought and effort into meal planning, and even snack planning. I’m not sure I’m up to the task.

Book thoughts: How having a stroke is like going to school

Note: This isn’t a review. It’s a summary of some random thoughts I had while reading.

I began reading My Stroke of Insight by Jill Bolte Taylor after watching the author’s speech on TED . Taylor is a brain scientist who experienced a stroke at the age of 37.

I’ve never been in the hospital with a stroke. So why did her experience seem so familiar as I read about it? The answer revealed itself with this sentence: “I wanted my doctors to focus on how my brain was working rather than on whether it worked according to their criteria or timetable.”

Aha! It was much like having a kid in school, I realized. Substitute a few words and you have a sentenced uttered by some parent somewhere at least once every day, especially if that parent has been through the IEP process.

“I wanted the educators to focus on how my child’s brain was learning rather than on whether it learned according to their criteria or timetable.”

I may have uttered those exact words. I know I’ve said something at least very close. 

There’s also this sentence from the book: “My ability to cognate was erroneously assessed by how quickly I could recall information, rather than by how my mind strategized to recover the information it held.” 

Familiarer and familiarer.

Taylor credits many thoughtful healthcare professionals who offered her real assistance and compassion. Nevertheless, it’s clear they were working within a strong institutional culture that made it difficult to operate outside the proverbial box. Likewise with teachers. Most of the ones I’ve known are great individuals, working within a strong institutional culture that allows teaching to a narrow range of learning styles and not much more.

We parents are asking them to meet our children’s needs, while the boss – the institutional culture – is requesting them to get the children to meet the needs of the system. This is why left-handers used to have to be cured. They smudged the paper too much; it caused problems with institutional efficiency. 

In the chapter titled What I Needed the Most, the list again seems like one that should be sent to educators as well as those working with stroke survivors. For instance: “I needed the people around me to believe in the plasticity of my brain and its ability to grow, learn, and recover.”

Some of the other needs she mentions – love, encouragement, dreams – are things we all need. May we all grow, learn and recover from our lives’ traumas if we remember to supply these to each other.

I encourage everyone to watch the talk on TED, even if you don’t read the book. It’s got good information on stroke, things we all should know. But it’s more about life and love and compassion, things we all should know as well.

The Sad Truth About a Writer’s Mind

My husband, kids and I went to a New Year’s Eve gathering last night. Good friends, good food, lots of fun and interesting conversation. And my most frequent thought, recurring through the evening: “How can I use this in a story?”

Apparently real life isn’t enough.