No Coffee for Me

Bad news, fellow Introverts.  Horrible, life altering news:  Coffee is bad for us.coffee-heart

According to a new book by psychologist Brian R. Little, entitled ME, MYSELF, AND US:  The Science of Personality and the Art of Well-Being, introverts, like yours truly, are negatively impacted by the effects of caffeine:

After ingesting about two cups of coffee, extroverts carry out tasks more efficiently, whereas introverts perform less well. This deficit is magnified if the task they are engaging in is quantitative and if it is done under time pressure.

For an introvert, an innocent couple cups of coffee before a meeting may prove challenging, particularly if the purpose of the meeting is a rapid-fire discussion of budget projections, data analysis, or similar quantitative concerns. In the same meeting, an extroverted colleague is likely to benefit from a caffeine kick.

It’s bad enough that society and work favors Extroverts as do schools.  Now my coffee addiction is bad for me?  Say it ain’t so!

dataPersonally, I do my best thinking work in the morning.  I’m the type of person that needs lots and lots of data before making a decision.  If I don’t have enough information to build connections that make sense to me, I’m most likely going to keep thinking and not answer.  I gather lots of data and then the answer sort of magically appears.  Coffee is part of my mornings.  Coffee is part of my process.  I need coffee to get to the answers, people!

I have to now think about if my brain is different than those in the study or if I could do a better job without coffee.  And how much causation and correlation I want to apply.

National Friends of the Library week

The Word Nerds are unabashed library lovers.

I became a Friend of the Library here in Indianapolis in 2011 because I used their services heavily and had ever since I moved here. For a time, the Library was my access to the internet and source of entertainment.

I’m still a Friend of the Library even as I work for the Library Foundation. We have hundreds of people across the community who are also Friends and to them I say a giant THANK YOU.

We’re not the only library/library foundation with Friends and so to everyone who is a Friend of the Library in whatever library system you claim as yours, thanks. You really make a difference for your library.

If you, like the Word Nerds, benefit from the services your library offers, I’d encourage you to become a Friend of your library system.

Counting down to Murder and Mayhem

murder

Not that the Word Nerds are excited or anything.

If you’re a mystery fan and are anywhere within reasonable driving distance of Milwaukee, you should come check out Murder and Mayhem in Milwaukee.

The day is full of panels from great authors to inspire readers and aspiring writers. The Word Nerds also look forward to this weekend because it’s our annual get-together since we blog from different states.

Registrations are still accepted; will we see you there?

Make it Happen

Make it HappenThe most important thing a writer — any writer — has to do is writing.  It sounds simple and underrated, but is probably the easiest to be distracted from.  Life gets in the way.  So does the day job.  Kids, family, commitments.  The wrong pen.  The wrong computer / tablet / gadget.  The file is missing.  The file doesn’t work.  The formatting is wrong.

What ever the excuse, recognize it for what it is:  It is an excuse.

Instead, get back to it.  Write.

Story Shots has twenty-two tips listed based on experience from writing for Pixar.  I skimmed it down to the five that I most needed to hear:

#1: You admire a character for trying more than for their successes.
#6: What is your character good at, comfortable with? Throw the polar opposite at them. Challenge them. How do they deal?
#7: Come up with your ending before you figure out your middle. Seriously. Endings are hard, get yours working up front.
#13: Give your characters opinions. Passive/malleable might seem likable to you as you write, but it’s poison to the audience.
#19: Coincidences to get characters into trouble are great; coincidences to get them out of it are cheating.

What is keeping you from writing?  How are you going to stop it from winning?

Book Banter: The Rook

TheRook-coverTitle: The Rook

Author: Daniel O’Malley

Genre: fiction

Length: 482 pages

Where Bethany’s Copy Came From: The Indianapolis Public Library

Plot Basics: Myfanwy Thomas is a bureaucrat in a top-secret, supernaturally-laden government agency, only she doesn’t remember anything about it — or herself — after she’s suddenly in the rain surrounded by dead men. She can’t walk away from her past, even though she can’t recall it, and finds herself unraveling treason and conspiracies even as she tries to figure out her own personality. As the book cover says, it’s part “Bourne Identity” meets “X-Men.”

Banter Points: A librarian friend recommended this one to me multiple times and I finally got to it on my TBR list. I will say now that I wish I’d listened to her sooner. This is ANOTHER top ten book contender for this year; ok, who am I kidding, it will be in the top 10 list.

This book is surprisingly comic, even as it really is about a bureaucrat. Myfanwy is has a great voice as a character and the past and present intertwine in fun ways to build the plot.

Myfanwy has a huge supporting cast of characters, and, one of the things that I thought was interesting was that O’Malley chose her as the main character. There are plenty of others who other writers might have made the featured character (which of course would have changed the whole book) but she is likely the most readable character. I’m excited that this is the first book in a series too.

Bummer Points: There is a lot of exposition in this book. It makes sense, but there are occasionally sections where it gets a bit much.

Word Nerd Recommendation: This is a new “pusher” book for me. I’ve got one friend reading it and I’m trying to interest others as well.

Book Banter: Wonder

WonderTitle: Wonder
Author: R.J. Palacio
Genre: YA fiction
Length: 315 pages
Where Stacie’s Copy Came From:  The Erdmann Library

Plot Basics: August Pullman isn’t an ordinary kid. He tells you in the first chapter that he is unusual looking, so bad that he doesn’t even want to describe himself. What Auggie doesn’t tell you is that he is funny, smart, and has a wicked sense of humor about his disability.

Auggie is going into middle school, which will be his first day of school ever. To help him out, the school has enlisted Julian, Jack, and Charlotte to be his guides and introduce him to the school.

Banter Points: About 12 months ago, my then 10 year old came home and demanded, “Mom, you have to read this book. It’s called Wonder and it’s amazing.” It was a book whose cover I had seen enough to know it was perilously close to my “too popular” rule. I told him it sounded interesting and left it at that. Over the next 12 months, he would bug me periodically, asking me if I read it yet. The answer was always no.

In September, he brought it home from his teacher’s in class library and told me I had a week to finish it. So I did.

Auggie is a pretty amazing kid. He has a severe facial deformity that basically has a 1 in a million chance at happening. He is going to school for the first time, since numerous medical procedures kept him out of school for the elementary years. “I won’t describe what I look like. Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably worse …” I really don’t know what I was thinking as I fell into the story. I was won over by Auggie’s wit and wisdom. I was impressed by the people in Auggie’s life, including the thoughts and feelings that they share in their chapters in the book.

And despite my preconceptions, it was a solid read. It was definitely meant for kids, not adults. But it didn’t completely flop in the crossover either. My favorite character was actually Miranda Navas, who is the best friend of Auggie’s sister. She moves to high school in the novel, along with Olivia (Auggie’s sister.) Their relationship has always been entwined with Auggie. Their perspective on the situation and how they are impacted is astonishingly well written and displayed.

Bummer Points: Every book needs a villain and it’s Julian. I think he was a brilliant character to have in the story. I’m regretful and disappointed that he is needed to be the catalyst in the story.

I’m also thrilled at the way his part of the story turned out.

And a part of me thinks, wow, I am a horrible person. Look at how great Auggie is and all of the crap he deals with. My life isn’t bad and I don’t have half his spirit.

Stacie’s Recommendation: If you have a teen who struggles with acceptance issues, Auggie is great. And give your loved ones a hug. You’ll want to after reading this one.

Bibliometer Q3 2014

Stacie reminded me on Tuesday that Q3 is complete and that it was time to check in with my reading stats too.

For Q3, I read 26 books, for a total of 7,885 pages. September managed to be a huge month with nine book and 2,680 pages (thanks to Robin Hobb’s massive 757 page “Assassin’s Quest”).

Year-to-date, I’m at 78 books, for a total of 22,466 pages.

I set my reading goal for the year at 90. Adding in October’s books already, Goodreads says I’m at 85 but I’m having a math issue here because I’ve only read 5 for October and these figures don’t track. Somewhere I probably forgot to write something down. (I have corrupt data!!)

Whether my total is really 83 or 85 at this point, I should still cross the 100 book mark in December. I crossed 100 books last year with a whopping 20-some graphic novels in the list. This year, I’ve read a whole a grant total of three graphic novels, so this year’s total page count should be substantively higher than in 2013.

Wednesday check-in

Ok, fellow nerds, what are you reading right now?

Reading Stats: Q3 2014

The numbers are in for quarter three and it was a good quarter:

Total:  34 books for the quarter / 100 books for the year (that was worth 23 likes on Facebook, btw.)

Pages:  12,281 pages for the quarter / 39,327 for the year

My TBR list has been reduced as well!  I’m at 167 on my Kindle and 62 on Goodreads!  This is way better than where I was back in May.  My 11yo has really broadened as a reader this year and now he is bringing home books that he insists that I should read.  I’m seriously considering getting him a Kindle for Christmas simply so he can stop carrying around the 7-8 books that he regularly has in his backpack.  The only thing holding me back is that I’m pretty sure he will still have the books.

A tiny part of me thinks, you hit 100, you should stop and force yourself to do something else.  Fortunately, I can squish that part for this one:006

Hello, Monday

It’s a rainy, busy Monday here in Central Indiana, after a busy (but thankfully not rainy) weekend.

Today’s post is brought you by this random list of things:

1. The board game Carcassonne: The Castle. WAY better (to me) than the original Carcassonne. This two-player version has some nice twists. Also, so far, two games in, I remain Queen of the Castle.

2. Daniel O’Malley’s novel, “The Rook.” I had this book recommended to me several times over the last year or so and I finally have gotten to it. I’m 130 pages in and it’s fantastic. For the jacket copy, somebody described the book as a cross between “The Bourne Identity” and X-Men and they are spot on. Did I mention it’s fantastic?

3. Renew 2020. Last December, I agreed to be the co-facilitator and writer for my church’s next five years strategic visioning process. This document is the final product and is now in the hands of the congregation. It was quite the process to get to this final version, but I’m immensely grateful to have been a part of this process.

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