#SummerReads – Love and War

Categories: Fiction, Friday Reads

Good afternoon, readers! This summer an English teacher/mentor of mine sent me one of her favorite books, as she believed it was one I would enjoy and that I could take lessons from – Jeanette Winterson’s The Passion. Not only is it challenging intellectually, it is also a perfect summer read.Jeanette_Winterson_The_Passion

The Passion takes place during the Napoleonic Wars (1799-1815), and is told from the perspectives of a simple French soldier who religiously serves Napoleon all the way into the depths of the Russian cold, and a young, strong headed Venetian woman who works in a casino and has seen how gambling transforms from a thrill, into a game of luck or death. Both characters learn what it means to be in love, the thin line between passion and obsession, and how both can consume you fully.

I have always enjoyed novels where the reliability of the narrator can be questioned, and The Passion unexpectedly became a story that, by the end, I wondered if any of it was true. Winterson utilizes history to shape who her characters are – Henri, the French soldier, dedicates all of his love and admiration to Napoleon. He realizes, however, his passion is undeserved, as he sees how the war destroys cities and violently ends men’s lives only for Napoleon to treat such tragedies as replaceable and insignificant. Villanelle is born and raised in Venice, however throughout the novel she is depicted as having mythical qualities and there are elements that indicate something unreal about her and Venice itself. Despite reference to actual historical events, Henri’s narration continually leaves open ends where the reader would only naturally wonder if the stories being told were real or made up.

There are many impactful descriptions and reflections throughout the novel regarding love, pursuing the heart’s passion, and faith. Winterson’s mixes fantasy with reality, as well as immersing the reader in a tumultuous history and making us believe in the lives of Henri and Villanelle.

Enjoy readers! – Luriel

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Wednesday Cute: Charlie Says “Sorry”

Categories: News, Wednesday Cute

It’s Wednesday Cute time! This video went viral this past week and you don’t even need to watch it to know why. When Charlie the Beagle decided to help himself to his human sister’s stuffed animal, heartbreak ensued. Charlie quickly realized his mistake and attempted to apologize in the cutest way possible. Watch his adorable apology here!

 

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#ReadWomen2014 – Sharon Salzberg

Categories: Health, News, Self-help

2014 has been declared as the year of reading women by writer & illustrator, Joanna Walsh! In a blog post that she wrote cartesfor Berfrois this past January, Joanna stated that: “though women read more books than men, and female authors are published in comparable numbers, they are more easily overlooked: a smaller presence in literary journals both as reviewers, and the reviewed, they also account for fewer literary translations.” This isn’t a question of whether female writers are published, because they are. It’s a matter of how they are published.

Between the dedicated Twitter account to a slew of reading list suggestions, readers, publishers, and publications have created their own definitions of #ReadWomen2014, and have supported female writers in various ways. Here at Workman Publishing, we’ve decided to feature one of our female authors a month until the end of the year, through Q & A’s, book features, and more!

Now, without further ado meet Sharon Salzberg, author of Real Happiness and Real Happiness at Work, which was just chosen by Oprah.com as a “Book That Every Joy-Seeking Woman Needs to Read.”
real happiness

Q: If you were to name one small thing a person could do every day at work to get closer to real happiness, what would it be?

A: The single thing I’d suggest would be “remember to breathe.” There are times we get so stressed it seems as if our ability to breathe normally freezes, and a few conscious breaths can release some of that tension. Also, periodically placing our attention on the feeling of our breath moving in and out of our bodies returns us to ourselves, and to the moment, even in the midst of crazy, hectic momentum all around us. When we return to ourselves in this way we can remember our priorities, what we really want out of an encounter or an endeavor. I like mindful awareness of the breath as a tool because it is independent and private. No one needs to know you are doing it.

Q: What surprised you most about writing the book on the workplace?

A: How similar peoples’ descriptions were of the sources of stress in their  jobs, (communications difficulties, feeling unappreciated, and a sense of an overwhelming workload), though the range of livelihoods represented was enormous: including writers and artists, special ed. teachers, firefighters, hedge fund managers, divorce lawyers, and an undercover policewoman.

Q: What was the most memorable thing you learned while researching and writing this book?

A: How people can find meaning and fulfillment at work even if it isn’t the job of their dreams.For example, several people with jobs not afforded much respect in society at large (eg. working at a call in center, or as a home health aid) found great fulfillment through their commitment to kindness towards all whom they encountered.

Q: Who are some of your favorite female authors?

A: Barbara Fredrickson, Annie Lamotte, Naomi Shihab Nye (poet), Elizabeth Lesser, and for most of my life, Harper Lee.

To find out more about Sharon Salzberg, visit her site here or check the Workman Facebook page throughout the week!

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#SummerReads – Young Adult Edition

Categories: Friday Reads, News

Hi readers! In the past month, I have been visiting various bookstores (as one does) searching for new books to read this summer. After talking to friends about what books I should check out next, it was suggested that I read a novel by Rainbow Rowell. I hadn’t heard of the author before, but with a first name as awesome as Rainbow I figured it was only appropriate to read all of her books immediately! On my following trip to the bookstore, I gravitated toward the Young Adult section where I found one of her most popular books – Eleanor and Park.

Eleanor and Park takes place in the late 1980’s – in the time of Walkmans and phone cords – and is about two misfit high schoolers who fall in love with each other amidst the chaos of their own lives.  I know that it sounds a bit overdone but Rowell’s book is not a typical sad story YA novel; this novel is about falling in love with someone because of who they are personally and intellectually, forgetting about 9781250012579physicality or what others think of them. Rowell writes from both perspectives of these two very distinct characters: Eleanor, an overweight girl with wild, curly red hair, incredible sarcasm, and a penchant for eclectic clothes, and Park, a half-Korean, half-Irish kid who loves punk rock and manages to remain on the good side of the popular kids (but at the expense of not being able to share what he really thinks and feels). When these two meet on the bus to school for the first time, it’s anything but love at first sight – Eleanor quickly becomes the target of jokes and ridicule by the popular kids, and Park begrudgingly gives her the seat next to him in order to save them both from the embarrassment of the situation.

Coming into a new high school and being made fun of for the way you look is never an easy thing but Eleanor’s issues go even deeper than being a victim of bullying. Her family is very poor, and her stepfather is an abusive alcoholic whom she tries her best to avoid every day. Through the character of Eleanor, Rowell does a spectacular job giving insight into the hardship of poverty, neglect and abuse.

As I read, I realized Park was an excellent safety for Eleanor – someone to escape to, or someone to bring her out of her every day. He loves her, and he makes it evident – Park is from a family that openly expresses love and supports each other, which is very different from where Eleanor comes from. Eleanor never shares what happens in her home life with Park. She keeps him separate from the danger that looms there. This is what I think makes Eleanor and Park so unlike those cliché knight saves the damsel in distress stories – it is about a love that blossoms between two people in spite of what is going on in the outside world. Despite his ignorance to her situation, Park loves Eleanor for who she is rather than for her circumstance. In so many fairy tales, the prince comes to the rescue not because he loves the princess and her awesome personality, but because she is so obviously in need of saving. That is not this story. Eleanor and Park each have an individual depth, and they love one another because they understand each other in a way that they had never shared with anyone else before. The solace they find in one another is one that reminds the reader to not take what you love for granted and to love with your whole self, regardless of any obstacles or differences that may be in the way.

I hope you pick up this book the next time you go to the store or the library to find something to read. It really is an excellent story, and I highly recommend it.

Have fun this summer, and stay well-read! – Luriel

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The Great Selfie Scavenger Hunt

Categories: Diet and fitness, Health

Workman’s shelves are full of healthy books–Thinner This Year, The Secrets of People Who Never Get Sick, Real Happiness–and this year, the company has been making a special effort to practice what it preaches with a new wellness initiative. Already, Workman wellness-niks have hosted a health fair in our office, held a biometric screening for employees, and arranged a healthy potluck lunch. The latest stage of the initiative has been a scavenger hunt that encourages Workmanites in New York to get out and walk during the day. So far, employees have received 10 photos of mystery locations within walking distance of our offices, along with the instructions to find the spots and take selfies at each one to prove it. So if you’ve notice a rash of publishing employees posing for selfies throughout lower Manhattan, don’t worry, it’s just our wellness initiative at work.

The first 10 locations are below (with 10 still to come), and the goal is to snap selfies at 15 of the 20 by the end of the summer to prove yourself a champion healthy scavenger. You can check out some of the resulting pictures by searching #workmanwellness on Instagram.

Batch 1

find this 1 find this 2 find this 3 find this 4find this 5

 

Batch 2

Find This 1 - week 2 Find This 2 - week 2 Find This 3 - Week 2 Find this 4 - week 2Find This 5 - Week 2

Recognize any of the locations? Inspired to take a healthy walk of your own? (Who knew selfies could be such an important step on the path to good health?)

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Wednesday Cute: Sloth Crossing!

Categories: News

It’s time for Wednesday Cute! Here’s a timeless video of a very slow sloth, crossing the road. If you’re like us and can’t get enough of these funny little friends pre-order the Hangin’ With Sloths 2015 Wall Calendar today!

Watch the video here.

sloth video

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#SummerReads – We mean business

Categories: Friday Reads, News

Happy Friday, readers!  Today’s book is part lifestyle guide, part memoir, part business how-to, and all empowerment: #GIRLBOSS! It’s written by Sophia Amoruso, the founder, CEO, and Creative Director of the online shopping store sensation NASTY GAL. The book is bursting with Amoruso’s straight shooting, quick wit and punky attitude, and I found her take on the business world to be refreshing and inspiring.

GIRLBOSS

Sophia Amoruso had no intention of becoming an entrepreneur, and instead began NASTY GAL as an eBay shop when she was broke and bored at her part time job at the front desk of a San Francisco art school. In her book, Amoruso shares how she stayed committed to her eBay store and her customers, her passion for vintage clothes and her unconventional style, and her tips on who and what to focus on when starting your own small (or big) business.

As a young adult and new college student who is interested in business/entrepreneurship and also eager for new work experiences #GIRLBOSS gave me not only strong guidance and great information on both of those things, but also encouraged independence, honesty, courage, and being oneself. Amoruso shares both her mistakes and successes in order to give the most candid and humble advice, and features other “#GirlBosses” who share their tips and anecdotes as well, essentially making this book a collective effort to encourage you to be the best #GIRLBOSS (or #GUYBOSS) you can be.

#GIRLBOSS is an excellent read regardless of whether or not you plan on going into business – it holds lifestyle guidance and inspiration that anyone can use. It’s a book about accessing your potential; taking hold of your dreams and ideas and doing something about them, not letting them sit idle. And by the end, you’ll feel like you can take on anything – because you can!

Read on and stay awesome, bosses!

By: Luriel Balaurea

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Wednesday Cute: Corgi Flop

Categories: News

We’re bringing back Wednesday Cute in celebration of the Cute Overload Mini & Cute Overload Wall Calendar making a comeback for 2015! This week, we’re featuring the daring and adorable Corgi, Cooper, as he takes his first swim! Watch the video over and over again with us here.

Corgi Video

 

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Happy Fourth of July!

Categories: News

Now that you’re finished preparing the food for your Fourth of July party, it’s time to relax and unwind with a festive cocktail! Try making the Independence Swizzle from The 12 Bottle Bar, by David Solmonson & Lesley Jacobs Solmonson.

9780761174943

Swizzles are their own class of drink, like a sour or a fizz, employing a healthy dose of spirit, plus lemon or lime juice, a sweetener, and usually bitters. The “swizzle” part of the name originates from the “swizzle stick,” originally a small, three-pronged branch of wood that was used to blend rum-based drinks on West Indian sugar plantations. Swizzles have a sort of mysterious aura about them, perhaps because of the swizzle stick itself and the fire-starting vigor with which the drink is assembled, combining to produce a voodoo-quality frost on the glass.

The Independence Sizzle is a slight variation of the Trader Vic staple Barbados Red Rum Swizzle (simply rum, bitters, sugar, and lime), employing honey in addition to the sugar. It’s a key addition. Even if you don’t have a swizzle stick, this is one heck of a drink—one that particularly highlights the magic of the aromatic bitters employed. Angostura bitters are traditional here, and they work exceptionally well.

Ingredients (makes 1 drink):

½ ounce strained, freshly squeezed lime juice

1½ teaspoons honey

1 teaspoon granulated sugar

2 ounces amber rum

3 dashes aromatic bitters

Mixed berries, for garnish

Directions:

  1. Combine the lime juice, honey, and sugar in a Collins glass and stir to dissolve the sugar.
  2. Fill the glass with crushed ice and add the rum and bitters. Swizzle with a swizzle stick or stir vigorously until a froth appears, at least 30 second. Garnish with any and all berries available.
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Introducing #SummerReads, plus more!

Categories: Fiction, Friday Reads, News, Reading

Good afternoon readers! My name is Luriel, and I am the newest Prep for Prep intern at Workman Publishing this summer. As a lover of books (and the Internet), I’m putting together a new-old segment here on the Workman Blog called #SummerReads based on the old #FridayReads feature. All summer long, I’ll provide weekly book reviews, recommendations, and book lists in collaboration with everyone here at Workman.

Along with #SummerReads, I’ll also be bringing back Wednesday Cute (which is exactly what it sounds like) along with starting some brand new features – so stay tuned!

To kick off the #SummerReads series and in honor of (a very hot and rainy) 4th of July, I would like to recommend the all-American modern classic and comedic novel that is John Kennedy Toole’s A Confederacy of Dunces.

Each page of this novel is brimming with hilariously elaborate scenes and outrageous characters. The protagonist is a large, unpleasantly eccentric, and often flatulent man named Ignatius J. Reilly who lives in New Orleans with his less eccentric (but just as dramatic) mother. Most accurately described by Walker Percy in his foreword in Toole’s novel, Ignatius is a “slob extraordinary, a mad Oliver Hardy, a fat Don Quixote, a perverse Thomas Aquinas rolled into one.” Ignatius resents all modern conventions and is stubbornly focused on his own “scholarly” beliefs and ideas, causing problems for both himself and everyone in his vicinity along the way. A Confederacy of Dunces is a masterpiece and will have you laughing until the end.

Have a great 4th of July, and keep visiting for upcoming #SummerReads!

- Luriel

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