Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Rockstars, Entrepreneurs, Artists, Parents, Inventors and Teachers

Its a strange mix of people, perhaps. But then again, maybe not. They all have something in common, and that is imagination. The power of creativity, and the ability to inspire it in others. It is also the people described in, or who will enjoy, Jonah Lehrer's new book: Imagine: How Creativity Works.

Imagine: How Creativity WorksImagine: How Creativity Works by Jonah Lehrer

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book explores creativity and invention, art and business. How did they come up with post it notes, "just do it," Toy Story, or Bob Dylan's lyrics? Why are creative people / environments important to business? How does suffering or failure create the artist and how do communities inspire? These are the types of things I learned from this book, which is written in a very active voice, so that it isn't ever boring.

My only criticism is that the last chapter fell a little flat for me as it just abruptly ended (perhaps because I wasn't quite ready for the book to be over). In that last chapter, the author seemed to jump to some pretty enormous legal conclusions about patent rights. Otherwise, the topics were well researched and presented, and are enlightening about a wide variety of things having to do with imagination and our use of it, whether in life or in business.

This book is still in hardback, but I hope you will put it on your summer reading lists. It spent a good amount of time in the Publisher's Weekly best seller list, and I notice that it is still on the audio best seller list. That is how I "read" it, by audio. I listen to most books now days, just because I rarely find time to sit still and think, except at work. Like any mom, I am often moving around "working" at home, most of the time doing things that require no thought but are solo tasks, things that take me away from conversation but leave me free to think. So I listen to books. I really enjoyed this one and think you will, too. If you are in business, if you are a teacher, if you are an artist, if you care about your community, if you want to inspire your children or others, read this book! You will be inspired.

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Friday, May 18, 2012

Creative Southern Recipes for All of Us

The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Food from My Frontier The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Food from My Frontier by Ree Drummond

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

According to Tina Fey in Bossypants, the content necessary for best-selling books is "one night stands, drug addictions, and recipes." I guess she is right (even if she was being a little cheeky) because this cookbook has been on the Publisher's Weekly top ten best seller list since its publication -- 8 weeks as of this date. Another example of Tina's sagacity is the new book-buster Fifty Shades Triology, which was mentioned with giggles at a ladies luncheon yesterday, but I digress.

My husband got brownie points one night for surprising me with a gift of this cookbook. I'm not the gourmet chef of the family. I'm the comfort food, "let's get it on the table so we can eat" chef. I was over cooking by the time I came across Ree Drummond's first cookbook/blog, but I sat down and read her first cookbook from cover to cover. And then my dad did the same. Then I actually cooked some of the recipes and enjoyed it! And Dad did the same! I credit Ree with helping Dad and I find or rekindle our love of cooking.

So I was counting the days for Hastings to get this book and am happy to announce that it is as amazing as the first - but with more food, more recipes, more gorgeous colorful pictures of every single detail. (Pat Fowzer -- it even has ALOT OF PURPLE!!) The only downside is that it is less of her personality and less of her family, i.e., there is no picture of her husband in chaps. But if we want that we can buy her other books, right?

The very first day that I got this book, my teenage son actually sat down and tabbed what he wanted me to cook him. Recently, my teenage daughter did the same. This is high praise indeed -- I think I will have to just remove the tabs because now just about every recipe is tabbed.

The best praise of all is that the recipes are as good as last time, and some of them even more inventive but still simple wholesome Southern goodness.

There are even two simple canning recipes for pickles and jam, which is pure southern pantry stock. I appreciate that, since I am all about gardens but still somewhat afraid of canning, that having been the realm of Mom, aunts and Grandma. Every summer I vow to can, and then I wimp out. Maybe I actually will do it this time.

Thanks again, Ree!

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Friday, May 11, 2012

Honorable Mentions . . .

It's been fun to hear your feedback from my new "Book Briefs" column in The Paris News. Everywhere I go, someone is telling me what book they are reading or what book they have read lately that they have enjoyed. I also love the activity on Goodreads and encourage any serious readers that haven't joined to sign up.

Since none of us can read every book out there, I thought I would occasionally list what I hear/see you all reading as "Honorable Mentions." So here are the first Honorable Mentions:

Emily Kirkman says "Killing Lincoln" is like reading fiction. It was ranked 10th this week in Publisher Weekly's best seller list for Non-Ficton, which is the lowest lately.

Barbara Wilson and I both love historical fiction. She's recently enjoyed "The Shoemaker's Wife," which has surprised the industry with its staying power in the best seller list. It ranks 8th this week with Publisher's Weekly.

Dr. Lance Wyche was surprised that I had heard of "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks," and in fact I have felt a little guilty for not having read it. This book had major staying power on best seller lists and I saw it everywhere for a long time. It also won these awards: Ambassador Book Award (2011), Goodreads Choice Award for Nonfiction and Debut Author, Nominee for Favorite Book, Favorite Heroine (2010), Wellcome Trust Book Prize (2010), Puddly Award for Nonfiction (2011).

Lance says it gets a little technical sometimes, but that it is an incredible read. According to the publisher, one question the book raises is: " . . if [Henrietta Lacks] was so important to medicine, why couldn’t her children afford health insurance?" Hmmm. May have to go back and read this one.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Lights, Action, Camera -- Paris, Texas style

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. This abstract picture by Casey Ressler of downtown Paris is beautiful, bold and artsy. It reminds me that Paris, Texas has much to offer me in the form of artistic beauty, and this weekend was no different, thanks to Paris Community Theater, Paris Downtown Association, Greg Wilson, Judd Payne, Plaza Art Guild, and many, many more folks. (Thanks for sharing, Casey! Take some more!)

Look at these beauties who were on stage in the PCT "Wood" this weekend. I thought the girl with the red cape was Lilly Lewis, but turns out she was Little Red Riding Hood. And those delightful creatures behind her? They were part of the cast in Paris Community Children's Theater production of Little Red Riding Hood, directed by Laura Hutchings. Congrats on a great show, everyone! I'm sure it will be another great show this coming weekend. (Picture courtesy of by Cheri Lewis)

PCT and the Paris Downtown Association also brought us a screening of "Bernie," a quintessential East-Texas film staring Jack Black, Shirley MacLaine, and Mathew McConaughey. This showing gave us the beauty of art through laughter, as the audience rolled with all the witty "East Texas-isms." I'm ready to watch it again!
Congrats on a job well done to Parisian Judd Payne, who was part of the production team with Wind Dancer Productions, pictured here with his Dad, Bill Payne. And I have to mention Greg Wilson, whose monumental effort helped pull off this screening, as well as numerous behind the scene folks (you know who you are) and the Plaza Art Guild, who provided a post-movie wine and cheese social at the Plaza Art Gallery, such fun!

Finally, PCT and Director Pat Fowzer gave us the beautiful gift of music, through the Paris Community Choir production of "Celebrating Springtime in Song" on Sunday afternoon in the glorious downtown First United Methodist Church. My personal favorite was "A City Called Heaven," featuring Eva Williams as soloist. But the Phantom of the Opera Medley featuring organist Thomas Belew brought down the house! You can listen to the Phantom Medley on You Tube under the heading "Paris Community Choir Phantom of the Opera." (Photograph courtesy of Ben Fowzer).

If I had been able to be filled with any more beauty in Paris this weekend, I think I would TURN IN to Paris, Texas. OH! And this is what I just might look like! So Beautiful!

parispersonb copy

(Graphic Paris picture provided courtesy of Mindy Maxwell, thank you, you creative thing!).