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The 5 Best Books. Ever.

A Classic to Avoid: "On the Road"

“On the Road is the quintessential American vision of freedom and hope,” gushes a review on Amazon.com. “[It] is a book that changed American literature and changed anyone who has ever picked it up.”It sure changed me. It taught me that reading time is precious. And the hours I spent plodding through this “quintessential” novel?Yeah, I won’t be getting those back....more

Chicken Soup for the Pedophile's Soul

Mr. Warren SummersInmate #5381Terra Haute Federal Correction ComplexTerra Haute, IN 47808Dear Mr. Summers,Thank you for your continued interest in Health Communications, Inc. Regarding your inquiry into our decision not to purchase your book, Chicken Soup for the Pedophile's Soul, allow me to address a few of your specific concerns:...more

A Stranger among Us

My daughter is Wink Martindale. She wakes up fluttering near the edge of nirvana, and her mood surges steadily upward from there.Naturally, her father and I are horrified.It’s not that we don’t enjoy our daughter Sadie, it’s just that we don’t know where she came from. Obviously not from us. We aren’t terribly joyful people. While the optimism train was pulling out of the station, we were back at the terminal trying to buy Excedrin....more

You Can't Take It with You

Struggling to find that truly special, one-of-a-kind holiday gift? Here’s an idea: Instead of looking at the mall, look in the mirror.It’s you.Or, actually, your body—once you’re done with it.Granted, it’s not all that spectacular. (Fell off the ol’ 100-squats-a-day wagon again, eh?) But to med students learning anatomy, EMTs needing to practice lifesaving procedures, or creepy researchers eager to do god-knows-what with various parts and accessories, your body is perfect....more

3 Fun Thanksgivukkah Rituals

Need more proof the holiday gods loathe interfaith families like mine who celebrate everything? Thanksgiving and Hanukkah arrive together this year. (Yes, dutiful observers: Hanukkah technically arrives the night before Thanksgiving. Thanks for the reminder why nobody likes dutiful observers.)Anyway, in honor of this only-in-a-shiksa’s-worst-nightmare scenario, I hope you’ll try some of my family’s favorite Thanksgivukkah rituals. The more of them you enjoy, the more likely we’ll be to bump into each other at therapy....more

12 Truths about Parenting

My kids are now 22, 17, 12, and 6. I’ve been a mother since the Dawn of Man. And you know what I’ve learned? That as much as I alternately love and loathe parenthood (and occasionally fantasize about retroactive birth control), the only thing harder than waiting for your kids to grow up or trying to keep them little forever is realizing you have no control over the speed either way. In fact, when it comes to parenting:...more

Death with Father

A dream. The guests mill around noiselessly as I scan the room for my father. I’m peering through gauze. This must be a party, because Dad’s wearing a tuxedo. He’s only worn one a few times, and I’m tempted to go up and ask him when the canapés are being served. Now doesn’t seem the time for joking, though. Dad’s busy floating from person to person. He keeps glancing at his watch....more

Vacationing in the ER

It may be invasive and uncomfortable, but it’s still the highlight of our trip.Who knew colonoscopies could be so relaxing?Of course, it helps that my sister, Rachael, and I aren’t the ones being violated. Instead, we’re waiting in recovery as our stepfather, Marty—high as a kite and eerily tolerable—comes down from the meds after letting his doctor get to fourth base.We’re back in Ohio for the first time since our mother’s death, and with six young kids between us, this afternoon in outpatient surgery is the only real break we’ve had in a decade....more