Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A Beauty/Fashion Book That Was Ahead of Its Time

One of my favorite YouTube beauty gurus, Emily Eddington, asked the question on Facebook today: "What is your favorite beauty-related book?"

The book that immediately popped into my head is one I haven't read in many years. In fact, I was probably in my teens when I checked Pull Yourself Together: How to Look Marvelous on Next to Nothing out of my local library.

I was always going on self-improvement kicks, and I remember this book as being a very down-to-earth, reader-friendly, practical treatise on beauty and fashion that was way ahead of its time.

The book was written by Barbara Johns Waterston, who, interestingly enough, was married to actor Sam Waterston at the time.

This reader wrote on Amazon.com:

"The paper back version of this book has been on my bookshelf since 1968 when I was a teenager. When I found the hard copy version I had to have it for my collection. The tips, advice and wisdom in this book never go out of style. If you have a copy of this book, keep it forever. If you don't have a copy, try and find one. It's a simple but great read and it is definetely (sp) a motivator."

Marlo Thomas as "That Girl" in the era of "Pull Yourself Together"

Unfortunately, if you try to buy a used copy of this book, it can run you over 100 dollars, and the cheapest soft-cover copy I found online was $64.00. It's apparently not in my local library system, either.

I did find a few tidbits about it online, though. Simon Doonan talked about it in a 2000 New York Observer article:

"In 1967, Ms. Waterston wrote the Mein Kampf of self-help books, Pull Yourself Together Or, How To Look Marvelous On Next To Nothing . This book is bursting with delightful bossiness, accusations and forthright solutions, and I strongly advise that you get yourself a second-hand copy..."

I even found a Facebook fan page for Waterston--titled, of course, "Pull Yourself Together"--where participants share how they got copies of the book, and quotes from the book.

Here are a few:

(from p. 47 of the book) "I have this friend Marra, who - in spite on her very fine figure, her warm personality, her zest for living, her taste in clothes, her quick wit and intelligence - had a repellent quality about her.
She never looked clean. In fact, she looked as though she smelled."
(from p. 108) "Beauty is beautiful, let's face it. Otherwise why have artists been wasting their time all these centuries? Beauty is uplifting. When I see a greasy-faced, greasy-haired girl walking down the street I feel squirmy. I imagine my scalp is itching. But if I see a freshly scrubbed young thing, all clean and neat, I feel uplifted, just as a smile is always more uplifting than a frown."

Another edition of the book

So, yeah. I remember loving that book as a young girl, and using its down-to-earth wisdom as a tool to help develop my personal style. Maybe someday I'll get to read it again!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Are you in the "habit" of reading?

Source: etsy.com via Cindy on Pinterest

I'm such a reading fanatic, it's hard for me to imagine having to take steps to develop a reading habit. But apparently, there are people out there who would like to get into the habit of reading, but just haven't made it a priority.

I came across this article, 14 Ways to Cultivate a Lifetime Reading Habit, that has some really good, practical suggestions.

And although I have no trouble finding a time to read--it's kind of like breathing to me--there are a couple of things on the list that I've only recently implemented.

A few of them are worth highlighting here:

--Make a list. Keep a list of all the great books you want to read. You can keep this in your journal, in a pocket notebook, on your personal home page, on your personal wiki, wherever. Be sure to add to it whenever you hear about a good book, online or in person. Keep a running list, and cross out the ones you read.

I never used to have an actual to-read list until I joined Goodreads.com. It's great--whenever I hear about or read about a book I want to read (this usually happens online, through blog hops another book bloggers' reviews), it goes directly on my to-read list. I've read some amazing books this way.

In fact, I would totally recommend belonging to a site like Goodreads or Shelfari, even if you don't have to prod yourself to read. For the first time in my life, I'm keeping track of the books I've read!

--Reduce television/Internet. If you really want to read more, try cutting back on TV or Internet consumption. This may be difficult for many people. Still, every minute you reduce of Internet/TV, you could use for reading. This could create hours of book reading time.

This is something that has happened quite naturally for me as a direct result of reading. It's more difficult for me to cut down on internet, because for me, the internet is just one great big reading experience! But I've limited my television viewing to a handful of shows that I really enjoy.

--Read to your kid. If you have children, you must, must read to them. Creating the reading habit in your kids is the best way to ensure they’ll be readers when they grow up … and it will help them to be successful in life as well. Find some great children’s books, and read to them. At the same time, you’re developing the reading habit in yourself … and spending some quality time with your child as well.

My children are grown now, but they would all tell you that I read to them extensively when they were growing up. All three of them are readers; two of them are as avid as I am about reading, and I believe it's helped them do well in college and in life.

Now, reading to my grandchildren whenever I get the chance (they live far away) is one of the great joys of my life.

So tell me...is reading something that comes naturally for you, or is it a habit you've had to cultivate? I'd love to know!

Yep, that's me! :)

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Saturday Review of Books: Robin Oliveira's My Name is Mary Sutter

I had this book on my Goodreads to-read list for some time, after reading a glowing review by a fellow book-blogger.

I'm so glad I finally found it at my local library. Mary Sutter is a remarkable heroine, and her story was a fascinating read.

Mary is the latest in a long line of midwives. At a young age, she's made a name for herself as a deliverer of babies. But much as she loves bringing a new life into the world, she yearns for something more: she wants to be a surgeon.

In a world just on the brink of the American Civil War, women who want to be doctors are out of luck--there's even dispute over whether women should be nursing men! (Is that "proper"?)

But Mary is single-minded and determined in her resolve. When a budding romance is cut short, she doesn't stay around to nurse (no pun intended) her broken heart.

The Civil War has just begun, and nurses are needed. Rejected as "too young" by nursing crusader Dorothea Dix, Mary finds a place to serve where she can learn from an experienced surgeon at the same time.

Mary works at a Washington D.C. hospital with horrendous conditions, desperately wounded soldiers and appalling shortages of painkilling medicines and even basically essential supplies.

Her nursing even brings her to the battlefields, where she literally has to make life-or-death decisions. Mary faces it all with untiring equanimity and unflagging bravery.

Through it all, a love story is brewing that will come to fruition when the war is finally at an end.

If you've ever had the slightest interest in the Civil War, this novel is a must-read. Robin Oliveira has obviously researched her subject impeccably. We get to see Abraham Lincoln up close and personal, and this adds the ring of authenticity to Mary's story.

As I said earlier, Mary is a wonderfully admirable heroine, but coming to life through Oliveira's pen, she's real and vulnerable and deeply likable--you're rooting for her throughout the entire book for her to realize her dreams and find a worthy love.

I love how Mary is described as not being beautiful, but how the men in her life are immediately drawn to her personality and spirit. There's definitely something about Mary.

As with all good books that describe war, this one doesn't flinch. I'm once again struck with just how truly horrific was the Civil War.

And so many of the Civil War-era books I've read have been from the South's perspective--it was good to read one from the Northern point of view.

I give it five stars. A fascinating read about a remarkable woman in a turbulent time.

I'm participating today in Semicolon's Saturday Review of Books!


Thursday, October 6, 2011

Booking Through Thursday: What's the oddest book you've ever read?

I'm participating in Booking Through Thursday today, and the question is:

What’s the oddest book you’ve ever read? Did you like it? Hate it? Did it make you think?

The book that immediately comes to mind is a self-published one that I read when I was working at a Christian radio station.

It was by a preacher who claimed he had died and gone to Heaven and then come back.

No, it wasn't the more recent ones--90 Minutes in Heaven, or Heaven Is For Real. I've read those too, and they have a ring of truth, whether or not you believe in near-death experiences.

This one--and I'm sorry I don't remember either the title or the author--was really outlandish to the point of laughable.

The author claimed that while in Heaven, an angel showed him a large room over which was a sign reading "Unclaimed Blessings," or something like that. In the room was shelf after shelf of body parts--legs, arms, hands, you name it--which were to be sent to people on earth who needed to be healed. Mmmm, yeah.

He also claimed all the flowers in Heaven have faces.

It's been years, so I don't remember much else about it. I just remember thinking this guy was crazy to think anyone would believe him. I remember just thinking it was absolutely ridiculous.

(And by the way, I do believe in Heaven, but I think it's so amazing and incredible that there aren't human words to describe it. And for me, the jury's out when it comes to near-death experiences--are they real or can they be scientifically explained? Not sure!)

So I can't say I "hated" it...I just pretty much scorned it.

Go here to participate in Booking Through Thursday!


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