Griffin’s Heart: Working Through Loss

               It’s been ten years since actress Reagan Pasternak’s beloved cat, Griffin, died and since then, though life has been very busy with her career, marrying, and becoming a mother, she has missed the pet she calls a “soul mate.”

               To help with her grieving, Pasternak who starred in Netflix/HULU/HBO’s “Being Erica”, HBO’s “Sharp Objects”, Syfy’s “Wynonna Earp,”  and BET’s “Ms. Pat,” began journaling her feelings, incorporating not only the pain she was feeling but also tools and techniques for processing her grief. It took a decade but now Pasternak’s book, “Griffin’s Heart: Mourning Your Pet With No Apologies” (Creatures Align Press $27.99) is available through Amazon.

               Pasternak, in a phone call from her home in California, describes the book as an interactive memoir, keepsake,  and healing journal that she hopes will provide guidance for others who have lost a pet.

               “I feel that animals get so forgotten after giving us so much love,” she says. “I wanted to honor them.”

               Pasternak doesn’t consider herself a writer but says she felt compelled to write about all that she has learned while going through her own stages of grief. That includes reading about the brain and how it processes emotions and information, exploring different ways to heal such as music therapy, and taking up meditation to help with anxiety. Doing so helped with the loss of her other pets as well including another dog who just recently passed away.

               “Everything began accumulating in my psyche, and one morning my husband said that I needed to finish the book,” she says. “I had started it, put it aside, had a baby, was acting—so I was busy. Every morning when I started writing the book, I’d ask myself to whom am I writing. I wanted readers to have something, so they knew they weren’t alone and to know they could get through. Then it just all came together in a cosmic way. I met an editor who thought it was a great idea and we started working together.”

               The book contains exercises, chances to journal, and is a repository for readers to enter their own memories, melding their losses into what Pasternak sees as a keepsake.

               Since the book was published, Pasternak has been receiving notes from readers who share their own stories of losing a pet.

               “My husband and I read them and cry,” she says. “It’s so touching that these strangers are reaching out. I keep getting photos from people showing how they have placed the book next to the urn containing their pet’s ashes.”

This outreach has inspired Pasternak to stay focused on the book and the stories people share.   “I just believe I’m helping change the culture of grief,” she says.

For more information, visit www.griffinsheart.com/

The Panic Button Book: Press Now!

Tammi Kirkness

         We’ve all been there. A deadline looming and your computer decides to go rogue. You call about a wrong charge on an account, our rooted around the world and back, repeating your story to four or five different people and then after waiting on hold for an hour are cut off. You run into a high school frenemy and find out s/he just signed a multi-million deal to a book about those high school days and how mean everyone was—giving you a knowing look.

         And that’s just the small stuff. But Tammi Kirkness has you covered when you’re hit with high stress situations. An Australian based life coach and wellness consultant as well as an international speaker, specializes in working with people who grapple with high functioning anxiety. That typically refers to those who seem to function well but are often overwhelmed with feelings of inadequacy, are sure something bad is going to happen, compare themselves negatively to others, and tend to be workaholics and perfectionists. 

To overcome anxieties, Kirkness incorporates well-researched and proven psychological treatments and Eastern techniques of reducing anxious states such as meditation and breathing from our core, sharing her insights in her extremely easy to use book, “The Panic Button Book: Relieve Stress and Anxiety Whenever They Strike” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2020; $15.99).

         Kirkness has many characteristics of someone with high-functioning anxiety.

         “A big part of my journey was working way too hard, being a perfectionist and putting way too much pressure on myself,” she says.

         Not only wasn’t it good in the short time nor could she keep it up for a long time.

         “There are things that we can do to help calm down our nervous system and still create success with sustainability,” says Kirkness. “I think taking time to pause and do some soul searching is generally the first step.”

         Other components include learning to take deep breaths which are calming and relaxing. Journaling—putting your thoughts down on paper—and meditating (there are free online apps for that) also make a difference. But what I found most useful about the book were the Decision Trees Kirkness developed.

         Dividing the book into sections, she covers Living and Working, Socializing, Relationships, and Parenting. Each has related scenarios such as “Do you have a difficult conversation coming up,” “Do you feel your partner is taking more than giving?” and “Are you not reaching your own expectations?” Then on the opposite page are the techniques you can take to help.

         As an example, one decision tree starts with the question “Are you trying to make something perfect?” Her two-step activity to counteract the need for get something done is to remind yourself that done is better than perfect. The second is to establish a clear timeline on finishing such as I’m giving this another 40 minutes and then I’m sending it in.

         Not all are simple two-steps like the above, but all are designed to provide relief from the immediate anxiety of situations and produce feelings of being more in charge of your emotions.

Niksen: The Dutch Art of Doing Nothing

“I believe we’ve forgotten how to do things just because, not without any larger purpose like becoming healthier. We run or walk because we want to reach a certain number of steps and not because it feels good. The same way, we can do nothing because it feels nice and not because it will offer us certain benefits–even if it might.”

       “This isn’t getting the work of the world done,” my mother would announce to no one in particular whenever she had sat for more than a few minutes.  Whatever the work of the world was—and I never quite figured it out– since my mom had a full-time job, grew roses, looked after my grandmother who lived next door, took Judo classes, cooked Julia Child-style dinners, and co-led my Girl Scout Troop, it certainly meant she couldn’t sit around

       If only mom had met Olga Mecking, author of Niksen: The Dutch Art of Doing Nothing (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2021; $11.58 Amazon price).

       Niksen isn’t about getting the work of the world done. Indeed, it’s not about any work at all. Instead, niksen is doing nothing, according to Mecking. And no that doesn’t mean vegging out on the couch watching the entire last season of “Homecoming” or reading posts on Facebook.

“It is doing nothing without a purpose,” she says. “I believe we’ve forgotten how to do things just because, not without any larger purpose like becoming healthier. We run or walk because we want to reach a certain number of steps and not because it feels good. The same way, we can do nothing because it feels nice and not because it will offer us certain benefits–even if it might.”

Mecking, the mother of three children, who lives in the Netherlands and works as a translator and freelance writer, says doing nothing comes naturally to her.

“As a child, I loved sitting around in my father’s favorite armchair and just daydreaming,” says Mecking. whose article on niksen in the New York Times garnered 150,000 shares in just a few days after it was published indicating an embrace of the concept.  “But since I became a mom, it became really hard to do nothing. But I also realized that I niks around quite a lot even if these are in-between moments like when I’m waiting for my kids to come home or taking the tram on the way to run some errands. So maybe I don’t have many long stretches of time. but I do have many short moments – enough to do nothing.”

Not me. I often find myself repeating my mother’s phrase.  Though I continue to wonder what the work of the word really entails, I know that it won’t get done if I’m sitting. I ask Mecking, if I’ll ever be able to shed my past and be able to niks?

   “It can be very hard, and I think especially for women, it can be even harder,” says Mecking about the struggle to just do nothing. “Simply because we do more work that’s unpaid and unsatisfying. Men protect their own free time and women protect men’s free time and kids’ free time, but no one protects the free time of women.”

   But there’s hope.

   “I think it would help us to re-frame doing nothing and to think of it as something valuable,” she says. “For example, if you can tell yourself that if you do nothing now then you can do better work later on, that’s already a big step. If we can learn to value niksen and downtime and taking time off the same way as we value work that would be great.  We can try reframing doing nothing and describe it as something that we need, like food or water. Think about it. Our bodies can’t work all day long without a break, no? The same way, our brains can’t either. It is impossible to expect people to be working with their brains all day long, be it at work or at home.”

       But whether you can niks or not niks, it’s okay says Mecking.

   “Sometimes it just doesn’t work,” she says. “Maybe it won’t work for you. It doesn’t mean that you’re a loser. You have to find a way to relax that works for you, and if that’s doing nothing then awesome, but if that’s going for a run that is great too! But if you want to try niksen, start slow, and take a look at how you spend your time. You might find that you do more nothing that you realize.”

THE 17TH ANNUAL BEST BOOK AWARDS ANNOUNCE 2020 AWARD RECIPIENTS

American Book Fest has announced the winners and finalists of The 2020 Best Book Awards.
Awards were presented for titles published in 2018-2020.

Jeffrey Keen, President and CEO of American Book Fest said this year’s contest yielded over 2,000 entries from mainstream and independent publishers. These were then narrowed down to over 400 winners and finalists in 90 categories.

“The 2020 results represent a phenomenal mix of books from a wide array of publishers throughout the United States,” says Keen about the awards, now in their 18th year.
Winners and finalists traversed the publishing landscape: HarperCollins, Penguin/Random House, John Wiley and Sons, Routledge/Taylor and Francis, Forge, Hay House, Sounds True, Llewellyn Worldwide, NYU Press, Oxford University Press, John Hopkins University Press, The White House Historical Association and hundreds of Independent Houses contribute to this year’s outstanding competition.

“Our success begins with the enthusiastic participation of authors and publishers and continues with our distinguished panel of industry judges who bring to the table their extensive editorial, PR, marketing, and design expertise,” says Keen.

American Book Fest is an online publication providing coverage for books from mainstream and independent publishers to the world online community.

American Book Fest has an active social media presence with over 135,000 current Facebook fans.


Highlights Include the Following Winning Titles:
(Full Results are Available Here.)

Click on category headings to be taken directly to full book descriptions! Winners and Finalists are featured at the top of each page.

Animals/Pets: General

The Balanced Pet Sitter: What You Wish you Knew Before Starting Your Pet Care Business by Renée Stilson
Equilibre Press, LLC

Animals/Pets: Narrative Non-Fiction
The Chimpanzee Chronicles: Stories of Heartbreak and Hope from Behind the Bars by Debra Rosenman
Wild Soul Press

Anthologies: Non-Fiction
This Moment Bold Voices from WriteGirl by Keren Taylor
WriteGirl PublicationsArt

C. Curry Bohm: Brown County and Beyond edited by Daniel Kraft & Jim Ross
Indiana University Press

Autobiography/Memoir
Through My Eyes: CSI Memoirs That Haunt the Soul by Tamara Mickelson
Self-Published

Best Cover Design: Fiction
The Last Lumenian by S.G. Blaise
The Last Lumenian

Best Cover Design: Non-Fiction
When God Says NO – Revealing the YES When Adversity and Pain Are Present by Judith Briles
Mile High Press

Best Interior Design
Beautiful Living: Cooking the Cal-a-Vie Health Spa Way by Terri Havens
Cal-a-Vie Health Spa

Best New Fiction
In An Instant by Suzanne Redfearn
Lake Union

Best New Non-Fiction
The Book of Help: A Memoir of Remedies by Megan Griswold
Rodale Books/Penguin Random House

Biography
T.R.M. Howard: Doctor, Entrepreneur, Civil Rights Pioneer by David T. Beito and Linda Royster Beito
Independent Institute

Business: Careers
TIP: A Simple Strategy to Inspire High Performance and Lasting Success by Dave Gordon
John Wiley and Sons

Business: Communications/Public Relations
The Apology Impulse: How the Business World Ruined Sorry and Why We Can’t Stop Saying It by Cary Cooper & Sean O’Meara
Kogan Page

Business: Entrepreneurship & Small Business
Burdens of a Dream: 33 Actionable Nuggets of Wisdom for the Creative Entrepreneur by Craig M. Chavis Jr.
Author Academy Elite

Business: General
The Simplicity Principle: Six Steps Towards Clarity in a Complex World by Julia Hobsbawm
Kogan Page

Business: Management & Leadership
The Future Leader: 9 Skills and Mindsets to Succeed in the Next Decade by Jacob Morgan
Wiley

Business: Marketing & Advertising
The End of Marketing: Humanizing Your Brand in the Age of Social Media and AI by Carlos Gil
Kogan Page

Business: Motivational
Unlock!: 7 Steps to Transform Your Career and Realize Your Leadership Potential by Abhijeet Khadikar
Vicara Books

Business: Personal Finance/Investing
Enhancing Retirement Success Rates in the United States: Leveraging Reverse Mortgages, Delaying Social Security, and Exploring Continuous Work by Chia-Li Chien, PhD, CFP®, PMP®
Palgrave Pivot

Business: Real Estate
Market Forces: Strategic Trends Impacting Senior Living Providers by Jill J. Johnson
Johnson Consulting Services

Business: Reference
The Non-Obvious Guide to Virtual Meetings and Remote Work (Non-Obvious Guides) by Rohit Bhargava
IdeaPress Publishing

Business: Sales
The Visual Sale: How to Use Video to Explode Sales, Drive Marketing, and Grow Your Business in a Virtual World by Marcus Sheridan
IdeaPress Publishing

Business: Technology
Amazon Management System: The Ultimate Digital Business Engine That Creates Extraordinary Value for Both Customers and Shareholders by Ram Charan and Julia Yang
IdeaPress Publishing

Business: Writing/Publishing
Great Stories Don’t Write Themselves: Criteria-Driven Strategies for More Effective Fiction by Larry Brooks
Writer’s Digest Books (a division of Penguin Random House)

Children’s Educational
Galileo! Galileo! by Holly Trechter and Jane Donovan
Sky Candle Press

Children’s Fiction
Nutmeg Street: Egyptian Secrets by Sherrill Joseph
Acorn Publishing

Children’s Mind/Body/Spirit
The Tooth Fairy’s Tummy Ache by Lori Orlinsky
Mascot Books

Children’s Non-Fiction
President’s Play! illustrated by John Hutton, text by Jonathan Pliska
The White House Historical Association

Children’s Novelty & Gift Book
Bubble Kisses by Vanessa Williams, illustrated by Tara Nicole Whitaker
Sterling Publishing

Children’s Picture Book: Hardcover Fiction
Bubble Kisses by Vanessa Williams, illustrated by Tara Nicole Whitaker
Sterling Publishing

Children’s Picture Book: Hardcover Non-Fiction
A-B-Skis: An Alphabet Book About the Magical World of Skiing by Libby Ludlow, illustrated by Nathan Y. Jarvis
Libby Ludlow

LLCChildren’s Picture Book: Softcover Fiction
Frankie the Ferret by Kimberley Paterson
FriesenPress

Children’s Picture Book: Softcover Non-Fiction
Fridays With Ms. Mélange: Haiti by Jenny Delacruz
Cobbs Creek Publishing

Children’s Religious
That Grand Christmas Day! by Jill Roman Lord, illustrated by Alessia Trunfio
Worthy Kids

College Guides
Diversity At College: Real Stories of Students Conquering Bias and Making Higher Education More Inclusive by James Stellar, Chrisel Martinez, Branden Eggan, Chloe Skye Weiser, Benny Poy, Rachel Eagar, Marc Cohen, and Agata Buras
IdeaPress Publishing

Cookbooks: General
Recipes from the President’s Ranch: Food People Like to Eat by Matthew Wendel
The White House Historical Association

Cookbooks: International
Cooking with Marika: Clean Cuisine from an Estonian Farm by Marika Blossfeldt
Delicious Nutrition

Cookbooks: Regional
The Perfect Persimmon: History, Recipes, and More by Michelle Medlock Adams
Red Lightning

BooksCurrent Events
In All Fairness: Equality, Liberty, and the Quest for Human Dignity, edited by Robert M. Whaples, Michael C. Munger and Christopher J. Coyne
Independent Institute

Education/Academic
The EQ Intervention: Shaping a Self-Aware Generation Through Social and Emotional Learning by Adam L. Saenz, PhD
Greenleaf Book Group

Fiction: African-American
Once in a Blood Moon by Dorothea Hubble Bonneau
Acorn Publishing

Fiction: Anthologies
Terror at 5280′ edited by Josh Schlossberg
Denver Horror Collective

Fiction: Cross-Genre
Mourning Dove by Claire Fullerton
Firefly Southern Fiction

Fiction: Fantasy
The Hollow Gods (The Chaos Cycle Series, #1) by A.J. Vrana
The Parliament House Press

Fiction: General
Bread Bags & Bullies: Surviving the ’80’s by Steven Manchester
Luna Bella Press

Fiction: Historical
The Takeaway Men by Meryl Ain
SparkPress

Fiction: Horror
The Vanishing by Arjay Lewis
Mindbender Press

Fiction: Inspirational
The Menu by Steven Manchester
Luna Bella Press

Fiction: LGBTQ
Even Weirder Than Before by Susie Taylor
Breakwater Books

Fiction: Literary
How Fires End by Marco Rafalà
Little A

Fiction: Multicultural
Subduction by Kristen Millares Young
Red Hen Press

Fiction: Mystery/Suspense
Strong From The Heart by Jon Land
Forge

Fiction: New Age
Catalyst by Tracy Richardson
Brown Books Publishing

Fiction: Novelette
When Angels Paint: A Milford-Haven Holiday Novelette by Mara Purl
Bellekeep Books

Fiction: Novella
When the Heart Listens: A Milford-Haven Novella by Mara Purl
Bellekeep Books

Fiction: Religious
The Longest Day by Terry Toler
BeHoldings Publishing

Fiction: Romance
What the Heart Wants by Audrey Carlan
HQN

Fiction: Science Fiction
Killing Adam by Earik Beann
Profoundly One Publishing

Fiction: Short Story
Oranges by Gary Eldon Peter
New Rivers Press

Fiction: Thriller/Adventure
The President’s Dossier by James A. Scott
Oceanview Publishing

Fiction: Visionary
Journey of a JuBu by Blaine Langberg
Critical Eye

Fiction: Western
Moccasin Track by Reid Lance Rosenthal
Rockin’ SR Publishing

Fiction: Women’s Fiction
Appearances by Sondra Helene
She Writes Press

Fiction: Young Adult
The Return of the Dragon Queen by Farah Oomerbhoy
Wise Ink Creative Publishing

Health: Addiction & Recovery
Stepping Stones: A Memoir of Addiction, Loss, and Transformation by Marilea C. Rabasa
She Writes Press

Health: Aging/50+
EIGHTSOMETHINGS: A Practical Guide to Letting Go, Aging Well, and Finding Unexpected Happiness by Katharine Esty, PhD
Skyhorse Publishing

Health: Alternative Medicine
Have a Peak at This: Synergize Your Body’s Clock Towards a Highly Productive You by Said Hasyim
Self-Published

Health: Cancer
All Of Us Warriors: Cancer Stories of Survival and Loss by Rebecca Whitehead Munn
She Writes
Press

Health: Death & Dying
Aftermath: Picking Up the Pieces After a Suicide by Gary Roe
Healing Resources Publishing

Health: Diet & Exercise
Whole Person Integrative Eating: A Breakthrough Dietary Lifestyle to Treat Root Causes of Overeating, Overweight and Obesity by Deborah Kesten, MPH and Larry Scherwitz, PhD
White River Press

Health: General
True Wellness for Your Gut: Combine the best of Western and Eastern medicine for optimal digestive and metabolic health by Catherine Kurosu, MD, L.Ac. and Aihan Kuhn, CMD, OBT
YMAA Publication Center

Health: Medical Reference
The Ultimate College Student Health Handbook: Your Guide for Everything from Hangovers to Homesickness by Jill Grimes, MD
Skyhorse Publishing

Health: Psychology/Mental Health
The Big Bliss Blueprint: 100 Little Thoughts to Build Positive Life Changes by Shell Phelps
Positive Streak Publishing,

LLCHealth: Women’s Health
The Book of Help: A Memoir of Remedies by Megan Griswold
Rodale Books/Penguin Random House

History: General
Gun Control in Nazi-Occupied France: Tyranny and Resistance by Stephen P. Halbrook
Independent Institute

History: Military
40 Thieves on Saipan The Elite Marine Scout-Snipers in One of WWII’s Bloodiest Battles by Joseph Tachovsky with Cynthia Kraack
Regnery History

History: United States
Liberty in Peril: Democracy and Power in American History by Randall G. Holcombe
Independent Institute

Home & Garden
My Creative Space: How to Design Your Home to Stimulate Ideas and Spark Innovation by Donald M. Rattner
Skyhorse Publishing

Humor
Struggle Bus: The Van. The Myth. The Legend. by Josh Wood
Lucid Books

Law
Banned: Immigration Enforcement in the Time of Trump by Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia
NYU Press

LGBTQ: Non-Fiction
Our Gay History in 50 States by Zaylore Stout
Wise Ink Creative Publishing

Multicultural Non-Fiction
Overcoming Ordinary Obstacles: Boldly Claiming the Facets of an Extraordinary Life by Nesha Pai
SPARK

PublicationsNarrative: Non-Fiction
Sola: One Woman’s Journey Alone Across South America by Amy Field
WanderWomyn Publishing

New Age: Non-Fiction
Embodying Soul: A Return to Wholeness by Keri Mangis
Curiosa Publishing, LLC

Novelty & Gift Book
The Official White House Christmas Ornament: Collected Stories of a Holiday Tradition by Marcia Anderson and Kristen Hunter Mason
The White House Historical Association

Parenting & Family
Why Will No One Play with Me? The Play Better Plan to Help Children of All Ages Make Friends and Thrive by Caroline Maguire, PCC, M.Ed. with Teresa Barker
Grand Central

PublishingPerforming Arts: Film, Theater, Dance, Music
THAT GUY: a stage play by Peter Anthony Fields
Amazon

Photography
Beautiful Living: Cooking the Cal-a-Vie Health Spa Way by Terri Havens
Cal-a-Vie Health Spa

Poetry
Five Oceans in a Teaspoon, poems by Dennis J. Bernstein, visuals by Warren Lehrer
Paper Crown Press

Religion: Christian Inspirational
Extraordinary Hospitality for Ordinary Christians: A Radical Approach to Preparing Your Heart & Home for Gospel-Centered Community by Victoria Duerstock
Good Books

Religion: Christianity
Come Fill This Place: A Journey of Prayer by Stacy Dietz
KP Publishing Company

Religion: Eastern
Secrets of Divine Love: A Spiritual Journey into the Heart of Islam by A. Helwa
Naulit Publishing House

Religion: General
Esoterism as Principle and as Way: A New Translation with Selected Letters by Frithjof Schuon
World Wisdom

Science
Bliss Brain: The Neuroscience of Rewiring Your Brain for Resilience, Creativity and Joy by Dawson Church
Hay House

Self-Help: General
Start Finishing: How to Go from Idea to Done by Charlie Gilkey
Sounds True

Self-Help: Motivational
Edge: Turning Adversity into Advantage by Laura Huang
Portfolio

Self-Help: Relationships
The Remarriage Manual: How to Make Everything Work Better the Second Time Around by Terry Gaspard
Sounds True

Social Change
I Am Not Your Enemy: Stories to Transform a Divided World by Michael T. McRay
Herald Press

Spirituality: General
The Universe Is Talking to You: Tap Into Signs and Synchronicity to Reveal Magical Moments Every Day by Tammy Mastroberte
Llewellyn Worldwide

Spirituality: Inspirational
Spark Change: 108 Provocative Questions for Spiritual Evolution by Jennie Lee
Sounds

TrueSports
The Martial Arts of Vietnam: An Overview of History and Styles by Augustus John Roe
YMAA Publication Center

Travel: Guides & Essays
Exploring Wine Regions — Bordeaux France: Discover Wine, Food, Castles, and The French Way of Life by Michael C. Higgins, PhD
International Exploration Society

True Crime: Non-Fiction
Beast of New Castle by Larry Sells & Margie Porter
WildBlue Press

Women’s Issues
Muslim Women Are Everything: Stereotype-Shattering Stories of Courage, Inspiration, and Adventure by Seema Yasmin, illustrated by Fahmida Azim
Harper Design, an Imprint of HarperCollins Publishers

Young Adult: Non-Fiction
My Life, My Way: How To Make Exceptional Decisions About College, Career, and Life by Elyse Hudacsko
Self-Published

THE 17TH ANNUAL BEST BOOK AWARDS ANNOUNCE 2020 AWARD RECIPIENTS

Mainstream & Independent Titles Score Top Honors in the 17th Annual Best Book Awards

 HarperCollins, Penguin/Random House, John Wiley and Sons, Routledge/Taylor and Francis, Forge, Sterling Publishing, Hay House, Sounds True, Llewellyn Worldwide, NYU Press, Oxford University Press, John Hopkins University Press, The White House Historical Association and hundreds of Independent Houses contribute to this year’s Outstanding Competition!

Highlights Include the Following Winning Titles: (Full Results are Available Here.)

Click on category headings to be taken directly to full book descriptions! Winners and Finalists are featured at the top of each page! 

Animals/Pets: General
The Balanced Pet Sitter: What You Wish you Knew Before Starting Your Pet Care Business by Renée Stilson
Equilibre Press, LLC

Animals/Pets: Narrative Non-Fiction
The Chimpanzee Chronicles: Stories of Heartbreak and Hope from Behind the Bars by Debra Rosenman
Wild Soul Press

Anthologies: Non-Fiction
This Moment Bold Voices from WriteGirl by Keren Taylor
WriteGirl Publications

Art
C. Curry Bohm: Brown County and Beyond edited by Daniel Kraft & Jim Ross
Indiana University Press

Autobiography/Memoir
Through My Eyes: CSI Memoirs That Haunt the Soul by Tamara Mickelson
Self-Published

Best Cover Design: Fiction
The Last Lumenian by S.G. Blaise
The Last Lumenian

Best Cover Design: Non-Fiction
When God Says NO – Revealing the YES When Adversity and Pain Are Present by Judith Briles
Mile High Press

Best Interior Design
Beautiful Living: Cooking the Cal-a-Vie Health Spa Way by Terri Havens
Cal-a-Vie Health Spa

Best New Fiction
In An Instant by Suzanne Redfearn
Lake Union

Best New Non-Fiction
The Book of Help: A Memoir of Remedies by Megan Griswold
Rodale Books/Penguin Random House

Biography
T.R.M. Howard: Doctor, Entrepreneur, Civil Rights Pioneer by David T. Beito and Linda Royster Beito
Independent Institute

Business: Careers
TIP: A Simple Strategy to Inspire High Performance and Lasting Success by Dave Gordon
John Wiley and Sons

Business: Communications/Public Relations
The Apology Impulse: How the Business World Ruined Sorry and Why We Can’t Stop Saying It by Cary Cooper & Sean O’Meara
Kogan Page

Business: Entrepreneurship & Small Business
Burdens of a Dream: 33 Actionable Nuggets of Wisdom for the Creative Entrepreneur by Craig M. Chavis Jr.
Author Academy Elite

Business: General
The Simplicity Principle: Six Steps Towards Clarity in a Complex World by Julia Hobsbawm
Kogan Page

Business: Management & Leadership
The Future Leader: 9 Skills and Mindsets to Succeed in the Next Decade by Jacob Morgan
Wiley

Business: Marketing & Advertising
The End of Marketing: Humanizing Your Brand in the Age of Social Media and AI by Carlos Gil
Kogan Page

Business: Motivational
Unlock!: 7 Steps to Transform Your Career and Realize Your Leadership Potential by Abhijeet Khadikar
Vicara Books

Business: Personal Finance/Investing
Enhancing Retirement Success Rates in the United States: Leveraging Reverse Mortgages, Delaying Social Security, and Exploring Continuous Work by Chia-Li Chien, PhD, CFP®, PMP®
Palgrave Pivot

Business: Real Estate
Market Forces: Strategic Trends Impacting Senior Living Providers by Jill J. Johnson
Johnson Consulting Services

Business: Reference
The Non-Obvious Guide to Virtual Meetings and Remote Work (Non-Obvious Guides) by Rohit Bhargava
IdeaPress Publishing

Business: Sales
The Visual Sale: How to Use Video to Explode Sales, Drive Marketing, and Grow Your Business in a Virtual World by Marcus Sheridan
IdeaPress Publishing

Business: Technology
Amazon Management System: The Ultimate Digital Business Engine That Creates Extraordinary Value for Both Customers and Shareholders by Ram Charan and Julia Yang
IdeaPress Publishing

Business: Writing/Publishing
Great Stories Don’t Write Themselves: Criteria-Driven Strategies for More Effective Fiction by Larry Brooks
Writer’s Digest Books (a division of Penguin Random House)

Children’s Educational
Galileo! Galileo! by Holly Trechter and Jane Donovan
Sky Candle Press

Children’s Fiction
Nutmeg Street: Egyptian Secrets by Sherrill Joseph
Acorn Publishing

Children’s Mind/Body/Spirit
The Tooth Fairy’s Tummy Ache by Lori Orlinsky
Mascot Books

Children’s Non-Fiction
President’s Play! illustrated by John Hutton, text by Jonathan Pliska
The White House Historical Association

Children’s Novelty & Gift Book
Bubble Kisses by Vanessa Williams, illustrated by Tara Nicole Whitaker
Sterling Publishing

Children’s Picture Book: Hardcover Fiction
Bubble Kisses by Vanessa Williams, illustrated by Tara Nicole Whitaker
Sterling Publishing

Children’s Picture Book: Hardcover Non-Fiction
A-B-Skis: An Alphabet Book About the Magical World of Skiing by Libby Ludlow, illustrated by Nathan Y. Jarvis
Libby Ludlow LLC

Children’s Picture Book: Softcover Fiction
Frankie the Ferret by Kimberley Paterson
FriesenPress

Children’s Picture Book: Softcover Non-Fiction
Fridays With Ms. Mélange: Haiti by Jenny Delacruz
Cobbs Creek Publishing

Children’s Religious
That Grand Christmas Day! by Jill Roman Lord, illustrated by Alessia Trunfio
Worthy Kids

College Guides
Diversity At College: Real Stories of Students Conquering Bias and Making Higher Education More Inclusive by James Stellar, Chrisel Martinez, Branden Eggan, Chloe Skye Weiser, Benny Poy, Rachel Eagar, Marc Cohen, and Agata Buras
IdeaPress Publishing

Cookbooks: General
Recipes from the President’s Ranch: Food People Like to Eat by Matthew Wendel
The White House Historical Association

Cookbooks: International
Cooking with Marika: Clean Cuisine from an Estonian Farm by Marika Blossfeldt
Delicious Nutrition

Cookbooks: Regional
The Perfect Persimmon: History, Recipes, and More by Michelle Medlock Adams
Red Lightning Books

Current Events
In All Fairness: Equality, Liberty, and the Quest for Human Dignity, edited by Robert M. Whaples, Michael C. Munger and Christopher J. Coyne
Independent Institute

Education/Academic
The EQ Intervention: Shaping a Self-Aware Generation Through Social and Emotional Learning by Adam L. Saenz, PhD
Greenleaf Book Group

Fiction: African-American
Once in a Blood Moon by Dorothea Hubble Bonneau
Acorn Publishing

Fiction: Anthologies
Terror at 5280′ edited by Josh Schlossberg
Denver Horror Collective

Fiction: Cross-Genre
Mourning Dove by Claire Fullerton
Firefly Southern Fiction

Fiction: Fantasy
The Hollow Gods (The Chaos Cycle Series, #1) by A.J. Vrana
The Parliament House Press

Fiction: General
Bread Bags & Bullies: Surviving the ’80’s by Steven Manchester
Luna Bella Press

Fiction: Historical
The Takeaway Men by Meryl Ain
SparkPress

Fiction: Horror
The Vanishing by Arjay Lewis
Mindbender Press

Fiction: Inspirational
The Menu by Steven Manchester
Luna Bella Press

Fiction: LGBTQ
Even Weirder Than Before by Susie Taylor
Breakwater Books

Fiction: Literary
How Fires End by Marco Rafalà
Little A

Fiction: Multicultural
Subduction by Kristen Millares Young
Red Hen Press

Fiction: Mystery/Suspense
Strong From The Heart by Jon Land
Forge

Fiction: New Age
Catalyst by Tracy Richardson
Brown Books Publishing

Fiction: Novelette
When Angels Paint: A Milford-Haven Holiday Novelette by Mara Purl
Bellekeep Books

Fiction: Novella
When the Heart Listens: A Milford-Haven Novella by Mara Purl
Bellekeep Books

Fiction: Religious
The Longest Day by Terry Toler
BeHoldings Publishing

Fiction: Romance
What the Heart Wants by Audrey Carlan
HQN

Fiction: Science Fiction
Killing Adam by Earik Beann
Profoundly One Publishing

Fiction: Short Story
Oranges by Gary Eldon Peter
New Rivers Press

Fiction: Thriller/Adventure
The President’s Dossier by James A. Scott
Oceanview Publishing

Fiction: Visionary
Journey of a JuBu by Blaine Langberg
Critical Eye

Fiction: Western
Moccasin Track by Reid Lance Rosenthal
Rockin’ SR Publishing

Fiction: Women’s Fiction
Appearances by Sondra Helene
She Writes Press

Fiction: Young Adult
The Return of the Dragon Queen by Farah Oomerbhoy
Wise Ink Creative Publishing

Health: Addiction & Recovery
Stepping Stones: A Memoir of Addiction, Loss, and Transformation by Marilea C. Rabasa
She Writes Press

Health: Aging/50+
EIGHTSOMETHINGS: A Practical Guide to Letting Go, Aging Well, and Finding Unexpected Happiness by Katharine Esty, PhD
Skyhorse Publishing

Health: Alternative Medicine
Have a Peak at This: Synergize Your Body’s Clock Towards a Highly Productive You by Said Hasyim
Self-Published

Health: Cancer
All Of Us Warriors: Cancer Stories of Survival and Loss by Rebecca Whitehead Munn
She Writes Press

Health: Death & Dying
Aftermath: Picking Up the Pieces After a Suicide by Gary Roe
Healing Resources Publishing

Health: Diet & Exercise
Whole Person Integrative Eating: A Breakthrough Dietary Lifestyle to Treat Root Causes of Overeating, Overweight and Obesity by Deborah Kesten, MPH and Larry Scherwitz, PhD
White River Press

Health: General
True Wellness for Your Gut: Combine the best of Western and Eastern medicine for optimal digestive and metabolic health by Catherine Kurosu, MD, L.Ac. and Aihan Kuhn, CMD, OBT
YMAA Publication Center

Health: Medical Reference
The Ultimate College Student Health Handbook: Your Guide for Everything from Hangovers to Homesickness by Jill Grimes, MD
Skyhorse Publishing

Health: Psychology/Mental Health
The Big Bliss Blueprint: 100 Little Thoughts to Build Positive Life Changes by Shell Phelps
Positive Streak Publishing, LLC

Health: Women’s Health
The Book of Help: A Memoir of Remedies by Megan Griswold
Rodale Books/Penguin Random House

History: General
Gun Control in Nazi-Occupied France: Tyranny and Resistance by Stephen P. Halbrook
Independent Institute

History: Military
40 Thieves on Saipan The Elite Marine Scout-Snipers in One of WWII’s Bloodiest Battles by Joseph Tachovsky with Cynthia Kraack
Regnery History

History: United States
Liberty in Peril: Democracy and Power in American History by Randall G. Holcombe
Independent Institute

Home & Garden
My Creative Space: How to Design Your Home to Stimulate Ideas and Spark Innovation by Donald M. Rattner
Skyhorse Publishing

Humor
Struggle Bus: The Van. The Myth. The Legend. by Josh Wood
Lucid Books

Law
Banned: Immigration Enforcement in the Time of Trump by Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia
NYU Press

LGBTQ: Non-Fiction
Our Gay History in 50 States by Zaylore Stout
Wise Ink Creative Publishing

Multicultural Non-Fiction
Overcoming Ordinary Obstacles: Boldly Claiming the Facets of an Extraordinary Life by Nesha Pai
SPARK Publications

Narrative: Non-Fiction
Sola: One Woman’s Journey Alone Across South America by Amy Field
WanderWomyn Publishing

New Age: Non-Fiction
Embodying Soul: A Return to Wholeness by Keri Mangis
Curiosa Publishing, LLC

Novelty & Gift Book
The Official White House Christmas Ornament: Collected Stories of a Holiday Tradition by Marcia Anderson and Kristen Hunter Mason
The White House Historical Association

Parenting & Family
Why Will No One Play with Me? The Play Better Plan to Help Children of All Ages Make Friends and Thrive by Caroline Maguire, PCC, M.Ed. with Teresa Barker
Grand Central Publishing

Performing Arts: Film, Theater, Dance, Music
THAT GUY: a stage play by Peter Anthony Fields
Amazon

Photography
Beautiful Living: Cooking the Cal-a-Vie Health Spa Way by Terri Havens
Cal-a-Vie Health Spa

Poetry
Five Oceans in a Teaspoon, poems by Dennis J. Bernstein, visuals by Warren Lehrer
Paper Crown Press

Religion: Christian Inspirational
Extraordinary Hospitality for Ordinary Christians: A Radical Approach to Preparing Your Heart & Home for Gospel-Centered Community by Victoria Duerstock
Good Books

Religion: Christianity
Come Fill This Place: A Journey of Prayer by Stacy Dietz
KP Publishing Company

Religion: Eastern
Secrets of Divine Love: A Spiritual Journey into the Heart of Islam by A. Helwa
Naulit Publishing House

Religion: General
Esoterism as Principle and as Way: A New Translation with Selected Letters by Frithjof Schuon
World Wisdom

Science
Bliss Brain: The Neuroscience of Rewiring Your Brain for Resilience, Creativity and Joy by Dawson Church
Hay House

Self-Help: General
Start Finishing: How to Go from Idea to Done by Charlie Gilkey
Sounds True

Self-Help: Motivational
Edge: Turning Adversity into Advantage by Laura Huang
Portfolio

Self-Help: Relationships
The Remarriage Manual: How to Make Everything Work Better the Second Time Around by Terry Gaspard
Sounds True

Social Change
I Am Not Your Enemy: Stories to Transform a Divided World by Michael T. McRay
Herald Press

Spirituality: General
The Universe Is Talking to You: Tap Into Signs and Synchronicity to Reveal Magical Moments Every Day by Tammy Mastroberte
Llewellyn Worldwide

Spirituality: Inspirational
Spark Change: 108 Provocative Questions for Spiritual Evolution by Jennie Lee
Sounds True

Sports
The Martial Arts of Vietnam: An Overview of History and Styles by Augustus John Roe
YMAA Publication Center

Travel: Guides & Essays
Exploring Wine Regions — Bordeaux France: Discover Wine, Food, Castles, and The French Way of Life by Michael C. Higgins, PhD
International Exploration Society

True Crime: Non-Fiction
Beast of New Castle by Larry Sells & Margie Porter
WildBlue Press

Women’s Issues
Muslim Women Are Everything: Stereotype-Shattering Stories of Courage, Inspiration, and Adventure by Seema Yasmin, illustrated by Fahmida Azim
Harper Design, an Imprint of HarperCollins Publishers

Young Adult: Non-Fiction
My Life, My Way: How To Make Exceptional Decisions About College, Career, and Life by Elyse Hudacsko
Self-Published

Laziness Does Not Exist: Drilling Down on Procrastination

         “This isn’t getting the work of the world done,” my mother used to tell me when I was young and talking on the phone to friends instead of cleaning my room or putting away the dishes or whatever else needed to be done. I still don’t know exactly what the work of the world is, but it sounds so ominously important it made me believe that my laziness was in some ways contributing to world failure.  

         Her words still echo through my life. Even now, though I know that world will go on even if I watch a whole night’s worth of “Downtown Abbey” episodes, I remember what my mother said and I turn off the T.V.

         Now, after reading “Laziness Does Not Exist” (Atria 2020; $27) by Devon Price, PhD, a Clinical Assistant Professor, Loyola University Chicago, I may reconsider that long ago lesson.

         “Laziness does not exist means there is no slothful, shameful feeling inside of us called laziness that is to blame when we fail or disappoint someone or simply lack motivation,” says Price after I ask him to define the book’s title.  “There are always structural, external factors as well as inner personal struggles that explain why someone is not meeting goals.”

Instead, Price says that often when someone is written off as lazy, the problem is actually that they’ve been asked to do far too much, and not given credit for the immense work that they are doing.

 “Fighting depression is a full time job,” he says. “Raising children in a global pandemic is a full-time job. Taking a full course load while working a job is too much to deal with flawlessly. So many people are overwhelmed and overworked, yet because they have been asked to do more than they can handle, these incredibly ambitious people are branded as lazy.” 

So how do we deal with these feelings?

Price recommends first observing the situation neutrally while trying to determine where the feeling is coming from and what do you have to learn from it.

“Sometimes, we lack motivation to do something because the task just does not matter to us — so ask yourself, do I really have to do this task? Does it matter to me, or have I just been told that I should do it? When someone is feeling lazy and beating themselves up for it, that is almost always a sign they need to cut a bunch of obligations out of their life, so they have time to rest and reorient themselves, to focus on their true priorities. “

        Self-efficacy, a confidence in one’s own ability to get things done, also comes into play.

Price describes this as a very grounded form of confidence — the confidence in one’s own capabilities.

“When a person has high self-efficacy for a particular skill or task, they trust their instincts, and know how to break a large task down into smaller parts, so they’re way less likely to get stuck in doubt, perfectionism, or inhibition,” he says.  “A lot of times when someone is struggling or procrastinating such as failing to write a paper for class, for example, it’s because they don’t trust themselves to do it well enough, or they don’t know how to take the big project and divide it into tiny bites. Unfortunately, we live in a very perfectionistic culture where lots of teachers and managers micro-manage and nitpick the people they are supposed to be mentoring, so we actually destroy a lot of people’s self-efficacy in the process. “

Price believes that we also need to act like all human lives have equal value and deserve equal support with no proof needed.

“On a more personal level, we need to approach other people with generosity and trust,” he says.  “I don’t need proof that a person on the corner asking for change deserves my money. I can trust that if he’s in that spot, he clearly needs it, and I don’t get to decide what his needs at that moment look like or how he lives his life. In general, we need to stop policing one another and viewing all needs and limitations as suspicious.” 

What: Devon Price Virtual Events

When: Thursday, February 25 at 7 p.m. CT

7:00 PM CT                                                   

Hosted by Loyola University / Chicago

Link to join in: https://luc.zoom.us/j/87434549563

A Perfect Mess: The Hidden Benefits of Disorder

“Neat people have become heroes in our society. Messy people are seen as weak people, people who fall short. It gets reinforced by our parents, our teachers and our colleagues.”

Neatniks: Stand down — there is meaning in messiness

Some scientists think that in life, as in nature, a little disorder signifies flexibility, improvisation

My mother was so neat that we never even had a junk drawer — that catchall most families use for things they don’t know what to do with.

Her sister, my Aunt Janice, completely was different. She lived in a big rambling house on the Deep River in Hobart and bred cocker spaniels who had the full run of the house. It was sometimes difficult to find a clean dish, and dog hairs seemed to float in the air before descending to cover everything.

“Aunt Janice wants you to spend a week with her in July,” my mother would say. “Is that OK?”

Of course it was, as order and neatness were never my strong suit. And even, today, decades later, though I don’t have 12 dogs bounding through the house and my dishes always are clean or at least in the dishwasher, I am more akin to my aunt than my mother when it comes to order.

And I always feel guilty about it. Neatness is a virtue, disorder a sin.

Though my mother never said anything when she would come to visit, she sometimes would ask if she could organize my canned goods.

But I’ve taken a new view of my life after talking to David Freedman, co-author of “A Perfect Mess: The Hidden Benefits of Disorder — How crammed closets, cluttered offices and on-the-fly planning make the world a better place” (Little, Brown).

So after shoving aside a pile of papers so I could find a place to take notes, I listened avidly to what Freedman had to say.

“The idea came from left field, a little more than 10 years ago,” said Freedman, who co-authored the book with Eric Abrahamson, a professor of management at Columbia Business School.

“I came upon a physicist who had discovered that adding randomness makes a system work better.”

The physicist told Freedman scientists usually try to take randomness out when developing systems.

“But it turns out with everywhere in nature, particularly in the human brain, there is a lot of randomness,” Freedman said.

“If you reduce the randomness, the brain doesn’t work as well.”

In other words, messiness is random, or a lack of order. But it’s even better.

Smart and important people are messy, or should we say organizationally challenged.

“Einstein was a total mess,” Freedman said.

“Arnold Schwarzenegger lived his life in a very messy way. Even in body building he was one of the people who pioneered the mixing up in the way you lifted weights. He always advocated that way. Until then, body builders did the same repetitions over and over. He’s also random in his life. Is he a body builder, an actor or a politician? Is he a Democrat or a Republican?”

Being neat is about doing things a certain way, and messiness is about improvising, being flexible, Freedman told me. We both agreed that people with absolutely empty desks made us nervous.

“It turns out that when you take a look at the problems the messiness causes, except for the guilt, there are really no problems associated with it,” he said.

“People spend an average of nine minutes a day looking for things, while people who are really neat often spend more time trying to figure where they put things.

“Our clutter on our desk and around us have a personality, and it’s almost as if there’s a system to it that is very well suited to the way we think. That’s why the messy are pretty good at finding things. There’s a bit of a method to our messiness. There is meaning.”

Freedman, who lives in Needham, Mass., and has authored several other books including “Brainmakers: How Scientists Are Moving Beyond Computers to Create a Rival to the Human Brain,” emphasizes though it was initially science that lead him to write this book, it’s not a scientific book. But he did do extensive research.

“There is one scientist at Boston University who discovered that old people keep their balance better if they wear vibrating shoes,” he said. “The reason is that it is sending random signals to the brain through the feet.”

His research also revealed that many people feel guilt and shame about their messiness in America.

“We really do envy those neat people,” he said.

“Neat people have become heroes in our society. Messy people are seen as weak people, people who fall short. It gets reinforced by our parents, our teachers and our colleagues.”

Though there’s vindication — and relief — for paper stackers, there is a reason for order, too.

“Even we messy people need to straighten up, and there is an appeal to order,” Freedman said.

“Messiness is comfortable and natural and works well, and neatness also has its appeals. The message is to find the right balance for you.

“When you hear it, it sounds rather obvious, but up until now you have heard that neatness is better.”

Tips for Dealing with Clutter

Since “A Perfect Mess” isn’t a license to never pick anything up again, author David Freedman offers advice on managing clutter without stifling creativity.

* Take it slow and in small steps: If people see too much clutter, they think of picking everything up. But you don’t have to do it that way — that’s paralyzing to people. Do it a pile at a time over days or weeks.

* Don’t throw it out: Instead of thinking you have to get rid of all this mess, maybe you can just put it in neat piles or in a closet or in a drawer. And it’s OK to have messy closets.

* Understand it’s not permanent: People think you have to remain neat after picking up. But you don’t. You can save your periods of neatness for when you’re not under deadline or a certain time of month.

* Your whole abode doesn’t have to be a clutter-free zone: Don’t feel you have to be well organized everywhere. You can be messy one place.

* Living with a neat freak: Freedman advocates that families compromise on messy issues instead of constantly arguing. People constantly argue with their family members. Neat people have to ease up a little bit and messy people have to clean up a little.

Debunking the neat freaks

In a chapter from their book “A Perfect Mess,” authors Eric Abrahamson and David Freedman look at three suggestions commonly presented to help people get organized — and then debunk them.

The suggestions:

1. Use colored labels on your files, and cut filing time in half.

2. Given that there are 37 hours of unfinished work on the average desk at any one time, buy “filing solution” products and get the work off your desk.

3. Buy a quality label maker to print your file labels, because 72 percent of people who print file labels end up wasting time wrestling with jammed or stuck labels in printers.

Their comeback:

1. Because whatever information a colored label might convey also could be conveyed with a word, the most time that a colored label could save you is whatever time you save by glancing at a color rather than reading a word, perhaps a half second for very slow readers.

If you spend three hours a day filing, then saving a half second per label examined will save you one and a half hours, or half your time, only if you examine the labels of 10,800 files in those three hours — in other words, if you spend just about all your time examining file labels. One could imagine unusual situations where a color scheme might save several minutes at a shot, as, for example, if there were a need to find the only green-coded file in a vast sea of red-coded files, or if the entire population of yellow-coded files had to be pulled.

But since most filing work involves not just looking at file labels but also examining files’ contents, doing things with the contents of files, walking to and from filing cabinets, and creating new files, the time saved with colored labels will be just a tiny portion of the total filing work. This will come as a relief to the roughly 8 percent of people who are color-blind.

2. This advice seems meant to imply you have saved yourself 37 hours of work by clearing your desk. But if you have 37 hours of unfinished work, and the work then gets filed, don’t you end up with 37 hours of unfinished work now hidden away in files instead of at hand on your desk? Plus, you’ve spent a chunk of time filing it — not to mention the time spent buying filing-solution products.

3. Other research indicates that 0 percent of people who don’t bother printing labels for their files spend a single minute wrestling with jammed or stuck file labels.

Jen Lancaster Set to Launch New Book with an Anderson’s Bookshop Online Event

Anderson’s Bookshop is proud to welcome back New York Times bestselling author and Chicago-area native Jen Lancaster to celebrate her newest book, The United States of Anxiety: Observations from a Reforming Neurotic.  Lancaster has visited Anderson’s Bookshop half a dozen times, and each event is special, including this launch program on Thursday, October 1 at 7 pm. Participating fans will be the first to get their hands on her latest title.

Register here and you will receive the Zoom link in your confirmation email. https://www.eventcombo.com/e/virtual-event-with-jen-lancasterthe-united-states-of-anxiety-40870

Anderson’s realizes that this is a challenging time for many families.  We are offering a variety of ticket options so that customers may choose what is the best fit.  Every book ticket will include a signed copy of The United States of Anxiety, and all contributions will go towards supporting our independent small business and our employees.

About the Book: New York Times bestselling author Jen Lancaster is here to help you chill the hell out.

When did USA become shorthand for the United States of Anxiety? From the moment Americans wake up, we’re bombarded with all-new terrifying news about crime, the environment, politics, and stroke-inducing foods we’ve been enjoying for years. We’re judged by social media’s faceless masses, pressured into maintaining a Pinterest-perfect home, and expected to base our self-worth on retweets, faves, likes, and followers. Our collective FOMO, and the disparity between the ideal and reality, is leading us to spend more and feel worse. No wonder we’re getting twitchy. Save for an Independence Day–style alien invasion, how do we begin to escape from the stressors that make up our days?

Jen takes a hard look at our elevating anxieties, and with self-deprecating wit and levelheaded wisdom, she charts a path out of the quagmire that keeps us frightened of the future and ashamed of our imperfectly perfect human lives. Take a deep breath, and her advice, and you just might get through a holiday dinner without wanting to disown your uncle–or even worse.

About the Author: Author Jen Lancaster has sold well over a million books, with over a dozen New York Times bestsellers. From Bitter Is the New Black to The Tao of Martha, Lancaster has made a career out of documenting her attempts to shape up, grow up, and have it all – sometimes with disastrous results. Her New York TImes bestselling novel Here I Go Again received three starred reviews (Kirkus, Booklist, Publishers Weekly). She loves bad TV, terrible wine, and will die before she gives up her Oxford comma.

Lancaster can often be seen on The Today Show, as well as CBS This Morning, Fox News and NPR’s All Things Considered, among others. She lives in the Chicago suburbs with her husband and her many ill-behaved dogs and cats. Visit her website: jenlancaster.com, Twitter: @altgeldshrugged, Instagram: @jennsylvania, or Facebook.com/authorjenlancaster.

Hear the stories behind Lancaster’s books on The Stories We’d Tell in Bars podcast, available on iTunes, Podbean, Spreaker, GooglePlay, and iHeartRadio, among other entities.

About Anderson’s Bookshop: Anderson’s Bookshop is a 6-generation family-run neighborhood independent business with locations in Chicago’s western suburbs. The company includes a toyshop and school bookfair division. Recipients of dozens of honors, Anderson’s Bookshops share a passion and knowledge of books and of building community through great reads. Anderson’s Bookshops are located in downtown Naperville at 123 W. Jefferson Ave. and in Downers Grove at 5112 Main St. For additional questions and information, visit AndersonsBookshop.com.

The Wellness Lifestyle: A Chef’s Recipe for Real Life.

“The Wellness Lifestyle is an all-in-one life-long wellness plan,” says Daniel Orr. “Dr. K and I wanted to create something that was a one size fits all in both understanding health and enjoying life. A lot of that is food. “

         It’s a place many of us have been in–counting calories, obsessing about what we ate and shouldn’t have and still seeing the scale tip higher and higher. There’s a different way according to Chef Daniel Orr, owner of FARMbloomington, an award winning restaurant in downtown Bloomington, Indiana and Kelley Jo Baute, owner of A Splendid Earth Wellness, a company she runs offering wellness coaching to individuals and businesses and workplace ergonomics consulting in Seymour, Indiana. The two, who are friends, melded their skills in creating MyTendWell Lifestyle Plan, a program focusing on eight different wellness factors — social, occupational, intellectual, physical, emotional, spiritual, environmental, and nutritional. That in turn led to writing The Wellness Lifestyle: A Chef’s Recipe for Real Life.

Daniel Orr and Kelley Jo Baute

         “We’re really unique because there are no books where there’s really an exercise scientist working with an international chef,” says Baute.

         When she says international, she means it. Orr, a graduate of Johnson & Wales University, a culinary school in Providence, Rhode Island, has worked in France at such restaurants as Auberge des Templiers, Restaurant Daguin and three-star L’Esperance, and Belgium’s three-star Restaurant Bruneau. After that he worked as an executive chef at several high end New York restaurants and becoming executive chef of the Cuisinart Resort & Spa in Anguilla, BVI in the Caribbean.

         For her part, Baute was working on her PhD at Indiana University Bloomington when she was diagnosed, at age 41, with Stage 2 breast cancer and embarked upon a rigorous regime of chemotherapy and a year of Herceptin treatments. Doctors also removed a tumor and surrounding lymph nodes and she underwent a bilateral mastectomy. Though ongoing tests showed her to be cancer free, for the next five years she had further biopsies, a hysterectomy, and other surgeries. Despite this, she managed to complete her PhD in kinesiology and start her own business. In other words, she says, she wasn’t going to let cancer define her.

         Pulling on their diverse backgrounds, Baute and Orr created an easy-to-follow book designed for those who want to enjoy food and also have a healthy and fulfilling life.

         “It’s about taking care of yourself and taking care of each other, reaching a handout to help others,” Baute says.

         “The Wellness Lifestyle is an all-in-one life-long wellness plan,” says Orr.  “Dr. K and I wanted to create something that was a one size fits all in both understanding health and enjoying life. A lot of that is food. The fresher your food is the more nutritious it is. Many of the antioxidants are most available in the whole raw ingredient of fresh fruit and vegetables. Growing and cooking your own food is the number one thing you can do to live a healthier lifestyle.”

         If you can’t grow your own, you can still cook fresh foods found at supermarkets and farm stands.

         It’s important to plan a schedule of exercise, wellness and eating healthy and stick to it says Baute.

         “Wellness is a lifestyle, so get started and stay committed,” she continues. “Encourage others to join you. Just keep moving.”

         “And just keep eating healthy,” adds Orr.

He’s Making You Crazy: How to Get the Guy, Get Even, and Get Over It

“We weren’t born crazy—we were made crazy. It’s true, and I have plenty of stories to prove it. My turbulent dating history has brought me an abundance of peaks and valleys, but I didn’t get there on my own. Crazy is a two-person job.”

         “Women all over the world get called crazy every day,” writes Kristen Doute, star of Bravo’s long running TV series Vanderpump Rules, in her new book, He’s Making You CrazyHow to Get the Guy, Get Even, and Get Over It  (Chicago Review Press 2020). “But we weren’t born crazy—we were made crazy. It’s true, and I have plenty of stories to prove it. My turbulent dating history has brought me an abundance of peaks and valleys, but I didn’t get there on my own. Crazy is a two-person job.”

         Indeed, Doute who co-authored the book with Michele Alexander who in turn was a coauthor of How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, that was turned into a movie of the same name starring Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey, has plenty of tales to tell.

         But first a little background. Vanderpump Rules started as a spinoff of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and is centered around one of the 36 or so restaurants that Lisa Vanderpump and her husband own. This one, SUR, is in West Hollywood and Doute was working there as a server while waiting for her acting career to take off when the series first began. Since then she’s been a main character on the show which started its eighth season this January.

         Detailing her relationships and the lessons she’s learned including how to accept her own emotionality and not let it negatively define her, she shares her wisdom in this easy-to-read book written in her typical hilariously outspoken style.

         “In the beginning, the term Crazy Kristen had negative connotations given to me by the people who called me by that name,” she says. “People would say she’s crazy, she’s psycho, she’s outlandish, she’s irrational.”

         Being young, she says she allowed herself to own their opinion of her.  With age and experience came wisdom.

         “What does crazy mean? Is it because I’m passionate or feel strongly and stand up for what I believe in?” she asks rhetorically. “Does that make me crazy? Now I wear Crazy Kristen as a badge of honor.”

         That meant being herself and not trying to change who she is to please a guy, as she did early on in relationship. After all, there are always going to be differences between two people in a relationship. The questions to ask yourself, she says, is if the differences are something you can live with and can you work out. In all, she wants us to learn from her mistakes and the wisdom she’s acquired.

         Doute also sees a double standard—what she terms “himpathy” or male sympathy.

         “That’s where it’s like, ‘Oh, he’s a guy–he’s allowed to lash out or do this or do that. But if she does that, she’s crazy’,” she explains, noting that she’s not man bashing because she really likes men—we know, we’ve seen the show.  “Just because we’re passionate doesn’t mean we’re insane.”

         For those who love the show, there’s some juicy stuff about the people she works with. For others, the book can stand alone as a relationship guide or an interesting autobiography of a woman who turned a server job into a career as an actress and also added James Mae, a 1970s-inspired clothing line and her “Witches of Weho” wine collection to her resume.

         Now she can author to that list.

%d bloggers like this: