Read a Book, Save a Life


For the past three months I have been training for a half-marathon with a group called Team in Training. Team in Training is a philanthropic organization that raises funds for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Leukemia causes more deaths than any other cancer among children and young adults under the age of 20 and is the number 1 cancer in senior citizens.

I was personally touched by the disease last year, when my grandfather lost his battle with leukemia. So now, along with my Team in Training running group, I am racing to raise money to help battle blood cancers.

By September 5th, the day of the half marathon (in Disneyland!), my goal is to raise over $2000 to go toward finding new treatments and eventually a cure for this devastating disease.

So what does this have to do with you, you ask? I have forty copies of my books (including some various fun editions, like a lush mass market paperback of Fallen from the UK, the audio book, a couple Spanish and Italian versions, and even a few advance copies of Torment!) that I will be auctioning off to the first forty people who make a donation (of $10 or more) through my Team in Training website. I will sign, personalize, and send a special thank you note with the book to anyone who helps me support the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

You can visit my fundraising website here and make a secure online donation on the right hand side of the page. I’ll get an email notification when you do, and as long as you include your email and mailing address when you fill out the donation, I’ll have all the information I need to send you your personalized book. I will email you before I send your book to check whether you have special dedication wishes, or if you can read, say, Chinese and want that edition! I have no idea how many of you will be interested in this, but if we exceed the forty books I’m starting with, I’ll update my blog and maybe increase the quantity. (That would be incredible!)

These can be yours!

I know that many of you and the people you love have also been touched by some form of cancer, and it feels wonderful to know there are great organizations out there like Team in Training and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society that allow all of us to get involved–even in a small way–to save lives.

Do I look like a girl who is about to run 13.1 miles?
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You think YOU read a lot?

Try going head to head with Jason. Behold the list of 100+ books my favorite PhD candidate has spent the past 5 months reading.

Yes, the monster list, taped on the back of our closet door, is taller than both of us and took three photographs to capture. But Jason still managed to slay it. See all the little check marks?

For the past five months he’s been preparing for his oral exam, which he takes this Friday (!!!). For three hours, three professors will grill him on any/all of these books, asking questions like “How would you teach this text in an introduction to Shakespeare class?” And this is just the first of two monster tests he has to pass before he writes his dissertation. Hear that, all you future English PhD’s out there? Are you scared? (I’m scared.)

So around here, it’s been one book a day, every day, for five straight months. He wakes up in the morning, he reads. I take the dog for a hike, he reads. I fool around online for seven hours, he continues to read. Because these are major doorstops of books. Tomes. Like on Tuesday: he sat down and read the Bible. The whole thing! Another day he tackled the very thrilling Shakespeare’s Perjured Eye: The Invention of Poetic Subjectivity in the Sonnets. Sounds like a real page turner, huh? Today he’s reading Paradise Lost. He’s got serious speed-reading skillz.

I marvel at his reading stamina and am feeling very proud that he’s made it through this list. As if it wasn’t already before, his brain is certainly a goldmine now.

So good luck on Friday, Jason, and thank you for always flagging the angel references for me. xx

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On Curiosity

(Note: I recently wrote this for a blog called Fragments of Life, but I thought I’d also share it with you here.)

A few months ago, I went to visit my parents at the house where I grew up in Texas. My mom, in her mom way, likes to make use of my presence to clean out closets.

“Can we throw out these softball trophies?”

“What about these old dance recital costumes?”

“You’re never going to wear these shoes again, are you?”

And on it goes. If Mom and I fill up a garbage bag to take to goodwill, the day has been a success. This last trip, she was going through my old dresser, tossing things into the trash with reckless abandon—until we came across an old sketchbook buried in the recesses of a drawer.

“What is that?” my mom asked, when I leapt up to save the sketchbook from its date with the trashcan. I recognized it immediately. I’d filled it up on a road trip my family took to Colorado in the summer of 1994. The binding was split and a few of the pages were loose, but otherwise, it was still in good shape. Once glance at its rough maroon cover brought back a flood of memories.

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Time Off!

I’ve been on vacation this week. Torment finally went to my editor, my parents came to visit, and it was my birthday on Sunday. A perfect little storm. My favorite thing we did with my parents was take them up to Santa Barbara for a night. We drove along the PCH through sun and fog and seabreeze, ate at the Hitching Post (of Sideways fame) and stayed in the cute Danish town of Solvang.  While we were gone, Milo went to visit his godfather, Matt.

Some say he’s a cautious dog. Easily terrified is another way of putting it. Matt captured a lot of Milo’s adventures on film. Here’s a clip of some of the fun he had without us.

For my birthday on Sunday night, Jason took me to a secret supper club in Santa Monica. It’s run by these two cool women chefs, pops up in a new location just four times a year (you get an email two hours before the meal to let you know where to go), and is so underground that I was supposed to agree not to blog about it. Whoops! But I the food was so so so incredible and it was such a cool, special birthday present that I must at least mention it. Not by name. Below is the remains of a chocolate souffle with corn ice cream and chile-flecked cotton candy.

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Welcome Milo!

We got a dog on Monday! His name is Milo and he’s a brindle boxer about six months old. I’ve wanted to get a dog for a long time but have had to wait until we had enough time and space to make it possible. I’ve been scouring rescue dog websites for a few months, looking for medium-sized, floppy eared young dogs, but we hadn’t gone to actually look at any yet. Then, last Sunday, a friend saw Milo at an adoption street fair, gave us a call, and as soon as we got down there and saw him, we had a feeling he was the one.

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Driving Lessons

There's the car down at the bottom.

My husband launched his car off this cliff a half an hour before hour wedding. Some of you already know this little story, but for those of you who don’t: Relax! No one was in the car, no one was hurt (save an olive tree that was split in two), and our wedding was pret-ty perfect after that. As the Jewish side of the family was quick to point out: “What’s a wedding without a little broken glass?”

I bring this up now because the car we bought to replace the wrecked one is a stick shift. And I have never driven a stick shift. So the time has come for me to learn.

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