Thursday, December 16, 2010

Top 5 book titles that I'm almost positive were written with our Christmas family lunch in mind

List by Tosca

"No matter how carefully you stored the lights last year, they will be snarled again this Christmas."
- Robert Kirby

I like my family, although whether I like them because I'm meant to or because I genuinely do like them I'm not quite sure. I'm kidding! Even with (or maybe because of?) all of their strange quirks, I like them. They are what they are: loud, passionate, overly opinionated, talented, sharptongued, quickwitted, well read, eccentric and fiercely protective of each other. Years ago we used to celebrate Christmas day with extended family (dad's siblings and their children and grandchildren). Over time, we pulled away and began to have just the immediate family over. With partners, husbands, children, grandchildren and dogs it works out to something like twenty people (+1 dog) so you can imagine how big it would've been with all of the extended family, too. My siblings and I realised that we preferred to keep days such as this free to spend with people we actually enjoy being around. As much as we get on, though, Christmas lunch can be a truly hair-raising experience if you're as antisocial as I am. It's sensory overload. There's yelling, singing, bossy people, kids everywhere, babies crying, temper tantrums and so on. With all of us under one roof for an extended period of time it can be heaven or it can be hell. Aww it really does warm the cockles of my heart! When I was cruising the catalogue for Top 5 ideas I came across so many book titles that reminded me of Christmas lunch with the family - the good and the bad - that I was prompted, nay *inspired* to post this list :)

The first blast of the trumpet against the monstrous regiment of women / John Knox
Nonfiction. First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regiment of Women is the story of Andrew Halfnight, whose life-part dream, part nightmare-begins with a mother's tragic choice and ends with a lover's understanding. In between he experiences tempests at sea, relatives who kill for love and lovers who sacrifice their bodies, all the while unknowingly moving ever closer to the central mystery of his, and all existence.

Tosca's note: I have 6 sisters and 2 brothers so for as long as I can remember the girls have ruled the roost. They're more outgoing, go-getting, driven and assertive than the boys and I've noticed over the years that my brothers tend to be quieter. Around Christmas time (and especially on the day) we go into hypermode - ordering the boys around, getting them to set up this, that and the other and just generally being exceptionally demanding and bossy :)

How to speak moo! / Deborah Fajerman
Picture book. This picture book for children aged five to seven contains bold four-colour illustrations which tell the quirky story of "moo" - the amazingly versatile language of cows.

Tosca's note: Half the time we talk past each other, around each other, at each other and in passing so when we all get together for Christmas lunch it's crazy and I spend a lot of the time wondering why I'm speaking moo because surely that's the only reason they don't understand me...? *blatantly ignoring the fact that I am incredibly difficult to get along with* :P

The mouth trap : strategies, tips, and secrets to keep your foot out of your mouth by Gary Seigel.
Nonfiction. "Ever put your foot in your mouth? Some believe it's a genetic problem - bad wiring installed in the brain that forces people to open mouth and insert foot. Others believe it's a personality trait they can't change or control. If you have ever had a conversation with a difficult person who you wished you had handled differently, The Mouth Trap will show you how to deliver a message and achieve the outcome you desire every time you speak.You'll learn how to: develop the confidence to repair mistakes, apologise and create peace become adept at responding right the first time discover ways to navigate smoothly around difficult people with seemingly irresolvable work issues and, apply many of these same strategies, tips and secrets to e-mails, so that you engage readers instead of irritate them. Based on Dr. Gary's research and techniques taught to thousands, this book offers easy-to-follow guidelines that will help you script your way to success, even in the most confrontational, hard-to-manage situations. The Mouth Trap will help transform your communication skills so that you'll receive the respect, appreciation and monetary rewards you deserve" -- Publisher's description.

Tosca's note: If there's a secret or a tidbit of information that is not in any way, shape or form meant to be shared with the wider family on the day then you can guarantee that I will unknowingly blurt it out at the most awkwardest moment possible - like right before dad blesses the food. Fun times. Not.

The sharper your knife, the less you cry / Kathleen Flin
Nonfiction. In 2003 Kathleen Flinn, a thirty-six-year-old American living in London, returned from holiday to find that her corporate job had been terminated. She cleared out her savings and took the opportunity to attend the famed Le Cordon Bleu cooking school in Paris, an education during which she survived the program's intense teaching methods, competitive fellow students, and the dynamics of falling in love, in an account complemented by two dozen recipes.

Tosca's note: En masse we're all pretty quickwitted and sharptongued so the sharper your tongue the less chance you'll be the one flailing on the dining room floor at the end of the day (or crying) O_O

How to steal a car / Pete Hautman
Teen fiction. "Fifteen-year-old, suburban high school student Kelleigh, who has her learner's permit, recounts how she began stealing cars one summer, for reasons that seem unclear even to her." -- Publisher's description.

Tosca's note: My extended family are like a Maori living, breathing version of the iconic West family from the 'Outrageous Fortune' tv series. You think I'm jesting but I'm not. I remember once, years ago, my dad's youngest brother (what an eyebrow-raising reputation he had) offered to teach each of us how to pick locks as a gift. My dad, usually a genial sort of guy, responded with lots of unprintable words, among which were clearly heard, 'Over my dead body.' It's funny but every Christmas I think of that gift-offer and have a little giggle. Hence this book at #1 on my list :)

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