Category: Recommended Reads

Joy to the world! It’s time for a drink.

Flaming Cocktails

Contrary to what the title of this post may suggest I am not, in fact, a lush.  However, during the holiday season, one is expected to mingle and attend parties with family and friends.  For a naturally introverted person like me, this can cause a bit of social anxiety.  Thus, my alcohol consumption and my social interaction usually show an exponential positive correlation during the period from November 28- January 6th.  As I assume this is the case with most people I know, we at the Literary Duck have put together a list of cold-weather cocktails to inspire your own holiday drinking. Note: please drink responsibly! continue reading >>

‘Tis the Season to be… Snuggled!


Rather than turn on the heat in my apartment, my boyfriend and I have taken to storing piles of blankets in every room. This means lots of snuggles. Sadly, not always with me. Our usually aloof cat has taken to resting in what would normally be my spot next to my boyfriend (because he has the most body heat out of all of us), leaving me huddled under my own measly blanket with only the comfort of a book to keep me warm. While he watches football and the cat watches Cat TV (aka the backyard), both snuggled together in such an unbelievably adorable manner that even I feel sickened (okay, and maybe a bit jealous), I escape to Bookland… continue reading >>

School of Great Books: Raising a Child One Book at a Time

IStock Books Flying from Hands

Prior to being a dad, I had this idea that when the time came, I might use some favorite books to mentor, guide and influence, hoping that, as they did for me, the books would act as salve for my son or daughter during tricksy patches growing up. It was partially a fun game: “Quick, top 5 books you’d recommend your kid read, at what age, and why.” But I do think there’s something behind the idea that a book, a song or really any form of art could provide an understanding “we get you, you’re not alone” to a young person that a parent can’t always do. continue reading >>

Read a Western, It’s Billy the Kid’s Birthday!

IStock Westerns

How long has it been since you read a really great Western?

Or… gasp! … are you one of those unfortunate people who have never read a Western, good or otherwise, in your entire life? Do you equate the very word “Western” with John Wayne movies and stories of shoot-em-ups at the O.K. Corral?

Well, here at the Literary Duck, we’ve got good news for you—Westerns aren’t the stuff of pulp fiction any longer! Oh, yes: we’ve got some perfect recommendations to back up that claim. And since November 23rd is Billy the Kid’s birthday, it’s an ideal day to see for yourself what we’re talking about.

So, whether you’re an old cowboy or new to the genre, let’s call November 23rd READ A WESTERN DAY! continue reading >>

Giving Thanks with Food and Family

Vintage Thanksgiving Card

Like most kids in America, I grew up with the traditional Thanksgiving fare, and like most aspiring gourmands, I like to elevate classic dishes to new levels. Unfortunately, like most young people fresh out of grad school, I am broke. However, if the point of Thanksgiving is to be grateful for what you have, then this Thanksgiving I choose to be grateful for my vivid imagination and my family. I have always wanted to prepare an extravagant Thanksgiving feast for my whole family, both blood-related and adopted over the years. This is difficult for two reasons: funds and the fact that my family is spread all over the place. So below you will find the meal I would make if I had the money, and if I could get everyone I love into the same room for an evening. (For those of you responsible for bringing over a single dish to a potluck this Thanksgiving, check out my choices for some inspiration!)

Let me set the scene: There would be the lighting that every woman I know prefers (soft candlelight).  This would be in lieu of the harsh but environmentally friendly fluorescents that currently reside in my apartment’s light fixtures. The wassail, hard spiced cider, and hot buttered rum would be flowing. continue reading >>

Single Fathers: My Heroes

IStock Fathers

Every year about this time I like to give a shout out to single fathers. You hear a lot about the good single moms out there, and people are starting to use the more gender-neutral term “single parents” to include dads. But I want to say a special THANK YOU to the men in the world who are singlehandedly raising their kids without a partner in the picture—who are working a full time job or a couple of part time ones to make ends meet, who are paying the rent and the bills while doing the cooking, the cleaning, the hair brushing, the bathing, and feeding, and shopping, and lawn mowing, and story reading, who are figuring out childcare, and teacher conferences, and sports practices or music lessons, to the men who are doing all the work of two people by themselves. Thank you for being the repairer of broken toys and broken hearts.

In a previous blog, I wrote about the single father who raised me. continue reading >>

Great reads for Halloween

IStock Halloween

Halloween is one of our favorite holidays here at the Literary Duck. We all have beloved spooky, creepy, scary books involving monsters, or witches, or ghosts, or vampires—you name any undead or magical creature and one of us likes to read about it. So, just to make your Halloween 2013 all the better, some of our Literary Duck Blog writers have put together a reading list of their current favorites. We wish you a frightfully wonderful Halloween… continue reading >>

Teen Dreams

IStock Guitar

I played in a band in high school. I was the bassist and wrote a lot of lyrics. My best friend and I wrote all the songs. I wanted to be a singer, but could never get over myself long enough to pull-it-off. Like a lot of young and music-obsessed kids, we dreamed of making it big one day (at the time of course having no idea what “making it” would entail. I mean, how hard could it be to get your CD in a record shop?). Some kids have the football team, we had the band. The songs we wrote and the songs by the artists we loved were our swords and badges of honor in the daily melee of our teenage years.

Like a lot of garage bands, our songs were simple, big on `90s era indie/alternative influence and full of teen angst: we railed against conformity, complained of broken hearts and in general cut the figure of young and tortured Rimbauds. continue reading >>

Living in a Cornucopia: Small Scale Urban Gardening

Garden Vegetable Harvest

As you might already know, I’m on a quest to grow as much of my family’s food as possible on our ¼-acre “urban homestead.”

The better portion of our yard is devoted to food of one sort or another—vegetable Resilient Gardenergarden, berries, fruit trees, chickens, etc.—and each year we’ve been working ourselves closer to the principles espoused by Oregon author, Carol Deppe, in her book The Resilient Gardener: Food Production and Self-Reliance in Uncertain Times. We are growing more “key crops” like potatoes and dried beans: things that can be canned, dried or frozen for winter eating. continue reading >>

National Hispanic Heritage Month 2013

IStock Hispanic Heritage

National Hispanic Heritage Month is September 15th – October 15th, and the Literary Duck is celebrating!

More than 50 million Americans—16% of our population—are of Hispanic or Latino origin. National Hispanic Heritage Month celebrates “the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America.” President Lyndon B. Johnson first approved a National Hispanic Heritage Week in 1968. It was expanded into a month-long celebration by President Ronald Reagan in 1988.

But why the mid-month start for this celebration, you ask? continue reading >>