A Cool Mona Book Review: The Rosie Project

Marg_4 icon

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion, published 2013. A debut novel (I love these!) in an upbeat, quirky, most honest love story told in a long time. It’s an extraordinarily clever, funny, and moving book about being comfortable with who you are and what you’re good at. Let me be up front: I suspect it’s chick lit but I didn’t know it until I got too far into the book and couldn’t put it down. Like on page 7. It’s charming and delightful and should be read.

It’s written through the words and thoughts of Professor Don Tillman, a 30-something genetics professor at an Australian university. He’s also an Aspie (one with Asperger syndrome who experiences repetitive and restrictive patterns of behavior and interests). For example, when Don initially meets people he immediately thinks their BMI number. It’s just a habit he can’t break and so all through the read, BMIs are introduced along with the new characters’ names.  The Rosie Project is a fascinating read in that it shows you how an Aspie genius thinks and gets through life. The latter being not so easy. You’ll also learn that someone at this level (genius) travels on a particular type of passport, clearing the way for odd and inappropriate comments and behavior in an airport or during a flight.

The author is an IT consultant with his screen adaptation of The Rosie Project winning the Australian Writers Guild Award for Best Romantic Comedy. It’s been optioned by Sony Pictures and Simsion is currently working on a sequel. Bill Gates announced The Rosie Project as one of his top 6 books of 2014. “I’m sending copies to several friends and hope to re-read it later this year. This is one of the most profound novels I’ve read in a long time.” I give it 4 really-full margaritas in the Cool Mona rating system.

Hey, maybe a friend needs to read this!
Email Facebook Twitter

A Cool Mona Recipe: Cucumber Pineapple Tequila Cooler

i'll take two and call you in the morning.

i’ll take two and call you in the morning.

From the creative and talented chef, Amanda Freitag, a Chopped judge. Total prep time is 10 minutes. Makes 4 servings.
  • 1 cup fresh pineapple cubes
  • 2 limes, skin removed
  • 1 seedless cucumber, peeled, plus cucumber slices for garnish
  • 4 ounces silver (blanco) tequila
  • 1 1/2 cups ice cubes, plus more for serving
  • 1 tablespoon agave nectar
  • Pinch kosher salt

Prepare a vegetable juicer (or blender if unavailable). Run the pineapple, limes and cucumber through the juicer, letting all the juices combine. Pour the tequila into a cocktail shaker or pitcher, and then add the juices, ice, agave and salt. Shake or stir vigorously until chilled. Line up 4 tall Tom Collins glasses filled with ice, and pour the tequila cooler over. Serve with straws and cucumber slices for garnish.

And then immediately call me. I’m available on short notice. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3H6amDbAwlY

Hey, maybe a friend needs to read this!
Email Facebook Twitter

6 Times When You Must Trust Yourself (Part 2)

keep looking

keep looking

More from inspirational writer Amy Shearn who knows that there are times when it’s wise to ask for a second opinion. Then, there are these times, when no one knows the answer but you. Did you miss the first 3? http://www.coolmona.com/?p=7398

When You’re 41 Years and 9 Months Old

I recently met a woman who has been working on her ukulele opus for 20 years. Not that she’s written a note. In fact, she only just learned how to play the instrument. But she’s had it in mind that she would create this piece of music for decades…only to falter now, because it somehow feels too late to begin.
Why You Should Trust Yourself Now: Research from the Erasmus School of Economics in the Netherlands shows we reach our creative peak at 41 years and 9 months, or when we reach 62 percent of our lifespan (based on studying the top works of 221 major artists).

If You’ve Been Meditating

You finally took your blissed-out, preternaturally calm aunt’s advice and started meditating every day.
Why You Should Trust Yourself Now: Research finds that meditation actually increases the brain’s gray matter in regions associated with sensitivity to the body’s signals. When you meditate regularly, your brain is actually more in tune with your body.

When You’re 74 Percent Sick with 100 Percent of the Flu

You’re sick. But you might be able to work. If you could just get out of bed and drag yourself over there. So when you’re talking to your boss, should you feel okay—or not—taking that sick day.
Why You Should Trust Yourself Now: We all get that it’s complicated, but you know when you’re sick and when you’re just feeling tired. You have work to do, of course you do, that’s why you usually go to work every day. But infecting the entire office with your plague is not going get any more work done, now, is it?

Hey, maybe a friend needs to read this!
Email Facebook Twitter

Cool Mona Community: Hi From Leo in Santa Fe

napping Cleo

napping Cleo

Hello Mona,

I’m Leo so what else could I name my cute cat but Cleo?? We live about 20 miles outside Santa Fe, NM where I am a working artist. I design sculptures and sell to individuals. Hopefully, some day soon I will sell to galleries. That is my dream anyway. I really enjoy your writing and I get so much from it. I pass it along to friends and many times we reference it when catching up over coffee.

I moved to the southwest from Maine and it took a while to adjust. But sometimes we need a very different place from the known when we are healing. Me, from a divorce. Life goes on and I want it to when I see the sun set now in those brilliant southwest colors.

Thanks for your contributions. Please continue making your art and I’ll keep making mine.



Hey, maybe a friend needs to read this!
Email Facebook Twitter

6 Times When You Must Trust Yourself

give thanks for blessings already on their way

give thanks for blessings already on their way

Inspirational writer Amy Shearn knows that there are times when it’s wise to ask for a second opinion. Then, there are these times, when no one knows the answer but you.

When You’re 87.5 Percent Sure You Might Blow It

How many of us have a seemed-like-a-good-idea-at-the-time, thrift-store find in our garage? For example: the table we’ve been trying to get gutsy enough to refinish. We know what we want to do, but we’re afraid. Afraid of varnish.
Why You Should Trust Yourself Now: You might well screw it up. You really might. But what do you have to lose? Unfinished creative projects are the teratomas of the soul. And what creative work ever got completed by saying, “I don’t want to start because I’m afraid to mess up”?

When You Look at Your Fiancé’s Photo

He’s a great guy. Everybody—including your mom—thinks so. And so you do. Except, when you look at his picture, you feel a tingle of dread. Is that how you really feel about him—or is that the pre-wedding jitters?
Why You Should Trust Yourself Now: A Florida State University study finds that newlyweds’ gut instincts about their partners and the future of their marriages are usually right. When it comes to love, sometimes your body knows what your brain can’t articulate.

When You Have Been Completely Humiliated

Maybe you weren’t asked to leave your high-profile job 137 days after taking it, but you’ve been completely, utterly, how-will-I-ever-recover-from-this, flooded-with-self-doubt humiliated.
Why You Should Trust Yourself Now: Remember that classic 70′s photo of the Knicks’ locker room after they won the championship, with the sign that read, “Hard Work Beats Mistakes”? It’s a motto that’s been proven now; as Robert J. Sternberg wrote for The Chronicle of Higher Education, “The main characteristic that makes people successful is not their IQ, emotional intelligence, or even creativity. It is their resilience in the face of what seem to be insurmountable obstacles.” Your resilience will save you.

Cool Mona Note: Check back for the other 3 tomorrow. In the meantime, do you know what you have in common with Tchaikovsky?  http://www.coolmona.com/?p=7484

Hey, maybe a friend needs to read this!
Email Facebook Twitter

5 Things You Can Learn From Guilt

Gary Zukav, interesting author and founder of the Seat of the Soul Institute, shows us how to break through one of life’s most challenging emotions – guilt. We think that guilt is a natural experience. Well, it’s a familiar experience but not so much a healthy or productive one. It serves no constructive purpose. Check out Gary’s 5 things to think about the next time you are feeling oh so very guilty.

keep moving

keep moving

Guilt comes from a frightened part of your personality.
The actions that you regret also came from a frightened part of your personality. Following fear with fear moves you in the opposite direction that your spiritual development requires, which is toward love.

Guilt impairs your ability to learn from your experiences.
When you see something that you could have done differently, or wish you had done differently, remember how you could have spoken or acted in love instead of fear. This helps you apply what you have learned and keeps you from feeling more guilty. Your experiences are designed to inform, support, and benefit you, not cause you to contract into fear and remorse.

Guilt keeps you from being honest with others and yourself.
It keeps you from seeing that you cannot cause another person emotional pain. You can trigger emotional pain in others, but their pain comes from inside them, not from you. Their pain is an opportunity for them to learn about themselves. Your pain is an opportunity for you to learn about yourself. Guilt distracts you from that crucial lesson.

The relationship between guilt and forgiveness may surprise you.
Guilt is actually a twisted or manipulative way of seeking forgiveness. It is the belief that if you inflict suffering on yourself for your choices, another will forgive you for them. This belief keeps you in pain because only you can forgive yourself.

You cannot give the gifts that your soul wants you to give while you are feeling guilty.
Your gifts may be to raise a family, create a new kind of business, write a book or dance. When you choose not to forgive yourself, you choose not to give the gifts your soul wants to give. You can choose otherwise. You—like everyone—have gifts and you were born to give them.


Hey, maybe a friend needs to read this!
Email Facebook Twitter

A Few Cool Ways To Move It Forward

weirdness is beautiful

weirdness is beautiful

It doesn’t always have to be big, over the top, awesome. There are so many ways to throw a little kindness and positivity in someone’s direction.

Pay it Flowered
Imagine how it would feel if you came across a bouquet of flowers on an ordinary afternoon, perhaps on a city bench, and stepped forward to peer at the tag and saw it was for You, A Stranger. Author and artist Amy Krouse Rosenthal has created another of her heart-swelling interactive projects with Pay It Flowered, and it’s easy to take part. Buy flowers. Leave them for a stranger. Take pictures (optional). You are a suddenly a magical part of someone’s world.
Text Which Way the Wind Blows
A co-worker of mine here in New York told me that her father, who lives in Florida, often texts her about the weather first thing in the morning. He might write, “Heard there’s a chance of snow in NYC tomorrow. Jealous!” Not only does she know he’s thinking about her, it’s also a noninvasive way to say, “Wear your down jacket! You’ll freeze out there!”
Make the Dish No One in the Family Likes (But They All Want)
My grandmother was famous for her disdain of all things domestic. My whole life, I only saw her make two kinds of food: coffee ice cubes, and Jell-O mold. (Three, if you include ordering lo mein as “making.”) Obviously, I hold her as a role model. And yet only recently did it occur to me to bring back her Jell-O mold to the family. I somehow inherited her beloved, famous Tupperware dome-shaped mold with the interchangeable tops (tulip, heart, Christmas tree), with which she made her contributed dish to every single family dinner ever. But I never actually used it because, well, no one over the age of 6,or not recovering from surgery, really likes Jell-O that much. Only now, a year after her death, do I realize that the Jell-O itself—in stained-glass tones, quivering with studs of canned fruit and maraschino cherries—is not the point. No one actually wants to eat it, but everyone will know what I mean when I bring it to a family gathering. Just about every family has some dish that is more about a memory than nutrition, or even taste. Bring back Grandpa Bob’s famous pickled herring. Everyone will want a (tiny) plateful.
Donate Your Birthday
Does anyone really need an annual present-palooza after age 21? This year, on your birthday, ask your friends to donate money to your cause of choice. It’s more useful than a pair of earrings, and spreads that doing-good-warm-glow-feeling all around.
Give Luck
Turn pennies you see on the street heads-up, so that they will be good luck for the next person who finds them.
Fix the Floor, with Luck
Consider the broken bathroom floor I recently found. The missing tiles had been replaced with shiny pennies. It seemed like the most generous sort of vandalism. (And yes, they were heads-up.)
Cool Mona Note: If you receive these posts via email, be sure and look below. There’s another  one down there.
Hey, maybe a friend needs to read this!
Email Facebook Twitter

A Cool Mona Masterpiece: She Who Tells A Story, Women Photographers From Iran And The Arab World

arab womanA photographic book introducing the pioneering work of 12 leading women photographers from Iran and the Arab world.

Their provocative images, photojournalism to staged and manipulated visions, explore gender stereotypes, war and peace, and personal life, all the while confronting nostalgic Western notions about women of the Orient. The book is enhanced with biographical and interpretive essays and includes more than 100 stunning reproductions. It challenges us to set aside preconceptions about this part of the world and share in the vision of a group of vibrant artists as they claim the right to tell their own stories in images of great sophistication, expressiveness and beauty.

Check it out. The exhibit just closed at the MFA in Boston.

Hey, maybe a friend needs to read this!
Email Facebook Twitter

What You And Tchaikovsky Have In Common

think outside the stripes

think outside the stripes

My friend and composer, Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, believed that all of his imagination had dried up, and in fact composed his 5th symphony under extreme self – doubt. A decade passed between the writing of his 4th and 5th symphonies so I can understand his concern. On the other hand, aside from symphonies, this particular decade was one of his most prolific periods: the completion of 3 operas, the Serenade for strings, the Violin Concerto, the 1812 Overture, a 2nd Piano Concerto, the Capriccio Italien and the A minor Piano Trio. So of course he wondered where his creativity went regarding symphonies. C’mon.

Tchaikovsky’s 5th was composed the summer of 1888, mostly in Frolovskoe, a vacation home outside of Moscow. The scenic location played a big role in his finding his inspiration and he frequently wrote to a supportive patron of his progress. On June 22, to be exact, he wrote: “I shall work my hardest. I am exceedingly anxious to prove to myself, as to others, that I am not played out as a composer. Have I told you that I intend to write a symphony? The beginning was difficult but now inspiration seems to have come. We shall see.”

The premiere was November 17 of that year in St. Petersburg with the composer conducting. The audience loved it but the critics hated it and accused Tchaikovsky of incompetence. This greatly talented man viewed his 5th symphony as a complete failure and he again wrote to his favorite patron: “After playing my symphony twice in Petersburg and once in Prague, I have come to the conclusion that it is a failure. There is something repellent in it, some over-exaggerated color, some insincerity of fabrication which the public instinctively recognizes. It was clear to me that the applause and ovations referred not to this but to other works of mine, and that the symphony itself will never please the public.”

The following year in 1889, the symphony was played in Hamburg and received thunderous applause by both the critics and the public. Even Brahms, who was not a lover of Russian music, delayed his departure to attend the concert.

Oh, wait, you were trying to tell me something and I’ve gone on and on. What, you’re feeling discouraged?

Cool Mona Note: Seldom do we see our progress. (So take another look.) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=An1-ntyBcz8

Hey, maybe a friend needs to read this!
Email Facebook Twitter

A Cool Mona Book Review: Flash Boys

Marg_5 iconFlash Boys, A Wall Street Revolt by Michael Lewis. Published 2014. A story for the people, an exposé of the murky world of rigged high-frequency trading (HFT). A small group of Wall Street guys, working at different firms, figure out that the U.S. stock market has been rigged for the benefit of insiders. Post–financial crisis, the markets have become more controlled by the big Wall Street banks. They come to this realization separately but after discovering one another, the flash boys band together and set out to reform the financial markets.

The characters are fabulous, completely different from what you think of when you think Wall Street guy. Several have walked away from jobs in the financial sector that paid them millions of dollars a year. From their new vantage point they investigate the big banks, the world’s stock exchanges, and high-frequency trading firms as they have never been investigated and expose the many strange new ways that Wall Street generates profits.

However, the light that Lewis shines into the darkest corners of the financial world may not be good for your blood pressure. Because if you have any contact with the market, even a retirement account, this story is happening to you. But in the end, Flash Boys is an uplifting read. Here are people who have somehow preserved a moral sense in an environment where you don’t get paid for that. They have perceived an institutionalized injustice and are willing to go to war to fix it.

Flash Boys sold a staggering 130,000 copies in the U.S. in its first week and is already being turned into a film. (By comparison, The Big Short, the author’s biggest seller to date, sold 60,000 in its first week.) Malcolm Gladwell, author of David and Goliath compares Michael Lewis to Tiger Woods: I read Lewis for the same reasons I watch Tiger Woods. I’ll never play like that. But it’s good to be reminded every now and again what genius looks like.”

A truly exceptional read and I easily award it 5 margaritas in the Cool Mona rating system. Do yourself a favor with this one.


Hey, maybe a friend needs to read this!
Email Facebook Twitter

If I got to do it all over again, I would...

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

Cool Mona's Favorite Sites