Why I Should Consider Moving to France …

… or at least why I should now double my efforts for a “Oui to naps!” campaign and petition in my workplace, if THIS actually comes to fruition:

PARIS — The French already enjoy a 35-hour work week and generous vacation. Now the health minister wants to look into whether workers should be allowed to sleep on the job.

France launched plans this week to spend $9 million this year to improve public awareness about sleeping troubles. About one in three French people suffer from them, the ministry says.
Fifty-six per cent of French complain that a poor night’s sleep has affected their job performance, according to the ministry.

“Why not a nap at work? It can’t be a taboo subject,” Health Minister Xavier Bertrand said Monday. He called for further studies and said he would promote on-the-job naps if they prove useful.

France’s state-run health insurance provider will send letters explaining the importance of good sleep. The Health Ministry’s Web site offers tips on how best to get a good night’s rest.

The ministry’s online “Passport to Sleep” recommends cutting down on coffee, tea, colas, and athletic activity after 8 p.m., shunning TV time or working late in the evening, and listening better to the body’s own sleep signals, such as yawning.

Bertrand said sleepiness causes 20 per cent to 30 per cent of highway accidents across France each year.

Okay, so forget about the rest of the story about the tips on how to get a good night’s rest …

Now, think about all the crabby or scatter-brained people you encounter on the road, or run into throughout your day, or work with …

And then picture what some of them might be like if they had a nice little nap in the middle of the day.

Hypothetically speaking: Slightly happier people … possibly fewer traffic accidents … fewer misunderstandings in general … see the logic? Who’s with me, now?

Vive les sommes, mes amis! Vive les sommes!

Childhood Flashback # 1

So, as I was updating my Facebook profile with some of my favourite books, my thoughts wandered back to some of the books I read as a kid.

And then before I knew it, I hit Google and came across this little story pictured at left.

Oh. My. God!

You really don’t understand many times A WEEK I had this book read to me when I was three or four years old. It was just your run-of-the-mill, cheapie supermarket Little Golden Book. But I’m sure I drove my mom crazy every time I wanted to read this. It’s just so cute, I had to share.

And now you have yet another piece of insight into what makes me the weirdo I am today.

You can actually read the whole book here.

D’s Loquacious Reads for October

Hey kids, I hope you’re having a good weekend! Sorry this is so late, considering there’s only a couple days (and a few hours left) in October. But I just finished two more books that I wanted to share with you …

First off is this beauty off to the left – Break No Bones, the latest in the Temperance Brennan series by forensic anthropologist-author Kathy Reichs. This time, Dr. Brennan’s on a dig with some students when she comes across a skeleton that doesn’t look like it belongs. What she discovers in her post-mortem sets off a series of events that, once again, have her digging beneath the surface – so to speak – and, in true Reichs style, even have her brushing with death.

Couple that with a love triangle between her, her current lover, police detective Andrew Ryan and her estranged husband, Pete, and you’ve not a nice, sort of light read for those lazy afternoons (or in my case, long subway commutes back and forth). Her stuff’s not bad, if you’re into the suspense/mystery/murder genre with lots of professional jargon.

This book, on the other hand, is a complete departure from Ms. Reichs’ work. Shout out to my friend Kristy, who recommended I read this book (update your blog, girl!). It’s AWESOME!

War Reporting for Cowards was written by Chris Ayres who, as a 27-year-old foreign correspondent, got an early morning phone call from his boss, asking if he wanted “to go to war”, and without really thinking (because he really wasn’t awake!), agreed to be embedded with the U.S. Marines for nine days during the early period of the war in Iraq in 2003.

Problem was, he never wanted to go, and was too chicken to tell his boss, so the results of his journey to embedding has a few darkly hilarious results. His book is a candid look at what happened to him before and during the embedding process, as well as what landed him there in the first place.

C’est tout, mes amis! Take it easy for now, and I’m willing to read things any of you might have to suggest, or are willing to lend me. I’ll promise you’ll get it back! Lates.

D’s Loquacious Reads for September/October

Hey folks,

Happy Thanksgiving. Sorry it’s taken so long to write … life – and a busted computer – got in the way.

Ever go through those periods of time where you don’t read any books for weeks and weeks, and then you’re suddenly hit with this insatiable urge to read a whole bunch of ’em at once, even though you know you don’t have much time for it?

Well, that was me in September. Here’s three books I’d heard about and recently got around to cracking open:

David Gilmour’s A Perfect Night to Go to China won last year’s Governor-General book awards, and with good reason. It’s actually pretty good. I didn’t really know much about this book going into it – silly me, I actually thought part of it took place in China. So much for that theory.

The book is narrated from the point of view of a man whose young son goes missing one night when the father steps out of the house briefly, leaving the door unlocked. The novel follows the narrator’s slow unravelling of his marriage and himself as he searches for his son.

Aside from being a fairly fast read, I found the way the story was woven to be a bit fantastical, which you always want from time to time. I wonder, though, if I read the book maybe a tad too fast and didn’t soak it up like a real bookworm should. The ending took me a bit aback (of course, reading between subway sleeps may have contributed a bit to that, too). I’m not going to ruin it here. Just read it for yourself.

I then decided to depart from fiction for a while and picked up Norah Vincent’s Self-Made Man. I actually watched a TV interview with her and heard another colleague – who’d read the book – talk about it, so I really had wanted to read this one for a while.

Vincent, a syndicated columnist, decided to go undercover as a man for a year, to really get a sense of the male experience. What she learned surprised her, not only about men, but about women, too. The experience also ends up affecting Vincent in a way that she didn’t even anticipate.

I thought this book was not only well-written, but I think it’s a book both men and women should read. There’s no bashing of the sexes here. Just frank, honest observations by an individual of one gender delving into the world of the other.

Last, but not least was this book – The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. I had heard about this book, but it’s taken me this long to get around to reading it. I was actually warned by the librarian checking out the book to me, “Get ready to cry.” I thought she was kidding. And believe me, I’m pretty sure I came close a couple times.

The book tells the tale of Amir, an ethnic Pashtun living in the United States, who returns to Afghanistan to make amends for an event that had happened earlier in his life. The narrative then akes the reader backwards in time to Afghanistan – Kabul, to be precise – and the life Amir leads with his father, and his poor Hazara friend/servant Ali and his little son, Hassan.

Hosseini’s was an Afghan-American, first-time novelist who took time off from his job as a doctor to write this book. And believe me, the time was well-spent. At the huge risk of sounding like a cliche, this book is breathtaking and heartbreaking. I’d seriously sometimes read a chunk of the book on my way to work, and by the time I’d closed the book, I’d get up stunned, trying to process what I’d just read. I seriously DON’T understand why this book didn’t win an award.

I don’t know if I plan on seeing the movie adaption when it comes out next year (because I don’t want to end up being one of those purists that kvetch when they cut parts of the book out), but I encourage anyone who hasn’t read this book: Read it. It’s that good.

That’s it for now. We’ll see if time allows me to do this again in about a month’s time. Happy reading!