Recommended Reads For The Modern Gal Monday, Aug 16 2010 

There is absolutely nothing that beats the luxurious experience of reading a good book. A book can offer escapism, knowledge, fantasy and fun. It can save you from a bad mood or monotonous day in one articulately written sentence. It can also give you access to thoughts and ideas that you have never touched on before, and at times things that not only teach you but can make you a better person.

Now, I’m not going to go on to tell you to read Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream, or Emily Brontës Wuthering Heights (though both true gems and are classics for a reason!) I am here to recommend a few books that I believe most young women should read – for different reasons.

Can You Keep a Secret? by Sophie Kinsella (NZD$24.99 from Fishpond)

This is a hilarious, fluffy read for the “in-between” girls out there that are no longer teens, but not yet saddled with a mortgage/husband/2.5 kiddies etc. The heroine, the incorrigible Emma Corrigan, is a bubbly, early twenties girl with aspirations of a perfect life. There’s one problem – she tells little white lies to everyone she knows. To her boyfriend (he thinks she is several sizes smaller than she actually is), to her parents (she killed their goldfish, but replaced it before they cottoned on!), to her colleagues (never admits that it’s her that keeps breaking the photocopier) and so on and so forth. This is a fabulously funny book, adorably romantic but also highlights the failings of our society on the up and coming generation. The fact Emma can’t admit the small flaws to herself and the people around her, that she needs to skew things to make herself feel more of a success, is something I see in people every day. This is a good rainy day read, not too heavy, but I think has a good message to it.

Can You Keep A Secret? by Sophie Kinsella

The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pick-up Artists by Neil Strauss (NZD$39.99 from Fishpond)

Now, you may be wondering why the hell I would recommend this kind of book to women. Basically, knowledge is power, right ladies?

I heard about this particular book during a conversation with a male friend. He told me about Neil Strauss, a nerdy writer who couldn’t find love and so took it upon himself to meet the Masters of Seduction around the world. This book tells the story of how he became a part of this bizarre secret society, who he met and what he learned. (There are other books by Strauss that are more dating self-help types, but I think this one gives the better picture.)

Basically, this book goes through how a society of men have developed ways to manipulate women into sleeping with them. Ugly, boring, nervous, creepy, skinny, fat, sleazy, shy – no matter what the drawback of the male, these Masters of Seduction were able to show these ill-equipped men how to bed hot ladies that normally wouldn’t notice them. I read this book with utter fascination – was it possible for women to be manipulated this way? Certainly tricks and lines, gestures and clothing couldn’t get us to fall for someone totally not our type – right?! Well, as I read, I got that sinking gut feeling. Though not all of the tricks would work on all of us, there was real merit in what he was saying. I am glad I read this book – purely so I now know what to look out for! Ladies, beware.

The Game by Neil Strauss

He’s just not that into you by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo (NZD$23.99 from Fishpond)

I would be extremely surprised if you haven’t heard of this book already. It was a phenomenon a few years back, even made it onto Oprah! There has also been a movie made about it, and many a female discussion revolving around it’s teachings.

Basically, this book goes on the list because I know too many gals that haven’t read it when they really should have. This is a must read. A dating bible if you will. It’s not heavy, it’s not all about loving ones inner self. It’s a friendly prod to say – Girl, you are great, but if that guy isn’t asking you out? He DOESN’T WANT YOU! A little bit harsh, perhaps. But sometimes we need a bit of a slap in the face. I know too many girls who justify not getting a text from “that guy” for weeks, because maybe he lost his phone, or maybe he’s really busy, or or… You get the point. This book is brilliant. Makes you laugh, makes you cringe with self realisation, makes you open your eyes to the realities of dating. If he doesn’t call you, he doesn’t like you. If he only calls you at 3am for a drunken stopover after town, he just wants to f#%& you. Plain and simple. You’d think we could figure all of this out on our own, but sadly, when you mix emotions in with a woman’s thought processes, everything goes a bit whack. Hence, why all ladies should read this book!

Seriously!

He's Just Not That Into You by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo

So there you have it… One book that is light and fluffy, one that depicts the inner workings of seriously screwed up men, and one that guides us poor ladies into the dating light (if you will).

Enjoy! More to come…

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Hugh Grant – My Foppish Older Man Crush Sunday, Apr 4 2010 

We all know who Hugh Grant is. He’s the lovable jerk, Daniel Cleaver, from the movie’s Bridget Jones’s Diary 1 & 2. He is the dorky sap from Mickey Blue Eyes, and the foppish English dweeb from the famous Four Weddings And A Funeral. Over his long-spanning acting career, and a successful one at that, he has racked up countless roles that have showcased his acting talent, wittiness, ingenious facial expressions and great hair. (I’m sorry, but he does, even if he is stuck in the past with his chosen styles!)

Born Hugh John Mungo Grant on September the 9th 1960, in Hammersmith, London, he earned himself a scholarship to esteemed Oxford University where he enrolled in acting courses. Since then, his career has been on the up and up. His roles aren’t usually serious, gritty journey’s; he often portrays affable, eccentric and witty characters that you can’t help but fall in love with. His most common film trend is that of the leading man in a romantic comedy – working alongside actresses such as Drew Barrymore, Mandy Moore, Andy MacDowell, Julia Roberts, Emma Thompson and Sandra Bullock to name but a few.

He’s also the guy who got caught with prostitute Divine Brown in 1995, whilst dating Elizabeth Hurley. (He was consequently arrested for lewd behavior and fined.) Which isn’t exactly sexy buutttt…

I’m coming out of the closet here. Hugh Grant is my all time older man crush. From his quaffed hair, sparkling blue eyes and crooked grin, to his sexy English accent, his ability to be so witty and lovable onscreen and his quirky personality. I just can’t help but fall for him all over again whenever I watch one of his films. Age difference much? But I don’t care! Haha, he just does it for me!

Every girl I know has an older man crush (George Clooney being the most common!) and Hugh is mine. YUM-O!

Hugh Grant

Hugh Grant

Hugh Grant

Hugh Grant

My Top Ten Movie and TV Couples Sunday, Dec 6 2009 

So, I was out the other day, and overheard someone going on about couples in literature that had changed romance and relationships as we know it. Too true, and a very interesting topic. It got me thinking about the couples on TV and in movies that had influences ME, and came up with the following list. This is probably very generational, but hey.

1) Bella Swan and Edward Cullen from the Twilight Saga movies and books – Now, everyone knows Twilight. And most women who have seen the movies and/or read the books, just melt at the idea of Edward Cullen. Sure he’s a vampire, but he is also dark and tormented, which women invariably love. (Maybe we all wish for the challenge of being able to soothe his pain? I know I do!) Plus he is an utter gentleman who never deviates from loving Bella, a girl who is, even in her own words, ordinary. Their relationship is deep, full of pain and temptation, with both of them only wishing for a life with each other. This is the kind of relationship most women dream about – complicated, loyal, complete. So it probably wouldn’t work in real life, but thats not the point now, is it? 

Bella Swan and Edward Cullen

 

2) Fox Mulder and Dana Scully from the TV and movie phenomenon The X-Files – Now these two characters played on the edge of innuendo for eight seasons before their first “real kiss” (they almost kiss in the first X-Files movie, but Scully is stung by an genetically modified bee before their lips could lock) let fans finally see their favourite characters move towards the relationship they were born to have. Two complete opposites – Mulder the believer in the unexplained and Scully the scientist the believer in cold, hard fact – they weren’t really suited to being partnered together in the FBI, and yet found an even ground where they balanced each other out. Their deep trust in each other, their respect and friendship, strengthens their characters bond over the years. Each continuously saves the other from peril and death, and despite many disagreements and varying beliefs, never turn their backs on each other. The romantic angle is built up excruciatingly slowly over the seasons, never blatant, but always there enough through furtive looks and body language. Theirs is a relationship of utter truth and trust, of danger and respect. 

Fox Mulder and Dana Scully

 

3) Ross Geller and Rachel Green from the hit TV show Friends – Here is a couple that truly shaped a generation. The up and down relationship between Ross and Rachel is well known to all. Ross’ character always held a flame for Rachel from their High School days, and ten years later when they come to be in the same group of friends, that spark is still there. Over the many seasons you see Ross and Rachel fall in love, fight, get jealous, go on a break and ultimately break up. They both go on to date other people, but with at least one of them still nursing strong feelings for the other at any given time. They struggle with letting the other move on, Ross even getting married to another woman at one point much to Rachels heartbreak, but he stuffs it up at the alter by mistakenly naming Rachel in his vows as opposed to his wife-to-be. They go through copious amounts of real-life situations together, as well as the ludicrous, but always come through it with a strong sense of friendship, respect and ultimately, love. By the last episode of the last season, Ross and Rachel have come to find they cannot live without the other. (Which is great because by then they have a kid together, from a passionate “one more time”) A modern, deprecating look at love in this day and age – along with being hilariously rediculous!

Ross Geller and Rachel Green

 

4) Max Evans and Liz Parker from the TV show Roswell – Not everyone was a fan of Roswell, but I certainly was. It focused on Roswell, New Mexico (you know, where the 1947 UFO crash was supposed to have happened and the US government covered it up?) and three aliens that came down with the UFO. Crashing to earth in the guise of kids, the show opens on them as teenagers who have been adopted into the human world. Max is the unofficial leader of this band of aliens, whose goal is solely to find out where they came from and why they ended up on earth. Liz is a popular, sweet High School student who one day see’s Max for what he is when he saves her from being shot in a freak accident. Liz and Max quickly fall hopelessly in love with each other, both fascinated by the other to the extreme. Liz (and eventually some of her human friends) helps Max and the others search for the answers they need, cementing her place in his life. There is nothing they wont do for each other, despite their obvious differences. It’s a deep, very sweet, one of a kind type relationship. In a way doomed, but also pregnant with possibilities.

Max Evans and Liz Parker

 

5) Buffy Anne Summers and Angel (aka Angelus) from the award winning TV show Buffy The Vampire Slayer (and the Spinoff Angel) – Buffy and Angel is one of the most heartbreaking unions ever created for TV, in my opinion. Buffy, a vampire slayer, and Angel, the vampire with a soul, have obvious complications from the start. Despite their deep and honest love for each other, they face both disgust from those around them, and danger due to who and what they are. They “meet” in season one, and go on to fall hopelessly for each other, despite their better judgement. By season two, Angel loses his soul when his curse is lifted due to one moment of happiness – a night in Buffy’s arms. He turns evil, and starts killing the people Buffy cares about and wreaking havoc on the town in general. He tries to end the world and Buffy is forced to kill him and send him into a hell dimension to stop this from happening, causing her to break down. Angel returns in season three by The Powers That Be, but after tortuous months trying to be with Buffy but unable to “Be” with Buffy, Angel leaves Sunnydale to start a new life in LA. But over all of the Buffy seasons and the Angel (spinoff) seasons, neither of them ever finds love again quite like what they had. They both take on partners, but it always comes back to wanting to be with each other. It is true love, dark and filled with pain, and given up due to their responsibilities to keep others safe. It doesn’t have a happy ending as they never really let go of each other, never truly move on, and so are forever doomed to be detached to whomever they are with in the meantime. But ahhh… So sexy!

Buffy Summers and Angel

 

6) Marge and Homer Simpson from the animated TV show The Simpsons – Okay okay, they aren’t “real people”, but they are an extremely famous TV couple, are they not? Their marriage is one of uneven footing, with Marge being attractive and sensible, and Homer being a bit of a lovable, idiotic slob. Homer creates more trouble than he is worth, throwing the Simpson family often into upheaval (losing the house, getting fired from his job, gambling away all of their money etc) but Marge ALWAYS stands by him. She gets frustrated, she gets upset and worried – sometimes gets even! – but she always supports Homer and helps him get them back on track. They love each other, and Homer often reminds himself how very lucky he is to have Marge as his wife, and Marge is constantly having to remember that her love for him is more important than the amount of crap he creates for her. Great, hilarious couple. It may be a cartoon, but I think their relationship is quite poignant. 

Marge and Homer Simpson

 

7) Carrie Bradshaw and Mr. Big from the TV series (and recently, box office movie) Sex and the City – The relationship between Carrie and Big is one many can relate to. Both with their twenties long behind them, they face all the pressures of life – careers, ex’s, their expectations of relationships – which invariably get between them. Their relationship is realistic in the sense that despite the fact their feelings for each other are true and passionate, they often let everything else come in the way. Dramatic, filled with hurt and betrayal, their relationship is one that seemingly should work, but never does. Of course, everyone around them pushes them to move on, get away from each other and find happiness with more appropriate people. This works on and off over the series many seasons, but inevitably they end up back in each others arms. Their relationship isn’t perfect, their characters are flawed and often selfish, but at the end of the day they love each other. They like each other. By the end of the last episode of the last season, the two of them deicide that being together is the only thing that really matters – even if it is going to be a lifetime of hard work! This relationship is a great example of modern day couples facing the stresses of work, money, appearance and acceptance – all the while getting older!

Carrie Bradshaw and Mr Big

8 ) Henry Roth and Lucy Whitmore from the movie 50 First Dates – This is a comedy, and not even a particularly big budget film. Henry is a laid back, commitment-phobic ladies man who is quite happy being a bachelor and living on the beautiful Island of Hawaii. That is, until he meets Lucy by chance one day in a diner. Lucy is beautiful and quirky, funny and sweet – and he falls for her almost immediately. But then he finds out the horrible truth about her – years before she was in a terrible car accident and suffered a serious head injury, and every day she wakes up she thinks it is the day before the accident, and every night her memory resets itself and she forgets everything she did that day and starts again. Obviously, a relationship with Lucy would seem impossible, especially for a guy who has never been in a serious relationship with anyone. But the absolute beauty of this movie is the journey Henry goes through as he falls more and more in love with Lucy and decides no matter how hard it got, just being with her was worth it. So every day, he sets about making her fall in love with him all over again. He creates albums,videos and diaries of their times together, puts this woman above his own wants and needs for the first time in his life. Lucy, on the other hand, struggles every day with new and fresh guilt, with confusion, but ultimately falls in love with him by the end of each day. This is a uniquely sad and equally funny movie that tugs at your heartstrings. 

Henry Roth and Lucy Whitmore

 

9)  Frances ‘Baby’ Houseman and Johnny Castle from the movie Dirty Dancing – Dirty Dancing is one of those iconic movies that everybody has seen and almost everyone loves. It’s set in the 1960’s, and Baby and her family arrive at a resort in upstate New York’s Catskill Mountains for a holiday. Baby is an ambitious, intelligent and slightly bookish 17 year old with aspirations to join the Peace Corps before marrying a Doctor just like her Father. To kill time at the resort, she starts a few dance classes and finds she has an interest in it. And then she meets Johnny, one of the resorts dance instructors. He is gorgeous, he is sexy, and he dances like no one she has ever seen before. In the repressed 1960’s, Baby has never witnessed the dirty style dancing that Johnny does, but she is drawn to him and to his dancing style. They are thrown together as dance partners due to Baby trying to help another resort worker, and from there an impossible romance blossoms. They dance, and you can see the passion flaring between them. They talk, and Baby’s eyes are opened to a much harsher world than she has ever known, while Johnny is suddenly hopeful at a future, pushed by Baby. Their love is one that struggles with their differing socioeconomic groups, with their varying views on the wold and people as a whole, but their love is so pure it washes everything else aside. It is a coming of age love, and a beautiful one at that.

Frances "Baby" Houseman and Johnny Castle

 

10) Sam Wheat and Molly Jensen from the movie Ghost – Another famous flick, and if you haven’t watched it your life is most certainly lacking. Sam and Molly are a couple that are happy and have just moved in together. While Molly is openly in love with Sam, Sam is still a little bit reserved and hasn’t quite worked up to the “I love you” bit yet, and instead replies “Ditto” whenever she says it. While walking home together one night from the theatre, they are accosted in a dark alleyway and Sam is shot and killed. Obviously, this puts an early end to their relationship, and Molly is devastated. Sam, on the other hand, becomes a ghost and chooses to stay as an earth-bound spirit rather than moving on because he can’t yet let go of Molly. As he watches over her, he also starts to piece together that his murder didn’t happen by chance and that now Molly is in danger too. He finds a woman that can see and hear him in his new form and begs for her help him save Molly from an untimely end. He does everything he possibly can, and runs the gamut of emotions, to keep the woman he loves safe. By the end of the movie there is no question how very much he loves Molly, and their connection is beautiful, epic and worth a bit of a cry. They really are soulmates.

Sam Wheat and Molly Jensen

So, there you have it! My top ten screen-based romances. Hopefully you learned something, or at the very least went “Awwwwwwww” 🙂