Nolo's Essential Guide to Buying Your First Home

by Various
Published by NOLO
2011 3rd Edition

*Note that a new 4th edition came out in December 2012. My review is of the 3rd edition from 2011.

"... you want to make sure you don't find just any house - you find the right house, at the right price, with the right loan. A house you're happy to stay in for a long time, no matter what the market does. To do that, you need a lot of information."

Nolo is an online company of legal advisors who specialize in several things including real estate. Nolo's Essential Guide to Buying Your First Home is the only book you should get if you are in this particular stage in life. This guide is comprehensive, thorough, easy to understand and laid out in a very useful way. It was a surprise to me how much information I gleamed from reading, how it stuck with me and how I never found myself overwhelmed with information.

The book is divided into 15 chapters. In the beginning of the book even shows you how the chapters flow in a manner that is reminiscent of the home buying process. The chart is called "Navigating the path to your first home" and here are the chapters/steps:

1 - Learn the Benefits
2 - Decide what you want
3 - Make a budget
4- Check out the market
5- Choose professionals
6/7 - Get a mortgage
8/9 - Find your house
10 - Negotiate a deal
11/12/13 - Inspect, insure, prepare to move
14 - Seal the Deal
15 - Settle in

Each chapter has different names than the above but those are the basic steps from beginning to end. The chapters are written each by different experts who specialize in the topic at hand. It begins with an introduction to the author, their credentials and their home buying experience. Then it proceeds by laying out all the information in a very thorough yet concise manner. There are breaks for Tips, "Check it Out" which references to outside sources for more information (some on, some elsewhere on the internet), little quizzes, fun trivia, quotes, and more. I particularly liked the regular feature "best thing we ever did" which gives personal insights to situations that were salvaged by some smart moves. These were very enlightening and provided some very useful tips. The book covers every possible scenario, good and bad, and how it should be handled.

The edition I read, while from 2011 was a little outdated, not in the real estate advice but in terms of technology. It had mentioned MySpace as a leading social network. This is quite an outdated error even in 2011. Also, the 3rd edition comes with a CD-ROM with forms and charts to download. The 4th edition directs users to download the same forms on and ditches the CD-ROM altogether. While I am still nostalgic for the days of CD-ROM, thanks to companies like Apple these will be completely obsolete soon. I also noticed that the book needs a good proofreader who can change all mentions of things listed "below" when they are really on the next page.

If you are buying a home for the first time, you need to get this book. It's really essential. I am in the unique position in that I am buying my first home yet helping my husband sell his current place, where we live now. The book doesn't give advice on how to sell and buy at the same time since this is exclusively for first time home buyers. I recommend pairing this book with several viewings of HGTV's show My First Place. I also recommend reading Nolo's book all the way through once then using it later as a resource. It good to absorb as much information as you can but no one will expect to you to memorize it, so that's when having this book on hand will prove useful.

Publisher Giveaways on Goodreads

The Goodreads First Reads Giveaway program gives away thousands of books each year. Since anyone can just give away any book the list tends to be populated with a self-published stuff. Also,
a lot of very eager authors put up their books hoping for reviews.

Personally, I prefer to sign up for a giveaway that is run by a publisher or publicist. I feel like they are a neutral party because they understand that with good reviews there are bad reviews.  They also won't be stalking you on Goodreads as an eager self-published author might. (No offense to all the lovely authors who do not exhibit this behavior!).

Goodreads doesn't provide any way to weed out the author/self-published  from the traditional publisher giveaways. LibraryThing does a great job at that (Early Reviewers versus Member Giveaway). I really wanted to keep track of the publisher created giveaways so I created a list!

Note that some publishers might not have any giveaways open currently and the list includes past giveaways. Also some of the links below are to the company's publicist's giveaways and are not branded with the company name. I like to check this list regularly to see what's available for giveaway now and what's coming up.

WARNING: If you do participate in these giveaways, be prepared to review the book! Don't just enter to get a free book that you can put away on your bookshelves and let gather dust. These publishers want reviews and are willing to give you a free copy of a book in exchange for one. So make sure you review the book and prioritize reading it! Don't abuse the system.

I will update this list as I find more publishers to include.

[Updated 12/20/12]

Atria (Simon & Schuster)
Beacon Press
Blue Rider Press
Candlewick Press
CBSD Library
Cedar Fort
Center Street
Counterpoint Press

Crown (Random House)
DC Comics
Doubleday (Random House)
Duke University Press
Europa Editions
Farrar, Strauss & Giroux
Free Press
G.P. Putnam & Sons
Gallery Books
Gotham Avery
Grand Central #1
Grand Central #2
Grove Atlantic
Harper Audio
Harper Books
Harper Children's
Harper Perennial
Harper Teen
Henry Holt 
It Books (Harper Collins)
Knopf (Random House)
Linden Press
Little Brown 
Medallion Press 
Melville House
Mulholland Books
New Harbringer Publications
Orbit Books
Penguin Press
Penguin Teen
Permanent Press
Picador USA
Pocket Books
Princeton University Press
Quirk Books
Random House (Various Imprints) 
Random House (Main Imprint)
Riverhead Books (Penguin)
Riverhead Trade (Penguin)
Simon & Schuster
Simon Pulse
Soho Press
St. Martin's Press #1 (MacMillan)
St. Martin's Press #2 (MacMillan)
St. Martin's Press #3 (MacMillan)
Thomas Nelson Fiction
TinHouse Books
Tor Books
Touchstone (Simon & Schuster)
Tundra Books
Unbridled Books
Viking Books
Vintage/Anchor (Random House)
Walnut Springs
Weldon Owen Publishing
William Morrow
W.W. Norton
Zest Books

The Disenchanted by Budd Schulberg

The Disenchanted by Budd Schulberg
University of Minnesota Press
Originally Published 1950

"... a fugitive from the Twenties... you jokers went off on one long tear and left us to pay the check. And you don't seem to know yet that the party is over."

Budd Schulberg was a screenwriter known for his screenplay of the critically acclaimed film On the Waterfront (1954). Schulberg also wrote novels including The Disenchanted which was published in 1950 and recently reprinted by University of Minnesota Press. The novel is based on the experience Schulberg had working with the troubled genius F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Producer Walter Wanger hired Budd Schulberg to assist F. Scott Fitzgerald in writing a screenplay about the Winter Carnivals at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire. Schulberg was a recent alumni. The movie was to be Winter Carnival (1939)The whole experience made quite an impact on Schulberg that he decided to fictionalize the experience in The Disenchanted.

In the novel, Shep is a young writer in Hollywood who is still wet behind the ears and has just been assigned to work with the great T. Manley Halliday (known as just Manley Halliday) on the collegiate winter romance Love on Ice. Manley is a prestigious writer with numerous successful novels and screenplays to his credits. But by 1939, most of his books are out of print and he's hanging by a thread: the fleeting recognition of his name and illustrious career. Manley is working on a manuscript for his next great novel but he's in desperate need of money to buy him the time to finish it. So he reluctantly takes on working with Shep on Love on Ice and is officially hired by producer Victor Milgrim.

Manley is diabetic and has been on the wagon for a few years. He's been divorced for years from the love and scourge of his life Jere. His assistant and sort-of mistress Ann Loeb helps him daily and keeps him on the straight and narrow. When Manley boards the plane with Shep from L.A. to N.Y. and Shep pours the first glass from a bottle of champagne, it's all over. Manley goes on a bender and Shep assumes various roles of assistant, writer and parent to Manley. Shep struggles between the feelings of admiration for Manley's magnificent literary and movie successes and the shell of a man he sees before him. Throughout the novel we follow Manley and Shep on their crazy adventure to get Love on Ice written before they arrive on location for filming. There are also flashbacks in which we learn more about Manley's life. His early career, his love affair with the troubled Jere and the days just before he leaves L.A. on the trip.

The Disenchanted is a captivating novel about a doomed project between two writers at opposite ends of their careers. I highly recommend this novel to classic film fans especially those who love fiction. It's fun to spot the names of real actors, actresses and films as well as to figure out the reference made by fictionalized ones. I really loved the theme of old versus young as I think that is a conflict that is very relevant today especially with new technology making age gaps even bigger. Reading it was at some points a bit of a drag mostly because of Manley's antics. But I think what I was experiencing was a bit of the same emotion Shep was feeling towards Manley: frustration and disenchantment.

Read my more movie based review at my classic film blog Out of the Past.

Disclaimer: Thank you to the University of Minnesota Press for sending me this book to review!

Book Haul (1)

From top to bottom:

Young Man With a Horn by Dorothy Baker

I love the movie from 1950 which stars Kirk Douglas, Lauren Bacall and Doris Day, all of whom are still alive today (as of December 2012). I wanted to try reading the novel for a few reasons. My love for the movie, the fact that it's one of the first jazz novels and the influence of women writers on Hollywood.

I want to read more early Twentieth Century fiction especially novels which were adapted into movies. I asked on Twitter which Raymond Chandler book I should read first and folks recommended Farewell, My Lovely.

I have been suffering from bad migraines for a couple of years now so I thought it would be good to learn more about them. Also, Eva from A Striped Armchair raves about Oliver Sacks so I thought I'd try out one of his books.

Bookish Resolutions for 2013

1) Participate in a Reading Challenge or start one of my own - I'm thinking of either joining up a non-fiction challenge because I'm already part of a 5 year classics club challenge so I have fiction covered. Or start my own challenge. I have two ideas. "Read Your Own Library" challenge in which participants try to tackle the books that have been neglected in their own personal library. I know I bought way too many books in 2012 and my own library has too many unread books in it for my liking. Another is a "Classic Film Book Challenge" in which I ask participants to read one classic film related book a month and review it either on their blog or on social media.

2) Make a Dent in my Personal Library's Unread Book Pile - Tied in with the above Read Your Own Library challenge idea. I really need to do this one way or the other.

3) Buy Fewer Books & Swap - I just have too many and no space for more. If I do buy any new books, I need to get rid of older ones to make space for the new.

4) Read More - I had planned to read 75 books in 2012 but with wedding planning, illness and general stress I ended up reading less than 60 which is a woeful number. I'll set my Goodreads 2013 Challenge for 75 books. If by the 4th quarter I'm doing really well and have surpassed me goal, I'll bump it up to 100.

5) Schedule Times for Reading - I squeeze in reading whenever I can but I really need to plan dedicated reading times either in the evenings or on the weekends. Good blocks of time just for reading. I would get a lot more books read that way!

6) More Reviews - Now that I'll have some more free time in 2013 I want to get a lot more reviews up here on my book blog and on my movie and food blogs.

7) Read a Novel in Spanish - I have a couple at home and I think this would be really good for practicing my Spanish and improving my literacy in that language.

8) Purchase a Jose Saramago novel that is in the original Portuguese - The holy grail! Online and in stores I can only find his work translated into English or Spanish. The original Portuguese is impossible to find. I have family in Portugal and am seriously considering sending them money for Saramago books in Portuguese in return.

9) Read at least 10 Classics - I'm very behind on my Classics Club Challenge of 50 classics in 5 years. If I read at least 10 next year, and maybe more, I can catch up.

10) Putting Down the iPhone - My iPhone is quite an addictive device. I have it by my side constantly and I use it on a regular basis. I feel like this takes away from potential reading time. One of my personal goals for 2013 is to use it less. When I'm reading, it's nice to have it by my side if I want to look up something but I really should be leaving it another room so as to not distract me.

Other hopes for 2013 
Read a mid-twentieth century novel
Read a science and/or math book
Participate in the Science Book Club on Goodreads
Catch up on a lot of my classic film reading

What are your bookish resolutions for 2013?

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