The Sunday List of Dreams

( 13 )


Connie Nixon is no stranger to making lists. In fact, she has rewritten the list of her deepest desires no fewer than forty-eight times. And each Sunday, for as long as she can remember, she’s tinkered with it. But actually doing something about her desires is a different story—until the night she comes across a box belonging to her estranged daughter…and makes a stunning discovery. It turns out that her seemingly straitlaced Jessica is part owner of one of the most successful ...

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Connie Nixon is no stranger to making lists. In fact, she has rewritten the list of her deepest desires no fewer than forty-eight times. And each Sunday, for as long as she can remember, she’s tinkered with it. But actually doing something about her desires is a different story—until the night she comes across a box belonging to her estranged daughter…and makes a stunning discovery. It turns out that her seemingly straitlaced Jessica is part owner of one of the most successful sex toy shops in America.

Shocked by her daughter’s secret life, Connie tucks her list in her back pocket and does something utterly impulsive: she hops on a plane to New York City to track down Jessica—and winds up on the wildest adventure of her life. Because with her daughter’s help, Connie’s about to let her own inner bombshell see the light of day.

Now, for the first time ever, things are flying off Connie’s list. Like reconnecting with her daughter. And getting tipsy before noon. And the most startlingly extraordinary desire of all: falling in love.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“A paean to womanhood, a celebration of friends, of family and, last but hardly least, of female libido. Kris Radish creates characters that seek and then celebrate the discovery of a kind of women's innate power often hidden by fear. “—Denver Post
Publishers Weekly
With her retirement looming, nurse Connie Nixon is preparing a "list of dreams" to accomplish once she's out of the working week. Revised 48 times by her retirement date, Connie's structured quest to let loose provides the opportunity for Radish (Annie Freeman's Fabulous Traveling Funeral) to spin an inspirational story about making amends and the power of mother-daughter love. Connie's list contains run-of-the mill things like "stop setting the alarm clock" and "write more thank-you notes" and mildly daring to-do's like buying a convertible and drinking wine before noon. It is, however, the confluence of two list items, "maybe sex" and "recapture Jessica," that pushes Connie to rejuvenate her relationship with youngest daughter Jessica, who moved from hometown Indiana to New York three years ago and has since become the "CEO and part owner of... one of the most successful sex-toy stores in the United States of America." Connie travels to the Big Apple, and the two women reconnect in an unexpected way: Jessica puts Connie to work in the sex toy business. Every page contains a warm fuzzy. (Jan.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780553383980
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 1/23/2007
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 792,459
  • Product dimensions: 5.15 (w) x 8.19 (h) x 0.85 (d)

Meet the Author

Kris Radish

Kris Radish is the author of seven books. Her Bantam novels, The Elegant Gathering of White Snows, Dancing Naked at the Edge of Dawn, Annie Freeman’s Fabulous Traveling Funeral, The Sunday List of Dreams, and Searching for Paradise in Parker, PA, have been on bestseller and Book Sense 76 Selection lists.

She travels frequently throughout the country speaking about women’s issues, the value of female friendships, and the importance of personal empowerment, as well as the necessity for laughter, a terrific glass of wine, lying quietly in the summer grass, embracing kindness, following the path in your own heart and no one else’s, and having fun at almost all costs.

Kris lives in Wisconsin with her partner. She is joined occasionally by a college-age son and daughter—who appear when it’s time to wash clothes or eat a regular meal—and is happily cruising through life on her Yamaha 1200 Classic VStar, her Trek bicycle, a treadmill, a pair of orange-laced walking shoes, and with gallons of calcium and about a hundred notebooks for her novel, short-story, poetry, and journalism ideas.

She is also working on her sixth novel, The Shortest Distance Between Two Women, which Bantam will publish in 2009.


Nationally syndicated columnist Kris Radish has taken a somewhat winding road to her current status as bestselling feminist novelist, although a strong love of fiction has been in her blood since childhood. "I fell in love with words when I was a little girl (and yes I was short once) and discovered the joy of reading and hanging out with Nancy Drew," she explains on her web site. "By the beginning of eighth grade I had read every book in St. Joseph's Grade School library and knew I was going to be a writer."

Radish did not start out writing the kinds of tales she loved as a girl. She began in the more practical realm of journalism, which lead her to write her first book. Run, Bambi, Run is the true story of Laurie Bombenek, an ex-cop/ex-Playboy bunny who was sentenced to life in prison for murder. Bombenek's fascinating story—which included a daring prison break and her subsequent recapture—was adapted into an equally riveting and critically acclaimed true-crime book by Radish.

Now with her first taste of the publishing world, Radish began work on her second book. The Birth Order Effect was quite different from her debut and miles away from the fiction she would eventually pen. Instead, it is a serious but lively discussion of birth-order and how it affects human psychology and development. Ultimately, The Birth Order Effect would take ten years to see publication, putting Radish's publishing career on hold for that length of time. By the time it finally hit bookstore shelves in 2002, Radish had shifted gears again and would never suffer such a hiatus again. The same year that The Birth Order Effect saw publication, Radish published her breakthrough work of fiction The Elegant Gathering of White Snows, the mysterious, hypnotic story of eight Wisconsin women who embark upon a pilgrimage. As they travel, each woman's story is revealed and the bonds between them strengthen. The Elegant Gathering of White Snows established Radish as an important new voice in feminist fiction and there would be no turning back from there.

Dancing Naked at the Edge of Dawn, the story of a wife and mother who sets upon her own journey toward self-actualization after finding her husband in bed with another woman, followed. Next up was Annie Freeman's Fabulous Traveling Funeral, another road novel in the vein of The Elegant Gathering of White Snows. By this point, Radish had gathered quite a following of devoted readers, all of her novels having found their ways onto bestseller lists throughout the United States. The Sunday List of Dreams, her next effort, was no different. It is a funny, moving, sometimes ribald tale of a woman who reconnects with her estranged daughter, who now runs a successful sex shop in New York City.

After the somewhat tentative journey toward her current success, Radish promises that she has many more stories to tell. "I write full-time because I never, not once, let go of the dream I had to do this," she says. "To put all my manic words into sentences and then string the sentences into paragraphs so that they could become chapters and then a book."

Good To Know

Even though Radish is enjoying tremendous success as a novelist, she still writes "two nationally syndicated columns each week—for DBR Media, Inc. and a regionally syndicated column in southeastern Wisconsin for Community Newspapers," as she explains on her web site.

Along with her many literary and journalistic accomplishments, Radish is an accomplished motorcycle rider.

While getting her career in journalism started, Radish worked a huge number of odd jobs. By her own account, she worked as a "professional Girl Scout, waitress, bartender, journalist, bureau chief, columnist, window washer, factory worker, bowling alley attendant and once, honest, I crawled on my belly through a Utah mountain field to harvest night crawlers."

Some fun and fascinating outtakes from our interview with Radish:

"I've skied with Robert Redford, been shot at while flying over Bosnia, almost drowned in a flash flood in the middle of a desert, worked undercover, interviewed murderers, and covered a national disaster that buried a town."

"Once I really did crawl through a mountain field to pick night crawlers for extra money…actually it was more than once."

"When I was a working journalist someone was stalking me for a very long period of time. It was terrifying. To end it, I worked with the local police and I still have tape recordings of this person's voice."

"I answer all my own emails—which often takes hours but I do this because I have such a fabulous group of readers and if they honor me with a note—with their own stories—with something from their heart…well, I have to answer them. I just have to."

"Here are some of the things I love to do: Yoga and biking and I have recently rediscovered my passion for golf—honest—watch for the Kris Radish Open. I swim, and following a severe back injury am living with a ruptured L-5 but am kicking it in the rear end by working out at least five days a week and have recently—well, over the past five months—lost almost 20 pounds."

"I love to hike and often get some great inspiration when I am out hiking with my notebook. I adore the sounds of the outdoors and would live outside if I could—sleep with the window open year round."

"Three years ago I got my motorcycle license and after two years on a put-put bought a new Yamaha. Hope to put some more miles on it in between deadlines and books and kids and hitting the golf ball and…"

"Laughter is the key to everything. I love to laugh and drink wine and walk in the rain and I find kindness and intelligence two of the most attractive traits on earth."

"I need a glass of wine now—maybe two."

"Read Radish and live your list of dreams—just go for it, baby."

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    1. Hometown:
      Oconomowoc, Wisconsin
    1. Date of Birth:
      September 18, 1953
    2. Place of Birth:
      Milwaukee, Wisconsin
    1. Education:
      B.A., University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 1975
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

1. Stop being afraid.

Connie Nixon’s house starts talking to her at 9:51 p.m. on a Wednesday.

She has just finished pawing through her heart and examining the long lines of desire that parade through her body like an endless roll of string and tangle in a knot inside her chest. Her left hand is holding the knot, loosened briefly by means of the pen in her right hand that has translated her dreams into the list. The 48th list. Connie Franklin Nixon’s list of dreams.

Connie’s list-making tonight has been assisted by one and then two glasses of red wine–a really nice dry cabernet from Australia–and she is trying to decide if she should have another glass. This would push her way over the halfway mark, as far as her usual alcohol consumption goes, and into a semi-critical “what the hell” state that she associates with the early stages of drunken folly, Saturday nights on her sister’s back porch and the good old days, which did not last long enough.

Three seconds of hesitation is enough and Connie Nixon rolls over, lets the pages of her list fold against each other, drops the pen, grabs the gorgeous dark red bottle off her book-laden nightstand and pours the wine into the rounded, clear glass so close to the top that she has to lean over and sip it before she can actually pick up the glass.

That exact moment is when she hears the house speaking.

“What?” she whispers out loud. As if she is answering the walls that seem to be speaking. “What did you say?”

She pauses. Her top lip is swimming in wine and her bottom lip has wedged itself against the smooth glass, her breath in a holding pattern. Six years alone in this house have left her on more-than-intimate terms with every squeak, roof sway, late-night foundation settling creak, gutter birds, falling limbs, and an assortment of other sounds that are as familiar to Connie as a rushing waterfall might be to someone on an enchanted vacation. Even before those six years, when the girls were still romping through the house, climbing in through unlocked windows after curfew and sliding their tricycles, bicycles, cars and motorcycles into the garage door from dawn to dusk, there was a rhythm to the sounds, a symphony of life, a ballet of movement that signaled a house settling in around its family, the arms of the walls wrapping them close and keeping the rain and snow off the beds and dressers and the kitchen table.

The sound Connie hears now, however, is a distant voice, a faint indistinguishable rumble that tangos itself into a kind of hum. It is highlighted by a hint of music, as if someone has left a radio playing at the far edge of the basement. It echoes and sways as if it is about to snuff itself out and, when Connie pauses, unmoving, not frightened but a bit confused about its origin, the sound does not change or grow or stop or turn into something else. “Maybe,” she speculates. ”Maybe the list has started to speak.”

Connie drinks half the glass in one gulp and swings her legs off the edge of the bed. Accustomed to sleeping in whatever she happens to be wearing at the moment she falls into bed, Connie makes certain that if she has to avert disaster she can do so with at least partial dignity. When she looks down, she sees that she has on an old navy-colored t-shirt that will at the very least come to her knees when she stands up and, peeking out from the left side, where she has her foot raised, a pair of cotton underwear, original color unknown, present color something just this side of an old gray sock, frayed like hell along the edge of the stretched elastic.

Peril, disaster, trauma, the unknown–none of those things totally frighten Connie Nixon. She adores silence, most unexpected events, the way the simple shift of the wind can change everything. Death rolls into her hands on a daily basis at her hospital–she says “her” as if she owns the place and indeed she has worked there as if she has owned it for 33 years, night and day, tirelessly, with passion and compassion. Her real fears, the ones she has acknowledged, have been translated into the list she now holds in her hand.

“Ha,” she thinks, standing quietly at the side of her bed and totally focused on the sound she hears. “What could this be?”

She pauses there, unafraid, hands on hips, listening. The whisper of sound returns. Connie smiles to herself because she thinks the walls may be singing. When she lifts her head, she can see her reflection in the mirror that has hung above the old black dresser for 28 years. “I’m not dead and just imagining this,” she tells herself out loud. Mystified by the now-constant humming, Connie listens hard. She decides to check every corner of the house.

First she leans across her nightstand, missing the lamp and maneuvering past the books, places her hands against the wall, and then turns her head to press her ear flat against it. She listens. Hears nothing.

Stepping over stacks of books, a pile of magazines, three empty water glasses and last week’s wine bottle, Connie manages to get to the door of her own bedroom without falling over a box or impaling herself on a coat hanger, one of her ex-husband’s leftover baseball trophies, or what she has decided to call “the endless stacks of shit.”

“It’s a lifetime of shit,” her best friend Frannie O’Brien has told her 16 times since Connie started making huge donations to the local Goodwill store six months ago. “This purging isn’t going to happen overnight. Get used to it.”

Connie counts on Frannie, or O’Brien, as she prefers to be called, to say it like it is no matter where they are, who is in the room, or whose feelings might get hurt. A psychiatric nurse who refuses to quit smoking even as she passes Connie’s intensive care unit and its coughing patients numerous times each week, O’Brien has worked with Nurse Nixon, as she loves to call Connie, for 26 years, swears like a Hells Angel or a high school junior, and plays poker with her nephews, the neighbor boys and six guys at the senior center three times a month. “Remember,” O’Brien is always quick to add, “even if it’s a lifetime of shit, it’s still shit and you need to get rid of it.” This from a six-foot-tall Afro-American woman who married a short Irishman named Daniel, throwing the entire redheaded Catholic Irish family and the entire blackheaded Catholic Afro-American family into parallel cultural comas; who attends church herself more religiously than her rosary-saying mother-in-law; who produced two strapping Afro-Irish sons, and who has definitely not thrown away so much as a toothpick or plastic bag in the last 15 years. “Shit,” O’Brien is quick to say in her own defense, “is shit only if you don’t think you will ever use it again.”

The baseball trophies are obviously shit, Connie decides, as she pushes one over with her toe and turns into the hall at the end of her now trendy 1960s ranch house. “Go figure,” her real estate broker told her when she dropped off the papers five weeks ago. “Young couples love these houses. They turn them into art deco retro masterpieces and they want to live just like you did–you know, the June Cleaver kind of deal–when you first moved in here. They add a bathroom in the basement, get a Weber grill, and have another baby.”

“June Cleaver, my ass,” is what Connie wanted to say. “June Cleaver didn’t put herself through nursing school by working full-time and trying constantly not to get pregnant. She didn’t suffer through the night shift for five years so someone would always be there with the kids, probably never mowed a lawn or shoveled the driveway in her life, and never realized until the mid-’70s that the Beaver was destined to be gay. My God, the kid wore patent leather shoes, parted his hair on the side and carried his books to school in his arms. Today the Beav would be on ‘Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.’ ”

The house murmured her out of the 1960s and into the short hall–nothing unusual there–past the two smaller bedrooms where more boxes of shit sat waiting for transportation to their new destinations, into the living room that was still untouched so Connie could make believe one part of her life was still intact. Connie went through the dining room, which she’d enlarged herself one rare afternoon off when, sick of the tiny kitchen, she had walked into the garage to find a sledgehammer, knocked a hole through the plaster and announced to her then-husband Roger, “Now will you knock out the wall like I’ve asked you to for the past three years?” Connie laughed whenever she stood in the spot where the wall used to divide the kitchen and the dining room. Sometimes she stood in that spot eight times a day and she laughed every single time. Sometimes, when she just needed to laugh, she stood there, too, and it always seemed to work.

It wasn’t long after the wall-bashing incident that Connie realized she could have set up a couple of strengthening beams and knocked out the wall without asking for help from a single person, especially her husband. It was less than a year later, when she ripped out the old carpeting one Saturday night while Roger was fishing, as she was kneeling on the bare floor with carpet nails jammed between her lips and pounding in the new padding, that she counted up the hours she spent with her husband and without him. Something that felt like the size and weight of a bowling ball moved through her heart and lodged in her stomach. “Sex,” she told herself, spitting out the nails into her hand, “is the one thing left I thought I needed a husband for these past few years, but I can probably figure out how to do that myself too. He’s never even here, for crying out loud.” The rest of that afternoon, pounding, ripping, and working as a mother-referee to three teenaged daughters, she thought of nothing but her marriage and how it seemed as if she had suddenly passed through some kind of narrow tunnel that only had room for one person–just her.

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Reading Group Guide

Kris Radish has captivated readers coast-to-coast with novels featuring ordinary women who dare to make their most extraordinary dreams come true. In The Sunday List of Dreams, she takes us on an enticing adventure with Connie Nixon, a fiftysomething firecracker who discovers it’s never too late to start living passionately.

For as long as Connie can remember, she has made time each Sunday to rewrite a list of her goals and wishes. She could never have predicted the sparks that would fly when she finally decided to tackle one of the less glamorous items on the list–getting rid of the junk piled up in her garage. After all the years she spent raising three daughters and struggling with a painful marriage, the boxes represent a history she can barely stand to face. But buried in this rubble is a revelation that will reunite Connie with Jessica, her estranged daughter who moved to New York City. It turns out that Jessica is a highly successful businesswoman–in the sex-toy industry. When Connie visits her daughter’s secret world unannounced, both women begin to confront a myriad of truths about themselves and their memories of the past. The result is an exhilarating adventure, by turns hilarious and inspiring, that helps Connie create a whole new list of dreams–while finally giving herself permission to make them all come true.

The questions, discussion topics, and author biography that follow are intended to enhance your reading of The Sunday List of Dreams. We hope they will enrich your experience of this vibrant novel.

1. How does Connie’s list of dreams change throughout the novel? What does her list say about her sense of self?

2. Chapter four describes Connie’s sustaining friendship with Frannie O’Brien, who is described as both co-pilot and navigator. How does Frannie help move Connie, and the novel, forward? Who is the O’Brien in your life?

3. How does Connie feel about her house (even when it’s talking to her) and the artifacts from her children and husband? What new concept of home does she dream of?

4. Why did Jessica relate to her mother differently than Sabrina and Macy did? What puts the distance or closeness in their relationships? Put yourself in Connie’s or Jessica’s shoes upon the discovery of “Diva’s.” What would you do?

5. Why had Connie disapproved of her other daughters? What did it take to bring reconciliation among all four Nixon women?

6. Jessica has to travel to Louisiana because of production issues. Talk about what sexuality means in your community: Are there differences in the way men and women perceive this?

7. How does Connie reconcile the idea of Jessica as her baby, and the reality that Jessica is a grown woman? How do mothers and daughters shift in the way they relate to each other throughout life? How does it happen in the novel?

8. How do the novel’s three primary settings–Cypress, Indiana; New York City; and New Orleans–compare to each other? How does each one capture a different side of Connie’s personality, especially considering that two of the cities have recently survived tragedy

9. On the plane bound for New York, Connie bonds with Mattie the hairdresser in a process Kris Radish calls “female communion.” When has female communion brought miracles into your life? How does this shape the novel?

10. What role did Romney, Kinsey, and Meredith play in fostering Jessica’s career? What did Romney show Jessica about being a good lover? At what point did Jessica’s career overtake her ability to find pleasure in life?

11. What do Connie and Jessica learn about themselves, and about each other, from Saffine in Louisiana? What makes her so good at stirring honesty in them?

12. What is the significance of Connie’s life as a nurse? What does it say about her capabilities? Did it prepare her at all for a life in retail? How did she go about deciding where to dedicate her life after retirement?

13. Michael taps a well of passion in Connie, and Martin does the same for Jessica. What enabled both women to let go of their fears? What were the origins of these fears? What is the antidote to Connie’s panic attack in chapter twenty-three?

14. Chapter fourteen ends with Connie’s advice to her patients that “the center is a very fine place to be, because from there you can see both sides and select the best way home.” Respond to this.

15. In an interview, Kris Radish has said that her stories are a way for her to “honor the relationships women have with each other, their friendships, and the great love that women share with each other.” Do you think she has achieved this goal with The Sunday List of Dreams?

16. What threads link The Sunday List of Dreams to Kris Radish’s previous novels? What would Radish’s previous heroines think of Diva’s?

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 13 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 13 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 25, 2013

    Beautiful ...

    Makes you think and wonder what you can do to grab the bull by the horns and just go do it. I loved this book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    delightful inspirational tale

    Her three decade old career as a nurse is counting down to the final days leaving fifty-eight years old Connie Nixon frightened about the future as she is also selling her home in Indiana. Over the past thirty years, Connie has been compiling a SUNDAY LIST OF DREAMS to include thirty-seven places she wants to visit and people she wants to see. Now with the clock ticking down, she makes last second revisions to add changes she feels she must make starting with don¿t be afraid and toss out the alarm clock. --- Connie has two items that makes everything else seem superficial to her. She writes 'maybe sex' and 'recapture Jessica'. Most important is Jessica who left Indiana for Manhattan three years ago to become the CEO and part owner of sex-toy stores. Connie heads to New York with plans for quality time with her daughter, who in turn has a special agenda to welcome her mom to the Big Apple. --- THE SUNDAY LIST OF DREAMS is a delightful inspirational tale starring a wonderful protagonist who learns relationships not locations are the key to a fulfilling life. The story line is well written and leaves readers with a warm contented feeling to be active with loved ones. Fans will enjoy Connie Nixon takes Manhattan while Jessica reclaims her mom in loving vibrant often amusing ways. --- Harriet Klausner

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 13, 2010

    Good Read

    This was a good read. It kept me interested unti the end.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 9, 2010

    Original, Humorous and Touching!

    I buy unabridged books on CD for my long distance travels by car. Last fall I made several trips and was so happy that I picked this recorded book. I was captivated beginning with the first paragraph! I am just so thankful that I had the capability in my vehicle to "replay" several excerpts just to laugh one more time. I laughed so hard at times I had to pull off the road! As a woman in her fifties I related to the main character and grew to love the direction the author was taking her. She led me down a very unexpected path. In listening to this addictive novel depicting a mother-daughter bond (or lack thereof) I was definitely inspired. This is a book on CD that you will not be able to leave. I was sitting in the parking lot of my destination listening to "just another few minutes" quite often.

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  • Posted July 29, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    great beach read

    Really good book on mothers and their daughters, especially that one daughter who feels she is different and shuts mom out

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 20, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    One of the funniest books I've ever read!

    Kris Radish knows women and knows how to tell a story. This is one of my favorite books of all times.

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  • Posted November 24, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    A List of Dreams

    I have a list like this but not of dreams but after reading this I just started one. This book is about a mother daughter who have not really spoken to one another in a very long time. Yet her mom finds a box of her older daughters stuff in it. What she finds out shocks her yet intrigues her to fly to New York and start her list of dreams. And from there her list just comes flying off one by one. The mother gets her life back and her daughter and the daughter finds out who she really is by help from her friends and her mother who happen to become friends with her friends.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 14, 2007

    Great, energetic book!!!

    I would highly recommend this book! Super funny and energetic....

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