A Thousand Bucks For A Book Report? Well, Ok.

This is my first post since a couple of years ago. My last posts from two years ago are embarrassing me now. I was on an ill-fated crusade to sell books. However,  because of my no-tech savvy nature, I don’t know how to take them down. I was hot to sell my book and was trying all kinds of maneuvers to make it happen. I offered cash “scholarships for book reports, thinking thousands of people would buy the book and apply. I think I offered around $3500 in total. After several months of advertising and pushing, I had received one book report. The prizes started at a thousand bucks for first place and went down from there.

(The $3500 is an interesting number because now (two years later), I have sold 3500 copies. The average self-published book sells 50-100 before it runs out of steam. Beating all odds, this one is still moving moving nicely.)

I started to panic. I quit advertising the contest. I crossed my fingers and held my breath and prayed for the deadline to pass. At one point I was accosted by a great lady friend of mine and fan of the book. She asked me how many applications I had received for the contest. I said “Julie, you would not believe the number I’ve gotten.” This was not a lie because I couldn’t believe it myself. She said “In that case, I’m not going to push my kids to apply.” I breathed a large sigh of relief.

The deadline passed.  I drew the solitary book report out of the hat and declared it the winner.

The winner was Bryant Hales, the valedictorian of Chiawana High School (over 3,000 students). Here’s his report:

Where was your book obtained? – My aunt Taneil Specht gave it to my mom in case she needed some laughs, I think Ben gave it to my aunt. (Thus my plan to sell lots of books had crashed and burned)

Your age – I am 17

Did you read the entire book? – Yes, twice, and many of the stories several times.

Did you have any help writing your report? – I wrote the report on my own, I proofread it to my parents for any grammatical or punctuation errors.

If you win the scholarship what will you use the money for? – I’ll put it toward college or my mission.

What was Ben’s closest call? – I think the most surprising and sudden call was the time when Ben, Scot McGary, and their dates were shot at by some drunk Hispanic men while enjoying a romantic moment on top of a gravel pile (Page 103). I certainly would have screamed like a little girl and probably have left my date behind.

Did you post a review of the book on Good Reads – Yes, it might be listed under Makala Hales though.

In one sentence describe the book – You get to experience the highs and lows of human intelligence… one more than the other. (If this sounds familiar it’s because Ben asked me for a sentence to post on his blog, so it’s not plagiarized.)

In one sentence what life-changing lesson did you learn – Life can be hard, there’s going to be times when you’re hurting, stressed, or just mad, but in just a few chapters you’ll be laughing again.

Book report (500 words or less)

Recovering Idiot

Recovering Idiot could be the result of combining A Series of Unfortunate Events and the I Survived books. Recovering Idiot is an autobiography that follows the life of Basin-City resident, Ben Casper, from childhood to the approximate time Recovering Idiot was published in 2015. Ben’s sense of humor prevails throughout the book as he shares stories from his life. From frozen hammers, to car wrecks, to pranks, to farm accidents, to run-ins with the law, to car wrecks, to touching moments, to inspiring stories, to broken bones, to “brilliant” business, to flying, to missing appendages, to car wrecks, and everything in between, Ben’s recounting of events remains witty and strangely touching.

Ben Casper moved to the area that would come to be known as Basin City when he was two years old. It is interesting to see the development of the sagebrush riddled desert to the lush green farming community it is today from Ben’s perspective. Even at the age of three, Ben proved to be excitement-prone when he started up the family tractor and attempted to visit the Casper’s neighbor Ken Benson.  Luckily, Mrs. Casper managed to stop him before any serious harm was done. Motorized excitement or “high speed memories” remain a theme for much of Recovering Idiot, often leading to severe injuries and semi-ignored opportunities for learning.

Another theme that appears consistently in Recovering Idiot is that of the importance of family. Throughout his childhood, Ben worked alongside his parents and siblings on a farm undertaking projects that would cause modern child labor law enforcers to faint. Despite Ben’s self-admitted rebellious nature, the love he feels for his family (most of the time) can clearly be seen and vice versa (maybe slightly less than most of the time). It is impressive to note the devotion shown by Ben to his parents, especially in later years when his father was diagnosed with MS, and Ben decided that sacrificing his pride was well worth a good relationship with his dad.

An additional entertaining aspect of Recovering Idiot is Ben’s recounting of a plethora of practical jokes he orchestrated, or of which he was the victim. In several instances Ben reacted promptly to an occasion which had the potential for a good laugh. A few of these include sneaking inside of a neighbor’s car while they had stepped away and releasing their parking brake, impersonating his brother and convincing a bank teller by phone that “his brother Ben” had died and then surprising her in person, and collaborating with his wife to convince a friend that he and his motorcycle resulted in their divorce.  Repeatedly, Ben seizes opportunities for mischief that prove his own innate sense of brilliance—at the slight expense of others.

Perhaps the greatest lesson that can be learned from Recovering Idiot is that of perseverance. Again and again, Ben faces obstacles and challenges that seem insurmountable. Again and again, he suffers defeat and discouragement. Despite it all, Ben never gives up. Whether it is a difficult relationship, a bad business deal, various injuries, or embarrassing situations, Ben never quits trying and perhaps that is why he is alive today. Countless times he sustains an injury or defeat that would likely cripple an average person, but Ben carries on despite great pain or discouragement. This attribute could be a result of his upbringing, his experiences, or even his “idiocy,” but if that is the case, then all people could do well by being a little more idiotic.

Besides getting just one book report, the only snafu I had in the whole deal was I ended up 100 bucks short when I balanced the till. If anyone knows what happened to it, please let me know. I’m down to my last buck.


One response to “A Thousand Bucks For A Book Report? Well, Ok.”

  1. John Fox Avatar
    John Fox

    Financial reward much deserved. Congratulations.

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