December Reviews

Last batch of the year! These are quick, since I will have a bunch more posts  soon that I am unfairly devoting my energy to right now:

The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls
288 pages
If you're not familiar with this memoir, Walls recounts her childhood living with her eclectic, neglectful, but still loving (in their own way) parents. Walls' parents choose to raise their children in terrible poverty, moving around the country and forcing them to grow up to be incredibly self-sufficient, and close-knit.

Verdict: I found this book painful and wonderful- I was often so furious at her parents but also impressed with the resiliency of the children. I can see now why so many of my students have taken such a liking to it (I've had so many kids recommend this to me over the last few years that I finally got to it). 

Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel 
256 pages
This Latin American novel is heavy on the magical realism (just like I like 'em), breaking up the book into installments that feature recipes and the most recent development in Tita's stifled romantic life and family.

Verdict: My good friend, who knows about my love for MR, suggested this book, as did my students, who read it in Spanish. I'm glad I took their advice! I loved the unique format, the story, the characters, and the genre. 

The Accusation by Bandi 
256 pages
This collection of short stories was written and smuggled out of North Korean by a writer living under the oppressive circumstances there. The stories give the reader insight into the government, marital dynamics, and the rigid social hierarchy.

Verdict: I read this book originally because I felt sort of, well, obligated, but I ended up really learning and appreciating it. The risk alone that the author took to smuggle his tales out of the country is admirable. While I am scared as all get-out of North Korea, I now truly pity the civilians. 

No-Drama Discipline by Daniel Siegel and Tina Bryson
288 pages
This book uses advances in neuroscience to help parents better discipline their kids better. They offer common-sense suggestions, provide plenty of examples, and encourage parents to learn from their mistakes.

Verdict: Every once in awhile I like to read a parenting book, just when I feel like maybe I'm a bit impatient with Sawyer or that he's developmentally changing and I need to catch up. I don't think anything in here was a shocker, but it was a good reminder that I need to make sure to not expect more than he is cognitively able to give. It also encourages things like cutting down on the parent talking during discipline, making sure your kid knows you love them even when they're being a little shit, and taking the time to relate to your kid on their level (for example, instead of barking at them to get in their car seat, ask in a squeaky voice or a robot voice; this sounds super lame but it just helps things from getting negative). I disagree with their dislike of timeouts; for Sawyer that is a great deterrent because the BOY DOES NOT LIKE TO STOP WHAT HE IS DOING AND SIT STILL. They do encourage families to find what works for them, though, which I totally appreciate. 

80/20 Running by Matt Fitzgerald
272 pages
Basically, to sum it up quickly, you should run slower 80% of the time and kick your own butt 20% of the time. Fitzgerald provides A TON of research (too much, really) to back this plan up.

Verdict: I thought that a lot of this book was a bit boring, but I really loved what it was getting at. I can validate slow runs? Say what? It's actually harder that it sounds, because you have to go even slower than your own slow, which I struggle with. Nonetheless, this principle makes a ton of sense to me and I have been trying to implement it into my training. 

1,160 pages

1 comment:

  1. I have No Drama Duscipline in my pile for the new year. I loved the scientific and practical approach of Whole Brain Child, so I definitely need to read this next. (And they have a new one coming out that looks fantastic!) I read parenting books for much the same reasons as you mentioned. Occasionally an article or premise catches my interest and I pick one up from the library for other reasons, but I try not to overdo it — especially after that one last year that got me all defensive!