Well, my Decembers reads were… meh. I made some hasty choices before leaving for vacation AND I read several dry-ish parenting books. But ya win some, ya lose some, right? Here’s the scoop on what to read and what to avoid!
- That Part Was True by Deborah McKinlay. “When Eve Petworth writes to Jackson Cooper to praise a scene in one of his books, they discover a mutual love of cookery and food.” What… that sounds delightful! And the cover has the Eiffel Tower on it! Letters and Paris and books and cookery? As Amy Poehler would say, “Yes, please!” But unfortunately the book touched only lightly on all these themes while focusing much more heavily on the absurdly wealthy characters, predatory divorcée neighbors, stressful family relationships, and — the greatest disappointment of all — emails (not a single letter!). For those who like love and letters, try 84, Charing Cross Rd or The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society instead. — 2 stars
- The Whole Brain Child by Daniel Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson. This book promises “12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind, Survive Everyday Parenting Struggles, and Help Your Family Thrive.” Despite such a promise, I didn’t find anything revolutionary about the book; it seemed to mostly be scientific explanations for well-known life issues. Example: you should help your child connect his feelings (right brain) with logic (left brain) to effectively work through frustration. Great info, but not profound. I would recommend NutureShock or Simplicity Parenting for truly revolutionary parenting research. — 3 stars
- Lunch in Paris by Elizabeth Bard. As you all know by now, I love cross-cultural memoirs, especially when they involve France! The author describes her rather fairytale life — meet a cute French PhD student, move to Paris, get married, visit lovely in-laws on the Brittany coast, puh-lease you’re killing me — and then describes the real life side, too, like buying an apartment in Paris, making real friends with Europeans, and watching her father-in-law being treated for cancer in the French medical system. She is an opinionated woman from a small slice of upper class American politics and privilege, though, and her narrative voice is heavy-handed at times. For all this… — 3 stars
- Yes Please by Amy Poehler. I loved Bossypants and really enjoyed Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, so the natural next step is to read the next comedienne‘s memoir, right? Well, not quite. Turns out it helps if you actually watch her on TV. I’ve seen Baby Mama and a few YouTube videos of her SNL skits, but otherwise I mostly love Amy by osmosis… because everyone else loves Parks & Rec and because of Tina. I felt like I couldn’t appreciate a lot of the humor and anecdotes because of this, and thus I missed the point of the memoir. Also I thought she complained a lot about writing a memoir when… wasn’t it your decision to write it, Amy? — 2 stars
- I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You by Courtney Maum. I grabbed this one at the library quickly before leaving for Christmas, but maybe I should have thought through the premise more. A husband cheats on his wife, his wife finds out, and then he decides to win his wife back again. The book would have been better if it focused less on the former (too much flashback about his affair) and a lot more on the latter (in which he proved himself a very clumsy and selfish husband, and I’m not sure I would take him back either). It earns a half-hearted third star for the final redemption. — 3 stars
- Honey for a Child’s Heart by Gladys Hunt. Ahh, at last, something good! Something pure, golden, and enduring! This book (first published in 1969) is a priceless resource for any book lover who wants to pass on the wisdom and delight of a good story to their children. The first 1/3 is an engaging treatise on reading together as a family and building a foundation of good books; the second 2/3 contains lists of wonderful children’s books for age 0 to adult. Highly recommended! — 5 stars
- Mommy, Teach Me! by Barbara Curtis. Another incredible resource to add to your parenting library. The first half of the book is an apologetic for preschool at home with a Montessori and Christian approach, a combination which is unusual and inspiring. The second half is a manual of practical activities you can do with your child with bowls, buttons, pitchers, marbles, and other everyday objects in your home. — 4 stars
Did you set reading goals for 2015? Here’s an amazing reading goal list from one of my favorite blogs. I read a lot of books in 2014, but I am wondering about slowing down in 2015 in order to write more… hmm…
What did you read in December? Any recommendations for all of us?