September was pretty much lost due to recent events, but October was full of good reads. I honestly don’t know how I read them all because I didn’t think I spend much time reading. Apologies that it’s not my usual review quality. Here are my short and sweet summaries.
Obama: The Call of History by Peter Baker
I got this from the library, but this book is so gorgeous that I am going to eventually buy it to own forever. It’s full of beautiful photographs and accounts of his time in office. Definitely recommend.
Text, Don’t Call: An Illustrated Guide to the Introverted Life by INFJoe (Aaron Caycedo-Kimura)
Super funny and cute. Recommend if you are an introvert and often feel misunderstood or for those who just don’t understand but only want to spend 5 minutes figuring it out.
Miss You by Kate Eberlen
Tess is put in charge of her very young sister at age 18, having to put her own dreams on hold. That’s the main part of the book, but there’s a romance too. Tess and Gus almost meet many times over the years… the usual cliched story but the route this one takes is actually interesting. Eberlen’s sentences are beautifully descriptive, almost complete stories in themselves. This makes me wonder what might have happened in countless situations had I spoken to this person rather than that one.
“Normally, I’d have explained that I wasn’t Hope’s mother, but those cataclysmic seconds, minutes—I don’t even know how long it was—without her had made me realize that Hope was so much more important than anything else. It was suddenly clear as an epiphany that I had a choice: I could either go on thinking life was unfair and getting all bitter and resentful, or just get on with looking after her. It was actually a relief.”
How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish
This is full of ideas that are simple to put into practice for immediate results. Acknowledge kids’ emotions and feelings. Encourage autonomy. Focus on their behavior, not the child. I enjoyed the examples of dialogue that show how to use their suggestions.
Class Mom by Laurie Gelman
Cute, but I don’t recommend. It’s about the surprisingly petty and political ups and downs of being a kindergarten class parent. The main character helps a few people to loosen up, but in general, I didn’t get invested enough in the story to care.
How to Find Love in a Bookshop by Veronica Henry
Warm-hearted and well-written. Emilia inherits her father’s failing bookstore and is determined to make it a success. Many of the characters also need help and they come together to help each other in interesting ways.
“Emilia held Sarah’s hands and looked at her. She could see now the depth of the sadness in Sarah’s eyes. And she could feel the warmth and kindness that Julius must have been drawn to. And she was grateful to Sarah, for her compassion and honesty. It must have been a painful confession. She felt honored to be trusted with the secret. She supposed when she had time to think about it, she might be shocked, but she wasn’t going to judge. She found it a comfort, that Julius had this woman’s devotion. And she knew, from all the books she had ever read, that life was complicated, that love sprang from nowhere sometimes, and that forbidden love wasn’t always something to be ashamed of.”
Breakfast with Buddha by Roland Merullo
I really liked this one and I’m going to have to read the next 2 books in the series. It reminds me of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance in that it’s a ride through the American landscape and culture while pondering the spiritual emptiness within a good life. I found it wise, relatable, interesting, and often humorous. Definitely recommend.
“But he was smiling at me as if he did know me. The smile was an odd combination of innocent goodwill and sureness, as if he were at once happy to see me standing up for myself, but also laughing at me, kindly, the way a father laughs at his two-year-old when she mispronounces a word. No, that’s not right; that implies a condescension that wasn’t there. It was more like a seasoned affection. Strong, even, yellowish teeth, lips stretched wide, longshoreman’s face still and solid—the Rinpoche was looking at me as if he knew me through and through and liked me in spite of it.”
This is written by the author of Simplicity Parenting, which I liked. She writes about boundaries for kids. After I read about how some behavior is a call for help, I was able to use the advice in this book to change my behavior to change SG’s. The parent-child connection is a primary focus.
“Nine Years Old: On the Cusp They are leaving early childhood behind but are not yet fully in middle childhood. This phase is characterized by insecurities and pushback against family rules.”
The Little Bookshop on the Seine by Rebecca Raisin
A small-town bookstore owner exchanges shops with a friend in Paris for 6 months. Just the premise sounds interesting, right? It was fun to read. The main character had to grow and own her authority and work through her romantic relationship issues. There is a bonus part where she befriends a well-known author. I don’t really want to read the other books in this series, but this was a good one.
“Turning back to the bookshop, I stepped closer and peeked in the window. It was just as I imagined; dark wooden shelves wound to the ceiling, books were double stacked, the ones higher up were beige with dust. On the main floor, rickety old tables bowed with the weight of colorful new editions. A towering pile of the latest blockbusters were displayed by the front door in an unapologetic heap. Which books would sell best here? I couldn’t wait to find out.”
What Great Parents Do: 75 Simple Strategies for Raising Kids Who Thrive by Erica Reischer, PhD
What I love about this one is that it’s lists 75 things and gives each about a page, including tips for implementing and real examples for how to apply it right away. Many of the ideas overlap. It mentions challenging behaviors, creating bonds, living by your values, etc.
“Great parenting is not about memorizing a set of rules, it’s more like skillfully speaking a language. Through practice, fluent speakers internalize a set of principles and are then able to craft their language to suit the moment and their purpose. Like speaking a language, parenting is a skill that can be improved through learning and practice.”
The Bright Hour: A Memoir of Living and Dying by Nina Riggs
This is the one of all of these that I’d say you should definitely read. It is a gorgeous memoir about living with a terminal illness. Riggs approaches life with honesty and courage and encourages us to love all our days, the good and bad ones.
“I want all of it—all the things to do with living—and I want them to keep feeling messy and confusing and even sometimes boring. The carpool line and the backpacks and light that fills the room in the building where I wait while the kids take piano lessons. Dr. Cavanaugh sitting on my bedside looking me in the eyes and admitting she’s scared. The sound of my extended family laughing downstairs. My chemo hair growing in suddenly in thick, wild chunks. Light sabers cracking Christmas ornaments. A science fair project taking shape in some distant room. The drenched backyard full of runoff, and tiny, slimy, uncertain yard critters who had expected to remain buried in months of hard mud, peeking their heads out into the balmy New Year’s air, asking, Wait, what?”
The Ticket by Heather Grace Stewart
Quick, fun, and humorous. Handsome newscaster buys 2 tickets for a trip around the world with his girlfriend. After breaking up, he needs to find someone with her exact name to share the trip with. Sounds predictable, but the characters were well-drawn. Both were flawed yet likable. This was just the book I needed after the hurricane for some light reading.
“I need to figure out what I’m passionate about because somewhere along the way, while I was taking care of everyone else’s needs, I lost sight of my own.”
Radio Girls by Sarah-Jane Stratford
Did you know that after WWI, radio was seen as controversial? This is historical fiction, one of my faves. Through the eyes of an insecure American who gets a job at the BBC in London in 1926, we hear about famous writers, politicians, and scientists of the time. There is a mystery here too… the Nazi Party was trying to sway public opinion, bribe the BBC director, and other such nonsense. The main character learns, grows, and begins a new life. Recommend.
“How did anyone ask the questions that answered in this configuration of wood and glass and wire that was changing the whole world? Thousands of years ago, someone had gazed into the night sky and seen that some stars were planets. And then they mapped the universe. They unlocked mathematics. They saw the way the sun moved across the earth and how to harness its power, warming homes and baths, growing plants. And they developed tools. The capacity to sail around the globe, to build cathedrals, to run a factory, to capture images on paper and then on screen. And now, to send a story throughout the country, from a machine.”
With Sweet Girl, we read the Sparkle Spa series and Giada De Laurentiis’s 8 kids books and now we are reading our way through Ada Lace and Heidi Heckelbeck. We also keep dipping into Magic Tree House here and there.
What are you reading these days? Any recommendations?