Thursday, December 31, 2009

Books I read in December but didn't write about

The Pact (Jodi Piccoult)
Homecoming (Cynthia Voight)
The Pilot's Wife (Anita Shreve)

Really enjoyed all of them, but Homecoming and the Pilot's Wife more than the Pact. I can't believe I waited so long to read The Pilot's Wife, what an amazing book.

Also liked rediscovering Homecoming and plan to read the rest of the Tillerman books soon.

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Year of the Flood (Margaret Atwood)

She is, as always a genius. I think this novel was not my favorite, but I don't think anything will top the handmaiden's tale for me... though I did enjoy surfacing in a weird way.

This was another plane read and i was absolutely enthralled. This was a bit harder to read because I feel like it was more raw than she typically is - that the horrors and indignities were portrayed in more detail.

but I liked it. I'd give it an A-

The Help (Kathryn Stockett)

Such a great book. I had to keep it two weeks past the due date which I know makes me a terrible library patron, but there were 600-some people on the list after me and I didn't want to have to wait to get the book again.

Loved it - definitely one of the best books I've read all year, despite it's annoying each chapter is a different voice shtick.

It's hard to believe that the book is really only one generation ago... my mom could have been the one raised by The Help, if her parents had been more Southern and more wealthy.

Highly recommend - A!!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Surfacing (Margaret Atwood)

Why, oh why, did it take me this long to discover Atwood? Her books are amazing, if sometimes very hard to read. This one reminds me of The Bell Jar, and there is an obvious parallel of a woman struggling with a mental breakdown.

But, as with all of her novels, it’s more than that. She covers many themes of patriarchy and oppression, weaving hints of them through the story in subtle (and very obvious) ways. I love the way the story spirals to a conclusion such that only as the main character breaks with reality do we see what’s really happened. Clarity through insanity? Or is she implying that the reality we live in the modern world is really insane?

The big themes are here - abortion, rape, adultery, man’s inhumanity to animals, why Americans suck. Atwood leaves me wondering though – what happened to her parents? Did they die on the island? Were they trying to escape modernity? Did they go insane the same way she did? And what of her brother? Why was the man child the one caged in (literally)? Did he drown? She seems to say no, but we hear nothing of what happened to him.

Anyway, loved this book. Didn’t last long enough. Much like the other Atwood novels I’ve read.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

A Million Little Pieces (James Frey)

I resisted reading this book for a *very* long time, due to the controversy about its miscategorization as a memoir. I also refused to buy the book on the primary market, but waited several years and bought it on sale at Half Price Books. I wish I hadn’t.

This book was *so* interesting, both stylistically and in terms of content. Although it took me a while to understand Frey’s flow, in the end I appreciated his attempt to let us inside the mind of an addict who was struggling with recovery. In fact, I think this book is one of the best pure voices I’ve ever read. I feel like I know Frey (or at last know the Frey he was portraying in the book) in a way that I don’t normally know a character – because I do feel that I truly got a glimpse into his innermost thoughts.

The repetitive phrases and the pure raw rage and other emotions portrayed in the book are very powerful. Oftentimes I felt frustrated, which I would guess that Frey probably felt with himself too. To some extent, the book made ME feel like an addict – my thoughts were jumbled, I couldn’t make the story coherent and it, frankly, pissed me off at times.

I also appreciate Frey’s critique of the “12 steps is the only way” mentality of many drug and alcohol abuse counselors. I don’t know if it’s completely true that that is pretty much the only system they push, but if it is, I think it’s kind of gross. I mean, clearly relapse is nearly inevitable. And sure the 12 Steps might be the only way that is effective, anecdotally, but I’d love to read more research on other techniques used in rehab. It certainly seems to pose a problem if the only “system” available requires a belief in a higher power. Magical thinking, anyone?

I am super curious as to how much of the details of the story are actually true. We’ve all heard about the now-infamous dental scene. I have to admit that I skipped most of the details as I don’t need to add any more ammunition to my dental phobia. But I also have to say that reading the book, I felt that the incidences portrayed were being filtered through the lens of addiction – in this sense, it seems, the dental scenes (and other scenes in book) are necessarily meant to be taken as literal interpretations, but more as a sense of how things were.

I also wonder how much Frey had to do with the misclassification of the book. I would assume that editors and publishers make most of those decisions – it seems like a largely technical distinction… I doubt that he took many more liberties than the average Lifetime move that is “based on a true story”.

Admittedly this analysis is occurring without a real effort to research the case – based only what I recall of Oprah-gate and the ensuing publicity. In any case, this book is worth a read, particularly for anyone struggling to understand addiction in a loved one. It gave me a new perspective, for sure.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

New Moon (Stephanie Meyer)

So, another twilight. Not as good as the first, but not as bad as I was expecting. Fursploding was really annoying. Am NOT team Edward or Team Jacob. Maybe Team Alice.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Blue Moon (Alyson Noel)

I devoured this book in like 6 hours, so I must have liked it, right?

I don't know what it is about this YA fantasy series that I like so much, but I just do. The characters are interesting, as well as the plotlines.

Like a lot of YA, I have a problem with the stilted dialogue and obvious exposition via character's words and phrases. But then, when I read grown up books, I sometimes feel like I don't "get" everything. Guess I am still searching for that happy medium.

At any rate, for this genre and age category, I give it an A-.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Digging to America (Anne Tyler)

I'm ashamed to admit this is the first Anne Tyler I've read. So I'm not sure if I don't love Anne Tyler or I just didn't love this book. Right now, for me, they are one in the same, but I've heard such good things about the author in the past that it's hard to believe.

Anyway, the idea of the book. Two couples, one quintisentially American and one not, who have a chance meeting in an airport while both are waiting for their daughters - adoptive placements from Korea. I was so excited to read a good novel about adoption and this one just left me flat.

For one thing, though I thought the girl, and their entry into their respective families would be the axis on which the story turned, I was mistaken. Turns out they are mostly window dressing. Adorable window dressing, but mostly just props.

I think the novel is supposed to be about what it means to be (or become) an American. But I didn't see much more than stereotypes of both Americans and immigrants. That, combined with the stilted dialogue, when characters actually gave voice to some key aspects of the plot, were annoying for me.

Clearly, Tyler can write a character though. I did feel like I knew all of them. I think I would have liked the book better if we didn't get the weird love story detour with Maryam, and rather learned more about an immigrant's experience, or more about the idea of adopting a child from another culture - beyond Susan's family mostly ignoring it and Jin-Ho's family putting it on a pedastol.

Overall, B-

Friday, September 4, 2009

Eat, Pray, Love

There is A LOT I could say about this book. Overall, I really enjoyed it. It made me think and has almost convinced me to start meditating. That said, the author's tone veers from LOL-funny-and-i'd-like-to-hang-out-with-her to seriously-could-she-be-more-self-referential-and-annoying.

Would recommend to any midlifers who are agnostic :-)

Overall: A-

Monday, August 24, 2009

Ceremonial Violence (Jonathon Fast)

Better than Brooks, but not as good as Cullen, IMO.

I have to admit that I held this guy to a higher standard, because he's an academic. That said, I think the book lacked a compelling thesis. The case histories are interesting, and very detailed. I learned more about the shootings other than Columbine, but reading the Harris / Klebold chapter didn't really teach me anything new, beyond that fact that Fast believes that Harris' unusual check structure may have made him a target for ridicule and been a compelling factor in his development.

Ceremonial violence is present in the intro, but no attempts is made to circle back to this thesis in the conclusion. Instead, Fast uses the final chapter to rally support for stricter gun control. Even though I agree with him in principle, the ending feels forced, and is not what one expects from a book purporting to talk about "ceremonial violence".

Maybe it's just a poorly chosen title. Maybe I expected too much. I did enjoy his exposition of why school shootings and gun violence in general has really only increased in the last half century and thinks it makes a nice counterpoint to claims of societal decay as causal factors. Other than that, nothing here was incredibly compelling for me.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Payback (Margaret Atwood)

An interesting volume on the nature and social construction of debt. She made some great points about socializing young adults into assuming debt as a way to provide structure and meaning to their lives.

Interesting history of debt as a construct, though a little dry at times. I don't fully understand how Atwood chose WHICH incantations of debt to include, but that's why she's the author and I'm not.

Made for a nice plane read and I will pretty much pick up anything she's ever written.

Monday, July 27, 2009

No Easy Answers: The Truth Behind Death at Columbine (Brooks Brown and Rob Merritt)

So I don't know if this book suffered unnecessarily because I read it right after Dave Cullen's or if I would have disliked it either way, but regardles I did. Dislike it I mean.

I didn't hate it. In fact I'd go so far as to say I'd recommend it, if only for the the indepth discussion of Dylan Klebold (who was kind of typecase as the depressed loser sidekick in Cullen's book IMHO). But Brooks' (and Merrit's - did he have much to do with this?) tone was grating. At several points in the book he deliberately tells parts of the story in such self-serving ways. I mean, lying to protet Fusselier's son? Am I really supposed to believe that happened?

The thing is, it's an easy read with a conversational (if annoying) style, and it's a nice counterweight to Cullen's book. The two definitely paint a portrait of a wildly incompetent police department, not surprising given the small town-ish nature of Jeffco.

I find Cullen's account (a sociopath and his hanger on) a little more plausible - I simply refuse to believe that Columbine was such a terrible place so full of bullies that these two were driven to murder. The real truth probably lies in between the two.

Am super curious about the principal... he was painted very generously in Cullen's book but almost villified in this one. Hard to know which is true, but I thought it was interesting nonetheless.

I will probably try to read one more Columbine book for good measure. See where the majority lies.

Overall, C+

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Testing Kate (Whitney Gaskell)

A fun, quick, chit lit read. About a woman who has terrible luck and her experience at law school.

What I liked:
The setting: New Orleans (and Tulane University)
The group of law students (though stereotypical, each one was well painted, I thought)
The tangential historian that Kate works for

What I didn't like:
The caricature of an evil law professor
The weird focus on her "bad luck"
Both of Kate's relationships.

Overall C

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Say When (Elizabeth Berg)

An OK book. I feel a little about Berg like I do about Piccoult. In her case she takes a domestic situation (usually a divorce or other problem) and tells a LONG story about it. I guess I am beginning to need something wtih more action? I don't know.

I did like the idea of the main character being male - interesting perspective on divorce, certainly. I didn't reallly like the portrayal of the wife. It seems like she was characterized as a little crazy or immature because she wanted more than monotony.

A little research reveals it was made into a TV movies, which I can totally see. Like the idea of the main character playing Santa, though it didn't really gel as an action he would take.

Overall: C.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Columbine (Dave Cullen)

I'm not a big non-fiction fan, but I really enjoyed this book. It's a factual account framed within a journalist's own account of telling the story of Columbine. It's an interesting take on how the media both reported and influenced the creation of the "story" of Columbine, with great accounts of how the individuals in the community experienced the shooting and its aftermath.

I was really surprised by how "wrong" I was about Columbine - that is how many of the myths I'd taken for granted as true. I remember watching it unfold on live TV - it's one of those "flashbulb" memories that I'm not entirely certain are accurate but that I hold just the same. I was babysitting at my early morning gig while a college student at OWU. Bizarrely, though that's the only moment I can remember. Weird. Plus I think it's incorrect because they would be EARLIER than us on time and I was only babysitting from like 6 - 9 am or something.

Anyway, the book is good and left me wanting more. I have reserved a few other books on the tragedy. Not sure what my fascination with it was.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Plain Truth (Jodi Piccoult)

Was OK. Not sure if I'm over Piccoult or audio books or both. Plus this was already made into a Lifetime movie that I saw years ago. More just recording this one than anything else.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Perfect Match (Jodi Piccoult)

Read this one on the plane on the way to Baton Rouge. Pretty good. Interesting, but again, mostly dislikable, main character. Overall, B+

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Handle with Care (Jodi Piccoult)

So, I had a *really* hard time with the main character of this book. Not necessarily because of her decision to pursue a controversial lawsuit. More because there was just no realistic understanding of what would actually happen when said lawsuit was filed and came to court. It was strange... I mean, I could imagine doing a similar thing, in similar circumstances. But then again, I can't imagine doing it if my child could understand.

I really loved the first couple of Piccoult books I read, but it's starting to feel formulaic. Controversial issue. Somewhat incomplete moral picture of said issue and somewhere along the line, at least in all the books I've read, a kid dies. And, while I initially liked some of the pithy quotes in her books, it seems like this book was loaded with lines like that, just for the sake of them.

Still better than average book I pick up, but I think I need a Piccoult break... Overall grade C / C-

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Elements of Style (Wendy Wasserstein)

This is the first Wendy Wasserstein I've read and I have to admit that I really enjoyed it. Yet another audiobook where I wish I had read the book, I thought that Wasserstein was so wonderfully, delicately, and hysteriously scathing in this book.... Thoroughly enjoyed most of it and really thought it was an interesting portrait of what happens when people who are VERY used to being in control of their lives suddenly come upon something they can't control.

Also, the first fiction I've read that really tackles New York's reaction to September 11.

I will definitely be checking out some of her plays.

Overall: A

Good Luck (Whitney Gaskell)

Was just OK. May be burning out on the chick lit genre. We'll see. This book was just so cliche. Woman wins lottery on a really crappy day - probably crappier than many of us will ever have. Escapes, becomes a palm beach princess. Then finds out that her financial advisor's warning to "Be Careful Who You Trust" is actually a good one.

I don't know. Just blah. What I like about most chick lit is the wittiness and the feeling that they are partially poking fun at themselves. Didn't get that with this one.

Overall C-/D.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Likeness (Tana French)

Wow. I had a hard time getting into this book because I loved The Woods and was expecting a more traditional sequel / series set up. But the character who told the first story is almost entirely absent from this story, which instead focuses on the experience of his partner, working another, unrelated case.

Again, the writing is tight and the level of suspense is great. V. well written with an unusual voice that I don't hear in a lot of modern fiction. Had some interesting things to say about modern society and where it's headed, but equally interesting things to say about one messed up way to try to fight that tide.

The end of this book, like the first I read was not clean and tied up. French constantly forces us to think about our usual good / bad dichotomy, but in a subtle way.

Loved it. Overall grade: A

Friday, May 29, 2009

American Wife (Curtis Sittenfield)

I really, really liked this book. There were parts of it I didn't love - it was none too subtle and the Laura Bush doppelganger was consistent almost to a fault. But overall, it was a great read.

I have to admit to being curious about what parts of it were made up and which were true. Am especially interested in her relationship with the Bush clan and how the family really feels about W.

I liked Prep as well, so I am not suprised I dug this author. I am surprised that I actually felt MORE positive about W after reading it and that I have now become interested enough in Lora Bush to actually read a biography of her now...

Overall rating: 3.5

Friday, May 15, 2009

Disquiet (Julia Leigh)

I don't think I'm smart enough for this book. It was weird and creepy and I just didn't get it.

Maybe I'm thinking too much about what the novel has to say and not enough about the novel as a form. The length is short and the lanuage is *amazing*. It's just that I need some sort of plot or story to make a book feel like a book. This seemed more like an exercise in creative writing class than a novella I wanted to read. 

But lots of other folks seem to really love it, so maybe I really don't get.
C.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Jesus Land (Julia Scheeres)

A great memoir written by a woman who's incredibly dysfuntional family adopted two black children and proceeded to totally fuck them over. Including physical abuse, exile and sending them to a boarding school in the Dominican Republic (where the author finally ends up as well).

Really, it's a tragic story that I had a hard time reading. But it was worth it. And it finally answers the question of whether or not it's worse to prohibit racisists from specifying what race they will raise or to force foster parents to accept all races. Definitely the latter. I firmly believe that David, who longed for a family that would love him, would have been better off in institutional care than being adopted by these wing nuts.

i read this one straight through on my trip to florida. Overall, an A.

Friday, May 8, 2009

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (Jean-Dominique Bauby)

Well, how can you not appreciate this work? An amazing triumph for a person who was mentally aware but completely paralyzed. I can't imagine having the will or wherewithall to express myself at all, let along to express myself this well.

In case you're not aware, it's about former editor of French Elle who has a massive stroke and then suffers from "Locked In" syndrome. Of course, it's an A. Loved it and read it in one night.


Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Dead to me.

A book I abandoned last month, Smart Girls Like Me. Just could NOT get into it. So I chucked it. I used to have a really hard time doing that, but now that reading time is at a premium, not so much.

Certain Prey (John Sandford)

Another Lucas Davenport book, and I think, one of the better ones. I really think it would have been cheaper to buy this book, probably in hardcover because it was *so* overdue at the library but I finally finished it up in the bathtub this morning - I know, more than you needed to know.

I thought some of the foreshadowing in this book was a little heavy handed, but maybe I am just v. used to the rhythm of these books. Overall, a 3-4, which I'll take any day.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Evermore (Alyson Noel)

Typical teen romance fiction with an edgy goth twist.I liked this book better than Twilight, and I hope the rest of the series continues in this vein. I think it might be because the female lead seems slightly more agentic. But the story is strikingly similar. Instead of being vampires they are "immortals" and they have really cool powers. The second book isn't out until this summer, but I am looking way more forward to it than reading the rest of the twilight series.

Overall: B / C (just average)

Monday, April 27, 2009

April Books

The Birthday Present: Liked it. Interesting voice / pov switches to the story. Was shocked to read the author jacket at the end and discover the author was in the House of Commons, writing under a pseudonym. Made me wonder if it was possibly a scandal she was basing this after. B

In The Woods (Tana French): Really liked it. Great story, with a good twist ending that I didn't see coming. Nice explorations of the psyches of the main characters. Interesting take on how (some) investigators might really think. Would recommend. A


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Change of Heart (Jodi Piccoult)

I liked this book, though there was a lot of God in it for me. It also seemed like a partial retelling of Shawshank Redemption, which I loved, but which kind of tainted the book for me. As much as I adore Jodi Piccoult, I think Steven King is one of the greatest modern soft fiction writers, so he's pretty hard to directly compete with, I think.

The story centers around a death row inmate who might (or might not) have divine properties. He also might (or might not) have murdered the daughter and second husband of a woman who was widowed previously. And he might (or might not) get to donate his heart to the daughter of the murdered police officer and his surviving wife, once his sentence is carried out.

There were three big themes in this book, from my perspective. The first was grief and what it does, or has the potential to do, to people. Grief is everywhere, most obviously in June's character, who lost two husband's and has a daughter that needs a heart transplant.

The second theme revolved around faith and religion. Basically, the end message for me was that faith is what you need it to be, and so are the things you believe in. There is no one way to faith and no one way to feeling redeemed.

The third theme kind of involved the brokenness of people, and how they can be fixed. We see this with Maggie, June, literally with June's daughter and of course with Shay. I think this theme was the most interesting to me.

Those most of her books center of bizarre coincidences, or strange turns of events, I felt like this one did that more than the others, to the point that no slim change of them actually happening remained.

I also kind of felt like she was phoning this one in... the writing didn't feel as, I don't know, tight? as her previous books. Or maybe there just seemed to be more depth in the others. I don't know. Not my favorite of her books, for sure. Overall, B-

Thursday, March 12, 2009

New to me... graphic novels

So, I've never read any graphic novels before... honestly I found it a little hard to take them seriously as a real narrative form, but I've been reading / hearing a lot about them, so I thought I would give it a try.

I read "The Trial", which is an adaptation of Kafka and "I am Legend" which is (I think) not originally a graphic novel, but a regular novel, then a movie, then a graphic novel. I picked up the trial because I thought it looked interesting. I picked up I am Legend because PB and I saw the movie and I remember him telling me how different the book was than the movie.

At any rate, I did like both of them OK. I wasn't blown away, but I think it was because I was having a hard time processing words and images simultaneously. You would think it would be easier, but I found myself so drawn to the words that I kind of skipped over the images most of the time. I think that a lot of the story in the Trial was in the pictures so I think I missed out a lot there.

I am definitely going to try The Watchmen as well - I forgot to mention that reading about that movie is what inspired me to check out graphic novels in the first place.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Queen of Babble Gets Hitched (Meg Cabot)

The third of the Queen of Babble books, this one picks up the instant the second book left off. It was good, light reading. It was interesting to read this book, because for whatever reason I kept hearing it in the English voice that narrated a different chit lit book I listened to on tape.

The book basically takes us through her the Queen's failed engagement and eventual reunification with the best friend from the first book. This one was just good, not the best of the series ( I think that was the second one). 

Overall B.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Secret Daughter: A Mixed-Race Daughter and the Mother Who Gave Her Away (June Cross)

Great book. I don't read a lot of memoirs, but J. kindly left this at my house and I picked it up.

An interesting portrait of a woman who was subject to the particular pressures of her day, very similar to The Girls Who Went Away, in that it helps us understand why a woman would make a choice that many of us think impossible.

I was amazed at Cross' empathy for her mom, her ability to still revel in her love for the woman who essentially told her that if she were lighter skin she would have raised her but since she wasn't she left her to be "kept" by a family friend.

Interesting too, the number of informal relationships where children stayed with adults who were not their parents with no real legal relationship in place... reminds me of Dr. Mark's idea that perhaps a more limited government in the child welfare arena would be prudent. I don't know about that, but it made me wonder.


Anway, definitely an A. She really delivers an unflinching portrait of her life.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Nineteen Minutes (Jodi Piccoult)

So hard to write about Jodi Piccoult's books... they are all so good but they are also so well written that I don't want to give away any details. This is an amazing exploration of high school life and parental reaction to tragedy. I love the Piccoult's parents are always so believable - never perfect, always realistic with flaws and all. 

This book also contains some interesting-to-me discussions of research in psychology and behavioral economics and some great insights into group dynamics, especially adolescent peer groups.

Anyway, really enjoyed and pulled some quotes I liked - Overall A.

Great quotes from this book:
  • Children didn't make their own mistakes. They plunged into the pits they'd been led to by their parents.
  • You could lose track of someone when you blinked...
  • Peope were happiest when they were very young and very old. The trough came, roughly, when you hit your forties.
  • Somehow Alex had assumed that time was infinite, that Jose would always be there waiting. She never guessed that she herself would one day be left behind.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Secret Prey (John Sandford)

Just in time - a Davenport that makes me want to keep reading the series.

They reintroduced Weather - and they were broken up as I kind of thought they should be at the end of the last book. I don't think we've seen the end of Weather and Lucas but I do think that they need more time before plunging back in.

Also, Lucas finally gets to have a fling with Marcy, which is good.

Finally, the predator in this book was AWESOME. First female "bad guy", I think, and she was CRAZY bad. Loved it.

One of my favorite in the series.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Twilight (Stephanie Meyer)

There's been enough written about this book. It is exactly what one would expect from a book about teenage vampires. It's not bad, but it's not fabulous. It was an enjoyable read and I did think she did a great job of giving voice to her characters. I am looking forward to both the movie and the next book in the series. B

Are We Rome? (Cullen Murphy)

So this book took me a ridiculously long time - I don't know why. It's well written and fairly short... but I guess I've been distracted by fiction - I really have to force myself to read non-fiction, even engaging and light non-fiction like this.

Anyway, the author points out some interesting points of similarity between Rome and the U.S., including dire predictions of how the sky is falling. But, he's also careful to point out the similarities, and he does so in a pretty optimistic way. He points to America's continued ability to reinvent, our creative and perseverance and the progress we've already made with regard to race relations.

The big similarities that struck me had to do with the difficulties of managing an ever expanding empire and how the introduction of money into the political system corrupts. Additionally, while America has terrible levels of social inequality, we do at least seem to be concerned about it. Apparently, in Rome the inequality was even more dramatic, and people really didn't seem to care.

I also thought it was interesting that basically all of the documentation and history in Rome could fit in a 40 X 40 container, which is the same as what is required to store the documents created during three years of (I think) the Kennedy administration.

All in all, I enjoyed it. I'd say probably a B.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

A Wedding in December (Anita Shreve)

I liked this book. Not my favorite of her books (which is definitely Fortune's Rocks) but still good reading - especially for the plane.

It's about a group of high school friends, reuniting at the inn of one friend to celebrate the wedding of tow of their own who were high school sweethearts, reconnected at their 25 reunion.

This book tackles heavy themes - underage drinking, breast cancer, infidelity, artistic license, 9/11, etc... but it does so in a gentle way. Made me think a lot about my own life, especially when PB and I started dating in high school. Interesting characters and interesting take on what love really is.

Better than some, worse than some - overall a B.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Under Pressure - Carl Honore

Really one of the best parenting books I've read, probably because 1 ) it agrees with me - LOL and 2) it's not a how-to, at least not in the specific sense.

Honore basically contends that child hood has become too rigid, that, in our quest to make our kids successful, we've stopped allowing them to just be kids - kids who are programmed, on their own, without our meddling and intervention - to discover the environement and learn at their own pace.

I am especially taken by his arguments regarding schooling and what we should / shouldn't expect of 5-year olds. We are looking into a local Montessori school for this very reason, though it's not so clear that we can afford it. 

Anyway, well worth the read, especially for those of us who tend to be perfectionists and tend to what our kids to have the best shot at success. A