Do we need to talk about how I haven't posted any reading updates in six months? I don't think so. Let's just dive in. Miraculously I'm ahead of schedule for this year's reading, so how about I just give you the condensed reviews, and if you're interested in the full ones, hop on over to my Goodreads page.
Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn: Meh. Maybe if you don't have anything else to read. Stay on the library's waiting list instead of buying your own copy. Lots and lots of language.
The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems, Tracy Hogg: One of my preferred parenting books, if I have to choose one. Great combination of regimen and flexibility.
Healthy Sleep Habits, Healthy Child, Mark Weissbluth: I was pretty burned out of parenting books when I read this one. Nothing in it was super new, but a few tips did help me during that month of panicky sleep deprivation.
One Bite at a Time, Tsh Oxenreider: Great little ebook with 52 different projects and ideas for simplifying your life. One of my favorite home management books. I also read her other book, Organized Simplicity, and really connected with it.
Patty Jane's House of Curl, Lorna Landvik: A sweet story about sisterhood and living. Reading my grandma's old copy with her handwriting in it made it all the more sweet for me.
Whiter than Snow, Sandra Dallas: Not my favorite Sandra Dallas book, but still enjoyable.
True Sisters, Sandra Dallas: A really interesting narrative about the Mormon handcart trek. I found it much more realistic a story than many of the books written by LDS authors.
Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell: A reread done audiobook style. What can I say except that Scarlett is fabulous and Rhett dreamy?
What Alice Forgot?, Liane Moriarty: Like 13 Going on 30 for grownups. A really interesting look into marriage and forgiveness and fresh starts.
And now I'll post a real review on a book that a sweet friend recommended. I've had several people ask to know what I thought, so here's what I think, in its multi-paragraph glory.
Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting by Pamela Druckerman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Before picking up this book I was burned out on parenting advice. Everywhere I looked had conflicting approaches, and every one claimed that theirs was the one and only method to raise a happy, successful, and loved child. (I did find one book, though, that I will sometimes go back to for reference.) All that said, I really enjoyed my experience with Bringing up Bébé. First off, I connected well with the memoir style of writing. It was a far more approachable read than other parenting books.
In many ways this book validated my views on parenting and having a family. Rules and structure (or as the French call the concept, cadre) are not only OK but they are beneficial for children. In fact, not only is it possible to teach young children appropriate behavior and table manners, but parents can even go so far as to expect that behavior! I really latched onto the idea of children--and even babies--as sentient beings capable of learning and applying essential life skills, like sleeping, waiting, and respecting others. It's OK not to coddle children, and it's OK for them to feel frustration. We can and should expect our children to learn and act accordingly. Teaching them certainly takes repetition and patience on our part, but children really can learn these things. I feel that these levels of expectations can forge important bonds of mutual respect between a parent and her child.
I certainly didn't connect with everything Druckerman observes about French parenting (especially the all-encompassing, government-run education system). Toward the end the praise and reverence of all things French got old, and I started feeling slightly defensive of my American-ness. Her characterizations of French and American parents are perhaps unnecessarily polarizing. I'd love the input of some of my friends and family who have their own experiences with the French.
Throughout the book I solidified a few important things in my personal parenting paradigm: parenting can and should be intentional and deliberate; establishing a framework of set rules and behavioral expectations does not make you a mean parent; and children are highly capable humans who can learn, understand, and apply concepts as early as infancy.
Many of the ideas presented in Bringing up Bébé validated and empowered my own approach to parenting. What I loved most was that so many of those ideas are simple. They don't require intricate and precise steps for implementation. I felt like I stumbled on the Occam's Razor of parenting, and I felt freed.
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What have you read this year? Do you make reading goals? Are you on track?