February Books

Who Runs This Country, Anyway? A Guide to Canadian Government by Joanne Stanbridge is a kids' book but since I knew nothing about the structure of our government I needed something with small words and lots of diagrams. This served the purpose and now I know more stuff.

Fiddlers by Ed McBain. Ed McBain is dead. This makes me sad. Ed McBain wrote lots and lots of books, and I have only begun to scratch the surface of them. This makes me feel a little better.

In Her Shoes by Jennifer Weiner is pretty good fluff. Yeah, they made that movie about it. I'm sure the book is better -- it's pretty thick and I'm sure they had to cut a lot of it out to make a movie. I won't be renting the movie to find out though. (It wasn't THAT good.) The characterization is a little suspect, though; people change but the author isn't really convincing as to why they change.

Collapse: How Societies Choose to Succeed or Fail by Jared Diamond took me forever to read, not because it's badly written but because it's long and Diamond is teeth-achingly thorough. He examines at least eight societies in minute detail in order to make himself clear. It's more like taking a course than reading a book. By the end you're well and truly convinced, though.

It was an interesting read in light of the other book I read about how it's all going to hell, The Long Emergency; Diamond isn't as pessimistic but it's clear that he's thinking something big is going to happen within our lifetimes or those of our children (although probably not his since I think he's in his seventies. The man is awesome! So smart and sprightly and he has that dapper Abe Lincoln beard-but-no-moustache thing going on.)

Ingrid and the Wolf by André Alexis is a book for young adults which I would have loved when I was younger. I still quite like it now. It was too short, though -- I would have wished it had gone on for much longer. As an adult I see that it is a good length for the story, though.

Who's Afraid of a Large Black Man by Charles Barkley . Not much to say -- this didn't suck.

Your Two-Year-Old: Terrible or Tender by Louise Bates Ames . You know how everyone says "my kid didn't come with a user's manual!" Well, here it is. This is just a discussion of what kids are like, and it's one of a series covering different ages. There isn't much specific advice, but what there is is delightfully non-judgemental and pragmatic. I'm reading the one about three-year-olds, and their recommendation for dealing with three-and-a-half-year-olds? Put them in daycare, because they're at an age where they want to evoke an emotional reaction in their mother, so they act up. With a daycare provider, no emotional reaction, no acting up, everyone is much happier. Failing that, they say, get a babysitter. Awesome!

They also give some advice which set my mind at ease: they give you a bunch of "techniques" (ie, tricks) for dealing with your toddler and getting things done, like saying "Let's put away your toys" instead of telling the kid to do it and then getting into a huge battle of wills ending with the inevitable timeout. If you say "Let's..." then you can just go ahead and do it without your kid's help, and no-one has lost face. I had been thinking that I can't do stuff like that because I Have To Show Her Who Is Boss -- Ames says it's more important just to get through the day without a thousand battles than to make every interaction about who is boss. So, very useful books.

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