End of March

Jeez, I just typed out the names of the books I read since my last post, and it's clear I read too damn much. Honestly, I don't know where I find the time, so don't ask me.

(I remember when I was a kid I would say -- well, brag about, really -- how many books I read, and the mothers would look at each other and roll their eyes and say "Well, I guess you have a lot of time!" Hah! Take this, snarky mothers!)

Anyway, I have time to read them but not blog about them, so this is going to be short. Ish.

Akimbo and the Elephants by Alexander McCall Smith is also short, a little wee thing which I think took the author as long to write as it took me to read. It had a hurried feel, the characters were thin, it was all a little obvious. As if some elephant charity had called the author and said "Write a nice little book about elephants!" and he knocked it off in an afternoon.

I Gave My Mom A Castle by Jean Little is a wonderful collection of poems about families and gifts. Little has a knack for capturing children's thoughts and voices. I remember enjoying her stuff when I was younger; perhaps now is a good time to revisit it.

Père Goriot by Honoré de Balzac is one of my New Year's Resolution books, because it has a character named Delphine in it. It might even be the character that my Aunt Delphine is named after, although naming your kid after this Delphine seems like asking for trouble. Anyway, Balzac is one pessimistic bastard and almost everyone in this book is scheming and dishonest, and those that aren't mostly get screwed in the end.

Breastfeeding Made Simple: Seven Natural Laws for Nursing Mothers by Nancy Mohnbacher and Kathleen Kendall-Tackett is an excellent book on nursing. I got it out so I could look it over and decide whether to recommend it to a friend, but I ended up learning a bunch of stuff myself. It approaches nursing from the perspective of what's going on and how you can make the natural process work for you, like growing a seed, rather than giving a series of steps on How To Nurse, like building an Ikea bookshelf.

I think this book should be recommended reading for every expectant or nursing mother.

It also has a fairly tacky website which might have some useful stuff in it. Check out that title! Now that's professional! (Ah yes: "<meta name="GENERATOR" content="Microsoft FrontPage 4.0">" Always a good way to make a crappy impression.)

The Culture of Fear: Why Americans Are Afraid Of The Wrong Things by Barry Glassner is a nice, reassuring book, in the sense that you don't really have to be afraid of all the things the media would like you to be afraid of, but very unreassuring in that it give you the sense that people are very stupid and can't seem to think for themselves.

Sir Charles: Wit and Wisdom of Charles Barkley by Charles Barkley and Rick Reilly; Charles Barkley is a pretty funny guy, in that he says stuff that everyone else is scared to and he's usually right. What I would give for this kind of self-assurance.

Don't Get Too Comfortable by David Rakoff. Apparently if you are a good enough writer you can get someone to pay you to do crazy stuff like visit a cryogenics lab, or fly the Concorde, or interview some dude at the Log Cabin Republicans, just so you can write about it. That's what this book is, and it's pretty funny and well-written and occasionally thought-provoking. (I liked the part about the faux-poverty.)

Understand Your Child's Growing Mind by Christine Healy is another interesting, science-based book about a parenting topic. It's pretty dense, covering lots of ground with respect to mental development, but readable. I would recommend this to anyone concerned with their child's intellect.

The book has lots of neatly sidebarred tips on how to help prepare your child's mind for reading, mathematics, etc. Unfortunately if you added up all the sidebars you would end up with about eight hundred bulleted items, and if you tried to follow them you would never have time to brush your own teeth, you would be so busy massaging your kid's brain.

Dress Your Best by Clinton Kelly and Stacy London is basically What Not To Wear in book form. It's divided up by body type with tips for each type, but there are general tips for everyone scattered throughout the book, so you have to read the whole thing to get maximum utility out of it. I managed to glean a full page of tips from it, but sadly there was no five thousand dollar credit card in the book, nor anyone to babysit for a week while I shop. I guess looking fabulous is going to have to wait.

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