Monday, July 19, 2021

Hot Days, Cool Reviews

I dunno about how the weather is in your part of the world but given the news, my guess would be not ideal. We've been in the 90s (30s for celsius folks) for what feels like forever with lots of thunderstorms that luckily in our immediate area have not caused flooding issues. It has been interesting to see how these rainstorms have done nothing to cool things off. I took a walk in the later afternoon yesterday after a big thunderstorm thinking this would be the time it's cool enough. But the sun came out and laughed at our assumptions. That'll teach me to try to go out in nature.

Now I'm staying cool in the house, with some Blue's Clues on the in background as the lil monster crawls all over and figure I'll take this opportunity to try to get through a couple mini-reviews. Let's see how far I make it.

Confessions of a Domestic Failure by Bunmi Laditan
Read September 2019
Story of a stay-at-home mom with a young child who can't really cook or keep the house clean and is really trying to just hold it all together. But she wants to do better so she enters for a chance to win life-coaching from someone who knows what she's doing (I pictured a judgey Joanna Gaines type) with a group of other women and things don't quite go as planned, there are shenanigans, etc. A fun, light read

The Honest Toddler: A Child's Guide to Parenting by Bunmi Laditan
Read October 2019
What if a toddler wrote a parenting advice column? it would mostly be a collection of responses explaining why toddlers should be allowed to eat all the candy they want, why nap time is nonsense, why you should keep the juice flowing and other such pieces of wisdom. As the description of the book says "What makes toddlers so fascinating is their unique blend of cute and demonic behavior. A toddler will take your hand and say "I love you," then slap you in the face." Something I have experience with. Funny if it's something you're dealing with because it's nice to know that it's not just your kid.

Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan
Read October 2019
Apparently I went through a parenting (or parenting-adjacent) book phase. Anyway, this book. It's basically comedian Gaffigan talking about becoming a dad. And then doing it again. And then a few more times. (He's got 5 kids in a 2 bedroom apartment.) It's basically a book of his stand-up which isn't a bad thing. I'm a fan of his standup and have watched his specials more times than I can count. Nothing super special here but if you like his stand up, it's entertaining.

My own toddler is yelling for "Juice right NOW! Juice please! Juuuuuuuuuuice" so I'm going to go take care of this. 

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Micro-review Time

It's the end of a long weekend, so why don't I write a couple super teeny, mico-reviews before we have to go back to our regularly scheduled work and such.

I'm still making my way through the backlog so this is going back to fall 2019. Crazy right? I did write a semi-for-real review of Bringing Up Bebe recently but that is certainly the exception and not the rule when it comes to me reviewing things. Even though while reading I still think "Oh man, I'll have to make sure to talk about X when I write about this". It's too bad that time almost never comes. Sigh.

Where the Crawdad's Sing by Delia Owens
Read September 2019
Read this for bookclub, and I probably wouldn't have picked it up otherwise. But hey, bookclub is for reading outside what I would normally read so it's all working out. Good story if slow much of the time and the mystery format is interesting. 

Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie
Read September 2019
On the one hand, it's Poirot and those are aways a measure of fun. On the other hand, I barely remember this one. Which hardly makes a difference and I absolutely recommend this.

Someone Could Get Hurt: A Memoir of Twenty-First Century Parenting by Drew Magary
Read September 2019
I have read very few actual parenting books but man do I enjoy books about parenting that aren't like, advice books. I suppose they're more parenting commiseration books? Because parenting is wonderful and stressful and a lot of work and very strange and I love hearing stories about why there is a household rule that you must wear pants while brushing your teeth. Or the "What's up, fuckface?!?" story that is making me laugh thinking about. 

I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara
Read September 2019
Excellent true crime about a truly heinous terror. It's so sad to think about what more the book could have been had it not been for McNamara's sudden death, but what was completed is great. And while police say that nothing in the book had anything to do with the guy finally being captured, I'm going to go ahead and ignore that.

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

June Reading Wrap Up

June has come and gone. The first half of the year has come and gone. What is time, even?

We took a trip in June! A real vacation. We flew to San Diego and got to see people because vaccines #yayscience and it was lovely. Not relaxing because vacations with a small one are not relaxing, but it was a good time. Friends! Zoo! Pool! Beach! Strawberry Picking! So Much Mexican Food! 
I was going to try to write more but honestly it is too hot and I'm not even dealing with the heat in other parts of the country. Please everyone stay safe and cool. So let's just get to those stats.

Number of books read
5
The Secret Life of Groceries: The Dark Miracle of the American Supermarket by Benjamin Lorr
On Looking: Eleven Walks with Expert Eyes by Alexandra Horowitz
The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn
Dial A for Aunties by Jessie Q. Sutanto
Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid

Number of pages read
1,719

Fiction
60%

Female authors
60%

BIPOC authors
40%
Not perfect but not bad

US authors
80%

Book format
audiobook: 80%
paperback: 20%

Where'd I get the book
Gift: 20%
Kindle/Audible: 20%
Library: 60%

Book club read
20%

Published Date
2010s: 40%
2020s: 60%

Resolution books
40%
Dial A for Aunties is by an Indonesian-Chinese author
Such a Fun Age is by a Black author

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Bringing Up Bebe: What to take and what to leave behind

During a book walk* around the neighborhood, I picked up a copy of Bringing Up Bebe. It's a book I had heard about but since it came out well before I was thinking about babies, it didn't really make it on my radar. But now that I have one of those, it is of more interest. Except I am still finding my time to sit and read is minimal so even though I now HAVE a copy of this book just sitting on my bookshelf, I still took out an audiobook copy from the library. 

I'm sure I missed whatever drama happened around the book when it came out (because it's a book about parenting so of course there was drama) but here's my takeaway.

Good/useful information
Patience is a skill that needs to be learned and practiced and you don't have to make motherhood your entire identity

Those are good things to keep in mind and I certainly didn't think of patience as something you learn and have to work out, so hey, something to try in my own life. 

I also like the idea that trying different food and eating together for regularly, very scheduled meals is just something everyone does and so the children do it and meal times are in general easier. This is appealing to me right now since I'm pretty sure my monster subsists on energy he pulls from the air since he hardly seems to eat, but it would be nice if he ate everything like he used to do.

HOWMEVER

There are also a lot of bits of this book that I was not crazy about. 

The book purports to be about what American moms do (wrong) and what French moms do (right). But this is a VERY narrow window mostly looking at upper-middle-class Park Slope/Tribeca moms and upper-middle-class Parisian moms. (Sorry, I don't know stereotypes about the types of people in different Paris neighborhoods/arrondissements like I do NYC stereotypes, but I read another review that referred to them as "bobos" as in bourgeois bohemian moms so go with that.) Her section about daycare is really focused on how Americans distrust daycare and focus on mom's that have the option to use other forms of childcare (such as a nanny or not working at all). She allllllmost makes an interesting point about how so much of the childcare in France is subsidized and not so much in the US and perhaps that's an area to explore. But no. Instead there is a line about how expensive daycare is and she assures the readers that "it's not just the well-off who are overwhelmed by childcare costs." That is a direct quote as I stopped what I was doing to write it down as soon as I heard it because WHAT???

The fat-shaming. It's exhausting and comes up over and over and over again. At a fairly early point she talks about how a mom friend was making cupcakes but saw them as something for kids and thus didn't have one herself. And also did not offer the author one, on the assumption she (the author) viewed them the same way. The author then says (I'm paraphrasing since I don't feel like finding the direct quote in the book, but instead was going by what I heard from the audiobook) "My mother, for all her great qualities, never turned down a cupcake." And then I was happy my son was not in the car with me, since I blurted out "OMG just have the fucking cupcake."

The book is also light on data. Maybe if this was treated more like a memoir (which I suppose it semi-is) this would be less of an issue. And this may not be an issue for most people (although I do encourage you to question the broad generalizations without the data behind them), but since my fav pregnancy and early-childhood books were ALL ABOUT THE DATA, I'm skeptical of any advice books that lack this. 

So there you go. A lot of this book was a leave it for me but there were moments. Let's see how good the goblin can get at waiting.

Also hey, an actual review. Would you look at that? 

*Everyone participating puts out any books they no longer want on their front porch or wherever and people walk around and take what they want. You get to clear out some old stuff and you get new books. Wins all around.

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

May Reading Wrap Up

Another month has passed and I know it's been said a million times but man time flies. May was pretty good. We got vaccinated! We traveled! It was still I would say fairly conservative travel* but travel nonetheless! That was pretty neat. I didn't get a huge amount of reading done while on this trip, unless you count kids books, in which case I read Chicka Chicka Boom Boom many a-times. We also watched a lot of Moana. Like a lot. There are certainly worse movies the little one could have been obsessed with but I could go for some variety. I may not have been able to get much relaxed reading done, but the goblin got to play with the cat and dog (we are pet-free at home) which made for a lot of cute moments so that was almost an even trade.
I also cut off my hair! I hadn't gotten a haircut in...let's just say a long time and the pandemic is only partially responsible for how much time passed. But hey, I had enough to donate. It's slightly shorter than I was planning but I was like an inch from donation length and it seemed silly to not just go for it. 

Why don't we get to those stats?

Number of books read
3
The Trauma Cleaner: One Woman's Extraordinary Life in Death, Decay & Disaster by Sarah Krasnostein
The Leavers by Lisa Ko
Bringing Up Bebe: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting by Pamela Druckerman

Number of pages read
984

Fiction
33%

Female authors
100%
BIPOC authors
33%

US authors
67%

Book format
audiobook: 100%

Where'd I get the book
library: 100%

Bookclub read
33%

Published date
2010s: 100%

Resolution books
67%
The Trauma Cleaner is by an Australian author. It also focuses on the life of a transwoman, which doesn't technically "count" towards my resolution since I don't have a stat for LGBTQ+. Not that I think I shouldn't but I find that one is harder to easily quantify and thus I avoid it as a qualification. But I mention it here anyway.
The Leavers is by an Asian-American author

*We drove from NJ to SC to visit my dad out in the middle of no where so we weren't seeing tons of people or going out but still. Change!

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

She wrote some itsy bitsy, teeny weeny...yellow polka dot reviews?

Sorry, that title started off strong but sort of fell apart on me. Anyway, it's been a while. Like a while, a while, so why don't I try to write up some more teeny book reviews about books I read 2+ years ago and barely remember. Sound good to everyone?

The Bride Test by Helen Hoang
Read June 2019
I do not remember this book. I mean, I sort of remember it. Vaguely. I remember being annoyed at it at times (a bunch of times) but other times I was on board. I realized after the fact this is the second in a series, though it never read like that, but maybe I would have liked it better had I read the first one. Rom com and misunderstandings and eh.

Doing Harm: The Truth About How Bad Medicine and Lazy Science Leave Women Dismissed, Misdiagnosed and Sick by Maya Dusenbery
Read August 2019
What a fun, light-hearted topic! This was a very good book about an infuriating topic. It made me very mad many times over. As the subtitle says, it's about all of the ways medical science fails women, usually by not bothering to test anything (including birth control at some stages) on women and not taking into account that medications, treatments and symptoms may be different in women and this is literally killing people. 

Because Internet: Understanding the New Rules of Language by Gretchen McCulloch 
Read (first) August 2019
Do you like linguistics? Do you spend time on The Internet? Do you want learn about linguistics on the internet? Of course you do, don't lie, you nerd. McCulloch is very enthusiastic about the topic and it was very fun listening to her narrate this. Especially when she had to say things like "aldhaighdajghda" or whatever the actual written "keyboard smash" looked like in the book. Definitely recommended

It's Not What It Looks Like by Molly Burke
Read August 2019
I have no idea what this book is. 
OK I looked up the cover and I have some memories of it. Less than The Bride Test so not great. It's a memoir from a YouTube star who is blind and it's about her being blind and growing up blind and it had interesting parts but overall it was...just OK. And not all that memorable