Monday, September 30, 2019

November 2018 Mini-Reviews

I was doing well with these mini-reviews at one point. But I'm back to being almost a year behind. ALMOST but not quite. Also I got an actual, for reals review written, so get off my back, imaginary nagging reader.

Anyway, let's see what I can remember about these books I read back in November 2018.

I'm A Stranger Here Myself by Bill Bryson
As mentioned my last mini-review post (which was back in JULY so you're forgiven for not remembering this), I got an audiobook collection that included a few books by Bryson, including this one, Neither Here Nor There and Notes From A Small Island. I've read all of these books before. Multiple times. So it's surprising I'd never written about this one or Small Island previously. Surprising/disappointing, as it means I can't just link those old reviews. Sigh. Anyway, I'm A Stranger Here Myself also titled Notes From A Big Country (which is what my book copy is called) is a collection of columns Bryson wrote after moving back to the US from England and all the differences he found, the things he missed, the things he doesn't care for (there's much of that - read this if you enjoy a hilarious curmudgeon). It's a great book if you want to drop in and out of it, since the columns are stand alone. And I also recommend the audiobook, even though it was an abridgment, because listening to Bryson read this was great.

Where Should We Begin? The Arc of Love by Esther Perel
I had an Audible subscription and in addition to getting credits for audiobooks, you also get 2 free books every month out of their collection of some Audible originals. Sometimes these are great, sometimes they're disappointing, sometimes they're just sort of fine. This falls into that third group. This wasn't so much like a book. It was more like a podcast. Really, it's a series of recordings from various therapy sessions she's conducted, centering around love. Romantic love between spouses. Love between parents and children. But mostly it's the couples talking about their problems, love, adultery. As I skim through reviews from others and some notes I have, I remember that while listening I liked her advice. But this far removed, I basically don't remember most of it. It didn't stick with me and past me gave this 3 stars on Goodreads. So yeah, it was fine. And free which is important.

Full list of books read in November 2018
I'm a Stranger Here Myself by Bill Bryson
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by JK Rowling
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by JK Rowling
Tales from Beedle the Bard by JK Rowling
Where Should We Begin? The Arc of Love by Esther Perel
Horrorstor by Grady Hendrix

Friday, September 27, 2019

Raising a reader

I'm sure it comes as no surprise that I would like Matthew to become a reader.
There have been lots of articles written about how reading to your children improves behavior and attention and that "reading also strengthens children’s social, emotional, and character development" and even make them "empathetic citizens of the world". And sure, I am a little skeptical of some of the studies done (trying to do Emily Oster proud*) but of course, I love reading so why not have some official sounding reasons to try to pass this on to the little one?

But ultimately, I would say my desire to instill a love of reading in Matthew is far more selfish and self-centered. I like reading (obviously) and I would like Matthew to share this hobby.

And thus I have been reading to him since basically day one. Or at least, day one home from the hospital.**

Now, that very early reading mostly involved me reading out loud what I myself was reading. Everything I had read that stressed the importance of reading to your baby, even a newborn, said what you read was not so important, but just that you were reading to them. I hope the content was not very important because the books I read those first few weeks included:
Working Stiff by Judy Melineck which was a memoir about her time as medical examiner in NYC
Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell about presidential assassinations
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith which is about...well the title says it all, doesn't it?
I didn't give much thought to those titles beyond looking for something I had read before that I had a digital copy of so that I could easily read it on my phone.
I read to him a bit from other books I was reading, but after this I started expanding into actual children's books, thanks to generous gifts from many friends as well as my mom saving my own children's books from when I and my brother were younger. I read a variety of books to him, but it leaned heavily towards Dr. Seuss because I enjoyed them and I have to read them. And he isn't expressing much of an opinion just yet. Most of the reading time was done while he was laying on his activity mat or later in his jumper, so he was hardly paying rapt attention. But still.

As he got a bit older, and you'd think reading would pick, I actually started to dial it back. Not something I was intending but his mobility increased and the idea of sitting in one spot for any length of time was abhorrent. Books with normal paper pages (like 95% of the children's book I had) were in constant danger of having pages ripped out and reading from board books was difficult when they would instantly find their way into his mouth. He has a few soft books, which he's a big fan of, but I can't say the story in them is their main point of attraction. I would still try here and there to read to him, but it wasn't the same as before.

Eventually our collecting of board books, especially lift-the-flap board books, began to grow and the interactive nature of those lift books became more intriguing so I was able to keep his attention a bit longer when reading a book. And books were finally welcomed into the bedtime routine.

But the happiest book moment with him (so far) came when he grabbed a book off his shelf, ran over to me and plopped himself in my lap. Now he wasn't just tolerating me reading to him while he wanted to do something else, but actually wanted me to read to him.
And so, most mornings, I'll read a couple books to him. Sure, they're usually the same books every day but he enjoys them. I try to suggest others but the more successful way to have him branch out is when he pulls a different book off the shelf. Sure, he pulls a different book out cos it was sticking out slightly more. But I find he's slowly warming up to these.

Hopefully this early reading will mean a love of books later. And all of those other benefits wouldn't be terrible either. If he doesn't like books? Well, that's my disappointment to deal with.

If you're curious, these are his current favorites

*Oh, you're saying her name is NOT instantly recognizable? Ridiculous. Anyway, she's written books on pregnancy and early childhood that are all about looking into the various studies done, checking out which ones are junk, which are good but may have some problems and which are sound, and presenting all of the data so that you, oh dear reading, can make an informed decision. So basically, looking into the studies and trying to understand causation vs correlation is something I hope she appreciates.

**Given my hospital stay was a bit longer than initially anticipated, and my emotional energy tapped out at "vaguely staring at a blank wall" for a couple days, I didn't do much reading there.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

August Reading Wrap Up

Summer is over. It's crazy how fast time goes and I realize I have said that over and over again, but whatever, that doesn't make it less true.

I did manage to get one (1) review written this month. Like, an actual, for realsies review, (Kid Gloves, check it out) which is not something I have done in a long time. I'm hoping we're finally getting into a set routine that gives me a little bit of time to get more into blogging (and visiting more blogs. I miss all of you and I have been reading some if I haven't been able to comment as much). We shall see, but let's say being able to get that one review done has made me cautiously optimistic.
And I even managed to get some reading done this month, which I'm pretty happy with. Let's check out those stats, shall we?

Books read
Doing Harm: The Truth About How Bad Medicine and Lazy Science Leaves Women Dismissed, Misdiagnosed and Sick by Maya Dusenbery
Because Internet: Understanding the New Rules of Language by Gretchen McCulloch
It's Not What It Looks Like by Molly Burke
Kid Gloves: Nine Months of Careful Chaos by Lucy Knisley (Yes, I did just link to a review of this. And I read it twice this year. What's up?)
Cribsheet: A Data-driven Guide to Better, More Relaxed Parenting, from Birth to Preschool by Emily Oster

Pages read

0% - crazy right?

POC authors

Female authors
US authors

Book format
audiobook - 60%
hardback - 20%
paperback - 20%

Where'd I get the book
chain bookstore - 20%
indie bookstore - 20%
Kindle/Audible - 60%


Decades published
2010s - 100%

Resolution books
Because Internet and It's Not What It Looks Like are both by Canadian authors (Gretchen McCulloch and Molly Burke).
Also, and this isn't a resolution category but given the idea is to diversify my reading, I figure I'd point out that Molly Burke is blind, which is what her memoir is about.