Monday, March 01, 2010

Books I Read in February 2010

Here are the books I read in February of 2010. I have no regrets.

A Member of the Family: The Ultimate Guide to Living with a Happy, Healthy Dog by Cesar Millan. I'm sort of obsessed with Cesar Millan. Are you? I've read all of his books. They are all basically the same.

NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman.I recommend this book. You should read it--at least skim it (it includes a lot of research). It's very interesting. First of all, I love Po Bronson. This book is about how our parenting instincts are often totally off. I think the information is so useful. Here's a teaser to get you to read it.
  • Praising your kids doesn't help them; it makes them more likely to feel like failures, not try, and lie.
  • Sleep is even more important for your kids than you thought--like probably 1,000 times more important.
  • Not talking about race doesn't teach kids to not see race--you can't assume your kids are not racist just because you are not.
  • Most classic strategies to promote truthfulness just encourage kids to be better liars.
  • Gifted programs get it wrong about 70% of the time.
  • Having siblings doesn't necessarily teach good social skills, because so many sibling interactions are negative.
  • Arguing with parents is a sign of respect for teenagers.
  • Self-control can easily be taught, but not how you'd think.
  • Over-parenting doesn't make nicer kids.

The Emotional House: How Redesigning Your Home Can Change Your Life by Kathryn Robyn and Dawn Ritchie. When I get in the mood to rearrange my furniture I like to read books like this. It's feng shuish.

Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz. I liked this book a lot and I recommend it. It reminded me of Stephen King.

Moreover, it confirmed my belief in Twitter because one of my Twitter friends recommended it to me. I'm actually pretty picky about books. Not that I'm incredibly discerning, but the mood has to be just right for me to get past the first couple of pages. For example, I started The Elegance of the Hedgehog a couple days ago. It seems like a book I would like but I felt like I was making myself read it--like taking medicine. Whenever I feel like that I quit reading a book. It's actually very liberating. I've only done that for the last 8 years. I used to hang on to a book even if I hated it and would sometimes take a year to make myself finish it. I read a LOT more now that I let myself quit reading. There's really nothing wrong with The Elegance of the Hedgehog. Maybe I'll read it and love it next year. I just didn't feel like it. I don't always feel like Korean food, either.

So the odds that I would not only like Odd Thomas but also be in the mood for it weren't great. Whenever someone recommends a book to me I never tell them if I've started it, because I hate to have to admit to them that I didn't like it. I don't care what you say, it's always offensive when someone doesn't like a book you like and you always judge that person for not liking it. I know we all have different taste and objectively it shouldn't be this way, but it is. So I would rather say, "Oh, ya. I haven't read that yet--I'll have to remember that one!" Instead of "Oh ya, I started it but it gave me the creeps," or "Oh ya, I started it but it seemed super dumb," or "Oh ya, that was the most boring book ever." I don't want to hurt people, you know me.

Anyway, I really enjoyed Odd Thomas, which is exciting because Dean Koontz has written a lot of other books. It's a scary story involving serial killers with references to X-Files--what's not to enjoy?


This book was published in 1833 and is dedicated to "those who are not ashamed of economy." Housewifery in the 1830s? It was a scene, man. This book talks about boiling, scalding, curing, doing stuff with salt peter, and curing piles. It's pretty fun to read here in the 21st century where taking Immodium AD is just another day. There are some awesome tips in this book. Mrs. Child's philosophy on economy is still relevant and her discourse on educating girls has some surprising "he's just not that into you" contemporary advice. I love stuff like this and if you always loved the parts in Little House on the Prarie about the larder and smoking bacon, you will too. Of course, if you are ashamed of economy then you will probably hate this book.

Every night since reading this book when the cat gets on the bed I have wondered whether a wet cat could be used as a healing poultice. I always think, "Was that idea in the book? Or did I just make it up?" And then I drift off to sleep.

Happy reading! Do make suggestions for what you think I should read. I appreciate it, and if I don't like the book I'll just say I haven't read it yet so we can all stay friends.

Books I read in January 2010


  1. I am intrigued by larder and smoking bacon! Any reference to LHOTP will get me to read anything.

  2. That parenting book sounds interesting. As someone with a CONSTANTLY LYING teenage stepdaughter, I'm interested in pretty much any suggestion.

    I just started reading Richard Florida's "The Rise of the Creative Class." I'm enjoying it so far--it's a look at how our society has shifted in the last 50 years to value creativity over hard work and stick-to-it-iveness. Interesting so far.

  3. So weird to de-lurk. When I was smaller my favorite pretend was to have my mom cut me a slice of hickory farms summer sausage and give me a piece of bread and butter. I would wrap them in a napkin and be Laura all day.

  4. I just finished Nurture Shock and it made me feel a lot better about parenting. At least until all of their "new findings" are proven wrong:)

  5. I love it when you make me laugh out loud. A wet cat as a healing poultice? I'll do some research and let you know. I've got enough of the darn critters around here. Off to get one wet...

  6. Even if cats can't be used as a healing poultice, they're useful. We found a really old book at my in-laws' with a story about a young French farm boy walking off to fight the Crimean war with his "faithful pussy" following him. Well wouldn't you know, cat saved the day when the boy got shot in the gut, licking the wound until the doctor could get to him. Isn't that pleasant? So yeah, apparently you'll never bleed to death with a cat around.

  7. Have you tried "The Actor and the Housewife"? I have a kinda- love/strongly dislike sentiment toward it. I'm curious what your response would be.

  8. I love Cesar Milan too! Haven't read anything by him yet but my kids think I've seen every episode!
    And Nurture Shock sounds very interesting-I've loved parenting books even before I was a parent! I'm weird. And would love to change my life by shifting around my furniture since I'm intrigued by Feng Sui. And I love LHOTHP. But so you know I'm not trying to be a suck up-I don't love murderous psychopaths so much or should I say I just haven't read it yet? Thanks for the interesting reading tips!!

  9. I am ashamed of economy but I love old-fashioned things. Would I still like that book?

    One of my favorite books last year was "Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie". A very charming mystery set in england in the 50's. The heroine is a smarty-pants 11 year-old who loves chemistry. And you have to love this: the author is 70 and had never published a book before. They had it at my Costco last time I was there.

  10. Wow, you read a lot. I like to read, but I had to join a book club to make myself take time to read. So now I read a grand total of one book a month - usually within the 2 or 3 (sometimes 1) days before book club meeting. But I love your reviews because I use them when it is time to suggest new books for book club. Keep 'em coming!

    Oh, and this month we are reading "Left to Tell" about the Rwandan Holocaust. I can't tell you if it is good or not, because book club doesn't meet until next week.

  11. Another good parenting book is "Scream-Free Parenting." I started reading it so I could see how dumb and wrong it was. I mean, I don't think I could be a mom without being able to yell at my kids.
    Turns out, it was really good and I agreed with most of it. I don't yell as much now. (But I still do a little).
    NurtureShock sounds good, too. Might have to check that one out.

  12. Love Lydia Child. I have her other books if you ever want to borrow them. (I swear you can--even though you don't know me.)

  13. You have intrigued me with Nurture Shock. I won't tell you if I decide to read it.

    Do you like short stories? I don't always. But I LOVE Jhumpa Lahiri's. Her books are fabulous. Try them.

    When I worked in the middle of the night at the Post Office I would listen to books on tape to stay awake. I think I listened to every Dean Koontz book out there. They are all entertaining. Very Stephen Kingish. If you ever read the one where a man is killed while wearing a Superman costume let me know because that is one of my favorite things to talk about with people.

  14. Fine, I put Nutureshock on my library list. HAPPY??

  15. I just ordered Nurture Shock using the gift card I got for my birthday. IT BETTER BE GOOD, KACY OR I WILL HUNT YOU DOWN, I SWEAR IT.

  16. Is there a way to follow you so I can see you in my blogfeed?

  17. All this time I've been looking for validation to let me know that it's okay for me to tell my son that he stinks and needs to bathe. Now I know it's not only okay, it's GOOD PARENTING! That is, if I'm not reading too much into that anti-praise bit. Which I don't think I am.

  18. I added a blog-following thing for Lady Lee. I guess you just click on it?

    Don't worry guys, the Po Bronson book is good. Trust me.

  19. I recently read The Alchemist, and I really enjoyed it - it's very spiritual and perhaps too hoogly boogly for you if you're not into that stuff. I absolutely loved reading Open by Andre Agassi but I love tennis. Although I think it will appeal to someone who doesn't follow tennis at all. But I could be wrong. And right now I'm reading and loving Karen Kingston's Clearing Your Clutter with Feng Shui. But I won't be bothered if you aren't interested in reading any of these. I don't get too hung up on liking the same books. It's mostly just TV and Movies that I get judgey about.

  20. Have you ever read the Adrian Mole books? Kind of a Diary of a Wimpy Kid set in England. I love them.

  21. I'm halfway through "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle," and am intrigued by the idea of making my own cheese. Because Ma made her own, too.

  22. I LOVED Nurtureshock and immediately put into practice the "script" for reducing lying--it works! Also, you forgot to mention where it talks about how spanking, if used as a regular form of punishment, does children no emotional harm. That was my favorite part-wink, wink.


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