I started reading Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother on my phone, using the Kindle app, in a mall McDonalds one evening when I was huge pregnant and needed to escape the house for a bit.
After the widely circulated excerpt of the book in the Wall Street Journal (Why Chinese Mothers are Superior), this book has gotten a ton of buzz, most of it controversial. The WSJ article didn't bother me - while I would never consider myself a Tiger Mom, I wouldn't consider myself the opposite of a Tiger Mom, either - and I couldn't really see what the fuss was about.
We have good friends who are Chinese (she's the one who taught me the infamous noodle recipe) and when I asked them about Tiger Moms, their reaction to painting Chinese parenting in such broad strokes was mixed. After I read the book, so was mine.
It's so clear that Amy Chua loves her daughters and wants what is best for them. She has a tenacity (towards everything, really) that I envy. In many ways I wish I had the energy and discipline to be a more consistent parent, to hold a hard and fast line instead of bending with the day's temperature.
No matter how you view being a Tiger Mom, I thought this was an interesting perspective on parenting, something I'm not reading anywhere else. Her tactics were extreme, too extreme for the average Western parents, but it gave me something to think about. Like limits and priorities and permissiveness, and, finally, about the complicated relationship between mothers and daughters. Unless you think reading about this parenting style might upset you, I'd give it a go if you're interested. It's a quick read, made for thoughtful discussion with my husband, and will almost certainly be different from anything else you've read on the subject.
I downloaded The Monster of Florence after I made a flippant comment on facebook about Amanda Knox's release and a friend replied with this recommendation. I do love a good murder story, and while I intended to finish it before Pirate was born, I ended up reading it during his first week of life. A little morbid for such a happy time, and I'm not even sure I retained all the information.
In all, it was a very interesting story about an Italian serial killer. My foggy brain while reading didn't let me get bogged down in the details, which means that the unfamiliar Italian names and justice system confused me at times. What made this book different from your average non-fiction murder tale is that the author became involved after his investigations into the killings set the police sights on him. Since it's told from such a personal level, I felt both close to the story and a little skeptical. Not of the author himself, really, but maybe of those he was in close contact with? Perhaps he was trying to make the reader feel suspicious at every turn - as he must have been - but it left me unsure of the whole story.
The Monster of Florence will most appeal to those who like a true mystery and forensics read or who closely followed the Amanda Knox trial, as some of the key players are found in both scenarios.
Neither of these are exactly holiday reading, but maybe keep them in mind for 2012. Do you read much over the holidays? Do you like a theme during this time of year? I want to hear what you're reading now.
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