If it seems like I'm posting more about books lately, it's because I'm reading more lately. Thank you, kindle paperwhite and thank you, summer.
Not that summer means a ton in my world of working from home with kids who are too young for school. But it's a mentality, I guess. The long days and beautiful sunsets.
I read The Secrets of Happy Families by Bruce Feiler after Checklist Mommy so highly recommended it. I don't really make a habit of reading parenting books, because back when I was pregnant people screamed at me not to - they said it would freak me out. While I can see that might be true in some cases, the few parenting books I've read have actually been very helpful. I don't treat them like the Bible of Parenting (one reason why this genre gets such a bad rap), but I take what applies and am fine to leave the rest behind.
In this way, The Secrets of Happy Families had some really interesting chapters. Regular family meetings seemed a bit absurd on its face, but the more I read, the more I thought this might be something we could try when our kids were a bit older. Maybe for now it's something I could attempt with my husband. We're in such a hectic stage (isn't everyone?) that a bit of a formal check-in might do wonders for the mental state.
"...a University of Michigan report that examined how American children spent their time between 1981 and 1997, discovered that the amount of time children spent eating meals at home was the single biggest predictor of better academic achievement adn few behavioral problems. Mealtime was more influential than time spent in school, studying, attending religious services, or playing sports."
I also really liked the chapter about speaking with your children about sex. This is something I have, admittedly, sort of worried about. I just have mixed feelings on how and how much this should go down. So reading the perspective from the mom who gives condom lessons, well, I just found it very interesting.
"Let's begin with the research, which itself is myth shattering. The first thing is that adolescents are far more chaste than you might think. They fool around on the bases, if you will, but they don't reach home all that often. The Guttmacher Institute, the most respected authority on teen sexuality, reports that only 13% of teens have had sexual intercourse by age fifteen. Most have sex for the first time around seventeen. More noteworthy, those figures are largely unchanged over the last sixty years; they've even ticked downward in recent years...So for starters, we call all pull our fingers off the panic button. There's much more sex on the TV your kids are watching than on the sofa where they're sitting."
If you like reading this sort of thing, The Secrets of Happy Families was easy to understand, not condescending or One Size Fits All.
I read What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty in two days (sort of how I devoured Dark Places, although they couldn't be more different). It starts off just a smidge cheesy, but by the end of the first chapter I was hooked right in until the very end.
I really abhor plot summaries, but this one is what made me pick it up. A 39-year-old separated mother of three woke up after a bump on the head a thinks she's 29, newly married, and early pregnant. In short, she's lost her memory of an entire decade. She doesn't remember her children, she has no idea why she's getting a divorce.
So as she walks through her current life, she really cannot make sense of the woman she has become. To see herself through her younger eyes, it's really quite revealing. I loved the plot of this book, loved the idea of exploring what our younger selves would think of us now. Would they be proud, excited for the future? Or would they be appalled?
So much happens in ten years, as the book slowly reveals the events in her life that brought her to where she is, you alternately feel sympathetic and infuriated and, naturally, look inward. This book was light but not dumb, thought-provoking, but an easy, entertaining read. What Alice Forgot is my favorite beach read of the season so far.
What will you be reading this holiday weekend?