Category: Reading Nook


Books I’ve Recently Read – Nonfiction!

Posted 3 May, 2017 by Trish in Reading Nook, Review / 18 Comments

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Books I've Recently Read

 

We meet again! While blogging hasn’t been high on my to do list over the past couple of months, I have been enjoying books. Now that I’m working every day, I’ve added audiobooks back into my rotation…for the days that I’m not listening to the Hamilton soundtrack (yes, still). I’m only in the car about 40 minutes a day, but every so often I’ll put on my earbuds while cooking dinner (if I’m not in charge of any littles) or while cleaning up around the house for some bonus listening time.

Below are three books that I listened to late last year…that all happen to be nonfiction. Nonfiction is definitely my go-to on audio–I find that I can usually get into the book more quickly than listening to fiction where it’ll take me hours to be invested (ahem Lonesome Dove ahem). For better or worse, it also doesn’t seem so detrimental to my experience if I zone out a few times here and there, though I think that I tend to stay more focused on nonfiction than fiction on audio. My mind doesn’t wander quite as much.

 

isaac's storm book cover

Isaac’s Storm by Erik Larson

Audio Narrator: Richard Davidson | Audio Duration: 9 hrs and 38 mins
Published: 1999 | Pages: 323 | Genre: Nonfiction/History
On Amazon | On Indiebound | On Goodreads | On Audible

In Short: In 1900 a hurricane swept over Galveston Island (in Texas) and killed between 6,000 and 12,000 people. Isaac’s Storm follows Isaac Cline, the Weather Service Director, and how he and others failed to recognize the danger of the city as the hurricane approached from the Caribbean. Because this happened over a century ago, this event has always felt so far away in history but Larson put a human face on the disaster by including many first hand accounts from the days leading up to the hurricane to the weeks after.

Bottom Line and Recommendation: Audio was a great format for Isaac’s Storm. Richard Davidson’s narration reminded me a lot of Edward Herrmann’s narrations and I had to keep checking to make sure it wasn’t him (Herrmann did narrate the abridged version). I wasn’t quite as captivated by this book as I was The Devil and the White City, but it was still a fascinating listen. After listening, I found myself scouring the internet for pictures of Galveston before and after the hurricane. I had no idea that Galveston was such an up and coming city in the 1800s. Sadly the hurricane had a great affect on its status as a major gulf port.

 

h is for hawk book cover

H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald

Audio Length: 11 hrs and 6 mins
Published: 2014 | Pages: 300 | Genre: Memoir

On Amazon | On Indiebound | On Goodreads | On Audible

In Short: In short, H is for Hawk is about Macdonald’s journey through grief after her father’s passing and her relationship with her hawk Mabel whom she trains during that time. The book is part reflection on her emotions and existence after her father’s death and part field guide on what it takes to train a hawk. She also throws in some biographical information on the author TH White (The Sword in the Stone) and his experience with training goshawks.

Bottom Line and Recommendation: H is for Hawk is one of the most amazing audios I’ve listened to, even though the actual subject wasn’t always interesting to me. I don’t know how else to explain that and I realize how ridiculous it sounds. Macdonald’s voice was like a salve and I soaked in it.  I’d listen to it again…but it’s one of those that I can’t automatically recommend because the subject doesn’t seem universally interesting? But please give it a try, and if it feels a little slow at first just let her words wash over you. The writing is gorgeous.

 

As You Wish Book Cover

As You Wish by Cary Elwes

Audio Narrator: Elwes and other cast | Audio Duration:  7 hrs and 1 min
Published: 2014 | Pages: 259 | Genre: Memoir

On Amazon | On Indiebound | On Goodreads | On Audible

In Short: Cary Elwes, who plays Westley in the classic movie The Princess Bride, reminisces about the making of film. He brings in the remembrances of other cast members to provide a full picture. He starts with the the failed productions and conceptions of The Princess Bride to how the cast was put together, to how the film became a surprise cult classic.

Bottom Line and Recommendation: I smiled from ear to ear while I was listening to As You Wish. I loved hearing all the tidbits and gossip surrounding the production and actors/actresses. It was fun to learn that Arnold Schwarzenegger was originally pinned as The Giant (later went to Andre the Giant) and that Elwes and Mandy Patinkin (Inigo) took very serious swordfighting lessons to make their scenes as authentic as possible. And so much more. If you’re a fan of The Princess Bride, you must listen to this book. The paper copy is great and has pictures, but you won’t regret choosing audio for this one.

 

*Amazon and Indiebound links are affiliate. If you purchase anything through those links, I will receive a small commission which will help support this blog. Thank you!

 

If I didn’t think your eyes were starting to glaze over, I’d also include little write-ups for The Happiness Project (which I’ve now listened to twice) and Evicted (which was so eye-opening). Maybe next time. ;)

Have you listened to anything fabulous lately??

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Unlatched by Jennifer Grayson

Posted 28 September, 2016 by Trish in Mommyhood, Reading Nook, Review / 10 Comments

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Unlatched cover by jennifer grayson

 

Title: Unlatched: The Evolution of Breastfeeding and the Making of a Controversy
Author: Jennifer Grayson
Published: 2016 Pages: 336 | Genre: Nonfiction
Rating: Breastfeeding. It’s complicated!

On Amazon | On Indiebound | On Goodreads

My sister asked me the other day at what age I thought it was inappropriate for a child to still be nursing. Had I not just finished Unlatched, I don’t know what my answer would have been. The short answer I gave her was “I don’t know…it’s complicated!”

And that’s what makes Unlatched such an interesting read. Grayson goes into some of the history of breastfeeding and how views of breastfeeding have changed over the past century. These days it feels taboo to discuss breastfeeding, depending on the audience, and it certainly isn’t something that most women choose to do in public, despite it being the most natural way to feed an infant. How did breastfeeding become such a source of controversy? Why are mommies at war with one another over breastfeeding versus formula feeding?

I read Unlatched mostly while I breastfed my 8 month old babe or while I pumped breastmilk at work, because that’s when I get much of my reading in these days. Even though I am a breastfeeding mom, I had many conflicted thoughts while reading this book and at the beginning was incredibly turned off by Grayson’s tone and point of view. I mean, the second chapter of the book is entitled “What Would Baby Jesus Drink?” Cue the eyerolling. I formula-fed my first baby and felt so much guilt over it and it is very clear that Grayson is very pro-breastfeeding (she weaned her oldest at four years).

The breadth of the book is quite expansive and at times I felt like it was a little too wide. She covers breastfeeding in ancient times through the Industrial Revolution. She gives a lot of focus to when mothers began working outside of the home in the 1800s and the great effect this had on breastfeeding in the 1900s. She talks about the advent of formula and how formula marketing has played such a large role in breastfeeding and its public perception. She talks about the Women Infant Children program and the government involvement with formula companies and WIC.

Grayson also talks about the benefits of breastfeeding as well as some of the mysteries, but this is where I wanted more information. She dropped a bomb in my lap that breastmilk is actually a tissue. What the what? What does this even mean? She doesn’t expand and I couldn’t find any information online. She strongly believes that if more babies were breastfed that our national health would increase as a whole. But is there that much research to substantiate this huge claim? She didn’t convince me.

There’s SO MUCH. SO MUCH. There’s the idea that breastfeeding is now something that is tied to privilege–if you can stay at home with your child then yay for you. But this also assumes that you’re able to nurse with other littles around. Or that you have the flexibility and support system. Or that it comes easy to you. Breastfeeding is hard!

Which then leads into the discussion of how breastfeeding is handled in hospitals. My own experiences between my first and second baby were very different. No one mentioned putting the baby to my breast right after I had her the first time around–I had to ask the nurses when I should start trying to feed her. Rooming arrangements were also different between the first and third. With my first, she was only brought into my room to nurse. By my third baby, she never left my side for one second during our entire stay in the hospital. The presence (or lack) of formula, pacifiers, and lactation consultants varied each time.

She talks about how the women in 18th century France shipped off their babies to farms to be breastfed by others. Or the “mass infanticide” that occurred in Britain and Ireland when babies were not breastfed by their mothers (what?!). She talks about how the normal breastfeeding range is 2-7 years. Though I’m not sure exactly where this is happening. She talks about pumping and how the return to work is affecting our babies. Of course this also goes hand in hand with maternity leave–or the lack of it. This third time around, I’m lucky to work the hours that I do around breastfeeding and pumping. I know from my first corporate job that this is rarely the case for working mothers.

So yes, in many ways I really connected with Unlatched and it was a read that I found compelling. But the delivery of Grayson’s message was often tough to swallow. I spent the first half of the book exasperated with the way that she was trying to sell breastfeeding. Additionally, the first couple of chapters in the book felt unorganized and the information seemed conflicting. Grayson made a lot of claims but it wasn’t always clear whether these claims were founded in actual research or supposition.

The second half of the book was much more polished and felt more relevant to the conversations we need to be having about breastfeeding–how formula companies have evolved and how more research can be done to uncover some of the mysteries of breastmilk. These articles from around the web are snippets from the book if you’d like to get a taste of the writing style and content. ‘The World’s Oldest Profession’ Might Not Be What You ThinkIs It Time To Stop Talking About The Benefits Of Breastfeeding?Breast milk is best and free, so why is it a luxury for American moms?

I know, I know, this post is already a 1,000 words long…likely the longest book post I’ve written (not to mention the essay I wrote on my own breastfeeding journey), but here are a few of the passages I highlighted throughout the book (and there were many).

“But the truth is that while the rooting and sucking reflexes are hardwired in a baby, a mother’s knowledge of how to breastfeed is not. For humans and members of the larger primate order to which we belong, that knowledge is culturally based and it is largely learned” (loc 234). But then “…for thousands, perhaps millions, of years of human history, breastfeeding was a natural, intuitive experience that all Homo sapiens and previous human ancestors had shared and knew intimately” (loc 271).

“The federal government’s Women, Infants, and Children program, also known as WIC (which provides supplemental foods as well as health assistance to low-income pregnant women, new mothers, infants, and children under the age of five), buys and distributes more than half of all the infant formula sold in the United States every year, making the US government the formula manufacturers’ biggest customer” (loc 347).

“And many soon came to see formula as preferable in an era when doctors believed that breastfeeding could only be successful under ideal conditions: if the mother had ample daily exercise; if she drank prescribed quantities of water; if she followed a plain diet; if she abstained from tea, coffee, and alcohol; if she wasn’t stressed in any way. The bottle, unlike the breast, was predictable and measurable” (loc 1439).

“Yet here’s the crux of the problem: in a culture where both men and women automatically think sex when they see a naked breast, it is a real challenge for a mother to whip out one of those sexually loaded things every time she needs to feed her kid” (loc 2623).

“But maybe we should stop talking about the benefits of breastfeeding and instead start considering the risks of not breastfeeding, since I’m certainly not fine. Are you fine? Are we—an overweight nation of chronically ill, medicine-dependent formula feeders—fine?” (loc 3637…Grayson was formula fed as an infant).

“But in the United States, we’ve championed pumping to the exclusion of giving a new mother the time to bond with her newborn, by packing her off to work with a health care–sponsored breast pump and zero paid maternity leave” (loc 3856).

 

Bottom Line: Whew. I still have so many more thoughts and the more I think about it, the more the breastfeeding question continues to complicate itself in my mind. Do I wish that more mothers would consider breastfeeding their babies? Yes–absolutely! Do I think that mothers should feel less guilt over not being able to breastfeed? Yes–absolutely! It’s not clear-cut for me. I’ve been on both sides of the fence. Is this a book for everyone? No. Is it a perfect piece of journalism? No–I think Grayson’s book is flawed in many ways. But I do think that as uncomfortable this conversation is to have, we should be talking about breastfeeding more than we are.

 

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Assigned Kiddo Reading Time

Posted 25 September, 2016 by Trish in Mommyhood, Reading Nook / 25 Comments

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assigned-reading-time

Happy Sunday!

Here we are a month into Kindergarten. Can you believe it? This past week it was college week at school and so I explained that when Elle turned 18 and finished high school she would/could go to college. She cried that she didn’t want to go to college and leave home. Me either baby girl. Me either. Thankfully we don’t have to think about that for many more years! But yes I know…it’ll be here before I know it. Sob.

While Elle hasn’t come home with any homework from school yet, her teacher has asked that parents read to the kiddos 20 minutes each day. Reading books before bedtime has long been routine for us, but it rarely equates to 20 minutes and I’m usually putting the baby down while Scott reads to the bigger girls. I miss having that reading time in bed with them.

One of the benefits of being able to pick Elle up from school and have some alone time with her before getting her sisters is having built in reading time. While some days this does feel more like a chore, I’m trying to keep things fun and light and not go too much into my teacher mode to try and make this time about learning.

This is a struggle for me because I worry. It’s difficult not to compare to other kiddos who are already reading a bit and have a good handle on sight words. We’re still trying to keep individual letters straight. The past four weeks have shown great improvement but I do wonder if I’ll eventually be researching dyslexia, which is hereditary. And then I take a billion deep breaths and remind myself that we are only four weeks into kindergarten.

Mama never stops worrying. For better or worse.

But! I’ve been trying to make the most of our reading time together and have been having a lot of fun with it. Last week I read a Book Riot article from Raych about Tiny Ladies Doing Shit and put ALLLLLL the books on hold at the library. We are making our way through Hamster Princess: Harriet the Invincible right now and I’m loving it. I think most of the jokes are going over Elle’s head, but this take on Sleeping Beauty is just too much fun.

Harriet the Invincible is our first chapter book and I’m hoping I can use it to leap into some of the other books I’ve been wanting to read. Short attention spans and glazed over eyes is still a problem at this age, but 20 minutes a day seems to be the perfect amount of time.

My hope is that I can sneak in Alice in Wonderland next. Maybe the Little House on the Prairie books. Can you believe I’ve never read The Secret Garden?! Honestly, I feel like I’m a poor gauge of what is appropriate for a five year old–should I be sticking to easier books or go ahead and read some of the more advanced ones to her?

We’ll figure it out, I’m sure. In the meantime, I’m soaking up those extra snuggles with someone who is growing much too quickly. I’ve always loved these quieter and slower times with my girls.

Do you have memories of “reading” longer books when you were little? At what age did you start reading longer books with littles in your life?

 

hearts

 

Books Recently Finished: Since my last Sunday post, I skimmed the rest of Total Money Makeover and counted it finished. If you skim through a book but got 100% of the gist, do you count it toward your annual tally? I also finished What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty and really enjoyed it.

New Books in the House: Celebrate Everything by Jenny Rosenstrach came out this past week. She wrote Dinner: A Love Story and I adore her. I haven’t had a chance to really dig into the book yet but it’s just as lovely as DALS.

New Books on my E-Reader: Someone needs to take Amazon one-click away from me. Thankfully I’ve had some gift cards to blow through lately. Last week I picked up Catastrophic Happiness (a motherhood memoir) and The Secret Keeper (for book club). I also recently got the ebook copy of Lonesome Dove since I have the beast of a hardcover on my shelf and that’s just not gonna happen. Pst…who wants to read Lonesome Dove with me? I’m thinking November.

Books on the Nightstand: Lots of cookbooks! I’m taking the leap into Once a Month Cooking next month so have been doing lots of research. I’m also about 50% of the way through Germinal by Émile Zola, but I have to set it aside to read The Secret Keeper.

(Amazon links are affiliate so I receive a small small commission if you make a purchase through your clicky clicky. Thank you for the support to help keep this blog afloat!)

 

What’s going on in your neck of the woods today? Curled up with a good book?

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Judging a Book By Its Cover

Posted 18 September, 2016 by Trish in Reading Nook / 21 Comments

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judging-a-book-by-its-cover

 

One of the most ubiquitous rules of reading is Don’t Judge a Book By Its Cover.

Raise your hand if you don’t abide by this rule. It’s ok–it’s one that I continually break as well.

As I very rarely read jacket covers or the back of a book before I start it, when I’m browsing books at the store the only thing I have to go on is the cover and perhaps word of mouth.

There are certain genres that I tend to stay away from, and it wasn’t until a few months ago that I realized why…it’s because the covers generally have pictures of real people. And then the light went off…I do NOT want to see people on a book cover. I will always give preference to something that is nondescript or vague. Although, caricatured pictures or artistic pictures are OK–it’s the ones that show an actual person that turn me off.

These are books I’ve ignored (even though I own more than half of them) because of the pictures on the covers:

Books with People on the Cover

 

The genres where I see this the most? Romance! Besides the fact that I’m not a fan of “happily ever after,” it’s the covers that always push me away from these books. Even the ones with the cowboys (what can I say, I am Texan…). Movie tie-in books are just as appalling to me and I think it has more to do with there being actual people on the cover than anything else.See also Paranormal. Celebrity memoirs seem to be the exception to this rule.

More NOPE:

people-on-covers

 

WHY don’t I like people on covers??

I don’t know why I don’t like seeing people on a book cover. Idiosyncratic Trish? Though I suspect I prefer nondescript covers so that I can imagine characters on my own terms. I don’t want to be forced an image of a character while I’m reading the book. You know that feeling you have when you are reading a book and you see the actors who will play the roles in an upcoming movie and they feel completely wrong?  I’m sure you can offer up some great alternative reasons in the comments!

I’m trying to overcome this judgement of mine. Of course ebooks help because you’re not continually reminded of the cover everytime you see the book, but I admit that I pass up books over and over because I don’t like the cover. I recently forced myself to read The Madonnas of Leningrad. Even though the cover features a painting-like quality of picture, I kept passing up that face for other things. It’s ridiculous, I know.

Do you judge books by their covers? What turns you off of a book? And how do you feel about seeing real people on book covers?

hearts

 

 

Books Recently Finished: The only book I’ve finished recently is Unlatched by Jennifer Grayson–the tagline is “the evolution of breastfeeding and the making of a controversy). My feelings on the book are fairly complicated and I had a sort of love/hate relationship as I was reading. Chapter titles such as “What Would Jesus Drink?” made me roll my eyes but there was also interesting information about the roll that formula has played in breastfeeding over the past half century.

New Books in the House: I have a big stack of books out from the library, but I did get a copy of Budget Bytes from Avery Publishing.

New Books on my E-Reader: I couldn’t resist The Pearl that Broke Its Shell by Nadia Hashimi when it came up on Daily Deal. I also picked up a copy of Germinal by Emile Zola (ebook and audio) for a readalong with Care, Melissa, and others.

Books on the Nightstand: I’m about halfway through What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty for a book club date that has already passed. I hate people like me. I’m really enjoying the book a lot but I underestimated how long the book was. Since that’s a paper book, I started Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey on my phone. It’s really annoying but I’m hoping to glean some helpful information from the book. And Germinal on audio. I should be reading that on my phone/ereader as well but haven’t gotten there yet. TMM is a little more brainless. ;)

What’s going on in your bookish world today? Reading anything noteworthy?

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Ten Awesome Nonfiction Audiobooks

Ten Awesome Nonfiction Audiobooks

    Want to hear a secret? I love listening to nonfiction on audio. It’s my favorite way to digest the genre. The other part of this secret is that I prefer listening to nonfiction than fiction books on audio. Today’s Top Ten Tuesday (from The Broke and the Bookish) is Top Ten All Time Favorite Books of X Genre. Gah it’s so tough to break down favorites, isn’t it? I’ve shared some of my […]

Posted 13 September, 2016 by Trish in Reading Nook / 17 Comments
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Finding Our New Normal

Finding Our New Normal

  This week was a big week for our family–Elle started Kindergarten. Do you guys remember when I first announced I was having a baby? Sometimes it seems so unreal that I’ve had three little kiddos during the lifetime of this blog.     On Monday morning, Scott and I took Elle to her new school while my mom watched the littles for us. The school is within walking distance of our house so once […]

Posted 25 August, 2016 by Trish in Life, Reading Nook / 22 Comments
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Ten Books Set in Texas

Ten Books Set in Texas

Non-native Texans always joke that they might not have been born here, but they got here as fast as they could. 26 years ago my family moved from Toronto to Texas and I’m not sure I could consider anywhere else home. I love this state–for all of its faults. Texas seems to be such a bold state and many of the books I’ve included below are quintessentially Texan. I missed this week’s Top Ten Tuesday […]

Posted 17 August, 2016 by Trish in Reading Nook / 20 Comments
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Happy Sunday!

Happy Sunday!

Happy Sunday! Also Happy Birthday to me. :) Today I’m halfway between 30 and 40 and trying not to freak out about it. Actually, the 30s have been great so far, though sometimes I have a tough time remembering that I’m an adult. I read an article the other day about teaching children how to do things for themselves–laundry, cooking, cleaning–and I wondered how I can teach them these things when I’m not even adult […]

Posted 14 August, 2016 by Trish in Reading Nook / 29 Comments
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Book Catalog Spreadsheet

Book Catalog Spreadsheet

    Happy Sunday y’all! I’m hoping that today can be a lazy day around our house. It’s hotter than hot outside and this is one of our last few Sundays before we start the back to school grind. Except in our case it’ll be the start of school grind. I’m a ball of anxiety thinking about sending Elle to Kindergarten. Not because it means she’s growing up (though, wahhhhhhh), but because of how much […]

Posted 7 August, 2016 by Trish in Reading Nook / 28 Comments
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Books Recently Read – Post-Apocalypse Edition

Books Recently Read – Post-Apocalypse Edition

  We all have our preferred reading topics and post-apocalyptic is definitely not one that I gravitate towards. Except surprisingly almost a quarter of the books I’ve read this year are set after an apocalypse. What strikes me about all of these books, is how different they are from one another (The Fireman and I Am Legend are two no included in this post). They’ve also all been optioned for movies, so I guess post-apocalyptic books […]

Posted 5 August, 2016 by Trish in Reading Nook, Review / 15 Comments
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