Saturday, January 12, 2013

CBR5 #1 Nurture Shock by PO Bronson and Ashley Merryman

One of the most influential books about children ever published, Nurture Shock offers a revolutionary new perspective on children that upends a library's worth of conventional wisdom. With impeccable storytelling and razor-sharp analysis, the authors demonstrate that many of modern society's strategies for nurturing children are in fact backfiring--because key twists in the science have been overlooked. Nothing like a parenting manual, NurtureShock gets to the core of how we grow, learn and live.
January Book Club Selection

"It's when children are at their most mysterious that we, their caregivers, can learn something new." This sentence is the very last one in the conclusion of this book and it really captured the tone of the book well.

During my pregnancy, I didn't read many parenting or twin books.  It was hard for me to think about what life with my two girls would be like.  Now that they are born and I'm learning what it means to be a full-time (right now) mom, I am curious to read more parenting books.  So when Nurture Shock was chosen for book club, I dove right into the book.

The term "Nurture Shock" refers to the panic, common among new parents, that the mythical fountain of knowledge is not magically kicking in at all. Reviewing many different research studies, the authors found that most of the noteworthy insights into child development were revealed when two assumptions were dropped:

  1. Things work in children the same way that they work in adults.
  2. Positive traits necessarily oppose and ward off negative behavior in children. 
The authors explore the effect of losing one hour of sleep, why children lie, the impact of siblings, language development, talking about race, the inverse power of praise and testing for the gifted program.  Even though a lot of research was presented throughout the book, the authors had a way of framing the studies with real world examples to help explain what the research found.  

While some of the topics are not relevant for my parenting situation right now, I do feel that I learned more about how a child's brain works.  The language chapter was extremely interesting to me as it explained different methods to helping increasing your child's vocabulary. The chapter on praise definitely was eye-opening as well.  Even someone who is not a parent, but is interested in how a child's brain works would find this book interesting. 

This book was also my first adventure with an e-book.  As the e-book craze has grown over the past couple of years, I resisted getting an e-reader and continued to just read paper books.  But after reading magazines on my iPad, I decided to try out reading a book on the iPad.  I like that I can highlight different sentences as I read - which is helpful for non-fiction reading. And reading e-books has been easier than paper books while holding my daughter.  

Thursday, January 3, 2013

2012 End of the Year Summary

Happy New Year! I set a reading goal of 70 books in 2012 and I didn't quite make that goal.  I did read 65 books, which was 9 more than the year before. I successfully completed the fourth round of Cannonball Read.

Jamie at The Perpetual Page Turner hosted an end of the year book survey again this year. Here are my answers to that survey:

1. Best Book You Read in 2012: While it is tough to pick just one book, I would say The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern was the best book I read in 2012.

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn't: Hands down Gone Girl by Gilian Flynn. I know this book was buzzing throughout the book world, but I didn't find the characters that likable. Perhaps I read this book at the wrong time or I missed some key to the book.

3. Most Surprising (In a Good Way) Book in 2012: I've Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella was my surprise book in 2012.  My expectations for Chick Lit books is never high, but this book had a nice mystery and romance missed into the plot.

4. Book You Recommended To People The Most in 2012: Taylor Stevens' second book The Innocent and In The Woods by Tana French are two books that I recommended the most in the past year.

5. Best Series You Discovered In 2012: I don't tend to read a lot of series books, but I did discover Brad Parks' Carter Ross' Mysteries (Faces Of The Gone, Eyes Of The Innocent, and The Girl Next Door) this year.

6. Favorite New Authors You Discovered in 2012: Rachel Joyce, Tana French and Gregg Hurwitz are three new authors I discovered in 2012.

7. Best Book That Was Out Of Your Comfort Zone or Was A New Genre For You: We read a graphic novel Tricked by Alex Robinson for book club.  I hadn't read a graphic novel since college so it was a "new" experience for me.

8. Most Thrilling, Unputdownable Book in 2012: You're Next by Gregg Hurwitz kept me on the edge of my seat.

9. Book You Read In 2012 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year: I am not a big fan of rereading books, so probably none.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2012: It is a toss-up between Beautiful Ruins and A Secret Kept 

11. Most memorable character in 2012: I would say Harold Fry from The Unlikely Pilgrimage Of Harold Fry.  Rachel Joyce captured the essence of a retiree suddenly encouraged to take on an impossible task.

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2012: Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand because she was able to make non-fiction seem like fiction.

13. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2012:  There isn't one specifically, but I found myself gravitating towards books about marriage and motherhood as those two life events happened for me over the past 18 months.

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2012 to finally read: Definitely Unbroken.

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2012: Hmm.. this question is tough.  Many of the books I read this year were full of beautiful passages.

16. Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2012: 
Shortest - The Kissing List at 223 pages
Longest - Forever Queen at 629 pages

17. Book That Had A Scene In It That Had You Reeling And Dying To Talk To Somebody About It: I think Tricked was one book that had me shocked, perhaps more because it was graphically depicted.

18. Favorite Relationship From A Book You Read In 2012: The budding romance between Emily and Winn in The Girl Who Chased The Moon because of the innocent way it started.

19. Favorite Book You Read in 2012 From An Author You Read Previously: Close tie between The Girl Who Chased The Moon and Small Wars.  Both were books by authors that I read before but hadn't enjoyed the first book.

20. Best Book You Read That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else: Definitely You're Next - thanks to Jen at Jen's Book Thoughts recommendation.

Looking ahead to 2013, I've set my reading goal at 70 books again.  It may be challenging with two little ones to take care of as well, but I am going to try.  I'm also going to make some of those books e-books. I have joined Cannonball Read round five as well.  

CBR4 #65 - Trust No One by Gregg Hurwitz

Over the past two decades, Nick Horrigan has built a quiet, safe life for himself, living as much under the radar as possible. But all of that shatters when, in the middle of the night, a SWAT team bursts into his apartment, grabs him and drags him to a waiting helicopter. A terrorist— someone Nick has never heard of—has seized control of a nuclear reactor, threatening to blow it up. And the only person he’ll talk to is Nick, promising to tell Nick the truth behind the events that shattered his life twenty years ago. At seventeen years old, Nick Horrigan made a deadly mistake—one that cost his stepfather his life, endangered his mother, and sent him into hiding for years. Now, what Nick discovers in that nuclear plant leaves him with only two choices—to start running again, or to fight and finally uncover the secrets that have held him hostage all these years.  As Nick peels back layer after layer of lies and deception, buffeted between the buried horrors of the past and the deadly intrigues of the present, he finds his own life—and the lives of nearly everyone he loves—at risk. And the only thing guiding him through this deadly labyrinth are his stepfather’s dying words: TRUST NO ONE.
I picked up this back list title after reading Hurwitz's latest book (You're Next) a few months ago.  True to his previous books, Hurwitz knows how to keep his readers on their toes.

This book reads like a 24 plot line with more back story on the main characters. Corruption among the different government agencies is not new, but Hurwitz knows how to bring a fresh take on the idea. There is even a romantic subplot which leaves the reader guessing if Nick and his ex-girlfriend will get back together.

If you are looking for a good thriller with some touching family and personal moments this book is for you.

CBR4 #64 - The Unlikely Pilgrimage Of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce

Meet Harold Fry, recently retired. He lives in a small English village with his wife, Maureen, who seems irritated by almost everything he does, even down to how he butters his toast. Little differentiates one day from the next. Then one morning the mail arrives, and within the stack of quotidian minutiae is a letter addressed to Harold in a shaky scrawl from a woman he hasn’t seen or heard from in twenty years. Queenie Hennessy is in hospice and is writing to say goodbye. Harold pens a quick reply and, leaving Maureen to her chores, heads to the corner mailbox. But then, as happens in the very best works of fiction, Harold has a chance encounter, one that convinces him that he absolutely must deliver his message to Queenie in person. And thus begins the unlikely pilgrimage at the heart of Rachel Joyce’s remarkable debut. Harold Fry is determined to walk six hundred miles from Kingsbridge to the hospice in Berwick-upon-Tweed because, he believes, as long as he walks, Queenie Hennessey will live. Still in his yachting shoes and light coat, Harold embarks on his urgent quest across the countryside. Along the way he meets one fascinating character after another, each of whom unlocks his long-dormant spirit and sense of promise. Memories of his first dance with Maureen, his wedding day, his joy in fatherhood, come rushing back to him—allowing him to also reconcile the losses and the regrets. As for Maureen, she finds herself missing Harold for the first time in years. And then there is the unfinished business with Queenie Hennessy.
This book was the first book I read after being in the hospital for 6 weeks.  I started it during the Thankfully Reading Weekend over the Thanksgiving holiday.

In a lot of ways, this book reminded me of the book Major Pettigrew's Last Stand as they both have an elderly gentleman as the main character.  But it is not just the age of the character, but the sense that the character breaks out of his shell and tries to change his life. The concept of a modern day pilgrimage is one that we don't hear of very often and yet we all can relate to the determination and longing that Harold Fry demonstrated that one morning.

It is hard to read about a long standing marriage that has turned into a convenience without looking for similar marriages in our own lives. I appreciate the sensitivity the Joyce provides around Maureen realizing that Harold is her one true love and how she encouraged him to keep going even at her own heartbreak and longing for him to be back at home.

Harold's stubbornness is endearing as he tries to stay true to his original mission even when others capitalize on his failure.  His desire to live just on what he is offered along the pilgrimage takes his quest to a new level.
Joyce delivers a touching and poignant story that will stay with the reader even after they finish the book.