winter reads

A lot of my winter reads had to do with health and nutrition. I did a lot of reading in the car on the way to/from DC over Christmas and then read some more when we got back home. My semester has been underway since mid-January, so the reading tapered off then but because I am only taking one class, I still tried to keep pace of reading two books a month. With the in-place quarantine, I am hoping to read more but this first week has not really allowed as much as I’d hoped for…

Brutus’s Adventures in Petlandia

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Okay, so this isn’t really a reading book; it’s a picture book that my husband had made for me about my best furry friend, Brutus. It charts his adventures as he makes it big in Hollywood and honestly, this is one of the coolest gift I’ve ever received.

Do Less by Kate Northrup

Do Less - by Kate Northrup (Paperback)

This was a pretty quick read that also included activities. The experiments around listening to your body and discovering what’s important are two things I do regularly but it’s always nice to be reminded. Otherwise, I found the cycle elements/connections a bit out of my interest range.

Forks over Knives by Alona Pulde, MD & Matthew Lederman, MD

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I read this, largely aloud to my husband, as we drove to DC the day after Christmas. Each year in January, I like to do a health challenge — this year, I’d like to try vegan living for a month and got my husband on board. This book offers a four-week plan to transition and gives a lot of information. In reading this, I realized that I don’t have a ton of changes. It’ll be interesting to see how it goes — there are recipes in the book too but I mostly appreciated the suggestions on how to integrate a more plant-based diet into life and the effects that can have on health.

Cook Without a Book: Meatless Meals by Pam Anderson

Cook without a book meatless meals recipes and techniques for parttime and fulltime vegetarians Ebook

Okay, this was not written by the Pam Anderson you may be thinking. Sure, this book had a lot of recipes but more importantly, it had a lot of advice on how to cut back on animal consumption, like practicing vegan until 6PM each day or choosing two days a week for only vegetarian meals. I found it helpful and have shared some of the advice with my parents (their PCP has been pushing them to go plant-based for years).

Eat to Live by Joel Fuhrman, MD

Eat to Live: The Amazing Nutrient-Rich Program for Fast and Sustained Weight Loss (Revised Edition)

One interesting piece in this that also was listed in Forks over Knives was that EVOO is not healthy and that adding fat to food really isn’t a healthful idea. Honestly, I had no idea. I’ve always been told that EVOO is a healthy fat but now I’m thinking this is something I want to look into more. Interestingly, this book also debunks the USDA’s food plate for healthy eating — my biggest takeaway is that maybe I should start adding a cold salad to go along with dinner. There were also a lot of recipes and aside from some of the smoothies, nothing really sounded super great to me.

The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone

The Kind Diet: A Simple Guide to Feeling Great, Losing Weight, and Saving the Planet

Yes, this is written by the famous Clueless star who used to roll with her homies. Whatever. In this book, Silverstone covers her take on a complete lifestyle change with elements of vulnerability and “slip ups” in an honest and appreciated way. If you’re considering such a change to lifestyle, I recommend this book.

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone (for Rent) by Gottlieb, Lori 9781328662057 textbook

I found myself very engaged in the characters John and Julie. The chapters on them hit an emotional chord for me unlike the rest of the characters. Lori’s relationship building seemed honest and forthright throughout and I think that perhaps, that’s the biggest takeaway. I found this book to be interesting but heavy and the whole realm of discussing patients made me uneasy. I hate to think of my therapist using my thoughts, experiences, or emotions to further her career in some way.

Unfollow by Megan Phelps-Roper

Unfollow: A Memoir Of Loving And Leaving The Westboro Baptist Church

Wow. There’s so much I learned about how hate is taught/indoctrinated at a young age. I was familiar with funeral protests and the anti-gay stance of the Westboro Baptist Church, but only on a surface level. This book was equal parts eye-opening and horrifying, as it broke down a very rigid and radical set of “Christian” beliefs… This text makes me want to read about the Amish Rumspringa and similar contexts in other religions, though I’m curious of reading those will make me as uneasy as much of this text made me. I was appalled at the behaviors listed and the casualness of it all; still, I would recommend it to those who have an interest in cults or radical religious behaviors.

The Gift of Fear: Survival Signals that Protect us from Violence by Gavin DeBecker

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I found this book kind of fascinating — the big thing it really focused on was how our intuition is typically a series of cognitive observations, ever so slight ones at times, and that is precisely why we should “trust our gut.” The text was loaded with examples and explanations of how fear can drive thought and behavior and how when really breaking down what we’ve seen, we are able to make the best possible choices. I think this is something that everyone could benefit from reading but as a woman, I am particularly appreciative of the insights.

How Not to Die by Michael Greger, MD

How Not to Die: Discover the Foods Scientifically Proven to

A lot of this book repeated what I read in Forks & Knives. This book was really informative and I marked several pages/chapters for my husband to read. I appreciate how it broke down many ailments people suffer from and listed the best ways to combat them. I was particularly interested in Alzheimer’s Disease because it is what took the life of my grandmother; also, high blood pressure and heart disease because of my husband’s family history. There is a lot of information in here but I highly recommend this to anyone looking to take control of personal health.

fall reads

Much of my fall has been taken up with class-based readings. I did make time to finish two books recommended for one class and a few non-academic reads based on interests in health and nutrition and a couple pleasure reads during my trips to South Carolina and DC/VA.

Grain Brain by David Perlmutter, MD

Grain Brain: The Surprising Truth about Wheat, Carbs, and Sugar—Your Brain's Silent Killers; Hardcover; Author - David Perlmutter

This book was really interesting. I am trying to be more deliberate in my focus to choose healthy, nourishing foods. I don’t want an onset of health issues for things I can control; thus, I checked this book out of my local library. It had a lot of information on issues grain consumption causes — most of which I already knew and some of which I’ve experienced. It was a nice reminder about why we choose the foods we do to cook.

Whole30 by Melissa Hartwig & Dallas Hartwig

The Whole30: The 30-Day Guide to Total Health and Food Freedom (Hardcover) by Melissa Hartwig

My husband and I have talked about doing another Whole30. We held off for the fall but I think that the holiday season will be too rich and we will want to do one in January just to get our bodies back in working order. I like to get a jump start on the new year challenges by reviewing this to get into the right mindset. We normally don’t go through the whole thirty days but it’s a great reset and we do like to follow it strictly for a couple of weeks at least.

Whole30 Cookbook by Melissa Hartwig

The Whole30 Cookbook: 150 Delicious and Totally Compliant Recipes to Help You Succeed with the Whole30 and Beyond

I check this out on occasion; mostly when I want some ideas on easy and healthy dinners. I’ve been making a lot of Whole30 meals that are just simply roasted chicken and vegetables.

Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World by Jane McGonigal

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This was an assigned book for class but I thought I’d review it since it’s not a text book per se. It had a lot of interesting thoughts regarding the benefits of video gaming. I tried to read it with an open mind and there were definitely parts that stood out to me but I’m not yet convinced that video games are a form of technology I’d welcome into my home.

It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens by Danah Boyd

It's Complicated : The Social Lives of Networked Teens by Danah Boyd - Used (Very Good) - 0300166311 by Yale University Press | Thriftbooks.com

This was another book assigned for class. This one I really thought was interesting. There were a lot of takeaways about technology and how it extends the social context of teens that I could appreciate. I also liked views about teen’s changing voice to fit the expectations of those viewing their online presence and how/what they decide to keep hidden from everyone. If you have tweens or teens, I think this is worth a read.

The Connected Child by Karyn Purvis, PhD and Davir R Cross, PhD

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I checked this book out from my school’s library because my husband and I have had some concerns about sensory processing with our toddler (mostly because he’s had some school struggles at school and it’s largely been described to us that he has difficulty when high-chaos is ever-present). There is some great information in here for adoptive parents and also some really positive suggestions. Personally, I appreciated the information about issues that may arise from/with the first two years of life and development.

Living with Tracheomalacia by the Esophogeal and Airway Treatment Center at Boston Children’s Hospital.

This was an e-book published by Children’s Hospital and I read it because my son has this diagnosis. While we have his issues largely under control, I still felt it informative and helpful in understanding some of his medical issues.

The Conscious Parent by Shefali Tsabary

The Conscious Parent: Transforming Ourselves, Empowering Our Children; Paperback; Author - Shefali Tsabary

Wow. This was such a loaded text to read. There were a lot of takeaways around ego and supporting our children. I actually wrote down a number of excerpts for my husband to read because I thought he’d be interested in improving some aspects of parenting as well. I really took this text to heart. It was surprisingly quick to read (I read most of it on my flight to Charleston) and was loaded with great suggestions, thoughtful questions, and a good bit of reader engagement. I have already recommended this book to others and think it’s really a great resource for any parent and/or anyone who engages with children.

I can’t date Jesus by Michael Arceneaux

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I started reading this on the flight to Charleston when I finished The Conscious Parent and just waited and waited for whatever the humor I was expecting to pop out at me. It never did and while I’m sure some people would find this book engaging, I, personally, did not. I did appreciate the actual writing style of the author and his candor in sharing such personal and intimate details of his life but the humor I expected based on the title certainly fell short for me. I’m not sure that I would or wouldn’t recommend this book to someone else; I guess it would depend upon what that person is looking for…

Where’d you go, Bernadette: a novel by Maria Semple

Where'd You Go, Bernadette

This book was pretty wild — I loved the story line and even though the end felt a bit rushed, it was a really fun read. I started this on the plane ride to DC and finished it that night while 4 slept. The character development was nicely done but the character relationships at times seemed a bit disjointed/forced; otherwise, I would recommend this as a beach read/something similar because it flows nicely and the plot-line is easy to follow.

Other People’s Houses by Abbi Waxman

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This book was a fictional doozy! It really started with a bang. I started this on my flight home from DC and finished it the following weekend. It’s light and scandalous and exactly what every small-town, tightly-knit school community can relate to (even in a far-fetched kind of way). This would be a great beach read — the storyline jumps around a bit more because of the style of book, but I still enjoyed it.

summer reads

I have tried to take some time this summer to get back into the swing of my reading. I usually am able to tear through a few books between semesters and with the summer, I try to get through a book every week or two. I started the summer with a recommendation from a student in my Children’s Lit course. After that, I started to take recommendations from an online book club on Facebook that I am in. I like nice, light summer reads but picked up a heavier book along the way and ended up finishing it the day I started it. I am taking a couple of graduate courses in the fall and so I’m really trying to get in my recreational reading before textbook requirements, again, take over my time.

We’re going to need more wine: stories that are funny, complicated, and true
by Gabrielle Union.Image result for we're going to need more wine

I was curious to see what she had to say, as I knew she and DW struggled with infertility. That was ultimately what piqued my interest. This was a really light and relatable read. It was quick and I got through it by just reading for a little nightly over the course of time I’d checked it out from the library. I like books that can discuss heavy material at times and balance it with humor and understanding. This did just that for me.

The Overdue Life of Amy Byler
by Kelly Harms.

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I LOVED this book. I read it at the beach and got through about half in one day. It was my beach read while the kids were at their summer camps and I had a few hours (9-12) to kill. It was light and also sending signs from the universe, since the protagonist is a librarian and I’m going back to school to be one. I just really appreciated the lightness of the text and the realness of the toll motherhood can take sometimes.

When all is Said: a novel
by Anne Griffin.

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Wow. I read this book in one day, mostly at the beach. The reading was light in terms of the writing; really easy to get through and the story flowed simply. It was really heavy though. As an empath, I had to take a few breaths once I finished and honestly, if I’d gone to the next day, I think that I would have left it behind because I literally spent an entire day reading it/crying. Still, if you’re looking for perspective of losing a loved one, this may provide you with some. This book had me thinking about what I would say/think about how my life was molded in my final days. I will likely write about my five people in separate posts when I have the time to sit down and figure out who those five people would be — at first thought, I have three.

From the jacket: If you had to pick five people to sum up your life, who would they be? If you had to raise a glass to each of them, what would you say? And what would you learn about yourself, when all is said?

How to Party with an Infant
by Kaui Hart Hemmings.

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Eh. I could take or leave this book. I wasn’t really into the overall writing style or narration of this but the character development and plot line were okay. The protagonist was relatable but the supporting characters often fell flat for me. It was a light read though and quick.

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill
by Abbi Waxman.

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill

This book was cute and light; a very straightforward and simple rom-com, basically. I liked the main character and found her relatable (hello, anxiety and a deep appreciation of literature). I found the setting charming and the family dynamic, once revealed, entertaining, sweet, and earnest. For me, this started as a beach read and ended with an SVU marathon while my husband and son were away for the weekend. * The ONLY complaint is that this is the second book in a row (Party with Infant) I’ve read where there was mention of accidental edibles consumption/intentional edibles deceit. Not really my cup of tea and I don’t find it humorous, but that’s my own opinion on the matter.

The Unhoneymooners
by Christina Lauren

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I read this book in a day. The character development was seamless and the plot was forthright. There was foreshadowing and overall, this was a nice, light read. I liked Lauren’s writing style and actually picked up another of her books when I was at the library to read. This was recommended to me in an online book club and while it was predictable, I found it enjoyable.

You’ve Been Volunteered
by Laurie Gleman

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I loved Class Mom, so when I saw that her sequel was out, I had to grab it. (Well, I had to be 16th in line to check out at my local library.) I appreciate the snark and wit woven through the fabric of this book. My husband was a room parent for years and the emails from the other room parents can definitely be over the top, so I appreciated the candor and comedy surrounding this text.

My Favorite Half-Night Stand
by Christina Lauren

This book was on the stand near the computers when I was picking up You’ve Been Volunteered, so I grabbed it. The writing is clean and light; just as The Unhoneymooners. The perspective switched between the two lead characters about their relationship, thoughts, and feelings. It took a few chapters to settle into that format but afterwards, it was quick and easy. I recommend if you’re looking for something easy and mindless, as most of my summer reads have been.

Next Level Basic
by Stassi Schroeder

This book popped up during my library search as a “suggested book” — I learned that this gal has her own show, so I think if you’re a fan of hers/know who she is, you may get more out of it. I appreciated her forthright honesty about ‘being basic’ and we share a mutual love of Chrissy Teigan. If you’re looking for a book to read in a couple of hours that doesn’t leave you stressed, this may be the book for you.

Honestly, I am typically not interested at all in chic-lit. I think it’s awful because it’s normally terribly written and frankly,  it’s silly. That being said, I have enjoyed taking a break with really light reads this summer. It’s been a nice retreat to read without a ton of post-reading thoughts lingering.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine
by Gail Honeyman.Image result for eleanor oliphant is completely fine

I had a hard time getting into this book. I started to read in on our flight to Disney and then just couldn’t get wrapped up, so I’ve been using it as my emergency book at the beach (basically, something to read when I have nothing else). This one is in progress and will be as my semester picks up.

I try to get as much reading in as I can. I always find myself trying to do what the kids do (and I always used to assign as a secondary ELA teacher): Read for 20 minutes a night. This is simply something that doesn’t work for me. I want to try to read for 20 minutes nightly with magazines I have laying around the house; but books — I need a solid few hours so that I can get through most, if not all, of the text. I was fortunate that my husband worked from home one day a week this summer and I could go to the beach and just read and go for walks; he also took the kids on a few day trips, which opened up some reading time for me. I knocked three books out during my trip to PA to visit my parents.

With the fall semester looming, I know that I won’t have as much time to read as I did this summer. My goal is to knock out 1-2 books per month, reading on weekends after yoga or while my husband and the kids are at church. We have a few weekend plans in place because we want to do more ‘family dates’ but I think that just being in a place to read and relax with a good book has been great for me and I’d like to keep that up.

 

january reads

I really enjoy reading and typically opt for heavier reads during my breaks from work; this winter break, however, was riddled with illness and I just didn’t have it in me to do much critical thinking, nor did I have the capacity to read anything intense. I picked up Educated at the library but returned without opening it; I’m going to table that read for a later date.

As the semester is quickly approaching, I thought it nice to recap the three books I finished in the first two weeks of 2019. I am not great at doing recaps, largely because I forget nearly everything I do in the day-to-day, but there were topics that truly gave me pause while reading and I’d like to circle back to those areas when I have time to write about them.

The first two books both touched on the balancing act that is being a working woman and being a mom. I love staying home with my son; it’s truly the greatest experience and I’m fortunate that we can afford for me to do this. I do struggle, however, with the lack of paycheck I bring home — I mean, I was 30 when I got married, so I’d been taking care of myself prior to that — working, budgeting, buying all of the clothes – shoes – and purses. This is something I struggle with regularly and I gained insights from each of the first two books. As I mentioned, I do plan to circle back to this at a later time, but wanted to let any parents struggling to feel balanced in the area of work/momming, these books may offer some insights!

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Balancing in Heels — Kristin Cavallari
This book took about 12 minutes to read. The writing is not high-level but the tone is genuine and the content really drove home for me the importance of balancing work/outside the home responsibilities with my love of being a parent. I also really enjoyed the smoothie recipes listed!

 

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Instant Mom — Nia Vardalos
As someone who’s been through infertility, IVF, and adoption through foster care, this book really resonated with me. I felt so many connections to Nia’s experiences. Of course, my personal side offers way too much to share in a book recap, but there were two quotes that hit deeply: “I feel powerless. The doctors explain it’s the drugs. I’ll bet it’s the glaring fact that this is not working” (36) / “You can’t push grief down and pretend it’s not there” (57). These two quotes really nailed how I felt during the lowest point of my life and it was empowering to read such rawness from someone else’s experience and know that we both (and many other women) overcome such difficulties.

 

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Whiskey in a Teacup — Reese Witherspoon

I read this in a day — sweet and quick. Her grandmother seemed like a real spit-fire and I appreciated the care used when sharing family stories and I loved the chapter on dogs.