Comfort

Reading is not a luxury for me, it is a necessity. As I age it takes longer for my eyes to focus in the morning so I can read the small font on my phone. Some mornings my eyes work after about five minutes, other mornings its hopeless. Today, it was as soon as I woke up. I knew it was going to be a good reading day.

I spent the summer reading a lot of stories that took place on Cape Cod, Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard. Escape and travel are my needs. Some years, I spend my summer reading memoirs or intense historical fiction. Considering the state of the world in 2020, obviously I needed some safe place to retreat to. Now that autumn has moved in, summer escapes are not really where I feel like hanging out. But I am not yet ready to forage away from escapes. Seeking comfort in books is like a soft quilt that wraps her arms around you. It protects me from the stress of work, sadness from the news or drama from relationships outside of my tight circle.

Often, I start three or four books until I find the one that holds my interest. I am not that girl that will stick with a book for the sake of finishing it. Life is too short. The day my medical team found an acoustic neuroma living in the left lobe of my brain, I learned very quickly what I like and don’t like. I say yes to awesome and no to awful. Honestly my life is a higher quality and incredibly peaceful since I made that decision. Yes to delicious wine and high quality chocolate, no to broccoli and relish. Yes to real sugar and carbs, no to cauliflower pizza crust and bunless burgers. I say YES to a captivating read or engrossing movie and I walk away if it is boring. I applied this to people and jobs including pharmacists and doctors. People and professionals need to make the cut or I walk and look for something or someone that is a better fit. As a result, my life is really good. I think this is called boundaries.

Lately I remember special characters from books I have read years ago. Like Ria in Tara Road. She is one of those characters that feels real enough to call and pop over for a cup of coffee. I reread the book and realized how much I had forgotten. I learned or paid attention to a different aspect of the story line because I am coming to it from a different perspective. I am older now with more life experience. The messages felt new. It was like reading a completely different book. I have read this book at least a dozen times, I read it three times before Oprah thought it should be a book club selection. I revisited Summer Sisters by Judy Blume. This time I looked at it from the confidant character rather than the protagonist. I first read this in 1998 when it was published. I was still in young hero mode and related to all of Judy Blume’s protagonists. Not this time. It was a lovely trip down memory lane and did two things for me, 1.) Made me curious about Martha’s Vineyard has a holiday destination and 2.) Made me think I should revisit her children and middle school genres.

The comfort I feel from books I read as a child is off the charts. My first novel reading experience without an adult assist was Charlotte’s Web. I read that to my kids when they were young. The animal conversations were chaotic and fun. I forgot about that. I liked how Charlotte made Wilbur feel safe and loved. As a mom, my relationship with Charlotte was stronger. She was some spider.

I have been looking for copies of books that are now out of print. I wish I still had them but our family culture was to trade in books so you could purchase new books or visit the library. Sadly, the library doesn’t keep all the books either. Finding Apples Every Day by Grace Richardson or Mom, the Wolf Man and Me by Norma Klein is an ongoing project for me. I scour every used bookshop I come across. So far with no luck. I still think about those characters and wonder if I would still see what I liked about it in the first place.

This morning I picked up a book I had been meaning to reread for a while. I have only read it once and that was during my dark time – depression had hit me hard. This was before I figured out about boundaries and how important that was for my peace of mind and true happiness. Eat, Love, Pray by Elizabeth Gilbert made a big impression on me. It helped me figure out some things and started my introspection to figure out things. Eat the good food, meditate daily, and surround yourself with people you love and WHO LOVE YOU BACK…not those other douches.

EAT: When I first read it, I was still deep in eating disorder mode. Yo-yo dieting in an effort to seek approval. Fuck that. I now eat to nourish me. I still find myself emotionally eating but I recognize it for what it is. The damage has been done but I accept that. My beloved Great Grandmother was round a squishy like me. She gave the best hugs and her shoulder blades never once cut me.

LOVE: When I first read it, I don’t think I knew what love was. I could say it but I didn’t really understand it. I was still doing things to get people to love me. Since then, I learned no one will love you as much as you love yourself. Sounds corny but its true. If I am not going to be good to me and treat me well, I cannot expect anyone else to (sounds a lot like boundaries). Negative self-talk stopped. The dialogue that runs through your head like a mantra… I am not….. (fill in the blank). I learned about Sankalpas – an intention you repeat until you realize it. I am kind, I am loved, I am forgiveness, I am healthy, I am valued… Fill in your own blank but make it positive. Your mind is easily tricked into thinking negatively. Show yourself loving kindness – for real. It is a life changer.

Pray: When I first read it, I had meditated occasionally, usually when I was in a bad way – like going through a divorce – I rolled my eyes at it when I read the Pray part. Who meditates every day? Who has time for that? What good does that do? Well….six years after I began reading Eat Love Pray, I meditated for real. I needed a place to let go of anger and seek peace. Today I have meditated 1379 consecutive days. I started in 2016 with a challenge to myself to go 30 days in a row. Then I expanded it to 365 days. I thought it would be hard but I looked myself in the mirror and and said “Robyn – you are worth it. Do this for yourself.” So I did. It didn’t matter that I was late, everything could wait until I took 30 minutes of me time because I was worth it. Meditation has changed everything. I am calm. I can sit in chaos and watch it with a detachment and problem solve. I am not quick to anger. I see things from a multitude of perspectives. Mostly I love the way it makes me feel. I cannot explain it other than I feel connected to everyone and everything. As if a part of me is in everything and a part of everything is in me. If you meditate you know what I mean. You enter the collective WE and are no longer alone. It took me a year of daily meditation to feel connected. Now it is like breathing. It is a knowing.

Reading Eat Love Pray for a second time should be interesting and I hope comforting. Something that resonates with me in a “I totally get you” way.

Stay healthy friends and keep finding comfort in something meaningful for you. Most of all, be good to yourself.

A Year in Books: Love Warrior

love-warrior-fulld

Love Warrior: A Memoir

Glenn Doyle-Melton

Available at Indigo, Chapters and Amazon

Yes I read it. I didn’t want to at first. It seemed so – Mommy Blogger. Clearly I am a book snob. It is also an Oprah Book Club selection. I usually do not read her book club books. That’s not true, I have read some either because I read it first as was the case with Tara Road by Maeve Binchy or because it interested me. I will not read a book because the American Nation is reading it. It has to appeal to me. This book did not appeal to me. Then I watched her on Super Soul Sunday – that I watch usually every week because I think these people offer great insight to evolving their spirit and their world. I think it is important to want to be more and not drift through life. Super Soul helps me discover people who are on the same journey as myself.

After hearing Glennon Doyle-Melton’s story, I thought, she is a lot like me and went through a lot of the same discoveries. Okay – I was not bulimic but I have an eating disorder. I was not the party girl/sex girl she was but I did have the same ideas and thoughts about men verses women and how society has boxes for both. It was hard climbing out of those stereotypes – and still is. She made sense to me.

I think everyone between the ages of 40-60 should read the first 69 pages of her book. In those first pages you can clearly see how society defines gender roles and the harm it does. My children’s generation is better at knocking them down, once the old boys club is gone from the work place, I have tremendous hope for the future of humanity…but that is a topic for another day.

It isn’t great literature, it is a memoir. It is raw and honest and very familiar like it is your own story. I found it validating with sections of wisdom I wanted to write down. It belongs on my special bookshelf that holds Eat,Love, Pray and Wild. If you are like me and not willing to accept status quo and want more from your life, then is is a worthwhile read.

Read with ME: I got nothing

I didn’t finish any books this week aside from further reading in Managing Projects in Organizations by J.D. Frame…you guessed it, one of my University reading. I also started Running on Empty by a runner dude who’s name escapes me currently. But in keeping with the book theme, Canada Writes posed an interested question:

What does your bookshelf say about your personality?

 

What can we tell about you just by looking at how you arrange your books? Here are some personality types we have discovered by peering into our friends’ and families’ bookshelves. Hover over the question mark in each photo to see if any of them are you.

okvgjaWell this is what my book shelf looks like – sort of – It isn’t really my shelf, it is a WordPress version of my shelf, one of many. My ibooks library has tidied up my life because apparently, I use to be an Anarchist, now I am a digitally organized gal who carries with her about 500 books, 70 pdfs, and several Textbooks all in my handy-dandy iPad.
When I read paper books, all my books were stacked – some still are. I didn’t love them like I love my eReader shelf. My eReader has a shelf for books I am reading, books I want to read, books I read (why can I just not delete books I have already read? I have no idea…it feels wrong) University PDFs and Text books (all arranged according to class). I have 2 different running sections, one for running books, and one for running maps and articles. I have my piano music on one shelf and cooks books on another. I read WAY MORE than I use to. Yet I love to browse books stores.
I don’t get it. Perhaps it is because the world is in transition from paper books to digital copies. Either way, I love books…Which reader are you?

Read With Me: Paul’s Case

Five Stories (short story collection)
Five Stories (short story collection) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

I am discovering the delights of a short story. When I was in school, it was mandatory to ready them for comprehension tests and literary examinations. I loved O.Henry, J.D Salinger, and Washington Irving but somewhere along the way I stopped reading them. Then I became that old fuddy duddy who read Reader’s Digest out of desperation while waiting copious amounts of time at a friends cabin. I found old mouldy copies in a box in the corner and began reading short stories again. Then I discovered the delights of Maeve Binchy, W.P. Kinsella and Alice Munro. Stories so masterfully told that I would think about the characters long after the 30 minutes was up. I still can fondly recall characters years after I put the story down. Short story authors have a magical way of developing characters in an instant and telling a story about a brief moment in time that sticks with you.

 

My son is currently studying Canadian Short Story Authors and is not enjoying it. I suspect it has to do with the language usage. Older English reads differently than the contemporary literature he currently is enjoys. If you ever read Mark Twain or L.M. Montgomery, then you understand what I mean. I am not referring to Shakespeare, but rather the turn of the 20th Century where language was more formal and slang used in that era is lost on my 17-year-old. I could see him struggling. He suspects he is ADHD, I suspect the content doesn’t interest him. When I was his age, I had a great-aunt who came to live with us for about 6 months. She sat with me and helped me understand the poetry that I despised. While I am still not a great fan, I do know how to make sense of prose because of her. I sat with my son and together we read and analyzed his short story.

 

Paul’s Case by Willa Cather I rate this story 4 stars out of 5. My son gives it a 2.

 

You can find the entire text here.  The story takes place in modern times for the author, 1904, in Pittsburgh and New York. It is the story of a boy who doesn’t fit into society. Although it doesn’t say it, I suspect the author writes the boy as a homosexual. This is not unusual for this time period, Virginia Wolf also wrote about lesbian attractions although for the times, it was discrete and not obvious to the unaware.

 

Paul was unable to feel normal in his surroundings but found peace and excitement in the theater and arts. He fantasized about a life of luxury and had a distaste for the mundane. His mother had died when he was young, and his father worked hard to provide a stable life for Paul and his sisters, yet Paul felt his father was stingy with the money. He thought he deserved a more luxurious lifestyle. His choices and movements were self-absorbed and ultimately changed his life forever.

 

Symbols are a huge part of short stories and I had forgotten that when I did a first read through of this story. I recognized consistencies and was reminded of the prominence of the symbols, the red carnation, money, and the snow.

 

I could not relate to the main character himself, although I could empathize with him. My son couldn’t believe how narcissistic he was.

 

Take a quick read and let me know how you view it.

 

Happy Reading!

 

 

 

Read With Me: Raising My Rainbow by Lori Duron

bookshotI read a lot. Everything from memoirs and fiction to text books and journals. I try to keep current with news but news is boring unless is is actual REAL news, like the stuff going on in Syria or the way the Americans are talking about sending troops to Syria when they have a huge pile of mess in their own backyard and no money to fix anything…but I digress.

I have been on a memoir kick recently and am in the middle of some great running books. I am currently trying to gobble up any and all information about extreme running events. Things that the crew or people have to do to support the runner in their quest. I go through obsessive phases. I will read everything I can about a subject and then move on. Running currently is my obsessive focus, but I sprinkle other books into that mix.

I have 3 books on the go right now. I had 4, but just finished one. Then I will finish my running book. I have a book on my phone that I will save for appointments and such. The last book on the go is fiction. I am not in the head space right now for fiction. Maybe when it gets colder and I will snuggle under my down comforter with my nose peeking out while I read, that to me is a fiction kind of night.

The latest book I read was Raising My Rainbow: Adventures in raising a fabulous, gender creative son by Lori Duron.

4 stars out of 5

I would have given this 5 stars except I am a regular reader of her blog. She started it a few years ago as a way to talk about what was going on for her and her family and by doing so, was hoping there were others out there to connect with. We all want to feel like we belong and are accepted when we know we are different from the norm. Some of the stories in Duron’s book  are right from her blog. It felt repetitive for me but to her credit, she went into a depth that was not previously seen on her blog. I am fascinated with this family and have been for years. Not in that creepy way of staking someone, but in that empathetic and understanding way. I like knowing there are other moms out there who will move heaven and earth to protect their child while trying to find that balance to raise a healthy and loved child. Parenting is tricky and damn hard. It’s not like there is a set of instructions that come with the baby. We all are doing the best we can with the skills and knowledge we have. The Duron Family is no different, except they have a child who is gender non-conforming.

So what does that mean?

Sex is in your pants, gender is in the brain. Her little fellow knows he is a boy. He is physically a boy. He likes all the girly stuff that has ever been created. He appears to be transitioning into a girl through clothing and hair change. I think it takes courage to be the parent who supports your child’s choices no matter what. This book is full of courage because it is written about fear. The Duron’s fear and love is evident throughout this book. The choices they make may not have been the choices I made but I will never really know because MY children are different. Every family has it’s own challenges. Every parent tries their best to figure out how to meet these challenges. The Duron’s are no different. I like that. I like that she seems normal, as if we would have been friends. I can respect her choices. I can’t say I can respect everyone’s choices because I think families need to put the well being of their minor children first. But that is a personal value of mine and I understand that everyone’s values are different.

I loved the way this book would make me smile. Its a good day when you are reading with a twinkly in your eye and a smile on your lips. I loved having an insight to the LGTBQ community. I have friends who belong to this community but they are guarded, and rightly so, the world is a tough place and is currently not very kind to this community, HELLO RUSSIA I am looking at YOU! It is moms like Lori Duron who are changing the world one corner at a time.

I love that.

Read the book.

 

 

Read With Me

CSLP_DreamBigFor the first time this century, I will not be going back to school as a teacher. I will however, be going back to school as a student. I enrolled in my final class before I graduate December 13 and am waiting for my book list so I can spend the last of my dollars on school text books.

Not that I mind, I love books. I have books shelves full of them. They are my favorite gift to give. I have written authors asking to purchase one of their books but asking them to sign it so I can give it away as a gift. Occasionally the author will offer to do it for free if I make a donation to their charity. More often than not, I find authors to be just flattered that someone likes their work enough to share it. That surprised me. I thought authors might be along the lines of Divas, the kind of people who expect accolades and fame. But that has not been my experience. In fact, the more authors I meet, the more humble I find that breed of humans to be. This makes my heart happy.

I had a summer of interesting interactions. I was approached by a couple of authors to read their work and review it on Goodreads. I am not a professional reviewer so I was flattered, but then I realized I don’t want to spend my time reading a book and reviewing if the book does not interest me. My reading time is precious to me, I read enough University Journals for papers that when I read on my own time, I want it to be for fun. If I like the book, then I want to share with friends or others who read who I think might enjoy it. Lately I find myself pursuing memoir type genres. I am particularly fascinated with running memoirs but I have enjoyed bizarre life moment reads as well. Mondays are going to my regular book review days for those of interested in knowing what books I am enjoying. I have decided to write about books that I enjoy. I no longer will slog through a book I find dull or boring. My time is too precious for that. My ereader is filled with books that I can’t wait to read so why would I waist time on books I don’t want to read? Right? Tell me I am right!

Last week I went to visit my old comrades. I popped into their classrooms while they were preparing for this new school year. It was so great to see everyone, but I have to tell you, I am very happy I am going back to University and not waiting for the new charges to come to me. Sure I will miss their funny stories and perspectives, and I will miss telling them great stories and reading to them. That was my favorite part of being a teacher, story telling and reading. Sharing my favorite books with new generations of littles.

Read With Me with Moles_1As a tribute to my favourite preschool authors, I am starting off my Reading Monday series with my personal selection of favorite stories for young ones – the PreK to grade 3 set. The kind of stories that demand a cuddle on the couch and conversation to talk about new vocabulary words and what ifs. Here we go with the list in no particular order:

1. Pete the Cat by Eric Litwin

Pete has new shoes and loves them. But like all young cats, he gets them dirty. Yet as dirty as they get, he loves them still. This book is great for rhythmic repetition to create full engagement of the reader. LOVE THIS BOOK!

2. The Big Red Bus by Judy Hindley

This Bus gets stuck and needs the cooperation of many people to help keep it moving on its way. I love how children with very little language become fascinated with STOP and worry about the bus’s welfare. This book is light on text and big on pictures yet the meaning is obvious to all who read it. A great book to act out as well.

Cover of "SOMETHING FROM NOTHING"
Cover of SOMETHING FROM NOTHING

3. Something From Nothing by Phoebe Gillman

Gillman is a favorite author of mine, from Jillian Gigs to the Balloon Tree, so picking just one of her books was tough. Her illustrations are captivating and I love how the boy’s Grandpa is loving and understanding about the need for this blanket to always be in this boys life until he he ready to let it go on his own. Both my children had a blanket attachment and I love how it was honored in this story. A great read for families.

4. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

Max was me as a kid, huge imagination and often using it to amuse myself when in situations that were boring, like stuck in my room as punishment. I love the scary Wild Things and the way Max was in charge. This light text and the beautiful illustrations keeps everyone captivated until the end, when he discovers his mom still loves him. All children can relate.

5. The Cow that went Oink by Bernard Most

This was the first book that helped me explain bilingualism to children. It is done in such a charming way with the cow and pig teaching each other to speak their first language. My students laughed as the animals struggled with new words, because they could relate. This is a fun story.

6. Grandpa Dan’s Toboggan Ride by Suzan Reid

Not every one gets to toboggan, but chances are if you live in Canada you have or will at some point. Not every book is meant for a bedtime story. This is not a quite and calm book, this is an interactive, fun and crazy book that makes you want to run out and slide down a mountain. It always brought up lots of conversation about snow crashes which is a rite of passage for many young Canadians.

6. Good Night Moon by Margaret Wise Brown and Clement Hurd

I read this story every-night for a year to my son before he turned 1. This was his favorite story because he loved naming objects and saying good night. He loved the predictability of the story and knew what came next. It is important to read WITH your children and not TO your children so they can develop the critical thinking skills and can have conversations about what the see and predictability skills. I have a special soft spot in my heart and book shelf for this book, I often gift it to new babies and can’t wait to give it to a future grandchild.

7. No David by David Shannon

This is obviously a biography by David Shannon who had adults tell him NO all his life. Kids laugh because it is real, silly and shocking. They love to yell NO DAVID every time he brakes a rule. This was my daughter’s favorite book, perhaps because she grew up being ADHD herself and was a lot like David.

8. Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson

I loved this book as a child. I didn’t need an adult to read it to me because I would get caught up in the imagination of Harold and the things he could draw. It matched my favorite TV show, Simon’s chalk drawings. Give me a box of crayons and plank piece of paper and the world was at my disposal.

9. The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch

This book is for those little girls who are brave and smart and self reliant. If they aren’t these things, then read them this book so they can be.

10. The Snowman by Raymond Briggs

I don’t know which I enjoy more, the book or the movie. Both are delightful and fun. I love the concept of magical dreams and extraordinary fun.

 

These are by no means the only books I love, but they were the ones that popped into my head without thinking too hard. Tell me what YOU would ad to the list!

Book Moods and Reality

If you are a reader like I am, you will understand how diving into a book can affect your mood while you are pacing yourself through it. Most of the books I have read this year have been a bit desperate. Meaning, I have loved reading them they have left me feeling like the world is a wee bit depressed. I hear ya. Everyone is a wee bit depressed, including me. I think that is why I am attracted to these books. They make life feel so normal because lets face it, no one lives in a LaVyrle Spencer novel, everyone lives in a Maeve Binchy novel.

 

 

 

I loved Maeve Binchy (except her Father Flynn Series) because she wrote about average people doing mundane things in a way that left my heart aching for more normalcy. Evening Class made me want to go back to school and meet people. I did go back and met a lovely chum who is sarcastic and dark like me. We chuckle and complain yet we are the smarty pants of the group. Evening Class was plausible and that is why I liked it.

 

 

 

As much as I love watching Sci-Fi, I despise reading it. Books need to be plausible for me and quite frankly I have a hard time wrapping my head around worlds I haven’t been to. This includes countries where I have no frame of reference. I have tried the Sci-Fi genre and it just isn’t my favorite. For example, I have Read Never Let you Go and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and while I was reading them, I kept thinking…huh, not loving this so much. So, I made the choice to save Sci-Fi for TV and Movies because it becomes an EPIC adventure and save the Sci-Fi books for other people.

 

 

 

The books I have read so far this year seem to have a common theme. Their life kinda sucks and it doesn’t really change by the end, other than they are accepting of the sucky life they are living. Fair enough. I think that is real. The key is to embrace what you have and accept it for what it is and be grateful for the good stuff, because life isn’t all bad. It isn’t. There are awesome snippets of time that make up for all the crap we deal with. It’s a shame we have to deal with anything but that is what makes us smart. That is why I like reading these books. I like learning from other people’s choices. Not that I always agree with what they do, I think my moral code plays a role into these scenarios, but sometimes learning what NOT to do is just as valuable. And sometimes being a victim of circumstance all you can do is cope. I have been lucky – although luck might not be the word I am looking for. Karma has been fairly kind to me. I have done things I am not proud of, but the outcome has been the best possible scenario I could hope for…well, I hope for more but am satisfied with what I have.

 

 

 

Then I read books like The Book Thief. I am not through the whole thing yet but I suspect the family is harboring Jews during Nazi Germany. The young girl is fostered by

 

Cover of "The Book Thief"
Cover of The Book Thief

 

this family and, well, I foresee bad things. It is WWII after all and life wasn’t great then. A great insight to civilians living through WWII in both Germany and England is Life After Life. It gave me a sad, yet vivid perspective of what life must  have been like. The Book Thief is different, it is narrated by Death himself and he seems like an okay fella. I don’t fear death like I did when I was younger but reading about death has become a bit of a theme for me. I am fascinated about it and how people handle it. Perhaps it is because it surrounds me more frequently than it did when I was younger and living with a tumour makes me face it head on. Wrapping up all my personal endings for ‘just in case’.

 

At any rate, I am feeling the moods of the characters I read about. I love that about books. I love how real these characters feel to me. I know I will love Hans long after the Book Thief is over and I will think of him often, just like I think of my Grandpa.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why did you not tell me there is a Harry Potter Prequel?

Apparently I live on a different planet than most geekdom fans. Although, I can tell you all about the Disney Star Wars sequels and the Doctor Who 50th anniversary special, I had NO IDEA THIS HAPPENED! Why did no one tell me???

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This apparently came out in 2008 and I was… hmmm… I was… I have no idea what I was doing but it wasn’t reading the prequel to Harry Potter, that’s for sure because NO ONE TOLD ME! I am pretty sure I wasn’t on Facebook yet and my kids were still young-ish. Had I known, I would have read it immediately. Why you ask? Because Sirius Black is a delicious male character. Not Gary Oldman from the movie because the same sex appeal is just not there. But Sirius Black from the books? Prrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

He is the ultimate bad boy with a good heart. Every girl’s dream when I she isn’t dreaming about George Clooney or Mark Messier or Doctors or Mr. Big or Mr. Darcy… anyways….

This prequel was too short, but so smart-ass fantastic, just like you’d expect James and Sirius to be. Only 6 pages long, it left me wishing for more. The worst of it? J.K. Rowling writes a note ” Not the prequel I am working on, but this was fun!’

DUDE! Ouch! I am sure it would be WAY better than A Casual Vacancy, that was just boring. At any rate, I had a taste of what I had been missing for a while. Now back to my regularly scheduled book Solar by Ian McEwan – with a little Pride and Prejudiced on the side.

You can get a free copy of the prequel here.

Mindless Reading creates Mindless Creatures

Yesterday was a huge milestone for my boy and  me. He passed his Driving Learners Test and now has a permit to drive with a licensed driver in the car. He came out of the test office, stood in front of me an did a little happy dance jig. Wow… 17 years ago, I whined about wanting a baby – not this man-child with the deep voice, goatee, size 13 feet and giant that stands before me. I look at him through mother’s eyes and melt. I look at him through strangers eyes and feel pride. His dad and I did good.

It made me think about all the books I have read and characters who were bad parents and characters who were great parents.

Best parent character award goes to Atticus Finch – from To Kill a Mocking Bird

Worst parent award goes to… hmmmm There are SO MANY!! From Scarlet O’Hara to the Evil Step Mothers in fairy tales, from Old Nick in Room to Mum in Hidden. Robert from 101 books agrees with me. He is on a quest to read great literature and is learning great is subjective. He also is learning that parents in books make bad choices. He has a great commentary about it so click here to read more.

Characters in books usually offer bad parenting advice, so my advice is to learn from them in the “what not to do” category. That is what is great about books. They teach you things, shock you, make you smile and even laugh. Take the time to learn critically from books, don’t just absorb them and think because it was published, it makes it a great read. It doesn’t.

The prime example is Shades of Gray. Read more books if you think this one was great. There are better books out there, I promise you!

This leads me to the Goodreads Giveaways I have received. The latest book I read was Alys, Always by Harriet Lane.

This book is about a newspaper editor who comes upon a car on a country road in England. The car has turned on its side and there is a women trapped. The editor approaches the car to help and her life changes forever from that moment forward.

The first chapter was EXCELLENT! It was a short story in itself, and quite frankly should have been kept that way. The rest of the chapters were dull, boring and I would have stopped reading if two things did happen:

  1. I won it with the implied intent I would review it.
  2. It was billed as having a twist and being suspenseful.

I can assure you there was no plot twist, there was no suspense and I could care less how it ended. It was predictable. The people reviewing it are giving it rave reviews  – mostly because it is a romance – blech – a poor one at that, and they won this book and likely feel obligated to give it a good review. This book took me forever to get through because of dullness. Read the first chapter and call it a day. OR find a great book and read that one.

15852479I have started my second Goodreads Giveaway book called We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo. It is slated for publication 5/21/13. 19 pages in and I cannot put it down. It is about the life of 10-year-old Darling and her friends living in Zimbabwe. The culture will shock you North Americans. I am hoping this riveting read will continue throughout the book. The reviews are consistently stellar. Alys, Always had spotty reviews, so I am hopeful.

I am also reading the Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. This one is more for work and personal growth. It talks about how the brain develops habit and how you can use this knowledge in business and personal life. I am fascinated by it! For all you Dr. Bruce Perry fans, this would be interesting to you. It is for me.

So tell me, what great read is on your shelf right now?