Book Reviews May/June 2015

Woo Hoo, I read a lot in May and June.  While our vacation helped that for sure, I've also been so good about making reading a priority and that makes me happy. 2 audio books, 6 regular books, 8 total for these two months, bringing my total books for the year to 18 already!

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Buddhism for Mothers By Sarah Napthali - I really, really enjoyed this book. It was full of such practical, peaceful parenting advice. I literally felt calmer every time I would pick up the book. Buddhism has always attracted me and her combination of explaining Buddhism tenets wound into motherhood was just lovely. I am very much looking forward to reading her second book. Meditation and mindfulness has made a huge impact in my life over the last few years and this was a great supplement to that. There are so many passages I liked, but particularly this one at the end: "Buddhism treats you like an adult. It's not a religion. You don't need to believe anything unless it fits with your own personal experience. You use your judgement, inspired by wisdom and compassion rather than follow a set of sacred thou-shalts. Spiritual progress is your responsibility. You set the pace." Impermanence. All is impermanent. Both the good and the bad. So much of this is true in motherhood and in life.
After Birth By Elisa Albert - Wow. This was such a good book. Albert's visceral, intense writing gave such an accurate, honest portrayal of how hard motherhood can be a times. The main character very clearly struggled with postpartum depression during her son's first year, and I think it's really refreshing to have someone be honest about the hard parts. Some of her descriptions were so spot on, I kept taking pictures of the library book and texting them to Chris while I was reading it.
Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives By Gretchen Rubin - I really enjoyed this book. It gave me new insight into my habit formation and what works for my particular type of person. It also made me realize why it's different for others who fall into the other 3 types. I am an upholder, like the author, which is more rare. I am also a lark and a moderator (do better early morning and am more apt to moderate something than to completely eliminate it.) I think I am typically a marathoner when it comes to habits and goals, but occasionally I do well with the quick spurts. Worth the read. And I’ve also enjoyed listening to her podcast, Happier, recently.
Toddlers Are A**holes: It's Not Your Fault By Bunmi Laditan – I thought I was going to like this a lot more than I actually did. There were a lot of things she wrote about that were hilarious and that I could totally relate to. But there was a healthy dose of mom shaming that I wasn't down with. Luckily it was a super fast read that I finished in the span of a couple days.
Station Eleven By Emily St. John Mandel - Excellent novel. So different than anything else I’ve read. I loved the storyline of rebuilding after a horrible flu wipes out most of the world. Characters felt so real and well drawn. And I liked their subtle connections between characters. One of the best novels I’ve read this year.
The Whole-Brain Child By Daniel J Siegel - There were some helpful things in this book, and some that I needed to think about for myself more than for my daughter right now because she's so young. It did seem a bit repetitive. The concepts could have probably been dispelled into a rather long blog post.
Savor: Mindful Eating, Mindful Life By Thich Nhat Hanh and Dr. Lilian Cheung- I enjoyed many of the principles here, but it got a bit repetitive toward the end. Definitely made me think about food from a more mindful perspective.
French Kids Eat Everything By Karen Le Billon - I really liked this book. The French have such a lovely approach to food. Pleasure, not calorie counting. Variety, no snacking, and no "bad foods." I so wish our American food culture mirrored how the French see things. Kids there get 2 HOUR hot lunches where everyone eats the same thing and learns a ton about food from a very young age. While a lot of it is stuff that doesn't necessarily translate in American culture and I don't at all agree with the French view on breastfeeding (neither does the author!) I definitely picked up tips that we can use with our kids I'm looking forward to reading her other book "Getting to Yum" next.

Have you read anything great lately?  I'm currently finishing up Beyond the Sling, Waking Up: Sprituality Without Religion, Raising Your Spirited Child and just started re-reading Dark Places again before the movie comes out. So look for those reviews coming up next in the July/Aug installment!

*Disclaimer: this, and most, book review posts contain amazon affiliate links, meaning if you buy a book based on my recommendation, we will get a teeny tiny commission to go towards Clare (and I’s) string cheese habit.  Thanks for your support!