Wow, my last WWW Wednesdays post was two months ago… What can I say? The good new is, I read 61 books in 2013, not including the children’s books I read with my kids. I did read a lot of books in November and December, but somehow never got to write about them here. So I guess this is a catch-up post, for adult and children’s books, or at least a listing of our favorites in the past few months. I also want to put a list of my favorite books in 2013 very soon, and I hope you get to add to the list.
- What I’m currently reading
The Shining by Stephen King. I’ve read a lot of King’s books but I don’t think I ever read this one. Terrible choice for bedtime reading, especially on those nights I need the sleep. Oh well…
Goals! How To Get Everything You Want by Brian Tracy. As I’m still working on listing and organizing my many, many goals for 2014, I’m looking for ways to lay them out so they’ll be easier to achieve step-by-step. Quite a challenge.
- What I recently finished reading
No Excuses!: The Power of Self-Discipline by Brian Tracy. If you’ve never read any of Brian Tracy’s books, this is a good one to start with. Full of quotes you might find insightful (or annoying if you’re not a fan of quotes), this book shows you how to implement self-discipline throughout the various areas of your life, including personal success, work, finances, health and relationships. Tracy makes it very clear that self-discipline is one character trait that differentiates the more successful people from the others. You can make small changes in your life to be more disciplined to get what you want. Most women with children will want to take some of Tracy’s advice with a grain of salt or adapt it to their individual lifestyle.
Remarkable by Lizzie K. Foley. This first young adult novel was entertaining and easy to read. I enjoyed the variety of characters and how each of them played a role in the development of the story. I think many kids can identify with Jane Doe, who feels she’s nothing special among all these extremely talented people living in her town. She’s considered not as smart and gifted as the other kids, and yet, she’s the one who solves many problems and puzzles by the end of the book. A nice lesson for kids illustrating that when you’re too wrapped up in yourself, you miss out on the world around you. I just wish the pace had been a little more energetic in delivering the story.
Mind in the Making: The Seven Essential Life Skills Every Child Needs by Ellen Galinski. If you’re looking for a book full of insightful data on the life skills a child needs to develop, this is probably it. If you’re looking for a book that gives you a lot of practical advice on help your child develop those skills past the preschool years, this is not. Although I found the research interesting and valuable, I realized that the majority of this book is more theoretical than practical, and mostly focuses on infants up to preschoolers.
Eat Move Sleep: How Small Choices Lead to Big Changes by Tom Rath. If you’re looking for a miracle diet or type of exercise to help you lose weight, this isn’t the book for you. Tom Rath provides nothing earth-shattering or a deep secret only a few know about. Instead, he lists the many, many small choices we can make in our daily life to improve our health. Most importantly, he explains why you can’t just eat right, or move more, or sleep better, but rather you have to make changes to ALL three, as they work in unison to keep you healthy. For example, if you don’t sleep enough, you may overeat as well as feel too tired to exercise. If you don’t eat the right foods, you may not have the energy to work out but feel to stimulated to sleep well. I recommend you sign up for a 30-day personalized challenge, which gives you specific recommendations for your diet, sleep and exercise habits depending on the answers you provide for the initial quiz.
Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo. This is another young adult fun adventure by Kate DiCamillo, this time featuring a squirrel that somehow acquires super powers, as well as intelligence and a gift for poetry writing, after being sucked up a vacuum. DiCamillo is a brilliant storyteller and you can’t help but root for her main character, Flora, who’s in desperate need of love, comfort and friendship after her parents divorce. And she will find all three in the several people she runs into, who all have their own story to tell. I love how DiCamillo shows that friendship and support can be found across generations – a great example of how much life can bring, if we care to look around. The hilarious illustrations are a wonderful addition to this fun story.
The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton. This book was such a slow read, I almost put it down after reading a third of it. Instead I decided to scheme through it so I could reach the end. I liked the premise of the story: a young girl witnessing a murder at her house, and fifty years later she tries to make sense of it all, going back in time all the way to World War II in England. The delivery of this story is painful: so many dialogs that seem to repeat themselves and go nowhere, so many words to describe the scenes, even when not much happens, so little character development. It’s as if the author was given a number of words to write and she had a hard time filling every page. Also, why do so many books today have to switch back between past and present storytelling??? Really, it’s getting old, especially when it adds nothing to the story. Oh, and the “twist” at the end of the book is nothing you can’t guess on your own halfway through the book. Unless you’re a big fan of Kate Morton, you may be disappointed with this book’s pace and style.
All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten by Robert Fulghum. This is a very interesting collection of essays on a number of life subjects. I read the 15th anniversary edition, so the author updated it with new essays and removed outdated ones. He also added some comments here and then that added to the original story. All essays were drawn from his personal life and experience and most of them rang a bell. It is indeed true that everything you need to know about life, you learned it in kindergarten, including share, clean up your mess, say you’re sorry, don’t take what’s not yours, play fair, and my favorite one, wonder.
100 Secrets of Happy Families by David Niven. This book is a good reminder off what really matters to make your family relationships the best they can be. A few of my favorites are:
– Dedication matters more than occupation (deciding how your occupation fits within your family life and not the other way around is what matters most).
– Let your goals live with you (even if you can’t work on your goals at specific times, there’s no reason to abandon them; let them adapt to the life you live).
– You define a child every day (did you know a child’s feelings about his family relationship does more to define that child’s outlook and self-image than anything else?).
– Cherish traditions (hey, at our house we celebrate Christmas twice a year, in December and in July!)
– See the big picture (don’t see your life as tiny pieces but as a whole, to get a broader perspective and not let small frustrations overwhelm you).
100 Secrets of Healthy People by David Niven. This book is full of simple tips to live a healthier lifestyle, most of which you already know, while others are interesting to discover or remember. My favorite health tips? “Healthy living is an attitude” (seeing your health in a positive light helps you maintain healthy habits), “breathe right” (it’s amazing what proper breathing can do to you), “laughter really is medicine” (it reduces anxiety and pain), and “hug for health” (hugs relieve stress and provide comfort).
1984 by George Orwell. This is the second time I’ve read this book (I was in high school the first time) and I’ve found it just as terrifying today. Orwell wrote this book in 1948, right at the end of the second world war, establishing England and its allies as Oceania, a land in state of constant war against changing enemies. The main character, Winston Smith, works at the Ministry of Truth, where every day he has to “rewrite” newspaper articles and books to change the news according to the latesst events, therefore rewriting history, even deleting the very existence of some public officials once in a while. A lot more goes on after that and I don’t want to spoil it for you if you haven’t read the book. The policy held by Big Brother’s party against the middle class and the lower class is chilling, and somehow not so far off from our world today, in many ways. A definite read.
The 100 Simple Secrets of Successful People by David Niven. By “successful”, Niven doesn’t mean “rich”, but rather people who are satisfied with their career, enjoy what they do and are growing. Here are just a few secrets that spoke directly to me: “boredom is the enemy” (you need to find something you enjoy or your persistence and interest will quickly diminish), “don’t want everything” (choose what you really want out of your career and focus on that, rather than look at what others have and want the same), and “it starts and ends with you” (access personal responsibility for your decisions and be open to new opportunities). If you’re looking for some inspiration in the workplace, this is a great little book.
- What I think I’ll read next
Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey. I also requested more books on goal setting, procrastination and children’s book writing from the library. This is going to be a busy reading year.
My kids’ bookshelf
- What they’re currently reading
My youngest is really into Angry Birds and I discovered there are many, many books with those little pesky guys. Some of the books are for early readers and discuss Angry Birds Star Wars theme (Angry Birds Star Wars: Angry Birds Star Wars: Lard Vader’s Villains, and Angry Birds Star Wars: Darth Swindle’s Secret). They sure are a great way to motivate a young reader! Other books were made in collaboration with National Geographic. We’ve been reading National Geographic Angry Birds: Animals, which goes all around the globe to introduce some animals and their habitat. On each page, the birds talk to each other, while they’re looking for their eggs. Again, a great way to motivate a young reader to read all of the speech bubbles on each page. I’ve requested more books in the series from the library and I hope they’re as much fun.
My oldest recently discovered Calvin & Hobbes and he’s been reading and rereading the Calvin & Hobbes complete collection. This is a great way to keep a reader interested, but definitely not a quiet way. Lots of giggling and laughing out loud going around.
- What they recently finished reading
We’ve been reading so many books in the past couple of months, I’ll just list some of our favorite. We LOVE Chris Van Dusen’s gouache illustrations (they’re so precise and detailed, they look like they were made on a computer) and although he’s illustrated a lot of children’s books for other authors, including Kate DiCamillo’s Mercy Watson series, Van Dusen is quite a talented writer too, opting for rhyme for his very funny books, including Down To The Sea with Mr. Magee, The Circus Ship (we really, really liked this story), If I Built A House, and If I Built A Car.
We’ve also read some very funny books by Aaron Reynolds (most recently the author of Creepy Carrots), including:
- Buffalo Wings: farm chickens want to make them as a snack. While most of them take care of the sauce, one of them goes search for the main ingredient. That’s until the buffaloes tell him how buffalo wings are really made…
– Chicks and salsa: chickens are tired of chicken feed and decide to try some Southwestern cuisine instead.
– Pirates vs. Cowboys: what happens when pirates and cowboys speak two different languages and suffer from miscommunication?
- What I think they’ll read next
I don’t know but I’m sure it will be good stuff. What about you? Any books you or your kids are reading you’d like to share?
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