Saturday, October 15, 2011

Book Reviews!

So, when I'm not taking care of a baby or trying to remodel our house (more updates on that coming!), I spend my ten minutes of free time a day reading.

(I used to veg out in front of the tv, but I've run out of Grey's Anatomy reruns and Dance Moms just freaks me out too much... Plus I read an article talking about how your children should see YOU read to get the idea that it's a fun leisure activity. Since J is starting to imitate me right and left now, I thought maybe it had a point...)

So I figured I'd do a monthly-or-so round-up of the books I've read and which ones I'd recommend. They're all over the place, so maybe something will appeal to someone out there!

Toddler 411
  by Drs. Denise Fields and Ari Brown

Lots of people seem to love this. I think it's alright. It has a great reference for medicines, vaccines, illnesses, and the more medical-themed stuff. As far as parenting advice, don't take it as gospel. For example, I do NOT plan to switch Julia from formula in a bottle to whole milk in a cup, cold turkey, on her first birthday. But, they do a nice job of discussing different discipline styles, milestones, sleep advice theories, and the like, with some references for further reading. A quick read and a nice reference, just take it with a grain of salt.

The Eichmann Trial
  by Deborah Lipstadt

Loved this. It discusses the trial of Adolf Eichmann, a Nazi official who was found in Argentina several decades after the Nuremberg Trials. The recently-established nation of Israel kidnapped him and put him on trial. The jurisdictional issues were fascinating, although the book seemed to lose steam as it went on. The last third of the book was spent discussing another journalist's coverage and impression of the trial, and for the life of me I couldn't figure out what Lipstadt was trying to accomplish by that. So, read the first two thirds and when you start to wonder, "Why are we talking about this other chick?" go ahead and put it down. (I'm probably just not tuned into Jewish media issues - if you are, then finish it out!)

The Handmaid's Tale
  by Margaret Atwood

A classic. Read this for book club and really liked it. I had read it in high school and a lot of it went over my head. The re-read was great though, since I was already familiar with the plot, so I could spend my attention with the details and the writing itself. I really disliked the afterward, but it was again, a fast read, and makes me want to pick up another one of her books.

Somebody's Daughter
  by Julian Sher

This book hit hard. It's about domestic sex trafficking, particularly of minors. It has an incredibly powerful message and is written very well. It centers around three different stories of three girls who have been prostituted, and uses those three stories to discuss the difficulties in catching and prosecuting pimps, the abhorrent prevalence of underage prostitution, and the almost hopeless plight of the girls who fall victims to the system. I had always thought, "Oh sure that happens in LA and NY and Chicago, but not here, in the Midwest, or anywhere where I've ever been." And one of the main girls discussed in the book was from North Dallas. Her pimp was living in Richardson, which is one town away from where I grew up and a very similar community. It's disgusting and terrifying and heart-breaking. And this book is definitely worth a read.

  by Toni Morrison

Geez, I've been all sorts of depressing lately huh? This one is about a woman who escapes slavery only to kill her infant daughter - to prevent her from living a life of slavery - when she believes she's about to be recaptured. Her infant daughter haunts the family and comes back in the form of a lost teenager to haunt the family in more human form. It was depressing. It also made me wish we had more first-hand accounts of slavery. The descriptions of how slaves dealt emotionally with the constant dehumanizing conditions didn't really seem to ring true to me. As Holocaust books written by those who never actually lived it seem hollow compared to books written by survivors, this also had a hollow feel. Anyways. I wouldn't not recommend it, but I'm not going to be sending anyone out to the bookstore to read this one anytime soon.


Okay well I guess I just read a slew of dark, heavy books recently. I usually try to put some lighter ones in there but I guess I need to work on that a little more! The next installment of Book Reviews will be happier, I promise!


  1. Love that you're doing this. I'm always looking for a new book.

  2. Love the book reviews! I just read The Handmaid's Tale for the first time and really enjoyed it, but the ending/afterward bugged me as well. We read The Blind Assassin (also Margaret Atwood) earlier this year and I didn't enjoy it nearly as much - I don't particularly care for her disjointed writing style. It worked beautifully for The Handmaid's Tale because it gave it the authenticity of someone recalling a surreal past, but I felt like The Blind Assassin was a bit of a swing and a miss.

    I think I may have been in the minority in my book club though; enough people seemed to like it that I wouldn't write it off entirely. I just wasn't terribly impressed.